aka YA Literature

Monday, December 29, 2008

2008 Favorites

With the end of the year, it's time for all the "best of" lists.   I choose to do "favorites" instead since I didn't read nearly enough to choose "the best."  Plus, it's too subjective anyway.  So these are just my favorites of the year.  


I'm pretty happy with the NYT picks, even though I never read Sunrise Over Fallujah.  I can't get behind any list with TDHOFL-B, however.

My favorites:
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr
City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare
Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

As an aside, even though I read The Disreputable History months ago and loved it and have given it prime display space at the circulation desk and recommended it to students, it hasn't been checked out once.  I'm sad about this, and I don't know what else to do.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell

Just after WWII, 15 year-old Evie goes on an off-season vacation with her bombshell mother and her step-father. Her step-father is a war veteran and owns some successful appliance stores. Evie adores her mother, not only because she's admired and beautiful, but also because her mother has always been there for her, even during tough times when she was raising Evie as a single mother. Evie also adores her step-father because she finally has a father in her life who takes care of her and gives her attention. A young veteran who served with her step-father in the war shows up, and Evie falls in love with him. Her mother chaperones secret outings for them since her step-father doesn't want them having anything to do with each other. [Achtung: Possible spoilers ahead] The young man, Peter, tells Evie some things about her step-father that are, to say the least, unflattering. When there is an investigation into Peter's suspicious death, Evie has to make a decision about what she will reveal and whether she will tell the truth about what she knows.

Loved it. Extra bonus: the cover is appealing and the title is intriguing and completely perfect for the novel. I think it would be appropriate for middle schoolers too. All my students who have read it have really liked it. Great characterization, perfect pace, and unique and interesting plot.

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

Brittany Ellis appears to have the perfect life. She is co-captain of the cheerleading squad and is dating the captain of the school's football team. She's beautiful, rich, and popular. Little does anyone know, this is all a carefully crafted and protected facade that she works hard to maintain because, in reality, her home life is far from perfect. Her older sister has cerebal palsy, and Brittany's parents would like nothing better than to send her sister away to a school rather than take care of her at home. Her father is hardly ever at home, and when he is, he is distant and absent from any meaninfgul involvement with his family. Her mom is hyper-critical, and Brittany feels she has to be perfect to make up for her sister's "imperfections."

Alex Fuentes is a member of the Latino Bloods in Chicago. He's pretty smart, but he doesn't see a future for himself that involves anything other than being in the gang because he sees it as the only way to protect his younger brothers from joining. His father was killed in drug/gang-related activity when he was young, and Alex seems to get in trouble at school all the time, even when he's not doing anything wrong. Alex and Brittany get paired as chemistry partners for a year-long assignment to make hand-warmers. They dislike each other a lot at first, but eventually they come to realize that the other is not who they appear on the surface. Actually, they discover, they have a lot in common and are very attracted to each other. They develop a romance, despite the objections of pretty much everyone else in their lives.

I'd recommend this to fans of Sarah Dessen and Sara Zarr. However, although the romance appeals to me, it's probably not going to be one that I recommend to a lot of readers. The voices of the characters seemed very inauthentic to me. They seemed like something an adult writer would create for a teen book rather than voices of real teens. I also felt that Alex was too "good." He did almost everything bad under duress, and he didn't do any of the bad things he was accused of by the school adminsitrators. The basic plot device is one that has been done a lot, and in my opinion, this doesn't add much new to the story: uptown girl with seemingly perfect life attracted to the bad boy "from (literally) the wrong side of the tracks" with a heart of gold. And while they insisted throughout the book that Brittany and Alex discovered how much they had in common, I just didn't see it. Plus, Brittany's boyfriend was almost completely unlikeable. I would have liked to see a more nuanced, complex character (like the jilted boyfriends in Sweethearts or Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac). The ending [SPOILER ALERT!] was probably the thing that I liked least about the book. A different ending could have made these other criticisms less significant in my mind. I'm always one to want a happy ending, but this was too neat and unlikely, even for me. I mean, not only did Alex get out of the gang, but he moved to Colorado to go to college with Brittany and then they ended up having a child they named after Alex's dead friend, and then their son was in chemistry class with their same teacher. It's super cute, but just too much for me. This is the ending I wanted for Zarr's Sweethearts, but that novel worked better because the ending was so much more realistic and a necessary outcome of the characters and circumstances. But if you want to read something that has the feel of Sweethearts with the ending you always wanted for Cameron and Jenna, this might be the book for you.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

2009

On her blog, Justine Larbalestier brought up the question of what books you are most looking forward to in 2009. Here are mine, in order:

1. Sacred Scars by Kathleen Duey

2. Fragile Eternity by Melissa Marr

3. City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

4. Fetch by Laura Whitcomb

5. Andromeda Klein by Frank Portman

6. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

There might be others if I knew about them. Sacred Scars is by far the one I'm most needing to read because it's been soooo long since I read and loved Skin Hunger.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Book Covers

The Book Design Review has its best book covers of 2008. There are no YA books, but it got me thinking of my favorite book covers. I hate when a great book has a bland cover. Students will pick up a boring book with a great cover over a great book with a boring cover any day, and I don't blame them. Even when the cover is "perfect" for the book, that doesn't mean it's going to interest anyone in picking it up off the shelf. It's soooo frustrating for me as a librarian to get books with covers that I know are not going to sell the book. I love Hunger Games and Little Brother and I've been able to hand-sell those easily to students, not to mention they share them with each other, but the covers of those books could have been so much cooler. I didn't dislike those covers; they just didn't do justice to their books.

Here are my favorite covers of this year:

John Green & Seventeen

John Green made videos for Seventeen magazine's website. One of them, featured below, offers relationship advice to the "dumpers" and the "dumpees." This whole concept amuses me. First, let me say that I think it's great that Seventeen is including things related to teen lit. But having said that, how many teen girls will come across these videos on Seventeen? I can see Green's already loyal fans watching them if they're directed there, but I'm not sure that it would find new audiences (but I hope it does!). Second, for whatever reason it just amuses me that John Green is giving "relationship advice" to teen girls on Seventeen. I'm sure he never pictured that for his life.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

ALAN

I attended the ALAN workshop at NCTE this week. I took notes on all the speakers and was going to recap each speech, but since there were more than 30, I decided I'm too lazy.   Here are a few of my personal highlights:

1. Teri Lesesne had so many great things to say, but one that struck a cord with one of my current issues is that we have to defend YA as having equal quality as "the classics." I am dealing with this fairly often because I have one teacher who requires their students to only read "adult" books for SSR. I think this is a poor distinction since "adult" doesn't make it "good," and many YA books are much better "quality" than most of the adult books they're choosing. Plus, I am definitely of the opinion that we should just be encouraging students to read what will give them enjoyment. I think there's a good debate to be had about introducing them to books they might not pick up on their own or choose for themselves that they'd like or get a lot from, but that isn't really the point of SSR (in my personal opinion). The other thing I keep coming back to is that many "classics" would likely be published as YA if they were published today, so why not consider that today's YA could have as much literary merit as those "classics?"
2. M.T. Anderson gave a speech about how all children's lit is necessarily political to some extent, whether it's intentional or not. There are encoded messages about how one has to act to be successful in this world, and that's political, even if it's not overt. I liked his points about how to act as if books are politically neutral diminishes the power of literature. Also, often authors, librarians, teachers, etc. will claim that reading "bad" things in literature won't cause kids to go out and do bad things, but on the other hand, they'll laud how transformative the "good" literature can be.
3. Read John Green's entire speech. It was excellent! He saved me from having to highlight by posting it all online. (Can I repeat what I've said before about how awesome JG is about writing speeches directed at his audience? He's talking to a bunch of English teachers, and he makes his speech related to that. The former speech teacher in me loves this.) One of his points was that, yes, he does intentionally put "English stuff" like figurative language in his writing. I appreciate that he says this because I remember as a student thinking that authors probably didn't intend all this crap we're assigning to it in English class, but then I read a Toni Morrison interview where she was talking about one paragraph she wrote. For about two pages, she described how and why she wrote that paragraph the way she did. There's no way I would EVER have gotten even half of what she was saying from my own reading, but it was (1) very illuminating and verified that authors do put this much intentionality into their work, and (2) I appreciate the work so much more when I can see beyond the initial surface. I know a lot of students think analyzing literature "ruins" the experience for them, and I'm not going to refute that if it's true for them, but I'll say that for me, analyzing literature can make me enjoy it a lot more. Hemingway, for example, I don't think I'll ever like, but analyzing it can make me at least appreciate it.

My favorite quotes from the conference:
"And another thing, you bastards, I fucking love the harpsichord." -M.T. Anderson

"If they are reading books you think are crap, get over yourself." -Walter Mayes

"I've always wanted to be twittered by Walter Mayes." -David Levithan

Also, my new author loves are Lauren Myracle and Matt de la Pena.  Loved them.  Can't wait to hear them speak again.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Test

Title: Test
Author: William Sleator
Rating: A-

Set in the near future, Test follows a group of students in a large American city were pollution is over-powering; traffic is a nightmare; class-ism is at an extreme; and standardize testing is the sole judge of academic merit. (Doesn't sound too distant, does it?!?)

In this environment, a local high school student, Ann, mysteriously finds herself enveloped in the plots of one of America's richest business-men, who just happens to be the publisher of the notorious test.

Ann soon discovers vast corruption behind the test and No Child Left Behind. With the help of a renegade substitute teacher, Ann and her friends boycott the test and use their evidence to create a national scandal...and some long needed educational reform!


The Good: I thought Mr. Sleator's setting was quite ingenious. Although there is significant evident placing this in a futurist realm, the direct links to so many modern issues make the setting almost current!

The Bad: Honestly, there really isn't anything I can state as being truly negative about this book. If force to list something, I would perhaps complain that the plot was wrapped up a little too quickly; I would have liked to see the ending extended a little more. However, I'm sure it's much more adolescent-appropriate as is.

Hunger Games


I am not really a science fiction gal, but I loved The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. The story is set in the future where North America is divided into 12 districts. The districts are controlled by the Capitol. Once a year, two people from each district are randomly selected to participate in the Hunger Games where everyone fights to the death and the last one standing is declared the winner.

I loved the attention to detail, the suspense of the hunger games, and the love triangle action. I literally could not put this book down. The only problem is that now I have to wait until September 2009 to read the sequel.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sherman Alexie is Everywhere!

Sherman Alexie is everywhere lately. First he's on "The Colbert Report" and now he's commenting on the election for Salon. Why now? Not complaining, just wondering.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Still More NNIP

I'm not yet done posting about Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist! I read this interesting post on Feministing about it. A lot (or maybe even all) of the issues Samhita raises are not issues in the book and are due to either changes made to the plot or due to the visual aspect of the movie. It highlights for me how different the experience of reading is compared to watching a movie and how there are different issues involved in each. And the nerdy aspect to Nick really wasn't there in the book. Sure, he wasn't the popular hearthrob type, but he was much hipper in the book.

Can I also say how much I agree that the gum thing was totally lame, gross, and unneeded? Yeck.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

National Book Award

Just wanted to say that I'm crossing my fingers for The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart to win the National Book Award for Young People's Literature since I loved it so much. I know it'll end up on the Amelia Bloomer List too.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Little Brother


I picked up Little Brother by Cory Doctorow at the library today. I started reading it as soon as I arrived home and did not put it down until I finished. Honestly, it is the most fascinating book I have read in a long time. It is like a modern day Nineteen Eighty-Four. The setting is San Francisco, right after a terrorist attack on the Bay Bridge. Much of the book deals with security measures, hacking, and high tech computer lingo, but you don't have to be a techie to get it. Overall, it was the message of the story that I really loved. I think Andre "bunnie" Huang explains it best in the Afterword, "Little Brother is a reminder that no matter how predictable the future may be, we don't win freedom through security systems, cryptography, interrogations and spot searches. We win freedom by having the courage and conviction to live every day freely and to act as a free society, no matter how great the threats are on the horizon."

Monday, October 6, 2008

Can anyone explain this?


I have seen Wicked 2 by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie at Barnes & Noble for months now. I've been trying to order it from Follett, but they say it isn't out yet. I think that can't be because I've seen it in the store (and now I have even purchased two copies; they're in my library right now). I went on Amazon, and it too says that this book won't be released until January. Teens Read Too has it listed as coming out in January. Does Barnes & Noble have some exclusive contract for this book?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Nick & Norah's Movie

I saw Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist last night and I really liked it. I don't know if I would have cared about or liked the characters as much if I hadn't read the book, but I have no way of knowing since I did read it. I was worried that I wouldn't like Michael Cera as Nick, even though I like MC very much. It was actually just what I thought: he was great and I liked him, but the character of Nick was more like MC's character in Juno than the Nick from the book. So even though it didn't totally follow the book, it was still really good and enjoyable. One of the things I liked in the book was the hot makeout scene in the hotel, which was substantially changed in the movie (I won't spoil it for anyone here). However, I liked what they did with it, and they made it very sweet and appropriate (but not too watered-down!). Now I am wanting to re-read the book, and one of the reasons is to go back and see if Nora was as sexually inexperienced and repressed as she was portrayed in the movie. But my review is an enthusiastic thumbs up!

Oh, and I don't remember where I read about it, but I knew that Cohn and Levithan were in the movie as extras in the background at the diner. Look for them!


In really cool news for me, I got the manager of the local theatre to give me a movie poster for my library. The poster he gave me (pictured below) is 4'x6'. It's taller than I am! At first I thought that was really cool, but now I'm kind of wishing I'd held out for a more regular size poster so I could frame it. I'm not even sure if this can be laminated. Still really cool, though.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Nick & Norah

You must know that I am super excited for Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist this Friday. I saw an ad in my newspaper today for free passes to a preview screening on Monday night, but I missed the time when they were being given away. Here is a Salon interview with director Peter Sollett in which he talks about, among other things, the soundtrack for the movie. Can not wait! I thought it was interesting that he cast Michael Cera before Superbad and Juno. Although I love MC, I still don't know that I see him as Nick.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Otherworldlies

Thanks to Hurricane Ike, I had plenty of spare time to catch up on my reading. One book I especially enjoyed was The Otherworldlies by Jennifer Kogler. The Otherworldlies is about a teen girl who just doesn't fit in with her family or her friends. Weird things are always happening to her. She hears voices, she can predict the weather accurately, and she can even talk to her dog. Although this book was a little slow getting started, I enjoyed the plot. Much like Twilight, this book is a vampire read without being too vampire-y, if that makes any sense. There isn't any romance, but there is a lot of suspense and action. I think this book will really appeal to the younger teen readers who are Stephenie Meyer fans.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Conversation & Obama

Actual conversation overheard at a school librarian conference yesterday:

Librarian 1: This librarian was telling me that Twilight by Stephanie Meyer is popular. HAve you ever heard of her?

Librarian 2: [shaking her head] No.

In other news, Maureen Johnson has started a "YA for Obama" ning.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Lauren Conrad: YA Author

Lauren Conrad of "The Hills" has a 3-book deal with Harper Collins. It's set to come out next summer and will be about an average teen who becomes a reality TV star.

This blog has become an example of what happens when your library is actually extremely busy and successful. Well, at least what happens when MY library does that. I think other people manage to continue reading and blogging. I'm barely keeping up with "Project Runway" these days.

P.S. Holly, I wanted to see "N&NIP" with you on opening night! :(

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

ALAN

I've always wanted to go to the NCTE/ALAN annual conference, but I never have because it's just way too expensive to travel there. But this year, it's in San Antonio! I am utterly ecstatic. Have you see the list of authors who will be there? Let me just put this out there that if any authors are going to be in San Antonio on the 20th or 21st and want to come do a school visit, please let me know. Melissa Marr came to my (old) school last year and had a great time!

Here are just a few of the awesome authors I can't wait to see:
John Green
Scott Westerfeld
Laurie Halse Anderson
Melissa Marr
M.T. Anderson
Cory Doctorow
Gail Giles
Ellen Hopkins
Justine Larbalestier
David Levithan
E. Lockhart
Susan Beth Pfeffer


Oh, and if any authors want some advice on good local San Antonio things to do or eat or if you want someone to drive you around, I'm also good for that too.

It makes me kind of sad to think that all these fantastic authors are going to be here together in my city and my students won't get a chance to see many of them (I think a few might be doing public appearances).

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Teen Ink

We recently received an email about Teen Ink celebrating their 20th anniversary. Usually, I just ignore those sort of emails, but I am a big fan of Teen Ink. At my library, we have several copies of various Teen Ink compilations. Back when I was the YA librarian, I would use them on book displays for poetry month or when promoting our writing club. What's neat about Teen Ink is that it is all written by teen writers (hence the name). I am planning on getting the magazines for my Reading classroom because I think my struggling readers might be more interested in reading short stories and poems written by their peers than some of the other materials I use.

As part of their 20th anniversary celebration, Teen Ink is offering a 2-for-1 subscription package to any new library subscribers. If you just want to see what the magazine looks like, you can request a free copy from their website.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Tyrell

Title: Tyrell
Author: Coe Booth
Rating: C+

This month, School Library Journal did a cover story on Street Lit; since I had never really read anything in this genre, I scanned their recommended list and decided to read Coe Booth's Tyrell.

Tyrell is the story of a teenage boy growing up homeless with this mother and younger brother on the streets of New York. With his father in prison, Tyrell must step up and be the man of the family. Although his mother wants him to sell drugs to earn money for the family, Tyrell, instead, decided to DJ a massive party. While Tyrell works to organize this party (mostly through illegal doings), he must also work to balance his love interests and family needs.


The Good: I'm sure many urban teens would have an easy time relating to Tyrell's situation; I'm also sure that many non-urban teens would love this story merely for the "coolness" factor (probably in the same way that gangsta' rap is so popular in suburban American.) I also liked the fact that the author made the main character rather strong; although he has definite flaws, his continued effort to support his younger brother and his complete refusal to partake in drug dealing served to make him a somewhat unlikely hero.

The Bad: Anyone in a library where harsh language, poor grammar, and/or graphic situations could be a problem will probably want to stay away from this book. I also had a little bit of a problem with the book's portrayal of domestic abuse; although brief, it's almost as though the main character thinks it's a husband's responsibility to keep his wife in her place. Finally, although the book does provide an good view into the mind of young urban American, for the most part the actual plot is extremely weak.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

breaking dawn

I went to the midnight release of breaking dawn last night. I didn't even do that for Harry Potter. I just don't do crowds. But the lure of Bella and Edward was just too great. I know Cody attended a release in Phoenix and I hope he blogs about it so we can compare notes! My sister in law went with me even though she had already pre-ordered the book online. We arrived at 10:30 and there was quite the line just to get into the store.
Once inside, it was so crowded that it was difficult to find the different activities planned. Rosie and I participated in the trivia and then she made me a "Team Edward" banner. I plan on sporting it to a Twilight party I am attending next weekend.
You could even get a Polaroid taken with models posing as Edward and Jacob. They were really these young high school boys that looked NOTHING like I imagined Jacob and Edward looking. No way was I going to wait in line to get a pic with those young punks. The real craziness began at 11:30 when we were told to line up to get our copy of Breaking Dawn. Yikes. As happy as I was to get a copy of the book, I think I will not be attending any release parties in the future. Whew.

I spent my day reading breaking dawn amidst interruptions from my two year old. It does not disappoint (well, it disappoints a little). Early on, the book took a turn that I did not expect. Also, the whole thing is not written from Bella's point of view. I won't say any more because I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but I will say that I am sad to say goodbye to Bella and Edward. Also, now that the Twilight saga is over, we are going to need to find something/someone else to fixate on. Perhaps we should return our attention to my boyfriend, John Green?

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Audiobooks

If you have read ATR for a while, you know that I love audiobooks. That is why I feel compelled to post this You Tube video of John Green discussing the making of the Paper Towns audiobook.

Amelia Bloomer List

The current nominations for the Amelia Bloomer List have been posted here. I am soooo happy to see The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks on there. I nominated it, but surely someone else must have as well. It's one of my favorite books of the year so far, and it definitely deserves to be on the final AB list.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Back From Poland

I'm back from Poland! And I have a few things to share.

First, I took autographed copies of Alive and Well in Prague, New York, by Daphne Grab and The Secret Rites of Social Butterflies by Lizabeth Zindel. I was afraid that the students might think these were lame, like who would want more books to read. But I am happy to say that I was so wrong. They were a huge hit! The students have amazing English skills and were really eager to read things in English. The magazines I took were also a hit. I thought the People and Seventeen magazines would be most popular, but it turned out that Time and Newsweek were the most popular. Plus, after I passed out the books, one of the students asked me to write a dedication, and then the whole class wanted one and had each other sign their books too. I'd post a picture, but we're not allowed to post pictures of the students.

The other thing I have to report is about Stephenie Meyer's books. As you can see from the pictures below, I saw them being sold in bookstores in Polish. However, I asked several students who said they like to read if they've ever heard of her, and none had. I told them how popular the books are here in the U.S., so maybe that will peak their interest.







































But that's not all! I noticed this book on display as I walked past a bookstore. It was on clearance for $1, so I bought the last three copies they had. I can't read Polish at all, but this is one of my all-time favorite books. I figure that I'll have a chance to have it signed at some point. I bought the extra two copies to give to the Polish students. Too bad it's in Polish instead of English, but at least I can spread the gospel of M.T. Anderson some more. I'd be very interested to know how the translation works since language (and even some made-up terms of the future) is a huge part of the book.


And I noticed that Melissa Marr's books were in the adult romance section at the JFK airport bookstore.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Stephenie Meyer @ Comic-Con

Our dear friend Stephenie recently sat down with the people from Entertainment Weekly to discuss the upcoming Twilight movie, as well as the impending release of Breaking Dawn. For the hardcore Meyer's fans, I doubt there's going to be much new information, but how can you pass up a clip of Steph!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Another One Crosses Over!

I know this books came out a long while ago, but I was somewhat leery of Ms. Hale's first attempt at adult fiction after my disappointment with her, Book of a Thousand Days. However, after stumbling across this book on the shelf the other day, I decided to give it a go. Although I personally enjoyed this book, I definitely wouldn't recommend it for most teens.

Austenland tells the story of Jane Hayes, a young single woman who is completely obsessed with Colin Firth's portrayal of Mr. Darcy in the BBC's version of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. To cure herself of her addiction, Jane vacations at a historic Regency house in rural England, which creates romantic fantasies based on the plots of Ms. Austen's works. It is here that Jane must either overcome her obsession or else succumb to her deepest fantasies in hopes of finding true love.

Austenland is quite unlike Hale's fantasy works, the Princess Academy and Goose Girl series; Austenland instead falls into the vast category of "chick lit". The target audience for this books is definitely going to be the 20-30 year old woman, who is extremely familiar with Ms. Austin's works.

However, what struck me as most odd is the simplicity of Austenland. In fact, this got me pondering why so many of the Adult books I've read lately have been at a much lower reading level than most of the Young Adult fictions out there! Why are so many teen books both longer and more complex than books geared towards adults? Is it that adults have busier lives, and publishers assume they have less time to read? Or maybe there's a general belief that teens need more of a "challenge"?!?! Any thoughts on the topic?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Streams of Babel

Title: Streams of Babel
Author: Carol Plum-Ucci
Rating: B+

The small community of Trinity Falls, New Jersey is perhaps the last place one would suspect as a target for a terrorist attack; however, when several of the residences fall ill from a mysterious, deadly flu, the race begins to solve what is causing these deaths and who exactly is responsible.

Although the story originally follows the plight of four Trinity Falls teenagers who are suffering from the disease, a second sub-plot soon develops following two teenage computer hackers who are working with the U.S. government to solve the mystery. It is quickly discovered that this mysterious illness stems from a poisoned water supply, which only leads to the questions of how and why? The hackers must track a group of terrorists; discover how the water supply was contaminated; and find the true nature of this disease...all before time runs out for the teens of Trinity Falls!


The Good: I don't normally read mystery/suspense, but this novel made me want to start! I loved the fast-paced action that made it extremely hard to put the book down at times.

The Bad: I felt that the author was overly-obvious with some of her clues. I also thought it a bit of a stretch that the teens in the book had just the right knowledge/expertise for each and every situation...I mean, how many suburban teens really know that much about crop irrigation.

Although this isn't necessarily bad, I found myself questioning why exactly the author would chose to set the story in 2002 (Streams of Babel was just published this year.) Like I said, not exactly a negative - just something that caused me to wonder...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

How to Be Bad

Clearly, we all see who has been carrying this blog. Sheryl goes on her little jaunt to Poland and A True Reality just dies. I kept waiting for Cody to step up to the plate because, let's face it, he's the only one actually in a library this summer. That's right, Cody, you better step it up. Don't give me any of that BS about summer programming keeping you busy! Sheryl is counting on you.Moving on. Although I am sitting at home with a 2 year old all summer long, I have been doing some reading. Specifically, I just finished reading How to Be Bad by E. Lockhart, Sarah Mlynowski, and Lauren Myracle. The plot is familiar, three girls going on a road trip together. I really liked how the authors told the story from all three girls' perspectives, though. It was fun switching from Vicks to Mel to Jesse. I was really curious to know which author wrote for which girl. Personally, I liked Vicks the best. This book has it all, drama, romance, cancer, betrayal, and even alligators (alive and stuffed). This is a great summer read, perfect for a day at the beach or poolside.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Team Edward

Yesterday I strolled into Borders and purchased a second copy of Eclipse. This was difficult for me because, as a librarian, I am normally all why buy the book when you can get it for free at the library?! And certainly you don’t go buy another book when you have a perfectly good hardback copy at home. I blame Stephenie Meyer’s team and their marketing genius. They went and released another hardback copy of Eclipse, this time with iron-on transfers that say “Team Edward” and “Team Jacob.” It also has a poster of Breaking Dawn and the first chapter of the book. All together, it was too much for even my frugal self to resist (hey, at least I got the 20% educator’s discount).

Friday, June 20, 2008

Twilight Questions

Since so many of you have requested these, I've decided to post the questions I created for my Twilight Ball. Before my trivia contest, I divided these questions into 3 seperate groupings: questions that were fairly simple; questions that would be difficult; and questions that I felt were practically impossible to answer.

When I began asking the questions, I started with the middle category; I quickly learned that these were far too easy. In fact, of the 40-50 questions I chose as the most difficult, only 4 resulted in wrong answers. (I believe the only questions that when unanswered were:
  • On what streets was Bella's old dance studio?
  • When Edward broke up with Bella and she got lost in the forest, why couldn't she find her way back?
  • Where did Carlisle teach upon leaving Forks?
  • How many vampires did the Volturi send to clean up the mess in Seattle?

I'd also like to warn that some of the Phoenix specific questions are a little more difficult due to the fact that my audience is from the Phoenix Metro Area. I hope these are helpful. I'd love to hear from anyone who actually uses these!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Atlas Shrugged Movie

Somewhat old news, but apparently Angelina Jolie is going to be Dagny Taggart in a movie version of Atlas Shrugged. It'll make for an interesting movie, but can I tell you how much I do not like Ayn Rand and anything that glamorizes her philosophy of "objectivism?" I find it weird that Angelina Jolie would be so interested in objectivism; it doesn't really seem to fit her altruistic nature.

*I realize this isn't strictly YA, but (a) it's interesting to me, and (b) lots of students have to read it for school.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Bad Monkeys by Matt Ruff

I know this has been out for a while, but I just finished reading it. It was an Alex Award winner, and when I read the summary, it sounded like something my students would really like. It's a thriller with science-fiction elements about a young woman named Jane Charlotte who has been detained in a Las Vegas detention facility and is being interviewed by a staff psychologist because when she killed a man, she told the police that she was part of a secret department called "Bad Monkeys" that kills evil people (often with a gun that makes it look like the person died of natural causes). Jane explains to the psychiatrist how she initially got involved with the Bad Monkeys from the time she was a teenager and first discovered that her school janitor was a serial killer. The characters were well-developed, it was suspenseful, and there were lots of twists and turns. It's not my usual fare, but I really enjoyed it. Although the ending had so many twists that it took quite a bit of willing suspension of disbelief, I can't wait to recommend this book to students. Off the top of my head, I know at least 5 specific students who will love it, and I'm sure there are many others I don't know as well who will like it. It has a lot of action and suspense, which I know appeals to a lot of teen readers. This is a must-have (at least for my school). I also really liked the cover; it definitely stands out because it's bright yellow and has a long thin plasticy-type cover. It will certainly attract interest.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Twilight Ball

Well, I survived my big Ball! We had almost 200 teens show up for our dance/trivia contest!!! I can't even begin to describe how successful this program ended up being. The kids loved the trivia...although they knew the books way too well; they could even answer this question, which I thought was my most difficult - What was the street number of Renee's house in Scottsdale? Smart kids, huh?

The costume contest was also a big hit - though hard to judge. They especially loved that I had signed copies of Twilight as the prizes...you should have heard the winners' screams. The teens were already asking that we do a Harry Potter Yule Ball in December...we'll see about that.


Stephenie Meyer Tour

Probably everyone knows this by now, but I just found out about it today. Stephenie Meyer is going to four cities with Blue October songwriter Justin Furstenfeld.

8/1- NYC
8/5- Chicago
8/7- LA
8/12- Seattle

I have to say that it sounds pretty cool. If I were a super-famous author, this is the kind of thing I'd like to do.

I also read that Pattinson and Hardwicke were allowed to read Midnight Sun to help them understand Edward's character better. A good idea, I think.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

I know this book has been out for a couple of months now, and I wasn't going to blog about it since it's taken me this long to get around to reading it, but I just loved it so much that (a) I keep thinking about it, and (b) I wanted to gush. I think one of the main reasons I liked it so much is that I could really relate to the main character (Frankie). And I loved what she ended up doing, I admire her choices, and I love how Lockhart ended the novel.

I don't think my feminism was quite as developed as Frankie's was when I was her age. Like Zada, it really took college to help me to see the need for feminism, to have the vocabulary for naming and interpreting oppression (even in my everyday life), and and to have the willingness to call myself a feminist. But regardless, I certainly could relate to Frankie's dilemmas between her feminist ideals (even when she wasn't labeling them as such) and her desire to just want friends and a cute boy to like her.

There were so many amazing moments in the book that it's hard to choose favorites, but I think my two favorites were probably when she let Porter have it for telling her not to let herself get taken advantage of (poor guy, I'm sure he was just trying to be nice, but really, I think Frankie was right to point out how patronizing it appeared) and when Frankie dared to sit alone at the senior table. Amazing how such seemingly inconsequential things can actually be so huge and require such courage! Most impressive of all to me was how Lockhart created these situations (that, let's be honest, happen all the time in relationships) where Frankie couldn't just say the first thing that came to mind or felt the most natural; she had to "strategize." It's sad that we have to act this way in relationships, but it's so true. I think this is my very favorite part, when Frankie realizes/thinks that Matt is standing her up because he is mad at her for sitting at the senior table and emasculating him:


When I act the way I acted, Matthew doesn't like me as much as he does when I fall off my bicycle.

Is he breaking up with me?

What can I do? Frankie thought. What can I say? Is there anything I can say that will make him change his mind?

Don't sound whiny. Don't sound defensive. Don't sound pitiful. Don't sound angry.

I can't say any of the things I feel, because none of them are any good.

Can't say, "But you promised."

Can't say, "I put on makeup. I did my nails, I looked forward to it all day."

Can't say, "Are you breaking up with me?"

I can't lose him.

I can't lose them, either.

What will get me what I want?


A couple of other longer great paragraphs follow, but I am too lazy to type them out. Anyway, I adore that part. How many women have not felt this? I am so in awe of Lockhart for capturing this so utterly perfectly. I love this book. This needs to be on the Amelia Bloomer list for sure.


P.S. The characterization in this book is amazing! Even the secondary characters are really complex and well-developed, but I really liked the little fun parts where Frankie adopts INPs from Wodehouse and Trish points out how weird this can be.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Twilight Movie Scene

MTV posted its debut of the Twilight movie scene here. Seems kind of different from the book already, but I do like James.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Blog Giveaway!

Are you interested in a free t-shirt? A super, cute black one that says Airhead on the front? Because I have a couple to give away thanks to Meg Cabot’s awesome publicist, Rachel. She actually sent me five shirts, but then my 13 year old niece wanted one, so I had to hook her up. And then my 11 year old niece was all, that’s not fair, so I had to give one to her, too. And, of course, Sheryl needs something to give to her kids in Poland, so that leaves us two very fabulous shirts left to give away! If you haven’t read Airhead yet, I highly recommend it. I really, really liked it and I think it appeals to a much wider age-range than many of Meg’s other books (don’t you love how I referred to her as Meg? Like we are BFF. That’s what happens when you read someone’s blog, you start thinking you know them). Anyway, now that I have rambled on enough, if you are interested in winning a t-shirt, just leave a comment saying whose body/life you would like to have if given the chance (this will make much more sense once you read the book). As for me? I am thinking Jessica Biel.

Edit to add: OK, I was doing a little catch-up reading on Meg Cabot's blog and I saw that she did an Airhead t-shirt giveaway, too (not surprising)! And then I saw that she asked people to leave in the comments who they would like to swap lives with! Shoot, I thought I was being clever coming up with that, but I really just look like a big copycat. However, I can take something positive from this...Meg Cabot and I think alike.
I also wanted to add that the winner will be notified via their blog (or email if you gave me one) this Friday. Good luck!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Breaking Dawn

Entertainment Weekly has a sneak peek of the first chapter of Breaking Dawn posted, which is also coming out tomorrow in a "special edition" of Eclipse. I'm already concerned that Bella is going to be uber-annoying.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

More Stephenie Meyer

Here's an interview Publisher's Weekly did with Stephenie Meyer about The Host. I thought it was interesting that she said this was more about love than about the sci fi aspects of the book and that the story was really a means of talking about how much we take our humanity for granted. I thought there were some really excellent issues in the novel about who we are (ex. How much are we dependent upon our body for who we are? What is a "soul?" etc.). My friend said she didn't like the body that they chose at the end, but I liked it in the sense that it showed how very different bodies can be and how much that impacts us. I have to admit, though, that while I'm not usually one to be so concerned with needing "strong" female characters, I was getting annoyed with just how self-sacrificing and meek Wanda was. And while I enjoyed the book, I don't think there ought to be a sequel. I thought it was complete and satisfying just as it was (in 600+ pages!).

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Twilight Movie

During the MTV Awards pre-show this weekend, a complete scene of Twilight will be broadcast. Wonder what scene it will be. MTV says it is an action scene involving Pattinson, Stewart, and Gigandet.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Dear Magic Blog

Holly and I have sometimes referred to this as The Magic Blog because it has given us some cool opportunities, like when I got to meet Daria Snadowsky. Also, Heather sent me an ARC of Lock & Key that I was so desperate for. So I thought I'd throw this out to the Internet ether and see if anyone can help me out.

I am volunteering to teach English in Poland this summer through the Kosciuszko Foundation, and I have to bring gifts for the 15 students in my homeroom (ages 16-19). Naturally, me being me (ie. a librarian) I was thinking I want to bring them books (They are trying to learn English, right?). But here are my problems in order of importance: (1) I don't think I can afford 15 books; (2) It needs to be pretty "clean" because I don't know these students and I don't want to get the foundation in trouble; and (3) Will teenagers think a book is lame? ("Wow, a book. Gee, thanks. Just what I always wanted from America.")

So...if any reader, author, publicist, publisher, etc. reads this and has books or t-shirts or something along those lines that they'd like to donate to me to give to the students, you would really be helping me out! And spreading the joy of YA lit to Poland!

It's Stephenie Meyer Everywhere!

Lately, it seems like I've been drowning in the world of Stephenie Meyer! With my Twilight Ball less than 3 weeks away, I've been working fanatically trying to get all the details worked out! Right now, I'm re-reading the series to create questions for a trivia contest I'll be having during the Ball (I'll post the complete list of questions here so that everyone can test there Twilight knowledge!)

I've also started reading The Host last week. I can't exactly say I'm enjoying it as much as Twilight as this point (but note that I'm still in the first 150 pages!) I do enjoy how much of the book is taking place in Arizona; I feel like I have this special little connection with Stephenie by knowing the secret landmark clues she discusses (Picacho Peak, Four Peaks, etc.) I'll write a full review once I've actually completed the whole novel.

Finally, congratulations to Ms. Meyer! In addition to having The Host top the New York Times Best-Seller list, Stephenie was also named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2008! Wow, I don't know how things could end up any better for her!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Oh.My.Gods.

I have been a very bad and negligent blogger recently. Not only have I not been posting, but I've had good stuff to post about that I haven't. For example, I met Tera Lynn Childs at her book launch party and (a) didn't have a working camera, and (b) haven't blogged about meeting her or about her book. Oh.My.Gods. was soooo cute! It is fun chic lit, but it has a very unique twist.

Phoebe is excited to start her senior year of high school. If she maintains her grades, she's been promised a great track scholarship to USC where she plans to attend with her two best friends. But her mother takes a summer vacation to Greece and comes back engaged to a a Greek man and announces to Phoebe that they are immediately moving to a tiny Greek island for Phoebe's senior year. Not only is Phoebe upset about this for all the obvious reasons, but when she gets to the island and her new school (of which her stepfather is the headmaster), she discovers she also has a rather evil stepsister, and the private, exclusive, super-secret boarding school has a huge secret (which the title might clue you into). I love the title, and I love that the book is totally appropriate for middle schoolers. (I think the worst word used was "bi-atch"). The only thing I didn't love was that I thought surely there must be some secret reason why Phoebe's mother took her out of school right before her senior year when she could easily have waited just one year. What mother, especially a psychologist, wouldn't do this for her daughter? But see TLC's response to this below.

I figured that since I was so remiss in posting about this that I should ask Tera Lynn to do a little interview for me/you, so here you go! (Don't read questions #4 or #5 if you're worried about possible spoilers.)

1. Someone at the launch party mentioned a Golden Heart Award. Explain!
The Golden Heart is the Romance Writers of America contest for best unpublished manuscript. I finaled with my very first manuscript, an historical romance titled Summer Sapphire, which was a Romeo & Juliet story set in Regency England (the era of Jane Austen). Sadly, I didn't win, but finaling in this contest gave me the confidence to keep writing.

2. How did you come up with the idea for Oh.My.Gods.? What about the title?
Oh. My. Gods. was born when I came up with the original title, Growing Up Godly--which was a twist on the title of the reality show, Growing Up Gotti. Since I'm not an inspirational writer, I had to come up with an alternate meaning for "godly." I've always been a myth and history nut, so the Greek gods seemed like the perfect solution. Since obviously someone would have to be "growing up," I knew this needed to be a young adult story. Gradually, the pieces fell into place until I had my premise and my main character, Phoebe. The story developed from there.

3. How did you become familiar with Greece and Greek for the book?
I acquired a library of research books. (I love any excuse to browse the bookstore!) Travel guides, like Greek Island Hopping and the Eyewitness Guide to the Greek Islands, help me get a feel for the landscape and architecture of that world. The Eyewitness Guide is great because it includes fully illustrated pages of history, cultural information, and local foods. Culture Shock!: Greece gave me some insights into modern Greek culture and daily life. Also, of course, I scoured the internet. I used online maps to locate the actual island of Serfopoula, Greek-English dictionaries to come up with my gods-related terminology, and tons of other sites to find everything from ferry schedules to the history of marathons. **

4. Why didn't Phoebe's mother wait one year to move to Greece???? I kept thinking it was going to be revealed that she knew about Phoebe before they moved, which is why she wanted to move there so soon.
I was so surprised when you told me you were mad at her mom about this! I never even thought about it, and here's why: Phoebe's dad died very suddenly six years ago. Since then, Valerie had thrown herself into her work and full-time focus on Phoebe, putting aside her own needs. When she finally had a chance at happiness, to do something for herself for the first time in so many years, it wouldn't have been fair to make her wait.

5. What can you tell us about the sequel?
Well, it's currently languishing without a title, though hopefully that will soon be remedied. It's hard to dish without giving spoilers, so I'll just go ahead and give (a cagey) one. The sequel takes place the summer after Oh. My. Gods. (between Phoebe's 12th and 13th years) and stars the same fun cast of characters, with a couple of new additions. She's having trouble adjusting to her new, ah-hem, life and has to go to a special summer program, affectionately known as Goddess Bootcamp, to improve her control. (Is that vaguely clear enough?) It will be available next summer.

6. What has been your best/favorite author experience so far?
I'm still in the honeymoon stage, so it's all great. If I had to pick one moment, though, it would be getting my first fan mail. It was from a teen bookseller in the L.A. area who'd gotten the advance copy from her boss. This was around three weeks before my release date, so at first I thought she had the wrong author. Or the wrong book. Or it was some kind of scam and I was going to have to send her my bank account number and first pet's name. But no, it was legit. This was my first response from an actual teen (you know, my target audience?) so it was a huge thrill. And a huge relief.

7. If you weren't an author, what would you be?
Miserable! Seriously, I've considered--and pursued--many different careers: science teacher, doctor, intellectual property lawyer, architect, actor, wedding planner, web designer, historic preservationist, theatre history professor, environmental biologist... I could go on, but you get the idea. Writing is the first one I've stuck with longer than a year or two (going on five, now). I can still indulge in all those other, fleeting passions...but now they count as research for a book!

** In my opinion, you should definitely take this opportunity/excuse to travel to Greece! Write it off as a business expense. Take lots of pictures of you there for your website. Or take pictures of the scenery and say this is where this or that from the book happens.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Paper Towns

I mentioned the other day that I got an ARC of John Green's Paper Towns at TLA and was very excited to start reading it. Ever since I got back from TLA, my coworker asked me every day if I finished it because she was so eager to talk about it with me, especially the ending. And every day when I said I hadn't finished it yet, she'd tell me some new aspect of the book that she loved. Well, I finally finished it last week and could talk about it with her (and now you!).

First, let me describe the basic plot. Quentin is a high school senior who is about to graduate. He's an average guy with a few average close guy friends who do average high school guy things like play video games and IM each other at night. He has a neighbor named Margo Roth Spiegelman whom he has known since he was a child. Like many childhood friends, they grew apart as they got older, even though they had a very intense childhood experience of finding a man dead in a park at the very beginning of the novel. Now, however, while Quentin is quite your average high schooler, Margo Roth Spiegelman is decidedly un-average and hangs out with the beautiful and popular people. She has a popular boyfriend. Then one night a couple weeks before graduation, she slips into Quentin's bedroom and convinces him to take his mom's minivan and drive her around creating mayhem, mostly related to retaliating against her friends for a recent wrong that was done to her, but also including some other adventures just for Quentin and/or Margo Roth Spiegelman's sake(s), such as breaking into Sea World. The following day, Quentin has the natural reaction of wondering how/if this night will change his relationship with Margo Roth Spiegelman. But . . . she disappears! This isn't all that unusual, though, since we find out from her parents that she has done this before. And when she has done this before, she has left obscure clues as to where she was going and expected her parents to figure them out and find her. They are tired of these games and don't even attempt to try to look for her. Quentin, on the other hand, is not only attracted to and worried about her (she has shown some serious signs of suicide/depression recently), but he finds a glaring clue on her window shade that leads him to another series of clues as to her whereabouts. He isn't sure if he's on the right track, let alone whether MRS is even alive or intended for him to follow the clues, but he pursues the potential clues anyway in the hopes of finding her alive.

So that is the plot. The novel reminded me of a quotation that I wrote down in college because it seemed so viscerally true to me (sorry I don't remember the source anymore). It's by Jane Mansbridge and Susan Moller Okin: "We construct ourselves in part through the narratives we create about our lives." I don't feel like I can really explain it in relation to Paper Towns too much without giving away the ending, but if I were (for some reason) writing a paper about it, I think that would be the basis of my thesis. If/when you read the novel, think of this quotation particularly when you read the metaphor discussion. The metaphors you choose are really important.

My favorite scene in the novel is when Quentin cleans out his locker at the end of the school year. I felt really moved by how true-to-life it seemed and how ambivalent that time of your life can be, as well as how something so mundane can be the kind of event that, while you may not expect it, ends up really affecting you in a significant way.

And while this doesn't really have anything to do with the poignancy I felt in that scene, can I tell you how fascinating lockers are at the end of the school year? I never thought about this as a student (one who dutifully cleaned out her locker each year when they told you to), but as a teacher, my eyes were opened to a whole fascinating world of post-school-year locker sociology. At the end of the school year, the custodians go around and open up all the lockers so they can come by and easily clean them out. This is fascinating. Students leave so much stuff in there! On the one hand, it is kind of sad because students will leave things like tons of perfectly good school supplies, some that may have never even been used or opened. I have often thought it is a huge waste and something that would be great for charity. On another hand, you have really interesting items like empty alcohol bottles. I'm sure I am/was just naive, but who brings the actual alcohol bottle to school and just leaves it in their locker?

(I also thought more than once as I read this book: John Green seems to like writing about average high school boys who have a thing for unconventional, independent high school girls who intrigue them.)

The Host

A couple of weeks ago, I opened my front door and discovered a package on my stoop. I opened it to discover an advance copy of The Host by Stephenie Meyer. I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I was to read this book. So excited, that I took it to school with me and read it while my students were testing. And I continued to read it late into the night until I finished. This book is that compelling.

Basically, The Host is about a kind and gentle alien species who have to inhabit the bodies of others in order to survive. In this case, they have to inhabit the bodies of humans, or "hosts" as the call them. Unfortunately (or fortunately) some humans aren't so willing to relinquish all control of their bodies.

I have to say, I am not a fan of science fiction. With the exception of Scott Westerfeld, I pretty much never read it. But, just as Twilight isn't your normal vampire fiction, The Host isn't your average science fiction. I loved the plot. And I loved the romance that was so smoothly woven into the story line. I think all of Meyer's Twilight fans will love this book, but I also think it will garner her a whole new fan base as well.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Airhead by Meg Cabot

I received an advance copy of Airhead a couple of months ago, but was asked not to review it until May when the book was going to be released. Of course, that didn't stop me from reading it as soon as it reached my fingertips. And let me tell you, this book? Awesome. I want to tell you all about it and describe what happens to the main character (Emerson. Cool name, right?), but every time I start I feel like I am giving away the mystery. You'll see what I mean when you read it. Something major happens to Emerson almost right away, an accident, and she wakes up in a hospital a totally different person. But I can't tell you anything else from there. Just trust me, you'll like it. And, even better, it is going to be a series! I can't wait til the next one comes out.

**OK, sorry, this has got to be the most poorly written review ever. Wait until you see how I butcher my review of Stephenie Meyer's new novel, The Host!**

Monday, April 21, 2008

TLA Recap

Holly and I had a blast at TLA last year. I was very bummed that she didn't get to come with me this year, but it was still fun. No one took our suggestions for panel ideas, but there were still some good YA author panels. However, it was the enormous amount of cheap and free books and ARCs that really made the experience for me this year. Last year, I think I maybe picked up like 3 or 4 ARCs, but this year, I actually have regular student patrons and book club members to share ARCs with, so I was a crazy person, running around to each of the publisher booths, going back every hour or so to see if they had new/different ones out. I felt ridiculous. It was very uncivilized, and I was embarassed. The last day when the publishers give away and/or sell their last remaining copies, people really get crazy. It was like those clips of women lining up for wedding gowns at Filene’s Basement, except with books. My friend made me feel better, though, by pointing out that at least I was doing this over literature, not something like Jimmy Choos. It was all for the children.

Here are a couple of pictures of me with Libba Bray and Maureen Johnson. Naturally, my camera battery went dead by the time I got Brent Hartinger's autograph, so no pics of him (his panel on boys reading literature was very interesting, though). My face has been blocked out to protect our readers' sensitive eyes.

































You can't really tell from this picture, but Maureen Johnson's dress was super cute. I got a free copy of Suite Scarlett because I was one of the first 20 people there. They also had these cute little Suite Scarlett eye cover thingys (like what you wear to sleep--don't know their technical name).

Now I have soooooooooo many books to read, I hardly know where to begin. Let me tell you one last embarassing story. At 5:00 on Wednesday when the vendors were closing, my coworker and I were casually strolling by the Penguin booth, and I pointed out Oh.My.Gods. to her. The nice Penguin rep said, "Oh, would you like a galley?" "Sure!" we said. Then my coworker noticed Joan Bauer's Peeled and asked if she had any for sale. She didn't, but she did have galleys that she gave us. "What level are you?" she asked us. "High school," we replied. So then she pulled out a couple more ARCs from under the tables. Then she sort of glanced sideways at us and said, "Well, if you're high school level, then you might be interested in this," and she pulled out two copies of Paper Towns. We literally both squealed/screamed with excitement. It was embarassing. And we were giddy.

Monday, April 14, 2008

TLA, Here I Come

I'm off to TLA tomorrow! Hopefully I will be able to take some fun author pics to post.

We have a winner!

Thanks to all of you who participated in our book giveaway. It was fun reading your comments on favorite authors and books. I did a totally random drawing (meaning my 2 year old drew names from a baseball cap) and have notified the winner via her blog.

I received an email today about a shipment of new books, so maybe we will do another book giveaway soon!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Book Giveaway!

Meg Cabot's awesome publicist sent me 5 copies of How to Be Popular (thanks, Rachel!). And I have decided to give one away in A True Reality's first ever blog giveaway!

You will love this book. The main character, Stephanie, is this adorable, klutzy girl who really wants to fit in with the in-crowd. She stumbles across an old book called How to Be Popular and uses it to aid her in her quest for popularity. This is just a really sweet, funny book. Also, there is a little of that boy-next-door romance going on, which you just have to love.

If you want a chance to win a copy of How to Be Popular by Meg Cabot, just tell us your favorite YA book and/or author along with why it/he/she is your favorite. On Friday, I will do a totally random drawing and announce the winner. I look forward to reading your responses!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

YA Movie News

This is not just to post that another YA book is being made into a movie with a big star. This is to say that Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List is being made into a movie! I love that book (although not quite as much as N&NIP). It's going to star Hayden Panettiere, who is apparently also making I Love You, Beth Cooper. Very cool. Another movie to keep tabs on. I can't wait until they announce the other characters.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Happy birthday to me!

Today is my birthday! I was looking at the list of books that come out today on YALIT.com. Since I haven't received any of these, here are the two I most can't wait to read (did that make sense?):

Monday, March 24, 2008

L.J. Smith Excitement

I really liked reading the reissue of L.J. Smith's Vampire Diaries, so I am super excited to know that (a) she is writing a fifth book, Vampire Diaries V: Damon, and (b) her Nightworld series is going to be similarly reissued. Yay! Read about it all on her website.

Also, I have really liked Mari Mancussi ever since The Great Sartorial Debate™, and I finally read Boys That Bite. We buy pretty much every YA vampire book published since the teens can't get enough, and I usually end up reading them too. Unless your students/teen patrons are not like this, I suggest getting Boys That Bite. It's light, breezy, "chic lit" vampire stuff with lots of pop culture slang and references, but it's a really easy read and very fun. I haven't liked a lot of vampire books since Twilight, despite my best efforts (ie. reading every one published), but this one was, while not the deepest or certainly scariest book, easy to get into and an enjoyable to read.

Twilight Movie Stuff

Billy Burke is playing Charlie. And Twilight Moms bombarding the film set? I mean, what adults would possibly be interested in following the making of the Twilight movie? What weirdos. ;)

Pics of the filming here.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Suggestions?

I need suggestions for an author for our teen literature festival we're hosting next year. We need a male author who would appeal to middle schoolers. If he also appeals to high schoolers, great, but we really need another MS interest author. I am thinking something adventure or science fiction-oriented, but it doesn't have to be. Neal Shusterman is already lined up. Other authors who we have considered but are too expensive or can't come include Rick Riordan, Eoin Colfer, Anthony Horowitz, and Jordan Sonnenblick. Scott Westerfeld came last year. They need to have at least two or three books out.

I would like to get Darren Shan, although he has already visited some of our schools in the past. Has anyone read Ted Dekker's YA books? I am listening to Black right now, but I need an opinion about his YA and/or if anyone has ever heard him speak. Other ideas?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tunnels

Title: Tunnels
Authors: Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams
Rating: B+

Although this book is intended for a slightly younger audience (grades 6-8) than the books we normally review, I felt the original concept, advanced themes, and general tone of the book make it a great selection for the YA crowd. (Remember the first couple Potter books were way below the YA level!)

Tunnels relates the adventure of Will Burrows, a British teen whose favorite hobby is digging large-scale tunnels with his archaeologist father. However, when Mr. Burrows mysteriously disappears, Will begins a massive search in which all the clues point down. Excavating under his house, Will and his best-friend Chester discover a secret underground colony living below the streets of London. The colonists are apparently a deeply-religious group, which migrated underground during the 17th century and has remained subterranean in a tightly-controlled cult with evil intentions towards "Topsoilers".

Once entering the Colony, Will and Chester are instantly captured. Chester is imprisoned; Will, however, discovers that he is actually a member of the Colony, who has been placed in an adoptive Topsoiler family. Will is now expected to join his "real" family and adapt to life in the Colony. However, Will is determined to free his friend Chester; find his father; and return to life above. The question is, can he escape the Colony in time to save his friend and father???

The Good: Tunnels is one of the most original books I've read in a long time! I loved the concept of a secret underground society existing below one of the largest cities in the world. I, also, enjoyed the historical aspect (in most ways, the colonists were living as though it was still 1700!)

The Bad: Although I as a college-educated adult enjoyed the historical aspects of the novel, I doubt most teens (especially young-teens) would enjoy and/or understand all of it. I also have problem with books that don't have a clear conclusion. I have no problem with sequels, but at least have the decency to give some form of finale to your first work!

Friday, March 14, 2008

NYC

I'm leaving for NYC on Sunday, and, surprisingly, I haven't heard from any YA authors who want to get together for coffee. I was hoping that there would be a reading or book signing or something that I could attend while I'm there because it always seems like I'm reading about them, but I haven't been able to find anything. Anyone know of anything going on Mar. 16-20?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

First Daughter: White House Rules

Mitali Perkin's First Daughter: White House Rules is a must read for teenage girls who are fans of Meg Cabot's Princess Diaries series. Like Princess Mia, Sameera is a genuinely nice girl who not only cares about social issues, but also just wants to fall in love with the guy. I like the spin of making Sameera the First Daughter. Since the days of Chelsea Clinton, haven't we all secretly wondered what it would be like living in the White House?

Sameera is the perfect role model. Almost a little too perfect. The one time she deceives her parents and sneaks out, she feels really guilty and ends up confessing to them anyway. Of course, she didn't get in trouble because her family is perfect. But, I have to say, I liked the story. There is even a little romance drama going on with Sameera liking a Hindu guy whose family does not approve of him dating a Muslim by birth. I always like a little romance. But mostly, I liked the character of Sameera. I liked that she decided to be the first First Daughter to attend a public school. I liked that she was respectful to her parents and that she genuinely cared about real issues. I especially liked that I could pass this book along to my 12 year old Mormon niece without having to cringe at the thought of her reading certain parts.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Library....Las Vegas Style!!!


In the past, my blogmates have posted library/teen services pictures from the various libraries they have visited on their vacations. Since it's been years since I had a "real" vacation, I haven't really been able to share pictures from exotic locales; however, this past weekend I spend some time in Las Vegas, and what did I happen to drive by - The Library, a small gentlemen's club just a couple miles off the Strip. Posted outside was a large "G.irls, G.irls, G.irls" sign, followed by the announcement of "Gorgeous Librarians".

Now, I love this for two reasons: first, I LOVE the whole sexy librarian stereotype. With crappy pay, horrible hours, and disgruntle patrons, we've gotta' take the few perks we can get! Secondly, I want you to take a minute and picture that frumpy, old coworker who makes your job a living hell (Jeri)...now picture him/her as an e.xotic dancer! For me, that image is priceless!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Ink Exchange

I think Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr is a little darker and for slightly more mature readers than Wicked Lovely (due to more discussions of sex, drugs, and debauchery), but I think I liked it better. It's true that you don't have to have read Wicked Lovely first to understand Ink Exchange, but I'd recommend it.

Aislinn's friend Leslie is not as tough and free-spirited as she appeared in Wicked Lovely. She is dealing with some difficult emotional issues related to her mother's abandonment, her father's inability to provide for her family, and the fact that her brother offered her up sexually to his drug dealer to support his addiction. She decides she wants to get a tattoo to reclaim control of her body. She finally decides on one in Rabbit's (the tattoo artist) special book. What she doesn't realize is that the design she's chosen is that of Irial, king of the Dark Court. She also doesn't realize that the ink Rabbit uses for her tattoo is mixed with the blood and tears of Dark Court faeries. Once she begins the process of getting the tattoo, she gets drawn more and more into the faerie world.

Okay, that's the short plot description. Read on for more (with possible spoilers).

Now that Donia is the Winter Queen and at peace with the Summer Court, the Dark Court fey don't have enough jumbled emotions upon which to draw sustenance. So Irial seeks out a mortal for an ink exchange. This will allow him to feed off the emotions of humans and sustain, temporarily at least, the Dark Court. He begins to feel attracted to and protective of Leslie, and she feels attracted to, scared of, and, of course, connected to him more and more. At odds with this, Leslie has always been attracted to Keenan's advisor, Niall (who used to be part of the Dark Court; he and Irial have a history). Niall has been shadowing Leslie in order to protect her, per Aislinn's request, and he is increasingly attracted to her. However, he knows that he should not act on his feelings because Aislinn doesn't want him to (she doesn't want Leslie brought into the faerie world) and because his skin is addictive to humans, and if he ever leaves them, they will suffer and die from withdrawl. But since Leslie comes on to him, he's concerned for her safety since Irial is showing such an interest in her, and because her tattoo is bonding her ever closer to the Dark Court, Irial finds it more and more impossible to resist pursuing her.

What I liked in Wicked Lovely and what I love love love in Ink Exchange is how all of the characters are not merely good or bad but have elements of both and you can root for all/both of them. Even in this love triangle with Irial and Niall, you can see her with both of them. Also, the covers are so amazing! I am in love with both of her book covers. (Wicked Lovely is my computer background.)

I can't wait to talk about the ending with someone!