Thursday, June 30, 2011

Epiphanies Rock!

Just wanted to share...

I have no idea if any of you remember, but last year I wrote a romantic comedy novel. Well, the first draft anyway. :P Since then, I have been trying to revise the bejeesus out of it, because though I love the story, with the way the publishing market is today, I know realistically that my book doesn't yet have a chance. It's missing that spark that makes someone remember the book long after they've read it...the one that makes them ask, "Ooh! Did so and so write any other books?"

So. I've been plugging away, reading lots of books and blogs by professional writers to glean as many tips and tricks as I can to improve my writing craft. But, I've also been blogging, reviewing, and yes, horrors!, working during our busiest time of year! So, very little has actually been accomplished on draft #2.

And then...Monday morning - EPIPHANY!! Awesomeness. I was in the shower, because of course the only place I get my really great ideas are in the shower or in my car during my hour long commute...two places where I can't immediately write things down, and I finally had the epiphany that my story really needed.

The first draft was missing major conflict. Sure there was character growth, there's humor, there's love, but there's no moment where it all comes on the line. The moment when you know that if it goes wrong, it's going to go WRONG... but now I figured out exactly what I need to do to add my conflict!

*cue happy dance with flailing arms, jumping around, and squeeing!*

SO, this weekend can you guess what I might be working on??

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

If You Like: War Stories

"If You Like…” is a feature highlighting blogger recommendations for books, authors, TV shows, movies, and music based on the things you already know and love.

Generally I avoid books having to do with war like the plague! I always think they will be horribly depressing...and yet, the last few that I have picked up (either because I was reviewing them or they had been recommended so many times I could no longer ignore the book) have been phenomenally well done and were surprisingly uplifting. So, my three recommendations can be found here with others from the other contributors!

The Heart of Glass

The Heart of Glass
by Vivian French
The Five Kingdoms, book three

It’s a fine day for dwarf watching! At least that’s what Gracie Gillypott and Prince Marcus innocently think as they set out, unaware that Princess Marigold has honed her sights on Marcus and plans to follow him to the ends of the earth — fan, frilly petticoats, and all. As for the dwarves, it’s not a fine day at all: they’re overworked and underpaid, rushing to produce extra gold to make crowns for a royal wedding. The Chief of Works has no choice but to send for some trolls to deal with the problem, but they have their own agenda: finding a princess for their lonely king. Throw in the faithful Gubble, a slinking goblin, four chatty bats, and a heart of glass that will give its owner absolute power and you have a hilarious new adventure rife with mistaken identities — and the ever-compelling search for the perfect match. (description from

This is one of my favorite quick-to-read middle grade adventure series. I love the old crones (think like the three fates) that run the Kingdoms behind the scenes, the intrepid Trueheart Gracie who proves you don't have to be a Princess to be an important girl, the talking bats and wayward troll that are devoted to her, and the Prince who also believes Gracie to be way more fun and interesting than any old princess.

These books make me smile and want to run out and have wild adventures of my own. They remind me again how much I love a good, strong heroine. They remind me how much I love when two characters kind of like each other but won't admit it, even as the first stirrings of love make them awkward around each other...

The combination of friendship, fantasy, and wild adventures will keep me coming back for as long as this series goes on. :)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

FIns Are Forever Release Day!!

Today is the swimmingly happy release day for Tera Lynn Child's second awesome mermaid tale, Fins are Forever!

I loved this fact, you can go back and read my review here. There is nothing better during the summer than a little fin-tastic romance. *sigh*

I was lucky enough to actually meet Tera Lynn Childs in person last night at the Otis Library in Norwich, CT. My friend, Jen, from Yabooknerd, is the Teen Librarian there and she did a wonderful job hosting. (I have more pictures to post later...) For now, I will just say that Tera is as sweet and funny as her books. :)


by Neal Shusterman
Skinjacker Trilogy, book three

While Mary lies in a glass coffin aboard a ghost train heading west, her minions are awaiting her re-awakening by bringing lots of new souls into Everlost to serve her. Meanwhile Jackin’ Jill has met Jix, a fur-jacker—a skin jacker who can take over the bodies of animals, most notably jaguars. Jix serves a Mayan god who collects Everlost coins, and has his own agenda. In the concluding volume of The Skinjacker Trilogy, Neal Shusterman reveals new sides of the characters of Everlost, who are pitted against each other in a battle that may destroy all life on Earth. (description from

Without getting all spoilery...

What an epic conclusion to this trilogy. If you haven't already picked up the first book, Everlost, GO NOW and get it! These books take place in the purgatory-like in between afterlife that children go to when they aren't quite ready to make it to "where they are heading."

Neal Shusterman's conceptualization of this afterlife and the whole process that children go through to get to their "ultimate destination" is phenominally well done. Through their landing in Everlost, he is able to explore issues of self-identity (it's a place where you become what you remember the most about your self), inner strength (again mind over matter), life and death, morality (skinjacking allows some kids to inhabit living bodies and what they do with those bodies can have major consequences...), love, and tyranny.

Full of adventure, amazing feats, moments that made me cry, others that made me laugh...these three books are beautifully done. This was another series that ended PERFECTLY. There was nothing I would change. Neal Shusterman wrapped things up in just the right way... *sigh*

Definitely worth a GOLD STAR!

I repeat, if you haven't tried this series yet, go now and at least try the first book. You will not be sorry!

Full disclosure: Audio book received to review for SLJ.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Secrets of Tamarind

Secrets of Tamarind
by Nadia Aguiar

It’s been four years since Maya, Simon, and Penny Nelson left the lost island of Tamarind. For Maya, the island is a nearly forgotten part of her childhood; for Penny, it’s a secret place she can’t remember, but longs to see; and for Simon, it’s an adventure waiting to happen. An evil group called the Red Coral Project is lurking around the Nelson’s home in Bermuda, and the children discover that the project has moved into Tamarind, and are desiccating it to ruin. Only the Nelson’s can save the island.

In Tamarind, there is the mystery of the magical mineral ophalla that Red Coral is greedily mining, their old pirate ship, the Pamela Jane, and the secret of their friend Helix’s parentage. This time, it is up to Simon to put the clues together, and save his sisters from the island and the nefarious Red Coral Project—and defeat Red Coral before the magnificent island is put to ruin. (description from

I really enjoyed this middle grade adventure. I kind of wish that I had read the first book in the series, The Lost Island of Tamarind (I will probably go back and read it at some point), not because I didn't understand what was happening (this takes place four years later, so it's separated into reminiscences rather than directly affecting the events of this book) but because the writing is so good that I want to visit this world again!

Aguiar describes a lush and magical island. This series is sort of Peter Pan meets Lost. The island contains wonderous creatures, interesting people, and sights that just make me want to jump in with my camera in tow. Add to that mix a really devoted and adventurous family of kids that are continuously able to save the've got a winner!

This book was just what I needed as a fantasy reader who had read one to many paranormal romances recently. This brought me right back to what I had loved about reading fantasy a few years ago. Pure adventure. Pure magic. Pure smarts and courage and devoted friends.
Definitely worth reading!!

Full disclosure: ARC received to review for SLJ

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Goddess Test

The Goddess Test
by Aimee Carter

It's always been just Kate and her mom—and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate's going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won't live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld—and if she accepts his bargain, he'll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he's crazy—until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she'll become Henry's future bride, and a goddess. (description from

What an interesting new version of the Greek myth about Persephone and Hades! I love the backstory that though they were married, they were not happy and when Persephone made her unhappiness known, Hades honored her feelings. Hades, or Henry here, was really a great character.

Kate was very believable, too. She is brave and kind. She loves her mother...she is devoted to her to the point that she is willing to spend six months with a man she doesn't know to save her. I loved watching her change as she spends time in the mansion.

Speaking of the mansion, I loved the lush Southern setting, too. Aimee Carter has a way with description...the outfits, the mansion, the grounds, I just want to go and visit. I would be happy to spend six months there!

My favorite part of the book, though, was definitely trying to figure out which characters were actually gods and goddesses from Greek mythology. I had a ton of fun picking out clues and then was happy to see a "glossary" of the gods/goddesses at the end so I could see if I was right.

I cannot wait to read the second book, Goddess Interrupted!

2011 Debut Author Challenge

In My Mailbox - June 26, 2011

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme, hosted by Kristi at the Story Siren, inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie. Every week bloggers can share what they received in the mail or at the bookstore or at the library. The goal is that everyone can be exposed to more books this way!

From the Library:

Smokin' Seventeen by Janet Evanovich
I Was Jane Austen's Best Friend by Cora Harrison

Hit List by Laurell K. Hamilton
The Fallen by Celia Thomson

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

More adult books than YA this week, but new books in two of my absolutely favorite series came out this week, so I'm stoked!! Off to read...

Winner! - The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

I am pleased to announce that the winner of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making giveaway (via random drawing at is...

Carol M!!

Carol, check your have until Thursday, June 29th to contact me with your mailing address so we can send the book out to you. Congratulations again!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Memento Nora

Memento Nora
by Angie Smibert

In the future, it doesn't pay to remember.

In Nora's world you don't have to put up with nightmares. Nora goes with her mother to TFC--a Therapeutic Forgetting Clinic. There, she can describe her horrible memory and take the pill that will erase it. But at TFC, a chance encounter with a mysterious guy changes Nora's life. She doesn't take the pill. And when Nora learns the memory her mother has chosen to forget, she realizes that someone needs to remember. With newfound friends Micah and Winter, Nora makes a comic book of their memories called Memento. It's an instant hit, but it sets off a dangerous chain of events. Will Nora, Micah, and Winter be forced to take the Big Pill that will erase their memories forever? (description from

Short. Succinct. Intriguing. Well Done!

Though this book was smaller than I'd imagined, (which originally made me nervous) Smibert packs a ton of punch into this little book. The world is close enough to our own, that once the TFC centers were described and you understood that taking pills made you forget...well, were pretty much all set. So simple, and yet so freaking scary. This is the type of book that seems utterly plausible. Both terrifying and absorbing.

With short chapters that jump between the three main characters' points of view, you had to pay attention to who was speaking and how things all played into the larger picture...and yet, that was not at all hard to do. Each character felt distinct and had their own easily discernable motives for their part in creating Memento.

While I loved each character, what struck me even more once I'd finished the book was the adults around them, in their lives. For the adults play a much stronger role in this story than you would originally think.
*spoilers ahead*

When each teen forgets the existence of Memento, it is the adults in their lives that continue the story. Even if Nora, Micah, and Winter never even realize it.
*Spoilers end*

Each teen greatly influences the adults around them...inspiring them to solve their own issues, to stand up for what they believe in, to truly see the others around them. I found inspiration in that. In today's world where we've become self-absorbed, it is rare for an adult to admit that another adult has greatly influenced them...let alone a teen. Too often they get written off...

Kudos to a fantastic debut by Angie Smibert.

2011 Debut Author Challenge


by Melissa Marr

Rebekkah Barrow never forgot the tender attention her grandmother, Maylene, bestowed upon the dead of Claysville, the town where Bek spent her adolescence. There wasn't a funeral that Maylene didn't attend, and at each Rebekkah watched as Maylene performed the same unusual ritual: three sips from a small silver flask followed by the words "Sleep well, and stay where I put you."

Now Maylene is dead and Bek must go back to the place--and the man--she left a decade ago. But what she soon discovers is that Maylene was murdered and that there was good reason for her odd traditions. It turns out that in placid Claysville, the worlds of the living and the dead are dangerously connected. Beneath the town lies a shadowy, lawless land ruled by the enigmatic Charles, aka Mr. D--a place from which the dead will return if their graves are not properly minded. Only the Graveminder, a Barrow woman, and the current Undertaker, Byron, can set things to right once the dead begin to walk. (description from

This was one of those books that stands just perfectly on its own. Though I loved the worldbuilding and could absolutely immerse myself again and again into Rebbekah's world, I am also completely satisfied with this book and where it ended.

The characters were intriguing, deep, and balanced each other perfectly. The world was mysterious, thought-provoking, and enthralling. The writing was engaging. All around, this was a fantastic book.

I am a huge fan of Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely series and I had feared that her attempt to do something different would be disappointing...I could not have been more wrong! I loved that this adult book drew me just as strongly as her YA ones. I cannot wait to see what she does next.

2011 Zombie Reading Challenge

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Black Book of Buried Secrets

The Black Book of Buried Secrets
by Mallory Kass
The 39 Clues

For the past five hundred years, the Cahills have silently dominated the world. Their desperate hunt for the 39 Clues lies behind some of history’s biggest enigmas – the curse of the Hope diamond, the race to summit Mt. Everest, the wild life and death of Harry Houdini. And now – finally – the secrets are out. With an introduction by Rick Riordan, The 39 Clues: The Black Book of Buried Secrets reveals the shocking truth about history’s most notorious family.

In full, lush color, The 39 Clues: The Black Book of Buried Secrets lays bare each hidden fact, concealed strategy, top agent, lost founder, secret base and hushed-up scandal of the Clue hunt. This complete guide to the Cahills contains information on all five branches, including the notoriously elusive Madrigals. The must-know information includes:
- Full files on the enigmatic Man in Black.
- The true purpose of the Madrigal branch.
- The complete story of the fire that split the original Cahill family.
- The truth about the night Hope and Arthur Cahill died.
- Open access to the secrets of the Lucian, Ekaterina, Tomas and Janus branches.
(description taken from

This was a great filler book before the start of the new spin-off series. I really loved getting to see the extra thought that went into some of the characters that were actually in the series for only a page or two! There is a ton of world building that went on here...

The character profiles were fun. I loved seeing the list of the famous Cahills in each branch. I liked finding out where each of their strongholds are, and what their secret weapons might be. All in all a fun book to flip through before I read the first Cahills vs. Vespers book!

Trauma Queen

Trauma Queen
by Barbara Dee

Every tween girl knows what it's like to have a mom who can be a little embarrasing at times. But for Marigold, it goes way beyond embarrassing. Marigold's single mom is a performance artist, meaning she stages dramatic, wacky performances to express her personal beliefs. Things like wrapping herself in saran wrap for a piece on plastic surgery, or inviting people over in the middle of the night to videotape her sleeping. In fact, Marigold's mom's performances caused such a ruckus in their last town that the two of them, along with Marigold's little sister, have just had to move. Now Marigold's starting a new school, missing her best friend like crazy, and trying to fit in all over again in the shadow of a mom who's famous for all the wrong reasons. As if that's not bad enough, Marigold's mom takes on a new job--teaching drama at Marigold's school! Now all the kids know instantly just how weird her mom is, and Marigold's worried she'll never be able to have a friendship that can survive her mother. (description from

This book made me smile. This book made me laugh. This book made me cringe. This book threw me right back into the turmoil of my earliest teen years. This book wrapped me in a giant hug, reminded me that it all gets better, and threw me back into my adult life. In short...I thought this was a GREAT tween book!

Barbara Dee just has that pitch-perfect thirteen year old girl voice. I mean, Marigold was sooo...well what I was as a thirteen year old. She really has no idea yet who she really is or wants to be, but she does not what feels wrong, and she's willing to stand up anytime she really has to to protect her friends or family. Though her emotions may be all out of whack, Marigold has just enough confidence in herself to not let the worst things get to her fact, I kind of wish I had been more like Marigold in this respect when I was thirteen!

I loved how this book deals with so many of her different relationships. Having a little sister who is a little quirky, but still utterly lovable. A grandmother who just makes her feel warm and gooey, just like a chocolate chip cookie. A boyfriend...oooh...a little boyfriend who holds hands with her on the way home from school and sneaks a chaste little kiss. *squee!* (My remembered thirteen year old heart was beating like crazy when I read that scene!!) A best friend who she loses touch with when Marigold's family moves away. New great friends at her new school. Most of all, though, this book really focuses on the relationship that Marigold has with her mother.

It's so funny...mothers and daughters really do have a special bond. It's strong, it's protective, it's intuitive, it's anyone from the outside. However, mothers and daughters are the people who can shake or hurt each other the most easily because we value each other so much....and teen years are ROUGH. Though Marigold and her mother love each other to pieces, at this point in Marigold's life, as so many things are changing, as she is feeling the most vulnerable, she and her mother seem to be at a total disconnect.

They have fights, they each embarrass the other, but eventually it all works out. This is because their bond is truly unbreakable. When I was reading all of their scenes, all I could think of was my mom. I think we went through something very similar when I was the same age...though she never covered herself in electronic bugs or anything!

I truly cannot wait to put this book into the hands of some of our tween readers. I think that so many eleven, twelve, thirteen (and yes, even thirty year olds!) can relate to this book and will really, truly enjoy reading it! I, personally, am looking forward to reading another one of Barbara Dee's books that we just got in, This is Me From Now On, very soon!

Full disclosure: Review copy received from author

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

If You Like: Fairy Tales and Mythology

"If You Like…” is a feature highlighting blogger recommendations for books, authors, TV shows, movies, and music based on the things you already know and love.

Are you a fairy tale fanatic? Do you love your monsters and mythology? If so, check out this week's recommendations.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making - Book Trailer and Giveaway!!

I am officially psyched to read this book! It's gotten great buzz online, the origin story is so cool (it was originally published serially online and then the author was offered the chance to publish it in novel format!) and the storyline sounds great! So, what book am I talking about??

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
by Catherynne M. Valente

Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday. (description from

Check out the great new book trailer:

So, have I peaked your interest, yet?

I have one copy of this awesome book (thanks to Zietghost Media!) to giveaway to someone.

If you would like to enter, leave a comment with your name and email address below. I will randomly choose a winner on Sunday, June 26th. The winner will be announced and contacted that same day. The winner has until Thursday, June 29th to contact me with a US or Canadian mailing address (per publisher) where they would like the book sent. Good luck!!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

YA Spectacular Event in Madison, CT

So, I've been running around like a maniac doing summer reading visits to all the schools in the city where I work and I just have not had the time to put together a complicated post. So...that means that this should have gone up ages ago, but instead I'm just getting to it now...

Anyway, on Thursday, June 9th, I was lucky enough to go to the YA Spectacular event hosted by RJ Julia Booksellers in Madison, CT. It was AWESOME. Though I had to brave a horrific lightning storm, downed trees, and a GPS that just refused to accept the fact that, no, I could not go through that giant roadblock and I MUST turn around, getting to see the awesome and lovely Sara Shepard, Sarah Mlynowski, and Maureen Johnson (OMG...I just met one of my heroes!!!) was beyond worth the near death travel experience.

Upon arriving, I was stoked to find out first of all that the authors had not yet made it (Phew! I was so worried I'd have to sneak in the back like a creepy stalker...) and that a bunch of my librarian pals were there, too!! My librarian/blogger online BFF, Jen from Yabooknerd was saving me a seat (*Thank you, thank you, thank you!), my friends from the Windsor library system, Amy and Andrea, both made it, Bailey from the Newington Library and Mary Kate from the Scotland Library also made it! We are a brave, brave crew of YA Librarians, I tell you! No one was keeping us from these lovely ladies.

After buying a copy of Maureen's new book, The Last Little Blue Envelope, and gossiping like crazy about books and BEA with the other librarians and RJ Julia's ya even coordinator, Jen elbowed me... I looked up to see Maureen Johnson peeking out from behind the curtains onstage like a little kid at their first school play performance. *insert giggles here*

As the ladies were introduced, Maureen continued to peek out and then caused the entire crowd to start giggling as she darted across the stage so that she could peek out from the other side. *more giggles*

After introductions, Sara, Sarah, and Maureen finally came out on stage. They had these tall barstools that the ladies were to sit on and as you can see above, Sara Shepard's dress was just a little short and she was a little cautious at first about getting up on the stool. Maureen kept cracking jokes, though and they quickly settled into their places to read.

To begin with each author read a passage from her newest book. Maureen briefly explained the plot of her book,Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes, and then read a funny passage from the sequel (which I am dying to read!). Sarah Mlynowski read a section from her new YA book, ,Ten Things We Did (...And Probably Shouldn't Have)...which I had to sneak out and buy a copy of to get signed! Finally, Sara Shepard read a section from her new book, The Lying Game.

Next, Maureen played Oprah and did a question and answer session roaming through the crowd. I was tweeting like a maniac during the are some of the tweets I sent out (@jessyabookobssd)

Sara Shepard will be putting out 4 more #PLL books...

Whoops! @maureenjohnson admits to dropping phone in toilet at #BEA11

TEN THINGS WE DID is actually based on Sarah Mlynowski's real life experiences...

Strange abandoned fires...Sara Shepard's hobby growing up...

"I love writing all the secrets people have" -Sara Shepard

@maureenjohnson is lurking in the audience taking questions... #yaauthorcreeping

As you can probably tell, it was kind of a wild and crazy Q&A session! Sara Shepard got asked TONS of questions about both the Pretty Little Liars book series and the TV show. Sarah Mlynowski ended up explaining quite a bit about her somewhat wild teen years, and Maureen Johnson was hilarious...even answering a question about how she keeps her socks organized.

I ended up asking how each author balances their online social networking with their writing time. Sara Shepard says she doesn't do any social networking so it's not an issue. Sarah Mlynowski uses her social networking as a reward for finishing her writing goals. Maureen Johnson, who is famous in YA twitter circles for rivaling Libba Bray as a twitter goddess, admitted that she doesn't really even try to keep the social networking in check. "It just works itself out in the end..."

After the Q&A, the authors were kind enough to sign about a million books apiece! The line was kidding. Having been in this situation before, Jen, Mary Kate and I sat calmly and gossiped until the line went down. Jen and I admired the books we'd bought and exchanged (Yes, we are those book dorks that brought books to lend to each other by other authors to a signing...). Finally, the line went down and we headed up to have our fangirl moments.

It was awesome to meet all three authors, but I was definitely BEYOND over the moon to meet Maureen Johnson in person. I had that moment where I almost couldn't spit out what I wanted to say, but I did finally get to tell her that I recommend her Scarlett Martin series to all my teen readers looking for funny contemporary books. I was somewhat disappointed that they weren't selling Suite Scarlett because I would have LOVED to have a signed copy. Then, Maureen made my night, by not only signing my books, but fulfilling my weird request to have her also add the twitter hashtag, #yasaves, as a homage to her part in the outcry online against censorship based on YA becoming "too dark."

This was an awesome event and I am so grateful that RJ Julia put it together. :)

In My Mailbox - June 19, 2011

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme, hosted by Kristi at the Story Siren, inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie. Every week bloggers can share what they received in the mail or at the bookstore or at the library. The goal is that everyone can be exposed to more books this way!

This was two big weeks' worth of books! I was lucky to get quite a few fantastic books in the mail, to borrow some great reads and to attend the YA spectacular event in Madison, CT.

From the Library:

The Ghoul Next Door by Lisi Harrison


The Summer Trilogy by Jenny Han
*Thanks to Steph at Steph Su Reads!!*

Sent for Review:

Darkness Falls by Cate Tiernan
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
*Thanks to Little, Brown!!*

Spell Bound by Kelley Armstrong
*Thanks to Dutton!!*

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
*Thanks to Zietghost Media!*

Mercy by Sarah L. Thompson
The Break-Up Diaries by Ni-Ni Simone and Kelli London

Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs
*Thanks, Tera!!*

Borrowed from Jen at Yabooknerd:

Withering Tights by Louise Rennison
Hourglass by Myra McEntire
Crossed by Ally Condie

Bought at R.J. Julia's YA Spectacular Event:

10 Things We Did by Sarah Mlynowski
The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ask Elizabeth

Ask Elizabeth
by Elizabeth Berkley

Ask Elizabeth is the complete guide to teen life; the last and only self-help book they'll ever need. Inspired by the many workshops Elizabeth Berkley has conducted with over 30,000 teen girls across the country, Ask Elizabeth brings the spirit of these conversations to life on the page.

Much like a private diary, the book will be a personal resource that girls can turn to when they seek answers to teen life's toughest questions.

The content contains real and practical advice, anecdotes and wisdom in answer to the most asked questions from girls who participate in Elizabeth's workshops such as: what do you do when you look in the mirror and don't like what you see? or How do you get over a broken heart? Elizabeth, along with a panel of experts, and teen girls themselves advise readers in matters of body image, personal relationships, dating, and much more. (description taken from

This is another one of those non-fiction books that I really wish had come out when I was still in my teen years. Elizabeth Berkley has managed to tackle a TON of topics that really affect teen girls in a very forthright and un-embarassing way. Part of what makes this such a unique reading experience and what really will draw a teen reader in is the formatting. The book is full of handwritten notes and letters from girls all over...sharing their experiences, their feelings, and the wisdom they have gleaned from their own life experiences. It's like having each of those girls writing directly to the reader...and it does not feel at all as if an adult just made these things up to tell readers what they should do or how they should feel.

Even as an adult reader, there were some great pieces of advice to internalize. It took me right back to my teen years and in some spots showed me that I still have a lot of the same insecurities. This is a book to flip through every once in awhile to just mull over again...and to see what things strike you at that moment. I have a feeling every reading will be just a little different as readers grow and change.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Black

The Black
by D. J. MacHale
Morpheus Road, book two

Cooper Foley always had a knack for finding trouble, but nothing he’s ever experienced could have prepared him for his latest adventure: He has landed square in the middle of a border war between the worlds of the living and the dead.

At the end of The Light, Book One of the Morpheus Road trilogy, Marshall Seaver learned the truth about what happened to his missing best friend, Cooper. Now, the mystery continues to unfold, only this time through Cooper’s eyes.

What did Marshall’s terrifying encounters with Gravedigger have to do with spirits from another existence? Who is Damon, and what role did he play in Cooper’s dilemma? Most importantly, what is the mysterious Morpheus Road? (description taken from the author's website)

When I got The Light to review for SLJ, I was not that excited. Horror isn't normally my thing. I was pleasantly surprised, though, and even though there were some gruesome moments, I ended up really liking it. So, when I got The Black to review, I was happy to be able to continue the story.

I was really excited when I realized that this second book was from Marsh's friend, Cooper's point of view. While the first book took place in our reality, the Light, and Marsh was haunted, the second book takes place in the second stage of the Morpheus Road, the Black.

MacHale has created an interesting new world with different stages of life and the afterlife. The Black is sort of like purgatory and is different for each person. I loved seeing how different spirits' visions of the Black touched and interacted. It was really cool to see how Cooper's relatives and neighbors were able to coexist without generational differences in the Black.

While the first book was super creepy, partially since Marsh made such a great victim, this second book delved more deeply into the actual world and even though it had creepy moments, it was more thoughtprovoking and definitely sets things up for a grand finale in the third book.

The thing that really cemented for me how much I loved this book was Cooper's voice. He's a really snarky, anti-authority kind of guy, but he's also loyal and caring to a fault. As things heat up for Cooper, he buckles down and does exactly what he thinks is right, even if no one else agrees. I think that the final book goes back to Marsh's voice and I will miss Cooper. (Plus Nick Podehl narrated and though I think it's funny that every D. J. MacHale book I've ever listened to has been narrated by him, he does a great job. He was REALLY good as Cooper)

Full disclosure: Audio book received to review for SLJ

Bite Club

Bite Club
by Rachel Caine
Morganville Vampires, book ten

After discovering that vampires populate her town, college student Claire Danvers knows that the undead just want to live their lives. But someone else wants them to get ready to rumble.

There's a new extreme sport getting picked up on the Internet: bare- knuckle fights pitting captured vampires against each other-or humans. Tracking the remote signal leads Claire- accompanied by her friends and frenemies-to discover that what started as an online brawl will soon threaten everyone in Morganville... (description from

I love this series. They are fun, funny, and Claire is one of my all time favorite heroines. She is smart and brave, more brave than a LOT of other characters could ever conceive to be...

Since this is book ten, I don't want to get into a lot of plot stuff. It would be too spoilery. What I will say is that sections of this book are from Shane's point of view. Normally, I'm not a huge fan of books that jump from one character to another...I tend to like one narrator throughout, however, I really liked getting to see inside Shane's head.

Seeing what Shane thought brought a whole new dimension to his relationship with Claire. One of the things I like best about this series is Claire and Shane's relationship. It is romantic and feels meant to be, but it's not unrealistically all sunshine and rainbows. This book truly tested their relationship and what comes out on the other end is truer by far than many other fictional relationships.

If you aren't reading this series, I would recommend you give the first book, Glass Houses a try.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Telecasting my Summer Reading Program talk

My favorite part of my job is actually going into classrooms to see students, to tell them about the library, to discuss awesome books, and to encourage them to join the summer reading program.

This year, over a six week period, I personally spoke to over 2, 590 students at 15 different schools in our city. Some of these visits were classroom to classroom, some were assemblies, and one was a telecast! This was a definite first for me, but I kind of liked doing it!

Basically, one of our middle schools had me come in and do the summer reading program talk over their morning announcements. I got to sit in a little room off of their media center and talk directly into a camera that fed live into every classroom in the building.

It was awesome because I was literally speaking to every student in the building at the teachers and administration! I showed the brochure they would be receiving, outlined our leveled program, and then also mentioned all of the fun, non-summer reading related programs we have at the library throughout the summer. 20 mins and done!

The only thing I missed was the actual student reactions. I tend to feed off of their energy, tailoring each visit to how they are reacting to what every I mention, and I couldn't really do that here. Thankfully, this telecast was almost my last "visit" and so I'd done the talk about 50 times already, so I basically knew it inside and out.

I think more schools will be asking to do this kind of thing in the future. Has anyone else done something like this? What were the reactions from students/teachers?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Winner #2 - BEA ARC Giveaway!

I am pleased to announce that the SECOND winner of the BEA ARC giveaway (via random drawing at is...


Zareen, check your have until Friday, June 17th to contact me with your mailing address and the ARC title that you want (your choices are shown below). Congratulations again!