Introducing the author of Awkward, Marni Bates...
My autobiography MARNI (part of HCI's Louder Than Words series) was on the New York Public Library Stuff for the Teen Age 2010 List. I then signed a four book contract with KTeen and my first YA novel AWKWARD comes out January 1, 2012. In my free time I can be found reading romance novels, rollerblading, singing really loudly (and off-key) in public and . . . watching copious amounts of television.
Onto Marni's book recommendations to her past self...
Marni at age 5: The Magic Treehouse books by Mary Pope Osbourne because Jack and Annie are awesome. Hmm . . . I was obsessed with King Arthur and would read anything magical I could get my hands on. I can't remember any of the specific titles though. My mom read novels aloud to us and she recorded herself doing it. I fell asleep every night listening to my mom read The Secret Garden by Francis Hodgson Burnett and Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat. I didn't understand a huge chunk of them as a little kid, but I'm so glad I had that experience growing up.
Marni at age 11: I fell in love with Gordon Korman. Some of my favorites are no longer in print (a travesty of epic proportions) but Why Did the Underwear Cross the Road?, No More Dead Dogs, and The Twinkie Squad are all easy to buy. The D- Poems of Jeremy Bloom, I Want to Go Home, and Who is Bugs Potter? are worth the effort to track down.
So. Freaking. Good.
The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews is another must read. It completely changed my world view as a kid.
Oh, and I grew up with Harry Potter, which was a really special experience. I felt like the two of us were aging together and even though I'm still miffed that I didn't get my owl, I adore those books. I highly recommend the series, just don't read the final epilogue. It's . . . how should I put this? Grrr!!!
Marni at age 16: Time for some books about girls kicking butt! I love Tamora Pierce! I think she does a fantastic job of writing strong female characters who have important things to deal with (like, you know, saving the world) and who don't rely on men to protect them. Strong heroines are my favorite and Tamora Pierce provides quite a collection of them.
Meg Cabot also writes some really great female leads. Sometimes her heroines start out a little on the weak side, but it's nice to watch them become increasingly assertive and confident. My favorites have to be the Mediator and the 1-800-Where-R-U series. Suze and Jess deal with these crazy intense situations and yet they remain classy and strong. And the guys? Let's just say I've spent more than a few hours swooning over Jesse and Rob.
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson is amazing but one of the most intense reading experiences of my life. It's a brilliant account of a girl dealing with the aftermath of rape. This novel isn't one you should pick up lightly, but if you think you can handle it, I highly recommend it. Definitely changed my life.
More recent finds: Ally Carter's The Heist Society. Erica O'Rourke's Torn, Jennifer Estep's Touch of Frost, Brigid Kemmerer's Storm (Not yet released), and Nina Berry's Otherkin (Not yet released). All excellent female driven stories that you won't want to put down. (Side note: I only recommend really nice authors, the type who will probably tweet you back if you track 'em down on Twitter. Personally, I find reading a great novel even more rewarding when it's written by a genuinely kind individual. So let's support them by buying their books!)
Marni at age 20: Okay, my recommendations for 16 year olds definitely apply to 20 year olds. In fact, the two are so hard to separate because I really think it depends on the maturity of the reader. So definitely check those out!
That said, I also love romance novels. And even though I started reading them my sophomore year in high school, not everyone feels comfortable with some of the steamy scenes at that age. For those of you who are interested, I want to recommend some real winners.
Tessa Dare. Her books are funny and sexy and absolutely irresistible. My personal favorite has to be A Night to Surrender and I am eagerly awaiting A Week to be Wicked. She's just . . . brilliant. And she's also super sweet in real life. We've chatted over Twitter a few times and I'm making real progress with my fangirl-ing. I now only nearly hyperventilate.
Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, Victoria Dahl . . . okay, too many fantastic authors for me to provide a detailed account in one blog post. The Romance Writers of America (RWA) does an excellent job of honoring excellence in the field, so you should check out RITA winners (and nominees) for more ideas once you've read everything I've listed.
Oh, and did I mention Awkward by Marni Bates? I'm pretty fond of that one too. Not that I'm biased or anything . . .
Mackenzie Wellesley has spent her life avoiding the spotlight. At Smith High, she's the awkward junior people only notice when they need help with homework. Until she sends a burly football player flying with her massive backpack and makes a disastrous - not to mention unwelcome - attempt at CPR. Before the day is out, the whole fiasco explodes on YouTube. And then the strangest thing happens. Suddenly, Mackenzie is an Internet sensation, with four million hits and counting. Sucked into a whirlwind of rock stars, paparazzi, and free designer clothes, she even catches the eye of the most popular guy at school. And that's when life gets really interesting...
Thanks to Marni and Teen Book Scene!