What a Rush! – the (Belated) April/May Wind-up

May/April Win-upIn this month’s (double) wind-up: BEA-palooza, books continue to glare, and Marissa Meyer does the best version of Little Red Riding Hood known to man. 

The Events

April and May were the best months of my literary year: not only did I get to meet the brilliant Michael Grant, I also attended Book Expo America. My recaps of these events were numerous and detailed. Check them out:

The Reads

My favourite book of the past two months was – by far – Scarlet by Marissa Meyer. I don’t know WHY I haven’t reviewed it yet, as I had so many overwhelmingly positive feelings about it. (Although, same goes for The Fault in Our Stars, which I am still trying to work out how to review coherently.) Scarlet came off of my April TBR pile and made everything else I picked up pale in comparison.

In May, I set out to read a whole tonne of books that were the final installments in my favourite series. Out of the TBR pile, I finished off the Vampire Academy series, the Soul Screamers series and… that’s it. I blame BEA for distracting me so thoroughly from this noble attempt of mine!! Still, I feel very good about having Last Sacrifice off of my TBR pile. That book has been glaring at me for years now.

The Non-bookish (ahem, TV)

I’ve been loving Elementary and Game of Thrones these past few months. The former I had hoarded on my computer awaiting my trip to New York – it was a great, Sherlockian preview of the city. As for Game of Thrones, who isn’t watching that? No really, if you aren’t watching it, let me know so that I can convince you of the error of your ways.

Summer Shorts - Dead Book DarlingSummer Shorts

I had some very intense exams early June, hence the slow postings, but I shall be on full-time this summer starting with the return of the Summer Shorts. This is my weekly summer feature (every weekend, July and August), in which I review fantastic YA and Speculative Fiction short stories. The 2013 edition of Summer Shorts will have a bit of extra engagement in it, so look out for how you can participate!

Event Recap: Michael Grant signing

If 7-year-old me could see me now, she would be so jealous. Why? Because on Saturday, at the brilliant Muswell Hill Children’s Bookshop, I met Michael Grant.

Most YA readers will probably know Michael Grant from his Gone series or from Eve and Adam, which he co-wrote with his wife. Me? I knew him from the amazing Animorphs and Everworld series. Admittedly, it took me an obscene length of time to realise that those series weren’t only written by his wife, Katherine A. Applegate – but once I did, he shot up onto the “GODly AUTHOR” list pretty quick.

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So, the signing.

First off, the bookshop was completely packed. People were queued up outside to meet Michael – most of them kids accompanied by their parents but I also spotted a few teens and people in their twenties (so I didn’t feel too ancient!). The staff was super welcoming and engaged with pretty much everyone in line despite the limited space. To be perfectly frank, I’ve never seen such great hand-selling before. There’s a reason this bookshop is famous: great staff and great shelves.

I got there right towards the end of the signing, so I only waited about 15 minutes in line. Michael spent a lot of time with people in line, answering questions with surprising detail. Hearing him engage with everyone else gave me that extra boost of confidence to open my mouth and overshare.

Sure enough, I started off by telling him that – though I was sure that lots of twentysomethings had told him this before – the Animorphs series ruled my life as a kid, and that I’d read every single one (and still have them all). I’d written papers on the books and had, quite frankly, been completely obsessed. He had, indeed, heard this all before – so he told me about how, when revisiting the books when older, other fans had seen all the juicy extras going on in the background. It was that political vibe with its lovely moral ambiguity was what I had loved about the books when I was younger, though it was hard to spot at the time.

We then talked about how the series was published under his wife’s name, and he made a few really funny remarks about how they are in constant competition. He directed me towards the Reddit that Katherine did back in 2011 about the series (confirming that, yes, he was hovering over her shoulder for the entire time). I hadn’t known of its existence but, WOW. If you’re a fan of the series, take the time and scroll through it. There are so many great details in there!

All in all: a fantastic experience. I was so happy to see so many kids/adults/Yerks in attendance, and meeting Michael was an absolute treat. 7-year-old me is so, so jealous.

If you are in Ireland, you can still catch the tail end of Michael’s tour this week (more details here). Want to know more about Michael, the universe and everything? Check out:

Clear your calendars, Michael Grant and Rachel Caine are coming!

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Book Notes is a regular feature at Dead Book Darling highlighting bookish news, curiosities and gossip spotted across the blogosphere. May the drama be with you…

Upcoming Author Events – UK/Ireland

Spring seems to have brought with it a whole host of authors here for their tours. Of the many that are making the rounds, I thought I’d highlight the brilliant Michael Grant and Rachel Caine!

Michael Grant is the author of the Gone series and co-creator of the Animorphs and Everworld series. Those latter two series absolutely ruled my childhood/early teens – I even wrote a long love-letter-esque post to the Everworld series on the blog. When I heard he would be in the UK I could not contain my excitement!! He will be here next week – take a look at his schedule and see if you can make any of the events!

  • Wednesday 24 April 6.30pm – Waterstones Piccadilly: In conversation with journalist Lucy Mangan
  • Saturday 27 April 4pm- 5pm – Signing at Muswell Hill bookshop [I am going to try to make this one! Send me a tweet if you’ll be there!]
  • Monday 29 April 6.30 to 7.30pm – Talk at Waterstones Plymouth
  • Thursday 2 May 6pm – Talk and Q & A at Eason O’Connell, Dublin
  • Friday 3 May 4pm – Public signing at Eason Dundrum, Dublin

Rachel Caine (who I’m a huge fan of, in case the zillion reviews of her books I’ve posted hasn’t given me away) will also be coming! She’s got a lot of events scheduled, but the one I really want to highlight is the Foyles event – which OMG AMAZING. Why? Well, she’ll be in conversation with Sarah Rees Brennan, that’s why! It breaks my blooming heart that I won’t be able to make it, but I strongly urge you all to go!

FoylesTuesday 14 May 2013 6:30pm – 7:30pm

Venue: the Gallery at Foyles, 113 – 119 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0JG

The adventures of Claire Danvers, a teenage girl who finds herself fighting for her life in the vampire-infested town of Morganville, Texas, are known and loved by young readers around the world. In fact, the first of Rachel Caine’s Morganville novels was recently voted number one in a national poll of children’s favourite books. Fresh from publishing Fall of Night, the 14th (and, we’re sad to say, penultimate) in the series, the teen horror sensation joins us for a special London event, to give her fans a glimpse behind the scenes of these wildly popular novels.

Rachel will be in conversation with Sarah Rees Brennan, author of the bestselling Demon’s Lexicon trilogy.

Tickets: £3, redeemable against cover price of Fall of Night on the evening.

Here’s the full list of her UK Tour events (you’ll find additional info about the signings here):

  • May 10: Waterstones Bristol Gallery
  • May 11: Waterstones Southampton West Quay
  • May 11: Waterstones Bournemouth Arcade
  • May 12 : WH Smith Exeter
  • May 14: Foyle’s Charing Cross Road (London)
  • May 15: Talk, Q&A and Signing at Waterstones Leeds
  • May 17: Talk, Q&A and signing at Waterstones Nottingham
  • May 18: WH Smith Darlington
  • May 18: WH Smith Stockton-on-Tees
  • May 19: Waterstones Finchley Road O2 Centre (London)

Books on the Backlist: The Everworld Series

Once upon a time, there was an author named K. A. Applegate.  And – back in the 90s – almost every boy and girl had read her middle-grade series Animorphs.  It was an awesome, sci-fi series about teens who are given superpowers and forced to save the world.  This series taught me about loyalty, bravery, how to make tough (and sometimes immoral) decisions – all while seeing diving through the ocean as a dolphin, soaring across the skies as a hawk, or snuggling up to your favourite person as a dog.  Its 55+ books still occupy a shrine-like space on my shelves, and you can guarantee that I will be giving the books any child of mine.  Oh, and there was a TV show which starred that hot guy who has a twin… anyhow.  If you have no idea what I am talking about, you may soon, as Scholastic is reissuing the Animorphs books in May 2011.  I am not too crazy on the new covers, but think it is awesome that I even have new covers to complain about.

So, after Animorphs, Applegate wrote a Paranormal Young Adult series called Everworld.  It was the one and only YA series I read as a young adult, and it was fantastic – 12 books which followed 4 teens stuck in a crazy universe which took Old World Mythology and stuck it in a blender. I wish I could explain how much I loved this series: it was very dark, quite bloody, occasionally romantic, and had a dash of humour in some rather unexpected places.

K.A. Applegate has written about a zillion other books which I haven’t read.  I know the Making Out series and the Summer series really influenced a lot of teens in the 90s.  But for me, my love for Applegate began with Animorphs and then grew with Everworld. I seriously recommend the Everworld series if you are looking for something new to become addicted to.  There is plenty of romance alongside the godly beasts, not to mention the fantastic writing.  Here are a few blurbs and covers to wet your appetite:
by K. A. Applegate

David’s life was pretty normal. School. Friends. Girlfriend. Actually, Senna was probably the oddest aspect of his life. She was beautiful. Smart. But there was something very different about her. Something strange. And on the day it began, everything happened so quickly. One moment, Senna was with him. The next, she was swallowed up by the earth. Her screams echoing from far, far away. David couldn’t just let her go. Neither could the others. His friends – and hers. So, they followed. And found themselves in a world they never could have imagined. Now they have to find Senna and get home without losing their lives. Or their minds. Or both…

The Everworld Series

In the dark past, Zeus and Odin, Huitzilopoctli and Ra, and the other gods of myth decided to abandon the real world. They created another universe, where magic rules, where all the mystery and terror of these capricious immortals holds sway. It is a place where Vikings still sail in the name of Thor, where the Aztecs still make human sacrifices to Huitzilopoctli, and where Merlin still weaves his subtle webs.

For a thousand years and more, Everworld has existed apart from the real world. But now Everworld is in trouble. The cozy universe created by Earth’s ancient immortals has been invaded by the creatures of myths that are no part of human tradition. The gods are under attack, divided and terrified. And in this moment of supreme danger, Loki, Norse god of evil, reaches across the barrier between Everworld and the real world to seize a new power: Senna Wales.

Senna carries with her four ordinary high school kids from the Midwest: David, the insecure hero and Senna’s love; Christopher, the joker Senna spurned, who hides his own anger and bigotry beneath a glib veneer; Jalil, cold, calculating, and so devoted to rationality he can’t even acknowledge his own strange tie to Senna; and April, Senna’s half sister — actress, flirt, and Senna’s most dangerous enemy.

The series is currently out of print (I know, right??), but you can get new copies of the books very very easily on Amazon Marketplace (US site).

But you know what would be awesome, oh Scholastic dearest… a bind-up!  A lovely, shiny, beautiful bind-up of the Everworld books.  Consider that small plea from a girl who would consistently drag 50+ Scholastic books to the counter (á-la-Matilda) for her mother to buy.