Three Bs, like My HS Report Cards: BEA, Book Reviews, and Upcoming on the Blog

Sorry for the blog silence! Between life insanity and then going to BookExpoAmerica (BEA for those in the know, and now you’re all in the know, the three of you who read this ;)), I fell a little behind here.

First, yay! I have a shiny new website! It has a domain and everything. You’ll be able to find me at katherinelockebooks.com! Which you probably already knew. The blog is still up and running but there will be more THINGS here in the days to come. On the main page, you’ll find some of my favorite or most popular blog posts. 

Secondly, BEA! So I went to BEA for the second time but last year, I only went for the PowerReader day. This year, I did Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. It was a lot of fun! I wish there were more panels and/or more interactive workshops and panels, but for the most part, I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish: I spent time amongst my favorite people. Book people really are the best people. NO one thinks you’re a weirdo when all you want to do is talk books and writing *literally all day*. In fact, it’s encouraged! I got to meet all these people I’ve only known online like Kaye, Dahlia Adler, Steve Brezenoff, KK Hendin, Robin Talley, Mike Jung, and lots of others. It was a BLAST getting to meet people in real life.

I snagged a few books that I’ve been anxious to get my paws on and I’m very excited to help spread the buzz about them. I’ve read three of those books and all three have blown my socks off!

GUY IN REAL LIFE by Steve Brezenoff is the story of Lesh and Svetlana (Lana) who run into each other (literally) in the middle of one night and become—intrigued, is probably the best word I have for their initial relationship. They’re opposites and they each want to know how the other ticks. Lesh’s fascination tips to the next level when he creates an online MMORPG character based on Svetlana. The overall voice is SO REAL and sharp, both hopeful and deeply cynical. Lana’s pragmatic voice is countered by her whimsical nature and dress, and Lesh’s metal guy exterior melts away when the reader, and Lana, realize that he’s painfully confined by gender roles and the boxes we create for all the roles in our lives.

I read and loved Brezenoff’s BROOKLYN, BURNING (At BEA he told his editor (I think that’s who this was) that I was the biggest BB fan and it’s TRUE. If you haven’t read Brooklyn, Burning, please leave this blog and go read it. And then tweet me. It’s seriously in my top ten books ever, right up there with Toni Morrison’s SULA) so even though Steve warned me GIRL was different, I was pretty sure I’d like it. False. I *loved* this book. It felt so real and genuine. It was HEARTBREAKING *and* hopeful and god, as a fellow writer, I’m immensely jealous of the quiet touch on this book. And if you read the blurb and said, “Yeah but I don’t game and I don’t know anything about gaming,” I do not game. Or whatever you call it when you do videogames and tabletop games and D&D. I have NO CLUE about that world despite being a nerd. And the book was definitely accessible.

BEHIND THE SCENES by Dahlia Adler is, to be honest, a book that I wouldn’t have picked up if I didn’t know the author because YA Hollywood romance doesn’t typically interest me. Dahlia might have converted me though because this book was fun, flirty, and smart, without ever losing *or* overdoing the melancholy “deep” string that ties everything all together: the idea of loneliness and the groups we try to fit in, the boxes we try to fit into for other people. As someone who left a relationship because she felt she was trying to make someone fit a box they couldn’t fit, this really hit home for me. BTS is the story of Ally whose best friend Vanessa is one of those rising teen stars on a new hit teen drama. Ally and Vanessa’s costar Liam hit it off and tutoring turns into cough cough tutoring, if you catch my drift. But despite really liking Liam, Ally struggles with the Hollywood world, including the publicity ruse that Liam and Vanessa are a couple. With a book that handles a parent with cancer, best friends, scandals and paparazzi, gossip rags, and teen TV stars, the potential for melodrama that undermines the book was high. But Dahlia handled these emotion-heavy topics very well. Ally’s dramatic without being melodramatic, smart without being unbelievable, and her family’s crises are painful without derailing the plot or Ally’s own growth. BTS tackles friendships, jealousy, and differing economic strata with deftness and grace. 

AFTERWORLDS by Scott Westerfeld was one of those ARCs at BEA that I was desperate to get but could never overlap with the drop times. I had pretty much resigned myself to reading in September when it releases when my CP Christina at Allodoxophobia texted me that she snagged me a copy on Saturday. She’s amazing. This book is the story of Darcy Patel who is one of those 18yr old YA writers who gets a giant deal and we’re all like “WHAT IS YOUR LIFE” and really, she’s a bit of a trainwreck because as another character tells Darcy, she’s published too young. She’s not prepared.

But then, maybe not. Maybe it’s Darcy’s innocence that let her write a book without a certain self-consciousness that we all have now. When you realize you’re writing for an audience, and a certain audience at first: your agent, your editor, your fellow writers, the realization and the perfectionism can be more crippling than your inner editor was during that first book. I can relate to that a LOT right now, to be honest. Darcy’s chapters are alternated with the chapters from her book, Afterworlds. It’s SO well done and SO well structured and SO true to the writer life (of course: Westerfeld’s been around the block a time or two. He knows what he’s talking about!). I couldn’t put it down and stayed up until 3am reading it. I’m not 100% sure it works AS WELL for non-writers as it did for me as a writer, but I’m super excited to throw this beast of a book into the face of all YA writers I know. 

That’s all I’ve read for right now! I hope you’ll pick up GUY IN REAL LIFE which is out now, BEHIND THE SCENES which is out this month!, and in September, AFTERWORLDS. All of these books have really blown me away!

And finally, upcoming on the blog!

I’m brainstorming A GIVEAWAY. It’ll be fun, I promise. It’s super nerdy and slightly political because duh. Me.

And I’m working on a Writing Trauma-Informed Fiction series for the blog. If you’re interested in guest posting, please shoot me an email via the contact form! 

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