aka YA Literature

Thursday, December 31, 2009

What Boys Are Reading

Just wanted to post about what boys are reading in my library right now. Other than manga, these are the books that are all checked out and that boys are always asking for.



If you're a YA librarian and you don't yet have the Halo Encyclopedia, this really is a must-have. The only way I knew about it was a student suggestion. He happened to be there when I was going through the magazines that had just arrived, and as he was looking at the gaming magazines, he said I should get the Halo Encyclopedia. I looked into it and saw that Microsoft had asked DK to create one like their previous ones with Star Wars. I know how great those are, so I went ahead and ordered a copy when it came out. It is SOOOOO popular. I haven't been checking out our one copy, but I ordered another so I can have one that circulates.

2009 Favorites

Since it's the last day of the year, I think I can safely assume I'm not going to read any more books that would need to be on this list. Except for my top pick, they aren't in any order:

1. Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork (I hope this wins the Printz!)
2. Fire by Kristin Cashore
3. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
4. Sacred Scars by Kathleen Duey
5. Front and Center by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Book that wasn't a top book but that I liked a lot and more than I expected: So Punk Rock by Micol Ostow

Favorite Covers:




I chose this one not quite so much because I personally loved it but because it's one of the best nonfiction covers I've seen in a long time. Compared to other books along these lines, for boys, and nonfiction, this one is just fabulous. It looks like the book is going to have a lot of action and put you right into that action.

Favorite non-YA books I read this year:
The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
NurtureShock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman (fantastic if you have kids but also interesting and useful if you're a teacher)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Things that make me go 'hmmm'

I was just looking at my dad's Amazon wish list for some Christmas gift ideas, and his three most recent additions are Looking for Alaska, Paper Towns, and An Abundance of Katherines. This is not his usual type of reading, so I'm really dying to ask him how and why he found out about these books and decided he wants them. Even though I'm always pestering my dad to use the library more instead of buying all his books, I think I know some books he'll be getting this year. Too bad I don't have a chance to get them autographed.

Twilight vs. Vampire Diaries

The New York Post has an article by Ari Karpel called "5 Reasons 'Vampire Diaries' is Better Than 'Twilight.'" It seems primarily concerned with Twilight: The Movie vs. VD: The TV Show. In that comparison, I wholeheartedly agree. I particularly liked the point about how VD has gritty blood-sucking vampires and a strong girl who is actually more than a little freaked out by the vampire revelation. I'd like to add into the movie/tv comparison in favor of VD that (in my opinion anyway) (1) the acting is much better, and (2) while Taylor Lautner and Robert Pattinson are quite attractive young men, Ian Sommerhalder and Paul Wesley are hotter (also my age). And it has real humor (I'm a huge Damon/Ian fan). As for a comparison of the two books, I liked them both but I did like Twilight and New Moon better than the Vampire Diaries. By Breaking Dawn, though, I couldn't even finish the book (tried twice), so I'm not sure where I come down in comparing the entire series. This isn't based on anything particularly objective so much as my subjective reading enjoyment of the stories. However, I do think the differences point out an important aspect of why vampires are so attractive and enduring---people can reimagine and reinvent them in many different ways that can all work.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

YALSA Nonfiction Award

YALSA announced its Nonfiction Award Shortlist. I'm not a huge nonfiction reader, especially in YA. I do want to say, however, that a nonfiction book that has been EXTREMELY popular at my library this year is Ryan Smithson's Ghosts of War: The True Story of a 19-Year-Old GI. All of my copies are constantly checked out.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

NPR's Best YA of 2009

NPR's Best YA Fiction of 2009 includes Marcelo in the Real World. Although I'm still holding out until I've officially given myself the entire 2009 to find something I might like better, this is my top book of the year, hands down.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New Melissa de la Cruz Series

According to EW, Melissa de la Cruz is planning a new adult paranormal series called The Witches of East End that will have appearances by some of her Blue Bloods characters. The students will be excited, I know. I haven't read Blue Bloods yet, so maybe it's finally time.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

So Punk Rock by Micol Ostow

Ari Abramson is a junior at Leo R. Gittleman Jewish Day School in New Jersey. Ari's parents' priority is for him to study incessantly for school and the SATs so that he can get into their alma mater, Brandeis. Ari's priority is to convince his best friend, Jonas Fein, to start a rock band with him. He needs Jonas in this endeavor because (a) he needs band members, and (b) Jonas is pretty popular, especially with the ladies. He has one of those outgoing personalities that can use a smile to get just about anything he wants. And he has the personality of someone used to using his smile to get just about anyone/thing he wants. Ari, unlike Jonas, is more the shy and retiring average-but-not-dorky guy. He likes the beautiful, popular, and, naturally, unattainable Sari Horowitz, and Ari believes that starting a band will get her to notice him. In addition to enlisting Jonas in his band, he also has to convince the very dorky and devout Yossi Gluck to join the band because he is the only person at Gittleman who owns a drum set. In convincing Yossi to join, Ari ends up agreeing to let Yossi's younger sister Reena also join as a (good!) singer. After a while, it turns out that the band actually comes together and has some success both in creating music people want to listen to and in establishing the popularity Ari hoped for. Of course, that popularity doesn't go quite the way Ari hoped, but he has a good time and learns some important things about himself (not in any after-school special way, though).

I don't remember what possessed me to pick up this book since it's not really my usual type of read, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's very funny, and there are hilarious little black-and-white cartoon sketches that supplement the plot scattered throughout (done by David Ostow). I'm not sure that it's humor that would appeal to everyone, especially since some of the humor relates to Jewish words and customs. (Still, I found it all easily accessible even not being any particular expert on Judaism.) I think it would be great for males and females, and maybe even for middle school. The only remotely objectionable thing would be some cussing, but it is always done like "f&*$%." (Does that make it less objectionable? I don't know; I'm so glad I'm not a middle school librarian.) Anyway, I'm very happy to have another funny book to recommend. The book is told in first-person from Ari's POV, and he has a great voice. I also thought his thought-processes were realistic, funny, and well-developed. This wasn't a stunning book of enormous import and consequence, but it was (for me) well above average and very entertaining.

The Official Trailer from The Official Website:



[Note to authors and publishers: PLEASE make trailers available in formats besides YouTube so kids can watch them at school! You can post it the same way on SchoolTube even.]

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Stephenie Meyer on Oprah

SM Friday on Oprah

And to think I used to see her and get her autograph at library conferences...

Monday, November 9, 2009

Front and Center by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

The final book in D.J. Schwenk's Dairy Queen trilogy, I read it one day, one sitting. I cried at the end because the ending is (1) so satisfying and perfect, (2) incredibly moving, and (3) the end of her story. I love D.J. I can't get even my good readers who trust my recommendations to read it because of the title and the cover of the first book, but I adore this character and her books. Plus, the secondary characters are all fully realized, complex, interesting, and distinct. I had to skim the basketball descriptions because I'm just not that interested in the plays and drills and games, but I still loved the book.

Intertwined by Gena Showalter

Aden has recently moved to a home for troubled (male) teens. Since when he enters graveyards, the bodies exhume themselves and he ends up having to dismember them in defense, authorities tend to think he's a grave-robber/body desecrater. Plus, there are souls that live inside of him, so he often appears schizophrenic. He meets good-girl Mary Ann Gray and feels compelled to be with her since being around her appears to quiet the souls inside of him. But he doesn't like her in "that way;" she just has a desire to hug him "as though he should be mussing her hair and teasing her about boyfriends" (subtle!). Victoria, the vampire princess who appears because of the recent mystical forces Aden's been stirring up, is the one Aden's attracted to. Her wolf bodyguard, Riley, is Mary Ann's hot boy love-interest. They're all trying to figure out why Aden's suddenly stirred up these forces and how it's possibly connected with Mary Ann.

I wanted and expected to like this book, and I did for a while. But to be honest, I didn't finish it and it's been like an albatross around my neck for a few weeks now. Since I couldn't bring myself to finish it, I haven't really been able to move onto any other books. I think these were my issues: Everything seemed so telegraphed from the very beginning. Also, there were so many characters with so many different powers, the world-building just fell apart for me. I just didn't care about the characters or the plot after a while.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Two of My Favorite Things

I LOVE "Ace of Cakes" on Food Network. On the last episode, they made cakes for two YA-related events: the Harry Potter movie premiere and a Tanya Hurley Ghostgirl party at NYPL. See Tanya's pics of it here. Really puts all my past YA-related baking to shame.

Monday, November 2, 2009

See!

Two days ago, I posted about how the likes of Amazon and PW are already coming out with their "Best of 2009" lists. To me, this is sort of like how my grocery store is already playing Christmas music, and we haven't even had Thanksgiving yet. We have two months left of the year! I'm sure reviewers for those outlets have already gotten access to all the major books being published this year, but it just seems a little premature for me. I like to read those kind of things when the year is coming to an end and I'm thinking about New Year's Resolutions and reflecting on my year. And they are including books like Beautiful Creatures that haven't even come out yet. It would be like nominating a movie for an Oscar when it hasn't even premiered yet. And the rest of us still have 2 months left of reading before we get to decide what we liked best this year!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

That Time Already?

It's not even November yet, and already we're seeing "Best Books of 2009" lists. Amazon's includes a few YA so far:

64. Lowboy by John Wray (I have this in the library but I haven't read it yet. It's going on my TBR pile on Monday.)
62
. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (which I also quite liked)
42. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (loved it)

PW's list (which notably has no female Top 10 authors) includes David Small's Stitches. I haven't read it, but only one of my students has checked it out, and she said it was "good but sad." There just hasn't been much interest in this book, although I might be able to drum up a little more if I let them know it's a true story.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Contest!

You could win a Kindle or gift cards in the Fangs, Fur, and Fey Three Year Anniversary Contest! Click here for details.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Crash Into Me

I haven't received my library's copy of this yet, but it's definitely going on the "road trip" bulletin board I'm doing next week when Halloween is over.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Books I Cannot Wait to Read:

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by Green & Levithan
Very LeFreak by Rachel Cohn
Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr
Captivate by Carrie Jones
I Kissed a Zombie, and I Liked It by Adam Selzer
The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco Stork

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Why I Will Be Buying A Lot of Simon & Schuster Books

Simon & Schuster has a great website that I'm loving. It has book trailers and videos of authors talking about their work. I love it because (1) the videos are not on YouTube, which means the students can actually watch them at school, and (2) the book trailer videos are really well done. I've put some of these on my library blog, and the students and teachers are loving them. I've created so much interest in these books that I'm having to order extras. The students especially like the Leviathan and The Monstrumologist videos. I have noticed that the author interviews aren't all that popular. I posted the Ellen Hopkins one, and students who already like her books are sometimes interested, but not a single person has asked about her books based on that video. The trailer-like videos are much more effective at getting readers interested in the books. (But I do have to say that the books I booktalk myself, even when I don't do a great job at it, seem to be more popular than most of the videos.)

I have been especially interested in this whole enterprise because of the really interesting research by Vivan Howard in this month's issue of VOYA. The article is entitled "Most of the Books I've Read, I've Found on the Floor: Teens and Pleasure Reading," which is a great title because it alludes to the biggest cause students reported in why they start reading less in middle school: they have a hard time choosing a book they think they'd like. The whole study fascinated me, but I was surprised by this as the biggest barrier. I was also heartened because if this is one of (or THE) biggest obstacle to adolescent reading for pleasure, it's something librarians can do something about. Anyway, if "difficulties selecting good reading material" is their biggest obstacle, these video trailers seem to be helping at least some of my students. When they were watching the videos, they were not only asking for the books, but I heard them saying things like, "This book looks cool."

So I foresee myself buying lots of Simon & Schuster books for the simple fact that these videos are getting students interested in the books and creating a big demand for them. Here's a trailer for The Hollow by Jessica Verday:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

When Grace was a child, she was attacked by a pack of wolves while she was playing in her backyard. She thought she was going to die, but one wolf saved her. Ever since then, she has had a fascination with the wolves. Every winter, Grace goes outside in her backyard and watches the wolf that watches her. The beginning of the current narrative is prompted by the death of one of Grace's classmates who was mauled by wolves. Now, several members of the community seem bent on shooting the wolves to make the Minnesota town a safe place, free of wolves. Grace tries to stop them, but before she can, "her" wolf is shot. She comes home to find him in his human form, lying bleeding on her porch. By this time the reader has already figured out that the wolves are actually werewolves. Thus begins her actual meeting and relationship with the wolf, Sam. Sam struggles not to change back into a wolf so that he can stay with Grace, knowing it is ultimately futile. Meanwhile, Grace's classmate who was assumed dead appears to have changed into a physically and mentally unstable werewolf. The chapters alternate first-person perspectives from Sam and Grace.

While I love the cover of this book in that it fits the story very well (I love the red blood spot over the I in the midst of the cold white), I know it likely won't grab the attention of readers. Same thing for the title, which goes great with the story but doesn't really give a good clue to a casual browser as to the plot. This is a shame since the book is excellent and there are a ton of students who I know will like this. Just means a lot of promotion and hand-selling on my part. But I think it will pick up momentum once a few people start reading it. I have some big werewolf fans, and it's a great Twilight read-alike without being derivative or replicating the same stories. The characters are very well-done and complex. Sam might be a little too-perfect if you think about it, but he makes for a great literary crush. Guess that's just one reason why it's been picked up for movie rights and will likely be very popular in that medium. That's a primo role for some hot young actor. I'm very excited to promote this to readers and to other librarians in my district. Excepting the cover and title issues mentioned above, I'm surprised I haven't been asked about this book by any of the students yet.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My Mistake

I posted the Leviathan trailer on my library blog, and I've gotten so many students excited about the book and wanting to check it out, but now I don't have it ready to checkout yet and I only have a couple of copies right now. I created more demand than I have supply!

I was really happy that Simon & Schuster had the trailer available in some way other than YouTube because the students can't access YouTube at school, so I never put anything from YouTube on the blog.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sweet Valley High Movie

You know, I don't think I ever would have put Diablo Cody with Sweet Valley High. But I think it's cool! I'm hoping she'll bring some fun and edginess to what would probably otherwise be a lackluster, silly teen pop movie. Too bad the Olsen twins are too old and boho to do Elizabeth and Jessica.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Let the casting fun begin!

According to Variety, Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely has been acquired by Universal Pictures.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Sea Change by Aimee Friedman

Sixteen year-old Miranda postpones her summer internship to help her mom pack up her mother's house after she dies. The house is on Selkie Island off the coast of Georgia, and her grandmother had been part of the wealthy elite who vacationed there for years. Science-obsessed New Yorker Miranda learns things she never knew about her grandmother or their similarities, as well as lore about the island's merpeople (is that a word?). She makes friends with other wealthy teenage girls vacationing there (even though they don't share many interests). While there are elements of the plot surrounding her relationship with her mother, most of the plot centers on Miranda's romantic life as she meets both a preppy vacationer and a mysterious and attractive "townie" who speaks to her growing awareness of island lore.

I checked this book out of the public library, and I'm definitely buying it for my library. It was enjoyable, and it has a fantastic cover that I know will pique students' interest. While the love story may not have been the hottest or most dramatic for me, it definitely held my attention. It had the elements of fantastical that are popular right now without being just another vampire/faerie/werewolf romance. The story was certainly complete as is, but I'd be interested in and willing to read more about Miranda's future.

Friday, August 28, 2009

I Hate You, Kathleen Duey

I don't know how many other people have been dying for the sequel to Skin Hunger, but it's been killing me since 2007! I finally got and finished Sacred Scars, and I must say that I have no idea when the (supposedly) last book in the trilogy is coming out, but it can't be soon enough. And it better not take two more years! I understand it takes a while to write books, especially great books like these, but why put us through the torture? I'd have preferred to wait until they could be published closer together so as not to kill me with the suspense and wondering.

Sacred Scars was quite a bit longer than Skin Hunger, and although it was still good, it dragged in the middle for me. Hahp seems to be progressing quite well through the magic lessons at the wizard academy and begins to take more and more risks to help the others in his class who are still alive. You come to realize that Gerrard knows a lot more about the wizards and magic than any other average person would know. (If any of you have read this, PLEASE email me about this because I want to discuss it so badly and get your ideas on it.) Sadima continues to be determined to escape Somiss, while she slowly realizes that Franklin will never leave him. The stories overlap more and more, as they did in Skin Hunger, but the ending of this book was even more unsatisfying than SK was. I hope it's not giving too much away to say that pretty much nothing is resolved or revealed by the end. It felt like the middle of a book instead of single book with its own story.

In addition to the suspense of the plot lines and wondering how Sadima's story lead to Hahp's and how Hahp's will end, I am intrigued by the issues of how one loses and maintains one's humanity. And can you give up part of it? If so, how much? I would like to discuss this with someone who's read it because there are a few things I still don't understand about Somiss (like is he just psycho or sadistic, and if so why?). Also I'm wondering about his powers.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Andromeda Klein

I'm a big fan of Frank Portman's King Dork. It's not the kind of book that I can recommend to just anyone, but it's very exciting when I find the right student who will appreciate it. So I'm hoping that I will also like Andromeda Klein. I'm waiting to get it from the public library. I can't believe I'm #2 on the wait list! Who got on the list before me, and how?

Anyway, here is a song Portman wrote about the title character from Entertainment Weekly.

Monday, August 17, 2009

My New Favorite Reading Material

I know that a lot of girls and women are reluctant to consider themselves "feminists," but I am not one of them. I am a feminist. This is just one reason why I am super excited that Bitch Magazine is adding a new Page Turner book blog called "YA Lit Bitch" that will include"feature interviews with many YA authors about their work as well as feminism, gender, race, class, sexual orientation, and other issues." Their inaugural interview is with Sara Zarr, whom I love and respect a lot.

One of the questions they asked Sara was, "Are you a feminist?" I'm really interested in this question, and I hope they ask every writer they interview. I like to know whether people (both men and women) consider themselves a feminist and why. I would have guessed Sara would say she does consider herself a feminist, but while she didn't reject the idea, she doesn't really apply that term to herself.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Covers

Maybe this is old news, but I just discovered it:




















Monday, August 3, 2009

YA News From Poland

So I've been in Poland for the last month. Last year, I asked all the students if they'd read Twilight, and no one had even heard of it. This year, it seems to be enjoying the same popularity and craze that it does here in the US. I gave away some ARCs I had, and the students seemed pretty excited about them. This year, my mission was to spread the word about Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, especially once I discovered that it's already been translated into Polish and is already in paperback there. I'm told the title translates to something like "Death Olympics."













In Krakow, I went to this bookstore in the center of the Old Town:




















And in addition to the many YA novels I saw there (including Sarah Dessen's Lock & Key with the same pink cover as the US edition), I saw this:




















I was impressed they had Meg Cabot there. They also had this Cassandra Clare book:

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Even though it won't be out until September, I feel like plenty of people have already read, loved, and reviewed (or posted anyway) about Catching Fire. Probably because everyone who read Hunger Games couldn't wait to read the sequel. So I'm not sure I have a lot more to add, except to say just that, yes, it IS just as good as Hunger Games and I DID love it and most likely everyone who reads it will too.

Now that a few months have gone by, Katniss, Peeta, and their families are living well in Victor's Village in District 12. But despite their drastically improved circumstances, Katniss is pretty unhappy. She hardly sees Gale, she knows Peeta loves her but knows she doesn't feel the same way about him, and she still feels terrible about the inhumanity of the games and of the deplorable conditions everyone else has to live in while the capitol lives a life of waste and superficiality. Things get even worse as she and Peeta are about to embark on their Victory Tour through all the districts. Just before she leaves, President Snow actually shows up at her house to warn her that she better make a convincing show of her love for Peeta because her defiance at the end of the Hunger Games has sparked rebellion in many of the other districts. If her performance isn't good enough, there will be dire consequences.

So still great characters with lots of complexity and tons of plot twists and action. I found myself thinking, "My God, Suzanne Collins is a genius with the plot elements she comes up with." This book ends with a real cliff-hanger ending. And there is still the great love triangle between Gale, Peeta, and Katniss! I wonder if we'll ever start seeing Team Gale and Team Peeta shirts. (Personally, I'm for Peeta.)

----

Speaking of sequels I've been dying for and cliff-hanger endings, thank goodness Sacred Scars by Kathleen Duey is coming out soon! I've been waiting and waiting for this, and no one else seems to be all that fired up about it. I haven't heard or seen anything about ARCs for it. I think it's been way too long since the first book came out, and now it's lost a lot of interest it would have had. I got all these students interested in it this year and we're all desperately waiting for the second book (they're lucky they haven't been waiting as long as I have!). But I feel like we might be some of the only ones at this point. I guess I can't really say too much since I don't actually write books and know it would take me forever to write anything, let alone something good, but I think the lag time between Skin Hunger and Sacred Scars was way too long.

I also think it's unfortunate that the sequel to Graceling is Fire and the sequel to Hunger Games is Catching Fire when they're coming out so close together. It's just a little bit confusing. Although I must say that I love the title Catching Fire; it's fabulously appropriate.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Iran/Little Brother

I recently finished the audiobook of Doctorow's Little Brother, so I just wanted to post this link from The Daily Beast called "How Iran's Hackers Killed Big Brother" (via GalleyCat). Lots of great real-life parallels between the book and what's going on in Iran right now: using social networking to coordinate rallies, exploiting proxy servers to subvert government attempts at blocking access, crashing government servers, etc.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Back to Poland

I taught English in Poland last summer, and I'm going back again. Last year, I was worried about whether or not taking books would be a good gift for the students, but it turns out that it was a hit. And it was a good way for them to practice their English even afterwards. So I'm going to try to get some ARCs and paperbacks together again. I'm definitely going to buy a copy of Twilight. Last year, I kept asking the students if they'd read it, and no one had even heard of it. I saw end range displays at the bookstores that I pointed out to them. But I'm thinking with the movie out, many or all of them will have heard of it by now. And they should read it in English!

I'll report back on any other YA books I see while I'm there. I know Melissa Marr's books are set to be published in Polish, but I don't think they'll be out for a while.

More Fun Movies!

The MTV Movies Blog reports that a live-action Jetsons movie is in the works. Yay! I watched every episode as a kid. Now I need to think about who they should cast...

Also from the MTV Movie Blog, Javier Bardem and Julia Roberts will star in Eat, Pray, Love. Good casting. I need to finish the book.

Beastly

Neil Patrick Harris is playing the tutor! It's a small part, but I love NPH.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Treasure Map of Boys by E. Lockhart

It's been a while since I read The Boyfriend List or The Boy Book, so even though I liked both books, I didn't immediately read my ARC of The Treasure Map of Boys. I just didn't have a burning desire to know what's happened to Ruby. And for a while as I read it, even though I was entertained by the plot, I was thinking two negative things: (1) Why is she SOOOO into boys? And after Lockhart wrote this amazing burgeoning feminist in Frankie, I felt very disappointed in Roo. Why is she doing this to herself and her friends? (2) I never had that many guys like me at once. How is this possible? And why do they like her so much?

But . . .

By the end, I felt like Ruby had some realistic breakthroughs that weren't all moralistic and completely rejecting of boys and not completely "I'm happy with who I am and I don't need a boy to be happy." After all, girls like boys! I like boys! People are generally attracted to others and happy when one (or more) of those others likes you back. And while I do think there is something to be said for not hooking up with a guy your good friend likes, I liked the idea that you forgive people you love. What I loved about The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks and what I think Lockhart does really well here again with Ruby is convey how complicated relationships and feelings can be, how sometimes you feel a way that you intellectually know is not right or healthy or helpful but you cannot seem to control it. It's hard to know what's right and sometimes hard to do that even if you know what it is. Sometimes making yourself happy means hurting others, or making one person happy means hurting another. So yes, the novel is cute, but it also captures a lot of complexity. And I also loved the notes that Noel wrote Ruby! There's a lot to be said for feelings expressed in words and then actually written down on paper to be read and savored. And his were so creative. I want notes like that.

Fire by Kristin Cashore

I really liked Graceling, so I was eager to read Fire when I got it in the mail. However, I didn't realize that it isn't really a sequel. If anything, it's more of a prequel. It takes place in the same era and general location of the seven kingdoms of Graceling, but it's before the events of Graceling and in a different kingdom with different characters. There is only one character that overlaps with Graceling (more on this below).

I don't think I'm going to give away too much of the plot and certainly not the ending, but if you don't want to know anything more about the plot, stop reading.
Fire is the title character, and she is a young woman living in the Dells. Actually, she's only half human. Her mother was human but her father was a "monster." Monsters in the Dells are the form of normal animals (people, birds, bears, fish, etc.), but they are vibrant colors and are much more dangerous than their regular animal counterparts, and they crave the flesh of humans and other mosters. Fire struggles against her monster nature and deals with her monster powers of being able to control people's minds/wills. She tries to coexist with other humans and live down her father's ignominious reputation. Despite the danger she poses, she's an excellent archer and a great asset, so she ends up being enlisted to help the king's army in their defensive war against two neighboring kingdoms. There's action, romance, and great character development. I don't think it's giving away too much to say that the one character who exists in both Graceling and Fire is Leck (before he became king of Monsea) since he is a baby in the prologue.

I really enjoyed Fire, and I like that each book is related to the other but they stand alone as strongly as they do together. I like that you want to read the next book because you like this one so much, but you are completely happy and satisfied by the new book even though it doesn't continue on with the same store line and characters you fell in love with. Each book is absorbing, satisfying, and complete on its own (yet gives you more of what you like so much!). I will say this is for a slightly older audience. While Graceling was fine for middle school, this would certainly be a bit edgier title for middle grade readers just because there is more discussion to sexual relationships (although the actual sex is all off-screen). Still great for both guys and girls. One of my male students who read Graceling also read my ARC of Fire and said he liked this as much, if not better than, Graceling.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Wuthering Heights Movie

According to the MTV Movie blog, Gemma Arterton and Ed Westwick are going to star in a new version of Wuthering Heights. I post links about YA book movies and whatnot every so often, but I am actually really excited about this one!! I *heart* Ed Westwick. And now I'll get to see him do not only his brooding and rakishly cocked eyebrow (which he does so well!), but also hear his real British accent. [Swoon] Elisabeth Rappe from MTV seems to be complaining a little about how this is one of the three pieces of English literature that "are regularly dusted off for a big screen adaptation." But you know what? I think it should be (along with the two she mentions - Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice - and Hamlet). They are great stories and I love to see them interpreted (especially Hamlet, which is meant to be performed and interpreted). I loved the Keira Knightley version of Pride and Prejudice, even though I also loved the Colin Firth version, for example. And every time they are redone with "the hottest actor or actress of the moment," it gets a new generation interested in the story. Sure, there are some stories people probably would rather watch the old version of over and over again and never want to see redone, but most teens would probably rather see the story done by contemporary actors with modern filming. I'm sure it's blasphemy to say this, but I'd be happy to see Gone With the Wind redone now.

Oh, and Peter Webber who directed Girl With a Pearl Earring is going to direct this film. I thought that was an amazing movie, so I am super excited for this movie.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks


I feel like I have read one too many vampire books lately. After Stephenie Meyer's success with the Twilight series, it seemed like everyone was trying to cash in with a young adult vampire series of their own (I mean, I know there were YA vampire series before Meyer's, but they really seemed to flourish afterwards). Anyway, I had pretty much sworn off vampire fiction, but then my school librarian handed me a copy of The Reformed Vampire Support Group that she picked up a TLA. I loved it! It was such a refreshing change from the vampire lit where everyone is beautiful and strong and amazing. Catherine Jinks' vampires aren't even all that likable and they sure whine a lot. It was hilarious. Plus, there is even a little murder mystery and romance action going on to give the story a bit more kick. I am not sure if the cover art will be appealing to the average teen, but the story itself will.

Being Nikki by Meg Cabot


Awhile back, I received a review copy of Being Nikki by Meg Cabot. Being Nikki continues on where Airhead left off with Emerson still in the body of a supermodel (how terrible, right?). For Emerson, it is, because she is still in love with her old best friend from high school, but is prohibited from telling him her true identity.

I found Being Nikki to be much more suspenseful than Airhead. And towards the end, the book takes a turn that caught me completely off guard. I love Meg Cabot, but let's be honest, her books are usually predictable. Not this one. I won't spoil it for you, but it is really intriguing. The only thing that frustrated me is that it totally leaves you hanging at the end. I am so tired of reading books and then having to wait impatiently for the next one in the series!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork

Marcelo in the Real World doesn't have the plot description that normally attracts my interest, but I had noticed several good reviews of it. So I picked up the audiobook version from the library to listen to on my way to and from Houston this weekend (for Melissa Marr's Teen Faery Ball!). This is all I'm going to say about it: When I got back home today, I had exactly one CD left to listen to. I rushed inside, dropped all my stuff on the floor, pulled out my print copy that I fortuitously had in the car, and plopped down on my couch to read the rest. Then I immediately e-mailed my friends and told them they MUST read this book. I'm thinking this should get at least a Printz Honor, if not the Printz.

Let me also add that Lincoln Hoppe does an excellent job at performing the audio version. His pacing is excellent, and I'm actually quite glad I listened to (most of) the book rather than reading it because I have a tendency to read really fast, and this book deserves a slower pace (which I think Hoppe did perfectly). I loved all his interpretations of every sentence, and I tend to be pretty critical about such things. Maybe it's the former speech coach in me. The only problem was that Hoppe also narrated King Dork, which is one of my favorite books, and so I had a hard time not thinking of him as Tom Henderson.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Coffeehouse Angel by Suzanne Selfors

Katrina gives some day-old pastries and coffee to a homeless guy asleep in the alley behind her grandmother's coffee shop. What she doesn't realize is that the homeless guy is actually (a) cute and (b) an angel. He's a messenger who must deliver a message to someone in her hometown. Because she did a completely unselfish thing for him, he must grant her her greatest desire. It would help is she knew what that is. Mixed in with all this, her grandmother's coffee house is in danger of being put out of business by the new, hip coffee house next door, and Katrina's best friend, Vincent, starts dating the too perky and perfect daughter of her grandmother's ruthless coffeehouse competitor.

This isn't going to win the Printz and I doubt it's going to be a best-seller, but it's cute and enjoyable. I liked the ending a lot more than I expected to. It's appropriate for both middle and high school. I plan to buy a copy for my library, and I think it will appeal to readers who liked The Opposite of Invisible or The Possibilities of Sainthood.

Friday, April 24, 2009

What We Want Publishers to Know

Unshleved has this pdf booklet for BEA about what librarians and booksellers want publishers to know. It's great! I agree with everything. I especially want to "amen" the stickers one and the one about a synopsis. I suspect the one about the dust jacket also relates to having a synopsis. Books without a synopsis will not check out, no matter how great the cover is (case in point: Madapple). I'd like to add these:

1. Put the volume number high on the spine so it won't be covered up by spine labels or other stickers we use. This is especially important for manga.
2. Make the spine appealing too. Like this.
3. If a book is in a series, make it clear what number that particular book is. Preferably on the cover but on the inside on a title or separate series page will also work. A list of all the books of the series in order would be appreciated.

Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl doesn't come out until 2010, so I kind of hate to write about it now so far in advance. However, if I don't write about it now, I know I'll never do it. When I got the ARC from Little, Brown at TLA, the rep told me something like, "We're hoping this will appeal to Twilight fans." To be honest, that kind of turned me off of wanting to read it. Do you know how many books I went through trying to recreate my Twilight experience (at least from the first two books)? And now it seems every book is just trying to get Twilight fans by being derivative or getting a Stephenie Meyer endorsement. But the cover is great and the summary didn't sound too much like Twilight, so I gave it a chance. And I'm so glad I did because I really liked it.

Ethan Wate lives in the small, very Southern (definitely capital S "southern") town of Gatlin, South Carolina. He can't wait to leave. His mother died, his father is now a recluse confined to writing in his study all day in his pajamas, and the town is very insular, where everyone knows everyone else and doesn't want anyone to be different. The one person who is different is Old Man Ravenswood who owns the oldest plantation house in town and who never leaves his house. When his neice, Lena Duchannes, arrives in town, things start changing. And the people of Gatlin don't like change. Lena is pretty much the opposite of the very Southern and superficial girls who are popular cheerleaders at Gatlin HS. They resent her and mock her, and Ethan's defense of Lena only makes things worse. When the ring-leader of these girls, Emily, keeps pushing Lena one day in English class, the classroom window suddenly breaks. This is a pivotal moment when everyone at Gatlin decides Lena is not just different but dangerous, and by befriending her, Ethan is making a conscious decision to break with all of his other friends and neighbors in Gatlin (except his great best friend, Link). As Ethan spends more time with Lena, he comes to understand how and why the window broke, why Old Man Ravenswood is such a recluse, why Lena is marking her hand with numbers (counting down each day), how his housekeeper/caretaker is involved with Ravenswood, why the town librarian stays there when she could be in a bigger city, and many other historical secrets of the town that he never even suspected. Not to mention why he's been dreaming of Lena even before she arrived.

The setting was really well depicted and incorporated into the plot. Although I love my hip urban faery tales (Marr, Clare, etc.), I like this change of p(l)ace. The setting melds well with the mystical elements of the plot and makes it even more believable. It also makes this book different from all those urban faery tales, while at the same time, I think it will probably appeal to a lot of the same readers. There were quite a few characters, but they were all very well-developed. I didn't predict the end, but it seemed like an appropriate end, not contrived to be "something you didn't see coming." Naturally, a sequel appears imminent. The only aspects I didn't completely love were with some of the ending, but I will wait until it comes out to discuss that (if I can even remember by then). And the superficiality of the "popular girls" made for good conflict and humor, but they were definitely stereotypes and one-dimensional. They weren't the focus, though, so it's forgivable/understandable. I did love the depiction of their shirts (you'll understand when you read it).

I was intrigued by the title, but I have to say its meaning was nothing at all that I suspected. Now that I understand its meaning, I like the meaning but I am not completely sure how I feel about it for the title of this book. I also love the cover, but I had it on my cart of ARCs I've been sharing with students and no one took it the entire two weeks it was there. So what do I know?

* Margie looks like E. Lockhart to me in the photo on their website.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

YA Movie News

Vanessa Hudgens is going to be Lindy in the movie version of Alex Flinn's Beastly. (from Variety) Who would make a good Kyle? I could see Chance Crawford. I'm interested to see who they cast. It needs to be someone hot and preppy.

David Slade is going to produce Eclipse.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Importance of Hand-Selling Books

Mediabistro included this comment in a post today: "In the Age of Amazon.com and Internet shopping, the hand-sell seems like an antiquated skill." The post is about a contest and not really so much about how hand-selling is antiquated, but I wanted to post about how significant I've come to realize hand-selling is in my library. There are certainly some books that circulate well in my library without me doing a thing to promote them (ie. Twilight). However, besides these ridiculously popular series, you know what circulates well and what I buy multiple copies of? The books I've read and liked. Because those are the ones I recommend and booktalk. There are some books on the shelves with lots of circs and multiple copies. I bet the previous librarian loved those books and recommended them all the time. But now I haven't read them and I never direct anyone to them. They're never read. The books I have to buy more copies of are the ones I like. They're my go-to recommendations. (You like romance? Try Sarah Dessen.) And I am not good at booktalking. I don't think you have to be too great at hand-selling, though. I've found that most people will read books I recommend to them specifically (my avid readers) or point them to for specific tastes or interests. It just takes a, "I really love this book," or "Everyone who's read this has liked it."

Monday, April 20, 2009

This & That

How did I not know The Lovely Bones is being made into a movie? It has a great cast; I hope they don't butcher the plot.

Kathleen Newman-Bremang has a post on the MTV Movies Blog about "The Top 5 Teen Movies - Other Than Heathers - That Should Be Musicals." (1) Not too sure about being made into a musical, but I loved Heathers (and Christian Slater) when I was a child, so this is exciting news for me. I think it would be great to expose a new generation of teens to its fabulousness. (2) I love her suggestion for The Breakfast Club as a musical. I think it would be perfect. (3) Other teen movies or books you think would make great musicals? I'm going to think about this one.

Prom: Pro & Con

John Green wrote an article for the Washington Post called "Why We Should Get Rid of the Prom." Okay, before I get to discussing it, can I just say that I would be fascinated to know how the Washington Post, John Green, and "the prom" came together for an article. Kind of like, why is John Green giving dating advice on Seventeen.com?

Anyway, I agree with some of JG's points about the ridiculousness of prom. It's unnecessarily expensive. It brings all kinds of unnecessary drama with it (which I'm seeing lots of in the library right now). It puts pressure on teens to get dates and/or spend lots of money. Supposedly there is an expectation of having sex/losing your virginity on prom night, but I never personally experienced that as a teen or as a teacher observer/mentor. I also don't know that I know anyone who had a really good prom. Myself, I went with a friend from another school who wasn't allowed to leave his county to go to the after-prom party with me because while he was getting my corsage at the florist, two guys came over to buy pot from him and when he wasn't there, they let themselves in and set off his house alarm. The police came and found drug paraphernalia. Then he was smoking pot on the way to the prom and we didn't dance a single dance together.* All my girlfriends I went with ditched or were ditched by their dates by the time we got to the after-prom party at school. One of my college friends came home from prom to find her dog had ripped out all the stitches from her surgery and was dripping blood all over the house. She had to take her to the emergency vet clinic in her prom dress.

However, I think there is something to be said for prom. It's fun to get dressed up. Sure, you could do this for some other event of your own making, but parents are less likely to foot the (usually very expensive!) bill for it. Plus, there just aren't as many opportunities or places to go. (And in this economy, do you really want to be responsible for telling people to spend less? Think about the hotel workers, DJs, dress shops, hair salons, etc. that depend on prom revenue!) Prom also has a mythical quality to it. Whether good or bad, you always have your prom stories. I mean, that is one of my best high school stories now. The number of books related to prom can attest to this: Prom, Prom Nights From Hell, etc.

Seems to me you can always just not go to prom if you agree with John Green, or if your agreement with him outweighs the pros of prom.

* Postscript: Now we're friends on Facebook!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

I have been eagerly awaiting City of Glass. My bottom line is that it was what I expected, it was good but my least favorite of the series, and I thought it was a satisfying end to the trilogy. It took me a while to get into it, partly because I had to remember back to all the characters and their relationships. I had in my head all this time how much I couldn't wait to read this book, but once I started reading it, I realized I didn't even remember what happened at the end of the last book. I liked the setting in NYC better than Idris, and this seemed to be more of tying up loose ends than anything else. I was a little annoyed at Clarissa because she did seem to be acting foolishly at times in insisting on going to places and participating in things when she had no idea what she was doing. But I was satisfied at the end, and I had some laugh out loud moments. And I'm happy to hear that Clare might be writing more about Magnus Bane (love him!).

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Dear Matt,

This is what I'd like to tell Matt De La Peña:

Dear Matt,

I've booktalked Mexican Whiteboy in about 50 classes. In every single one, when I said the title of Mexican Whiteboy, there was a twitter of amusement, sometimes along with a "Hey, that's So-and-So!" or "Hey, that's me!" This tells me two things: (1) It's a great title. No other title I've booktalked elicits this kind of response. (2) They'd love to read a funny Mexican Whiteboy. Granted, you'd have to call it something else now, but there must be something left. I know you love the gut-wrenching, sad, emotional "highs" of tragic and depressing stories, but I think you have funny in you if you wanted to do it. Maybe something like The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Or maybe something totally different. I'm just saying, I think you could do it well and I think teens would love it. I think you could give the masses what they want and something you'd want to give them too.

Second, it's not what the masses want necessarily, but it is what I'd like to read by you: a book with a female lead or near-lead. I really like your female characters so far, even though they've been secondary. They're interesting, fun, and sometimes kind of badass. They're familiar as real people but unique as YA lit characters. I could see you writing a really good alternate perspectives novel, alternating between the guy and the girl's perspectives. It doesn't even have to be a romance (indeed, I'm still reeling from Perfect Chemistry).

Thank you in advance for your consideration in these matters, as I'm sure this will be paramount in your mind as you decide what to write your novels about,
Sheryl

We Were Here by Matt De La Pena

Teens Miguel, Rondell (two L's), and Mong sneak out of the group home they've been court-assigned to. They steal $750 from the home and make their way to Mexico where they plan to become fishermen. The novel is mostly an account of their journey (literal and emotional). Mong has had a really hard life and is a bit crazy. Rondell is a kind of Lenny figure--he has his heart in the right place but is intellectually slow, physically large, and not completely in control of his substantial physicality. Miguel is the main character: half Mexican, half white, feeling guilty about what he did to end up in juvi, smart, a burgeoning reader, and struggling with his conscience.

I really liked it. I liked the friendship that develops between the three guys, particularly between Miguel and Rondell. I think what I liked most of all is that this novel is written in first-person and Miguel has a strong, engaging, and authentic voice. It was also very existential. Miguel tries to come to terms with what the point of his continued existence and actions are, especially since he has already stepped over the proverbial line of "bad" and "wrong" (not to mention illegal) and now can't ever really go back again. Once he has done x, what does it matter if he does y (or z or f or q...)?

"Nothing matters. Not when you break it all down like I been doing in my head all tonight. Trust me. Nothing. Not me. Not you. Not the guy in the liquor store with the bat. Not the Bible. Not the pretty girls. Not being the watcher-over of this park. Not The Catcher in the Rye. Not this damn book I'm writing.

Nothing, man.
It's all meaningless.
Everybody.
Is.
Nobody."

Love that part. The exisistential themes made me really appreciate the title as well. When I first heard the title, I didn't think much of it. To be honest, I thought it was kind of boring, especially compared to Mexican Whiteboy.* However, while it might not be the attention-grabber that MW is, it is a really great and fitting title. By the end of the book, I thought it is not only appropriate but it underscores the significance of the book, of what Miguel discovers. It's a title that you get more from at the end, and not just because you read the line that it came from in the text.

The one thing that was a little distracting for me is the journal format of the book. There are no chapters, just dated sections. This is fine except that most of it is written in past tense (as if it's a retelling of the story), but occasionally Miguel slips into present-tense, as if he's writing in his journal in real-time. As long as I thought of it all as a retelling, it was fine. One of my students who is reading this right now actually told me the journal style is what he really likes about it. He said he likes how you get a sense of how long things take and that you are "going along" with the characters.

I like the cover on this book better than BDL and MW. They were very artistic but not very attractive for teens.



* More on this in my next post.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

If you're a Sarah Dessen fan, you'll almost certainly like this book. If you're not . . . then you probably won't. It's very "Sarah Dessen." Sort of like how Jodi Picoult has different characters and plots and issues, but her books are unmistakably her and she does what she does well. In Along for the Ride, the female main character discovers new things about herself and confronts internal emotional issues, while the strong secondary character(s) does the same. It includes some romance (but nothing too sexually explicit!) and some very clear but not too heavy-handed metaphors.

Auden is the daughter of two (now divorced) academics: a mother who is a successful English literature professor and ardent feminsit and a father who is also an English professor but who once had a very successful novel years ago and is now trying to write another. Auden decides to spend the summer after her senior year with her father, her step-mother, and their new baby at their beach-front home. While there, she ends up liking her step-mother a lot more than she expected to (she isn't as dumb and ditzy as her mother would like to believe), and she realizes how selfish and self-absorbed her father is. Auden also realizes how much of a childhood she's missed out on by growing up with parents who expected her to act maturely. She makes friends with the girls at her job and likes a guy who works at the bike shop nearby. He's struggling with his own issues, of course. I won't tell you how it ends, but you can probably guess since it's a classic Sarah Dessen novel.

I'm a Sarah Dessen fan. Just Listen is my favorite SD novel and one of my all-time favorites. This didn't quite reach that status (I don't know if anyone will ever equal Mallory or Owen for me), but I did like it better than Lock & Key. One of the things Dessen usually does that I like is to give the male character a very concrete interest (ex. music, bikes) and use that to develop characterization and create metaphors for life lessons. The female main characters don't tend to have that as much, though. I wish they did. I guess the books focus on the internal development of the female leads, so maybe that explains why they seem to be the ones with the "issues" while the guys tend/seem to have things figured out more by the time they meet the girl. Lock & Key was a little different in this regard, but the other books seem to follow this pattern. I mean, don't get me wrong; I always like reading the books, but it just seems very familiar. Of course, there are a lot worse things in life and in reading than knowing what you're going to get and knowing you like it.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Love v. Romance

I am in the midst of TLA and thought I'd post about one of the author sessions I saw. It was Margo Rabb, Cassandra Clare, Nancy Werlin, Justine Larbalestier, and Patrick Jones. Patrick Jones was moderating and trying to get some discussion of gender issues going. Somehow the issue of YA being devalued in comparison to adult lit was raised, and Nancy was commenting on how the same is done to romance books even though they are the largest percentage of book sales. Justine was then saying that she thinks all books are love stories. Whether or not that is true, I think a love story is not necessarily a romance. If you look at the definition from RWA, a "romance" makes a love story central to the plot and has an emotionally-satisfying/optimistic ending. Certainly not all books meet that definition. I'm bringing this up because of another tangent that followed closely on the heels of this discussion. The panelists went on to talk about how guys will read books not only with female main characters but also with romance. My personal take on this is that guys will indeed read books with love stories or romantic elements, but they must also include action (like the Uglies example that Justine gave or like Cassandra's Mortal Instruments series). If there is little action and/or a focus just on the emotional struggles and interior character angst, guys are not into it. "Boy meets girl" stories aren't very popular with guys at all.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

TLA Dreams

I'm going to the Texas Library Association conference tomorrow. It's one of (or maybe the?) the largest state conferences. First, a list of some of the YA authors I know I'm excited to see:

Joan Bauer
Meg Cabot
Cassandra Clare
John Green
Justina Chen Headley
Justine Larbalestier
Cynthia Leitich-Smith
Melissa Marr
Walter Dean Myers
Judson Roberts
Neal Shusterman
Nancy Werlin
Scott Westerfeld
Sara Zarr
I'm also excited to see authors I don't even know I'm excited to see! Here is the complete list. One session I was interested to see was the Readergirlz one with Dia Calhoun, Lori Ann Grover, and Justina Chen Headley. But it's scheduled at the same time as Teri Lesesne who is booktalking new YA titles, and her session is always huge. Not good timing.

I love TLA. It makes me excited about librarianship all over again, and I usually get at least one or two really helpful ideas. The vendor area is at least as important as the sessions. I have several booths I know I want to visit to ask some questions about reference titles and databases for next year. Then, of course, there are the publisher booths and ARCs. I can't wait to see what new titles they are promoting! Off the top of my head, the two books that I'd most like to get ARCs of (that I think are realistic hopes anyway) are Matt de la Pena's We Were Here and Frank Portman's Andromeda Klien. Any others I should be on the lookout for?

Movie News

Some movie news from the MTV Movie blog:

1. Chris Columbus has cast Uma Thurman as Medusa, Pierce Brosnan as Cheron, and Sean Bean as Zeus in Percy Jackson.  With such big name producers and cast, I'm thinking this movie might be really good.

2. Baz Luhrmann is going to direct The Great Gatsby.  The MTV blog speculates on Leonardo DiCaprio as a good Nick.  I personally think that'd be a great choice, but any other thoughts on the cast?  I realize this isn't a YA book, but it is actually pretty relevant to YA lit other than just being a book-to-movie adaptation.  Students read this in school, and I think having a contemporary film version will be fantastic for the English teachers.  I think Luhrmann will do a great job with it too.  Can't wait to see the cast.

3. I guess I'm out of it because I didn't realize that World War Z was being made into a movie.  Of course, it's perfect for a movie.  The title alone screams "movie!"  This is an extremely popular title in my library.  I have reluctant readers who read this and love it, and this is not some lightweight thriller.  There's some serious social commentary in it.

4. In even more "I didn't know this movie was in the works" news, Courtney Love is producing a biopic of her life with Kurt Cobain that will star Scarlett Johansson as Courtney and Ryan Gossling as Kurt.  I'm even going to relate this back to YA lit!  I recommend Kurt Cobain's Journals for YA collections.  It has images of Kurt Cobain's actual journals, and students now even really still like him and find this to be an incredibly cool book.  I have to point it out for them to discover it, but they love it once I do.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

What They're Reading for Fun

This article from School Library Journal entitled "What Are They Reading for Fun" inspired this post.  I recently got a list of my most frequently circulated titles from Nov. 11 to Feb. 11.  I wish they could take the manga titles out of the report, but so far they haven't.  It is in order of greatest to least.  Nothing too surprising or illuminating:

Bleach. 1, Strawberry and the soul reapers
Naruto. Vol. 1, The tests of the ninja
Fruits basket. Volume 1
Skip beat!. 10
Fullmetal alchemist. 1
Tsubasa. 10
Chronicles of the cursed sword. Volume 1
Death note. Vol. 1 Boredom
Vampire game. Volume 1
M*ar : M*archen awakens romance. Vol. 13
Mars. Volume 10
Twilight
Case closed. Volume 1
W Juliet
Breaking dawn
Ceres, celestial legend. Vol. 1, Aya 
Negima!. 6
Love hina. Vol. 14
Faeries' Landing. Volume 11
D.N. Angel. Volume 1

Slightly more interesting are the top authors:
Kubo, Tite
Meyer, Stephenie
Kishimoto, Masashi
Nakamura, Yoshiki
Arakawa, Hiromu
Akamatsu, Ken
Takaya, Natsuki
Ohba, Tsugumi
Judal
Cast, P. C.
Anzai, Nobuyuki
Schreiber, Ellen
Shan, Darren
Soryo, Fuyumi
Beop-Ryong, Yeo
Watase, Yuu
Takaya, Natsuki
Aoyama, Gosho Emura
Hopkins, Ellen

Here is the same thing but for all the high schools in my district:
Meyer, Stephenie
Kubo, Tite
Kishimoto, Masashi
Arakawa, Hiromu
Shan, Darren
Akamatsu, Ken
Takahashi, Rumiko
King, Stephen
Takaya, Natsuki
Watsuki, Nobuhiro
Ohba, Tsugumi
Kishimoto, Masashi
Nakamura, Yoshiki
Hatori, Bisco
Hopkins, Ellen
Clamp
Westerfeld, Scott 
Dessen, Sarah
Soryo, Fuyumi
Pelzer, David J.

If I were going by observation of what people are checking out and asking for a lot, I'd say the P.C. and Kristin Cast series, The Mortal Instruments series, and Sarah Dessen.

By the way, my most circulated title, Bleach vol. 1, circulated 166 times in that 90 day period.  That is one copy checked out 166 times in a 90-day period.  That gives you an idea of how they read manga.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Book Covers

In thinking about the repackaging of Judy Blume's books (and others), it has me thinking about how ruthless I've become about book covers. I know the saying is "never judge a book by its cover," but people obviously do. I have lots of books that I'm sure are great that no one ever checks out because the cover doesn't attract them. I've already mentioned several times how I have to practically beg people to read Lockhart's The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks because of the cover (hopefully the paperback will have a better cover).* Therefore, unless it's an already-popular author or series, I pretty much always consider the cover before I decide to buy something now. As I go through my review magazines and circle the books I want to order, on many of them I write "cover." On those, I look at the cover before I decide if I want to add it to my Follett list. There have been some books here recently that I wish I had the paperback version of instead of the hardback just because of the cover (examples: Dairy Queen and How to Ditch Your Fairy). I agree with pretty much everything that Jennifer at YAbooknerd said in this post about the topic. The only thing I disagree with is the preference for the original DQ cover. Someone else's blog (I forgot who!) was also saying recently that they liked the original Audrey, Wait cover better than the paperback because the paperback is just like all the other girly YA books. The girly covers are pretty popular with my students. They are attracted to those because they know those "types" of books are the ones they enjoy. I haven't seen anyone checkout out Dairy Queen all year, but I know a lot of my Sarah Dessen fans would enjoy it. They have no interest in it, though, because the cover doesn't give you any hint that it might appeal to that kind of reader.


* [Side note: I'm sure no one else reading this ever watches "Platinum Weddings" on WE, but the art from Frankie is the same as that on "Platinum Weddings."]

Friday, March 20, 2009

Why Post Reviews?

This is an extremely interesting article from The Economist called "Fair Comment: The internet: Books and other products sold by online retailers can attract thousands of reviews. Why are they worth reading—or writing?" Although the whole article is really worth reading, the bottom line of the article is that more reviews on sites like Amazon equate to more purchases, even if there are bad reviews. Once you get into the double digits of number of reviews, people are more willing to buy the product. And even when there are hundreds of reviews for a book, such as Harry Potter, people continue to post reviews and they apparently tend to have some effect (by sheer number, if nothing else) on the book being purchased. Actually, the study claims, a small number of poor reviews makes it more likely that an item will be purchased if there are a good number of reviews.

I have to wonder if people are more likely to buy a product with a lot of reviews because that product is just popular (thus the reason so many people have reviewed it, because it's popular and been read by a lot of people). It also makes me think about my book reviews on this blog. I often don't review books I read because I think, "This has been out so long and other people have already reviewed it." Although blogs are different from the attached product reviews the article discusses, I think it is relevant and makes me rethink my mindset some. I know there are books that I might not have thought too much about, but after I see many people have liked it and talked about it, it makes me want to read it and/or buy it. And I like to read reviews by people who tend to like the same books I do (at least when it comes to choosing my own books to read).

Hunted

Hunted by P.C. and Kristin Cast is #1 on the USA Today's best-seller list, ahead of Twilight. I'm going to be honest, this series is very popular at my library and I have students clamoring for this latest one, but I think it's mediocre. It's in the lower half of of my list of vampire romances (which I binged on for a while there). Now, what I'm anxious for is City of Glass! I know what I'm buying myself for my birthday...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hunger Games Movie

Lionsgate has acquired the film rights to Hunger Games, and Suzanne Collins is doing the film adaptation. I'm glad to hear she's doing the adaptation. Makes me have high hopes for it turning out well. It's being produced by Nina Jacobson, who is also producing Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  I wonder who they will cast?  Any thoughts on who you'd like to see?  Personally, I hope they get all pretty unknowns to play the parts, and I hope the casting and makeup is a lot better than Twilight.  Could be awesome...

Don't you like how they mention that Stephenie Meyer likes it? I mean, I guess that's all the endorsement you need for (the hopes of) a hit now. I suppose publishers send her copies of all their YA books in hopes of her mentioning it on her blog.

Man, I can't wait for the sequel in September. Anyone know if there will be any ARCs going around? I remember a ton of them available for HG at TLA last year, but now maybe they know it will be hit and don't need so much prepub publicity.