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It's one of my favorite times of the year - kids' book awards! I waited with baited breath for the new Printz and Newbury winners and the resulting pile of spanking new stories to discover. I started with the Printz winner, MidwinterBLOOD
, by Marcus Sedgwick, and oh, what delicious fun!
Multiple, seemingly unrelated tales spanning thousands of years but that nevertheless all take place on the same island with two repeating character names slowly reveal themselves as the stories of the multiple lives of two star-crossed lovers that culminate in their final breaths. And even throws in a vampire and a WW II aviator.
This sort of storytelling mesmerizes me. It takes the short story and incorporates it into novel length. It's a two for one that cleverly takes short stories arcs and layers them into a longer, overall novel arc. It's pretty cool how Sedgwick pulls that off. How he takes elements in one story and reworks them, nevertheless expanding and revealing backstory in another about those elements, and the two characters they revolve around.
There were a few stories in the set that I understood less quickly and had to reread, but I'd say this is a reread all the way around, it's that rich with story and new author tools to tell story.
For other stories that will put a spring in your step before we tumble forward this weekend (hopefully out of the snow and into the flowers!) check out Barrie Summy's site
. Happy reading!
The Eye of Minds James Dashner
Michael’s parents are often traveling and like most serious gamers, he spends most of his time in his coffin-- the next step in virtual reality equipment that affects all the senses very realistically. All of Michael’s friends and hang-outs are in the VirtNet. He can usually afford what he wants, but he’s good enough he can also just look at the code that makes up his world and hack his way in.
But something weird’s going on -- a gamer named Kaine has driven gamers to suicide-- cutting out the device that acts as the shield between reality and virtual reality-- so when they die in the VirtNet, they die in the real world, too.
The police are after him, but they need the help of Michael and his friends. They go on a terrifying adventure to stop someone who is always a step or two ahead--someone who knows the code better than they do, better than anyone.
And, what they find is beyond what anyone expects.
It’s a fun action sci/fi thriller where the VirtNet setting allows for some very fun settings and landscapes that Michael and his friends have to work or hack their way through. Of course, it all leads up to a big twist reveal ending, setting up the second book perfectly. Now you just have to wait for the second book.
I probably won’t pick it up-- I enjoyed the book, but it’s not really my thing, so I’m not the right reader for it. (Although I liked it enough that I will probably make one of the teens at work tell me what happens, like I did with the Lockdown series.)
Book Provided by... my local library
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The Impossible Knife of Memory
by Laurie Halse Anderson
High School Viking 371 pp.
1/14 978-0-670-01209-1 $18.99 g
Hayley Kincain has spent the last five years riding shotgun in her father’s rig, discussing fractions and evolution — an on-the-road version of home schooling. Constant movement has helped keep the past at bay for both Hayley and her dad, a recent veteran plagued by graphic flashbacks and screaming nightmares. When they settle down so Hayley can attend her hometown high school for senior year, the dangerous memories threaten to overtake them both. Hayley’s caustic observations about the “fully assimilated zombies” who swarm the halls and the oxymoronic “required volunteer community service” are trademark Anderson. Old friend Gracie shares childhood memories with Hayley, but her stories draw blanks. What Hayley does remember, and can’t forgive, is her father’s girlfriend Trish walking out on them. Now Trish has reappeared, and Hayley blames her for making Dad’s drunken rages and blackouts even worse. How can she possibly care about math? Sweet, “adorkable” Finn offers to tutor her; he is smart enough to take it slow, and as she falls for him he even coaxes her to dare to think about a future. As ever, Anderson has the inside track on the emotional lives of adolescents; she plays high school clichés for laughs but compassionately depicts Hayley’s suffering as well as the hurts of Finn and Gracie, whose families are struggling with their own demons. The novel’s theme is woven artfully throughout as both Hayley and her dad fight the flashes of memory that are sure to tear them apart unless they confront them once and for all.
The post Review of The Impossible Knife of Memory appeared first on The Horn Book.
I don't know why I passed on reading Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs
for so long, or what led me to finally read it a couple of weeks ago. The book was, I think, formulaic, but an example of a well done formula story. Definitely an enjoyable read.
The formula? Young Jacob believes there is a mystery surrounding his late grandfather and manages to get himself to Wales, where Grandad had spent some of his youth during World War II. Needless to say, Jacob works out what his grandfather was part of and, in that way so beloved in books for the young, learns that he is part of something he never expected, too.
There's a definite up side to reading the first in a serial so long after everyone else has. There's a chance the next book has already been published, and you can binge read. Sure enough, the second book in the Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children serial, Hollow City
, was published very recently and sitting on the new book shelf at my local library. This book was covered in the March/April issue of Bookmarks
, which just happened to arrive as I was finishing Hollow City
. Reviewers appeared to like Hollow City
more than Home
. I go the other way. Hollow City
is a journey story, which usually has a lot of natural narrative drive. But Hollow City
seems to be another formula story, the kind in which the protagonist is given something to want and then all kinds of obstacles are thrown in his way before he can get it. It's not a formula I particularly enjoy.
However, Hollow City
has a good ending as serials go. By that I mean I was surprised by two things that happened at that point. It's one of the few serials that leaves me interested in reading the next volume.
I kind of wish I'd waited even longer to read these books, so I could binge read the third one, which isn't out yet, too.
Here's an interesting bit about these books: My library has them shelved with the adult books. No idea what that is about. The books are finding readers there, though.
Oh, look: The Book Wheel
just posted about Hollow City
When the United States went to war in 1941, a lot of people immediately signed up to serve their country. After all, they were Americans and their country was now in peril. And so millions of Americans went to war to fight to defend the freedoms they enjoyed so much. African Americans signed up to defend their country as well, but things weren't quite the same for them. Instead of receiving the honor and respect they deserved, African Americans faced the same discrimination and segregation in the armed forces that they had lived with in civilian life. And, naturally, they were given the lowest jobs available. In the Navy, that usually meant serving in the mess as a cook or being on permanent clean up detail.
But in 1943, the Navy sent a group of African Americans to Port Chicago in northern California. There, they loaded huge cargoes of ammunition onto waiting ships. The men immediately noticed that only African Americans were doing this potentially dangerous job, although they had to be supervised by white Naval officers, since the Navy didn't have an black officers.
Then, on July 17, 1944 at 10:18 PM, as a second shift of men were loading the ammunition, an explosion occurred that was felt for miles around and which killed 320 men instantly. Among that number were 202 African Americans. At first, everyone thought the explosion was an enemy attack, but they soon realized what had happened.
A few weeks after being moved to another port, the surviving men were ordered back to loading ammunition. Afraid of what had happened to their friends at Port Chicago, 258 African American sailors refused to obey the order. In fact, they were willing to obey any other order, but that one. After being told to pack their gear, they were crowded onto a prison barge. Eventually, most of the men would return to their jobs. In the end, 50 sailors would be charged with mutiny and court marshaled. And in the trial that followed, they would be found guilty, even though it was clear that the trial was biased, the judge taking the word of the white officers over that of the black sailors.
NAACP lawyer Thurgood Marshall watched the trial closely and when the guilty verdict was announced, immediately started preparing an appeal. And though the appeal was not successful, the 50 sailors were eventually returned to active service, though they carried the stigma of mutiny throughout their lives.
And yet, Steven Sheinkin contends, these 50 sailors did more for changing the civil rights of African Americans serving their country than they are given credit for, eventually helping to remove the practice of discrimination and segregation in ALL branches of the armed services.
Sheinkin has done it again. First with Bomb: the Race to Build - and Steal - the World's Most Dangerous Weapon
, now with The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny and the Fight for Civil Rights
. The moment I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. Sheinkin has once again written an exciting nonfiction narrative about a little know part of American history. In The Port Chicago 50
, he brings to life many of the men involved, especially Joe Small, whom the Navy considered to be the ringleader of the mutiny. You will meet other unforgettable men in this book, some heroic, some a bit scoundrelly. But they will all rivet you to their story.
As with all good nonfiction, there are plenty of photographs throughout the book, along with the names of each of the 50 sailors listed in the front matter. Back matter includes extensive source notes, as well as works cited, a list of oral histories and documentaries used and the records of the U.S. Navy regarding the Port Chicago explosion and subsequent trial.
The Port Chicago 50
is a well written, well documented addition to the history of African Americans, their history of the Navy and the history of Civil Rights and a book not to be missed.
This book is recommended for readers age 12+
This book was borrowed from the NYPL
One of the things that I love about reviewing books for School Library Journal and AudioFile Magazine is the opportunity to review titles that I might not otherwise choose. For example, Code Name Verity is such a popular title, but I don't read a lot of YA books and hadn't picked it up - but I was given the assignment of reviewing a new audio version of an older Elizabeth Wein book, The Winter Prince.
Below is my review as it appeared in the February/March 2014 edition of AudioFile Magazine.
THE WINTER PRINCE
Elizabeth E. Wein
Read by Basil Sands
Basil Sands's impassioned delivery brings new life to this 1993 book steeped in Arthurian legend and mystery. The ongoing struggle between Medraut, the eldest and bastard son of the king, and Lleu, the kingdom's legitimate heir, is intensified by Sands's dramatic and measured narration. Medraut, the story's narrator, speaks with gravity and a heavy sense of foreboding, while Lleu sounds youthful and often petulant. One finds a small fault in the voicing of the scheming Queen Morguase, whose portrayal is neither as menacing nor as enchanting as the story demands. What begins as a battle of strength and knowledge between brothers ends as an intense and compelling battle of mind and will--with the fate of a kingdom at stake. Wein is also the author of CODE NAME VERITY.
Copyright © 2014 AudioFile Magazine. Reprinted with permission.
Why We Took the Car
by Wolfgang Herrndorf; trans. from the German by Tim Mohr
Middle School, High School Levine/Scholastic 250 pp.
1/14 978-0-545-48180-9 $17.99 g
e-book ed. 978-0-545-58636-8 $17.99
Two teens abandon their lackluster lives and hit the Autobahn in this audacious tragicomedy. Mike Klingenberg, boring and unpopular, lives a life of quiet desperation at his Berlin junior high. New kid Tschick comes to class drunk and might be in the Russian mafia; he’s not winning friends, but at least everyone’s paying attention. So when Tschick rolls up to Mike’s house in a hotwired car and proposes a road trip without a map, destination, or driver’s license, Mike says yes. Although the telling begins at its ignominious end, their story is, in many ways, a traditional road trip: the characters ponder their existence and gain independence while mastering the stick shift, evading local police, and encountering a collection of increasingly weird locals. Mike’s narration is an anxious stream of wry humor and linked anecdotes, but the moments when his façade slips are abrupt and startling windows into the pain of social exclusion and the aching loneliness of being fourteen. A sharp coming-of-age journey, hilarious and heartrending in equal measure.
The post Review of Why We Took the Car appeared first on The Horn Book.
The Disenchantments Nina LaCour
After graduation, Colby’s going on tour with Bev’s band, and then Colby and Bev are going to bum around Europe for a year. They’ve been planning this trip for years. But half-way through the tour, Bev drops the bomb that she’s going to college, not Europe, and Colby’s realizing that he doesn’t know his best friend at all.
Man, did I love this book. I loved Colby and his voice. I loved that Bev’s band was really, really bad. I loved their complicated and changing relationship, and that they’ve known each other forever and how that colors everything. I loved the other girls in Bev’s band (and man, I wished Colby would have woken up and realized that Meg was clearly awesome.) I loved the relationship between Meg and her sister Alexa (both in the band). I loved how it was about art and friendship and family.
AND JASPER. I loved Colby for thinking of Jasper-- this random character from early in the book. How Colby treats Jasper makes him my favorite. I loved Jasper.
So, yeah, I loved this book.
Book Provided by... my local library
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I’ve been researching and trying to write a story based on my family’s experience in World War II for about ten years now, ever since Dad started to open up about his experience. For ten years we’ve been sitting down with each other, talking about events, locations and his experiences, getting clear about the “when” and “wheres” of his time as a prisoner. When we first sat down together, it was difficult for him to remember just how many prisons he was in and how long he had been a prisoner. But, together, we pieced the puzzle together. I’ve read that “why” isn’t a very spiritual question. I kind of like that insight.
I’ve tried five different times to write the story as a novel. And, well…it just wasn’t happening. Each attempt fell apart for one reason or another. And then, after I’d taken only a few storyboarding classes at Art Center at Night, creative fireworks went off and I saw the whole story. I like to write my novels cinematically, so I guess the transition to screenplays is natural, even as I have a lot to learn. Part of the reason why this story hasn’t come together as a novel has to do with the fact that the scope of the story has seemed so epic to me, spanning several generations, and like my screenplay writing instructor said, “that’s the trouble with true stories”…all the details. The story needed focus and that’s what I’ve been working very hard on over the past few months. Here is the opening scene from Gamelan.
EXT. JAPANESE POW CAMP, TJIMAHI, OCCUPIED JAVA 1943
A bamboo and barbed wire fence. An old, white man’s emaciated wrinkled, shaky hand clenches three cigarettes. The boney, but steady hand of HANS (19) takes the cigarettes from the old man.
HANS hammers a crooked nail into a rough-hewn wooden plank.
NINETY YEAR OLD MAN WITH A DUTCH ACCENT (V.O.)
Liberty is something you can’t understand until it’s taken away. You become a different person. You become a prisoner. You learn what it is to survive.
Last weekend my family had a reunion where we celebrated Dad’s 90th birthday!
Happy Birthday Dad!
By: Laura A. H. Elliott,
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NOTE: I’m thrilled to have Lisa Nowak guest post here on Laurasmagicday. She’s not only a dedicated writer but a lot of fun and a passionate gardener. I’m so happy to have gotten to know her and her fiction over years when my travels took me to the Pacific Northwest. I met an amazing group of authors there and we went on tour, click here to see pics of the fun we had on the “Rain boots required” book tour. I’m very happy to have Lisa talk about her creative process and her latest series. Take it away Lisa!
Almost a year and a half ago, while my husband and I were driving to a friend’s house, he told me about a story he’d read in the Portland Mercury. According to the article, fifty years from now much of the United States will be devastated by climate change. The Pacific Northwest will remain relatively unchanged in comparison, which will result in an influx of climate refugees.
“That sounds like a great set up for a dystopian YA novel,” I said. Within minutes, I had the basic premise outlined. The Pacific Northwest, disgruntled over the population boom, secedes from the United States to form its own country with a closed border. Wealthy Americans want to buy their way in, so poor people begin disappearing off the streets. Naturally, I needed a romantic aspect, but I wanted to give it a twist. I decided my protagonist would be a girl whose family had disappeared, and the love interest would be the boy whose family had displaced hers.
Over the coming weeks, the idea grew to include an existing political movement to form a bioregion called Cascadia, Portland’s major league soccer team and its rowdy band of fans, the Timbers Army, and a rock star-turned-activist who becomes the first president of the new nation. My husband, friends, and fellow writers supplied me with myriad excellent ideas and educated me about the subjects of history, politics, computer science, medicine, and soccer.
Several writers I know have been experimenting with serialized stories, and this idea seemed perfect for that venue. I envision it much like a season of a television series. Each short episode gives you part of the story, with the entire plot-line playing out over a nine-book “season.” I currently have the first three episodes published, (you can buy them individually, or as a box set) and the fourth will be released in early March. If you aren’t sure this is for you, fear not. You can try the first episode absolutely free at any of the retailers listed below.
What if the Pacific Northwest seceded from the United States? In 2063, it has.
The climate change that’s devastated all but the Northwest corner of the U.S. has been around since before Piper Hall was born. She doesn’t spend much time thinking about it, the secession that created Cascadia, or the closed border, erected to keep out climate refugees. All she wants is to get through high school and earn a medical degree so she can pull her family out of poverty. Piper’s sure her little brother’s stories about poor people vanishing are just rumors-until she comes home to an empty house. Losing her future, her family, and her freedom and forced into hiding, Piper has to find a way to get to the bottom of the disappearances. But the only one who can help might be the very boy whose family has displaced her own.
Out of the Easy
by Ruta Sepetys
has an eye-popping first line. "My mother's a prostitute." The narrator isn't just directing an insult toward a mom who sleeps around. The mother here is your traditional, lives-in-a-cathouse, works-for-a-madam prostitute. The setting--mid-twentieth century New Orleans--and the world--of prostitutes--is the big draw for this book.
Main character Josie Moraine is an older YA character. She's finished high school and is saving to get out of the Big Easy. Her voice and those of the other characters are a little contrived, though that is understandable. This is a historical novel and the author is trying to duplicate the language and usage of another era. That's extremely difficult to do and make sound natural. As with so many YA novels, Josie is torn between two lovers. It's pretty obvious to readers (at least this adult reader) that she can forget about one of them. Josie doesn't get it. Once again, this is probably understandable given the era she lived in.
There is a mystery here, but it seems to exist in order to showcase the historical world. Everything in this book seems to exist to support the historical world. Fortunately, it's a fantastic world.Out of the Easy
reminded me of Spirit and Dust
because both books involve a protagonist on the high end of YA living in a world YA readers won't be familiar with. Little sub-genre going here?
Out of the Easy was just named a finalist for the 2013 Cybil for Young Adult Fiction
This Fun Friday The Society of YA Storyteller authors are all interviewing fellow authors! I’m the lucky one who hosts KC Blake today. Interested in stories that will keep you up long into the night? Just read one of KC’s books and you’ll see why you’ll want to read them all. When you get to the end of the interview and want to read more, there’s links to all the author interviews. Stop by each of the blogs and read about one of your favorite or future favorite authors. Click here to check out the The YA Society of Storytellers website and check out the game zone, online book club, trailers and giveaways too.
Any works in process that you are passionate about? I am working on Warrior right now. It is the third in the Order of the Spirit Realm Series, and I’m having a blast because I know these characters so well. It will be hard when I finish and have to say goodbye.
Werewolf or Vampire? Vampire or Zombie? Aliens or Mole People? Werewolf (pasty white boys don’t do it for me). Vampire (easier to kill). Aliens (the other is too weird).
Which of your characters is most like you? Bay-Lee Van Helsing from Bait. I don’t give up no matter what (I’m just stubborn that way), and I keep going no matter what life throws at me. I’m also driven (to write, not to kill werewolves).
Which of your characters is least like you? Lily from Witch Hunt. The girl never knows when to shut her mouth. She is constantly talking about stupid things and doesn’t notice when her friends want to slap her.
Which of your characters would you like to be friends with? Kristen from Crushed because she is a witch with crazy powers, but she isn’t irresponsible so I don’t have to worry about her turning me into anything weird. She would use her magic to help me out.
Which of your characters do you like writing about most? Nick Gallos from Bait because he was an undercover rock star slash vampire slayer. He’s angry and bitter, until he falls for Bay-Lee. Definitely my favorite.
Tell us about your favorite Christmas tradition. On Christmas Eve we drink hot cocoa and open up one present. We also watch a Christmas movie. Then on Christmas morning we eat breakfast before opening presents. The rest of the day is spent visiting family, maybe watching another Christmas movie, and playing in the snow if we are lucky enough to have some.
Paperback or eBook? Depends. I love my Kindle, but I want my books in print if they are keepers.
Future plans? After I finish up the Order of the Spirit Realm series, I am going to finish my vampire series. Then I would like to move on to a series about other worlds and dragons.
Check out the other YA Storyteller interviews:
Okay, Picture Book Month is over. Now it is time for...zombies!
Not to worry. I'm not doing a month on them. I'm not even all that enthused about zombies. I've read a couple of good books, seen a few movies, and that's about all I need. Especially since many zombie books are also apocalyptic novels. And, as Garrison Keillor once said about pumpkin pie, the best apocalyptic novel you've ever read isn't that much better than the worst.
That's why I ignored Rot & Ruin
by Jonathan Maberry for a long time when it was on my library's new YA shelf. It wasn't until I saw a review for one of its follow-up books that I gave the first book in the Rot & Ruin
series a second thought and made a point of finding it.
What makes this book so intriguing is that while it is set in a vague American future, it has a western vibe. The characters in this book are fourteen years into zombie world and the little group we're interested in are living in a small town they've created to keep themselves safe from the zombie horde. One character goes so far as to compare the people living there to western townspeople protecting themselves from Native Americans. Horses figure in the story because society has fallen and power for machinery is limited.
Our protagonist's older brother fills the roll of the lone gunslinger with his own code, making him noirish, too. There's no law in these parts, so you've got outlaw types who are far worse than the zombies, just as you had outlaws in westerns. Our heroes head out of town to save their woman from said outlaws. There is even a scene that calls to mind the cavalry coming over the rise to save the day.
For those of us who grew up with parents who watched westerns on TV every night of the week, it's fun to pick up all the western, well, cliches. (I didn't enjoy doing this anywhere near as much while watching Defiance
.) It's been a long time since television was populated by cowboys, though. The western connection won't be an issue one way or the other for younger readers.Rot & Ruin
is an apocalyptic novel that works for me because the society in it isn't stagnant. So often in these books the world goes to pieces and stays that way for generations. No one shows any interest in technology or even changing the height of a hemline. Given the last 500 years or so of human existence, that seems unrealistic to me. Cultures evolve.
And there are suggestions that the culture portrayed in Rot & Ruin
is going to. It's only been 14 years since the world fell to zombies, and already the young people who are growing up there are thinking that they'd like something better. If the zombies come, it seems likely to me that before long people are going to get sick of them and start thinking of ways to make a better life. Trying to make a better life is what we do.
Did you all see this article from Charlotte Church on Digital Music News from her lecture? What do you think? Any crossover to YA? Literature in general?
Etiquette & Espionage
, the first in Gail Carriger
's entertaining steampunk and paranormal series for young adults
, is difficult for me to assess because I'm not coming to it fresh and new, the way most young readers will. I've also read the author's amusingly sexy steampunk and paranormal series for adults
. Quite honestly, I read the adult series for the funny sex. The YA series, at least its first book, doesn't have that. And that's perfectly fine. It has plenty of other things. But an adult reader who is familiar with that aspect of some of Carriger's other work is left wondering, you know, what happened to it?
This new series takes place before the original series and some of The Parasol Protectorate'
s secondary characters appear in the new book as teenagers or children. That's a fun aspect of the book for an adult reader such as myself, though YA readers won't get it. If they move on to the adult books at some point, finding these characters as their much older selves should be entertaining. Or disappointing, if they don't like how they turned out.
The book involves a young girl leaving home to attend what she and her family believe is a finishing school. (A disturbance to her world!) What she's gotten into, though, is a training program for spies and assassins, one that involves learning how to get some dirty jobs done while maintaining proper social behavior. The premise is clever, as is the world in which vampires and werewolves are recognized parts of the social structure.
What's more, this truly is a YA book, not just a thriller that a writer for adults has retooled for young people by replacing an adult protagonist with a teenager. The young people in this book are dealing with separating themselves from their families and determining what kinds of lives they're going to live. That's YA all over.
Oh, look. Etiquette & Espionage
is a Cybils nominee
. Book Two in this series, Curtsies & Conspiracies,
comes out in eight days.
I am not a fan of ghost stories, but Spirit and Dust
by Rosemary Clement-Moore
is more of a thriller than it is a ghost story. It's certainly not any particular ghost's story.
It could also teeter into that adult thriller retooled for YAs category
that I've been noticing recently. Daisy Goodnight (a great name) is a freshman in college and the two guys she's not quite torn between are twenty-somethings. Daisy's story is entertaining and engaging, but there's no compelling reason for these characters to be as young as they are. The story could easily be flipped for older, even much older, characters.
As I said, Daisy is a college freshman, which is a neat way of making her available to FBI agents who want her assistance. It is easier for a person that age to be off having adventures, than a younger one, even a younger one who is an orphan like Daisy. The FBI is interested in Daisy because she can communicate with the dead, helpful when investigating murders. The world of the book is one in which any number of people can do magic to one degree or another, and while it may not be common knowledge, even a criminal mastermind may use magical assistance. The Goodnight family is full of hedge witches and other magical sorts.
The book begins with a murder and involves the story of how Daisy gets drawn into a scheme to take advantage of the dead. I got lost a few times in the plot, but Daisy is definitely a charmer.
Another interesting point I must mention--No blurbs on the cover! The back cover simply says, "Daisy Goodnight can talk to the dead. And something has them terrified." And that's why I read a book about ghosts when I don't care for them.
Here are some inexpensive reads for your Saturday night. If the weather in your area is like mine, you are probably going to want to stay in this evening. We are expecting thunderstorms to roll through, and it has been cloudy and overcast all day long.
The Rise of Renegade X rocks, and I highly recommend it, even though at $3.99 it’s the priciest book listed below. The rest are $1.99.
The Rise of Renegade X (Renegade X, Book 1)
Sixteen-year-old Damien Locke has a plan: major in messing with people at the local supervillain university and become a professional evil genius, just like his supervillain mom. But when he discovers the shameful secret she’s been hiding all these years, that the one-night stand that spawned him was actually with a superhero, everything gets messed up. His father’s too moral for his own good, so when he finds out Damien exists, he actually wants him to come live with him and his goody-goody superhero family. Damien gets shipped off to stay with them in their suburban hellhole, and he has only six weeks to prove he’s not a hero in any way, or else he’s stuck living with them for the rest of his life, or until he turns eighteen, whichever comes first.
To get out of this mess, Damien has to survive his dad’s "flying lessons" that involve throwing him off the tallest building in the city–despite his nearly debilitating fear of heights–thwarting the eccentric teen scientist who insists she’s his sidekick, and keeping his supervillain girlfriend from finding out the truth. But when Damien uncovers a dastardly plot to turn all the superheroes into mindless zombie slaves, a plan hatched by his own mom, he discovers he cares about his new family more than he thought. Now he has to choose: go back to his life of villainy and let his family become zombies, or stand up to his mom and become a real hero.
I just saw a listing for the sequel The Trials of Renegade X (Renegade X, Book 2), which released last month. I will be grabbing it as soon as I have some room in my reading schedule.
Under the Empyrean Sky (The Heartland Trilogy)
Fear the Corn.
Corn is king in the Heartland, and Cael McAvoy has had enough of it. It’s the only crop the Empyrean government allows the people of the Heartland to grow—and the genetically modified strain is so aggressive that it takes everything the Heartlanders have just to control it. As captain of the Big Sky Scavengers, Cael and his crew sail their rickety ship over the corn day after day, scavenging for valuables. But Cael’s tired of surviving life on the ground while the Empyrean elite drift by above in their extravagant sky flotillas. He’s sick of the mayor’s son besting Cael’s crew in the scavenging game. And he’s worried about losing Gwennie—his first mate and the love of his life—forever when their government-chosen spouses are revealed. But most of all, Cael is angry—angry that their lot in life will never get better and that his father doesn’t seem upset about any of it. When Cael and his crew discover a secret, illegal garden, he knows it’s time to make his own luck…even if it means bringing down the wrath of the Empyrean elite and changing life in the Heartland forever.
Benson Fisher thought that a scholarship to Maxfield Academy would be the ticket out of his dead-end life.
He was wrong.
Now he’s trapped in a school that’s surrounded by a razor-wire fence. A school where video cameras monitor his every move. Where there are no adults. Where the kids have split into groups in order to survive.
Where breaking the rules equals death.
But when Benson stumbles upon the school’s real secret, he realizes that playing by the rules could spell a fate worse than death, and that escape—his only real hope for survival—may be impossible.
Die for Me (Revenants)
My life had always been blissfully, wonderfully normal. But it only took one moment to change everything.
Suddenly, my sister, Georgia, and I were orphans. We put our lives into storage and moved to Paris to live with my grandparents. And I knew my shattered heart, my shattered life, would never feel normal again. Then I met Vincent.
Mysterious, sexy, and unnervingly charming, Vincent Delacroix appeared out of nowhere and swept me off my feet. Just like that, I was in danger of losing my heart all over again. But I was ready to let it happen.
Of course, nothing is ever that easy. Because Vincent is no normal human. He has a terrifying destiny, one that puts his life at risk every day. He also has enemies . . . immortal, murderous enemies who are determined to destroy him and all of his kind.
While I’m fighting to piece together the remnants of my life, can I risk putting my heart—as well as my life and my family’s—in jeopardy for a chance at love?
The Cloak Society
The first in a thrilling, action-packed middle grade trilogy, which School Library Journal declared "will likely find the same wide appeal as Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson books.
The Cloak Society: An elite organization of supervillains graced with extraordinary powers. Ten years ago the Cloak Society was defeated by Sterling City’s superheroes, the Rangers of Justice, and vanished without a trace. But the villains have been waiting for the perfect moment to resurface. . . .
Twelve-year-old Alex Knight is a dedicated junior member of Cloak who has spent years mastering his telekinetic superpowers and preparing for the day when Cloak will rise to power again. Cloak is everything he believes in.
But during his debut mission, Alex does the unthinkable: He saves the life of a Junior Ranger of Justice. Even worse . . . she becomes his friend. And the more time he spends with her, the more Alex wonders what, exactly, he’s been fighting for.
by Geoff Herbach
was the 2011 Cybil winner for YA fiction. It illustrates one of the reasons I like the Cybils. Stupid Fast
is not a a paranormal romance or fantasy or part of a dystopian or apocalyptic trilogy, all of which attract big sales. Nor is it a heart-warming overcoming-adversity-in-a-small-town-filled- with-eccentric-characters-story, which attract awards. It has the overcoming adversity thing but with an edge, maybe even a desperate edge. Books like Stupid Fast
don't fit into the standard marketing molds used right now.
Neither does the Cybils. It is made for books like Stupid Fast
. The book was well reviewed, but I would never have heard of it without its Cybils win. What's more, it has two sequels that I only heard about a couple of hours ago when I started preparing this post.
Felton Reinstein is limping through adolescence when he suddenly starts to grow. And that growth spurt makes him fast. It's a life-changing event because his speed makes him desirable to the coaches at school as well as to the student athletes who had never been part of his world before. Felton is evolving. He is in transition. He's in a liminal state
, as the anthropologists might say, he is most definitely in some state that is neither one thing or another, neither child nor man.
This makes Stupid Fast so
a YA book. I say that because it's not unusual for me to read a YA book that is perfectly decent as a story, entertaining, but what about it is YA? You definitely know why Stupid Fast
Now, while Felton is doing his transitional thing, he is living with a parent who is descending into mental illness and a brother who is in need of help in dealing with her. It's as if he's living two different, simultaneous lives, one in which he is becoming more and more desperate, and another in which he is becoming more and more competent and part of the world outside his home. Something similar happened in Alice Bliss
where Alice was dealing with her father's deployment while continuing to grow up, because that's what adolescents do. Adolescents have to grow and change. They can't help themselves. It's the nature of the beasts.
I think someone could argue that Stupid Fast
's ending is a little too much of a turn around. A deus ex machina type character shows up to make everything right, and things work out really well for Felton. But this adult reader also felt that Felton could have his good moment because things weren't going to stay that way for him. If I ever get around to reading the sequels, I suspect I'll find out that I'm right.
While reading Stupid Fast
I kept wondering about YA problem novels versus the adult equivalent. Stupid Fast
probably could be described as a problem novel. When adult novels deal with characters with problems, what are they? Are they ever referred to as problem novels or as something else?
Please welcome special guest Katie to the virtual offices! Katie is on the run for her life, hiding from the undead. Hopefully, they haven’t followed her here.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in five words or less.
[Katie} Faltering, but not yet broken.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s your typical day like?
[Katie} Before the end of the world, I had a peaceful Amish life. I worked on my parents’ farm. I raised Golden Retriever puppies and helped take care of my little sister, Sarah. There was plenty of work to be done: tending the garden, working the crops, feeding the cattle, cooking, laundry, and cleaning. But it kept me busy, and for the most part kept my mind from wandering to all the interesting things that must be in the outside world: comic books, Coca-Cola, jeans, and make-up.
But after…after the end of the world…I am on my own. I’ve been exiled from my community. With my two friends, Alex and Ginger, we search for other survivors by day. By night, we try to fight and outrun the vampires. We eat whatever we can scavenge and try to find safe places to sleep. Winter’s coming, and there’s less and less food as it grows colder.
I miss home.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could change one thing you’ve done in your life, what would it be?
[Katie} I know that my parents would want me to regret being shunned in the first place. Fearing contagion, the Elders made a rule that no one was to come in our community, and no one was allowed out. But I found Alex, an injured man, just beyond my fence. I brought him into our barn to heal.
I know that my parents would want me to say that I regret this, and that I regret falling in love with him. But I don’t.
The thing that I regret is not being able to make my family and my community understand what terrible evil was coming, that it could affect us just as much as it has the outside world. They didn’t believe me then. But I know that they do now.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s the one thing do you prize above all others?
[Katie} Of all things, certainly my faith. Though I wrestle with knowing that God has chosen not to intervene in this evil that has spread over the earth, I still treasure it.
In terms of material things? The only thing I really have is the Himmelsbrief my village Hexenmeister created for me. It is a letter to God, a beautiful and powerful thing. It deters the vampires, and I credit it with my survival so far.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Why do you think the world has become such a dangerous place?
[Katie] I have heard many explanations for this. My village Hexenmeister has said that the Darkness has always been with us. He says that it was with us even in the Old Country. He remembers the old ways of dealing with the Darkness: with stakes and fire and sunlight. People believed in it then, and struck it down before it had the chance to take root.
Others tell me that it is a scientific evil. That something has crawled out of a radioactive experiment in a place half a world away. Chernobyl? I can’t remember what it was called. Some think that a meteor fell. Others think that it is a virus.
I don’t know the answer. All I know is that there is Darkness and light, and that one must choose a side.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Why do you think you have survived, while so many others have not?
[Katie} Alex says that it’s because I’m used to being without modern conveniences: that I know how to make my way without electricity, cars, and telephones. I know what’s edible in the forest and which animal tracks to follow and which to avoid.
I think it’s partially because of the Himmelsbrief. Without it, I would have been devoured long before.
And it’s also because I am not truly alone. I have my friends, Alex and Ginger. We have a horse and have just been joined by a wolf. The wolf is good with hunting…more dog than wolf. He is good with finding chickens, and he shares what he finds.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you share your dreams for the future in five words or less.
[Katie} No more blood and Darkness.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!
[Katie} Thank you so much!
About the book:
One girl. One road. One chance to save what remains…
After a plague of vampires is unleashed in the world, Katie is kicked out of her Amish community for her refusal to adhere to the new rules of survival. Now in exile, she enters an outside world of unspeakable violence with only her two “English” friends and a horse by her side. Together they seek answers and other survivors—but each sunset brings the threat of vampire attack, and each sunrise the threat of starvation.
And yet through this darkness come the shining ones: luminescent men and women with the power to deflect vampires and survive the night. But can these new people be trusted, and are they even people at all?
In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, it’s up to one Amish girl to save her family, her community, and the boy she loves . . . but what will she be asked to leave behind in return?
Many months ago, I requested a copy of Hit By Pitch from LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program. I was thrilled that I was chosen to receive a copy, but it never showed up -- until last week, when I eagerly devoured it, and was not disappointed. This one's not for *kids, but certainly suitable for young adults.
Lawless, Molly. 2013. Hit By Pitch: Ray Chapman, Carl Mays and the Fatal Fastball. Jefferson, NC: McFarland.
If you've ever watched a player get beaned by a baseball, you've experienced the sickening feeling that occurs merely from watching. In 1920, fifty years before the mandated use of batting helmets, Cleveland Indian shortstop, Ray "Chappie" Chapman, became the first and only major league baseball player to be killed by a pitched ball. This is his story and
the story of pitcher, Carl Mays of the New York Yankees.
In some ways, it is easy to write about sports as the statisticians make the research simple - dates, times, players, locations, runs, hits, balls, strikes, averages - it's all recorded history. However, the single entry in the scorer's book for the game at the Polo Grounds between the Cleveland Indians the New York Yankees, "hit by pitch," cannot explain the tragic story of baseball's only fatal beaning on August 16, 1920. Molly Lawless uses black and white drawings, period quotes, newspaper articles, and sportswriter commentaries to animate this story for a new generation.
A more perfect tragedy could not be conceived if it were a work of fiction - the odd, sullen and nearly friendless "villain," Carl Mays, versus the cheerful, handsome and beloved athlete, businessman, husband and friend, "Chappie." One will live and one will die. Both stories end in tragedy.
Fascinating, well-researched, and told with a keen eye for the game and all its intricacies and idiosyncrasies. Ms. Lawless' respect for (and love of) baseball is apparent in every page. Her black and white illustrations evoke the time and spirit of the game in the "deadball era," and an American public, still processing the effects of the 1919 Black Sox Scandal and the relatively new phenomenon of Prohibition. Fans of baseball, graphic novels, history or tragedy will love this book.
*For younger readers interested in this topic, Dan Gutman's, Ray & Me
(Harper Collins, 2009), tells the tragic story as part of his Baseball Card Adventures
series, combining fact, fiction and a hint of fantasy as the young protagonist travels back in time to great moments in baseball history.
If you guys didn't know, Simone Elkeles has a new series coming out called Wild Cards
. To promote the new series, she has created a mini reality web series. The first two episodes are out now. The production value looks pretty good with these. Enjoy!
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Just in time for Halloween, we’re excited to announce the release of two new novels from our science fiction and fantasy imprint, Tu Books: Killer of Enemies, a post-apocalyptic retelling of an Apache monster slayer legend by award-winning Native American author Joseph Bruchac, and The Monster in the Mudball, a hilarious supernatural mystery set in England.
In Killer of Enemies, seventeen-year-old Apache hunter Lozen hunts monsters to ensure the protection of her family from the Ones, maniacal warlords who rule in a post-apocalyptic Southwest. Fate has given Lozen a unique set of survival skills and magical abilities. Soon she realizes that with every monster she takes down, Lozen’s powers grow, and she connects those powers to an ancient legend of her people. It soon becomes clear to Lozen that she is not just a hired gun. As the legendary Killer of Enemies was in the ancient days of the Apache people, Lozen is meant to be a more than a hunter. Lozen is meant to be a hero.
In this Junior Library Guild selection, eleven-year-old Jin must run around the English town of Newcastle-upon-Tyne trying to track down a monster named Zilombo. Jin teams up with Chief Inspector of Ancient Artifacts A. J. Zauyamakanda, or Mizz Z, for short. Zilombo gains new, frightening powers every time she hatches. Now the monster is cleverer than ever before . . . and it appears that Jin’s baby brother has disappeared! Will Jin’s baby brother be next on Zilombo’s menu? As the monster’s powers continue to grow, Jin and Mizz Z must find a way to outsmart Zilombo!
Happy birthday to both titles! We can’t wait to hear what you think of them!
*Today marks the release of the hardcover versions of both titles. E-book versions are also available.
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by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo
is the story of an overweight high school girl tormented by bullies. Yes, we've heard that before. What's interesting here is that Angie is also dealing with the probable loss of her sister in Iraq, which has pretty much wrecked her family. What is even more interesting is that an attractive, very cool, new girl in school seeks Angie out.
Angie is living in a world of suffering, and that world is disturbed by the arrival of someone. I liked that opening. How is Angie going to respond to that disturbance?
After that, more and more problems pile on. Angie's mother is hard, hard, hard. Her brother is acting out in hateful ways toward her. Her head tormentor at school seems almost pathological in her behavior. The new girl's interest brings more challenge (no spoilers), and she has problems to boot. As much as I liked what I saw as Angie's basic story, it seemed to be overwhelmed by so many problems for its character to deal with.
As I was reading this book, I was reminded of Alice Bliss
, an adult book that deals with a teenage girl's life while her father is serving in Iraq. With both books I kept thinking that we have a volunteer army now. No one has
to leave a family to go to Iraq. And while it is without a doubt a noble act to serve your country with military service of this type, what about the families that are left? In both Alice Bliss
and Fat Angie
we are not talking about career service people. These families know that their loved ones did not have to go
. They know that their loved ones chose
this action that causes such anxiety and risks such incredible pain for them. What does that do to the people at home paying a price for their father/sister's noble act? To me, that seems like a big enough situation to carry an entire story.
On the other hand, in books like this one that are filled with problems, readers get to sort of choose the one they want to follow. I do understand the attraction of the overcoming adversity storyline. In fact, Fat Angie
earned starred reviews from both Publisher's Weekly
and School Library Journal
has a great trailer
, memorable enough to lead me to pick up the book when I saw it at my local library. Last summer author Charlton-Trujillo did an At-Risk Tour
, driving across the country meeting with at-risk youth at community organizations as well as bookstores, bringing an author into venues where young people might not have an opportunity to meet them.
Please give a warm welcome to Jennifer Kloester! She’s here to talk about her new release The Cinderella Moment.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.
[Jennifer Kloester] I’m an adventure-loving book addict with a passion for writing. I love karate, Paris and my garden. I believe in kindness and integrity.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Cinderella Moment?
[Jennifer Kloester] It’s a contemporary novel set in New York and Paris with a 16 year-old heroine who dreams of being a fashion designer. She’s entering a fashion design competition called the Teen Couture but when things go wrong she has to go to Paris and masquerade as her best friend. It’s all fashion, glitz and high society, and of course nothing turns out as she expected – especially after she meets a gorgeous guy who thinks she’s someone else!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
[Jennifer Kloester] I was living in the Middle East and read a story in a magazine about these girls who were in Paris for a grand ball and my heroine Angel and her dream of winning the Teen Couture just fell into my head fully formed. I knew she wanted more than anything to be a fashion designer and that her mom was a housekeeper and her best friend the daughter of the mega-rich family her mom worked for and the story just grew from there. Funnily enough, I didn’t realise just how many links to the original Cinderella story there were in my book until I’d finished it!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Angel?
[Jennifer Kloester] passionate, determined,romantic
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Angel had a theme song, what would it be?
[Jennifer Kloester] Adele’s version of "Promise This"
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name one thing Angel is never without.
[Jennifer Kloester] A sketchbook.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Angel’s purse?
[Jennifer Kloester] A car key cause she hasn’t got her license yet and who drives in New York anyway?
A credit card – maybe one day when she can afford it.
Pepper spray – Angel’s not afraid of boys, she just hasn’t met one she really likes – yet!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?
[Jennifer Kloester] Other books, other writers – as Stephen Kings says – ‘if you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time or the tools to write.’ All kinds of music and the things people say – I love listening to people’s words and conversations – you never know where the next big idea will come from.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?
[Jennifer Kloester] Time, a pen or laptop, discipline (is that four things?)
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What was your biggest distraction while working on The Cinderella Moment?
[Jennifer Kloester] My family (immediate and extended) and household chores that suddenly became much more appealing than usual!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?
[Jennifer Kloester] "The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared" I loved it because it was clever, had memorable characters, and it made me laugh.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?
[Jennifer Kloester] When I was six I read "The Good Master’ by Kate Seredy. I still remember it vividly.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Jennifer Kloester] I love karate and got my black belt last year. Training in the martial arts is the perfect contrast sitting at my computer all day. I also love gardening and the beach. I’d say travel but I usually write when I’m travelling – so much great material.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
[Jennifer Kloester] I’m on Twitter (I love Twitter) @jenkloester, via email email@example.com and on my Facebook author page JenniferKloesterAuthor – I’ve also had letters from readers via my publishers (Penguin Aus, Sourcebooks & Swoon Romance) which is awesome fun. I love hearing from readers and will always reply.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!
About the book:
Let the masquerade begin!
Angel Moncoeur has always wanted to be a fashion designer, but without money or connections, it’s going to be a challenge. When an opportunity to leave her home in New York and head to Paris appears, Angel grabs it – even if it means masquerading as her best friend Lily. That can’t be too hard, can it? But when she falls in love with her very own Prince Charming who thinks she’s someone else, Angel embarks on a plan to secure her happily ever after.
THE CINDERELLA MOMENT is a fabulously fun story about high society, mistaken identity, love, betrayal, friendship – and great clothes
About the author:
Jennifer Kloester is passionate about books and writing. She is the author of two books on the bestselling historical novelist Georgette Heyer: Georgette Heyer’s Regency World and Georgette Heyer: Biography of a Bestseller. The Cinderella Moment is her first novel. She is currently writing the sequel The Rapunzel Dilemma. In her spare time Jennifer loves to travel and train in karate.
Emma Walton Hamilton
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Whether your manuscript is a picture book or novel, it can be tempting to create a wide variety of supporting characters to help tell your story. But too many characters can be hard for young readers to keep track of, and can dilute the focus. So how do you decide which secondary characters to keep? Keep these tips in mind:
* All characters should be multi-dimensional, authentic, believable and interesting to young readers – even if they’re bad guys.
* All characters should have a role to play in relationship to your main character. Whether they are a catalyst, a foil, a mentor, an antagonist, a challenger, a sidekick, the voice of reason, a tempter, or something else, they must serve a purpose in relationship to your hero’s journey.
* All characters must be in pursuit of something: a want, or a need, or a goal. They should also have to make their own choices to pursue that want or need.
* Consider whether or how the story would change without them. If you removed this character from the story, would it affect the course of events one way or another? If not, they should probably go.
* Secondary characters should also learn something or grow by the end of the story. They need to have journeys of their own. For example, in Where the Wild Things Are, the secondary character is Max’s mother (even though we never actually “see” her, she has a huge influence on the story and on Max’s journey, and is a presence nonetheless.) We know Max grows and changes by the end, but Max’s mother does, too… because she delivers dinner to his room after she’s promised that he’s going to go to bed with no supper. We can infer from this that she has softened and forgiven him. We want all our supporting characters to have the same kind of journey.