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Author Topic: YA, Midgrade and children's fiction
Olivet
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First off, check this out:


http://sarah-prineas.livejournal.com/25471.html

I met Sarah just after my I joined the Online Writing Workshop. We joined about the same time and hit it off. It's been seven years now, and this book (the first in a trilogy) comes out in April.

I'm certain it will be great, because she writes really well. (After a few months on the 'Orkshop I realized that there was nothing substantive I could offer her anymore in the line of concrit, but she was gracious enough to encourage me through the years, even when I was no longer very useful to her. That was huge, and it shows what a great person she is.)

Another cool kid read I've consumed recently was Varjak Paw, an animal fantasy written my S.F. Said and illustrated by Dave McKean *squee!* I picked it up for my son after my neice declared it her favorite book EVER. Then when my son read it in a day and said the same, I knew I had to read it. Wonderfully, clearly told, it's exciting and inspiring and generally cool. Varjak is a purebred who has never been Outside, but he has to go in order to save his family. Along the way he meets some cool strays and learns his ancestor's ancient martial art. Mckean's stylized, sinuous art is very evocative as well. (Yes, I'm a book geek with favorite artist/illustrators as well as favorite writers. Sue me.) There's a sequel, but my son just got it and i don't want to snatch it away from him.

I've been reading Peter and the Starcatchers for read-aloud time with the boys, and the reception has been very positive. Plus, it's the kind of stuff you can really sink your teeth into, what with pirate voices and all that. It's stylistically clean and consistent, and so far ranks up there with some of the more fun professional fanfic reads ( [Razz] ). It's no Wicked, certainly, but that really wasn't for the kiddies (most professional 'reimaginings' aren't-- at least not the ones I'm aware of). It's much more accessible to young readers than the source material, in fact. It's had my boys laughing raucously, and kept me anticipating story time, too. This one also has a sequel, but I don't have it yet.

There are tons more I could talk about, but I figure it's time for you guys to weigh in on the sub-adult story market (I call it that because sometimes the difference between YA and adult has more to do with imprint than with content. As C. S. Lewis said, "A book worth reading only in childhood is not worth reading even then.") [Smile]

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Liz B
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I love books for kids and teens. I think one of the most fun kid ones I've read recently is The Amulet of Samarkand. Based on what you wrote above, it seems like it might make a good readaloud for you and your kids.

For my personal reading, I tend to be drawn more to books for older teens: Chris Crutcher is a favorite, along with Jaclyn Moriarty.

I was on a FABULOUS committee last year. We were selecting literature circle books for 6th & 7th grades in our district, so we got paid to read & review YA/kids' books. [Smile] [Smile] [Smile] I could do that for a living.

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Olivet
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Liz, that would be a dream job for me, too!

I got Big Boy The Amulet of Samarkand for his birthday, but he seemed to have trouble getting into it (my Beloved snatched it up and read it first). I'll put it on my read-aloud list after PatS.

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Elizabeth
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That book looks great, Olive! Congrats to your friend.
I have not checked on "Group 6" in a while, but I know one of our members was nearly published. I went from writing to reading, well, my Donna the Buffalo email list, I guess. One obsession replaced another, as it tends to do in my life, before actually completing anything.

I have been intrigued by the "Peter" series. It is also a great way for me to read books, when I read them to the kids in my class.

I really liked the first three "Edge Chronicles," but then it seems the main characters changed, and I lost interest.

Eragon was a mess.

My son is obsessed with the Pendragon series, but I did not like the first few pages.

I love Artemis Fowl. I loved Garth Nix's stuff, Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen, as well as the first few Seventh Tower books. I want to read more of those.

I just went in to tell my son to go to sleep. He was sneak-reading long after his bedtime. I remember finishing Old Yeller in the slice of light from the bathroom, and sobbing myself to sleep, when I was nine.

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Olivet
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Oh! I love the Artemis Fowl series. I tried to read it to the kiddies a few years ago, but they were just too young.

I'm taking notes on the rest. [Big Grin]

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Reshpeckobiggle
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Yet another thread where I must bring up the name of Grace Chetwin, knowing full well no one will respond.
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Belle
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I'll second the Abhorsen series by Garth Nix, though I'm not certain if your boys would like it - the first book is almost entirely about a female hero, but the second and third books add some testosterone.

I've already told you that my teen daughter loved Twilight but it's definitely for older kids than yours and aimed at girls.

I liked the first Artemis Fowl, but haven't read any others. I take my required Young Adult Lit class in the summer, which I'm looking forward to.

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Olivet
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Well, I had a hard time getting into Artemis Fowl (I think it was the whole faery thing) but after I accepted the LEPRecon thing, I enjoyed them.

My boys, at least the Big Boy, really seem to enjoy stories about girls and boys. There were a couple by Bill Wallace that had female protags that they loved. Robert, who has now declared that Hayao Miyazaki is his favorite director, really digs stories about strong women who do stuff (not so much the lovelorn types of things, naturally). After we watched Nausicca of the Valley of the Wind, he turned to me and said, "I love this director! He's not afraid to tell stories about girls."

I think he might also be crushing on a second degree Black Belt from martial arts, which I think is cool because she's awesome and a little younger than him. He said that some kid tried to kiss her at one of the martial arts school's sleepovers, and she decked him. They're good buddies. I just love how he has always seemed attracted to femmes with forceful personalities. [Wink] It seems to have bled over into his reading.

As long as there's no mushy stuff. [Wink]

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fugu13
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Olivet: check out the recent anime Dennou Coil (not yet licensed). I bet both you and Robert would really enjoy it.
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Liz B
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oooohhh, I love Garth Nix. Shade's Children is great, too, although for older readers--has the f bomb, for one thing, but more importantly, it's SCARY.

I thought Artemis Fowl was OK--cute, but I didn't feel the need to read any of the others.

Twilight, otoh, I loved, and the rest of the series is just getting better. I love romance novels, though, and that's exactly what that series is all about. Edward is SOooooo Heathcliff, especially in the 1st one. After that, I think he's a bit more Mr. Darcy. (I love Mr. Darcy [Smile] [Smile] [Smile] . )

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Little_Doctor
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quote:
Originally posted by Reshpeckobiggle:
Yet another thread where I must bring up the name of Grace Chetwin, knowing full well no one will respond.

Consider it responded to.
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Reshpeckobiggle
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A first!

I just can't believe no one has ever read anything by her.

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Olivet
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WOOT!!

The Magic Thief's first review!

http://www.teensreadtoo.com/MagicThief.html

quote:
THE MAGIC THIEF will pull readers in so completely that they'll have trouble setting the book aside. The details of the
Victorian-esque world are so vividly drawn that readers will feel the chill of the icy winds and taste the buttery goodness
of Conn's favorite biscuits. What makes the book particularly special is Conn himself. His voice is lively, with exactly the
sort of street-smart practicality and frankness you'd expect from a boy who has spent most of his life on the streets.
Despite his criminal background, Conn is good-hearted, and simply longs for a place where he can make something of
himself...

The novel's conclusion is quite
satisfying, while leaving lots open for the second book in the trilogy, which many will be clamoring to get as soon as they
have finished this one. An all-round enjoyable read that easily stands out from the many fantasy novels on the shelves.

Go SARAH! [Party]
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Belle
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Yayyy!

You think she'd give me any advice? [Wink]

I'm feeling confident about mine, just got to actually FINISH the darn thing. Maybe one day there will be a congratulatory thread for me too.

But, I will order this book, since she is a friend of yours, and I'm always on the lookout for good YA fiction.

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Goody Scrivener
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A stitching friend's freshman release: A Curse Dark as Gold

A retelling of the Rumpelstiltskin fable with a lot more character development.

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Puffy Treat
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That reminds me: Vivian Vande Velde's The Rumplestiltskin Problem is delightful. It's her own collection of several alternate versions that give depth, meaning, and logic to this particularly baffling, murky fairy tale. [Smile]
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Starsnuffer
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The Redwall books are an extensive, and good, YA series that I absolutely loved. (Redwall, Mattimeo, and Mossflower are a few of the best, and the first of the series) By Brian Jacques
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romanylass
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I'll be coming back for ideas.

Matthew loved Artemis Fowl. I tried to read the first book, but lost interest. Redwall was and continues to be big here. Also Terry Pratchett's Tiffany Aching books.

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Olivet
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Belle- I think she would be totally open to giving advice. She's a super nice person. We tend to chat most often about our kids and stuff, but she does talk a bit about the process of publishing and writing in her live journal, which is also visited by many published and/or well-known authors from The ancient OWW days, like Charles Coleman Finlay and Elizabeth Bear. I think OSC reviewed Inda not too long ago, and that author(whose name escapes me for the moment *shame*) also posts there. Her friends list is a cool mix of aspiring and successful writers, and is totally worth a look.

Also, I call dibs on starting your congratulatory thread! [Smile]

I'd also like to add Truesight by David Stahler to the list. the blurb almost turned me off it by calling it a parable about "the dangers of fundamentalism" because I feared dodging Anvils of Truth. I hate it when a writer beats me over the head with their morals, even when I agree with them. But I need not have worried. The prologue was hooky but I found the actual first chapter a tad slow. By the second chapter I was hooked, and I finished it in a day. Zzzzip!! Can't wait for the next one.

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Puffy Treat
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I like the Redwall series up to Salamandastron. After that, the crackling excitement and invention Jacques obviously had in the earlier books becomes...well...less obvious. [Wink]
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Olivet
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So, Sarah Prineas just got featured in Publisher's Weekly's Flying Starts:

http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6571854.html

I started reading The Magic Thief to my boys and the Big Boy snatched it and started reading ahead, then brought it to me the next morning to show me exactly what was so cool about this awesome book.

So I don't get to finish reading it until he's done, the wee wretch. [Wink]

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Belle
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Awesome! I'm in my Young Adult lit class right now, and in fact I have to write an assignment on Ender's Game that is due tomorrow.

I will definitely get this book, and if it's that good, I'll see if my YAL prof will add it to her optional reading list. She assigns 11 books per semester, but has a list of 130 YAL books that you can choose from for three short assignments. My first short assignment is on Ender, and I can't decide who to do my others on.

Tell your friend congrats from us, and I promise I will send you more stuff of my own to read soon.

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Elizabeth
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Olive, I will definitely get her book. Do you think it would be good to read aloud to my fifth graders?

Speaking of them, they loved when I read them "The Golden Compass," though it would be tough for many of them to read on their own.

Your boys(or boys) might like Garth Nix's "Seventh Tower" series better then the Abhorsen series.

Hands down, the favorite book, which I read to the class, and which was the hottest book in sixth grade in my daughter's school, was "Coraline," by Neil Gaimon.

My son is highly addicted to "Pendragon" by D.J. MacHale. It is a series of seven or so novels.

My daughter loves "Twilight," and is thrilled to see that the movie is coming out.

I loved "The Edge Chronicles" until the main character, Twig, went away, then I lost interest.

Some kids like historical fiction, and Avi does very well and has a number of books out. I use "The Fighting Ground" when teaching the Revolutionary War.

There is a series I am dying to read about Greek Gods in the modern world. The first novel is "The Lightning Thief."

My horse girls still love "The Black Stallion." Another hit with the girls this year was "The Princess Academy."

We are supposed to use Accelerated Reader with our students. Some people get all in a bunch about how awful it is. All it is is a list of good books, then quizzes on them. Usually, if a student picks a non-AR book, I just give them an alternate assignment. I guess some school districts get all "you can;t read that it is not an AR book and not on your level," but that is not the case with us. The kids love to track their books.

Speaking of that, I wonder if it is OK for kids to sign up for GoodReads to keep track of their reading.

Here is the Accelerated Reader list. It changes all the time:

http://www.spotsylvania.k12.va.us/bres/Accelerated%20Reader%20Book%20List.htm

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Elizabeth
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Oh, and that is not my school! Just stole their AR page.
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Sterling
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quote:
Originally posted by Liz B:
I love books for kids and teens. I think one of the most fun kid ones I've read recently is The Amulet of Samarkand. Based on what you wrote above, it seems like it might make a good readaloud for you and your kids.

The whole Bartimaeus triology, really.
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Elizabeth
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There wa something that stopped me from reading that series. Was it written in "second person?" There was something that annoyed me.
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Irami Osei-Frimpong
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The kids I see are going nuts for Richard Riordan's "Percy Jackson" series.
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Scott R
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The Bartimaeus Trilogy is written in first and third person.

When the demon is the POV character, it is told in first person.

When the apprentice magician is the POV character, it is told in third person.

I enjoyed the first two books; I haven't read the third, yet.

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Lisa
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quote:
Originally posted by Reshpeckobiggle:
A first!

I just can't believe no one has ever read anything by her.

A second. I looked her up. Honestly, I'd never heard of her. But it looks interesting. Thanks for the recommendation.

Oh, and btw, I'll add Julia's Kitchen, by my little sister.

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Elizabeth
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Scott, does it by any chance start with, "You are feeling a breeze on your neck" sort of writing? Godd heavens, never write a book like that, Scott, PLEASE.

"Bright Lights, big City" was told in tha style. Ugh.

OK, it was something else about Bartimaeus that bugged me, I guess.

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Mrs.M
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I love everything by Tamora Pierce. Some of her books have some more adult themes (premarital sex, violence, disturbing images, etc.), but the first books in each of the Tortall series are pretty tame, as are the Circle Opens quartet.

I read the Twilight series, but I couldn't really get into it. Bella is just kind of boring to me. I don't see what the attraction is for Edward, other than she smells good and is pretty and is immune to psychic powers. There's not a lot about her personality that I find appealing.

I just finished the Cassandra Clare books - City of Bones and City of Ashes and I really liked them. Again, these are really more for teens, but very compelling.

I love all the Shannon Hale books, which I think are good for younger kids. I enjoyed Sharon Shinn's Safe-Keepers series, but her Angel series didn't really do it for me.

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plaid
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Thanks for the Amulet of Samarkand recommendation -- have started it, liking muchly! [Smile]
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EmpSquared
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quote:
Originally posted by Elizabeth:
Scott, does it by any chance start with, "You are feeling a breeze on your neck" sort of writing? Godd heavens, never write a book like that, Scott, PLEASE.

"Bright Lights, big City" was told in tha style. Ugh.

OK, it was something else about Bartimaeus that bugged me, I guess.

That's second person, I believe. An entirely different kind of beast.

Or is second person a technically incorrect way of labeling it? I've forgotten.

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Icarus
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Sounds right to me.

It's also present tense.

I find that stuff off-putting, in general. The story may succeed despite it, rarely because of it. It feels like the writer is trying to hard to be edgy or experimental and not focusing on storytelling per se.

I'm much more open to/forgiving of that sort of thing in short stories. A whole novel like that would irritate the daylights out of me.

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Elizabeth
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Is the voice called "second person" though?

Icarus, that is what bugs me abou it. It just sems like the author is screaming, "Look how hip I am!"

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Elizabeth
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Here's a lionk. I guess it is second person:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second-person_narrative

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Puffy Treat
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Timothy Zahn's Dragonback series is pretty good. Reminds me of the Andre Norton and Gordon R. Dickson stuff I read as a kid.
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Shanna
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I've been needing to read more from our YA/childrens' section but whenever I ask from recommendations from my coworkers, its overwhelming long and I back-pedal into my comfort sections.

I did start into the teen books though. A few months ago I read Scott Westerfield's trilogy. ("Uglies," "Pretties," and "Specials.") I thought the premise was promising. Its about a girl growing up in a futuristic utopian society where everyone receives a surgery when they turn 16 that makes them beautiful. They're then whisked off to the city where they spend their lives partying, surrounded by other beautiful people. But the girl's friend decides to runaway before the surgery. I thought it came with a good message, though the twists and turns make the discussion less preachy and more interesting. The protagonist isn't perfect and often makes bad choices so following her train of thought raises some fascinating questions for young girls. I enjoyed the first book but the second and third just felt empty.

Next on the list is "13 Reasons Why" about a girl who commits suicide and the tapes she sends to the people who she holds responsible. Then its "Skulduggery Pleasant" which made a huge splash at our store a few weeks ago. One of our managers wouldn't stop raving about it. All I know is that its about a young girl and a skeleton detective.

I keep telling myself I'm going to read Cassandra Clare but I'm still hurt from the plagiarism scandal during her fanfiction days.

And I should probably read the "Twilight" series but I can't afford to buy any books right now and reading them on my lunch break would just start another huge debate. Last week they went on for half an hour about whether Belle was a good role model and then spent another half hour trying decide how much sex was too much for a teen series and whether parents should be informed.

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EmpSquared
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Elizabeth-

That's part of the reason why my professors told me not to do it. Done correctly, it involves the reader differently than your standard first or third person. It can create both intensity and familiarity.

But I can see a green writer using for just the reason you specified.

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Scott R
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Will Shetterly's atrocious Gospel of the Knife uses second person. I heartily recommend it as a study of how not to write.

Choose Your Own Adventure books were (are?) written in 2nd person, present tense.

quote:
they went on for half an hour about whether Belle was a good role model
No, she's not. I don't think she's meant to be, and I don't think many readers would see her that way. Meyers' books are written for teens-- they're not looking for role models. They're looking for someone to commiserate with.

I, personally, can't stand Belle.

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Belle
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quote:
I, personally, can't stand Belle.
Hey!

You hurt my feelings. [Frown]


Psst...the character is Bella, short for Isabella.

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Puffy Treat
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Skulduggery Pleasant is okay, as long as you don't look to it for depth or logic. It's all about action and style. And its characters all channel the Whedonverse for their quips.
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Icarus
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I'd love to be able to consistently write Whedonesque quips.
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plaid
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I finished the Bartimaeus trilogy last week. Wonderful. Thanks for the recommendation. [Smile]

(Before I was done, two other folks randomly and enthusiastically recommended it to me. I think it's becoming the newest fantasy "it" book to read.)

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adenam
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quote:
Originally posted by Olivet:
Belle- I think she would be totally open to giving advice. She's a super nice person. We tend to chat most often about our kids and stuff, but she does talk a bit about the process of publishing and writing in her live journal, which is also visited by many published and/or well-known authors from The ancient OWW days, like Charles Coleman Finlay and Elizabeth Bear. I think OSC reviewed Inda not too long ago, and that author(whose name escapes me for the moment *shame*) also posts there. Her friends list is a cool mix of aspiring and successful writers, and is totally worth a look.

Inda is by Shewood Smith and is So Good. I also really like Crown Duel which I would say is much better for younger kids.

I can't believe no one has mentioned the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney yet.

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Scott R
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quote:
I can't believe no one has mentioned the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney yet.
I haven't read it, but my two oldest like it a lot.
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