Thursday, December 31, 2009

It's been awhile....

I've looked back at what I've posted, and it's been so long since I reviewed anything! But believe me, I've been reading. Here's a list of great books I've read that I plan on reviewing:

Witch and Wizard by James Patterson
Coffeehouse Angel by Suzanne Selfours
Last Night I Sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith
Purge by Sarah Littman
Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

And sitting on my nightstand are:
The Hourglass Door by Lisa Mangum
Sleepless by Thomas Fahy
Little Black Lies by Tish Cohen

So, I had a conversation with myself (which is so sad sometimes...) and said, "Naomi, you've got to quit being so damn lazy and STOP playing those stupid computer games, getting on facebook, and playing sudoku, and get on the ball reading and posting! You've got a booktalk coming up PRONTO!!!" To which I replied, "How about we make a compromise? I'll post more if I don't have to always post book reviews, although that'll be the bulk of what I post." I nodded my head with satisfaction and told myself, "That's a good plan. Post websites, trailers, reviews, and what you're doing about all this - get a little personal."

I talked myself into it. This is a resolution, although easier to accomplish that say, losing weight, which never happens for me, and here come the posts! There are two sets of book pairs in the above-mentioned list o books. Can you guess which ones they are?

Happy New Year's EVE!!!! and Psssst....did you see that Rennison's Angus Thong and Full Frontal Snogging (now the Perfect Snogging) is now a movie : )

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Two YA book sites to keep your eyes on!!

I love these sites! Chock full o' books and not only books, but the hottest, newest, authors and their titles! They're also full of surprises, from contests to trailers to just good times!!

Shiver book trailer

Enjoy! I'll post this on schooltube later...just wanted to get it out as a preview : )

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Putting some funny back into the whole Twilight saga

Just when you think that you've had ENOUGH of the whole Twilight series, movies, sagas and other junk, along comes some parody! If you don't laugh after you've heard this song, you just don't get it.... : ) This is FUNNY!!!!

Reality Check by Peter Abrahams

Cody’s in his junior year in high school in Colorado. He’s looking at a full-time scholarship to college, and dating the most perfect girl in town. Clea and Cody may come from different backgrounds, but they both know they were meant to be together. That is, until Clea’s very wealthy father decides to intervene.
To keep them apart, Clea is shipped first to Hong Kong, and then to a private boarding school in Vermont. Cody sees his world slowly shifting, especially after a severe knee injury that takes him off the scouting and recruiting list. With an alcoholic father at home, life takes and downward spiral, and Cody drops out of school to take on a full-time job with the local lumber yard.
But it takes a new report about the disappearance of Clea to push Cody out of his spiral. He immediately makes plans to drive to Vermont to find Clea, dead or alive, and his mission takes him into a mysterious cover-up and some very dangerous people.
Abrahams delivers a powerful YA mystery that unfolds itself slowly at first, but gains momentum with each page turned. In an area of genres for teens that is lacking, this book belongs on the top shelf of YA mystery. Teens can see the real-life situation of the main character as he charges head first into a dangerous arena that is all too real in teens’ lives as well. Recommended.

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Grace remembers a certain episode in her life when she was little in Mercy Falls, Minnesota. Surrounded by wolves and blood…and the beautiful yellow eyes of her wolf. Now, at 17, Grace still loves the howls of the wolves in the woods behind her house and can always catch a glimpse of her wolf – only by his eyes.

But Grace’s world isn’t perfect. She has parents who prefer their careers over their daughter and her friendship with Olivia and Rachel is slowly crumbling because of Grace’s obsession with wolves. And then, Jack disappears and hunters are out looking to kill the pack.

Grace would do anything to save her wolf…even if that means putting herself in danger. And when that happens, her wolf saves her and shows himself as Sam, a dangerous secret revealed. Now, it’s up to Grace to try to save Sam from transforming again, but with the weather getting colder and colder, the more time they lose until his final transformation.

Teens are in the midst of reading and gobbling up any book that deals with vampires and werewolves, and Maggie Stiefvater’s new book will be a welcome edition to their reading repertoire. Filled with werewolves, action, and romance, YA readers will keep turning the pages to find out what happens between Grace and Sam, which shows itself only at the end. No peeking allowed!!

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Grace remembers a certain episode in her life when she was little in Mercy Falls, Minnesota. Surrounded by wolves and blood…and the beautiful yellow eyes of her wolf. Now, at 17, Grace still loves the howls of the wolves in the woods behind her house and can always catch a glimpse of her wolf – only by his eyes.

But Grace’s world isn’t perfect. She has parents who prefer their careers over their daughter and her friendship with Olivia and Rachel is slowly crumbling because of Grace’s obsession with wolves. And then, Jack disappears and hunters are out looking to kill the pack.

Grace would do anything to save her wolf…even if that means putting herself in danger. And when that happens, her wolf saves her and shows himself as Sam, a dangerous secret revealed. Now, it’s up to Grace to try to save Sam from transforming again, but with the weather getting colder and colder, the more time they lose until his final transformation.

Teens are in the midst of reading and gobbling up any book that deals with vampires and werewolves, and Maggie Stiefvater’s new book will be a welcome edition to their reading repertoire. Filled with werewolves, action, and romance, YA readers will keep turning the pages to find out what happens between Grace and Sam, which shows itself only at the end. No peeking allowed!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dope Sick by Walter Dean Myers

Not quite realistic fiction, not quite alternate reality, Myers bring Lil J to life not only by his deeds and actions, but how he reacts to Kelly, a man with an unusual gift and a television that can show Lil J certain moments in his life. Posing a question, Kelly asks Lil J if he could change one day, which would it be? And there is when the reader sees Lil J's life in full color: from the decisions he makes, to the way he feels, to where he is now. But what will ultimately happen to him?
This is a tale of the hood I've never really encountered before, and although short, it's a powerful read. It will most assuredly have appeal to YA readers, from the reluctant readers to those who read voraciously.

Here's the trailer...

Book trailer: Oh. My. Gods

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs

Phoebe Castro loves three things in her life - her two best friends, Nola and Cesca; running; and her chances of going to USC on a full ride scholarship. But things take a different course when her mother comes back from Greece in tow with a nuew husband and a decision that she and Phoebe are moving to Greece during Phoebe's senior year, and Phoebe is LIVID!!

But what Phoebe doesn't realize is that she's not just going to any old Greek island...she's going to Serfopoula and to a very unique that caters to the elite around the world, which goes beyond money and power. The elite? Descendents of the gods - and Phoebe is the only nothos on campus.

She doesn't make friends easily either. Her step-sister Stella hates her, and worst of all, Phoebe's crushing on the god of gods, Griffin, who treats her life an insect. And then there's Adara, THE queen goddess of the campus. Add to this the accelerated classes, homesickness, and trying to keep up with her running with the demi-gods, and Phoebe is wearing down quickly. She doesn't fit in with any of the cliques at school (separated by which god they're related to) and looks forward to the day she can IM her two besties. Can she make the year and fly back to California, or will she be stuck on a Greek island filled with uptight teens with unique powers and a lack of hospitality?

What a great read for teens!! Light, funny, romantic, this book will appeal to those girls who can't get enough romance in their hands. Childs pulls from mythological past and blends it with the 21st century in a fun read that will please the chick-lit crowd. It was just what I needed in my reading repertoire - nothing heavy, but something that made me feel like wings on Achilles' heels. Recommended.

Freeze Frame by Heidi Ayarbe

Kyle is obsessed with rewriting Scene Three. He's done it Tarantino style, Hitchcock style...but nothing seems to work. It's because he's blocked out what really happened, and all he wants to do is forget it ever did. What happened? It was the day he killed his best friend.

Jason and Kyle have been friends since they were little, but high school has changed their friendship. While Kyle seems to have stayed true to himself, he feels Jason has changed - he's moved into the jetset life of a football player and now there's little time shared between the two.

One weekend, after breakfast, Kyle and Jason find themselves in the old shed in the backyard. And in that shed, they find an old pistol...and that's where Kyle is stuck in his mind movie.

Life takes a decidedly different twist for Kyle, not only in his personal life, but at school and with his probation officer as well. After what happened, Kyle can't forgive himself and feels he deserves any punishment that comes to him. When he goes to court though, he can't believe the verdict. And once again, Kyle finds himself trapped at home, in his mind...all with the reality that he killed someone. But did he do it on purpose or was it truly an accident?

Heidi Ayarbe writes an incredibly compelling book about the actions, reactions and consequences of two guy's lives. Kyle becomes a real person the reader not only sees in flashbacks, but in real time, as well as what goes on inside Kyle's head. The other characters in the book not only act as a backdrop to understanding Kyle, but are strong characters as well, from his little sister to Jason's brother, to the parents involved. This is a page turner where the reader will want to know what Kyle's ending will be to the movie scene that continually runs in his mind. Recommended.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender

Alexis lives in the oldest and more unique house in town. But she can't say that about her dyfunctional family. She has a workaholic mother, a father who won't treat her like a grown-up, and a 13-year-old sister who loves and collects dolls. The only thing working for her right now is her love of photography. And that's what starts it all.
One night, while taking photos of her house at night, Lexie thinks she sees an odd light that seems to follow her and her sister, Kasey. But was it a trick of the eye? Lexie shrugs it off and continues with her non-existent high school life, until things change from "normal" to weird.
For the first time in her life, Lexie thinks she may be falling for Carter, the student council vice-president and polar extreme of who and what she is. And the most popular girls in school? They are actually talking to her...but the most strange? Her sister Kasey. Why do her eyes change from blue to green? And when they do, her whole personality changes from little sister to evil incarnate. Pair that with cold rooms when the A/C is off, strange stories and memories Lexie doesn't understand but "remembers", and accidents that are far from accidental, and Lexie knows there must be more going on than meets the eye.
Slowly, she begins to realize what is happening to her sister. From an accident that happened long ago in her house, a restless spirit is intent on revenge. And Lexie has to prevent the possession of her little sister before she's gone for good. But can she?
Katie Alender captures the essence of a fast-paced ghostly read for YA by creating characters that counterbalance each other socially written within the genre of high-interest supernatural that seems to be prominent in YA fiction today. From enemies to romance, possession to a dysfunctional family, from revenge to love, Alender weaves a great tale that encompasses it all without bogging down the plot. This will be a book that will be read over and over - keep plenty on the shelves! Recommended.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wish You Were Dead by Todd Strasser

I wanted to do something other than I used Sony Vegas Movie Studio 9. It was a learning curve, but I liked it! There is a 30 day free trial before you buy...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

YA genre that gets overlooked and a random thought...

I've looked through lists and lists of YA suggestions and very seldom do I find short story collections for YA. I've read some really good ones recently, and I plan on booktalking them - two I've read and LOVED were Geektastic and Up all Night. There are some pretty heavy-hitting YA writers on them, and their individual voices stand up to their novels.

(photo I took of my fortune today!)

So, here's my random thought I had today. After church, we went out to eat at a local Chinese restaurant. And after we got our ticket, my family, of course, always read out our fortunes we got. And then it hit me - wouldn't it be SO COOL if some writes got together, broke open a fortune cookie, and wrote a story around their fortune? I think that would be awesome because you never know what you'll get and the stories you could come up with! When I read mine this afternoon, I was thinking about what it would be about. I should just write it down.... : )


Here's a compiled list of YA short story collections I've read and enjoyed:

Up All Night: Six Sunsets, Six Stories

Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd

666: The Number of the Beast

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

Every Man for Himself: Ten Short Stories About Being a Guy

Gothic! Ten Original Dark Tales

Twice Told: Original Stories

Trapped!: Cages of Mind and Body

Who Am I Without Him: Short Stories about Girls and the Boys in their Lives

Magic in the Mirrorstone: Tales of Fantasy

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Black Box by Julie Schumacher

Elena can't remember a time in her life when she's cried. She's a driven student, rational, and in control of her emotions.

Elena loves her sister Dora, but also knows that Dora has some major problems. Depression will come and take Dora for a ride that no one expects. Sometimes the ride is to the hospital for an overdose...sometimes it's to the psych ward to help Dora get better. But the last bout of depression was the worst, and Elena doesn't want to talk about it.

She won't talk about it with her parents...but hey, they don't want to talk about the truth anyway. She won't talk about it with her therapist because Elena doesn't have the problem - Dora does. The only one Elena will talk to is Dora. And right now, Dora is telling her baby sister she needs help and Elena is the only one that Dora trusts to keep her secrets and get her home. But are trust and alibis the same thing?

Elena really want to help by trying to get her out of the psych ward. She's seen her sister's condition first-hand. Is it progress or torture? It's not until Elena meets Jimmy, a loner in her neighborhood, who has the inside scoop on the ward...having a mother who's a psychiatrist has its perks. But is that where he gets his information, or is he lying to Elena?

Another wall, another person she can't trust...Elena is breaking down....

Schumacher has written a powerful story of teenaged depression and how it not only affects the victim, but those around her, from family to friends. Readers get to glimpse inside the chaotic and dangerous world of what having and living with depression can be like. The characters, especially those of the two sisters, will draw the reader to the end of the book making them wonder if Dora will make it or if Elena will be able to hand the pressure. Recommended.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Wish You Were Dead by Todd Strasser

Madison lives in a well-to do town, drives a nice car, knows the right people…and her life is becoming a nightmare. What starts off as a blog of one student nickednamed Str-S-d, who writes about her hatred of the popular people and wishing they were dead turns into murder. Coincidence or not?

One by one, the most popular people start disappearing, and Madison isn’t sure how or why, but there are things that bothers her.First, who is PBleeker and why does he or she keep sending cryptic texts to her phone? Why is her best friend Courtney acting so strangely? And the new student in school Madison is attracted to – is it a fatal attraction? Maddison needs to find answers quickly before she becomes the next victim or someone close to her is killed…Strasser writes an excellent mystery book with a twist that YA readers will eat up. I’ve read almost all of

Strasser’s YA novels, and this one is a departure from his past ones. Not based on reali-life statistics, this book brings together the finesse that takes YA mystery to the top. Fast-paced, this book grabs you from the beginning and doesn’t let go until the very end when you finally found out what happens to the victims. In a genre that is hard to find, this book will be one checked out by those who love murder mysteries. Companion books to Strasser’s newest novel would include Gail Giles’s What Happened to Cass McBride or John Halliday’s Shooting Monarchs.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tricks by Ellen Hopkins

I'm sure everyone has at least heard about Hopkins new book. If not, then they are in for another tour de force about teens in serious trouble...all in verse. Readers will find themselves at the beginning of the throes of first love - and the pain that sometimes, and for these characters, inevitably happens. But it's more how each teen deals with the absence of love that begins their personal descent into hell...

Eden and her love for Andrew without parental consent

Whitney experiences first love, which is more than her dyfunctional family ever gave her

Seth, who accepts himself , but doesn't know if his father can

Ginger has only known "tough love" but follows the tenderness of her first real love

Cody has love in his life, but death and his own traps lead him down the dark path

Only one is a resident of Las Vegas, but the others -from all over the country - make it their final destination....
This is a gut-wrenching book, and honestly, one I had to put down a couple of times just to shake my head and say NO out loud. I was lost in the prose, and only hoped for redemption at the end. The only other book that made me feel this way was Scott's Living Dead Girl.
Some may see this as graphic, others will again enjoy Hopkins' way of dealing with the starkness of some teens' is haunting....

Friday, September 18, 2009

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

Jessica Packwood is starting her senior year in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. She has some hopes and wishes, which includes dating hunky blonde and handsome Jake, staying away from the catty Faith Crosse and the vile Frank Dormand, and making it to state with her mathematics team. Jessica knows her parents are a little different - her mom is a cultural anthropologist professor and her father believes in yoga and tofu. But her life is grounded in reality, facts and figures. But that all changes the first day of school when she meets....

Lucius Vladescu, the new exchange student. Dark, tall, charismatic, Lucius represents all that Jessica finds fascinating but dangerous. She shuns him from the first, but quickly realizes he's stalking her and has a purpose. And that purpose is revealed when her parents confirm the new Romanian exchange student isn't just a teen from the Carpathians, but the prince of the Vladescu family - one of the strongest vampire families in the world. And guess who's the Dragomir princess?

Jessica can't believe what she's hearing, much less that believe in vampires, but slowly things begin to tell. With the help of a book, Growing Up Dead: A Teen Vampire's Guide to Dating, Health, and Emotions, Jessica's scepticism grows to certainty, but is it too little to late?

Fantaskey's book is the perfect blend of dark, sinister goth and the halls of a typical high school - full of crushes, backstabbing, he said she said, sports, dances and more. And the setting backs up the plot - Romania meets rural Pennsylvania. Nothing like other vampire books I've read, Fantaskey brings her characters to true form, infusing them with typical teenage behavior throughout all cliques. Although it may have the formulaic appeal of a romance novel, this one begs to be read all the way through....and I loved every single page! Buy multiple copies of this one - you'll need them all!! Booktrailer to follow -I feel the pull...

Truce by Jim Murphy

Imagine the trench warfare, 1917,'s cold, dark and bloody. Men are being exposed to cold, open sewage, dead bodies, and shell shock. The Allies have been in a stalemate with the Germans for months. Both sides have become acutely aware of snipers, sharpshooters, overhead barrages by zeppelins, and bombs.

What they thought was a honorable war fought with honorable intentions has turned into a nightmare with 20th century machinery. The old rules don't apply....gentlemen's codes are tossed aside. What has replaced it are guns, shells, mortars, barbed wire, and filthy dirt trenches - No Man's Land.

But one day, against all odds, the enemies meet face to face and rather than kill each other, they shake hands and celebrate. Could this be real??

Jim Murphy has done it again. He takes a holistic look at World War I, from its pre-infancy beginnings to the turmoil of the trench warfare and finds a bit of humanity that played itself out, against rulers rules, against commanders' orders, against the realism of a hideous war. Scattered among the pages are images and pictures from World War I that show the devastation and loss as well as the optimism and miracle during the Great Trench War. Murphy shows cause and effect and essentially answers the question, "What if...." to all that could have prevented the war or changed it. An amazing non-fiction book rife with images, letters, and facts, this is perfect for junior high through high school. Highly recommended.

Monday, September 14, 2009

I knew it wasn't a fad....

Book trailers have come a long way....just look at what's out there created not only by fans of YA fiction (and other genres!) but by authors as well. But it does my heart good to see it being used in classrooms. One teacher, Mrs. Collins, has given her Pre-AP eighth grade English class different projects to create over their summer reading, which includes creating booktrailers using moviemaker or photostory. But my heart bursts with pride and joy to see my daughter creating her first booktrailer - and all by herself!! I've just given her a few pointers and she's well on her way to a phenomenal job on Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson. And the best part? She's learning to do this on her own with extreme minimal help. It's taking all I have to keep away from her project!!! How she does it with her ipod blasting is beyond me though...

I'll post it when it's done : )

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Crash Into Me by Albert Borris - booktrailer

I think I've been working on this since summer!! Rule #1: Save OFTEN when using Moviemaker in XP!!!! Rule#2: Make SURE that MM is compatible between XP and Vista!! Rule #3: Enjoy!!!
Unveiling this one full-screen at Region XI Service Center for Library Harvest!!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Books to read and those to review

I know I've slacked off on the reviews lately....don't know why, but I have read a couple that are worth reading and putting into hands of students. One of those is Hatter, the graphic novel by Frank Beddor. It takes the Looking Glass series into the graphic area, which, in my estimation, is perfect for this! Hatter M is still searching for Alyss and along the way, he encounters forces he didn't know existed, followers from Wonderland watching his every move, and an orphanage that specializes in stealing their wards' most unique gifts. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, especially when the first and last parts of the GN read like a fantasy history book.

Just got the galley for Kevin Brook's new novel, Dawn....and since I am such a fan, I can't WAIT to start reading this one!!! I've devoured his other novels and this will be a treat for me : )

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

All I have to say right now...

Everyone MUST READ:
Julius Lester's Guardian...
short, beautifully written, and the entire time I was thinking, "please no....please don't...I can't believe these things really happened...."


I then went online to visit some of the websites Lester cited in his afterword and the images on the postcards - it makes me wonder how and why?? Of course, no powerful book is without its opponents, so headed to the website (can't remember it right now) that rates books appropriate for young and YA readers - it's for parents to "judge a book" and even there, Lester's book is rated four out of five stars. But I will agree - this is for a much older YA audience.

If you have an hour, read this. It will make you think....PERFECT compliment with Draper's Copper Sun and Volponi's Response.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

My booktalk for the fall semester

I always start out my booktalks using Animoto to show book covers. This year, I decided to add some text...I like the look of this one!!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ever get that feeling....

When you just have to put down books, turn off the computer and live a little outside the walls you've created? I know....did that this summer. Haven't posted anything in awhile, but rather got some fresh air, some sun, some family...but I'm walking into the halls to the world I've created, and it's nice to come back : )

Just finished my first blog in awhile (and that book is AMAZING!!!!) and will shortly finish another booktrailer for Crash Into Me that I've been working on for awhile! That and some Glogsters as well as Animoto videos I'm playing with will be posted this month. And let us not forget the listservs and Shelfaris!!

So from mojitos to bookitos and traileritos I'm back....and am excited about some of the titles I have in my sticky little hands!! Stay tuned : )

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Mary's heard the stories her mother's told her about the ocean....but she's never seen it. The only thing she knows is the forest, which is deadly and dangerous, and her village - ruled by the Sisters and the Guardians. But her life changes dramatically when her mother becomes one of the Unconsecrated...
The life Mary lives is a post-apocalyptic world after the Return, when a deadly infection created hordes of the Unconsecrated who feast off of those who live. And when Mary's mother is gone, she turns to her brother Jed, who shrugs her off for not protecting their family.
The only recourse Mary has is to live with the Sisters, and while there, she learns that they harbor secrets, ones that she wants to know. But she never has the chance when her village is overrun by the Unconsecrated and she narrowly escaped her village with her best friend Cass, her betrothed, Harry and his brother Travis, and her own brother Jed and his wife Beth. But loss, redemption, love, hate, pain, contentment, life and death follow their every step.
All Mary wants is to see the see if her mother was telling the truth or making up stories. There is nothing more pressing than her drive to find the truth, and to know if there are others out there who still live, trapped in to keep out the Unconsecrated, or if her village was the only one...if they are now the only ones alive in the only world she's ever known.
It has been awhile since I picked up a book that was a riveting as I found this one to be. Carrie Ryan has created a novel that begs to be read until's that intriguing and exciting. The setting in this book takes on a characterization all on its own and owes its complexities to the Unconsecrated. The main characters are in-depth and their stories and lives weave themselves around each other. You end up hoping for the best for every one of them....
This book does remind me of a combination of M. Night Shyamalan and Richard Matheson's I am Legend (movie stars Will Smith). I'm embedding the video, which won the Teen Book Award Finalist 2008. I may be behind on blogging this novel, but it still begs to be blogged about!! Full screen video can be found at: Apparently they are going to make a movie on this one

Monday, July 13, 2009

When traveling....

Spent all day traveling from Dixon Springs in Southern Illinois to Texas. FINALLY made it to the Texas border, and as is tradition, we stopped at the nearest rest area and stood on the brass Texas Star and breathed in the hot Texas air, only to go running to the nearest convenience store for a Texas-sized coke! You can't find those in any other state : ) We're not home, but we're home, if you know what I mean : )

I've done some reading during the week there, if I wasn't on a four-wheeler checking on new baby calves or feeding goats and pigs, or enjoying a cookout of pulled pork sandwiches and home-grown corn on the cob. Am currently reading Willow by Julia Hoban (in my opinion, the best new book out there about cutting since McCormick's Cut). Finished Distant Waves by Suzanne Weyn, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and am working on Greasy Rider by Greg Melville. It killed KILLED me that I was in the same state that ALA was having their conference in, but couldn't make it. Pigs, cattle and goats don't wait for no one...grrrrr.... just thinking of all of those galleys!!

On the way home (just passed through Sulphur Springs) I have put together the storyboard for my new booktrailer for Crash Into Me by Albert Borris. It was BEGGING to be made!! I'll reveal it next week when I once again hit the road for workshops in Fort Worth, San Antonio and Corpus Christi. I think I have finally nailed down how to work and have vacation with my family at the same time. By the way, a BIG shout-out to the Wichita Falls librarians!! We had fun creating booktrailers and learning new web 2.0 tools. They are a smart bunch and on their toes!! It's always fun to spend the day with colleagues : )

Summer has gone by fast...can't believe July is halfway gone...but there is nothing like sipping a colada in Cozumel reading a great book to collecting eggs in the barn to sneak a half-hour in the barn reading another good one to riding in a truck until my butt is numb creating a trailer and posting a blog or three : )

Now it's my daughter's turn to have the computer...its myspace or death!! I choose myspace over "how far are we from home? Can I have friends spend the night tonight? When are we stopping to eat?" anyday! Plus, my husband is getting a little jealous that I'm spending time with an electronic black box named Dell than with a true-life handsome man...yeah, I choose that too!!

So, readers out there, keep reading, keep sharing, and keep the faith!!


Crash Into Me by Albert Borris

Owen has tried it at least three times. The last was when he seriously thought about walking into heavy traffic. But as with his other attempts, it just didn't work. So there was therapy again....but no matter how many times he goes through therapy, he can't shake the feeling of guilt for what he did and reasons why he shouldn't kill himself.
It is accidental when he meets three other teens online who has the same suicidal thoughts. Jin-Ae can't handle the pressure from her parents to be the best while she's hiding her alternative lifestyle from them. Frank comes from a wealthy family, but he can't compete with his perfect brother while he won't confess he has an alcohol problem. And Audrey....well no one can quite figure her out, although she did jump from a window in a tall building after her boyfriend broke up with her. Together, this rag-tag team, dubbed the Suicide Dogs, decide to take one last road-trip to pay their final respects to those they admired and died (ie Kurt Kobain, Ernest Hemingway), achieve some of the things on their top ten list of things they've always wanted to do, and make their way to their own final destination, Death Valley, in order to complete their pact. But what they don't realize is that this trip will alter their course and surprise even the stauchest of them that believe suicide is the perfect way out.
For a first novel, Albert Borris packs a punch. Each character comes to life on the page, allowing the reader to not only look at what they do, but also why they do the things that cause them to think of suicide. All of the teens in this book create their own personas, and one that is easily followed. The topic is a sensitive one, and Borris treats it with respect while crafting parts that are more light-hearted without taking away the seriousness of the teens' decisions. This is a realistic fiction that will be hard to keep on the shelves, and those teens who enjoyed Ellen Hopkins's Impulse will find themselves just as engrossed in this one. Excellent read.

Distant Waves: a Novel of the Titanic by Suzanne Weyn

Five sisters grow up together in unusual circumstances. Mimi and Jane are the older sisters, while Amalie and Emma are the twins. Blythe brings up the rear as the baby sister and is born after her father has died. The girls' mother has an unusual gift, to say the least, and one that is at the height of popularity at the turn of the century on the East Coast.

Spiritualism is alive and well, and Maude Taylor, medium, is doing her best to raise her five girls at something that is accepted by those with finances and a wish to talk to the dead. Eventually, her talents lead her to the small town of Spirit Vale, New York. It is here that a community of mediums have banded together to co-exist and make a living. The girls all grow up in the most unusual of circumstances, but it is their fate that will change their lives inevitably.

Jane, in her younger years, had the pleasure to meet Nikola Tesla and his curious inventions. When she and her older sister Mimi decide to run away to New York City for the day, their future fate is sealed. Mimi becomes a companion for a young wealthy French lady while Jane meets Thad and has trouble trusting her feelings. During this time, their mother has been in constant contact with famous English medium W.T. Stead. With unusual circumstances and even more interesting relationships, the girls and their mother find themselves in England on the eve of the maiden voyage of the Titanic. But will they heed the feelings, warnings, and trust in the spirit world, or is it something more scientific that is going on?

Suzanne Weyn has created a YA turn-of-the-century historical fiction filled with true-life historical figures, such as Ehrich Weiss, Nikola Tesla, John Jacob Astor, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, to name a few. And whilst this historical plot is being read, the reader can't help but see sicence fiction come into play, making this book a unique blend of both genres. The sinking of the Titanic is not what you may think happened... This is a PERFECT pair for the non-fiction book The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero by William Kalush and Larry Sloman.

On a personal note, I picked up this book for the beautiful cover, and it does encompass my favorite historical era, but I was pleasantly surprised to see which direction the author was taking this book. Not at all the norm, but one that will appeal to those fans of science fiction as well as historical fiction. Readers may have to suspend belief some toward the ending, and although the first part of the book was not as filled with intrigue as the last part, it ended up being a surprising and pleasant read.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Ruined by Paula Morris

I said I would write some reviews for the three books I read in Cozumel (more like the airport terminal), but had some time on my hands and created another booktrailer. This will be out August 2009, so keep your eyes open for them in bookstores. Who doesn't like a good ghost story set in New Orleans?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Three books in three minutes....more to come!

Remember Stephen Kings Creep Show? Very similar, but for young adults. This is the first true graphic novel/book fusion Ive come across. Excellent read, and cant wait to get my hands on the next one!!!

Meet the young adult contemporary to Anne Rice. New Orleans, ghosts, curses and teens....this will be one that will be hunted down in the library and never seen again.

Crash into Me
Four teens on a suicide trip, but will it end that way? fast-paced and a great first novel for first time author!

Ill do more reviews on these in the days to come and add covers as well. Right now Im about to set off for some snorkeling on the Playancar Reef in Cozumel. Having a BLAST with my family!!! Cozumel...cant beat it!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Answering questions on "questionable" books...

This article was sent out through the listserv today, and after reading it, I thought it was ripe for discussion.
What makes this such a great online article read is the author's take on dark YA and the comments from professionals, including heavyweight David Gill. So don't just stop at the on....

Friday, May 29, 2009

WAY cool!!!

The list is well under way and it's AMAZING what web 2.0 can do! I feel like I'm part of a community of professionals - collaborating, creating, talking together. Guys, thanks for being a part of this!!
It's FRIDAY!!! I'm in the mancave hanging out with my lovely enjoying the weekend like no other. I'm just so thankful and proud to be part of this : )
You are the BOMB!!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

YA: A2Z - Won't you join me?

So, on the listserv, I saw this creatively awesome idea, and thought about how I could change it up just a here's the plan:

Let's collaborate and create lists of YA books (no more than five years old) from A to Z. One is by title (ie A is for Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson); one by author (ie M is for Mazer, Norma Fox, author of Missing Girl); one by subject (ie S is for steroids, Raiders Night by Robert Lipsyte).

Another subject would be??? I thought, "Hmmmm...main character, genre, a tag you'd give a book..." the possibilities are endless!

So, want to join the fun? And in the process take away some pretty cool lists created by all of us? Read on!

To join, I need an email address. Once I have that, you're on! I've already started on all of these lists. This could be very interesting and valuable for us all : ) No one will "own" the list - once you're in, you're in, baby!

Just make sure you SAVE! And you can also download a .txt or .html version onto you computer to edit, own, create, etc...

Just another wonderful example of web 2.0! Brought to us by!

Here's the address:

Destroy All Cars by Blake Nelson

Meet James Hoff - high school junior who doesn't drive and lately, doesn't have a girlfriend. Not a big deal, right? Well, welcome to his AP English essays...and welcome to his world...

His first assignment: a 4 page persuasive essay. James believes we must destroy all cars because:

1. It's a primitive machine that you put gas in and poison comes out. "Is it a good idea to start your car in your garage and sit beside it, reading the paper, while your garage fills up with exhaust? No. Then why would that be a good idea on global level?"

2. He's so sick of cars!!

3. The lameness of people in general because of their production and consumption of "USELESS CRAP."

His grade? They go up and down, matching his emotional state at the time. He just broke up with Sadie and the only way James knows how to deal with it is to write...and think about her...and try to hang out with friends...and think about her...

And then there's the competition. What does Sadie see in jock Will Greer? And then there's the dumpster-diving, food-eater Jedediah. Who'd want to be with someone who ate garbage you threw away - in the school cafeteria!?!

James's life is complicated. From Mr. Cogweiller's essay grading to adjusting to his father coming back home after leaving them to figuring out what he'll do after graduation to making a list of potential girls who'd want to hang out with him, James is elbow deep in everything a typical guy deals with. And what will happen with Sadie? And can the possibility of destroying all cars seriously destroy our government system? Oh, the possibilities...

Blake Nelson has written another fantastically funny and cleverly written book. James pops out of the pages and will make you laugh out loud. Rare is a book that will grab a YA that isn't about the grimmer things in life, and while a serious break-up is grim, Nelson puts a spin on this while adding issues that teens really are involved in. Perfect pairing and very on par with Jake Wizener's Spanking Shakespeare. Recommended.

If I Grow Up by Todd Strasser

DeShawn is alive....that's a good thing. He lives with his sister Nia and his Gramma in the projects. At night, ducking for cover while bullets fly isn't anything new. Seeing someone shot and dead is something that happens regularly. Knowing who's in charge is common knowledge.

DeShawn, Lightbulb, and Terrell live in the Frederick Douglass Projects, home of the Douglas Disciples. Across the neighborhood are their rivals, the Gentry Gangstas. At twelve years old, Deshawn and his buddies have seen people come and go through violence and drugs. And they also see the payback if you're good at what you do.

Slowly but surely, the devolving of these twelve year olds take place. By the time the boys are fifteen, life has become different than it was three years ago. Now it's about drugs, becoming fathers, getting jumped into the gang...owning your first gun. It's about putting food on your table, taking care of your family, protecting your gang and your turf. And at age eighteen, life for DeShawn, Lightbulb, and Terrell are dramatically changed - through experience, coincidence and choices made.

Wow....wowowowowowow...Strasser packs a PUNCH in this book. If you don't have firsthand knowledge of what the projects are, welcome to this experience. Strasser not only takes you there physically, but emotionally as well. The reader sees firsthand what kids face living in places like these, where the norm is death and the exception is a rap start or a basketball player. Year by year, you are drawn into the lives of these kids and during these times you'll find yourself caught by surprise. Personally, I am safe, protected, cushioned.... but there are those who aren't...

Strasser is a master of prefaces and afterwords as well as statistical data. Look at his past books, and this one is another exemplary work of research and fiction combined. Gritty realism permeates from beginning to end, and the reader is held spellbound till the end, hoping the fate of DeShawn correlates with the hopes the reader makes. A must-have for all YA collections.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Love You Hate You Miss You Booktrailer

I used Windows XP moviemaker....later I will use Vista, which has much more selection. Enjoy!!!

Books I'm reading and can't put down!!!

So...I was looking through the genre lists I've created for the library of all the books I've read over the past 3-4 years, and found my preferences pretty easily (can you guess what it is?) After that evaluation, I decided I needed to get on the ball and read some more supernatural fiction as well as guy books. The problem with these genres is that they get so mangled with the same plot (think of all the vampire books out there!!) or there just aren't a whole lot of new ones that are truly good (boy books are HARD to come by!!)
Yes - there are tons of titles out there, but they have to go through the Naomi filter. Can't wait to read the new Strasser book!! But...I have found two very well-worth reading books that when I booktalk them, I KNOW they'll go fast!
So, the low-down:

Gentlemen by Michael Northrop.
COOL cover!! Not only is the cover great, but so is the story!! It's the tale of a missing sophomore whose past is peppered with him taking off, but this time the fears of his buddies' minds take over, especially when the English teacher is parallelling Tommy's disappearance with the murderous tale of Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky. Was Tommy murdered? Is he still alive? Can you push yourself so far as to believe the made-up world in your mind or stay grounded in the world you occupy?

Parliament of Blood by Justin Richards.
He is fast becoming one of my most favorite English authors. Chaos Code, Death Collector...and now this one. Take Victorian England, throw in the social class of intellectual, and mix it with the environment of that era, including coal-smogged streets, carriages, and elite clubs joined only by invitation. Put in the Museum of London and an old sarcophagus, some teens and the presence of vampires, and you have a great YA historical fiction fused with the supernatural. It does very much remind me of the classic Dracula but does so much for more the target audience of today's YA set!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Love You Hate You Miss You by Elizabeth Scott

75 days since the accident, and Julia...I love you...

Amy and Julia have been close friends, nearly sisters, since junior high. They've both seen the ups and downs of friendships formed and lost, boys come and gone, and high school society, including the parties they both attended regularly. But now Julia is gone, and Amy knows she the one responsible for her death.

114 days since the accident, and Julia....I miss you...

After the funeral and rehab for her drinking, Amy has to face the challenges of school life on her own. And she realizes that her life after the accident hasn't changed. Her parents are still exclusively into each other, her therapist doesn't know what she's thinking or feeling, and everyone at school is pretending they miss Julia as well, from her boyfriend (who cheated on her) to old friends, like Caro and Beth (who put on a good show). Amy is lost and all she wants is a drink.

Even though her life is going on, Amy can't shake her guilt, her responsibility, and the punishment she thinks she deserved. She now sits at the loser table at lunch with moustache girl, who also ignores her. It hurts, but Amy knows it's all deserved. Everyone knows she's guilty...everyone...

But it's during an English group that a door silently opens up for Amy. An old friend, another solitary person who creates a spark in Amy unlike anything she's ever felt before - will she allow that door to open or shut it, herself, and her memories of Julia inside?

135 days since the accident, and Julia, I hate you...

Part in diary format, part in real time, this book hits the rise and fall of a friendship and the emotional needs of the main character. Elizabeth Scott has addressed the issue of emotional and physical trauma and created a tale of a broken girl put back together again through her own strength as well as those around her, whether she wants them there or not. Parental characters take on a strong role in this novel and transformation can be seen across the spectrum in a story of love, loss and the steps it takes to become whole again. A good pair with Sarah Aronson's Head Case. Recommended.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The School for Dangerous Girls by Eliot Schrefer

Angela is a dangerous girl. She lives the fast life, stealing money from her parents, hanging out with much older guys...and her grandfather's death...that's another horrible story. Her parents have tried everything they can, and what they discovered is Hidden Oak.

Hidden Oak is not just another prep school. It's designed specifically for dangerous girls, i.e. girls who haven't lived up to parental expectations; girls who have rebelled and continue to live a destructive lifestyle; girls who can't or wont life up to their parents social reputations; and girls who have problems, either psychological or emotional, that their parents can't handle. It's a four year school and there are two tracks for students - one is academic, the other is to fight for your life.

Angela makes it to orientation with a chip on her shoulder and plans to leave. But things don't turn out the way she thought. Stripped of all personal belongings, she realizes quickly that Hidden Oak isn't a typical school. You can't talk about what brought you here, you are pitted against other students, the facilities are moldy and falling apart, and your every move is recorded. And that's just the first month.

Angela makes it through orientation and is put into the elit gold group, but she can't quite shake the feeling of dread when it comes to the girls she met during orientation. What happened to Juin, a self-leader and big rebel, or Riley a follower and not to be trusted? She soon finds out when she is demoted into the purple faction and sees the truth for what it is....Now in a life or death situation where everyone is an enemy, Angela realizes that she must maintain her dangerousness in order to survive.

Sober, enthralling, mysterious...those are only a few words that qualify this book for YA readers. They will become engrossed in the lives of all the characters, from students to teachers, and wonder what the outcomes will be and how each girl will be impacted. Strong characterizations and situations will draw readers in, and although the ending doesn't live up to the denouement, this book will fly off shelves, and is an excellent companion book to Todd Strasser's Boot Camp.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

In a hotel room


And you didn't answer the phone...

These and other words keep crowing Lia's mind.



Her life is completely disconnected. Lia now lives with her father and his new wife Jennifer, as well as Jennifer's daughter Emma. Dr. Marrigan, her mother, was someone she couldn't take anymore. Not after the treatment she was put through. But with patience and lying and jumping through hoops, Lia was discharged, but she took along her secrets with her.

One thing Lia can't stop thinking about is how she caused the death of her best friend, Cassie. She sees her on her bed, in the store. Lia can hear her voice, and Cassie is telling her how easy it is to leave. And the scariest thing Lia hears? Cassie tells her she's nearly there....on the edge...ready to die...
But now Cassie is dead and Lia hides her pain in so many ways. She does it through quarters hidden in her bathrobe. She does it through mentally counting calories every time she takes a bite. She does it through cutting. But is it enough?

This is another riveting tale by Anderson that takes the reader into the physical and psychological trauma of Lia, who is battling anorexia. You see the psychology of Lia's mind through Anderson's writing techniques from analogies to corssed out word and word replacements to a blank page. You see Lia physically waste away and can only hope she doesn't run into the arms of her dead friend, who keeps calling her, but turns to those who are living, even though she can't trust them. With many books out there about anorexia and how teens deal with this problem, I consider this to be top-notched, not only because of Halse Anderson's strong writing and past reputation as a YA author, but also because of the complete and brutal truth she exposes.

Because I Am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas

Anke knows what she sees is wrong, but she also knows she hates being ignored. She's like a piece of furniture...without thought, without sound, overlooked. It's an ambivalence in her that she can't overthrow, but there's nothing to do about it. She wants attentions, but her mother is silent. She wants her father to notice her, but not in the same way he sees her brother or sister. She wants to be part of her sibling's circle, but they won't let her in. Life on the outside looks pretty good to everyone else, but life on the inside is diseased.

Anke decides she needs something in her life and tries out for the volleyball team. When the team is announced, she is nervous about being overlooked again. And then...her name is read out and she is now part of something. It's unfamiliar territory, but one she slowly becomes a part of. The most important lesson she's learning? How to shout and call for the ball, possess it, make it hers. And this lesson begins to trail into her personal life with her family.

But is her voice one that needs to be heard? Is it something Anke wants others to hear? She knows she's the catalyst. Say something and her family will disintegrate. Don't say anything and her family will still disintegrate, but in a completely different way. The big question - is it better to hide family secrets and still have one, or expose those secrets and fracture the semblance of family? Anke doesn't know the answer, but the emotional waves that toss her around, from the bruising on her brother's face to her sister's bedroom door closing in the dead of night; from her mother's absence to her father's heavy presence, creates an inner person within Anke that will decide her fate.

Written in free-verse, this is a book, that although is a fast read, will make readers stop and think. The enemies Anke faces, from those in flesh and blood to those hiding behind her emotions, portray themselves subtly, leaving the reader to uncover the horrors she faces, not only with her family, but in her relationships with her friends, both guys and girls. Powerful book worth reading.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Compound by S.A. Bodeen

Eli was nine years old when the fallout occurred. The world was under nuclear attack, and his family is safe in the compound his father built. But his twin, Eddy, and his grandmother? They didn't quite make it...

The compound Eli's father built isn't your ordinary bomb shelter. It's extraordinary, filled with everything from a huge library and music collection, a workout gym complete with a basketball court, a gigantic storage room full of supplies, and a gourmet's kitchen. It helps that Eli's dad is a billionair. But everyday Eli wakes up, he realizes that life has changed...and the changes keep coming...

Eli is no longer nine, but fifteen. And the changes have come about slowly but surely. The last six years haven't been difficult, just different. All he had to do is wait nine more years, and the seal to the outside world will be opened. But can he, his parents, and his two sisters make it?

And then there is a beam of hope...with his dead brother's old laptop, Eli finds a wireless internet signal!! There is life outside!! He wants to tell his father, but during the time in the compound, Eli, his mothers and Terese his sister, realize that perhaps his father's can't be trusted. Something isn't's a feeling, but the feeling is strong...

Now the flour is contaminated, the animals have died, and the hydroponic lights for the vegetables are beginning to flicker. With the supplies drying up, his father has figured they'll run out of food a year before the door is opened. But Eli's father also has alternate plans and Supplements to rely on. But is what he doing moral? Ethical? Eli isn't sure, but he is scared...

What a gripping first novel for S.A. Bodeen. What I first thought was science fiction in nature quickly turned into realistic terror with a psychological twist. Readers of this book will have to wonder and think, "What lengths would I be willing to do to survive?" Although at times predictable, it was nonetheless a book that was a page turner. YA readers will keep this book checked out!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

In the Small by Michael Hague

A blue light flashes…only for a second…and then things….change. What seems like an ordinary day is no longer ordinary. People’s lives have changed. Gone are the luxuries of living people are accustomed to. Gone is the support society relies on. Gone is the 21st century life built on concrete, gold, and transportation.

Mouse is a unique individual, who has the power see the future, although not completely. He and his father are in Manhattan when the blue light strikes, leaving all of humanity changed irrevocably. He knows where he’s supposed to go and also knows the challenges ahead.
His mother, his grandfather and sister Beatrix (Beat) are at home when chaos extends its fingers throughout the world. They have to alter everything they know, including the sudden loss of friends and family, and cling to survival. Their only hope clings around building a new life, one small tiny step at a time.
But change, although sudden, hasn’t quite stopped…there will be more change, but only a few know it…
I WANT THE SEQUEL NOW!!! Hague fills this graphic novel with eye-riveting scenes, depicting not only the struggle and shock of what happens to the main characters, but also the determination which fills many of them, but not all. As with all good graphic novels, the illustrations give the reader an insight into Armageddon as well as the emotions and situations that can be read on the faces of those facing it. Excellent graphic novel that should be shelved in libraries. This is definitely not your superhero or anime/manga book – it’s class graphic novel at its finest.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Dirty Laundry by Daniel Ehrenhaft

Winchester School of the Arts, in the beautiful and pampered East Coast, is home to students whose parents want the most for them academically and socially. It caters specifically to them in the arts, academics and extra-curricular activities. Oh…and it has the nickname “The Laudromat” because it’s the last place students, aka dirty laundry, have left when they get kicked out of the most prestigious schools. The headmaster’s speeches can be quoted verbatim by most seniors, the drama teacher lets his small kids run rampant while he breathes his garlic breath into a stale room, and you never know what they’ll serve in the cafeteria.
But this year is different – Darcy Novak, budding theatrical star and senior dorm supervisor has been missing. No one knows what happened to her, why she was taken or she’s still alive. There are some suspects, but nothing definitive.
And then school starts, and so do the students. There’s Fun (aka Fellini Udall Newport, also the resident tagger), his roommate Hilton James (aka Nails, who’s worn the same James Brown Sex Machine t-shirt for the past two or three weeks), Kirk Bishop (who has Headmaster Stanton on a leash, thanks to his dad’s cash, despite his acne-ridden face), and newcomers Carli Gemz (pronounced “games” and was made famous for her child acting in commercials) and her roommate Miranda (who’s never met the mysterious Darcy, but feels like she knows her through one phone conversation).
Carli is there on assignment to get in character for an upcoming television series, as well as being Fun’s one-way ticket back into a private school. It should be all Fun and Gemz (get it?) but things aren’t adding up…and both of them want to get down with what really happened to Darcy and who can they trust?
Part mystery, part hilarity, Ehrenhaft comes to the forefront with another comedic look at oddballs and loafers, wannabes, and lovers. He has the perfect combination of mystery and laugh out loud moments that make this another great book for any teen reader. Ehrenhaft’s stylistic writing continues to shine in this one as it has his others (including 10 Things to Do Before I Die and Drawing a Blank) and should be paired with other sharp and witty books, like Spanking Shakespeare and Son of the Mob. Just when you think there’s too much supernaturalism and gritty realism in YA lit, along comes Ehrenhaft!! THANK YOU!!!!

Far From You by Lisa Schroeder

Alice is living in a world she really doesn’t want to be a part of. Two years ago, after losing her mother to cancer, Alice’s father has remarried, and Victoria and Alice just don’t get along.
To add insult to injury, Victoria and her father have a new baby, Ivy. The world revolves around this happy family, but Alice knows in her heart that she isn’t a part of it. Her father has replaced her mother’s art studio for a baby’s room and everything that was her mother is relegated to the attic. The only comfort Alice gets at home is with Cobain, her Labrador.
Outside of the house, Alice has Blaze and her best friend Claire. Both of them are into music, but different spectrums. Claire and Alice play for their church, while Blaze is a renegade who won’t mix music and religion. But Alice is happy with the balance, and her boyfriend and best friend complete her.
But plans change. Or maybe it’s attitudes? Claire confronts Alice about changing her musical style and Alice blows her off. Blaze wants to go further in their relationship, and Alice isn’t sure that’s what she wants. And to top it off, her entire family, including herself are going to visit step-grandparents. Oh yea – Alice is NOT jumping for joy.
With her relationships on hold or disintegrating, Alice becomes numb, uncommunicative – living the past more than the present. But something happens…something that wrenches into her soul…that will either make or break Alice.
Lisa Schroeder’s next free verse YA book makes another mark on the board of YA fiction for her. Dealing completely with relationships on many levels, the reader gets to see the main character with all of her hats – from friend to lover to daughter to outcast – and ultimately will see the only thing that will change her from self-centered to being centered. Well-written and a fast read for teens!!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Big List of Spring Break Books

Here’s a personal list of spring break of vacation books students may want to check out before their own break. I based this on traveling, trips, vacations and spring breaks. I’ve already got my digital picture frame loaded and am going to glog this and embed it into my library webpage. If you can add to this list, please share!

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
Absolutely Maybe by Lisa Yee
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
Anything But Ordinary by Valerie Hobbs
Are We There Yet by David Levithan
Bass Ackwards and Belly Up by Elizabeth Craft
Becoming Chloe by Catherine Ryan Hyde
Black Sheep by Yvonne Collins
Captive by Tom Pow
Car Trouble by Jeanne Du Prau
The Chaos Code by Justin Richards
Crack in the Line by Michael Lawrence
Feathered by Laura Kasischke
Finding Lubchenko by Michael Simmons
Gingerbread by Rachel Cohn
Going Nowhere Faster by Sean Beaudoin
Guyaholic by Carolyn Mackler
Here There Be Dragons by James Owens
Heyday by Kurt Anderson
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
I’ll Ask you Three Times by Naomi Shihab Nye
Lucky T by Kate Brian
Magic or Madness by Justine Larbelestier
Night Road by A.M. Jenkins
Paper Towns by John Green
Pirates by Celia Rees
Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham
Shift by Jennifer Bradbury
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Anne Brashares
Society of S by Susan Hubbard
Sofi Mendoza’s Guide to Getting Lost in Mexico by Alegria Malin
Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman
Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott
They Came by Below by Blake Nelson
The Watcher by James Howe
Waves by Sharon Dogar
Wish You Were Here by Catherine Clark
Year My Sister Got Lucky by Aimee Friedman
Zigzag by Ellen Wittlinger

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Sky Inside by Clare B. Dunkle

Martin knows that spring is upon his neighborhood. How? Because everyone is switching their decals to the spring flowers. He remembers his grandmother telling him about strange creatures with wings that filled the sky, but surely, her mind was skipping…there hasn’t been anything like that. The only thing in the sky is the bubble with the clouds painted on them while bots go around checking the integrity of their “slice of paradise.”

Martin knows he and his family are the lucky ones that escaped from the outside to be contained in the world created for them. He lives with his parents and his new and improved Wonderbaby sister and for his birthday he gets an Alldog, a robo dog, for his birthday. In his world, the story of Peter Pan is about a lawyer battling Hook, a CEO; and everyday everyone votes live on choices the President presents. c

But things are not as they seem, especially when Martin discovers the underworld and the bots the government is putting into houses to monitor them. With his new Alldog, he begins to discover some horrible truths – including what happens when residents leave or try to leave their colony – and what is really happening in the world and the “normal” life he lives now.

If you are looking to find a science fiction book that looks at a world filled with politics and deceit, look no further. Dunkle has created a realistic world in which member of society willingly follow and trust what’s going on in order to live the life of ease. This is a book easily read and followed, even for non science fiction readers. Although not as “in your face” as other sci-fi books for older readers, this one can easily be used from early junior high to high school. Recommended.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Father's Son by Terri Fields

Kevin’s having an excellent day at school. An honors student, he does well in academics, has his best friend Jason who he hangs out and plays pick-up basketball with, and today, of all days….he’s got his first date with Emily….finally!!

It’s Friday night, and he’s ready to go out. Since his parents are divorced, this is his weekend to spend with his dad. Kevin gets in his Jeep his dad bought him and takes off to the party without a care in the world. The next day he wakes up and hangs with his dad, eating take-out food and playing video games. Not at all like living with his mom, who struggles to make ends meet and never ever talks about the divorce or what happened. Kevin loves his mom, but feels at home with his dad.

Then Sunday comes, and it destroys everything Kevin thought was safe and real. As he’s staring at the television screen, he sees the police have finally captured the notorious DB25 serial killer. And the person whose face is staring back at him is his father’s….

Kevin’s life becomes a living hell. He can’t stand to be at school because of the whispers behind his back. Emily has dumped him, claiming her parents don’t want her around him. Even his best friend quits talking to Kevin. But Kevin is a fighter, and he decides that if the police won’t find the evidence to find his father innocent, then he will. And a memory comes to the surface….where did his dad hide that small, portable laptop he’s never seen before? What happened to it?

Kevin wants answers, and the only he knows how is if his father will talk to him and tell him where his car is, where the laptop is…why they caught him trying to escape out the latest victim’s house. But the only thing his dad tells him is that he doesn’t want to see him ever again, and yes….he’s guilty. Kevin’s world is spinning out of control, and the only avenue left is for him to start looking into the past for answers, if he can find a past.

This is a gripping mystery thriller from beginning to end. Fast-paced, the plot races without letting up, going from one end of Kevin’s life to the other without slowing down. Readers will wonder if Kevin’s dad is innocent or guilty to the very end. Although parents take a back seat in most YA fiction, Kevin’s parents are full-court center, creating the backbone to the main character’s persona. Terri Fields has created a well-written mystery for teens that’s rated high in this YA genre. A definite read for anyone who loved Walter Sorrell’s First Shot.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Feathered by Laura Kasischke

Anne and Michelle were destined from the beginning to be friends. They met when they were three years old and have been friends ever since. Now seniors in high school, the girls are searching not only for adventure, but also to find themselves in a big world where colleges and distance will separate them. What better way to take a taste of the world than to go on spring break?
Anne and Michelle’s mothers are protective, to say the least, but also want their daughters to spread their wings. Armed thoroughly with advice, which both girls take seriously, they begin to prepare themselves to leave Glendale, Illinois behind and venture to Cancun Mexico. Together with their third but secondary friend Terri, they get on the plane and are ready for fun in the sun.
From the moment they land, the girls know that life as they knew it is over seven hours away and thus begins their spring break. The first time they see the Hotel del Sol, they realize that all the advice their parents instilled in them was for a reason. They stay together for a whole two hours before Terri disappears, only to be found at a bar with a guy going to USC. Michelle and Anne decide not to partake in the fun and instead find themselves alone by the pool, enjoying the blue they see everywhere and the experience of being responsible for their adult actions.
But their actions are soon put to the wayside when Michelle meets a father figure who asks them if they’d like to ride with him to the ruins of Chichen Itza. Both girls rely on the other to make the right decision, but it never appears. And the next day when they get into the car with a strange man, Anne’s alert bells go off. But it may be too late for both of them. On the second day of their spring break, the unthinkable and irreparable happens to the girls…
This is a cautionary tale told in differing timelines, from Anne’s past experience and Michelle’s current one. Sometimes teenagers feel invincible, and this book shows the vulnerability of teens when the lines are blurred and caution is thrown to the wind. The author allows the readers to use their imaginations to go through certain situations, never leaving behind the gratuitous encounters that would have marred the writing. A perfect fusion of Middlewestern teen life and Mayan history, this book is filled with symbolism taken from the title. Highly recommended.

Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale; ill. by Nathan Hale

When you think you've read another retelling of a fairy tale, along comes a graphic novel with a twist, and Rapunzel's not your ordinary princess.

In this graphic retelling, Rapunzel indeed does live in a palace with her evil stepmother, Gothel, but then the differences begin. Gothel has the power over the lands she rules where she can create lush farmland or barren deserts, depending on her whim and how much she pulls in from taxes. Rapunzel isn't aware of any of this until she climbs over the palace walls and sees the huge gap between her life in the castle and those who work the mines or try to make a living off of the land. And it is in the mines that she reunites with her mother and her memories come back.

Of course, Gothel has been trying to indoctrinate Rapunzel into taking over her kingdom and becoming evil herself, but when she realizes the impact of Rapunzel's reunion, it's time to ship her off. Where? To a tall huge tree in the middle of a swamp where Rapunzel becomes a teenager, and in her lonliness, finds a multitude of uses for her long tresses, including roping, tying, and whipping.

After her escape from the tree tower, Punzie runs into many characters, among them a thief named Jack, who, of course, has a stolen goose. And there the adventures begin, from traversing the kingdom to escaping the clutches of Gothel's evil servants to finding the heart of the magic Gothel uses to destroy people and communities.

A colorful and animated graphic novel, this is one that will please junior high audiences with some appreciation for lower high school graphic novel readers. This graphic novel pulls from fairy tales and tongue-in-cheek humor and readers watch Rapunzel grow up from a child to a teenager and finding herself along the way. Not quite the wild west (it has elements of fantasty intertwined), this story has illustrations that show the strength and depth of the main characters as well asd depicting minor ones just as well. Interestingly, teens I've given this too have all commented on how much the back cover illustration reminded them of Annie paced, this will fly off of junior high shelves. Recommended.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Exposed by Susan Vaught

Chan Shealy hasn’t had a great year at school. Her reputation has been shattered, she has only one friend in the world, and she’s beginning to worry about her weight. But nothing has been as bad as seeing her ex, Adam-P, with Ellis, the blonde and beautiful majorette nemesis.

Chan also feels so disconnected from her family. She’s embarrassed of her father’s weight, her mother’s ridiculous political shirts, and her eight year old sister Lauren’s goth frame of mind. In short, Chan feels totally isolated. The only thing that keeps her company is her love for all things Emily Dickinson and her best friend, Devin.
Factor in the emotional and family disconnect, add a lot of pressure from her coach, the Bear, to win regionals, sprinkle in the fact that she caught the gift that never goes away from her loser ex, and Chan goes to the only place she feels beautiful, protected, and loved – her fantasies.

And through a simple chat room, her fantasies begin to come alive, especially when she meets cute Paul, who understands everything she’s going through and says the things she loves to hear. Little by little, their relationships becomes deeper and stronger, and Paul tests Chan’s love by asking for more – more secrets, more photos, more chat time…Chan doesn’t realize that the protected places of her fantasies have left her fully exposed, in a real and dangerous place online.

When teens today think they are extremely savvy at technology, out comes a book that looks at their innocence. Susan Vaught captures the essence of this and then allows the reader to see the dark side of virtual relationships. Even when the reader thinks he/she knows what’s going to happen next, Vaught takes them on another twist and turn, showing how a teen can get so caught up with strangers and the “anonymous” protection of the internet that it can affect all relationships – not just themselves. Once started, this book was hard to put down. Excellent read; highly recommended.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Vibes by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Kristi likes her cat Minie (as in mouse), opera music, unusual practical jokes, and making her own clothes from anything and everything. She doesn’t have the greatest relationship with her mom, her dad split a couple of years ago, and her best friend now hangs out with the popular kids and makes fun of her. And the guy that she crushed on? He now thinks she’s sick. How does she know all of that? She’s psychic, of course.

Going to school is not something Kristi enjoys, but it has it’s defining moments. She does have Jacob Flax as a friend, but he seems to only think about one thing, and life goes on as usual, until she meets the new student, a guy named Mallory, who has defiance issues similar to hers.

School isn’t your typical school. It has Morning Meetings, Explorations in Nature (ie science) and the Contemplation Room. Kristi thinks of it more like a joke than school, but it’s someplace she can get lost in, even if there aren’t that many students. And when her best friend Jacob decides to share with everyone during morning meeting he’s going to improve himself, the principal decides it needs to be an entire school project with partners. And Kristi’s is….Gusty, the golden god and her old crush.

As with anything in life, Kristi meets this expectation by pushing away and making sure her shell remains intact – no one in, herself left out. But the more the project goes on, the more unsure Kristi is of not only her abilities as a psychic, but also about herself and her relationships, especially those with her parents. Can she juggle who she is as well as come to terms with who others think she is? Could Kristi possibly let go and find there is more out there than surface matieral?

Amy Kathleen Ryan has invented a unique, quirky, and strong main character that continues to resonate throughout the book. The more into the story the reader gets, the more layers are peeled back not only in Kristi, but in all of the characters. A fast read with plenty of depth in dealing with issues of friendships, family, and personal lives. If you have readers who loved Cohn’s Gingerbread or Alex Bradley’s Hot Lunch, they need to take a look at larger than life Kristi. Highly recommended.