All tagged Sara Zarr

Podcast Episode #26 - Talking with Courtney Summers About Everything, Part 3

We were lucky to recently spend over three hours (!) talking with noted Supernatural expert Courtney Summers. (We hear she writes books too.) We covered a range of subjects from zombies with fashion sense to writing characters experiencing trauma and everything in between. 

You can find the first part of this conversation over here, and the second right here--we highly recommend listening to them in order. In this episode, we chat about books, but we spend the bulk of our time talking about television and women's representation, and Justin Timberlake and the 50 Shades of Grey movie trailer.

Connect with Courtney: Website Twitter | Tumblr | Facebook 

If you've not read Courtney's books, two are now available in a nifty bind-up that will have a Justin Timberlake song frolicking in your head for days, What Goes Around. 

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We certainly appreciate all the support, tweets, shares and all-around enthusiasm we've received for the podcast! 

Links + Things: Algonquin's Young Reader Imprint, The Fringe Book and a Year of Verse Novels

This week, I have a bunch of interesting news, ranging from an intriguing new young adult and middle grade imprint and a free download of one of my favorite light-hearted romance novels.


Algonquin Launches YA/YR Imprint (Facebook)
Algonquin Young Readers, launching Fall 2013, is a new imprint of Algonquin Books dedicated to publishing works of the same literary merit and enduring qualities that are hallmarks of the Algonquin tradition.

Algonquin Books has released some interesting and well-performing fiction in the last few years (including the Water for Elephants), and this week they announced that they're launching an imprint focused on middle grade and young adult titles, Algonquin Young Readers. This is pretty intriguing, and it sounds like they're taking a literary approach to their acquisitions (they're posted on their Facebook page, linked above). 

The one that piques my interest the most is Sara Farizan's If You Could Be Mine, which is about a lesbian teen in Iran, where being gay is punishable by death. (There's a preview up on Scribd.)

I'm excited to see where they go with this imprint, since I do think there's a market for more literary-minded books for young people.

Review: Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr

It’s like a Venn diagram of tragedy.


Once Was Lost by Sara ZarrA perfect flower graces the cover of Sara Zarr’s Once Was Lost. Its soft pink petals top a long, graceful stem. One perfect petal drifts from an otherwise unmarred blossom like a tear falling to the ground.

Blemished  perfection symbolized as a lone teardrop perfectly represents Sam’s life.  Samara, Sam to her family and friends, lives in a cushioned and beautiful world of her family’s creation. Her father’s a pastor, her mother’s a lovely woman, active in her church and liked by her peers.

Yet, a darker side coexists within this dubious heaven.

Fifteen-year old Sam’s secure life in small town Pineville shatters following two events. First, her mother’s DUI lands her in rehab for  alcohol addiction. While Sam struggles with the pain of her mother’s illness and absence, she grapples with embarrassment when asked about when her mother will return; worse yet, she’s confused by father’s unwillingness to be forthright with his congregation about the reason for his wife’s absence. Sam’s appalled by what she perceives as an inappropriate relationship between her father and the attractive and lively youth minister, Erin.

Whew… that’s a mouthful, eh?

Awhile back, I made the flip obversation on Goodreads, that I think our reading and understanding of books—especially those in the young adult category—is often very influenced by the generation whose culture with which we most identify.

I gave the example of how often I come across reviews of books I’ve read where the reviewer is very critical of what she reads as “slut shaming” in the novel (check out the reviews of Fracture, for example). And, honestly, it’s not something I particularly notice (I’m at the tail end of Generation X)—and I’ve got a couple of women’s studies degrees. (I’m not saying it’s not relevant, it’s just not on my radar, because that was a big issue long after I was solidly in Grownupland.)

Condom usage (or lack thereof) is another time this division seems to show up. When I read a novel and there’s sex and there’s no condom, I freak the hell out, because I grew up in the 80s/90s where AIDS was an automatic death sentence and well before teen pregnancy was glamorized with all this Teen Mom malarky. I’ve been told by people older than me that they don’t care for mention of condom usage because they think it’s “disruptive” or “jarring.” (Their argument is that the condom usage is implied.) And I’m all, “Dying is disruptive!” And, now, interestingly, I’ve heard the same from people in their 20s on this topic. (Which boggles my mind, but that’s another subject.)

My mom (60s) has very different reactions to things than I do, which I always think is fascinating. And, when we got into this discussion on Goodreads, folks in their 20s had very different thoughts that I. Obviously, a lot of that is just different tastes and other things such as geography, but I think generational contexts are enormous. 

So… where am I going with all this?