A GLORIOUS FREEDOM | INTERVIEW WITH CHERYL STRAYED

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The glory of growing older is the freedom to be more truly ourselves—with age we gain the liberty to pursue bold new endeavors and worry less about what other people think. In this richly illustrated volume, bestselling author and artist Lisa Congdon explores the power of women over the age of forty who are thriving and living life on their own terms. Profiles, interviews, and essays from women—including Vera Wang, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Julia Child, Cheryl Strayed, and many more—who’ve found creative fulfillment and accomplished great things in the second half of their lives are lavishly illustrated and hand-lettered in Congdon’s signature style. The perfect gift for women of all ages, A Glorious Freedom celebrates extraordinary lives and redefines what it means to gain wisdom and maturity.

The following is an extract from A Glorious Freedom by Lisa Congdon.


Cheryl’s famous memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail was published when she was 43 years old. It took her two and a half years to trace the steps, challenges, and revelations she faced during her three-month, 1,100-mile hike from the Mojave Desert to the Pacific Northwest onto paper—and about two minutes for the finished book to land on the New York Times bestseller list. In the months following, Cheryl experienced instant fame—from Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 to the film adaptation championed by Reese Witherspoon and Nick Hornby, Wild went, well, wild. It is an international bestseller and a recipient of the Barnes & Noble Discover Award and the Oregon Book Award. Cheryl is also the author of the New York Times bestsellers Tiny Beautiful Things and Brave Enough. Her first novel, Torch, was published in 2007. Her essays have been published in the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post, Vogue, and Tin House, among others, and her work has been selected three times for inclusion in the The Best American Essays. She anonymously authored The Rumpus’s popular Dear Sugar advice column from 2010 to 2012, for which she now cohosts a podcast. She currently lives and writes in Portland, Oregon.

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Lisa: You worked for many years at writing, and it wasn’t until just a few short years ago, in your early 40s, you published the book that made you a household name. I encounter a lot of young artists who imagine that if they just concoct some magical formula they can have “instant success.” How would you describe the role of purpose, work, and patience in your own journey?

Cheryl: I was a successful writer long before Wild was published. What happened with Wild wasn’t “success.” It was crazy lightning striking. I’m always taken aback when people imply that I achieved success in my 40s. In fact, I had a pretty steady upward career trajectory as a writer, and all of that came about because, as you say, I showed up each day to do the work. I began publishing in my 20s. By the time I was in my early 30s I had won many awards and grants, and was publishing in respected magazines, and I’d earned my MFA in creative writing. In my mid-30s I sold my first novel to a major publisher and it was broadly reviewed and sold well. Meanwhile, I was continuing to publish essays in prominent places and I was also teaching writing.

I was known in the literary community. Then Wild happened and with that came fame and a much broader international audience. It was astounding and glorious, but it didn’t, for me, mark the beginning of the sense that I’d arrived as a writer. I was already there and I’m still here—working my tail off. That’s the magic formula: work.

Lisa: One of the most life-changing lessons I’ve learned over the past ten years is the power of embracing all of my life experience, and this is something you write about as well. Why is this idea of owning and learning to love all of your experience (even the stuff that makes us cringe or that would normally make us feel shame), why is it so important?

Cheryl: I’ve long believed our mistakes and failures teach us as much as our victories and successes. When you acknowledge the full spectrum of your possibility—as both someone who can be great and as someone who is sometimes not so great—you can bring the full force of your humanity to everything you do.

Lisa: What for you is the best part of getting older?

Cheryl: Feeling more secure about who I am. Feeling stronger about being okay with disappointing people. Putting up less of a facade. Being gentler with myself and others, too.

Lisa: What do you think is the relationship between forgiveness and the ability to age joyfully?

Cheryl: I’ve written about forgiveness a lot and it all pretty much boils down to the fact that when you can’t forgive people who have harmed you (or forgive yourself for the harm you’ve done to others) you stay locked in that struggle. Forgiveness is, to me, really acceptance. Accepting that what’s true is true. It’s saying, this is the way it was and onward we go.

Lisa: What are the three greatest lessons you’ve learned in the last ten years?

Cheryl: 1. Saying no is one form of saying yes. 2. Our ideas about famous people are projections of who we are, not a reflection of who they are. 3. Everyone struggles. Everyone hurts. Everyone wants to be told it’s all going to be okay.

Lisa: What advice do you have for women who fear getting older?

Cheryl: The fear of getting older is about the false notion that one’s power was rooted in the things that youth offers us—namely, beauty. My advice would be to see that for the lie that it always was. Our power is never about how pretty we are. Our power is about how we live our lives. Start living it.


A Glorious Freedom by Lisa Congdon publishes on 03 October 2017. Find out more here. 

See the stunning book trailer here

10 Beautiful Gifts For Book Lovers

10 Ideal Gifts for Book Worms

Whether they are book collectors, budding novelists or crafters – we’ve got you covered.

Boundless Books

In this book, a picture is indeed worth a thousand words. Within its covers are 50 literary classics, deconstructed and then put back together word-by-word to create singularly beautiful pieces of art.

A gorgeous Christmas present for any book lover: bibliophiles will find many of their favourite reads as well as lesser-known gems.

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Literary Paper Dolls

 

Experience literary genius first-hand with these paper doll versions of famous authors. Great wordsmiths such as William Shakespeare, Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf and more come to life in illustrator Kyle Hilton’s playful style. Bookish trivia and scholarly accoutrements accompany each writer.A unique stocking-filler for bibliophiles.

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If I Were a Book

 

This sweet celebration of the magic and wonder of books will delight readers of all ages. André Letria’s whimsical illustrations of a book as a kite, a tent, a ship and more are paired with José Jorge Letria’s thoughtful musings on the joys of reading.Seamlessly weaving together art and prose, this petite tribute to reading makes a timeless addition to every bookshelf.

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A unique autobiography and reading log for bibliophiles: with over 70 entertaining and thought-provoking list topics ranging from the quintessential (favourite books by genre, authors to explore) to the lovably idiosyncratic (favourite reading spots, books to skip), this illustrated journal is a perfect stocking-filler for a book worm.
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Well-Read Women

 

The faces of literature’s most memorable female characters – from Anna Karenina’s icy grey gaze to Scarlett O’Hara’s sensual open lipped pout – vividly brought to life in 50 watercolour portraits by celebrated artist Samantha Hahn.This collection will become a new classic in every nostalgic book lover’s library.

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No Plot? No Problem

 

The definitive handbook for extreme noveling, by Chris Baty, founder of the wildly successful literary marathon known as National Novel Writing Month.This compendium is packed with tips and tricks, ranging from week-by-week quick reference guides to encouraging advice from authors and much more.  An ideal gift for the budding author in your life.

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Card Catalog

Evoking memories of book-filled libraries, this handy notecard set reproduces the original cards used to keep track of literary classics. Each card features a different work of literature, straight from the storied collection of the Library of Congress.

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Art Made from Books

 

Art Made from Books showcases a jaw-dropping assortment of art made from books – by cutting, painting, sawing, laminating, balancing or stacking: a unique collection of art for bibliophiles.

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Novel Living

 

In Novel Living, Lisa Occhipinti presents her ideas for preserving, collecting and displaying intact books and also deconstructing them to make craft projects.The perfect gift for crafty bibliophiles.

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Give your favourite book lover the chance to take a unique trip down the rabbit hole in this colouring book filled with classic scenes and quotes from Lewis Carroll’s classic tale.

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7 SPOOKtacular Books for Halloween

Here at A&CB HQ we LOVE Halloween and we are lucky to be surrounded by some SPOOKtacular books.

Read on for our top 7 Halloween reads for all ages.

Boo Haiku

Boo Haiku by Deanna Caswell and Bob Shea

Here’s a spooky haiku just for you!
broom across the moon
pointed hat at the window
hair-raising cackle

Can you guess who from this haiku?

A witch, a bat, a skeleton, a jack-o-lantern, a ghost, a black cat, a spider, an owl and a scarecrow are all hiding in the pages of this clever Halloween-themed book. Deanna Caswell’s playful haiku cleverly hint at the creatures revealed after each turn of the page while Bob Shea’s bright illustrations capture the scary silliness.

A perfect introduction to Halloween for a little monster!

Recommended reading age: 0-3 years

Boo Haiku

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Leo

Leo by Mac Barnett , illustrated by Christian Robinson 

“A clever, timeless, quality picture book that will be revisited again and again over many years to come.” Picture Books Blogger

With more gentilesse than ghoulishness, Leo’s brand of haunting takes on distinctly hospitable tones. This one’s a charmer, so whatever you do, don’t call Ghostbusters!” MyLittleStyleFile

You would like being friends with Leo. He likes to draw, he makes delicious snacks, and most people can’t even see him. Because Leo is also a ghost. When a new family moves into his home and Leo’s efforts to welcome them are misunderstood, Leo decides it is time to leave and see the world. That is how he meets Jane, a kid with a tremendous imagination and an open position for a worthy knight. That is how Leo and Jane become friends. And that is when their adventures begin.

A charming story of friendship, perfect for a Halloween bedtime story.

Recommended reading age: 4+ years

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Bigfoot is Missing!

Bigfoot is Missing!  by Kenn Nesbitt and J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by MinaLima

Children’s Poets Laureate J. Patrick Lewis and Kenn Nesbitt team up to offer a smart, stealthy tour of the creatures of shadowy myth and fearsome legend—the enticing, the humorous and the strange.

Bigfoot, the Mongolian Death Worm and the Loch Ness Monster number among the many creatures lurking within these pages. Readers may have to look twice—the poems in this book are disguised as street signs, newspaper headlines, graffiti, milk cartons and more!

Dive-in to the world of myths, legends and all things that go bump in the night with this unique collection of poetry.

Recommended reading age: 7+ years

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Dr. Critchlore's School for Minions

Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions by Sheila Grau, illustrated by Joe Sutphin

Welcome to Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions, the premier trainer of minions for Evil Overlords everywhere. No student is prouder to be at Dr. Critchlore’s than Runt Higgins, a twelve-year-old werewolf. (At least he thinks he’s twelve. He was abandoned at the school as a baby, so he can’t say for sure.) Runt loves everything about Dr. Critchlore’s. He loves his classes—such as History of Henchmen and Introduction to Explosives. He loves his friends—such as Darthin the gargoyle and Syke the tree nymph. And he loves his foster family, who took him in when his wolf pack couldn’t.But not everyone loves Dr. Critchlore’s as much as Runt. After a series of disasters, each worse than the next, it’s clear that someone is trying to shut the school down. It’s up to Runt, who knows the place better than anybody, to figure out who’s behind the attacks . . . and to save his home, and Dr. Critchlore himself, from total destruction.

A perfect Halloween read for Despicable Me mad monsters.

Recommended reading age: 8+ years

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The Clockwork Scarab

The Clockwork Scarab: A Stoker & Holmes Novel by Colleen Gleason

Evaline Stoker and Mina Holmes never meant to get into the family business. But when you’re the sister of Bram and the niece of Sherlock, vampire hunting and mystery solving are in your blood, so to speak. And when two young society girls disappear—one dead, one missing—there’s no one more qualified to investigate.

Now fierce Evaline and logical Mina must resolve their rivalry, navigate the advances of not just one but three mysterious gentlemen, and solve a murder with only one clue: a strange Egyptian scarab. The pressure is on and the stakes are high—if Stoker and Holmes don’t figure out why London’s finest sixteen-year-old women are in danger, they’ll become the next victims.

A heart-pounding race around a steampunk re-imaging of Victorian London where danger lurks around every corner: a first-class Halloween read.

Recommended reading age: 10+ years

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The Steep and Thorny Way

The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters

“Rich, compelling, and wonderfully atmospheric, this is the fourth Cat Winters novel where the beautiful, haunting tale has gripped me from the beginning.” Kate Ormand, author of Dark Days

“Haunting, beautifully written and immensely powerful, this is a story that resonates through time and history whilst delivering a clever and compelling thriller.” Lancashire Evening Post

The Steep and Thorny Way tells the story of a murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten.

1920s Oregon is not a welcoming place for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and an African-American man. She has almost no rights by law, and the Ku Klux Klan breeds fear and hatred in even Hanalee’s oldest friendships. Plus, her father, Hank Denney, died a year ago, hit by a drunk-driving teenager. Now her father’s killer is out of jail and back in town, and he claims that Hanalee’s father wasn’t killed by the accident at all but, instead, was poisoned by the doctor who looked after him—who happens to be Hanalee’s new stepfather.

The only way for Hanalee to get the answers she needs is to ask Hank himself, a “haint” wandering the roads at night.

Curling-up with this re-imagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet is sure to get you in the Halloween spirit.

Recommended reading age: 14+ years

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The Raven Book Cover

The Raven: A Pop-Up Book by David Pelham

Once upon a midnight dreary,
while I pondered weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,

While I nodded, nearly napping,
suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping,
rapping at my chamber door . . .

Edgar Allan Poe’s chilling poem, The Raven, is brought to life by master paper engineer David Pelham. What better way to celebrate Halloween than with a haunting love story?

Share your favourite Halloween reads with us @AbramsChronicle with #SpooktacularReads

12 YA Must-Reads from 2016

The last two months of 2016 are crawling into view and as the end of the year dawns upon us we’re taking a look back at some of the amazing YA titles we’ve had through our doors this year. From The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters to The Romantics by Leah Konen, 2016 has been a bumper year for A&CB YA.

Have you missed any? Here is a round-up of our favourite 2016 titles; ready for your Christmas Wishlist!

The Cure for Dreaming Cat Winters

The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters

‘The book is a timely reminder that political equality of is hard fought for and hard fought against…’ – SFX Magazine

“With great imagination, an interesting twist, historical photographs, and a fresh voice, Cat Winters is a true talent to be celebrated. Whatever this author writes, I want!” – Kate Ormand

It’s 1900 in Oregon, and Olivia’s father, concerned that she’s headed for trouble, convinces a stage mesmerist to try to hypnotise the rebellion out of her. But the hypnotist, an intriguing young man named Henri Reverie, gives her a terrible gift instead: she’s able to see people’s true natures, manifesting as visions of darkness and goodness, while also unable to speak her true thoughts out loud. These supernatural challenges only make Olivia more determined to speak her mind and so she’s drawn into a dangerous relationship with the hypnotist and his mysterious motives, all while secretly fighting for the rights of women.

Iron Cast

Iron Cast by Destiny Soria

It’s Boston, 1919, and the Cast Iron club is packed. On stage, hemopaths—those “afflicted” with the ability to create illusions through art—captivate their audience. Corinne and Ada have been best friends ever since infamous gangster Johnny Dervish recruited them into his circle. By night they perform for Johnny’s crowds, and by day they con Boston’s elite. When a job goes wrong and Ada is imprisoned, she realises how precarious their position is. After she escapes, two of the Cast Iron’s hires are shot and Johnny disappears. With the law closing in, Corinne and Ada are forced to hunt for answers, even as betrayal faces them at every turn. An ideal next read for fans of Libba Bray’s The Diviners.

Devil and the Bluebird

The Devil and the Bluebird by Jennifer Mason-Black

“Devil and the Bluebird is smart, quirky, beautifully written and full of wisdom.” Rhino Reads

“Soothing and lyrical, this might be the most optimistic book you’ll read this year.” SFX Magazine

Blue Riley has wrestled with her own demons ever since the loss of her mother to cancer. But when she encounters a beautiful devil at her town crossroads, it’s her runaway sister’s soul she fights to save. The devil steals Blue’s voice—inherited from her musically gifted mother—in exchange for a single shot at finding Cass. Armed with her mother’s guitar, a knapsack of cherished mementos, and a pair of magical boots, Blue journeys west in search of her sister. When the devil changes the terms of their deal, Blue must reevaluate her understanding of good and evil and open herself up to finding family in unexpected places. In Devil and the Bluebird, Jennifer Mason-Black delivers a captivating depiction of loss and hope.

One Thing Stolen

One Thing Stolen by Beth Kephart

“One Thing Stolen is a really beautiful and poignant book, with a great look at a rare neurological disorder. I loved it.” Once Upon a Bookcase Blog

Something is not right with Nadia Cara. While spending a year in Florence, Italy, she’s become a thief. She has secrets. And when she tries to speak, the words seem far away. Nadia finds herself trapped by her own obsessions and following the trail of an elusive Italian boy whom only she has seen. Can Nadia be rescued or will she simply lose herself altogether?

Set against the backdrop of a glimmering city, One Thing Stolen is an exploration of obsession, art, and a rare neurological disorder. It is also a celebration of language, beauty, imagination, and the salvation of love.

The Movie Version

The Movie Version by Emma Wunsch

The only thing sixteen-year-old Amelia Anderson loves more than movies is her older brother, Toby, a larger-than-life force, as popular with the cheerleaders as with the stoners. Amelia, on the other hand, is addicted to Netflix and afraid to drive. But she doesn’t mind. She’s happy playing the sidekick in the movie version of Toby’s life. But when a devastating event takes Toby out of the picture, Amelia’s left without a star. Ready or not, she has to step into her own spotlight. It’s time to get out of her head, get off of Netflix, and get behind the camera—and the wheel.

This whip-smart, heart-wrenching debut YA novel about first love, first loss, and filmmaking will delight fans of Jandy Nelson and Jennifer Niven.

The Edge of Gone

On The Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis

“One of the best apocalyptic thrillers, and certainly one of the most character centred, in years.” Starburst Magazine

“Utterly superb” SFX magazine

“Read this book. Please. Because it’s brilliant, *and* you might learn something in the process.” Jax Blunt, Liveotherwise

A thrilling, thought-provoking novel from one of young-adult literature’s boldest new talents. January 29, 2035. That’s the day the comet is scheduled to hit—the big one. Denise and her mother and sister, Iris, have been assigned to a temporary shelter outside their hometown of Amsterdam to wait out the blast, but Iris is nowhere to be found and at the rate Denise’s drug-addicted mother is going, they’ll never reach the shelter in time. A last-minute meeting leads them to something better than a temporary shelter—a generation ship, scheduled to leave Earth behind to colonize new worlds after the comet hits. But everyone on the ship has been chosen because of their usefulness. Denise is autistic and fears that she’ll never be allowed to stay. Can she obtain a spot before the ship takes flight? What about her mother and sister? When the future of the human race is at stake, whose lives matter most?

This is the Story of You

This is the Story of You by Beth Kephard

On Haven, a six-mile long, half-mile-wide stretch of barrier island, Mira Banul and her Year-Rounder friends have proudly risen to every challenge. But then a superstorm defies all predictions and devastates the island, upending all logic and stranding Mira’s mother and brother on the mainland. Nothing will ever be the same. A stranger appears in the wreck of Mira’s home. A friend obsessed with vanishing disappears. As the mysteries deepen, Mira must find the strength to carry on-to somehow hold her memories in place while learning to trust a radically reinvented future. Gripping and poetic, This Is the Story of You is about the beauty of nature and the power of family, about finding hope in the wake of tragedy and recovery in the face of overwhelming loss.

Every Falling Star

Every Falling Star by Sungju Lee & Susan McCleelland

“Lee’s story is beautiful, even though it’s hard-hitting and eye-opening.” - The Whispering of the Pages

“It’s a visceral and breathtaking account of hardship, injustice, violence, hunger and raw survival so extreme that readers in the UK (especially those already familiar with the dystopian landscapes imagined by James Dashner, Michael Grant et al) might find it barely credible … ultimately, this is not so much a story about suffering, as one that underlines the importance of hope, love, friendship and family for all of us as human beings.” - Teach Secondary

Every Falling Star, the first book to portray contemporary North Korea to a young audience, is the intense memoir of a North Korean boy named Sungju who was forced at age twelve to live on the streets and fend for himself. To survive, Sungju creates a gang and lives by thieving, fighting, begging, and stealing rides on cargo trains. Sungju richly recreates his scabrous story, depicting what it was like for a boy alone to create a new family with his gang, “his brothers,” to daily be hungry and to fear arrest, imprisonment, and even execution. This riveting memoir allows young readers to learn about other cultures where freedoms they take for granted do not exist.

The Steep and Thorny Way

The Steep & Thorny Way by Cat Winters

“Cat is a master in creating strong heroines and Hanalee is no exception.” – The Daily Prophecy

“It was a beautiful book. With a beautiful story. I couldn’t have loved it more than I did. The Steep and Thorny Way is one of a kind.” – Carina Olsen

A thrilling reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Steep and Thorny Way tells the story of a murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten. 1920s Oregon is not a welcoming place for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and an African-American man. She has almost no rights by law, and the Ku Klux Klan breeds fear and hatred in even Hanalee’s oldest friendships. Plus, her father, Hank Denney, died a year ago, hit by a drunk-driving teenager. Now her father’s killer is out of jail and back in town, and he claims that Hanalee’s father wasn’t killed by the accident at all but, instead, was poisoned by the doctor who looked after him—who happens to be Hanalee’s new stepfather. The only way for Hanalee to get the answers she needs is to ask Hank himself, a “haint” wandering the roads at night.

Worlds of Ink and Shadow

Worlds of Ink and Shadow: A Novel of the Brontës by Lena Coakley

“This fantastic novel looks at the isolated lives of the Brontë children, cleverly combining fact with fiction. Each chapter is told from an alternate point of view, allowing insight into each character’s driving force, as well as exploring the creative beginnings of their literary masterpieces. It is a fascinating and heart-breaking read.” BookTrust

Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne. The Brontë siblings have always been inseparable. After all, nothing can bond four siblings quite like life in an isolated parsonage out on the moors. Their vivid imaginations lend them escape from their strict upbringing, transporting them into the glittering world of Verdopolis and the romantic and melancholy Gondal. As they grow older, the children realise that not only are they imagining these glorious places, they are also truly crossing over, as both inhabitants and creators. When one imagined character, the Earl of Northangerland, follows Emily back home, Emily becomes caught up in a tortured romance with him, and it is only when Anne disappears that Charlotte realises she and her siblings must get to the bottom of their abilities in order to save Anne and possibly themselves. Gorgeously written and meticulously researched, Worlds of Ink and Shadow brings to life the upbringing of one of history’s most celebrated literary families.

The Romantics

The Romantics by Leah Konen

Perfect for fans of Lauren Myracle and Rainbow Rowell, The Romantics will charm readers of all ages. Gael Brennan is about to have his heart broken when his first big relationship crumbles on the heels of his parents’ painful separation. Love intervenes with the intention of setting things right—but she doesn’t anticipate the intrusion of her dreaded nemesis: the Rebound. Love’s plans for Gael are sidetracked by Cara, Gael’s hot-sauce-wielding “dream girl.” The more Love meddles, the further Gael drifts from the one girl who can help him mend his heart. Soon Love starts breaking all her own rules—and in order to set Gael’s fate back on course, she has to make some tough decisions about what it means to truly care.

Seven Ways We Lie

 “Seven Ways We Lie is a superb contemporary YA read, touching upon many different issues facing young people today and with a diverse cast of characters. It’s clever, gripping and hugely relatable, making it not only fun novel for today’s teens but also a very important one.” – Page to Stage Reviews

“I love the way their stories intertwined” – Snuggling on the Sofa, Blog

Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate

In Seven Ways We Lie, a chance encounter tangles the lives of seven high school students, each resisting the allure of one of the seven deadly sins, and each telling their story from their seven distinct points of view. The juniors at Paloma High School all have their secrets, whether it’s the thespian who hides her trust issues onstage, the closeted pansexual who only cares about his drug-dealing profits, or the neurotic genius who’s planted the seed of a school scandal. But it’s Juniper Kipling who has the furthest to fall. No one would argue that Juniper—obedient daughter, salutatorian, natural beauty, and loyal friend—is anything but perfect. Everyone knows she’s a saint, not a sinner; but when love is involved, who is Juniper to resist temptation? When she begins to crave more and more of the one person she can’t have, her charmed life starts to unravel.

Then rumors of a student–teacher affair hit the fan. After Juniper accidentally exposes her secret at a party, her fate falls into the hands of the other six sinners, bringing them into one another’s orbits. All seven are guilty of something. Together, they could save one another from their temptations—or be ruined by them.

Riley Redgate’s twisty YA debut effortlessly weaves humor, heartbreak, and redemption into a drama that fans of Jenny Han and Stephanie Perkins will adore.


 

What is your favourite A&CB YA from 2016? Vote for yours @ACBYA #ACBfavs.

QUOTH THE RAVEN, “NEVERMORE.”

The Raven

Once upon a midnight dreary,

while I pondered weak and weary,

Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,

While I nodded, nearly napping,

suddenly there came a tapping,

As of some one gently rapping,

rapping at my chamber door . . .

 

Paper engineer, David Pelham, has re-imagined Edgar Alan Poe‘s haunting poem; The Raven, through incredible paper craft; he is here today to share the process and inspiration for creating this awe inspiring book.

UNDER THE SPELL OF ‘THE RAVEN’ by David Pelham

In the grey drab days of the late 1930s my earliest memory took shape from within the confines of an iron-framed, high-sided hospital bed. Three years old and recovering from an emergency operation, I was visited by a very kind but rather gaunt giant of an uncle in a dark overcoat. I can still see him looming above me as he reached deep into his pocket, slowly withdrawing the most wonderful, the most dazzling and exciting toy I had ever seen: a toy that awoke in me a visual sense that has influenced and enhanced my life ever since.

It was a magical clockwork butterfly, its shiny tin wings printed in rainbow colours. To me it was the toy-most toy imaginable, joyful and strange, with wings flapping, colours blurring and merging to make more colours. This thrilling piece of clockwork poetry delighted me as it flitted noisily about upon my bed-tray, while outside the dark clouds of war were gathering ominously.

Today, over seventy years later, I still vividly recall my infant joy at the sight of my wonderful tin butterfly, and I believe that something of its bright colours and the visual excitement it gave me during those dark days have stayed with me, and have had a strong influence on my novelty books for the young.

I have had a lifelong passion for kites; their design, construction, performance, and, of course, their bright colours. In the mid 1970s while art director of Penguin Books I wrote The Penguin Book of Kites which is still in print today. This book later led on to a further large-format volume called Kites to Make and Fly, published in 1981 by Pan Books. When detached, the pages could be cut, folded and glued to create ten kites.

During the process of designing these paper kites I became captivated by the creative potential offered by the simple, low-tech immediacy of constructing three-dimensional sculptural forms out of nothing more than folded paper and glue. After an intensive period of self-instruction and exciting experimentation I found that my hitherto flat creative efforts were almost magically lifting off the page as pop-up entities into a dramatic extra dimension. This discovery had set me free, and my love-affair with pop-up books and paper engineering began.

The Raven Book Cover

The idea of treating Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven in pop-up form was first suggested to me in 2013 by my wife, Jacqui Graham. Jacqui works closely with Clive James and would regularly check James’s sales on the Amazon bestseller list and elsewhere. While doing so she was struck by how often The Raven topped the poetry charts both in the UK and the US. After some further checking she was also struck by the number of distinguished translations of the poem that exist.

The Raven: A Pop-up Book

As she knew that my interest in the works of Edgar Allen Poe goes back to my schooldays, and that I had previously considered other Gothic ideas, she suggested that The Raven might make an interesting proposition. As usual she was right, and I spent the next six months or so pondering on the notion, assessing how best to distribute the eighteen wonderful stanzas of the poem through the seven spreads of the book in such a way as to maximise the drama, impact and dimensional potential of each spread while completely respecting and staying true to the text.

So vivid is the imagery of the text it was not long before I had the book planned and, while the paper engineering had its challenges, the structure of each individual tableau began to slowly emerge from the seven spreads of the book.

The Raven

Pop-up books vary widely in complexity, and the degree of complexity obviously very largely governs the cost to the publisher, The Raven is a complex book with some very challenging assemblies and, while designing the book wasn’t easy, the real work starts when the printer is sent a blank dummy of the proposal. This assembled blank is accompanied by a make-up sheet showing all the die-cut shapes arranged jig-saw style. The pieces are grouped along with the concertina pages into which the pieces will eventually be fitted.

These sheets are generally referred to as ‘nesting sheets’, and if the complex die-cut pieces exceed the available area on the sheet then it’s back to the drawing board for modifications. This takes time of course, so the designer is then caught between – not so much as a rock and a hard place – but more between a budget and a schedule.

On receiving the designer’s blank dummy and the nesting sheet, the printer then cuts and assembles a number of copies of the blank, carefully timing the assembly process in order to help establish an overall manufacturing cost.

Several of these dummies are then sent to the publisher and the designer for approval. Much later they will send out printed proof sheets for the approval of the designer and the illustrator.

The Raven: A Pop-up Book

From the outset of The Raven project I had hoped to persuade the artist and engraver Christopher Wormell to illustrate the book. I had admired his work for many years yet had neither met nor worked with him. Prior to our first meeting – in order to convey something of the illustrative technique I wanted – I prepared a further dummy by montaging each spread with blowups of Victorian engravings to suggest the mood I had in mind. To my delight Christopher was very enthusiastic, and I knew at that moment that this book was no longer ‘my’ book but ‘our’ book, and that with Christopher on board it could become very special.

Communicating mainly by email I would send Christopher the refined die-cut shapes showing my rough drawings, along with reference material and so forth, and by return I would receive his preliminary sketches. These were magnificent, strong and assured drawings of such confidence and brilliance that they constantly brought to mind my complete dismay that drawing, the rudimentary skill of visual creativity, is – to our shame – no longer taught in our art schools.

The Raven_Internal

Drawing is the discipline that lies at the very root of creative endeavour, as important to artists, designers, architects, engineers and scientists as is the written word. Similarly in music the understanding, appreciation and practice of scales and chords must form the rudiments of any real musician’s craft, so the ability to draw is essential to any real artist or designer.

The study of drawing not only concerns itself with making marks, it also develops scrutiny and perception, sharpening our ability to look rather than to simply see. It is an essential skill; a means of enhancing our perception of the physical world around us; a skill that helps us not only to observe, but also to convey, develop and present our creative concepts.

Although Christopher had never previously tackled the demands of a pop-up book he took to the task quickly and positively, constantly providing work that far surpassed that which was expected from the brief.

The Raven_Internal

Some months later I was holding an assembled pass-proof, apprehensively turning each page, carefully scrutinising each little tableau in turn, checking that every one of my detailed adjustments had been carried out by the printer, the die makers and the assembly teams. All was in order. I was holding the result of three years of intensive work in my hands and it felt good.

The Raven: A Pop-up Book is out now. Find out more and buy your copy on our website.

 

#SummerReads | Author Suggestions Part 4

Share a picture of your TBR pile!

Last (but by no means least) in our #SummerReads series is the new super-talent Riley Redgate.

 Show us your bookshelf Riley!

Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows – I’m obsessed with this book’s vivid world-building, and a big part of that is the casual diversity of its cast, representing different races, sexualities, body types, and disability, all incredibly refreshing to see in the fantasy genre.

Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot – This book is unrelentingly witty and often really funny, with the sort of dry humour that made me snicker to myself while reading it in public—but I love it most for its thorough, nuanced portrayal of mental illness.

Patrick Ness’ The Rest of Us Just Live Here - Books that are as quiet as this one really compel me, the way they find deep meaning in small everyday things.

Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings – Haven’t read this yet, but I’m excited for anything with a large central cast of 6 and a panoramic scope.

Mindy McGinnis’ A Madness So Discreet - Set in 19th-century asylums, this book is equal parts feminist and brutal, two of my favourite traits to find in YA.

Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven – Maybe the best thing about the luminescent Station Eleven - and there are about eight million Best Things in this incredible novel – is how Mandel re-conceptualises the post-apocalypse: it’s so stylish these days to write dark and gritty and nihilist, but she chooses instead to focus on the lasting impact of art, the fundamental goodness of most people, and the wonders of being alive today. This book is life-changing, paradigm-shifting stuff.

Which one will you pick? Join the conversation using #ACBbooks.

Have you read Riley’s debut; Seven Ways We Lie? It is a MUST for any contemporary YA fans.

SevenLies_Bookmark_FRONT

“Seven Ways We Lie is a superb contemporary YA read, touching upon many different issues facing young people today and with a diverse cast of characters. It’s clever, gripping and hugely relatable, making it not only fun novel for today’s teens but also a very important one.”Page to Stage Reviews

“Its so exciting to see some pansexual representation in YA! Were also completely up for how deliciously twisty this sounds were hoping for some shocking twists and turns. We really love the cover, too.”Maximum Pop

“I love the way their stories intertwined” Snuggling on the Sofa, Blog

#SummerReads | Author Suggestions Part 3

Share a picture of your TBR pile!

The wonderful Jennifer Mason-Black is here to give us an amazing array of #SummerReads suggestions. There is a little something for everyone, from Watership Down to American Girls 

Which one will you pick? Join the conversation using #ACBbooks.

Take it away Jennifer…

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Watership Down by Richard Adams

I have a passion for epics, though, paradoxically, less so for traditional epic fantasy. This story, with its amazing world building, friendship, and heroism, is one I return to repeatedly. I first experienced it as a child, when my dad read it aloud to me. I still have the same tattered copy.

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The Killer In Me by Margot Harrison

Out in July, this debut novel is masterfully crafted. Less a mystery than classic noir with a modern facelift, it is dark, character rich, and imbued with a sense of place that had the hot desert air of the Southwest blowing through  my chilly New England home.

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The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude

Again, a novel with a tremendous sense of place. If I’m going to be on the beach, I very rarely want to be reading about the beach. I want to be transported elsewhere, and this story of secrets and murder had me on location in the Ozarks. Please note that this is a DARK read. Proceed at your own risk.

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Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

A story that held me in its palm from beginning to end. More friendship, more heroism, facing the unfaceable. The kind of book I wish had been around when I was the YA target audience.

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American Girls by Alison Umminger

This is one of those books that keeps you up all night. The voice of the main character is truly that compelling. And L.A. itself feels like the obvious summer read backdrop: hot, sunny, and full of illusion.

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The Devil and the Bluebird

Jennifer Mason-Black’s debut novel: Devil and the Bluebird, came out in May. You can read the first chapter here.

#SummerReads | Author Suggestions Part 2

TBR-pile
We are back with more suggestions for your TBR pile.
Josephine

Patricia Hruby Powell, author of the inspiring picture book Josephine is here to share her #SummerReads selection:

  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  • Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit
  • And the Pursuit of Happiness by Maira Kalman

“whew, that wasn’t easy. (I only got as far as books beginning with A – kidding, actually, but, hmmm).”

Have you read any of these? Share your thoughts & #SummerReads with us @ACBYA using #ACBbooks. 

Summer Reads | Author Suggestions

TBR-pile
At A&CB HQ summer time means one thing and one thing only, READING TIME. So we asked a selection of our wonderful authors to recommend some books for our special summer reads TBR pile.

Karen Romano Young, author of the upcoming Hundred Percent; a heartbreakingly honest account of what it means to be between girl and woman, is first-up to share her #SummerReads selection.

“This summer I’m reading The Slowest Book Ever by April Pulley Sayre,  A Girl Called Vincent by Krystyna Poray Goddu, The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner and 9-10 by Nora Raleigh Baskin.”

Have you read any of these? Share your thoughts & #SummerReads with us @ACBYA using #ACBbooks. 

PLUS, read an extract from Hundred Percent HERE.

Discover Shakespeare.

Shakespeare Week

This Saturday marks 400 Years since Shakespeare died. His influence can be felt in language, literature, popular culture and even in the narrative of English history.

At A&CB we have the privilege of working with some incredible books influenced by the Bard. Take a peek at a few of our favourites:

The Steep and Thorny Way

Cat Winters’ The Steep & Thorny Way, a thrilling reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, tells the story of a murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten.

“It was a beautiful book. With a beautiful story. I couldn’t have loved it more than I did. The Steep and Thorny Way is one of a kind.” Carina Olsen, Book Blogger

Presenting Shakespeare

A skull held aloft, a lovesick donkey, a bloodied dagger: these familiar icons are instantly recognisable shorthand for the plays of William Shakespeare. In the four hundred years since his death, the Bard of Avon’s exalted place in the pantheon of theatre and poetry— indeed, all of Western culture— is unequaled.

This incredible new book from Princeton Architectural Press; Presenting Shakespeare, collects 1,100 posters for Shakespeare’s plays, designed by an international roster of artists representing 55 countries, from Japan to Colombia, India, Russia, Australia and beyond.

A Treasure Trove of Art, Design and the Bard. 

You Kiss by th' Book

In his engaging new collection, National Book Award finalist Gary Soto creates poems that each begin with a line from Shakespeare and then continue in Soto’s fresh and accessible verse. Drawing on moments from the sonnets, Hamlet, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream , Romeo and Juliet , and others, Soto illuminates aspects of the source material while taking his poems in directions of their own, strategically employing the colour of thee” and “thine,” kings, thieves, and lovers.

Love Sonnets

Why shouldn’t you put your very own stamp on the classics?

With Knock Knock’s Love Sonnets by William Shakespeare and You, you get a chance to co-author legendary works of art right alongside lauded literary luminaries. Simply fill in the blanks with whatever sentiments you decide complete the work most fittingly, and voil! You’ve created a new literary masterpiece.

and of course, the Shakespeare Insult Generator! What could be better than insulting your friends and enemies in the Bard’s witty tongue? Nothing! You apish, beast-eating, abomination. 

Shakespeare Insult Generator

What is your favourite Shakespeare inspired book? Let us know on Twitter #Shakespiration.