Tuesday, April 21, 2015

LA Times Book Festival

Finally made it to the LA Times Book Festival last Saturday which was held  at the USC campus. After catching up and laughing my butt off  into the early morning hours with an old gal pal in Manhattan Beach, I was happy to arrive at 10am and achieve an awesome parking space. It's a good day in LA, when you find parking. Info booth first, then it was off to the conversation ticket tent. I got all the tickets I wanted, except one-the YA author conversation that included Sarah Dessen. It was sold out, so to speak-tickets are free. I showed up anyway, and there were tons of seats. Note: disregard "Sold Out." This conversation rocked! With my lack of sleep, it was a good thing it was fun and lively. Highlight here, was Emery Lord, The Start of You and Me. I loved her enthusiasm. Though I had to jet to the next conversation, I later found Emery signing books at "Once Upon A Time" Bookstore tent. There, I enjoyed speaking with her, and buying her book signed to me.
The conversation I jetted off to was MG Novel Landscapes which was a snore accept for Kirsten Hubbard. She's a YA author (check out YA highway) and her latest, Watch the Sky, is an MG about a young boy living with his mom and step dad, Caleb who has them intensely preparing for dooms day. Definitely an interesting premise, right? I write for both MG & YA, so I was interested in hearing about her path. Hopefully next year they'll have a panel of YA author's who crossed over to MG or vice-versa, like myself.
No sleep is like a hangover, so for lunch it was an everything bagel with cream cheese and a double cappuccino. I wondered the grounds sipping my double cap until conversation time.
Next was Teen Spirit with YA authors David Leviathan, Hold Me Closer, Leila Sales, This Song Will Save Your Life, and Tommy Wallach, We All Looked Up. All of these books had interesting premises. Thank god/goddess this was another lively conversation where I participated by asking, "Do you write everyday?" As editors as well as authors, David and Leila do not, Tommy, as a full time author, does. I respected the way Tommy handled the attention-whore moderator. I particularly liked Tommy's story's premise, four teens facing an asteroid hitting the earth within 24hrs. His book is why I chose this conversation over the other YA one. I'd hope to buy his book and have it signed, but I decided to dash off to see Brian Grazer. I loved Splash and his list of films that followed like Beautiful Mind. Brian Grazer was worth it. He communicated with sincerity and passion. Learning about the birth of his hair style to the conversations he's had with various people outside the "Industry" was fascinating. These regular conversations that he dedicated himself to were for enriching his mental, emotional and spiritual life. That's why we're here. His book, "A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life." I passed on the book signing, and ventured out to hopefully find Tommy Wallach signing under a bookstore tent. No such luck, will have to settle for an unsigned one.
The day ended with me buying t-shirts from an amazing illustrator and inquiring about purchasing for PMMC and connecting with with a fellow SCBWI member, who's self-published eco-themed book I purchased and ordered for the Pacific Marine Mammal Center's gift shop. By six, everyone was packing up. With all the conversations, I didn't have enough time to explore all the booths and I missed the happenings on the YA stage. Next year I'll go both days.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Latest Library Reads: II

I loved the premise of Kimberly Derting's YA Novel, The Taking. The fireflies on the cover sparked my curiosity and I enjoyed the author's presentation at the Mission Viejo Library as part of "The Summer Lovin' Tour" a couple of years ago. My pitch for this book would be Twilight Zone Meets X-Files Meets X-Men. I love all three of these!
Sixteen year old, Kira Agnew, wakes up behind dumpster outside her neighborhood Gas & Sip without any memory of how she got there. When she goes home, a strange man with a baby answers the door. And her boyfriend across the street is no longer her boyfriend, because..... she's been missing for five years. "Do-do-do-do-Do-do-do-do." ( Twilight Zone tune)

Secret meetings, NSA spying, hazmat suits, and quarantine, smells like  X-File spirit. On the run with love-interest Tyler, her ex-boyfriend's younger brother who's not so young anymore, must be in love to stay at her side. Kira's new gifts are revealed. Empowering is an understatement; we're talking X-Men powers. Two things I didn't buy: her dentist telling her parents about a cavity and not her (5 years ago;yesterday for Kira) What? She was sixteen. Heck, I remember my dentist pointing out my cavities at age seven. The new x-rays are the same as the old. This proves she hasn't aged. The second: no local news reporters showing up. If your whole high school was looking for you and you didn't turn up until five years later, you'd be mobbed by media, or at least the local paper.

But that was minor compared to the compelling story and character. I couldn't put the book down and I was pleased with the cliffhanger ending. As for the fireflies, I can't say. You'll have to read it and the sequel, which I hope there'll be one.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Latest Library Read

The Summoning by Hilary Monahan is about four teenage girls who suffer the consequences of summoning "Bloody Mary." This grabbed my attention because at age eleven,  I heard the myth of Bloody Mary at a sleep over. Though we didn't summon her, the image freaked me out, especially, when I entered my parents room where my mother's closet doors were mirrored. I'm not much of a prologue gal, but it worked as a letter from Mary Worth to her sister in 1863. I loved the historical feel here. The conjuring begins at the start of  chapter one, and bleeds into page-turning moments chapter after chapter.The voices of the four girls were great, but when one girl gets taken, it wasn't much of an event for two of the girls, one especially, Jess-the main conjurer. She had no redeeming qualities, whatsoever. I felt more for Bloody Mary. 

BM has this whole world behind the mirror, and she takes people there who never return, which I found fascinating. But, I also wondered why. Does it make her stronger? Do the kidnapped keep her company? I was disappointed that my question went unanswered. BM was a frightening vision, but the beetles appearing made me think of a Tim Burton animated flick. I would've taken the beetles seriously if Hilary wove in one of the symbolic meanings derived from Egypt: Creation, rebirth, regeneration, and/or Shamanic: Dreams and astral travel. The ending didn't feel like an ending, so maybe in a bloody sequel? It might be a bit too bloody for me. (I was married to a bloody Brit for seven years, ok?)