Wednesday, April 9, 2014

2014 Book Cover Trends in Contemporary YA



While surveying a list of upcoming contemporary YA  releases, I noticed some interesting trends. Gone are the girls with hair across the face (so 2013 y’all).  Since I’ve yet to read even a single contemporary YA released in 2014, I can’t tell you the popular topics (except romance, always). 

But here are some trends I gleaned while scrolling through hundreds of book covers. 


  1. Maps, maps, maps. Whether we’re trying to go somewhere, or to leave somewhere, we need a map. I’m guessing we’ll see some road trip books.
  2. Hearts. Maybe this never went away. But a ton of contemporary YA features hearts this year. Love.
  3. Stars. Not the kindergarten-drawing type, but the glinting ones with purple galaxies around them (see Across the Universe if you don't know what I mean). This is a trend in YA lately, not just book covers. Books about space and aliens seem to be gaining popularity lately. Seems to be popular for titles too (The Fault in Our Stars, etc)
  4.  Kisses. Yowza, it looked like the romance novel section of the library where I was embarrassed to go with my older sister when I was that age. Now, it’s all over YA covers. Most are a tad more tasteful than romance novel covers. (Found more than a few upside down kisses, too…thanks, Spiderman).
  5. Threesomes. Not that kind, you perv. I’m hoping this isn’t indicative of a surge in love triangles, since I’m sick to death of those. But lots of YA covers this year have moved from the single face, to the kiss, and beyond. Crossing my fingers it signals an increase in friendship novels.
  6. Cursive. Titles (whole or single words within the title) are turning to cursive just as schools are turning away. Will young people be able to read this strange new font? Lol…  
  7.  Last but not least…there is always a random object that seems to pop up on covers, even when it has little to do with the book. And…this year’s random-object winner is…the dandelion! I know, it’s nothing new. But its popularity has only grown this year. Look for lots of dandelion fluff on covers this year.


Have you spotted any trends I failed to mention? Feel free to share!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Review: Nothing, by Janne Teller

NothingNothing by Janne Teller

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


4.5 stars

Note: If you read the spoilers, they do give away EVERYTHING, including the ending.

It seems every review of this has 1 star or 5 stars, so I guess you'd call it a 'love it or hate it' book. I loved it. It was reminiscent of Lord of the Flies for me. In Nothing, a group of kids go to further and further lengths to prove to a classmate that life does indeed have meaning. It's like a modern-day existential Lord of the Flies, where they aren't fighting for dominance and survival, but for meaning, for proof that life isn't just a fraud, for survival not of their physical selves but of their entire belief system.

The group of twelve to thirteen-year-olds begins by giving up little things that have meaning for them to show that something in life does have meaning. The author does a wonderful job of making each request seem unfair as they escalate, so that at first, you think it's unfair for a girl to give up a pair of green sandals, and by the end, you can't believe how petty it was that she only had to give up her shoes and complained about it. As the book progresses, you are dragged along at a steady pace, more and more shocked and horrified by each request as the group members push each other to new and cruel limits to see how far they can go, to make the next person give up more than the person before had to. There were a few times when I guessed what was coming. (view spoiler)
Everyone is saying this is a book about the meaning of life, but that wasn't the real message I took from it. If anything, this book was more about bullying and conformity and peer pressure. A few reviews have argued that Agnes is a weak and unlikeabale main character, but I didn't find her to be so. The book needed a point of view, so the author chose a random participant. She wasn't the best or the worst. She was just anyone, which fit perfectly with the story. That it could be just anyone, average in every way. She speaks up sometimes, but no more than anyone else. She's no better or worse than the others. She has qualms about the escalating events, but still goes along with the group, scared of speaking out, not only because she might get beaten up like some of the others, but because they might turn on her. I found the book gripping, horrifying, and possibly a bit damaging to my psyche. I recommend it to anyone who likes a good, deep read that doesn't drag on, but make sure you can handle a little grit in your peaches and cream.

The only part of the book that let me down was the ending, which was a bit abrupt for me, or just didn't feel really complete. (view spoiler)

The translation is not always smooth, and can be awkward at times, but the writing was still lovely. When I picked up the audiobook, I didn't realize it was a translation, and listening to it, I thought it might have been written in verse. When I found out it was a translation, the strange style made more sense. </["br"]></["br"]></["br"]></["br"]></["br"]></["br"]></["br"]></["br"]></["br"]></["br"]></["br"]>



View all my reviews

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Writer Wednesday: Book Spotlight on WHITE CHALK by Pavarti K Tyler




Welcome to a White Chalk Spotlight from Novel Publicity! This posts includes and excerpt, book blurb, and information about the author, Pavarti K Tyler. I just got my copy today and can't wait to read it. Look for a review coming soon.


An Excerpt

Too cold for me to be out, drenched in a thin sweatshirt, I trudged home after school. November had betrayed me with its promises of clear skies, and I’d skipped the bus.
Mr. Harris pulled up, his oversized body squished into the too small car. When the window rolled down, warm air tinged with the scent of coffee invited me in.
“It’s a little cold for you to be walking, isn’t it, honey?” He peered out the window, brows pulled high to his forehead, appraising my appearance.
“Can you drive me home, Mr. Harris?” My teeth chattered as I spoke.
“Come on, get in. But you know teachers aren’t supposed to pick up students on the side of the road.” He chuckled softly to himself.
“I know. I won’t tell anyone. Please? I’m just so cold.”
In the car, I kicked my soaked backpack out of the way of the heating vent and slid my feet out of my shoes. My toes had gotten so cold I half wondered if they’d be tinged with black—gangrene setting up shop. I leaned back and closed my eyes, letting the warmth of the car envelop me. When I opened them, I realized Mr. Harris hadn’t started driving again.
Instead, he sat staring at me. Parked in the middle of the road, his eyes roamed my body as I shivered.
Cold? Lust? I didn’t know, but the feeling of power spreading through my chest as he took in the curve of my hips made me bold. I sat up and pulled the wet sweatshirt over my head, revealing the T-Shirt beneath.
Mr. Harris shifted in his seat. His gaze fell upon my breasts and the sound of his breath sped up.
“Mr. Harris?” I asked, the temptation of seducing a teacher thrilling me.
“Yeah?” His voice was hoarse.
“Thanks for the ride.”
“What?” His body snapped to attention as he remembered where he was. “Oh, right… um….” He shifted position again.
“Really, I appreciate it.” I laid a hand on his arm and rose up in my seat, leaning forward so I could kiss him on the cheek—innocently, like kissing an uncle or cousin. But I knew it wasn’t, and when I pulled away, the dark intensity of his eyes told of desire I’d only been hoping to find.

About the Book

[caption id="attachment_3210" align="alignleft" width="200"]WCFinalCover Click to buy on Amazon[/caption]

Evolved Publishing presents an intimate glance inside teenage angst and confusion, and one talented but troubled girl's attempt to make sense of life, in the coming-of-age tale, "White Chalk," by award-winning author Pavarti K. Tyler. [Literary, New Adult, Women's Fiction]
Chelle isn’t a typical 13-year-old girl—she doesn’t laugh with friends, play sports, or hang out at the mall after school. Instead, she navigates a world well beyond her years.

Life in Dawson, ND spins on as she grasps at people, pleading for someone to save her—to return her to the simple childhood of unicorns on her bedroom wall and stories on her father’s knee.

When Troy Christiansen walks into her life, Chelle is desperate to believe his arrival will be her salvation. So much so, she forgets to save herself. After experiencing a tragedy at school, her world begins to crack, causing a deeper scar in her already fragile psyche.

Follow Chelle’s twisted tale of modern adolescence, as she travels down the rabbit hole into a reality none of us wants to admit actually exists.

About the Author


HeadshotAward winning author of multi-cultural and transgressive literature, Pavarti K Tyler is an artist, wife, mother and number cruncher. She graduated Smith College in 1999 with a degree in Theatre. After graduation, she moved to New York, where she worked as a Dramaturge, Assistant Director and Production Manager on productions both on and off Broadway. Later, Pavarti went to work in the finance industry several international law firms. She now lives with her husband, two daughters and one very large, very terrible dog. She keeps busy working with fabulous authors as the Director of Marketing at Novel Publicity and penning her next genre bending novel.
White Chalk (Evolved Publishing) marks Tyler’s third full length novel and promises readers familiar with her work the same mind bending experience. Her other projects include: Shadow on the Wall (Fighting Monkey Press) and Two Moons of Sera (Fighting Monkey Press). Shadow on the Wall has received many awards: Winner of the General Fiction/Novel Category of the 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Winner in the Fiction: Multicultural category for The 2012 USA Best Book Awards, and Finalist in the Multicultural Fiction category for the 2012 International Book Awards.

White Chalk has been hailed as “brave”, “raw”, and “destroyingly beautiful”. In line with novels such as White Oleander, Thirteen Reasons Why and Gemma, White Chalk invites you to witness one girl’s heartrending story of confusion and desperation.

You can find out more about Pavarti K Tyler here:

Twitter: PavartiDevi
Facebook: Facebook profile

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Review Wednesday: Jane, the Fox and Me, by Fanny Britt

Jane, the Fox and MeJane, the Fox and Me by Fanny Britt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This book is a wonderful, fast read for any and all ages, about feeling left out, fitting in, and finding shelter where you can.

Helene is a young girl, outcast from the girls who were once her friends. Though I'd have liked to know why, that is left a mystery. However, they now call her fat, and she has begun to believe it. The book is sweet but also sad, funny, and hopeful. At one point, her mother takes her to try on swimsuits, which are too small, leading Helene to picture herself as a sausage. Who hasn't looked in a mirror and felt that way? The sad thing was that she is only a kid.

Helene takes refuge in Jane Eyre (who, she points out, would never be a sausage, even though she is poor and plain). One of the most clever aspects of the book was the masterful use of color. Helene's life is black and white, but as soon as she opens Jane Eyre, the pages are colored. When she closes the book, she's back to her own uncolored life...

Until one day while on a camping trip, she sees a fox. The fox is in color. It's such a striking contrast to the previous illustrations that you know it's important. She says, If a human looked at me with those eyes, my soul would be his.

And then a human does. She makes a friend. A few leaves are colored on the next page. She finishes Jane Eyre. It has a happy ending. She's going to lend it to her friend. The last pages of Helene's story are in color.

I can't express how special this graphic novel is. Please read it. It only took me 20 minutes and it is worth many more.

Recommended for everyone, but esp. reluctant reader girls, those who are lonely, outcast, bullied, or overweight.



View all my reviews

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Book News

I've been making some changes in my published books lately, as well as my approach.

I re-released a heavily edited version of The Superiors in paperback and Kindle editions on Sunday. If you have it on your Kindle, you should be able to get the updated version free. Trust me, it was embarrassing to read back over the one I had on there. I will never stop finding awkward phrases, etc.

If you don't have The Superiors yet, it will be free on Amazon March 13-18. So click on the link over there to the right, and it will take you right to it.

I've taken The Superiors off sale everywhere but Amazon for the time being. The Renegades is also exclusively available on Amazon. It's that link over there to the right, too.

Next project? Rewriting my new YA novel, which I hope to release later this year under a pen name. Also, writing the next book in the series, rewriting Book Four in the Superiors Series, and editing Book Two for re-release.

Guess it's time to get off the internet...

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Read an Ebook Week: Review: The Day the World Ended, by Anna O'Hare

The Day the World EndedThe Day the World Ended by Anna O'Hare

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


4.5 stars

Okay, confession time. I haven’t read many indies. When I first started publishing, I did a few review swaps, but that made me very uncomfortable. First off, I don’t like to write bad reviews, and since I know how hard it is for indie authors, I’m even more hesitant to add a bad review, even if it is deserving. Secondly, there’s the fear of retribution when you’re trading reviews. So, after trading 3 or 4 reviews, I’d had enough. This came about for two reasons, the main one being I received a book that was riddled with typos and just plain bad—it looked like the author published a first draft. I was left struggling to find something nice to say beyond, “I’m sorry I’m not going to review your book because it should never have been published,” or “Please for the sake of other indie authors, hire an editor or bribe an English teacher, or at least learn to use spell check. You’re making us all look bad.”

However, that’s a silly reason not to read indies (though I will not be trading reviews probably ever). Since I’m an indie author, it seems traitorous not to read other indies. So, after seeing a thread on Goodreads asking for reviews, I discovered this little gem (free on Smashwords, and more than worth your time). I will admit, I was a little hesitant to read something that’s supposed to be ya sci-fi (burned out on the genre), but I lost all reservations as I devoured the first chapters without pause. Because the end of the world here is simply a catalyst. It’s not the focus of the story, but what drives each story.

This book is about three groups of kids who are waiting for the end of the world (which is happening in a few days). What would you do if the world was ending in four days? Would you go find an abandoned house and make it your hideout, so you and your friends could hang out there, eat junk food and watch TV, have food fights, and be together? Would you seek revenge on a group of bullies who killed a classmate? Would you formulate a plan to break in to you rival high school and hang your school’s banner from the roof?

Each story drew me in. At first, I liked the story of the younger kids in the abandoned house the most. I liked how they kept their morals and didn’t succumb to anarchy. They had a food fight, but then they cleaned up the house, because if they were going to hang out there for the next few days, they wanted it nice. I hurried through some of the sections about the other kids so I could get back to this group. (view spoiler) Their story felt the most complete to me.

The second storyline is about a girl, her little brother, and her cousin, who idolizes her, seeking revenge on some bullies. I would have liked if the boy the bullies killed had been Grace’s friend or crush, so that she had a reason for wanting to seek revenge so much. It seemed a bit odd that she just decided to dole out the punishment on behalf of some kid she’d only talked to one time. This storyline ended up feeling a bit weird to me. Still, it drew me in enough that I’d always want to keep reading to find out what revenge she’d dole out to the next boy, as her punishments grow increasingly alarming as the story goes on, until you realize that Grace is a complete psychopath. I kept waiting for her companions to stand up to her and realize she’s lost it and say no, they’re not going to go through with her escalating terror. Because it soon becomes apparent that Grace is a huge bully herself—not only to the boys she’s seeking revenge against, but to her little brother and cousin, too. (view spoiler)

The third story, about the group of poor high school kids, started out as the one that didn’t grab my immediate interest, but ended up being my favorite. I didn’t like it at first because I didn’t like the main character, who is a teenager who is good at everything, has life all figured out, and is completely at peace. Which I don’t believe exists. But, as the story went on and the characters developed, I really enjoyed it. All the schools have closed, since the world is ending, except the poor kids’ school, because they don’t have anywhere else to go (perfect!) I loved their two teachers, and the weird morose kid, the snarky girl, the perfect couple, etc. All the characters came alive and seemed exactly like real people you’d know at a high school. (view spoiler)

For a grammar nazi like me, I can’t read a book without noticing the mistakes, even in traditionally published books. There were a few in here, but the story was so compulsively readable that they were easily overlooked. I’m so used to editing that any mistake tends to jump out at me. There were a few times when I wasn’t sure if something was a mistake or British slang. Overall, the grammar was fine and the mistakes were few.

The storyline was easy to follow and addictive. I was reading this on my phone as I walked at the track every day, and I’d find myself reading it as I walked to my car afterwards, sometimes sitting in my car reading a few more minutes because I was at an exciting part and couldn’t stop reading.

The characters were mostly well-developed, at least the main players. Since the three stories have different characters, and some have dozens, obviously all are not completely rounded, but every character is unique and wonderful. Overall, this was a fast-paced character focused YA that would appeal to readers of sci-fi as well as contemporary YA. And if you hurry, it’s free on Smashwords (if you aren’t familiar, you should be—they format for download to any device), so grab it while you can, because it’s a steal.

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View all my reviews

Monday, March 3, 2014

Read an Ebook Week

For those unaware, this is Read an Ebook Week. In celebration, Smashwords (if you don't know this site and you read ebooks, get acquainted!) has a huge site-wide sale, with tons of books free and discounted this week. Among those that are free, The Superiors and The Vigilantes. The Renegades, just published on Smashwords yesterday, is half off for the week. Tons and tons of other books are free, and it's free to sign up for an account if you don't have one already. You can download any version on the site--mobi, epub, even pdf. So go explore a bit and find some free books. The coupon codes to get the books free or half off are listed under the 'Buy' button on each book's page.

I'll be posting an ebook review on Wednesday in celebration of Read an Ebook Week.