A few months ago, I added a Reading List page that lists the books I’ve read over the past couple of years. (There’s a link at the top of this page.) The books in the list that are underlined are ones that I reviewed. If you click on them, you’ll be directed to my review for that particular book.
In 2009, I read 70 books. My favorite books published in 2009 were Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper, Catching Fire (the second in the Hunger Games series) by Suzanne Collins, and the graphic novel Locke & Key: Head Games by Joe Hill. Other books published in 2009 that deserve honorable mentions include The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, Wings by Aprilynne Pike, Once Dead, Twice Shy and White Witch, Black Curse by Kim Harrison, The Waters and the Wild by Francesca Lia Block, and The Hidden by Tobias Hill. I also reviewed Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce, which won’t be released until 2010 (in a couple of weeks, in fact), but that also deserves an honorable mention.
Some of my favorite books that I happened to read in 2009 but that were released in previous years were the graphic novels by Neil Gaiman (the Sandman series, Death: The High Cost of Living, and Murder Mysteries), the Fables series by Bill Willingham (I am addicted!), and the brilliant and darkly intriguing writing of Mike Carey (the Lucifer series and the Felix Castor series). I also read several books by Christopher Moore (Lamb, The Stupidest Angel, and You Suck, to name a few) that had me embarrassing myself in public with loud outbursts of uncontrollable laughter.
What were some of your favorite books of the past year?
Aprilynne Pike’s debut novel, Wings, is a paranormal fantasy featuring an entirely new twist on the mythological realm of faeries. I recently published a review of Wings, and I was delighted to have the opportunity to conduct an author interview with Aprilynne Pike, a fresh new voice in the young adult urban fantasy genre.
Damian: Your debut novel, Wings, manages to weave an intricate alternate history into a realm of faerie tale fantasy set in a modern world. You indicated in your bio that you have been “spinning faerie stories” since you were “a child with a hyper-active imagination.” Where do you find inspiration for your characters and their stories?
Pike: My brain has always been a well of strange—and often very strange—ideas. I can’t really say that I know where they come from. But I think one thing that helps is that I am always pondering, “what if.” Often about simple things like, “What if I had worded that question differently?” Or, “What if I had turned around two seconds earlier.” But sometimes it wanders more. “What if that guy really wasn’t human; what if the love of her life had to kill her.” Constantly juggling “what-if’s” leads to all kinds of fantastical answers and every answer can be developed into a story.
I also draw inspiration from my teenaged self. I think that for me—as the perpetual nerd/loner in school—I always liked to write about the person I wished I was. I thought I wanted to be the popular cheerleader with perfect hair and clothes and the hot boyfriend. Now that I’m an adult, I take a slightly different spin on it. I like to write about characters I wish I had wanted to be. You will rarely find uber-popular main character in my novels because that is a world I am completely unaware of. But I consciously try to write characters who are confident and willing to do things that are un-popular simply because they want to. They stand up for themselves and their values and quirks. And even if they aren’t that strong at the beginning, I like to help them make that journey throughout the book or series. One thing I am really excited to do with Laurel is take her from a slightly uncertain young woman who doesn’t know where she belongs, to the incredibly strong, visionary heroine she will be at the end of the series.
Aprilynne Pike’s debut novel, Wings, hits the book store shelves this week. This young adult fantasy features a new twist on the traditional faerie archetype that, to my knowledge, has never before been written about. Pike’s unique interpretation of faeries strikes an intriguing balance between magic and realism and is likely to capture the imagination of readers.
The story unfolds when high school sophomore Laurel Sewell wakes up one day to find something resembling wings growing forth from between her shoulder blades. Already struggling with the other aspects of her life that make her feel like an outsider — being adopted after being abandoned on a doorstep at roughly the age of three, moving to a new town, and being a first-time student at the public high school after being home schooled through all of her early education — Laurel must now deal with this alarming new development.
“Long, bluish-white forms rose over both shoulders. For a moment Laurel was mesmerized, staring at the pale things with wide eyes. They were terrifyingly beautiful — almost too beautiful for words.”
Filed under Books, Reviews
I finished reading my advance review copy of Wings by Aprilynne Pike a couple of weeks ago, while I was in California. I enjoyed this young adult fantasy novel that Twilight author Stephenie Meyer blurbed as “a remarkable debut,” and under normal circumstances, I would have rushed straight to the computer to write my review. However, things have been a bit crazy lately. My review will be forthcoming soon though, followed up by an author interview, so please stay tuned.