Our Shelf Lives

books & food from our shelves to yours

We’ll Be Back

Just going to take a little bit of a hiatus.

New on Tuesday: In Which the Fall Book Season Arrives with a Vengeance

August is a notoriously slow book month. All the publishers take long naps and read books on the beach and stuff.

Thankfully, August is over. September has arrived.

And I hope, dear readers, that you can swim — because there is a thunderstorm, a flash flood, a deluge of new books headed this way.

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The New New York Times Bestseller List

It’s my birthday, and the NYT has decided to give me a present: a new and improved bestseller list.

via GIPHY

You do not seem as excited as I am. BUT YOU SHOULD BE. This was the exchange Amanda and I had via text upon learning of this glorious news:

nyt list text

But let’s not bury the lead any further: Starting today, the NYT Children’s Bestseller list will become many lists, including YA Hardcover, YA Paperback, Middle Grade Hardcover, Middle Grade Paperback, and Children’s Series.

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Carly’s Corner: Lady-Geeks I Love

This is a celebration. Of magic and spaceships, of endless possibility, of female characters and female writers.

The speculative genres have been in turmoil recently, largely because a small (but vocal) subset of the fandom has decided that stories by and about marginalized voices are somehow less valid and less representative than stories by and about straight, white men.

If you’re curious about that, go here, then here, then here.

If you just want to hear about my favorite science fiction and fantasy lady authors, keep reading. (Cred to Brenna Clarke Gray for the phrase “lady-geek,” which I whole-heartedly identify with and am therefore shamelessly borrowing).

In no particular order:

1. Tamora Pierce —This lady taught a younger me how awesome it was to be a lady. In addition to being extraordinarily forward-thinking about sex, relationships, and a woman’s place in the world, the ladies she wrote all put their own spin on “strong female character.”

They could be deadly and prickly, but also fond of pretty things. What a concept, amirite?

2. Margaret Atwood — Someday, when I grow up, I would be honored to be something like Margaret Atwood. She writes it (and tweets it) like it is, and yet still manages to make something beautiful of this messy world we live in.

While I don’t remember any of the exact words I heard her say when I saw her speak in person my junior year of college… I think I’ll forever remember being left behind with a profound sense of awe. It was sort of like seeing royalty, except that I don’t know if even dear Queenie can get at the truth the way Margaret Atwood can.

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I Really Want to Have a Game of Thrones Dinner Party. Is that Weird?

I have had very mixed feelings about this season of Game of Thrones (as has the rest of the internet, so I won’t go on about it ad nauseum). But one thing that it has inspired in me is a desire to go back to A Song of Ice and Fire itself and really dig in deep.

Hence this:

But also… it’s made me want to host a dinner party.

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Why Do My Horse Scenes Read Like Porn, And Other Writer Problems

Greetings, friends! Sorry I’ve fallen off the posting bandwagon, but I’ve had a good reason. I’m just about ready to send my novel out to agents, which is both exciting and terrifying. And also extremely nervewracking, because I’m in the final stage of edits now and I hate it.

The thing is, when I’m drafting I have no idea if what I’m writing is complete nonsense. I’m just happy that it’s happening and that there’s some semblance of story and it flows and is awesome. But editing? That’s when you realize what actually came out of your brain. And by the twenty millionth round, which I’m pretty sure is the draft I’m on now, it’s fairly frustrating that I still find nonsense.

But that’s the fun of it, isn’t it? That’s what they keep telling me. And it really is gratifying to see the thing getting better. And guys, I’m so close! So so close!

Nevertheless, in the interest of making it take even longer because I’m procrastinating (I even got a ticket to the top of the Washington Monument today, just to avoid edits), here’s a few of the top writer problems I’ve experienced while editing.

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New on Tuesday: At Long Last

One thing that I’ve noticed recently is that waiting a year between books (or nine months between the announcement and the pub date) no longer seems as excruciating as it once did.

I suppose I’m getting older and years are getting (relatively speaking) shorter. And really, I just don’t mind the anticipation. Anticipation is part of the fun — because once I get the thing in hand, it’s really only going to be five to twenty hours until its over. So you have to learn to like the anticipation: the wondering, the dreaming, the dread.

But… you also get to be really excited when pub day finally arrives.

And today, my friends, is pub day for several books I’ve been anticipating for quite long enough now, thank you.

Up first: A Court of Thorns and Roses, by Sarah J. Maas

I’ve been looking forward to this one since I heard that it was coming out. (And I’ve been looking forward to it even more since I saw this drop-dead cover.) It hits a lot of my buttons: fairytale retellings, fairies, dark twists, badass heroines.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

So yes, that means it’s a Beauty and the Beast retelling. HOORAY! Even better, it sounds like it lets the tale keep its teeth, which isn’t always the case with these sorts of retellings.

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Sunday Thrillers at Books of Wonder

On Sunday, I made my way to Books of Wonder to catch up with Lauren Oliver, Seth Fishman, and Jacqueline Green to discuss YA thrillers. Though it was a bit of a sacrifice for all of us to be inside on such a glorious day, it was worth it for an hour of reading aloud and Q&A that simply flew by.

(Disclaimer: A fair bit of paraphrasing occurs below, because I don’t carry around a tape recorder.)

To start us off, the audience shouted out numbers and each author read aloud from the corresponding page in their book. Despite not having a chance to pick a particularly flashy page or take a few practice runs at the reading, all three performed admirably.

What was fun and refreshing about the exercise was seeing the authors be just as surprised as we were by the stuff that showed up on the page.

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Write Stuff: 7 Ways Not to Finish Your Novel

In this edition of Write Stuff, an abundance of sarcasm and a dash of sincerity.

This is a shout-out to all you brave souls undertaking Camp NaNoWriMo — well done, bravo, congrats! I have decided to bow out gracefully from the whole concept of scary word count rat races (it doesn’t work for me), but I admire your fortitude and productivity.

I might even be a bit jealous.

Should I distract you? I think I should distract you.

Let’s celebrate the fact that you’ve made it halfway through the month (and have written like a bajillion words) with seven things that will totally not help you finish your NaNo novel.

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Last-Minute Prep: Game of Thrones is Coming

We have 24 short hours left until Season 5 of Game of Thrones arrives, and if you aren’t excited, you’re quite possibly dead. (Or you just don’t like epic fantasy, in which case you’re dead to me.)

I’ve been trying my best to squeeze in anticipation and preparation for the new season over the last few weeks, but between work, life, and other obsessions, it’s been a bit of a struggle. Rereading AFFC and ADWD was the original goal, but that hasn’t quite worked out — and if you’re just thinking about prepping now, there’s of course no way you’re going to slog through those two beautiful, heavy, and slightly ponderous books between now and tomorrow at 9.

So what can you do to get your GoT game back before tomorrow’s premiere?

(No spoilers for those who have only seen the show. Promise.)

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