Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday - Taking Off

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine

Taking Off by Jenny Moss
Publisher: Walker Books (Bloomsbury)
Publication Date: January 4, 2011

Summary from publisher's websiteReimagining the days surrounding this unforgettable event in history, readers are brought back to 1986 as the astronauts prepare for the Challenger mission, and Christa McAullife trains to be the first teacher in space. When a teen named Annie meets Christa, she is fascinated by Christa's courage. Truly inspired, Annie is determined to make it to Florida to see the Challenger launch, a trip that will forever change how she thinks about herself and her secret desire for her own future. Although she is devastated when tragedy strikes, Annie honors Christa by following her own dream, despite the obstacles. Bringing in her experience as a NASA engineer, Jenny Moss weaves a moving story that recaptures the inspiration teens must have felt years ago as they watched Christa McAuliffe reach for the sky.

I can remember very clearly where I was when the Challenger was launched: sitting in Mrs. Spina's second grade classroom.  The whole school had been allowed to watch the launch because the principal wanted us to witness Christa McAuliffe become the first teacher in space.  We were all so excited about being able to watch TV in school and then confused and sad about what had happened.  Christa McAuliffe's biography was always a favorite whenever we were learning about space in science class or doing a unit on biographies in English.

I'm very excited to read Taking Off.  It will be interesting to read about this event from the perspective of a teen and compare it to my own memories.  Plus Jenny Moss is a former NASA engineer so there will be lots of details and nuances in the story that only some who worked for NASA could provide. 

For more information you can visit:

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday - Haven

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine

Haven by Kristi Cook
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: February 22, 2011

Summary from author's websiteA chilling destiny she can’t escape.

A devastating love she can’t resist.

Violet McKenna isn’t a normal girl with normal teenage issues; she has more to contend with than most people could handle. Violet thought she was just crazy when she had a vivid vision of her dad’s murder. Her life started falling apart when her premonition came true. She’s had flashes of other events too–the problem was nobody believed her until she found a new school: Winterhaven.

At Winterhaven, Violet finally feels like she belongs. She quickly finds a close group friends and discovers that they too have psychic ‘gifts’—as do all the students at Winterhaven. But as soon as she feels settled she discovers the most intriguing and alluring boy she has ever met, and things quickly go awry. As the attraction between them grows, intense visions of the boy’s death start to haunt her. In her premonitions, the secret he is unwilling to share begins to reveal itself. And to Violet’s horror, she learns that their destinies are intertwined in a critical–and deadly–way.

There's also a different summary on Goodreads that gives a few more details, but it seemed a bit spoilery (definitely check it out if you want a few more details).  It does, however, say that Winterhaven is located in New York's Hudson Valley, which is a very different place to put a boarding school.  It seems as though fictional boarding school seem to be concentrated in New England (Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont) or the middle of the country (like in Vampire Academy).  The New York setting makes me very happy.  Plus the fact that Winterhaven seems to be a school for "gifted" students sounds like an interesting take on the boarding school story.

Check out Ms. Cook's:
What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Book Talk - My Favorite Books When I Was a Teenager

This semester is my final semester of library school (YAY!) and thanks to some careful planning and a lot of luck, I get to take a YA lit class. This class is going to be so much fun - I can feel it…except for the fact that the professor has already given us three assignments (Boo!) all due on the first day of class. The only good thing about the assignments is that they involve books (of course). My favorite assignment, or maybe I should say the one I disliked the least, was the one in which we had to write about our favorite books as teens. We were limited to five and it was surprising easy to pick my five favorites.

Now I was a teen back in the 90s, I graduated high school in (deep breath) 1996…and back then YA wasn’t really as varied or prolific as it is now. In fact, my local library had about 9 shelves or so of Young Adult books. I remember this very clearly because I was a library page and would look wistfully at those shelves as there was almost never anything to put away. Needless to say, many of those books didn’t go out often. When I was in high school, I was more into books that could be found in the adult stacks. In English classes we read Shakespeare, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pearl Buck, Carson McCullers, Steinbeck, Poe, Arthur Miller, Ibsen (among others) and lots and lots of poetry. Outside of school I remember reading Interview With the Vampire, John LeCarre spy novels, Ernest Hemingway, Ray Bradbury and lots of romance (an aunt introduced me to Danielle Steele at the tender age of 13).

But eventually, I wandered back to those 9 shelves and that’s where I found authors like Paul Zindel, Cynthia Voigt, Bette Greene, and Robert Cormier. Then I was given a box of books by a cousin leaving for college, in that box I found The Outsiders (which I never really liked, I know I know, it’s the book that changed YA lit for the better, but I could never get into it), Rebecca, Catch-22, Ethan Frome and finally A Separate Peace by John Knowles…and my first literary crush.

So in no particular order, five books I loved as a teen (and still mostly love today):

A Separate Peace by John Knowles (1959)

- Yes, that’s right, my first literary crush comes from a book about life at an all boys, boarding school during World War II. Pretty much, as soon as Gene introduced Phineas I was a goner. He was the first male character I remember having green eyes…yup, that’s pretty much all it took…green eyes and his casual disregard for authority and order. Finny made his own seemingly arbitrary rules and expected everyone else to follow them. My favorite scene was when he and Gene go to the beach and end up sleeping outside. Their talk about best friends shed so much light on Finny as a character. Finny is so wholly himself that I could never quite pick an actor I thought looked like him.

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (1936)
-I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned how much I love reading books set in the South. It’s all because of Gone With the Wind. It was assigned as part of a summer reading list one year and despite the length (it comes in at over 1000 pages) I had to read it. The description of Tara, the O’Hara family home, the quiet beauty of the Georgian countryside and then the bustle of Atlanta had me mesmerized. Then there are the characters: Scarlett and her many suitors, including Ashley and Rhett, and Melanie (who I actually liked more than Scarlett).  The fact that Scarlett didn’t give up in the face of tremendous hardship gave me hope that I too could conquer anything. This is the one time where I like the book and movie equally. Even though the movie left out or reduced the importance of certain things, it is still a faithful representation of the Mitchell’s work.

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway (1926)

-The book starts out in Paris, where Jake Barnes is done with the whole cafĂ© scene. He and his group of friends head to Pamplona on holiday. The basic idea is simple, but the characters are what makes it a great book. Hemingway played a bit with gender, because even though all of the men seem to fall in love with Brett, she’s the one in charge. She knows exactly what she’s doing. Then there’s Pedro Romero, the teenage bullfighting phenom, who gets swept into their circle and their antics. The Sun Also Rises is one of those books that just spoke to me; I’m not even sure why exactly I liked it so much, I just did. I haven’t read this one in awhile, so I’m curious whether or not I’ll feel the same way.

Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene (1973)

-Another book that takes place during a war, this time World War II. What I remember the most about Summer of My German Soldier was how sorry I felt for Patty. I’m not sure if that’s the emotion Ms. Greene was trying to elicit, but that was my prevailing emotion every time I read this book. Patty’s parents were horrible to her; she didn’t have any friends really except for her family’s housekeeper, Ruth. She tried to do what she thought was an honorable thing by “rescuing” Anton and ended up losing much more than she bargained for. One of the main messages was about acceptance, looking beyond labels to really see who the person is, that’s what I took away from this book. I chose to reread this book for another assignment and I found that I didn’t really enjoy the story as much as I when I was a teen. I think maybe it’s because I can’t put myself in Patty’s place anymore. I kept wanting to tell her to be careful and not get caught.

Jackaroo by Cynthia Voigt (1992)

-Medieval setting, a girl donning the clothes of a legendary figure, a bit of romance, some intrigue and danger; all of these things together made me love Jackaroo. I loved it so much that when the library replaced its copy, I got to take home the discarded one. Gwyn, to me, was an intriguing character because she lived in a society where everyone looked out for themselves, put their own needs before anyone else’s. She took the time and made the effort to help others overcome their difficulties. To have that much power, to make that type of decision at 16, to me was unfathomable. Again, Jackaroo is a book that I haven’t read since high school and I wonder if it will still hold the same fascination for me now that I’m older.

What were some of the books you enjoyed reading when you were a teenager?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Review - Firelight by Sophie Jordan

Firelight by Sophie Jordan
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date:  September 7, 2010
Source: ARC received from Book It Forward ARC Tours
Rating:  4 Bookcases

Roar! Dragons have arrived on the paranormal scene and if Firelight is any indication, they will definitely be sticking around.

Jacinda is a draki. a descendant of dragons who is able to shift into human form.  Even among her pride, she's special because she is the first fire breather born in over 400 years.  As a result, she's become important and the pride hopes she'll marry the alpha to be.  When Jacinda breaks the rules, her mom and twin sister help her flee the pride and the awful punishment they had planned.  Jacinda doesn't want to leave the pride and resists trying to be happy.  While her sister, Tamra who never manifested, blooms Jacinda's draki begins to wither...until she meets Will.  Will grew up in a family of draki hunters and is a hunter himself.  Jacinda knows she should stay away, but finds that she can't and soon she's risking everything to be with him.

I'm of two minds when it comes to Firelight.  On the one hand, I got swept into the story.  Ms. Jordan knows how to set a scene.  Her descriptions were wonderful, especially when Jacinda was in draki form.  And the romance was epic.  Again, Ms. Jordan has a way with romantic, steamy scenes.  Those scenes with Will and Jacinda were some of the best scenes in the book.  Also, most of the bad guys were really bad; there was this subtle menace to them, but at the same time Jacinda knew exactly what they were capable of.  The ending was the best kind of cliffhanger.  It answered just enough of my questions that I was satisfied, but it also had me asking a bunch more and wanting the sequel.

On the other hand, while the romantic scenes were wonderful to read, the romance itself felt rushed.  Jacinda and Will see each other across the hall at school and from that moment, Will is all Jacinda can think about. There are all these looks and Will tells Jacinda he's not a good guy and that she should stay away.  Tamra tells Jacinda to stay away from Will.  And then all of a sudden they're in love with each other.  I wanted more of the getting to know each other part.  Here's the thing about Will; he's gorgeous, rich, only hangs out with his cousins, never dates anyone.  Does that sound like any other male characters you might have read?  Yeah, Will reminds me of a few other gorgeous, hot, pretends to be a bad boy when he's really got a heart of gold romantic leads.  While this isn't a horrible thing, for me anyway, he blends in with the rest of them.  I'm hoping that in the next book, we'll learn something about Will that really makes him stand out. 

There is more to Firelight than just the romance. There is this whole family tension, let's get away from the pride because it would be better for us plot line that I really liked.  It's obvious that the pride want to rule Jacinda's life and really take away her choices. The pride scared me with their aggressive nature.  Dragons are not meek creatures, so obviously I didn't expect the draki to be pushovers.  But their willingness to punish Jacinda so severely for her rule breaking was shocking, especially since she was so important to them.  So, I completely agree with Jacinda's mom that they should leave the pride, I just didn't agree with her methods.  I felt that she went in the opposite extreme living in a place that was unhealthy for Jacinda. In a way I completely understood Jacinda's wanting to go back to the pride, because that was familiar.  But, I wanted her to see that her mom and sister were trying to help her. The relationship Jacinda has with Tamra is strained to say the least.  They are opposites in lots of ways, the most important being that Tamra never manifested and is wholly human.  For most of the story she comes off as very  bitter, but it's very one note and she seems one dimensional.  I want more of their relationship in the sequel.

Some other things I'm looking forward to in the sequel are getting answers to the questions left by the last chapter, more information about the draki especially their mythology and structure, and seeing how the two worlds (draki pride and human) might intersect.

By now you're probably wondering why I gave Firelight 4 bookcases.  The thing is that I was completely immersed in the story while I was reading.  I read it striaght through without even stopping to take notes.  It was easy to picture everything and see the action almost as though it was a movie I was watching.  I know that I'll read Firelight again, especially since it's the first book in a planned trilogy.  I've read all sorts of reviews for Firelight, both positive and negative, and my final vercict is that it's definitely one of those books (more than any other book I've read this year) that you have to read for yourself and decide how you feel about it. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday - The Dark and Hollow Places

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine

The Dark and Hollow Places (Forest of Hands and Teeth #3) by Carrie Ryan
Publisher: Delacorte Press for Young Readers (Random House)
Publication Date: March 22, 2011

Summary from the author's websiteThere are many things that Annah would like to forget: the look on her sister’s face when she and Elias left her behind in the Forest of Hands and Teeth, her first glimpse of the horde as they found their way to the Dark City, the sear of the barbed wire that would scar her for life. But most of all, Annah would like to forget the morning Elias left her for the Recruiters.

Annah’s world stopped that day and she’s been waiting for him to come home ever since. Without him, her life doesn’t feel much different from that of the dead that roam the wasted city around her. Then she meets Catcher and everything feels alive again.

Except, Catcher has his own secrets -- dark, terrifying truths that link him to a past Annah’s longed to forget, and to a future too deadly to consider. And now it’s up to Annah -- can she continue to live in a world drenched in the blood of the living? Or is death the only escape from the Return’s destruction?

I loved reading both The Forest of Hands and Teeth and The Dead-Tossed Waves (books 1 and 2 in the series), so The Dark and Hollow Places is one of my most anticipated books to be published in 2011.  Each book has been told from a different perspective and has been set, at least in part, in different areas, so it will be interesting to learn about Annah and the Dark City.

You can find more information about Carrie Ryan and her books on her website:
or her blog:

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Review: Virgin Territory by James Lecesne

Virgin Territory by James Lecesne
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Publication Date: September 14, 2010
Source: ARC from Traveling ARC Tours
Rating: 3 Bookcases (mostly because of the ending)

Summary can be found on

Dylan is sort of floating through life…he doesn’t really like where he lives; he’d rather go back to New York City. Ever since his mom died, he and his father have been drifting apart. This summer Dylan’s working as a caddy at a local golf club when an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) is seen in a tree trunk. This sighting brings hundreds of people to town, including Angela, Desiree, and Crispy - the members of the Virgin Club. Through the course of the summer Dylan learns that sometimes taking a risk is the only way to get something that you really want.

Virgin Territory was a very different novel than what I was expecting. To be honest, I was expecting a John Green-ish coming of age story with a quirky protagonist and some odd goings on. Instead, it was about Dylan, a 15 year old guy who is pretty much mad at the world. He has a job he’s not that in to, that he really only got because his dad wanted him to stop wasting his life and “come up with a plan.” Then group of women claim to see the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) on a tree trunk at the golf course where Dylan works and soon hundreds of people descend on Jupiter, Florida.

This part of the story was just okay for me. The teens Dylan meets - Angela, Desiree, and Crispy- sort of represent a cross section of the BVM crowd. I actually grew to like Desiree and Crispy, but Angela got on my nerves quite a bit. It was clear from the start that she was definitely hiding something and not quite telling the truth about why she and her mom are in Jupiter. Of course, Dylan has to have a thing for Angela because she’s the leggy bombshell. So he goes along with all of Angela’s crazy plans. Had Dylan really listened and looked carefully enough, he would have realized Angela was bad news or crazy; which Crispy had been trying to tell him. The whole thing with Angela was too drawn out and really could have been a much smaller part of the story. I know that some of you will probably say, well Dylan is a 15 year old boy, of course he’s going to develop a crush on Angela and agree to all of her crazy ideas. And I get that, I really do. I just didn’t connect with Angela as a character.

My favorite part of Virgin Territory was the story line about Dylan’s grandmother, Marie. She’s part of the reason Dylan and Doug moved to Jupiter. Marie has Alzheimer’s and lives in a nursing home (or the place as Dylan and Doug call it), that she is frequently leaving for adventures. From what Dylan remembers, Maria was larger than life until the Alzheimer’s hit. I would have liked more about this and more of Dylan and his father dealing with Kat’s (Dylan’s mother) death. There was great potential for a whole plot line about the idealized version that people remember about someone they cared for who has died versus who they really were.

The real miracle was that everything that happened over this one summer spurred Dylan and Doug to finally deal with a lot of pent up feelings about Kat. This helped both of them move on; Doug with a job in a field he actually enjoyed and Dylan with life in general. Towards the end, there’s a great scene between father and son, where Doug does a lot of explaining about things that he probably should have talked about with Dylan a long time ago. This scene was the heart of the book, at this point all I could think was “Yes, finally!” and “More of this please! ” The section from the scene prior to this to the last past (from page 187 to the end) redeemed the book in my opinion. The rest of the book was really one long build up to these 30 pages. I’m glad that I stuck it out and read to the end.

Overall, Virgin Territory was a slightly disappointing read. I’m not discounting is completely and there may be other people who will enjoy this story. Give it a shot, especially if you like contemporary fiction.

Beth Kephart has a great story about James Lecesne and Virgin Territory on her blog.

James's website can be found at:

Monday, September 6, 2010

Review: The Oracle of Dating by Allison van Diepen

The Oracle of Dating by Allison van Diepen
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: May 1, 2010
Source: E-galley from LibraryThing Early Reviewers
Rating: 3.75 Bookcases

Official Summary can be found on author's website.

Who would you turn to if you needed dating advice? The teens at Kayla’s school turn to “The Oracle.” But, exactly who is “The Oracle?”

Michaela (Kayla) runs a website and blog called The Oracle of Dating where for $5 she dispenses dating advice via phone call, email or instant message. No one knows that she’s the Oracle and Kayla would like to keep it that way. Despite the fact that she gives relationship advice, Kayla has sworn off dating until college…until she gets to know Jared and ends up learning that he’s not the stuck up snob she thought he was. After a disastrous bit of advice gets ones of her best friends grounded for six weeks, Kayla decides the Oracle should close up shop. Is this the end of Oracle or will she make a return appearance when Kayla needs a bit of her own advice?

I’m definitely not in the target audience for Oracle of Dating, so I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the story and characters. Kayla is a fun, smart, no nonsense main character. She has a very diverse group of friends, who while secondary characters were all unique and really helped to make Kayla a well-rounded character. Kayla is also close with her older sister, Tracey, to whom she gives lots of dating advice. They’re roles are almost reversed here with Kayla being persistent about the type of gut Tracey should date. There is also a nice side story with Kayla and her stepdad and the two of them getting closer. So the author has made very sure that the reader knows that Kayla’s life is more than just school and the eventual love interest.

It was enjoyable reading a book that did not include a love triangle as a major piece of the plot. In fact, it was clear from the start who Kayla’s love interest would be, the reader can figure it out before Kayla. However, how they finally end up together was not very predictable. The twists and turns that kept the two of them apart are very realistic and teen readers will be able to connect with the story and what Kayla went through. I also really liked how throughout the whole story, Kayla has a lot of people she can go to for advice, but in the end she realizes that she should take her own advice. I think this sends a great message to girls, it’s important to put yourself first sometimes and follow your instincts

***The next paragraph contains a spoiler***

The cover makes The Oracle of Dating look like it might be a middle grades novel, but a majority of the characters are juniors and seniors in high school and with that comes some discussion about sex. There is one part where a character uses sex as a way to get his girlfriend to break up with him that will cause younger reader to maybe ask questions. So, while I wouldn’t have a problem handing this book to a 13 or 14 year old, I’m not sure that I would recommend it to anyone younger than that.

***end of spoiler warning***

Overall, The Oracle of Dating was a quick, fun, quirky read.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

My First Vlog - AKA My Review Process

Last weekend, Adele from The Persnickety Snark did a vlog about how she writes reviews.  She invited other bloggers to accept her challenge and talk about how they write their reviews.  I've been wanting to do a vlog for awhile and this seemed like the perfect opportunity.  So, since it's my first vlog, I would love some constructive criticism...good or bad I want to hear, so plase don't hold back!  And if you post anout your review process leave me a link.

Happy Reading!!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Brooklyn Book Festival

Will you be anywhere in the vicinity of New York City next weekend?  Do you love meeting authors, reading, talking about books or just general bookishness?  Then you should definitely check out the Brooklyn Book Festival!

Here is some general information about the festival:

This is the fifth anniversary of the renowned Brooklyn Book Festival, a free, literary celebration that showcases more than 200 national and international authors in readings and panel discussions as well as 175 booksellers, publishers, presses and organizations in an outdoor literary marketplace. The festival is a premier literary event in New York City, with more than 30,000 attendees from around the world. The all-star literary lineup, including Salman Rushdie,Naomi Klein, Colson Whitehead, Mary Gaitskill, Paul Auster, Rosanne Cash, Paul Krugman, Amy Goodman, John Ashbery, Gary Shteyngart, Francine Prose, Dennis Lehane, Pete Hamill, Jennifer Egan, Russell Banks, Michael Connelly, John Hodgman,Kristen Schaal, Thurston Moore, Sam Lipsyte, Sloane Crosley, Paul Harding, Maaza Mengiste, Marlon James, Jean Valentine, Elizabeth Nunez and many, many more, as well as children’s and young adult Lit stars like Rebecca Stead, Sara Shepard, Jacqueline Woodson, Jon Scieszka, Francisco X. Stork, Jenny Han, Mac Barnett, Tad Hills, Chris Raschka, Lauren Oliver, E. Lockhart, Michael Rex and Matthew Reinhart.

This year it will expand to include three days of special themed events “bookending” the Festival from September 10-12 in partnership with cultural organizations like BAM, Bell House, The Brooklyn Kitchen, Brooklyn Public Library, Greenlight Bookstore, Littlefield, St. Ann’s Warehouse, PEN American Center, Irondale Center, Brooklyn Public Library, powerHOUSE, Debut Lit, WORD, Light Industry, Triple Canopy, Mainspring Collective and
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Even more exciting is all of the YA authors who will be attending the festival, check out the line-up:

Sunday, September 12, 2010


This year’s fifth annual Brooklyn Book Festival features some of the most influential and talented names in YA and Kid lit in a wide array of panels, readings and workshops, all happening on THE STOOP (the YA stage geared towards ages 10-18). Join us on Saturday, September 12, 2010, to hear these talented authors, from former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Jon Scieszka to two-time National Book Award finalist Adele Griffin to bestselling newcomer Lauren Oliver. Other notable authors include Sara Shepard, Jacqueline Woodson, Jenny Han, E. Lockhart and Francisco X. Stork.


Happily Ever After
Lauren Oliver, Before I Fall (HarperCollins, March 2010); Jenny Han, It’s Not Summer Without You,(Simon & Schuster, April 2010); and Sara Shepard, Pretty Little Liars series (HarperTeen) talk about characters who are forced to relive their past, to come to terms with haunting memories and who have committed terrible acts. What are the costs of keeping dark secrets? What happens when you have to pay for your actions? How do you figure out how to move forward? Moderated by author Kirsten Miller.

Concrete Jungle Where Dream are Made
Laurie Toffler-Corrie, The Life and Opinions of Amy Finawitz (Roaring Brook Press, August 2010); Olugbemisola Rhuday Perkovich, 8th Grade Superzero (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, January 2010); and 2009 Newbery Award winner Rebecca Stead, When You Reach Me, bring us relatable, inspiring characters embracing challenges with friendships and popularity—while trying to solve a mystery or two—set against very different New York landscapes.

When It All Goes Wrong
Two-time National Book Award finalist Adele Griffin, The Julian Game (August 2010); Tracy White, How I Made it to Eighteen (Roaring Brook Press, June 2010); and Sofia Quintero, Efrain’s Secret (Knopf Books for Young Readers, April 2010) discuss what happens when life gets out of hand, from online stalking to addiction to the lure of living double lives.

Illustrators bring magic to words with the simple stroke of a pencil. Watch award-winning illustrators create from a few energetic prompts from the audience, and hear them discuss the magic behind their illustrative work. Mike Cavallaro, Foiled (First Second, April 2010), Shane Evans, Black Jack: The Ballad of Jack Johnson (Neal Porter Books, an imprint of Roaring Brook Press, June 2010) and an illustrator to be announced.

About a Boy
Newbery Honor-winning Jacqueline Woodson, Peace, Locomotion (Putnam Books for Young Readers, January 2009); Torrey Maldonado, Secret Saturdays (Putnam Books for Young Readers, April 2010) and Charles Fuller, Snatch offer us a rare look into the minds and hearts of young boys who could really use a second chance.

You’ve Got to be Kidding
Former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Jon Scieszka, Spaceheadz (Simon & Schuster, June 2010); National Book Award finalist E. Lockhart, The Treasure Map of Boys (Random House, July 2009); and Mac Barnett, The Brixton Brothers series, take on the absurdity of life in books and writing and talk about their ways of making us laugh, including hamster space aliens and panicky smart alecks.

Making It
Mitali Perkins, Bamboo People (Charlesbridge, July 2010); Francisco X. Stork, The Last Summer of the Death Warriors (Scholastic, March 2010); and Kate Milford, The Boneshaker, bring tales of their characters’ extreme survival to the stage, from a teen soldier in Burma to an orphanage in Mexico.

Friday, September 3, 2010

It's Friday...Time for the Book Blogger Hop!

Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Jennifer at Crazy-for-Books


In the spirit of the Twitter Friday Follow, the Book Blogger Hop is a place just for book bloggers and readers to connect and share our love of the written word! This weekly BOOK PARTY is an awesome opportunity for book bloggers to connect with other book lovers, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books! It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs to read! So, grab the logo, post about the Hop on your blog, and start HOPPING.
This Week's Question is:
 Do you judge a book by its cover?
My Answer: I have to admit that yes, I do judge a book by its cover.  This is especially true if I'm browsing at the library or bookstore.  I'll often pick up a book because the cover speaks to me in some way.  This gets me in trouble at work because I'll often find a ton of books I want to read while I'm working on other projects in the stacks.  And I actually like that most journals don't have pictures of book covers along with their reviews, because it's easier to be objective when I'm only reading the review and can't see all the beautiful covers. 
It makes me sad when a wonderful book has a so so cover.  When I recommend certain books at the library, I feel that I have to preface the recommendation with a "don't pay attention to the cover, because this book is awesome."   Covers are definitely important, a lot of times the teens at my library won't pick up a book with a cover they don't like no matter how many times we recommend it or say how great we think it is. 
Some of my recent favorite YA covers include:
Have a great weekend!! 

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Interview with Anastasia Hopcus

Today, I'm excited to welcome debut author Anastasia Hopcus to The Serpentine Library.  I was lucky enough to interview Anastasia as part of her blog tour for Shadow Hills

Anastasia Hopcus wrote her first book in the 2nd grade. It was entitled Frederick the Friendly French Ferret and was seven pages long. During high school she wrote numerous short stories and started (but never finished) three screenplays, all as an alternative to doing actual school work. At the very wise age of twelve her career ambition was to drive a Mack truck, but when that didn't pan out, she tried acting, bartending, and being a receptionist in a dojo before finally returning to writing. Anastasia loves horror movies, Joss Whedon, obsessing over music, and British accents. She lives in Austin, Texas and Shadow Hills is her debut novel. You can visit Anastasia at her website


1. If someone asked Phe what Shadow Hills (the book) was about, what would she say?

Phe would say: "Shadow Hills is a book I wrote about what happened during the first few weeks I spent at Devenish Prep. It's the story of how I met Zach and discovered some secrets about Shadow Hills, Massachusetts and the people who live there---not to mention finding out some things I didn't know about myself! I also managed to stumble upon a mystery and nearly wound up getting killed before we figured it all out."

2. Shadow Hills has such a great premise. I really like that it's a combination of mystery, suspense, paranormal, and boarding school story with a dash of romance. What were some of your inspirations as you were writing Shadow Hills?

All those elements are things that really appeal to me. I've always been intrigued by boarding schools; they're such a unique environment for a teen---a place where they're still in school yet not with their families. I also was interested in writing about the paranormal because I enjoy that in books and TV shows and movies. I wanted to find something a little different, but I wasn't sure what. Then I saw a 60 Minutes segment on a gifted savant, and I considered what it must be like to be incredibly gifted, as well as what drawbacks might go along with that kind of superior intelligence. That developed into the idea behind the town and people of Shadow Hills and their powers. Then, on a visit to Los Angeles, I got the idea for the character of Phe; I wanted her to be the person who goes to this unique place and begins to discover its secrets. As I thought about the story and expanded it, the mystery just sort of grew out of it. I've always liked mysteries and suspense---I loved Disturbia (as well as Rear Window, the movie it was based on.)

3. I have this thing about names, I love hearing how people got their names.  How do you choose names for your characters?

In general, I try to choose names that fit that person. I usually get the idea of what the character is like, and then I go online and look up lots of different names until I find one that strikes me as suiting that character.

I'm often drawn to unusual names like Persephone. I planned for Shadow Hills to involve Greek myths and the goddess Hekate, so I chose names from myths for Phe and her sister, though I shortened Persephone's name to the nickname Phe. Later on, in my research into ancient Greek religion, I discovered that Hekate was part of the myth about Hades and Persephone, so Phe's name fit even better than I had imagined.


4. Phe is a strong female character in that she follows her instincts and she refuses to back down until she finds answers to her questions. Who are some of the strong female characters (from, books, movie or TV) that you have enjoyed reading or watching?

I've always loved strong female characters.

One of my favorites is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The way she exhibited strength and courage, while facing all the problems and issues facing of a more typical teen-age girl, was just inspiring. Temperance Brennan of Bones is another TV female character I admire.

But long before I watched Buffy, I was a big fan of Anne of Green Gables. She might not have been fighting demons and such, but she was a very strong girl, then woman, who was not afraid to tackle anything. As a teen, I began reading Elizabeth Peters' series of historical mysteries about Amelia Peabody, a woman in the late 1800's who went on archaeological digs and solved murders in her spare time. She was just a wonderfully strong character, even bossy.

5. I love finding out what authors are reading. What's the last book that you read and what are some of the books on your "to be read" list?

I recently finished Whisper, and I really enjoyed it. Its author, Phoebe Kitanidis, and I just had an autographing together this past weekend. Up next for me is Beautiful Darkness. I snagged a copy of it at the BEA and put it aside to read when all the craziness of Shadow Hills' debut was over. Only the craziness never seems to stop, so the book is still sitting there, waiting for me. I'm also dying to read Cyn Balog's Sleepless. Everyone says it is a very unique story---and that's something I love---if you can imagine that. ;)


Thanks so much for stopping by today Anastasia!!

If you haven't read Shadow Hills, you should definitely add it to your "to be read list."  You won't be disappointed :)  You can check out  my review here.

Waiting on Wednesday - Drought

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine

Drought by Pam Bachorz
Publisher: EgmontUSA
Publication Date: January 11, 2011

Summary from Goodreads: Ruby Prosser dreams of escaping the Congregation and the early-nineteenth century lifestyle that’s been practiced since the community was first enslaved.

She plots to escape the vicious Darwin West, his cruel Overseers, and the daily struggle to gather the life-prolonging Water that keeps the Congregants alive and gives Darwin his wealth and power. But if Ruby leaves, the Congregation will die without the secret ingredient that makes the Water special: her blood.

So she stays.

But when Ruby meets Ford, the new Overseer who seems barely older than herself, her desire for freedom is too strong. He’s sympathetic, irresistible, forbidden—and her only access to the modern world. Escape with Ford would be so simple, but can Ruby risk the terrible price, dooming the only world she’s ever known?

Last year I read and loved Pam Bachorz's book Candor, it's about brainwashing and living in the "perfect" community and a boy named Oscar Banks.  When I heard that she had another book in the works, I was very excited :-)  Drought sounds like it could be the perfect mix or creepy and thought provoking.  Plus, look at that cover...just amazing!

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?


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