Monday, December 19, 2011

Day 19: YA novels - including one by a Portlander!

Welcome to Day 19 in our 24 Days of Books. Local writer/illustrator and husband/wife team Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis have been getting much (well-deserved) attention for the first book in their new middle-reader trilogy, Wildwood. Another Portland author, who writes books for young adults, is also receiving major accolades for her work.

Laini Taylor, who was a finalist for last year's National Book Award for Young Readers for her book LipsTouch, Three Times, has a new book out that The New York Times recently named one of the top five Young Adult books of 2011: Daughter of Smoke and Bone, a romantic adventure fantasy set in Prague. The first book in a planned trilogy, Daughter of Smoke and Bone centers on a young blue-haired girl named Karou who encounters unusual creatures and dangerous angels as she travels the world to carry out mysterious errands. Karou gradually becomes aware that she is part of ancient struggle between devils and angels and finds herself in a forbidden romance with a warrior angel.

The New York Times describes the book as "a breath-catching romantic fantasy about destiny, hope and the search for one’s true self that doesn’t let readers down. Taylor has taken elements of mythology, religion and her own imagination and pasted them into a believably fantastical collage."

“My goal is always to write stories that readers will want to climb inside of and live in, and which – I hope – will allow them to just lose themselves in the page,” said Taylor, who has clearly succeeded in her goal. In an attempt to find the next Twilight hit, the movie rights to the book have already been acquired by Universal in a hotly contested battle.

Taylor lives in Portland with her husband, the illustrator Jim Di Bartolo (he did the illustrations for her previous book) and their daughter. At the end of this blog post is a video of Taylor talking about her new book. But first, a couple of other YA books to consider this holiday season:

Why We Broke Up, by Daniel Handler (who has also written as Lemony Snicket) and illustrated by the wonderful Maira Kalman tells the story of the break-up of high schoolers Min Green and Ed Slaterton, through a letter and the detritus of their relationship.

One of the hottest YA books of the season is the fourth and final installment in the Inheritance cycle by Christopher Paolini. Inheritance concludes the compelling story that began with Eragon (written when the author was only fifteen years old!) -- if you're lucky, you might get one of our few remaining signed copies!

Also one of the top five YA novels cited by the NYT, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater tells the fantastical story of racing killer water horses in coming-of-age story about a young girl named Puck.

Whip-smart and wickedly funny author Libba Bray provides social commentary galore in Beauty Queens, about a plane full of Miss Teen Dream beauty contestants that crashes on an apparently deserted island.

We've got all kinds of YA books for your holiday shopping, including a boxed set of The Hunger Games trilogy -- just tells us about the person you're shopping for and we'll try to match you up with just the right gifts.

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