Friday, December 12, 2008

The Savage by David Almond; illustrated by Dave McKean

What happens when something so traumatic happens in your life that it begins to blur between reality and fantasy? Are you still a mild-mannered Blue or a savage? That is the premise of David Almond’s new book, and interestingly enough, he takes on this book while doing some unique blending of his own.

Blue has lived a pretty happy and decent life with his parents and little sister. The only exception is Hopper, who takes every advantage he can to belittle, spit on and cause Blue pain. The only person who helps Blue through this situation is his dad….but one day, unexpectedly, his father has a heart attack and there is only a huge hole in Blue’s life.

His teachers and his mother know that Blue will have to find a way to cope with this sudden and tragic loss, and the avenue he turns to is writing. He begins to create a character, a savage boy, that helps him deal with his loss, his anger, and his hatred and love for people through this alternate persona. And with the continuation of the savage boy’s story, Blue’s inner life of struggle begins to unfold.

David Almond, along with illustrator Dave McKean has created a book that looks into how a traumatic experience evolves from the pages of a young man’s journal into real life. They have taken this book to a new type of print – a fusion of a novel with that of a graphic novel, where chapters are entwined. This, in turn, also solidifies the story of Blue, between reality and fantasy. As Blue’s savage boy persona becomes more real, Blue’s real life becomes to evolve. Symbolism is one of the driving forces in this book and one that older readers will catch onto. Although a short book, it may make some readers go back to the graphic pages to understand just exactly how Blue copes with
trauma, both past and present.

Watch for this type of format in books….Almond’s is only the beginning. Perfect match with Venomous by Christopher Krovatin, another book that blends graphic and traditional prose with anger issues of young adults.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Playing with Matches by Brian Katcher

A neutron walks into a bar and orders a beer….the bartender gives it to him and says, "For you, no charge..."
And so begins the life of Leon Sanders, junior at Zummer High School, whose architecture reminds him of an enormous bomb shelter or an insane asylum.

Leon’s always grown up as a nerd. He’s surrounded himself with sci-fi movies and figurines, and is probably the only one who checks books out of the library at high school. But his status has changed some. From uber nerd in junior high to being unknown in high school, Leon thinks of it as a step up. His group of friends consists of Samantha (a feminist); Rob (who always looks mad) and Johnny and Jimmy (two brothers who “get nostalgic over their greatest farts.) And then there’s the crush…
Amy is the toned cheerleader goddess Leon has always fantasized about ever since he was in the fourth grade. He watches her daily, but she never sees him and the only thing he can hope for is that she will one day look his way and see him. But until then….

School drones one with projects. In his history class, partners are picked and who does Leon end up with? None other than Melody Hannon, the girl whose status is even beneath the nerds. And why? Because of her severely scarred face, caused by a fire when she was four years old. Leon can’t believe his ill fortune but deals with the fact that once again, bad luck follows him.
But what once was just a school project turns into something else entirely, and one that Leon or Melody didn’t even expect. Their academic partnering turns to friendship, which slowly becomes romance – a first for both of them. The only thing Leon can’t get over is her face, but the more he is around her, the more he realizes what beauty is.

But never underestimate the powers of Leon Sanders, especially when it comes to the goddess called Amy. She takes a sudden interest in Leon and when this happens, the only thing he can compare it to is winning the lottery. So he dumps Melody and although he cares for her, she doesn’t matter as much as the lottery ticket with the grand prize - Amy. And things get truly bad for Leon Sanders….

What an AMAZING book!! Brian Katcher’s first YA novel truly packs a punch. The reader can’t help but laugh at Leon’s character and the way he sees the world, but also realizes that he is seriously playing with fire, and emotional fires can burn the hottest. The characters are solid creating the social cliques found in all high schools and the plot is believable and realistic. But it’s the theme that’s the gut-puncher…the motor that will drive this book into YA hands to be talked about and passed around. The ending was thought-provoking, leaving it into the hands of the reader to think about. Kudos to Katcher’s first novel!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Latent Powers of Dylan Fontaine by April Lurie

Dylan Fontaine is….well, it’s easier to explain him. He’s a neat freak, he’s become the caretaker of his family and their cat ever since his mom ditched him, his brother, and his ob-gyn father for Phillippe the artist, to live in the Village in NYC. And that’s just the beginning of his story.

Another part of Dylan is that he’s a nice guy. So why is he in jail? Because he was caught shop-lifting, and the worst part is that he’s spending time locked up for stealing UNDERWEAR….all the time trying to explain to Officer Greenwood about the travails and dangers of trans fat in foods.

But Dylan has a romantic side as well. The love of his life, Angie, has asked him to star in her latest film creation, starring him. He’s excited about the whole deal, including rumors that she’s broken up with Jonathan. He can’t wait to get started, until…Jonathan shows up to help on the project as well!!

Dylan’s only source of love and frustration comes mostly from his relationship with his brother Randy. He loves the guy, but can’t see why Randy is throwing away so much talent and intelligence on guys in the band who won’t take showers and are always stoned. Dylan just doesn’t understand and his frustration is growing…

So what does he do? How can he cope? He finds his avenues and begins to use them to change his life, his way of thinking, his romantic interests, and his obsessive/compulsive neatness behaviors. Some things can be changed, the key is time.

The characters in this book, from the adults to the teens, make April Lurie’s book not only laugh-out-loud funny at times, but also allows the reader to delve into the bitterness of parents divorcing to seeing someone you love not care anymore. It’s written both with comedy and real-life situations in mind in perfect contrast to each other. This is definitely a must-read and a book worthy for all guy readers everywhere. Perfectly matched with Daniel Ehrenhaft’s Drawing a Blank: Or How I Tried to Solve a Mystery, End a Feud, and Land the Girl of My Dreams.

Thanks for the help! You chose...

Number two of the two videos! I posted as many comments as possible, but still received numerous emails on it as well. There were many that enjoyed Number one, but Number two was overwhelming! I'm going to take these off the web for awhile, to make sure they're correct. Thanks for Alex Flinn for emailing and telling me about a few things I need to fix! And thanks to you guys out there for helping out. Many said the two pieces were very similar, and I agree, but there were some differences....amazing, the help out there! : )
Now, it's off to buy several digital photoframes and upload them with bookcovers from this semester's booktalks as well as the one I'm going to present in the spring!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Skinned by Robin Wasserman

“Lia Kahn is dead”
“I am Lia Kahn.
Therefore – because this is a logic problem even a dim-witted child could solve – I am dead.
Except here’s the thing: I’m not.”

Lia has it all…beauty, a boyfriend, the most popular friends, a wealthy family, and a ViM (virtual machine) full of networked friends and a lifetime of vids. But in a blink of an eye, all is lost when an accident nearly kills her. Lia’s last memory as a human is the smell of burning flesh…
When she wakes up in a hospital, Lia is relieved to find out she survived that freak accident, but her nightmare only starts to begin when she realizes the truth. She is no longer human, but a mech-head, a skinner….her brain sliced and diced to program a computer instead. Not breath, no heartbeat, no hunger, no emotions – the only thing left of her is the essence of who she was. Even her body and face have been completely altered. And she’ll remain like this forever, uploading her memories every night before shutting down and hoping that her life can return to normal.

But can it? What exactly is Lia Kahn now? Does she still have human rights, or are those rights reserved? Her friends, her boyfriend…even her family don’t know how to treat her. Lia is caught between being a futuristic monster with the memories of a once real person and trying her hardest to be the only person she knows how to be. Even the Faithers are after her, believing that she is not a creature created by God, but an indecent machine created by man.

And during this time, she meets two very special people who will forever change her. One is human….the other a mech-head…and the decision she will ultimately make for herself and them will alter her “life” in so many ways….

Intense, thought-provoking and realistically written, this book takes the reader into the future and how changes of the power of technology in our daily lives alter us. Wasserman’s book will transport the reader to the future of America, where everything from the presidency to school life is dramatically different as we travel in Lia’s shoes. One can’t help comparing this to Pearson’s Adoration of Jenna Fox, but this is far more intense, with helplessness the only alternative in this disturbing tale of “utopia”. A must-read for any young adult who’s never read science fiction to those that devour it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

San Antonio Days...

I miss South Texas, but North Texas ain't bad either! Here's some pics on my lovely daughter Maddy and I! Loving La Villita!!

Took a hiatus...

I know...been gone for awhile, but I'm getting back in the game.
I think I needed a jumpstart, and I got that yesterday!! Teri Lesesne gave me the opportunity to moderate an author session at NCTE featuring three amazing people!!! Sean Beadoin is an amazing speaker - eloquent, entertaining, FUNNY!! John Green's personality really spoke when he did. He has such frenetic energy and definitely a unique perspective about life and writing that he draws from his past. Joan Bauer was funny, thought-provoking and shows why she's a staple in YA humor.
I was scared silly, but got through it, and did okay! So now, I get to go to the ALAN workshop and get to see everyone I've only known online! KEWL......

On a personal note, will be blogging about the AMAZING book called Skinned by Robin Wasserman. Of course, there'll be a comparison to Mary Pearson's Adoration of Jenna Fox, but this one is darker and takes a completely different slant on humanity. When you have Scott Westerfeld quoted on the cover, you know it'll be!
Also working on a new booktrailer for Beastly by Alex Flinn. The more I do, the better they get! Now to find some music.....

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley

(2008). New York: Little Brown and Co.

Charlotte Usher is trying so hard to make this year count. She has been meticulously studying photos and yearbooks of Petula and the two Wendy’s – the most popular girls in schools – in order to catch the attention of Damen, the god of high school. She’ll do anything to make this dream happen and go to the fall dance with him for her first kiss….

But a gummy bear gets in the way.

In fact, it gets so in the way of Charlotte’s air passage that she dies. Right there in the class where she felt his complete attention on her. Well, being a tutor to help him pass physics was just one way. Now it’s too late. Charlotte is dead, gone, and never been kissed.

But at her “new” high school, she learns that a bunch of those dearly departed, including Piccolo Pam (she swallowed her instrument), Metal Mike (music was his downfall), Deadhead Jerry (a hippie teen) and others, cannot not go to the next world until they embrace what it was that ultimately killed them – and not the obvious either. The answers lie in their textbook “Deadiquette” as well as their quest to save their home. If they can’t, they will live in limbo forever.

And Charlotte kind of likes that idea. She can now be around Damen as much as she wants to and he’ll never know she’s watching him. She can study Petula intensely and find out what makes her tick. She can be with the love of her life and pretend for eternity- but then Scarlet gets in the way.

Scarlet, Petula’s younger goth sister, is the only one who can see Charlotte and what she’s doing. When the two start talking, they realize they can experiment and fulfill their curiosity by switching themselves through possession….the only thing they didn’t bank on was how one girl could dramatically change the other’s life.

A refreshing, colorful, and hilarious outtake of death and gothic characters in today’s teen world just made its debut. The author is extremely witty and funny, starting off each chapter with a narrator’s synopsis that is a perfect fit for the reader. The imagination and style of the author are evident from beginning to end in this well-written book for teens. Mix a little “Scary Movie” humor in with “Mean Girls” characters; give it the all encompassing theme of true love and this unique author’s writing style, and you have yourself a true YA winner!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Can you pass this test? I CAN'T!!!!

The Missing Girl by Norma Fox Mazer

Five sisters, all with unique personalities: Beauty is the oldest, but she doesn’t live up to her name; Mim is the quiet, introspective sister that can calm the group; Stevie doesn’t want to live by the rules, she just wants to play the game her way; Fancy lives in her own world that revolves around her teacher and what she tells her special class; Autumn is the baby...

They all work and play together, but their lives are not as happy as they could be. The girls’ mother works hard to make ends meet since their father was hurt in an accident, but the money isn’t coming in. The fighting and stress between the parents is obvious, most notably at the dinner table, and the girls can only hope for the best and help contribute when they can.

What they don’t know is that someone….a typical, everyday, ordinary person…. is watching them, deciding which one he would want to take. But to him, it’s all a fantasy that cannot be acted upon. And that’s harmless, isn’t it? To think about it and not commit the act? But sometimes you can’t help yourself…

The girls’ world goes on a collision course when their parents decide that one of them has to leave home and her sisters to live with an aunt, but only until things are better financially at home. This doesn’t make any of them happy, especially when their cousin comes to take one of them away. But what happens to the other sister, who suddenly disappears, and no one knows where, is what causes their world to collapse. Where is she? Who is she with? What happened to her?

Norma Fox Mazer writes a story that depicts the separate but unified lives of the Herbert sisters and the roles they play when tragedy strikes. All of the girls reveal themselves slowly and innocently, while the other main character, the unnamed perpetrator, reveals himself almost from the start. The mood is automatically captured within the first chapter and the story unfolds itself smoothly, not in patches, where alternate views of the holistic situation is told through his side and the Herbert girls’ POV. The psychology of child abduction as well as the fallout of the victim’s family is realistically portrayed. This is an excellent read and good companion book to Scott’s Living Dead Girl.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Spooky, Ghostly, and Things that Go Bump...booklist!

Here is a list of the supernatural that I've read over the years. This is one of my genres on my Excel booklist that I print and put around the library. Enjoy!

666: The Number of the Beast (story collection)

Beating Heart: A Ghost Story
Jenkins, A.M.

Myracle, Lauren

Bloodline and Bloodline: The Reckoning
Cary, Kate

Blue Bloods
De la Cruz, Melissa

Boy who Couldn't Die, The
Sleator, William

Almond, David

Dead Connection
Price, Charlie

Death Collector, The
Richards, Justin

Demon Witch: Book II Sorcerers of the Nightwing
Huntington, Geoffrey

Johnson, Maureen

Devouring, The
Holt, Simon

Stahler, David

Full Tilt
Schusterman, Neal

Gathering of Shades, A.
Stahler, David

Noyes, Deborah

Sleator, William

I Heart You, You Haunt Me
Schroeder, Lisa

Jade Green: A Ghost Story
Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds

Keturah and Lord Death
Leavitt, Martine

Lord Loss: The Demonata (Demon Thief, Slawter, Bec)
Shan, Darren

Mister B. Gone
Barker, Clive

Night Road
Jenkins, A.M.

Westerfeld, Scott

Jacobs, Deborah Lynn

Project 17
Stolarz, Amy

Prom Dates from Hell
Clement-Moore, Rosemary

Restless Dead
Noyes, Deborah

Road of the Dead, The
Brooks, Kevin

Skeleton Man
Bruchac, Joseph

Sledding Hill, The
Crutcher, Chris

Sorcerers of the Nightwing: Book One
Huntington, Geoffrey

Twlight series
Meyer, Stephanie

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A prediction I made awhile ago...

Earlier this year, I shared with some people that I think it would be so cool if there were a book that incorporated both a novel and a graphic novel fused together. And at B&N, I found one that I thought would be interesting to read. It's a book by Christopher Krovatin called Venomous. Based on previous reviews of his book Heavy Metal and You, I decided to give this a try...and it had what I was looking for! In between each chapter is a dream sequence with graphic pictures inserted. The reader gets a look not only at Locke's life and how he deals with his deep anger issues, but also get the storyline of how he views his anger subconsciously, through the use of superheroes, in his dream state. I'm loving this read and the cover...well, that's what drew me. His only redeemer from the venom of his anger his is little brother but everyone can be the victim in his war against both sides of this intense character.

Christopher Krovatin writes about life of a teen guy in NYC with realism, and the characters are equally fascinating and only add to the overall character not only of the book itself, but of Locke, the main character, as well.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Book Pairs for High School

I've noticed a list going on, and thought I'd share mine on the blog. I've been working on this list for a couple of years now, and everytime I find a new book to read, I now automatically think, "what can I pair with this one?" So, here's what I got for NF/F:

America Through the Lens by Martin Sandler with Kissing Vanessa by Simon Cheshire

An American Plague by Jim Murphy and Fever, 1792 by Laurie Halse Anderson

Beautiful Cigar Girl by Daniel Stashower with An Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld

The Burn Journals by Brent Runyon with Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

Close to Shore by Michael Capuzzo with Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham

The Code Book by Simon Singh with The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

The Endurance by Caroline Alexander with Surviving Antarctic by Andrea White

Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser with My Big Fat Manifesto by Susan Vaught

The Great Fire by Jim Murphy with Worlds Afire by Paul Janeszcko

Guinea Pig Scientists by Leslie Dendy and Mel Boring with Double Helix by Nancy Werlin

He's Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt with A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone

Hitler Youth by Susan Bartoletti with Daniel Half-Human and the Good Nazi by Daniel Chotjewitz

Isaac's Storm by Eric Larson with Hurricane Song by Paul Volponi

Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich with A Room on Lorelei Street by Mary Pearson

The Notebook Girls by Julia Baskin et al with Headlong by Kathe Koja

Portrait of a Killer by Patricia Cornwell with the Haunting of Alaizabel Cray by Chris Wooding

Republic of Pirates by Colin Woodward with Pirates! by Celia Rees

Spook by Mary Roach with The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson

Stiff by Mary Roach with The Christopher Killer by Alane Ferguson

Witch Hunt by Marc Aronson with The Minister's Daughter by Julie Hearn

No Choirboy by Susan Kuklin with Juvie Three by Gordon Korman

** So, that's all I have for working on more that pairing, also looking at triplets. Hope this will help anyone out there!! : )
Buenos Noches!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Headlong book trailer

Tell me what you think....

The Devouring by Simon Holt

It’s happens on Sorry Night…they come to feed on your worst fears….and this time it’s Jeremiah’s turn. He forgot to put the cattle up for the night and now his father has tied him up outside…and the shadows are coming for me.
That’s the tale Regina begins reading to her little brother Henry one night. Not an especially good bedtime story, but Reg tries to convince Henry that in order not to be scared, you have to scare yourself. But his little ten-year old mind can’t wrap itself around that concept.
Regina’s life has changed in the past year. Her mother left the family one day, and her father, although he is there physically, isn’t really there. She takes care of Henry, the house, and herself and wishes her mother would come back soon. But it’s been six months since she left. The only friend Regina has is Aaron, and they both share the same fascination with the supernatural and everything gory and bloody that’s ever been put out on videotape or DVD. Now Reg has something interesting to show Aaron – a book she found at the bookstore she works at that tells about the Vours and how they showed up on December 22nd to possess Jeremiah. After reading about it, both of them decide to call up the Vours using their deepest fears – hers of spiders and his of drowning – but the spell doesn’t work…on them….
Instead, Henry has become the innocent victim, and the Vour is creating chaos. It begins to work on making Reg as crazy as it did to Hannah in the past by playing on her fears while inhabiting Henry’s body to full possession.
This is a fast-paced, absorbing read that will fascinate readers from beginning to end. The plot moves quickly from the past to the present. The characters in the book are solid from start to finish, including the adults and the phatasms. Nothing is left but the reader’s imagination as the storyline continues to the final showdown between Regina and the Vours. Small surprising twists in the plot only add to the pace of this book. If Shan’s Demonata series, Shusterman’s Full Tilt, or anything by Stephen King fly off the shelves, then this book should be a must to pick up. Watch out…a new master of YA horror just made his debut. I’m hoping there will be a sequel…

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Working on my booktrailer....

for Headlong (see below)
Got the images together last night and finished putting them in order and adding the story. Hopefully, I'll post this on Friday or Saturday. Have to mash it together the next few days and I'm still thinking what kind of music to add. It's not a sad book, but it's not a happy one either, definitely not a psychological's a more in between, and I'm kind of stuck on it. I'm thinking rock, punk mix. Hmmmmm....we'll see.
I'm reading up a storm too! April Henry (hey, girl! a big shout out!) sent me a galley of her newest book. Her last YA book made it on the TAYSHAS list (Shockpoint) and I'm looking forward to settling in with this one. Also in the middle of the Missing Girl by Norma Mazer. LOVING IT!!! That review and another one on The Devouring by Simon Holt will be posted tomorrow.
For awhile, I was in the doldrums with reading....couldn't find one that hooked me, and I was getting FRUSTRATED. Then...wah-laa..along comes three amazing ones. Now I'm hooked again.
My future goals:
First and foremost: start compiling information on John Green, Sean Beaudoin, and Joan Bauer as well as questions for them because I was given the opportunity to moderate their session at NCTE. My first question will be about road trips....
1. get together a presentation about library webpages and the 21st century for a presentation for the TCEA conference
2. Create at least four booktrailers by December!
3. Compile a list of books I'll booktalk at the TLA conference in April
4. Start working on my 50K program for the kids at school and incorporate Shelfari for them to blog on
At least I had backup with web 2.0 storage spots, but still....I had one I created for TASLA that I didn't save anywhere else! Stupid me.....GRRRRRR
Other than that, I'm going to sit back, enjoy Lipstick Jungle and the Fringe, and make some sushi!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Headlong by Kathe Koja

Lily Noble is no longer just a day student at the Vaughn School...she now lives in the dormitory full-time and has access to her friends Auds and Jules, and her boyfriend Kells. Sophomore year will be her best if only she can get through living with her roommate Constance, who always has a runny nose and can't think for herself.

But then along comes Hazel....

Hazel is different. She doesn't subscribe to the "traditional" code of conduct at the Vaughn School simply because she's one of the "scholarship" students. She dresses differently, curses inappropriately, and smokes cigarettes whenever and wherever she pleases. Hazel bucks authority in class and doesn't participate in and with anyone or thing. And when Lils sees this, her curiosity begins.

When they first begin their friendship, Hazel lets Lils, or Lily, know exactly what she thinks of the BBG's, or the Burberry Bitch Girls, and their Tiffany bracelets and vacations in Vail, but she shares her gorp and their friendship continues little by little.

And with their friendship, Lily discovers a widening gap between her way of life as she knew it and the one she has with Hazel. She begins to see life a little differently, from her shallow friendships to her relationship with Kells (aka James) to what her mother aspires her to be. And Lily has a decision to make...continue down the footpath of the traditional Vaughn girl, or experience life and what it can hold outside of the safe zone.

Lily finds Hazel exasperating at times and wants desperately to know more about her life - where she grew up, who her parents are, and who is Duncan and Magnus? The secrets both girls are reluctant to share at first and the adventures they go through together, from defacing the school statue to relationships with guys, cements their bond. Through boxes of Hot Cherry Ropes, the girls are comfortable with each other and the social class they represent at school, although others are always looking to sabotage it. And as the year progresses, so do the changes both Hazel and Lily go through. Life can be different, but in the end it's about personal choices.

Kathe Koja combines a narrative about friendship and personal struggles with first-person viewpoints from people who orbit around Hazel and Lily without ever reaching into the core of their friendship. From this perspective, the reader gets not only an omniscient look at the main characters, but fully understands what each girl is going through individually as well as together. Although the length of her books are short, this is a beautifully crafted story that shows the meaning of true friendship and the maturity that happens to teens over a period of one year. Sophomores are not the same as juniors...something magical happens to them, and Koja catches this magic perfectly.
PS - I've already started my "list" to create a booktrailer for this one!! I'll be working on that this week : )

Great YA pair! No Choirboy and Juvie Three

It's been one crazy six weeks, and I decided to devote some time READING and reviewing! It's been nice...and I picked up some really good reads!

I don't know if it's because subconsciously I was thinking of Korman's Juvie Three, but I picked up a book (non-fiction...yea!) and was intrigued by the topic, the voices and the lives of everyone involved.

No Choirboy by Susan Kuklin is a series of stories about men, who in their teens, were sent to death row for their crimes. They tell the story in their own voice through recordings with the author or through notes. Two are from Alabama, and one from Huntsville, Texas. These men re-visit their pasts to show the reader how hard prison affects a teen not sent to juvenile detention, especially when they are sitting on death row. Each one of those still alive that were interviewed all voiced the same opinion...if they had thought about their decisions and the people they were involved with...but it's too late for them now.

Although the law has changed since (no teenager can be sentenced to death for a crime) these men still have to live the rest of their lives not knowing their first true love, getting their driver's licenses, going to college, getting married, walking on carpet in their homes, or seeing the sunset from their hometowns. Lots of regret, but they take the responsibility for their actions as well.

What is so wonderful about this book is that not only does the reader get to know the criminal, but they also get to know the victim's family, the perpetrator's family, and the lawyer who fights daily for them, and how prison life has changed them. Think about it...these kids grew up in prison surrounded by men who could be an ally or a deadly foe. All sides are revealed...not just one.

This is definitely a book against the death penalty, and it makes you think...another amazing facet of this book. Teens will pick up this one and I can see this as an excellent read for reluctant readers, especially boys. It will give the reader insight into what could happen without it happening to them. And thus, a GREAT pair for Korman's fictional Juvie Three.

Monday, October 6, 2008

I can't believe it's been THIS LONG!!!!

October is already a week in, and I haven't posted anything. It just seems like a blur right now. I'm desperately trying to get my hands on some juicy novels. Found one called Frozen Fire by Tim Bowler. This one is making me want to keep reading and turning pages until I found out what is going on! This will be my next digital book trailer...definitely!
Right now I'm sitting in gorgeous Corpus Christi having a great time with librarians and teachers at Region 2 : ) I have always loved the coast, and when I come here, what do I think about? Gail Giles' book, You Don't Know Me.
I know that I have in my greasy little fingers the new galley from April Henry, author of Shock Point. It's called Torched. That'll be next on my agenda. But honestly, to tell you the truth, I completely threw down Last Dance at the Frosty Queen....wasn't what I expected and not what I thought. But you know, sometimes you have to glean. Not everything I pick up is great! That's the hardest part...reading something and spending time with it only to walk away a little disappointed...
Okay, rambling now. Time to stop..will post the review of Frozen Fire ASAP!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Juvie Three by Gordon Korman

Meet three teens who have different stories to tell. Gecko has been trained since he was little to hotwire and be the getaway man. Arjay punched one guy a little too hard and that guy died. Terence comes from the big bad city of Chicago and was part of a big bad gang. All three are in juvenile detention and/or adult prison and are serving their time, hoping their time will come to its end soon.

And it does, in the form of Douglas Healy, who has written a grant to create a halfway house to reform juvenile delinquent. Doug picks these three boys because he sees himself in them, having been a delinquent himself in his earlier days. But more than that, he sees their potential.

And then one night...

they get into a pushing match after an argument between the guys to keep the rules or be sent back. When Healy comes to stop it, he becomes an accidental target and is pushed three stories below, bleeding. The boys have to make a decision...take the money and run or pretend Doug is okay and keep up their obligations for being in this halfway house. That means going to school everyday and keeping up grades, continuing their community service, and going to their scheduled counseling meetings. All until Healy recovers from his concussion and comes back to them.

But it isn't as easy as it looks. Terence wants to follow his dark side and can taste being part of a gang; Gecko falls in love and has to make the decision of truth or lies; and Arjay has the opportunity to be part of a band - something he's a natural talent at. Will their dual lives run parallel to each other or tear them apart? The only options are continue this battle of goodwill or be sent back; embrace their good side or welcome the dark side of what people and/or circumstances have made them.

Gordon Korman has written a range of books for YA. And while some find their shelves in the junior high, others make it to the high school. Interest level is key, and Korman finds them in a world of actuality for teens. I consider this book a gateway for Korman - best at junior high, but interesting enough to be placed in high school. Although the author has pared down realistic language in this book that I have seen in others similar in topic, the characters are fully realized. This isn't a dark book, but one about redemption, both for the situation the boys find themselves in as well as their with their personal demons.
On a personal note, I received a different bookcover than the one displayed here, and thought the other was more appealing...

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Identical by Ellen Hopkins

Fridays at school are what I consider my options days. If there is something extremely pressing that needs to be done or if I have a class scheduled, that is my first priority. But if not (and your in-box will always be full) I sit and read or work on book trailers or podcasts. With that being said, I picked up Identical by Ellen Hopkins and read it....

This isn't a tried and true review, but some thoughts mostly. I'll have to post a review later. I don't know if it's because I've read all of her previous novels, but I found this one to be in sync with her later books. There was nothing terribly out of place that truly bothered me - be it situations or language. This book is not only what Kaeleigh's father does to his daughters but so much more. It's about:

1. Siblings first and foremost. To me, the central theme wasn't the abuse Kaeleigh goes through, but the relationship between the two sisters, from disfragmented to unity. Being identical twins can be tough. Finding your own self while others may look at you in the same way is frustrating. Haven't some of use experienced the "I know your sister/brother and expect the same behavior from you?" expectations teachers put on siblings alone? These two characters are so vastly different, especially Raeanne, because of the need for identity as well as perhaps some one upmanship.

2. Dyfunctional families. Mother is absent, father is a drunk, the kids take the brunt of the situation, but they have to keep it all together because of job and community status. How sad...and how many times does that happen to teens? Classic example: preachers and teachers. This is akin to that but on a jurisdictional and governmental level. Mom, WAKE UP!!!

3. Friendship and honesty. With others, including the views of relationships with guys as well as with each girl and to each other. I asked myself, "Why didn't Raeanne help sooner?" But as the story progresses, so does the involvement.

4. And what about the abuse? To me, it wasn't so graphic in nature that I was repelled by it. It was just plain wrong and sad and too too terrible. In the beginning, both twins succumbed to it (psychologically for one, physically for the other) and the story could have taken a different ending, but they found their strength, little by was an encompassing ordeal, but ultimately, they were survivors in their own right.

And as always, I am absolutely blown away by the stylistic writing of Ms. Hopkins. It takes an intuitive and creative mind to create a book like that, especially free verse. Kudos!!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dark horse books

Haven't read Identical by Hopkins but it's in my office right now. Finished reading Living Dead Girl by Scott last week. These two have been books that my teen readers (I haven't put it on the shelf yet) have said that they are heavy duty. My verdict, as well as the terror of having my first challenge since I became a librarian, is making me think second about these. I know, I know....don't need to preach to the choir about that. They might be "office books," if you know what I mean.
So, with that said, I'm changing tack slightly. I think that sometimes adult books for teen readers are often left in the dust. Just finished Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff because it was on the nomination list for YALSA. LOVED IT!!!! Adult science fiction meets psychological thriller meets mystery. It's the one saving grace of being a YA librarian - adult books are not off limits! YIPPEE!!!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The power of booktalking

So....last week I booktalked about 20 titles in a 45 minute time period, and hands down, the book girls wanted the most was Breaking Up is Hard to Do. I promised I'd go down to the local bookseller to get three more copies.
A week later (today, to be exact) lo and behold! They were completely out of stock of that title and the nearestbookseller that had it in stock was about 40 miles away. There was a rush on this book last week.
Power to the booktalkers of every school in America!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

I just got this in the mail and didn't even read the summary - I focused on the reviews by authors such as Ellen Hopkins and Chris Crutcher. And they're comments were right on....far beyond...oh man....

Alice was ten years old when she was abducted by a man who wanted to teach her how he loves and cares for little girls. What started out as a field trip to see her favorite animal at the aquarium turns into a nightmare immediately and stays that way for the next five years.

Now at fifteen, Alice is deprived of food in order to stay under 100 pounds. She keeps her head down and herself unnoticed and people who live around her and Ray thinks he is doing a fine job raising his "daughter." But they have no idea of the horrors that go on behind a closed door with three locks.

Alice feels dead in her skin, and nothing can make her feel any different. Not the princess sheets she lays on, or the yogurt she's fed....and especially not the twisted and demented love Ray shows her on a daily basis. But she's about to find her escape. Alice knows that she's nearly outgrown her attraction as a child for Ray, and begins to find his new Alice - someone who can take her place where Ray can teach the new Alice how he can care and love for a little girl - and Alice can be free...

Chapter 12 - Never grow up....Try saying it while a hot heavy hand pinches, testing to make sure you're still child enough. Try saying it when you can't grow, when you're forever trapped where someone else wants you to be.

This has got to be the most intense YA book I have ever in my life read. The horrors of what a man like Ray can do to someone like Alice is beyond my safe comfortable scope of perspective. Teens will shudder at what happens and cry for Alice, hoping that maybe what she ultimately wants is the best answer to her impossible dilemma. It's one of those books that cannot be put down until the final denouement at the end. Rage, anger, horror...hope, compassion, protection...those are the range of emotions readers will have when finished with this book. Along the lines of "When Jeff Comes Home by Catherine Atkins, this one is more raw, more in-depth and one where the reader will live through everything Alice does; the only difference is that we can close the book - she can't.

Answers to that pesky junior high question....

I conducted a workshop with Grand Prairie and Irving ISD librarians and a question came up that I wasn't so sure I could answer. First, I should say that I have worked in a library that was both junior high and high school, but it was a 1-A school, so I knew all the kids. It's different in a bigger school.
The question? How do you keep the books that eighth graders from getting into the hands of the sixth graders where a possible censorship case could develop? Well, after thinking about it, I knew this was a difficult question. We as librarians should not censor, but then again, as educators, we have to make the best possible choices for our students. So my answer to them was, "I'm not really sure. But here are some possible solutions."
1. Booktalk specific books just for sixth graders. They're coming out of a reading environment filled with series books, and if you find some really good books from authors they'd enjoy in sixth grade, the possibility of them checking out books by those same authors are bound to follow, even if they aren't series books.
2. Create and excel spreadsheet of books that are amazing for sixth grade and throw these around the library - on the top of shelves, on the magazine rack, on the circ desk. I do this at my high school and it's amazing what kinds of little notes are put on them by the end of the year. It's quite fun and I can see student recommendations of which books they've loved.
3. Do NOT think that lists, either state or national, will be the perfect fit for this age group! They are there as recommendations only - and you must tailor them to fit.
4. And someone mentioned putting YA stickers on the books that are more appropriate for older readers so that you can gauge whether or not a sixth grader coming fresh out of elementary might enjoy and which may be beyond their maturity level. Excellent idea!

So, anything else out there I may have missed since I've been in the high school for the last eight years? I will say two things before signing off of this -
1. I still believe elementary librarians are the hardest working librarians in the public school system bar none; and
2. Junior high librarians are a very unique group I have high respect for because of what they may have to go through and the compromising they see everyday.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Booktrailer - Saving Juliet by Suzanne Selfours

I see and make so many books about serious or suspenseful storylines, it's nice once in awhile to make a happy, romantic one! Enjoy : )

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

The Past:

They say that guys and girls can never just be friends....but tell that to little Jennifer and Cameron. From the third to fifth grade, they are best friends, driven together by being the social outcasts. From low-income families, Cameron and Jennifer are made fun. Jennifer feels the brunt of it and the nickname from the kids? Fattifer....but she has Cameron, who defends her and is always there for her.

On her birthday during their fifth grade year, Jennifer goes to Cameron's house to receive her present because it is too heavy for Cameron to bring to school. And what happens that day will forever alter her perception of life...

The following day, Cameron isn't at school; nor the next or the next day. The kids tell her that Cameron moved to California and died and Jennifer's mother, without saying it, tells her to take two days from school. At that moment, Jennifer silently puts Cameron in a coffin in her mind as well as Jennifer.

The Present:

Jenna Vaughn is beautiful, popular and witty. She has an amazing looking boyfriend Ethan and life is good, except the day of her birthday. Jenna still constantly struggles to keep Jennifer in the past and on this day, she knows she can do it once again. But when she gets home after school, she finds a note from Cameron. Her past has met her future.

Jenna and Cameron, now 6'2 and muscular, begin where they left off. But Cameron wants something from Jenna...he wants to revisit the past. And she isn't sure that is where she'd like to go. When he asks her to go back to their old neighborhood, the nightmares of her fifth grade birthday and what happened at his house come back and Jenna's identity begins to slip. She is still Jennifer or Jenna? Who is she really?

Jenna and Cameron's relationship has changed. There may be something more there that they want, but to act on it? Will their past bring together two lost innocent children or their present bring together two beautiful teens who have become stronger from their experiences?

Sara Zarr writes this story authentically and poignantly. It has power....from a glimpse into their childhood to what they have and will become. Jenna begins to see her inner strength while Cameron quietly holds those who love him with his own. Readers will not be able to put this one down because they get caught up in the character's worlds and what will ultimately happen. Zarr creates the perfect balance about relationships and how people affect how and who one becomes as well as how to let go....Highly recommended.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Share with ya'll

Last year I finally created a delicious account, and have some good stuff in it. If you'd like to take a look, please do! It has:

library-based research
technology and web 2.0
book blogs
YA research

and a whole lot more!

Just click on the icon right over your right hand...on the screen : )

Remember, sharing is caring! If you have a great delicious, let's network! Leave your delicious address too. And have a delicious day!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Preview trailer for fall booktalk is ready!

I used a preview trailer last semester, and it had a very positive reaction. Students, when they came into the lecture hall, weren't talking, but looking at the trailer, especially with the music that goes with is. As the kids would say, Animoto is SICK! I agree... : )
Here are the titles I'll be presenting in a couple weeks. Enjoy!

Friday, August 29, 2008

What a week!

School has definitely started, and if anyone shares the angst of migrating to a new circ system, I am now in the pool of those who have been bamboozled, frustrated, confused, and learning. So, with that said, ain't no books be read recently. Well, I should say I've started a few and am working on a new book trailer. I'm reading Angel by Cliff far, so good - am liking it! And the booktrailer is Saving Juliet. Now, to put it all together and enjoy LABOR DAY!! I've got to make a list of books talked this first go-round not only for my school, but for the Region XX presentation in September...
I HATE that my school has blocked web 2.0! A huge GRRRRRRRR.....grrrrr

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Humorous Fiction for Guys

Another compiled list of books I've read that guys who read this genre will bust a gut over! If you know of any, please comment and add to this list. This is a tough genre!! Not a whole bunch out there for high school guys - lots for upper elementary and middle school, but high school is a bit harder, don't you think?

24 Girls in 7 Days by Alex Bradley
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Alexie Sherman
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
Born to Rock by Gordon Korman
Bucking the Sarge by Christopher Paul Curtis
Drawing a Blank by Daniel Ehrenhaft
Ethan, Suspended by Pamela Ehrenberg
Exploits of a Reluctant (but very good looking) Superhero by Maureen Fergus
Gotta Get Some Bish Bash Bosh by M.E. Allen
Headlock by Joyce SweeneyI'm Exploding Now by Sid Hite
Notes from the Midnight Driver by Jordan Sonnenblick
Repossessed by A.M. Jenkins
Sleeping Freshmen Never Life by David Lubar
Son of the Mob by Gordan Korman
Spanking Shakespeare by Jake Wizener
Storky: How I Lost my nickname and Won the Girl by Debra Garfinkle
Ten Things to Do Before I Die by Daniel Ehrenhaft

Monday, August 25, 2008

La Bates Familia : )

Computers, myspace,

blogs...thank goodness we

have three!

Mi mija, Maddy

Bella... muy bonita dog...

mi esposo, Steve

You Know Where to Find Me by Rachel Cohn

Miles and Laura, Laura and Miles…childhood friends more than cousins. They had their own secret words, their own private treehouse, and their own made-up fairytales. Both were blonde and cute, but even at an early age, they couldn’t have been more different. Miles loved to read read read…Laura loved to re-tell fairy tales, but with quite a twist on them.

As they got older, the differences began to appear more often than not. Laura remained beautiful, blonde, smart, thin…Miles wore black, dyed her hair black, painted her nails black, fought against the system and gained weight. Now, the only thing they have in common is meeting every now and then in their private treehouse to soar in the clouds, using prescription drugs.

Now the ultimate has happened – Laura committed suicide using those same prescription drugs. Miles’s world is turned topsy-turvy. Even though they didn’t hang out at school together or share the same friends, Laura was the sun that Miles’s universe revolved around. She covers her emotions and the hurricane building within her with Darvoset, Percodan, Valium. And she continues her regular habit of belittling herself because of her weight as well as becoming a recluse.

The only person she lets into her world is Jamal, her best friend. Everyone loves Jamal in and out of school, and while they give him a hard time about hanging around with “8 Mile,” or Miles, he doesn’t care. He loves Miles’s attitude and her creativity. She loves his “I don’t care what they say about us” attitude and his smooth looks. But things begin to fall apart between them when Bex, Laura’s best friend, turns to Jamal for comfort after the funeral. Suddenly, Miles’s secret love is threatened. She retreats into the garden with her smokes and coke, and again, she covers her emotions with prescription drugs. Then things get really bad…

Rachel Cohn is best known in the YA circle for her books Pop Princess and Gingerbread, and this is a far departure from both. Miles is not a heroine, and she will never see herself as worthy of relationships of any kind. Readers will automatically sense this about her and not really like who she is, but will at the same time be intrigued with her. And that is what makes this such a great YA book. Miles takes the reader on a journey of a person who has the possibility of it all, but chooses to become an addict, never seeing the beauty and intelligence she truly possesses. Readers will get to see these hidden traits in glimpses through the characters involved in her life, but won’t understand the full import of how deep Miles has gotten into her drug culture until the last part of the book. She is redeemed, but there will always be the shadow of a monster called Percodan and a dead girl following her.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What would your name be?

I think every librarian has dreamed of owning a bookstore...I know I have. If I owned one, it would be in an old brick warehouse in a smaller city or town. I would name it Two Stories, a double entendre not only for the building, but for what's in the building as well. I would have wainscoting, twelve foot ceilings, old painted brick....I can picture it now.
What would your bookstore's name be?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Unwind by Neal Shusterman - Redux

Back in March, when I was playing around with book trailers, I created one for Shusterman's book. And it was okay...
Now, that I know better, I've created a better version using moviemaker. You have to watch both to see what a difference a little learning, better hands-on use and more creativity will get you.
I had to re-do this book because in my honest opinion, I believe it has such impact not only on a reader of pleasure, but also on high school curriculum on so many levels. This book makes you THINK...reliving the past, the gray areas in human ethics and morality, replacing one evil with another...this book not only intrigued and tugged at me, but also any teen who read this came back loved it as well...

To watch the old one click on the link below:

look at my new and improved!

Saving Juliet by Suzanne Selfours

(see previous post for cover). Publisher: Walker & Company, New York.

Mimi Wallingford’s life has always been shadowed by her family’s reputation as the Manhattan Wallingfords, famous Broadway actors. The only place she considers home is the Wallingford Theatre – but the thought of performing on it makes her sick.
To help with rising debt and to make her mother’s wishes of stardom for her daughter happen, Mimi plays Juliet in Shakespeare’s famous play. Her lover? None other than Troy Summer, California teen pop star and current heartthrob. Mimi doesn’t think her life could get any worse.
On the day of the last performance, Mimi wears a necklace her Aunt Mary gave her, supposedly containing the ashes of the quill Shakespeare wrote with. When she refuses to take it off, a fight erupts and the necklace gets broken, sending Troy and Mimi back to 16th century Verona and in the households of Montague and Capulet.
From henceforth, the book becomes a mash-up of 21st century teen thinking and 16th century society, with Juliet in the midst of it. Mimi can’t let Juliet die, but things don’t go as planned at the party. Paris the pervert, will marry Juliet; Mimi falls in love with Benvolio, whose pick-up line for every girl is “your beauty makes the torches burn brighter.”; and everyone is beginning to hum Troy Summer’s next hit “Girl, oh oh oh oh oh girl.” Tybalt is a bully, and Mercutio is….well Mercutio. Example – two of Mercutio’s songs he’s written include “Girl, Come Hither and We Shall Dither “as well as “ Girl. Come and Handle my Candle.”
Shakespeare gets re-written in his hilarious outtake of what happens in Verona. Mimi is still trying to find true love herself, and Troy is making that difficult, not only with his playboy ways, but with his hot looks as well. Readers will laugh out loud when reading this book as well as recognize scenes and lines from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The ending of Mimi’s play is far different from Shakespeare’s, but the similarities between Juliet and Mimi is unmistakable, as well as both Mother Capulet and Wallingford mirroring each other. Minor characters also become newer and different, including Nurse and Father Montague. Selfours has done an excellent job of writing her version of the classic by adding quirkiness, hilarity and romance into one very nice 16th meets 21st century package. I see a definite book pairing with this novel.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I got my FIX...

I have read so many serious novels and desperately needed something light, funny, and well-written to stave off my overload of seriousness. So what was my candy? Saving Juliet by Suzanne Selfours.

LOVED IT!!! Reviewing it tomorrow. I see this as a highly circulated book, especially after the six week Romeo and Juliet read. My bar for a good funny book? When it takes you by surprise and you find yourself laughing out loud. I did that with this one!

Funny...seems like two of the better funnier books feature Shakespeare - this one and Spanking Shakespeare by Jake Wizener. It's good to see such a seriously heavy genre that is torn apart by analyzation in the classroom come in and sweep students away with some really good sticky sweet reading!

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Unspoken by Thomas Fahy

Although I love to read YA, sometimes I have to take a step back and read some good, unadulturated, pure adult novels...Patricia Cornwell, James Patterson are two of my favorites. But since booktalking is around the corner, I picked up another YA book to add to my list and boy was I in for a shocking, wonderful suprise!

Six teens....all former religious cult members...have to live with the fact they killed Jacob the leader of the cult. Not only did he kill their parents, but he left scars on the kids, both emotional and physical. On the eve of his last day alive, he preachers that only six will remain, but in five years, they will meet their worst fears...Five years later, five of the teens are back in the small town of Meridian for the funeral of their friend Harold, who drowned mysteriously. Allison continues to have visions of their deaths and one by one her visions are coming true. But are they just a synapse of her brain due to epilepsy or truly visions? Can she find the killer or is it one of them or the townspeople bringing death and misery to their lives?

Adult thriller mystery meets YA! This is Fahy's first book for YA, but there are many elements that seem more in keeping with adult thrillers. You'll just have to read it to understand. I can definitely see older YA's who read adult authors enjoying this book.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A list of great YA mysteries

Thought I'd compile a list of YA mysteries I've read and absolutely loved:

Acceleration Graham McNamee
Aftershock Kelly Easton
Black Rabbit Summer Kevin Brooks
Blackthorn Winter Kathryn Reiss
Body Bags Christopher Golden
Body of Christopher Creed Carol Plum Ucci
Caught in the Act Peter Moore
Chaos Code Justin Richards
Christopher Killer Alane Ferguson
Club Dread Walter Sorrells
Crunch Time Mariah Fredericks
Dancing in Red Shoes will Kill You Dorian Cirrone
Dead Girls Don't Write Letters Gail Giles
Desert Crossing Elise Broach
Double Helix Nancy Werlin
Fake ID Walter Sorrells
Falconer's Knot: A story of friars,
flirtation and foul play Mary Hoffman
Finding Lubchenko Michael Simmons
First Shot Walter Sorrells
Foreign Exchange: A Mystery in Poems Mel Glenn
King Dork Frank Portman
Night My Sister Went Missing Carol Plum-Ucci
Pretty Little Devils Nancy Holder
Sarah's Face Melvin Burgess
Shock Point April Henry
Shooting Monarchs John Halliday
So Yesterday Scott Westerfeld
Streams of Babel Carol Plum-Ucci
To the Power of Three Laura Lippman
Waves Sharon Dogar
Who Killed Mr. Chippendale Mel Glenn

Currently reading The Unspoken by Thomas Fahy...loving it! Blogging it tomorrow!!!
I also have to add Sight by Adrienne Vrettos

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Paper Towns by John Green

Margo Roth Spiegelman and Quentin were nine years old when they found a dead body in the park. Margo was nine when she knew her strings were broken, but Quentin didn’t know it yet…
Nine years later, both of them are finishing their senior year in high school. Margo’s circle of friends include Lacy, Jace, and Becca – the beautiful people. Quentin’s best friends are Ben, who is trolling freshmen for a prom date, and Radar, who is hooked on his website, Omnictionary
Margo is notorious for pulling pranks and being an enigma. Not only has she orchestrated toilet papering 200 homes without any incident, but she also loves to leave home – leaving only clues as to where she went. When she took off for Mississippi, her clue was found in a bowl of alphabet soup. Quentin is on the steady track – good grades, good college, keeping his head low. They spin in opposite directions and haven’t really talked since the “incident” until Margo crawls into Ben’s room one night.
Things change the night Margo entices Quentin into a game of revenge and living on the edge. There is no breaking and entering, but revenge does include three whole catfish, Vaseline, tulips, and Mountain Dew, to name a few. That night Margo brings up paper towns – fictional places that are two-dimensional and without reality. Paper people, paper houses…Margo wants three dimensions and she is tired of living surrounded by those who can’t see what she does.
After the night of revenge, Margo doesn’t show up for school the next day, and people don’t seem to mind (typical Margo) but when it becomes a week, Q knows something is wrong. Margo is missing and he has made it a point to find her following clues only Margo knows how to create. For Margo, the fun isn’t in the trip, it’s in the planning. As Q delves into the clues, he begins to worry – is she alive or dead? When he finds her, will it be too late and the strings that hold Margo will be irrevocably cut? Will she lose herself in a paper town or pseudovision like the man they found nine years ago?
If a cover could tell a thousand words, Paper Towns’s cover will. John Green has gone from the dark side (Looking for Alaska) to the light side (Abundance of Katherines) and this book is a perfect melding both. While it begins light and funny, it takes a turn toward the dark, and the reader will continuously be laughing at Q’s and friends antics while sitting on the edge of the seat waiting to find out what happened to Margo. This is a definite page-turner that will involve the reader from beginning to end. Recommended

The Ghosts of Kerfol by Deborah Noyes

Noyes, Deborah. (2008). The Ghosts of Kerfol. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press.
The manor of Kerfol is unlike any other house in France. It has had many occupants, and sadly, most of them haven’t had good lives. There have been lovers, servants, husbands and wives, teens and animals that have met their match when living there. Rumours have followed this place from the beginning until today.
There are five short stories that make up this book. The first tells the beginnings of the house and its occupants in the year 1613. A young woman kept under lock and key by her abusive older husband has decided to find true love. But all she finds is heartache misery and death…This sets the stage for the rest of the history of the manor and the curious happenings that occur there. The year is now 1802, and the French Revolution has forced aristocrats to scatter, leaving Kerfol to a young artist. His encounters with a mysterious woman and a beautiful necklace will haunt him the rest of his list…
The year 1926 finds Americans living in the manor during the height of the flapper era. A young woman, spoiled by her father, is hosting a party wearing a beautiful necklace found in the manor safe. What she encounters one evening at a gin party will irrevocably change her life…
Later in the 20th century – 1982 – a young adult finds herself on vacation with her boyfriend Nick and his identical twin brother, Ethan. She knows she doesn’t belong with Nick and thinks Ethan is a better fit because of his carefree ways. When she decides to take her lover Nick to spend the night in the manor…in the baron’s bedroom….things quickly fall apart and nothing will ever the same between them.
The last chapter is set in 2006. A young man is restoring the manor after the fire. He wants to prove to his father that he can handle the job even though he’s deaf. But one evening, he finds he can hear things…fiddles, dogs barking… and definitely sees things. Will the haunted do him harm or can he esacpe?
Deborah Noyes is known for her anthology of suspense and thrillers. This book of short stories is another good collection of the haunted with the interesting twist of having a house as the main character. The reader will see the weaving of tales and lives from the 1600’s to today and wonder who the next occupants of the house will be.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The most amazing public library website I've seen for YA

Not only is Austin my favorite city (next to San Francisco), but it also has an amazing website for young adults.

The parts I love about this site: the booklists!! Click on the books, etc button and go explore....Patti Cook and Joanna Nigrelli has done a great job keeping these lists up-to-date.
I could spend hours just exploring.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Back home and ready to review!

Summer is over, and I had a great time in San Antonio and the beautiful Comal river! But with that, I got to finish Paper Towns and will review that tomorrow morning to post : )
Also am looking forward to reading the ARC I received of Deborah Noyes's new book, The Ghosts of Kerfol. I have a lot of reading to catch up on!
Starting work tomorrow....lots to do!
I also met a wonderful librarian from Northside ISD (shout out to Millie!) who shared a great tip with me! Along with using book trailers, another great resource to use to amp up your booktalk would be using movie trailers of YA books to movies!! I LOVE that idea!!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Packing up...

Tomorrow I hit San Antonio for my last two workshops of the summer. I've had tremendous fun with everyone from Victoria to Fort Worth that have been to these and learned about web 2.0 and booktalking. I've even learned myself from them as well! Then I'll float my last time on the Guadalupe and head home to start work.
Bringing with me these books:
Paper Towns by John Green
Generation Dead by Dan Waters
He Forgot to Say Goodbye and Benjamin Saenz

These all look like good titles....halfway through Paper Towns and a preview preview: THUMBS UP!!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Teen tech hype

Hmmmm.....back in the day, I used Netscape, but for some reason preferred Explorer better, especially now with the 7.0 version and tabs!! Now teens are flocking to Firefox and Safari. I just downloaded Safari, but have yet to do so with Firefox. I wonder why teens are beginning to prefer this browser? Time to take a look a find out. There's got to be a catch I'm missing somewhere!
But like a pair of favorite shoes, I can't imagine giving up Explorer. Time will tell...more on this later after I run the two!

PS - The new iPhone uses Safari, and I LOVED IT!! Must get one of those!!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Girls' Book of Glamour: A guide to being a goddess

Scholastic will put this book out in January 2009, so be prepared to get a copy or three of this one! My 12 year old daughter, Maddy, sadly to say, isn't a big reader. It takes a certain book to really hook her and I haven't seen this happen since she read Number the Stars a couple of months ago. Anyway, I got in this ARC and it has been sitting in my pile o'reading when she picked it up. A few minutes later, she comes rushing into the living room asking, "Mom, can I keep this book?"

I believe this reaction will happen to MANY girls who pick this book up. Why? Simply, because there aren't a whole of books about the subject of girls and the girly things they are interested in. Want to know how to shiniest hair ever? How about having the prettiest summer feet? And let's not forget about the how to deal with zits! It's not about being a model - it's about being the prettiest girl you can possibly be.

This book has the cover and artwork of a book from the 1940s'1950's, but the information is very 21st century. Lots of dog-ears and late night reading at sleepovers will be the product of this helpful books for tweens and teens. Moms may just pick it up as well!! There is a companion book The Boys' Book of Survival: how to survive anything, anywhere. Will read that tonight!

YA Book Pairs

I've been dabbling with this for awhile, and have a working list. It's an older list by book standards, but these books still pack a punch with teens. I tried to pair NF with fiction.
I have a current list and will post this soon. These will include titles within the last two years. Here is what I worked up awhile back. I thought about titles I'd add to what I've already done and they're in a different color:

Homer. Translated by W.H.D. Rouse. (1999). The Odyssey New York: Signet Classics. Because he angered the gods, Odysseus must go on a journey and leave behind all that is familiar to him. He undergoes several trials, which includes Cyclops, Sirens, and Lotus-eaters, loses friends along the way, and understands himself as a person throughout his ordeal.
Deuker, Carl. (2003). High Heat. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
When Shane‚s life of privilege is turned around by the death of his father, he has to come to grips with his situation. But when he hurts another ball player intentionally, he has to come to terms with himself.
Tragic hero, tie-in through epic literary elements
Holly Black's books (Tithe and Ironsides)
Draper, Sharon. (1999). Romiette and Julio. New York: Atheneum Books.
Julio, a Hispanic from Texas moves to the northern U.S. and through Internet chat, he meets and falls in love with Romiette, an African-American girl. This doesn‚t sit well with her other friends, who are against their inter-racial dating, and tragedy occurs in their relationship. A modern day young adult book mirroring the classic tale by William Shakespeare.
Shakespeare, William. Edited by Harold Bloom. (2000). Romeo and Juliet. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers.
The classic tale of love and tragedy and the hatred of two rival families.
YA meets Shakespeare
Enter Three Witches: A story of Macbeth by Caroline B. Cooney

Larsen, Erick and Isaac Monroe Cline. (1999). Isaac‚s Storm: man, a time, and the deadliest hurricane in history. New York: Crown Publishers.
Real accounts of the deadliest storm in the United States history as told through excerpts of Isaac Cline, an early meteorologist, and the devastation that occurred in Galveston. Includes actual photographs as well as modern-day interpretation of the storm.
Murphy, Jim. (2000). Blizzard! : the storm that changed America. New York: Scholastic.
Historical documentation based on first-person accounts, newspaper articles, and photographs and lithographs of the time when an unexpected blizzard hit the eastern seaboard, esp. New York City, in 1888.
Murphy, Jim. (1995). Great Fire. New York: Scholastic.
First person accounts of several survivors as well as newspaper articles and photographs/maps of the Great Fire of Chicago are interspersed to give the reader a first-hand, factual account of how this great city was devastated, why, and how people coped and survived the aftermath.
Natural disasters and science
Susan Pfeffer Life as We Knew It and her sequel The Dead & the Gone

Murphy, Jim. (2003). An American Plague: the true and terrifying story of the yellow fever epidemic of 1793. New York: Clarion Books.
Looks at the yellow fever plague in Philadelphia during the late 1700‚s and the people who tried to conquer this epidemic through coarse medical knowledge and goodwill. Includes doctor‚s accounts as well as the works of government and the Free African Society. Contains illustrations and clippings from newspapers of the times.
Anderson, Laurie Halse. (2000). Fever 1793. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Sixteen year old Matilda lives in Philadelphia and begins to understand the horror of plague when it hits her hometown of Philadelphia. She experiences the mass exodus of people from the city as well as her own mother‚s death. When Matilda contracts the fever and survives, she ensures her help to those who need help the most.

Epidemics in the United States

Murray, Jaye. (2003). Bottled Up. New York: Dial Books.
Pip, a stoner in high school, must attend counseling sessions if he wants to avoid his father becoming involved in his school life. He tries to hide the fact that his father is a raging alcoholic and his mother is a pill popper as well as juggling to protect his little brother from getting emotionally and physically hurt. Through his counseling, and with the help of a teacher, a girl who‚s a friend, and a cop, Pip makes it through the tough part of quitting drugs in order to create a more bearable world for himself and his brother.
Martinez, Victor. (1998). Parrot in the Oven: mi vida : a novel. New York: HarperTrophy.
Manny relates his coming of age experiences as a member of a poor Mexican American family in which the alcoholic father only adds to everyone's struggle. The reader also gets to see how his older brother and sister handle their life in this situation as well as the mother, who tries to keep her family together through poverty and abuse.
Two views on a popular research topic from different cultural viewpoints.

Latifa, Hachemi Chekeba. (2001). My Forbidden Face. New York: Talk Miramax Books.
16 year old Latifa has grown up amidst the takeover of the Taliban in Kabul in 1997. Where once she envisioned herself as a journalist, she must now wear a burkha to cover her face and live a life of oppression for women. She and her family escape to Paris and her account of what she encountered during her four years on the run is written from a first-person narrative.

Lee, Nancy, Schlein, Lonnie and Mitchel Levitas. (2002). A Nation Challenged: A Visual History of 9/11 and its aftermath. New York: Scholastic.
A photographic look of the horror and devastation that occurred in New York City on September 11th. Includes accounts from the New York Times.
Feiler, Bruce S. (2002). Abraham: A Journey to the heart of three faiths. New York: W. Morrow.
What starts as a biography of Abraham, the Old Testament character who gave births to three extremely different religions, goes on to the implications and history behind Judaism, Islam, and Christianity to modern-day times and its implications on global events.

National/World current events National disasters Terrorism
Sunrise over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers; Streams of Babel by Carol Plum-Ucci

Eliot, Eve. (2001).Insatiable : the compelling story of four teens, food, and its power. Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications.
The reader meets four different girls whose lives are intertwined through friendship and their interaction with food. Diseases such as bulimia and anorexia are examined as well as overeating and self-esteem issues. Each girl faces her own misery and deals with her personal and family problems in different ways, with tragedy occurring.
Bennett, Cherie. (1998). Life in the Fat Lane. New York: Delacorte Press.
Laura has it all. She‚s homecoming queen, most popular girl in high school and is dating a good-looking boyfriend. Things begin to change when she mysteriously starts to gain weight. As her weight balloons, the way her friends and boyfriend treat her as well as society in general. Laura‚s family views also change when their daughter goes from beauty queen to an obese teenager due to a rare disease. Laura must deal with all of this as well as how to fight back in order to maintain and regain her self-esteem.
Two views on a popular research topic Popular subject for HS girls
My Big Fat Manifesto by Susan Vaught

Capuzzo, Mike. (2003)Close to Shore: The Terrifying shark attacks of 1816. New York: Crown Publishers.
A historical account of a shark attack around the New Jersey shoreline for two weeks in July. Included is a history of early 20th century New Jersey as well as public reaction and reasons why this attack occurred. The attack spawned a national outrage against sharks that is still prevalent in this day and age.
Alten, Steve. (1997). Meg. New York: Doubleday.
Paleo-biologist Jonas Taylor comes face to face with a megalodon, the prehistoric species of modern-day great white shark, and tries to capture it before it faces extinction or causes more death or harm to the balance in nature. In the first book, the megalodon rises from the depths of the Mariana Trench pregnant with a brood of three babies. The sequel, The Trench, is focused on the meg‚s offspring and other prehistoric monsters that survived and adapted to life in the Mariana Trench. Jonas must face his demons from the past in order to save his future.

A look at scientific, biographical and fictional accounts of sharks and their predecessors Good study of biomes.
Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham

Golden, Christopher. (1999).Body Bags. New York: Pocket Books.
Jenna Blake is beginning her first semester as Somerset University. She takes a job with the forensic laboratory in town and becomes involved in a series of unexpected and gruesome deaths, which takes her closer to the killer with every forensic clue that is solved.
Owen, David. (2000). Hidden Evidence: 40 true crimes and how forensic science helped solved them. Buffalo, NY: Firefly Books.
Profiles forty true crime cases and explains how their investigations were aided by the use of forensic science. These are mostly high-profile crime cases that include Czar Nicholas to Nicole Brown Simpson. Included with each case is a forensic look on clues left behind that could help solve these cases.
Physiology and anatomy/biology- good science topics
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

TEN: Melville, Herman. Adapted by Will Eisner. (1998). Moby Dick. New York: Nantier, Beall, Minoustchine.
The classic tale of Captain Ahab and his ventures across the sea to find and kill his nemesis, the white whale.
Naslund, Sena Jeter. (1999). Ahab’s Wife or the star gazer: a novel. New York: W. Morrow and Company.
Una Spenser has lived an interesting life. She grew up in a privileged household and later decided to board a ship as a cabin boy to experience life on the sea. She meets and falls in love with Captain Ahab and bears him a son. Through her life experiences, the reader sees life and current issues of the time (19th century New England) and a two-sided view of the Ahab‚s lives, from the mad captain on the sea to his loving wife at home waiting for his return. This novel is based on a singular instance of the classic in which Ahab mentions a wife in the book Moby Dick.

Literary elements of a classic retold

Hobbs, Will. (1999). Jason‚s Gold. New York: Morrow Junior Books.
Fifteen year old Jason leaves Seattle behind to find gold and his brothers in the Klondike. He encounters many trials by nature and on the way, befriends and nurtures a relationship with a Husky named King, who helps Jason survive the harsh northern environment.

Kostyal, K.M. (1999). Trial by Ice: A Photobiography of Sir Ernest Shackleton. New York: Scholastic. Sir Ernest Shackleton and her crew of the Endurance fight for their lives when they are shipwrecked by ice in the middle of the Antarctic. First-hand accounts as well as beautiful black and white photographs taken by a crew member are compiled into this book and shows how the ship‚s name bears itself in Sir Shackleton and the rest of the survivors.

Human endurance against the elements
Surviving Antarctica: Reality TV 2083 by Andrea White

Sunday, July 27, 2008

I Ate Dinner with a Goddess...

If only I had known....I signed up for a camp where I'm teaching teens HOW to work with technology and web 2.0 for their schoolwork, and am going to miss out on the chance to hear Teri Lesesne's booktalking workshop in Ft. Worth. So, I was thinking....what would top that? Of course, having dinner with the goddess herself. Amazing...great conversation, great advice, good stories and delicious food. Whoever will be seeing her presentation will continue to be amazed. Damn that I will miss it!!
Am currently working on Paul Volponi's Hurricane Song booktrailer. It should be done by tomorrow night!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Bliss by Lauren Myracle

It’s 1969 and Bliss has made a major change in her life. She has lived most of her life in a hippy commune with her parents to living in genteel Atlanta with her grandmother after her parents flee to Canada. She doesn’t know social etiquette, doesn’t understand typical idioms (ie letting the pigeon out of the coop) and has never been to high school.
When her grandmother enrolls her in Crestview, Bliss is blissfully unaware of what really goes on in a high school. She doesn’t understand or know about social divide and so dives right into her first day. One thing she thinks she understands is the nature of people and those that are mean-spirited…or at least she thinks she does.
Bliss begins to make friends and enjoys her life, but there’s something about the school that doesn’t sit well with her, and it’s emanating from the third floor of Hamilton Hall….
Her life take a sudden change when an accident occurs and Bliss takes up for the underdog, Sandy. Sandy is overweight, smells bad, and has a reputation for being “unnatural” but Bliss puts that behind her and begins to eat lunch with her, spend time with her, and befriends her but also continues her friendships with her other girlfriends to achieve balance.
But there is something to the truth of rumors about Sandy…she is a little off. But Bliss is beginning to be very happy with her life, especially when the boy of her dreams, Mitchell takes notice of her. But her happiness becomes short-lived when she realizes that Sandy is changing into someone she wasn’t, and Bliss now cannot get away from her.
Sandy is intrigued with Hamilton Hall, especially room 313, and insists Bliss becomes a part of her assimilation with the entity that haunts this rooms, but Bliss will not comply…she not only fears this ghost, but is beginning to fear for herself. Although she tries to shun Sandy, it doesn’t work and things explode the night of the Winter Formal.

This is historical fiction very rarely seen, with a mix of fantasy thrown in with a theme of the supernatural a major part of the story. I’d call it historical fantasy fiction. With a touch of Stephen King (think “Carrie”) Myracle takes the era of free-love and brings to the forefront the macabre through plot, diary entries, and blurbs from 1960’s television as well as quotes and court documents from and about Charles Manson. It is a tightly woven novel of suspense, the supernatural, and teen high school experiences. Published by Amulet Books, Release date: September 2008.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cool way to show off book titles

I went to a website called AndreaMosaic ( and created a mosiac using bookcovers of books I've read. Here is the original photo and mosaic. Just another way to show off bookcovers on a webpage or in a booktalk!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Stories about Falling in Love by Four Incredible Authors

Niki Burnham begins with her story Last Stand. Toby and Amber have known each other since kindergarten and now in their junior year, they are about to celebrate their first year anniversary. Amber is, as Toby’s best friend puts it, “smokin’ hot!” while Toby is a sax player and fairly all-around nice guy. Their relationship couldn’t be better, until Amber decides that it’s time to go further. Tables are turned when Toby…a GUY…doesn’t want to. Stereotypes fall apart in this short story and the reader gets the chance to see what happens to the nice guy.
Don’t Mind Me by Terri Clark begins with an atypical relationship. The local football god is dating Dee, the local goth chick. After a night at the movies, Dee decides to take Rick where he has wanted to go with her all along. When things starts to get hot and heavy in the truck, they end up in a small accident, in which Dee seriously bumps her head. The effect of the wreck? She can now read minds and what she reads in Rick Travers’s mind is enough to make her sick. A book? About how to bag girls in all the school cliques AND make them say they love you??? Not only is she angry, but she decides to do something about it with her new ability, her best friend, and those that Rick have already ensnared. Readers will cheer for Dee and get to see the bad guy fall.
Ellen Hopkins writes Just Plain Lisa, where the title says it all. A senior in high school, Lisa knows she will go through her last year as a wallflower and accepts that fact as well as the lessons her parents have taught her about standing strong and being true to herself. But then Chet comes into the coffee shop she where she works, and for the first time in her life, Lisa has a boyfriend. Little by little, Lisa begins to change – first her make-up, then her hair, and soon her weight…all to please Chet, who is the one to “suggest” these changes. Has Lisa lost sight of her true self, or is she really doing this for herself? Hopkins hits on an issue that readers will be able to identify with and creates a situation and character that shows both strength and weakness.
Party Foul by Lynda Sandoval ends the novel. Summer romances are the sweetest and Mia has found hers in Paige. Although neither one has come out at school, they both understand each other, and love each other….until the day of the big senior party before school starts. Paige stops texting, stops talking, and completely ignores Mia, which breaks Mia’s heart. Has she been used? Was Paige just experimenting? Mia gets help and understanding from her best friend Allison (also gay, but strictly friends) and together, they decide it’s time that their high school join the 21st century. They start a club for everyone who has ever felt left out or alienated, and it draws some very interesting and surprising members. But will this be enough to mend Paige’s broken heart and the lies she’s been subjected to? Sandoval treats this theme with respect in a world where experimentation and alienation are becoming major parts of a teen’s life.
This book will capture the teen girl readers and hold their hearts as they read through these short stories. From breaking a stereotype to exacting revenge to changing to please others and a look at redemption, girls will find one story they can relate to. Akin to Tanya Lee Stone’s “A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl,” this book will be sure to fly off the shelves and passed around from hand to hand. Keep plenty of copies handy! Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Stories about Falling Out of Love by Four Incredible Authors. (2008). Boston: Houghton Mifflin.