Aug 14, 2012

Author Top Ten: Stephanie Parent - Defy the Stars

Stephanie Parent - Defy the Stars

• Pub Date: July 30, 2012
• Publisher: Stephanie Parent
• Format: ebook, 325 pages
• Age Range: Young Adult

Julia Cape: A dedicated classical piano student just trying to get through her last semester of high school while waiting to hear from music conservatories.

Reed MacAllister: A slacker more likely to be found by the stoners’ tree than in class.

Julia and Reed might have graduated high school without ever speaking to each other…until, during a class discussion of Romeo and Juliet, Julia scoffs at the play’s theme of love at first sight, and Reed responds by arguing that feelings don’t always have to make sense. Julia tries to shake off Reed’s comment and forget about this boy who hangs with the stoner crowd—and who happens to have breathtaking blue eyes—but fate seems to bring the two together again and again. After they share an impulsive, passionate kiss, neither one can deny the chemistry between them. Yet as Julia gets closer to Reed, she also finds herself drawn into his dark world of drugs and violence. Then a horrific tragedy forces Julia’s and Reed’s families even farther apart…and Julia must decide whether she’s willing to give up everything for love.

Defy the Stars is written in an edgy free-verse style that will appeal to fans of Ellen Hopkins and Lisa Schroeder; however, the writing is accessible enough to speak to non-verse fans as well. The novel’s combination of steamy romance and raw emotion will appeal to fans of Gayle Forman, Simone Elkeles, Jennifer Echols, and Tammara Webber. With a story, language and form that both pay homage to and subvert Shakespeare’s play, Defy the Stars is much more than just another Romeo and Juliet story.

Top Ten Amazing YA Books You Might Not Have Heard Of
by Stephanie Parent

1. DANGEROUS ANGELS by Francesca Lia Block
Dangerous Angels is actually a collection of all five Weetzie Bat books, first published separately between 1989 and 1995, but the individual novels are short and I recommend reading them all together.  NO ONE writes like Francesca Lia Block; she has the most unique, magical, multi-sensory way of describing the world and particularly the city of Los Angeles, where these novels are set.  Her books include the coolest made-up slang too, with exclamations like “Lanky Lizards!”  And one of the characters is named My Secret Agent Lover Man…  Seriously, check these books out!

2. LOCAL GIRLS by Alice Hoffman
Alice Hoffman is another writer with a magical, distinctive way of describing the world; she writes about simple, familiar people and situations, but does so with such beauty it will make you gasp.  Local Girls, my favorite of her books, is actually a collection of linked short stories that, read together, follow the main character Gretel from the age of twelve through to college.  Although the book is marketed as adult fiction, I think it will speak to many young adult readers.

3. TALLULAH FALLS by Christine Fletcher
Christine Fletcher was a veterinarian before writing her first YA novel, Tallulah Falls, and it shows in her remarkable descriptions of animals throughout this book.  Anyone who loves animals, especially horses and dogs, should read this one, and it’s also a perceptive take on difficult female friendships and on mental illness.

4. THE WIND BLOWS BACKWARD by Mary Downing Hahn
Mary Downing Hahn is deservedly well known for her creepy middle-grade ghost stories, but she also writes realistic fiction for a slightly older audience, including this book.  The main character, Lauren, loves books and poetry and libraries—need I say more?

5. LIZARD LOVE by Wendy Townsend
I found this book by chance while browsing the library, and I’m so glad I did!  While I’m an animal lover, I’m not much of a reptile person…but this book converted me!  The descriptions of reptiles and the ways they can bond with humans are AMAZING and will make you look at iguanas, snakes and more in a completely new light.  Grace, the heroine, is a very relatable teenager trying to deal with growing up and with her changing world.  I think many readers will identify with her, whether they’re lizard lovers or not!

6. MY BOOK OF LIFE BY ANGEL by Martine Leavitt
This book isn’t out till September, but since it’s a verse novel about a controversial subject, I’m pretty sure it won’t get as much attention as it deserves, so I’m including it on this list.  This is a wrenching novel about child prostitution that was partly inspired by a series of crimes in the Vancouver, Canada area.  The voice and writing is amazing, as are the allusions to Paradise Lost and the take on angels.  Gritty, emotional, and like nothing else you’ve ever read.

7. EVERYTHING IS FINE by Ann Dee Ellis
Everything Is Fine is written in spare vignettes that only gradually let us into the main character’s emotional turmoil.   Mazzy is an honest, quirky narrator who doesn’t sugarcoat her life and her problems, and the more you learn about what really happened to her and her family, the more you’ll care about these characters and root for them to make it through.

This book was originally published in England under the title KNIFE, and unfortunately I think the book’s American publisher did it a disservice by releasing it with a new title and cover that appear more middle grade than YA.  While older middle-grade readers would probably love this book as well, and it doesn’t have any offensive/overly mature content, it’s actually the start of one of my favorite YA series.  R.J. Anderson creates an absolutely enchanting new take on faery lore, and she adds some great explorations of art and creativity as well!  Plus a really sweet and satisfying love story.

9. THE SWAN KINGDOM by Zoe Marriott
This is another book that was first published in England, and it’s a wonderfully unique, vivid retelling of one of my favorite fairy tales, The Six Swans.  If you like fairy tale retellings by Shannon Hale, Jessica Day George, and Robin McKinley, you should give this one a try!

10. KISSING ANNABEL by Steven Herrick
This is actually a compilation of two verse novels (the second is a sequel to the first) by Australian author Steven Herrick: LOVE, GHOSTS AND FACIAL HAIR and A PLACE LIKE THIS.  And the first title gives you a big clue as to the quirky, sweet, honest nature of the two novels.  They’re short, so I definitely recommend reading them together.  Herrick deals with serious topics in a powerful way despite the small number of words he uses, and at the end, this one will leave you with a big smile on your face.

Stephanie Parent is a YA author repped by Brenda Bowen of Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. She is a graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC and attended the Baltimore School for the Arts as a piano major.

Find Stephanie:
goodreads | website | amazon

Giveaway Alert!!
The lovely Stephanie Parent is giving away an ebook copy of her novel, Defy the Stars, as well as a $5.00 Amazon Gift Card!!! She rocks!! So enter below using the Rafflecopter form. Show her some love, guys. She's pretty awesome. Ends 8/20/2012. International giveaway! Questions? Email me at imabookshark at yahoo. Thanks and good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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