Bevy BEA tips

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We will be honest, you can never fully be prepared for your first trip to Book Expo America. It’s one of those events you just have to experience firsthand. With that said, the bevy definitely experienced all of the craziness the four-day affair had to offer. As sappy as it’ll sound, it was through all of the joys and trials of BEA that we cemented our friendship with each other, and had our dauntlessness put to the test. So we thought it was only appropriate to highlight the challenges we faced at BEA and some tips to conquer them, so you–first-timers or veterans–can have an awesome time!

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BECAUSE YOU LIKE YOUR FEET. YOU WANT TO KEEP THEM, RIGHT?

Jen says: Oh man. I used to live in heels and I admit that I scoffed at this tip when I researched in preparation of my first BEA. Thank God I listened anyway because even in sandals, my dogs were barking. HEED OUR WORDS.
Steph says: Definitely a top priority! There’s a lot of standing and moving around –you’ll probably at least feel that at the end of the day — so keep comfort in mind when planning what to wear on your feet. I’m not saying to not wear your cute, new flats, but make sure your feet have already become somewhat familiar with them; it’s probably not the best idea to try to break them in at the Javits.
Katie says: I am a Disney princess and simply float along on fairy dust
Lindsey says: Robots do it barefoot. Unless you are immune to pain, you most definitely need to wear comfortable shoes. The amount of walking and standing is basically The Fellowship of the Ring crossing Middle Earth-level intensity. ONE DOES NOT SIMPLY WEAR HEELS TO BEA.

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Jen says: I overthought this my first year, but seriously, casual dresses, skirts, nice clothes, but not necessarily BUSINESS clothes, are all fine.
Steph says: I don’t think anyone will necessarily frown on you if you’re in a nice pair of jeans, but I think “nice” is the keyword. You can look cute, and fun, but be presentable — maybe leaning more towards a “Casual Friday” at work or something of that nature
Katie says: I see people stress about this one a lot. Just think about what you’d wear on a lunch date and you’ll be fine.
Lindsey says: Think ~teacher attire~ but a bit more on the fun side.

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Because you are a GD professional! JK, lol.

Jen says: People trade business cards SO much at BEA. You’ll meet cool bloggers in line, and you’ll probably want to keep in touch!
Steph says: You’ll definitely need some if you want to leave them with a publisher, or to exchange info with a blogger you met, but don’t think you need an extreme amount. I kept a few tucked into my badge holder every day, but I personally didn’t pass out as many and actually still have plenty of cards left over from our first year attending.
Katie says: Business cards are a nice touch, but not overly necessary. I just keep around 20 with me, just in case. Unless it’s your first year and you’re new to blogging, then it’s a really good idea to bring more.
Lindsey says: I’m sure you could be old-school and exchange contact info on slips of paper with a pencil, but business cards are just so much more convenient. Also, sometimes there are random contests that use business cards as entries.

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Zzzzzzz.

Jen says: I always try so hard to stay up late because squeezing in ALL of the flaily and hilarious book/fangirl conversation  is necessary, but, when I slept more, I was way less of a zombie in need of brains– I MEAN, DIET COKE– the next morning.
Steph says: I was really bad and stayed up late with Lindsey, but I think there was at least one instance when that affected our ability to wake up the next morning and we got left behind by Jen and Katie (haha). Definitely try to sneak in some shuteye because there will be plenty of early wakeup calls.
Katie says: Or have roommates who will beat on pots and pans to get you to wake up in time. It’s hard to go to sleep early at BEA when you’re rooming with friends you only see once a year but you will thank yourself the next day! Think of it like going to work. A very very fun work where you get paid in books but damn, you really wish you had gone to bed an hour before you did.
Lindsey says: Apparently I can function on minimal sleep because I would stay up laaate (I was probably the last one to fall asleep in the apartment every night), but then I’d be fine the next morning and I think I only napped once in the afternoon. If you don’t have this absurd ability, however, I highly recommended going to bed at a reasonable hour. You’re going to be on your feet for most of the day, so conserve your energy.

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Make sure you pack your polite smiles, your pleases and thank yous, and keep your hands and elbows inside the vehicle (aka your own personal space bubble). 

Jen says: TO BE FAIR, I don’t think we’ve had much experience with rude/shovey people at BEA, but we seem to hear about it every year.
Steph says: You’re amongst your people, fellow book lovers, so enjoy your time there and be courteous to everyone. Like Jen said, we haven’t personally experienced any of the bad behavior, but do you really want to be talked about negatively post-BEA? I hope not.
Katie says: Ditto Jen. I was scared my first year because I’d heard horror stories of how awful people were but so far none of us has experienced that (*fingers crossed*). All I can say is THINK LIKE A CANADIAN.
Lindsey says: It’s like Barney and friends taught us when we were younger: “Remember ‘please’ and “thank you’ ’cause they’re the magic words.”

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A suitcase on the show floor is probably unnecessary. (Unless you have back/feet issues/intend to get TOO many books?). It’s difficult enough to get around with a bunch of people milling about. 

SO many booths at BEA give away totes, but most days, you’ll grab a few books before you get them, so make sure you have something decent-sized to put them in.

Jen says: I read somewhere my first year that you should carry “a backpack” and a normal-sized one would have been GREAT. I brought a tiny Vera Bradley one. In addition to my wallet and essentials, it fit 2 books. Do not do this.
Steph says: Tote bags galore! I haven’t brought anything to the exhibit hall floor except for my own purse and I’ve been fine. The first year, when I went a little crazy with books, I hauled those totes, and my shoulders hated me for it, but I made it through without a backpack or without checking in a luggage bag.
Katie says: Totes, totes, totes. I used a backpack my first year and felt like a child on her way to kindergarten. Plus, I couldn’t take a peek at the books to see what I had gotten, if I already had that book over there, etc. Totes are really the best.
Lindsey says: So when I was in high school, I would honestly stare down people who wheeled around their luggage bags in the crowded hallways in between classes. It was the same in university when I’d take the jam-packed subway. Present Day Lindsey hasn’t changed much in this respect because seriously…SERIOUSLY.  If you’re going to leave it in the little coat/bag check area to transport your stuff after, then that’s fine. It is just not a good idea to wheel your bag on the exhibit floor. It’ll be inconvenient to others and yourself because you’ll spend half the time dodging people, shelves, tables, giant stand-up posters, etc. Don’t be that person.

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So, BEA has ended and you have numerous books to add to your already overflowing shelves. If you don’t live in NYC, how do you get them home?

Jen says: Last year, I flew JetBlue, which allows you 1 checked bag, 1 personal item and 1 carry-on for no charge. On the way to NYC, I packed my large Vera Bradley duffel bag inside my suitcase. On the way home, all my ARCs went inside the duffel. Bing, bang, boom, roughly 20 books from NYC to South Florida at no extra charge. Plus, I was secure that they were safe with me. I’m doing it the same way this year, and I hope to never do it any other way.
Steph says: First year: shipped most books home via USPS (kept the few ~precious~ with me) and it wasn’t too bad money wise, but it was annoying hauling them to the post office and sitting on the floor to pack them up. Second year: didn’t get too grabby, so I managed to take everything back in my luggage, and I definitely want to do that again.
Katie says: The rest of the Bevy ships outside of Javits but I personally love the shipping BEA offers, if only for the convenience of dropping my books throughout the day. Yay for not lugging books around the city!
Lindsey says: My first year I shipped my books via USPS. I opted for this instead of shipping my books directly from Javits (via Purolator, I think?) Anyway, while I did save some money, I think I ended up paying nearly the same amount after Canadian customs costs. I shipped two boxes home and it was about $40 each. It was alright, but the actual post office experience was horrendous (I’m pretty sure it took half an hour, and everyone had to wait for me), as post office experiences usually are. If you want to avoid that, just ship it directly from the Javits. The only downside is that you can’t go back to your hotel/apartment afterwards and gaze upon all your beautiful bounty. On the flip side, if you’re flying out, you can also just pack suuuper light and if you have a mediocre-sized haul, just stuff it in your luggage and check your bags in.

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Because the Javits is a life-sucking force. At least, for your cell phone battery.

Jen says: I’m doing something new this year and buying a battery-powered cell phone charger. Desperate times…
Steph says: The bevy took to calling out how low our battery was to each other. “27%!” “16%!” “3%! I’m not going to make it!!!” It was almost a contest to see how fast our battery would drain. IT GOES FAST… especially if you’re like us and tweeting, instagramming, sending ALERTs to each other…Plus there’s the handy BEA app and all that!
Katie says: The thing about BEA is that you’re going to be on social media a lot which means your phone will get drained FAST. So even if you don’t bring a charger, be aware of your battery life so you don’t get stuck!
Lindsey says: Bring your charger. There aren’t too many outlets, but it’s good to be prepared. I used my phone for EVERYTHING–communication with the bevy when we got separated, tweeting, reading on my Kindle/iBooks app during long waits, keeping important notes (like schedules, lists), and for taking photos. If you’re like me and madly attached to your phone… bring a charger.

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Jen says: Or, if you’re like me “plan your attack on the show floor.” Seriously though, you get a map when you check in at BEA. If you give it a cursory study, you’ll have some idea of which booths and tables you’re going to and in what order.
Steph says: We had a daily “scheduling hour” to write down what booths and autographing sessions we wanted to stop by at and it made life sooo much easier. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, so have an idea of what you want to do and where you’re going to go.
Katie says: As someone who loves making lists, this is one of my favourite parts of BEA. I know lots of people have their schedules all planned out as soon as the signing schedule comes out but that doesn’t account for the galley drops schedules and the random announcements of drops via the publishers Twitter. So the Bevy usually has a big STRATEGY SESH the night before BEA, and bring our lists with us. It’s also a good way of knowing where your friends will be while you’re doing something else.
Lindsey says: By the end of day 1 you’ll probably have most of the floor generally memorized, but I suggest studying the map beforehand anyway. Also make a list of stuff you want to check out (galley drops, in-booth signings, autograph tables, panels) and divide it by days and times. Even if stuff overlaps each other, WRITE IT ALL DOWN. So that way if something on your schedule gets messed up, you know what else is going on elsewhere that you can catch instead.

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You know that highly anticipated title you want? Yeah, THAT ONE. The publisher might be tweeting about their limited ARCs that they have out in their booth when the floor opens. This is where everyone is going.

Jen says: Remember the lines for Harry Potter midnight showings? Yeah, that.
Steph says: I think this goes hand-in-hand with scheduling and knowing where you’re going…KNOW WHERE YOU’RE GOING BECAUSE YOU MIGHT MISS OUT.
Katie says: Trust: you want to show up early. And may the odds be ever in your favour.
Lindsey says: All I can say is that when the doors would open, I’d feel like I was a Tribute in the Hunger Games right after the 1 minute timer goes off and everyone has to fight for the stuff in the cornucopia.

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If you’re not, you may need that suitcase that we advised against.

Jen says: I was SO glad I was selective last year. It made transporting the books much less stressful.
Steph says: Yeah, that book looks nice, but do you really want to haul it around all day, add it to your possible shipping costs and, most importantly…ARE YOU REALLY GOING TO READ IT? The first year I got a little bit carried away by the excitement of so! many! books!, and I get that, but it’s important to consider whether it’s a book you actually want.
Katie says: It’s SO hard to be selective your first year, I know. All these beautiful books are surrounding you and your eyes get too big for your stomach and you just grab everything. And if you truly are going to read them all, go for it! But just remember that shipping costs a bitch and a half.
Lindsey says:  Last year, I had a list of “must-haves” which was about 4-5 books, and everything else were books I either knew I would definitely read or was likely to purchase in a book store. Like KT says, remember the shipping costs. Especially if you aren’t American.

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• The Javits is not conveniently located by a subway station. But, many of the hotels associated with BEA are. If you’re not staying in one of these hotels, you can take the subway to one and take the free shuttle to the Javits.
• The Hopstop app is GREAT for figuring out how to get around on the subway.
• If you’re in the city for 4 or more days, get the 7 Day Unlimited Metrocard for the subway. It’s $30 and between book signings, BEA, and experiencing New York City, it will most likely save you money as opposed to needing to load your Metrocard repeatedly.
• If you wind up in anywhere in Chelsea, you have access to free wifi, thanks to Google.
• NYC, especially Times Square and other touristy areas can be really pricey. To save money on food, try ordering online (sooo many places deliver!) instead of going to those typical franchise restaurants that jack up the prices.

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• Missed a signing? Make sure you ask the different publisher booths about their drop schedules! You may still be able to get the ARC  at a drop or, if they’re inclined, sometimes they have a few extra stashed away that they’ll give to you.
• Become familiar with the “dodging and weaving” method when maneuvering around the show floor. It’s crowded, yo. (Note from Jen: I went to an overcrowded high school with over 3,000 people and have always prided myself on this skill because of it.)
• Along those lines: Please don’t stop in the middle of the show floor to chat. At least pull off to the side of the aisle so people can go around you because being stuck behind people at BEA… ain’t nobody got time for that!
• Pack snacks and if you have space, a water bottle, too. You don’t have to bring an entire picnic meal’s worth of food, but a granola bar or crackers could be the difference between life and… being famished when you’re waiting in line and can’t leave your spot. Also, the Javits magically transforms into a desert and while they did have AC last year, water is just always good to have.
• It’s a little late for this tip, but keep it in mind for next year! Consider renting an apartment in the city via airbnb.com or homeaway.com. This is what we’ve done every year and it’s worked out REALLY well. We don’t have to eat every meal out, and we have more space than a hotel room would allow.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

Book Review: Tsarina by J. Nelle Patrick

tsarinaBook Review: Tsarina by J. Nelle Patrick
Release Date: 2/27/14
Publisher: Razorbill
Source: Purchased
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Natalya knows a secret.
A magical Faberge egg glows within the walls of Russia’s Winter Palace.
It holds a power rooted in the land and stolen from the mystics.
A power that promises a life of love for her and Alexei Romanov.
Power, that, in the right hands, can save her way of life.
But it’s not in the right hands.

Review:

I think that I’m one of many, many people who find Russian culture all kinds of fascinating. And like those many, many people, the Russian revolution and Romanov family is of a particular interest to me. Even if Tsarina was written by someone else and J. Nelle Patrick wasn’t the penname of a favorite author of mine, Jackson Pearce, I would have found my way to this book.

There’s something vaguely Gemma Doyle-ish about the beginning feel of Tsarina. I think it comes from the friendship between two girls from a wealthier class, and the magical tumult. It may have been added to by the character of Leo, who both opposes and supervises Natalya and her friend Emilia, but is kind to them. I was reminded in very slight ways of Kartik’s character.

The sense of danger and mysticism is palpable in Tsarina, and Patrick lays out the landscape of Russia in a lovely prose that readers of her work as Pearce have come to expect. I was very pleased with it in that regard.

But, although I did really enjoy Tsarina, there were a couple of aspects that fell flat for me. I was a bit disappointed by the romance in this book. It’s not that it couldn’t be seen coming, but I didn’t feel the chemistry, so it didn’t work for me. And well… the ending was another thing. It’s another thing that you can see coming, but it just doesn’t quite work. Some of it is too convenient, and the pacing feels a little abrupt.

Still, those complaints are minor ones for me. Patrick gave me Russia and magic. She gave me hints of the Romanovs and a strong female friendship. She gave me lovely words and interesting characters. Tsarina was a read that I really enjoyed.

Have you heard? There’s a rumor this book is pretty good.*

*You are awesome if you get this reference

Book Review: The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

geographyofyouandmeBook Review: The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
Release Date: 4/15/14
Publisher: Poppy
Source: Netgalley
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Lucy and Owen meet somewhere between the tenth and eleventh floors of a New York City apartment building, on an elevator rendered useless by a citywide blackout. After they’re rescued, they spend a single night together, wandering the darkened streets and marveling at the rare appearance of stars above Manhattan. But once the power is restored, so is reality. Lucy soon moves to Edinburgh with her parents, while Owen heads out west with his father.

Lucy and Owen’s relationship plays out across the globe as they stay in touch through postcards, occasional e-mails, and — finally — a reunion in the city where they first met.

A carefully charted map of a long-distance relationship, Jennifer E. Smith’s new novel shows that the center of the world isn’t necessarily a place. It can be a person, too.

Review:

I fell in love with Jennifer E. Smith’s writing in The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. The Geography of You and Me sounded like another adorable romance with a minor element of fate (or coincidence– the choice is left up to the reader) and I knew that I’d be requesting it.

We’re introduced to Owen and Lucy when they meet in the building they’re both living in. Owen is reluctant to embrace New York City, but Lucy grew up in NYC and adores it. Jennifer E. Smith’s affection for New York comes across well during these opening chapters and it imbues the pages. Owen and Lucy have a sweet and hesitant sort of attraction to each other as well. It’s charming and fun.

Soon, they’re off though, no longer living in the same building. Lucy’s off a world away in Europe, and Owen is trekking across America with his dad. I’m not sure if Smith’s visited all of the places in The Geography of You and Me (and color me jealous if she has), but if she hasn’t, I’d never know it. The best qualities of all the places is brought forward (inspiring wanderlust in me), as Owen and Lucy embark on their relationship and own personal journeys.

I loved Smith’s portrayal of the beginning of a long distance relationship. Granted, I’ve never been in one, but it struck me as entirely realistic. Owen and Lucy really didn’t have much time together, but neither jumps to somewhat unrealistic expectations. There’s attraction and interest, and while neither forgets the other, they do explore more accessible relationships before they get back to each other.

Also, let me harken back a bit to where I mentioned Lucy and Owen’s personal journeys. I will keep this part short and sweet because really, I don’t want to spoil anything, but they both have family struggles to work through and they’re done so perfectly that both could have made me cry. Can I also say that I loved that there was a focus on parental and familial relationships in The Geography of You and Me as well? Because, really, I did.

Basically,  if you like Smith’s other stuff, give this one a go. She writes some of my favorite YA contemporary romance these days.

The Geography of You and Me goes the distance.

Blog Tour: Giveaway and Interview with Elizabeth Fama, author of PLUS ONE

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plusoneAdd Plus One on Goodreads

Our review

Divided by day and night and on the run from authorities, star-crossed young lovers unearth a sinister conspiracy in this compelling romantic thriller.

Seventeen-year-old Soleil Le Coeur is a Smudge—a night dweller prohibited by law from going out during the day. When she fakes an injury in order to get access to and kidnap her newborn niece—a day dweller, or Ray—she sets in motion a fast-paced adventure that will bring her into conflict with the powerful lawmakers who order her world, and draw her together with the boy she was destined to fall in love with, but who is also a Ray.

Set in a vivid alternate reality and peopled with complex, deeply human characters on both sides of the day-night divide, Plus One is a brilliantly imagined drama of individual liberty and civil rights, and a fast-paced romantic adventure story.

Interview

Jen: I’m not usually a “poetry person,” but I lo-o-ove the little pieces of poetry written by your main character Sol and a “mystery” writer. Were the pieces inspired by anything in particular?

Elizabeth:wish I were a poetry person! It’s one of my goals as a writer to start reading and studying poetry seriously on my own. I was pre-med in college, and in graduate school I studied economics, so I hardly ever read literature during those years. I’ve always suspected that my crush-authors (those with the most beautiful prose) actively read poetry: that it changes their brains and gives them a nuanced facility with words. Poetry immerses you in a kind of “language of inner thought” that makes you see and feel primal parallels between disparate objects and emotions. It trains you not to be literal. I worry about how often I’m tempted to reach for cliches because I haven’t had poetry massaging my senses and worldview. I want to change that.

The “Stardust” poem was inspired by an online Forbes article by journalist Susannah Breslin about her breast cancer diagnosis. She said that when she heard the news she felt like she was “something that had come loose from a spaceship,” and that she stepped outside to see the world was “thrown into sharp relief.” Those feelings stuck with me as so characteristic of loss.

Jen: I found the novel structure where we move with Sol through her present day to flashback chapters growing up with her brother and grandfather particularly unique and effective. What made you decide to use that structure?

Elizabeth: That structure seems to be part of my DNA! It surfaced in Monstrous Beauty, too. And recently when I was helping my graphic-novelist son troubleshoot his outline, my first instinct was to dole out information through flashbacks. It’s a risky writing strategy, actually. Most readers want to feel like they’re a fly on the wall, watching the action unfold. It’s distracting to be taken out of the moment into the past, herky-jerky. I tried to keep those flashback chapters short for that reason, but they felt necessary to me because we need to know the depth of Sol’s family connections–connections that have built up over a lifetime. In the flashbacks with her desk-writing companion, I enjoyed showing two people who are apparently unaware of the other’s Day/Night status developing a real friendship without prejudice.

Jen: One of my favorite names of your characters is “Soleil,” the French word for “sun,” particularly ironic because Sol is a Smudge. Can you talk a bit about how you chose the names of other characters?

Elizabeth: I knew that the Le Coeur parents would be rebels when I began brainstorming, so I wanted the names they chose for their children to be defiantly Day. Pretty early on I knew that Sol and her brother, Ciel, would be of Belgian heritage, so I started thinking of French words that felt “sunny” to me. (Ciel means “sky,” or as Gigi points out in her Tor.com short story, it can also mean “heaven.”) The only trouble with “Sol” is that your eye might want to read it “Saul,” and the only problem with “Ciel” is that some might consider it to be a girl’s name.

Jen: I really enjoyed the attention to detail in the differentiations between the way that Rays and Smudges have to live. In particular, I noticed that the Smudges have to take certain vitamin supplements. What are the health downsides to being a Smudge versus being a Ray?

Elizabeth: Without supplements by pill and in foods, a vitamin D deficiency is virtually certain for Smudges, because our bodies synthesize vitamin D in the skin with sun exposure. A deficiency would cause rickets in young children, and osteomalacia in adults (softening bones, muscle weakness, a tendency to fracture). The other supplement the Smudges take, “CircaDiem,” is less proven to be helpful. CircaDiem is just melatonin, which we have over-the-counter in the real world. Our bodies make melatonin, a hormone, in the pineal gland when the sun goes down, and it promotes sleepiness. Melatonin seems to be an antioxidant (prevents cancers) and has anti-inflammatory properties and vascular effects. It protects against gallstones by inhibiting cholesterol secretion from the gallbladder. We just don’t know whether melatonin supplements provide those benefits in the absence of natural hormone production.

By the way, as soon as I started predicting health consequences, I knew that Sol’s factory job would involve packaging the pills that are distributed to all Smudges to counteract the problems of no sun exposure.

Jen: The ‘Noma’ gang subculture is also particularly fascinating- a group of Smudges that can operate as Rays. Do they have any similarities to real gangs or cultures that you’ve read about?

Elizabeth: The Noma are loosely based on Alex’s delinquent gang of droogs in A Clockwork Orange. I knew that I wanted them to be feared and stigmatized by ordinary people and by law enforcement, and to have withdrawn from society as a result. The Noma come together in tribes, but barely even trust each other. As with all people everywhere, some of them are wonderful, some not so much. (Again, I point you to Gigi’s short story, which gives a little peek into their culture and some of the personalities.) And here’s a hint from the short story: Sol’s brother, Ciel, is ultimately responsible for the Noma being able to move so fluidly between Day and Night.

Jen: The morally gray characters of Plus One were so amazing to read. You can truly see how each character has a separate “code” that they live by. Can you talk a little bit about the moral mentalities of, for instance, D’Arcy versus Sol’s?

Elizabeth: Thank you! I hope there are no bad guys in this novel–that everyone has a reason and personal justification for their actions, even the not-so-good actions. I love, for instance, how much Sol and Ciel are deeply alike, and also so different. While I was writing, they felt like true siblings. They are both intensely loyal to their family. Ciel is more secretive than Sol, and a little too smart, getting himself mixed up in things that spin out of his control, and thinking he can manipulate situations back to his advantage. He wants to find solutions that cover all the bases–that both help him and also, almost as a byproduct, rescue others. Sol, on the other hand, is a blind fury of love. In her own words, she loves people “with every cell in her body.” She’s willing to give her life for the people she cares about, with no clever tricks like Ciel’s–tricks that might backfire. When you first read that she’s going to steal her niece to give her grandfather a single last moment of happiness before he dies, it seems a bit incomprehensible (maybe even far-fetched). But as the book progresses, I hope that you see it’s just like Sol: single-mindedly, militantly loving.

D’Arcy is also intensely loyal to his family, but torn between his parents. He’s following all the rules, even though the system has destroyed his family, because he doesn’t see a way out. He’s resentful and questioning, but he loves and wants to please his mother. Meeting Sol is like a slap in the face for him: she’s the opposite of dutiful, and not invested in the least in the system. She’s not subversive of the government, she’s not playing the game, she’s this third thing he has never seen before: a person following her own principles, which turn out to be based entirely on devotion to the people she loves.

Jen: Finally, having read both Monstrous Beauty and Plus One, I have to admire how well you carry out two different writing styles. What was your favorite thing about each style?

Elizabeth: I hope that every book of mine will be different! I’m a life-long learner, and to me the point of my career is to grow and explore. I’ll probably never develop a “brand” as a result, but I’ll be challenged every day! With Monstrous Beauty I loved the way third-person past allowed me to see everything, and to “tell a story” in the more classical sense. The plotting had to be meticulous, and I worked from a detailed outline. I think you can sense the tight control of that book as a result. The historical fiction sections required precise language–no anachronisms–and transporting myself back in time to get it right. Those were total nerdy pleasures! With Plus One, on the other hand, I love how speaking in first person made me inhabit Sol and her life, and how her passion flowed through me as a result. I wrote mostly by the seat of my pants, and I woke up uncontrollably early, working well before dawn. It was a surreal, Smudge experience. Also, I continue to miss Sol and D’Arcy, and I worry about them, whereas I feel very good about where I left Hester.

These questions were incredibly fun to answer, Jen! Thank you so much for having me on the blog. You’re such a careful, thoughtful reader–an author’s dream!

Jen: *blushes scarlet red* Thank you for being here, Elizabeth! Your books are a joy to read!


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ELIZABETH FAMA is the YA author most recently of Plus One, an alternate-history thriller set in contemporary Chicago. Her other books include Monstrous Beauty, a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults selection and an Odyssey honor winner, and Overboard, an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, a society of Midland Authors honor book, and a nominee for five state awards. A graduate of the University of Chicago, where she earned a B.A. in biology and an M.B.A. and a Ph.D. in economics, she lives with (and cannot live without) her boisterous, creative family in Chicago.

Thanks to Elizabeth, we’re also offering a hardcover of Plus One to one lucky winner in the U.S. or Canada. Enter by clicking the link to the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We’re the last stop on the Plus One blog tour, but if you missed a stop, catch up on these awesome blogs!

Joint Book Review: Plus One by Elizabeth Fama

plusoneBook Review: Plus One by Elizabeth Fama
Release Date: 4/8/14
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Source: ARC from publisher
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Divided by day and night and on the run from authorities, star-crossed young lovers unearth a sinister conspiracy in this compelling romantic thriller.

Seventeen-year-old Soleil Le Coeur is a Smudge—a night dweller prohibited by law from going out during the day. When she fakes an injury in order to get access to and kidnap her newborn niece—a day dweller, or Ray—she sets in motion a fast-paced adventure that will bring her into conflict with the powerful lawmakers who order her world, and draw her together with the boy she was destined to fall in love with, but who is also a Ray.

Set in a vivid alternate reality and peopled with complex, deeply human characters on both sides of the day-night divide, Plus One is a brilliantly imagined drama of individual liberty and civil rights, and a fast-paced romantic adventure story.

Review:

steph

We’re not even halfway into the year, but I already know Elizabeth Fama’s Plus One is going to be one of my favorite reads of 2014. I enjoyed her previous book, Monstrous Beauty, quite a bit, but Plus One easily checked off the boxes that made this a “Stephanie” book — something that not too many books have accomplished as of late.

Early into Plus One I made a goodreads status stating, “Sol is such a little shit. I love her already” and the introduction to her character was the first sign that I would love this book. Sol is stubborn, reckless, and I have to admit that there were plenty of moments when I found myself screaming, “Why are you doing this?!” Still, she was so, so determined, and while maybe I wouldn’t go to the lengths she did — kidnapping a newborn is definitely out there — I was rooting for her every step of the way.

D’Arcy is the male counterpart in Plus One and I loved the contrast between him and Sol. Yes, there is the obvious difference of one being a Ray and the other a Smudge, but Elizabeth Fama also set them up as having such different personalities from each other. While Sol had more bite and defiance to her character, D’Arcy was more meticulous and controlled. I loved seeing them bring out different sides of each other as they ultimately worked together toward their goal. Elizabeth Fama also enhanced their relationship through some wonderful glimpses into their past; I loved discovering just how connected they were. Their relationship was so beautiful and glorious to me.

The writing style was very different from Monstrous Beauty, but Elizabeth Fama added the right amount of harshness to set the tone of her Smudge and Ray world. However, there were a few scenes, with one character in particular, that had me take a brief pause because it was so shocking and not something I see in YA to this extent. While I was a little taken back, I think it can also say a lot about the lengths and extremes that individuals might go through in very difficult situations, so I can also somewhat appreciate it.

Overall: YES. GAH. READ THIS. Wholly engaging, original, lovely, and tragic, Plus One is a rich and layered story that I couldn’t get enough of.

☑ amazing characters
☑ captivating story
☑ a “Stephanie” book

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P.S. That cover is P E R F E C T.

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jen

At first glance, the summary of Plus One sounds like dystopian fare. But then you catch a glimpse of that breathtaking cover and start to pray that the beauty on the front matches the beauty inside.

IT TOTALLY DOES.

I knew Elizabeth Fama could write a beautiful book; I’ll never forget the lyrical prose of Monstrous Beauty. I was surprised at what a different style of writing the gritty, action-packed Plus One was. It’s the mark of a talented writer who can pull off both.

I think the thing that struck me the most in terms of the world is… Plus One is not actually a dystopian novel. Plus One isn’t hundreds of years in the future with mind-boggling technology. No, in many ways, it’s very much our world and it’s more of an alternate reality, where took a different turn than what actually happened. The technology isn’t so far off from ours and it’s easy to see how the simple alteration of segregating society into sects of day and night dwellers led to the world of Plus One.

The flashback structure Elizabeth Fama uses in Plus One is employed with great effect. It allows us to see the seeds of a love story, and builds main character Sol’s world and family life effectively. We get to experience the gritty feel of Sol’s day-to-day life throughout the novel.

Headstrong Sol is just one of many morally gray characters. She plunges into things without effective plans and isn’t too fussed if other people are caused trouble by her actions as long as it’s not someone she loves. That moral gray-ness comes to the forefront with people close to Sol and a particular group of Smudges: the Noma.

The Noma bring to mind my only issue with the book: [TRIGGER WARNING]

Spoiler Inside SelectShow

But let’s move on to happier things: THE KISSING. THE SWOONS. The romance in Plus One is parfait. If you squint, it’s a little instalovey, but I say to you: KEEP YOUR EYES WIDE OPEN. I mentioned the seeds of romance in the flashbacks and they’re important for the relationship’s development. The moments between D’Arcy and Sol as they begin to really fall for each other made me catch my breath.

Plus One is currently a standalone, and I’m not sure if I want it to become a series or not. On the one hand, yes, PLEASE. On the other, the important parts of the story feel closed and how do you improve upon something THIS GOOD?

Plus One will stay with me in brightest day, in blackest night

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Stay tuned for our stop on the PLUS ONE blog tour tomorrow. We’ll be interviewing author Elizabeth Fama!