Why I Gave Up on Kierra Cass and Why I Almost Did on Sarah J. Maas

I bought the newest Selection novel and A Court of Mist and Fury (review to come soon), and I have a confession: I am done with Kierra Cass, and I almost threw in the towel on Sarah J. Maas. Don’t get me wrong, I do love their books and I follow them on Twitter, but I have had it up to here.

51DEh8yscHL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_

When I started reading The Crown, I just couldn’t bring myself to want to read it. With my job, I spend a lot of time reading books and make judgments on many factors. And when I tried reading this new Cass book, I just snapped back to my annoyance with the previous book. The writing was too commercial, and the character drove me nuts. When there are only so few hours I can dedicate to fun reading, I find myself getting pickier. I like The Selection series, but the quality has really gone downhill. While they remain the same size, quality is not the same.

When I got A Court of Mist and Fury, I almost cried. It was the same size of Queen of Shadows and I had strong feelings about that book. I love Maas’ writing and I love her stories and strong characters, but I am getting really frustrated by how big those books are getting! Queen of Shadows did not need to be that big. Someone needs to help trim those books down. But I was pleasantly surprised by A Court of Mist and Fury. I think there are some areas that could have been cut, but on the whole, I wouldn’t have cut that much of that book down.  I’m not throwing in the towel yet. But seriously, please don’t get any bigger and please be more critical about what needs to go in!

If I had unlimited time, I’d probably be on board with it all, but really, who has that kind of time anymore?

Advertisements

Alternating POV: What’s up with that?

I have to get something off my chest: I am really not into with alternating points of view (POV) and it seems to be EVERYWHERE!

Hello all the books with multiple POVS.

Unless it is done well, and I will admit there are times it is done well (The Winner’s Curse, An Ember in the Ashes, etc.), I just cringe when I see that a book is going to do an alternating POV.

I am finally coming out of my series fatigue, and now I think I am starting to have POV whiplash (I’m coining that phrase).

POV whiplash can be avoided three ways:

  1. Just don’t read books that have multiple POVS
  2. Only read single POV books
  3. Only read authors would write multiple POV well.

So why do author’s do multiple POVs?

Honestly, I have no clue. When it works, it works really well. And when it doesn’t, I feel like you wasted all these pages that could have been put to better use.

Looking at my NYC bookshelves (for those of you wondering, I have the majority of my library still in Texas), I notice that I favor single POV books. There is something so intimate with only having one POV. You are right there with that character and feel their emotions and confusion that much more powerful.

And some stories really require only one POV. I recently tweeted that I would love to see a YA from a villain’s perspective. That is one area that the POV should just focus on the villain and no one else.

When did alternating POV or multiple POV become so popular? My brain is saying with Breaking Dawn though I am sure authors have been doing it much longer.

I am just over the POV whiplash.

giphy (13)

SCBWI Art Show

The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) was having their annual conference this past weekend. As an industry professional, I was invited to attend an event that showcased some of the art from the society and mix with other industry professionals.

At first it was daunting. I am still relatively new to the children’s book industry. I know some people from previous events or internships, but not so always so well that it doesn’t feel awkward trying to talk to them. Although I did run into Kass Morgan (author of The 100) and promptly fangirled.

giphy (11)
Me inside. I am a professional on the outside.

What I really went for was to look at the art and the portfolios on display. I found several artists whose illustration style I really loved, and will keep tabs on for future projects. But I do have one piece of advice for people who might included in the future of this event and here it is:

Include in your portfolio your take on a designing a cover for some YA or middle grade covers.

Editors are looking for artists for those projects just as much as they are looking for illustrators for picture books.

The artists I whose contact information I picked up all appealed to my sensibilities but I picked up a few who I thought might be worth considering for covers. Teen books are moving away from the “girl in ball gown” look on covers and are becoming illustrated or design focused. I want to see not only your illustrations for a children’s book, but also what you would do for a cover for a teen book.

Anyways, that’s my two cents. Oh, and juggling contact cards with a drink in hand while trying to turn pages is hard.

Royal Wedding: A Princess Diaries Novel Review

royalwedding_3dcover

Warning***Some Spoilers***

Title: Royal Wedding: A Princess Diaries Novel

Author: Meg Cabot

Publisher: William Morrow (HarperCollins)

Flap Copy:

For Princess Mia, the past five years since college graduation have been a whirlwind of activity, what with living in New York City, running her new teen community center, being madly in love, and attending royal engagements. And speaking of engagements. Mia’s gorgeous longtime boyfriend Michael managed to clear both their schedules just long enough for an exotic (and very private) Caribbean island interlude where he popped the question! Of course Mia didn’t need to consult her diary to know that her answer was a royal oui.

But now Mia has a scandal of majestic proportions to contend with: Her grandmother’s leaked “fake” wedding plans to the press that could cause even normally calm Michael to become a runaway groom. Worse, a scheming politico is trying to force Mia’s father from the throne, all because of a royal secret that could leave Genovia without a monarch.  Can Mia prove to everyone—especially herself—that she’s not only ready to wed, but ready to rule as well?”

I love me some Meg Cabot. Amazon hints this is the “comes the very first adult installment”, which I am thinking means more adventures of Mia. SO yay!! But I kind of was annoyed with this book even as I loved it.

A book titled Royal Wedding makes me think we will get more wedding than we did. I have to say, I was a really disappointed. Cabot is making a middle grade series about the half-sister of Mia (I am all for it) but this book really felt more of a spring board for that series then an actual book about Mia and her wedding.

Mia actually jumps through all the wedding planning and headaches of dealing with her situations (I will not spoil it) to briefly mention the wedding. I understand all the reasons for this: they want established readers to pick up the new series, BUT I felt rather cheated. I picked up a book expecting to get Mia and her wedding preparations. Like an inside look a royal wedding. That was not what I got.

Don’t get me wrong: love Meg Cabot. She is one of my favorite authors. But this was not her best book. I hope there is a whole adult series about Mia because that would be interesting, but I am not sure this book had the WOW factor the first Princess Diaries book had.

Would I have acquired this? Yes, and I would have shared these concerns with Cabot. I love the Princess Diaries series and I wish this book felt less like a spring board for something and more cohesive to the series.

In The News

So in case you missed it, President Obama has launched a new plan to bring eBooks to low incomes students in an effort to expand their access to digital learning products.

Most to the major publishers are involved. Sounds like a great plan.

EXCEPT…

Having been a low income student, and working with homeless children, I have to wonder about this. It is a great idea, I am not questioning that. But from my own childhood, we didn’t have money for expensive electronics.  And the kids I work with don’t have the money. I applaud the idea of getting these kids access  to library cards, but what do you do with these free eBooks when you don’t have the means with which to read it?

The ConnectED Program does help with getting the technology into the school and having the students interacting with it, but how does that translate to being out of school? When reading 20 minutes a day, outside of school, is critical for a child’s literacy development?

Am I just so out of touch with the modern poor? Are Kindles, iPads, and smart phones everywhere that even the poorest among us have one?

If so, great! I will go shut up in the corner. But if it is how I remember it, then offering eBooks to people without the access to use them is like giving me a tank full of gasoline and saying, “Okay, now you can drive.”

Maybe I am just missing something.

Complex Characters: (Not) My Hero, Klaus

Randomly, I have been thinking if there have been any protagonists in YA books who are clearly not a hero, but not a villain either.  The closest I could come up with is Mara Dyer in The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. Truth bomb: I am obsessed with The Originals and a large part of that is because of Klaus Mikaelson.

When Klaus was first introduced in The Vampire Diaries, he was the villain. Like straight up. He killed Elena’s aunt. He terrorized the residents of Mystic Falls. But somewhere along the way, fans fell in love with him. I personally fell in love when he revealed his softer side to Miss Caroline Forbes.

And then he jumped ship to his own show.  And suddenly, the villain that had been developed for a season and a half became the protagonist of another. At first, I wasn’t so sure I would like this. Klaus was THE villain. Yes, he had some redeeming qualities, but even he would admit he was evil.

However, as the second season develops, I find myself getting sucked in (pun totally intended).  He still does the villainous things, and other characters view him as a villain, but, especially on the most recent episode, Klaus has greater complexity. He admitted to killing a beloved character, even though he didn’t, because everyone else needed to fear him. We can debate whether this actually played to his advantage or not, but I digress. The videos below give a bit better context to the situation.

Unlike Rumpelstiltskin, who reveled in being a villain, and Snape, who was a conflicted hero, I am not sure what Klaus is. He certainly acts like a villain, but I am not sure he revels in it. More like a hurt child acting the way everyone says he must.

There are now books about The Originals, but I would love to see a YA book tackle a protagonist like Klaus, a character everyone else views as evil, but that we as readers can see differently. Actually, Julie Plec should just write that book for me.

Books For Cheap

So bear with me as I dive off the cliff of sanity. I have an idea I want to explore. You may have heard about Oyster. It is the “Netflix for eBooks”, basically “means you pay a small monthly fee for unlimited access to the company’s e-book collection.

There are a lot of sites like this. Part of me is really drawn to this idea of book consumption. The books are licensed and your membership helps pay for that license. You then have access to all kinds of books without the wait of the library. As a reader, this is very appealing. Books are expensive and just one YA book now (in the US) is the cost of a nice work lunch. This is why I still shop at Amazon.

As a working publishing professional, I have to wonder how much things like Oyster and Scribd hurt the industry, the publisher’s bottom line, and ultimately jeopardize my job (I know Amazon is not good since it uses books as a loss leader). As publishers lose money (and trust me, publishing is not a super profitable business to be in), they cut back. That means cutting back on buying some books, and more importantly, on work personnel. This means less people to work on projects, and the ones who are there have to do more work with half the resources. It is not pretty.

But how do we balance the consumer desire for cheap books without de-valuing the art (and books are art)? Some people say digital books are cheaper to produce, but that is not true. Yes, you are not having the cost of paper, printer, shipping, and storing, but you have traded for the cost of digital work. And the people who still would be needed for a print book are still important for an eBook.

I don’t think books will ever disappear, but I do wonder about the changing nature of publishing. Consumers want cheaper books. Publishers want to make money.  How will these two desires balance out over the long run?

Side note: I found this cool document that explores new business models in publishing.