Code Name Verity: just whoa.

code name verityYou guys.

YOU. GUYS.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.  Have you read it yet?

I gobbled this one up, and it. was. delicious.

It tells the story of two female friends during World War II.  It’s hard to say much about the book because I don’t want to give anything away.  So, instead, I will tell you what I loved about the writing.

* The characters are deep, layered, fun, and so sweet.  All the characters, not just the main ones.
* The writing is full of historical details without ever weighing down the narrative.
* Readers are expected to keep up; the writing does zero dumbing down.
* It’s beautifully written.
* There are surprises.
* The book will not just tug your heartstrings– it will yank.  Be prepared.

I absolutely loved it.  In case you couldn’t tell. 🙂

P.S. I highly recommend the audiobook so that you can listen to all the beautiful accents (British, French, German, and Scottish!)!  Delightful!

Have you read it yet?  What did you think?  No spoilers in the comments please!

Favorite Books in Contemporary YA

Contemporary YA is my jam.  Here are my favorites.

Top ten contemporary contemporaries:

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Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta | Territory wars, the most perfectly flawed main character, a hot cadet, gorgeous writing, mystery: this book has everything you could ever want.

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta | Friendship, romance, and depression in a perfect stew of awesomeness.

The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta | Catching up with the Saving Francesca crew five years down the road is like Christmas, your birthday, and free concert tickets all at once.

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson | Grief, sisterhood, a boy whose smiles will change your life, writing that’s both funny and poetic.

The Fault in our Stars by John Green | There’s a reason everyone loves this book.  Now it’s your turn.

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Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell | If you’re a writer, watch out: you will be envious of this book. (Also, it still counts as contemporary even though it’s set in the 80s, right?)

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli | There’s really no book quite like it out there.

Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay | One of my favorite debuts of last year!

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan | The characters will suck you in!

Everyday by David Levithan | I’m counting this as a contemp with a little realistic magic twist. This one will make you think and love.

Bonus oldies-but-goodies:

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Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson | I’m not sure if it’s fair to call this YA– might lean toward MG– but it’s essentially perfect.

Ordinary People by Judith Guest | A book that has stuck with me since high school!

The Pigman by Paul Zindel | Another must-read from my childhood.

Do you like contemporary YA? Which of these have you read?  Which ones do you want to read? (Correct answer is ALL.)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme at The Broke & the Bookish.

Navigating my Site: Help?

I want my website to be full of helpful resources for those who are struggling with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and in so doing, I am trying to reorganize the OCD tab of my site.  I’ve rewritten the welcome/greeting and am now trying to figure out what to do with the rest of the page.

I thought I’d ask you.

How should I organize the links (which, by the way, are not up to date)?  What would make this part of my website easier to navigate?  I want people to find help in as few clicks as possible!

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Best of the Web

bestofthewebOn Huffington Post, a short but wonderful article on fighting against the stigma of mental illness.

Mallory Ortberg’s humorous post about dystopian societies in literature. (You might LOL.)

Chuck Wendig’s must-read post for writers on the days you don’t feel like writing. 

This answer on Quora about what to do when you don’t feel confident about your writing skills.

YA author John Green recently spoke at his alma mater, and the talk and the Q&A afterward were both brilliant.  It’s an hour long, but so worth it.

On CollegeHumor, 7 Actually Useful Children’s Books for Twenty-Somethings.

Paddywax has famous-author-scented candles.

These unbelievable egg shell sculptures. (You kind of have to see them to believe them.)

At BookRiot, this startingly accurate account of What Happens When You Like Books More Than Anything Else in the Whole World.

This short video of advice from Ira Glass, which will encourage young artists of all stripes:

Where I Get My [Literary] News

I thought some of you literary-type folks might be interested to know how I [attempt to] keep my finger on the pulse of the reading, writing, and publishing world.

book necklaceI subscribe to the following e-newsletters:
Publisher’s Weekly Daily Newsletter
Publisher’s Weekly Children’s Bookshelf
Publisher’s Weekly Tip Sheet
Shelf Awareness Pro
Shelf Awareness for Readers
Goodreads YA Newsletter*
Goodreads Newsletter*
* Sign up in your Goodreads email preferences

I use Google Alerts for my favorite authors as well as topics like “YA publishing.”

I follow 98 different blogs (including over 70 related to reading and writing) and manage to do so through Bloglovin.

I follow authors, editors, agents, and reviewers on Twitter.

I also subscribe to Writer’s Digest, though I’m not always the best at sitting down and going through the magazine.  An issue arrived in the mail today, though, and I sat down and scoured it thoroughly.  It had a great feature about literary magazines and what their editors are looking for.

I attend writing conferences when I’m able.

I have a Ticketmaster account with my “favorites” listed, so that I’ll get an email if they are coming to town.  I also get an e-newsletter from the local theatre venues in the Twin Cities so that I’m aware if any of my favorite writers are scheduled to speak or read in Minneapolis or St. Paul.

Does this seem wildly unmanageable?  It’s actually not (most days)– and yet it helps me stay in touch with my literary world!  Hope this helps!

Image credit: Peg and Awl on Etsy

The Outgoing Introvert

In undergrad, I didn’t want to spend any time alone.  Because my writing instructor insisted that we take time just to be, I would force myself to lie on my bed in ten-minute increments, doing nothing.  Just lying there, resting, being alone.  I’d feel so rushed and eager to do-do-do and be back with people that I’d check the clock and be shocked that it had only been three minutes and I had seven to go.

I took the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and I tested as an ENFJ … and 100% extrovert.

introvertAs my writing life grew deeper, and as I grew older, I watched this do a complete flip.

These days, I am a solid introvert: I value my alone time, I feel drained after spending a lot of time with company, I absolutely have to build in time for rest, recharging, and solitude.

And yet, I’m still quite outgoing.  I’m not shy.  I am a good public speaker.  My job is all about hospitality.  I think it shocks a lot of people when they first learn that I’m an introvert, probably because they have misconceptions about what “introvert” and “extrovert” really mean.

Even now, if I take the Myers-Briggs, it still tells me I’m an ENFJ.  The test just can’t interpret my outgoing answers in way for it to regard me as an introvert.  But trust me, I am.  No close friend of mine would argue with that.

How about you?  Do you get your energy from being with people or from being alone?  Do you fit into the stereotype– a quiet, shy introvert or a loud, outgoing extrovert– or are you like me, a mix that defies the expectations?

Image credit: couldn’t find source.  Let me know if you know!