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1. Happiness and high school humanities

I got a request this past year from my friends at Boston Green Academy (BGA) to help them consider their Humanities 4 curriculum, which focuses on philosophies, especially around happiness. This was a tough request for me, and certainly not one I had considered before. There aren’t any titles I can think of that say “Philosophy: Happiness” on their covers to pull me directly down this path.

But as I thought about it, I got more and more excited about how this topic is tackled in the YA world. The first set of books I considered were titles that dealt with “the meaning of life” in a variety of ways. Titles like Nothing by Janne Teller, Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass, and one of my personal favorites, The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp give lots of food for thought about where we expend our energy and the wisdom of how we prioritize our attention in life.

 teller nothing 213x300 Happiness and high school humanities    maas jeremyfink 201x300 Happiness and high school humanities    tharp spectacularnow 199x300 Happiness and high school humanities

This, of course, led to stories about facing challenges and finding happiness despite (or because) of the circumstances in our lives.  So we pulled texts like The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini, and Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork, which all deal with characters finding ways to deal with and even prosper alongside difficult circumstances.

green faultinourstars Happiness and high school humanities     vizzini kindofFunnyStory 204x300 Happiness and high school humanities     stork marcelo 195x300 Happiness and high school humanities

Then we happened upon a set of titles that raise questions about whether you can be “happy” if you are or are not being yourself. We pulled segments of titles like Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz, Tina’s Mouth by Keshni Kashyap, American-Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang, and Rapture Practice, which I’ve talked about here before.

openly straight Happiness and high school humanities     saenz aristotleanddante 199x300 Happiness and high school humanities     keshni tinasmouth 234x300 Happiness and high school humanities     hartzler rapturepractice 203x300 Happiness and high school humanities

And then there were a world of nonfiction possibilities, those written for young people and those not — picture books by Demi about various figures, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s ideas about work and play, and any number of great series texts about philosophers and religions and such.

So I guess the (happy) moral of this story is that it was much easier than I thought to revisit old texts with these new eyes of philosophies of happiness. I left the work feeling as though every text is about this very important topic in one way or another, and I can’t wait to see how the BGA curriculum around it continues to evolve!

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2. Sometimes, reading the book just isn’t enough – LeakyCon Lit

leakycon Sometimes, reading the book just isn’t enough – LeakyCon LitWell, after the glorious, gleeful exhaustion brought on by the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, your intrepid intern still had a whole conference to attend.

For those of you who haven’t heard of LeakyCon, it originally started as a Harry Potter–themed fan conference in 2009, but has since morphed into an all-out geek-fest in which fan communities from all kinds of media platforms come together to celebrate the power of story and fandom. In fact, the conference has been renamed and will be known as GeekyCon from here on — opening up to the wide, wide world of geekdom!

It will not surprise any of you that I spent most of my time at the conference at the LeakyCon Lit panels. Organized by YA authors Maureen Johnson and Robin Wasserman, LeakyCon Lit brings together YA authors from all over to talk about writing, their books, and plenty of weird, awesome, totally unrelated things. This year’s speakers were Stephanie Perkins, Laurie Halse Anderson, Malinda Lo, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Holly Black, Gayle Forman, John Green, Varian Johnson, Kazu Kibuishi, Lauren Myracle, Rainbow Rowell, and Scott Westerfeld. With such a diverse group presenting, we got to hear about everything from designing love interests to killing off beloved characters, from graphic novels to world-building, from Stephanie Perkins’s morning jigsaw puzzle routine to Alaya Dawn Johnson’s near miss with quicksand.

The programming ranged widely between serious panels (such as “Diversity in YA” and the “War Against YA Lit”) to game shows (including Jeopardy and a variation on The Lying Game, an old British game show). Maureen Johnson interviewed John Green in a Between Two Ferns–eqsue style, providing a hilarious exposé of their friendship. Johnson also moderated the panel about killing off characters — which meant, unfortunately, that the audience didn’t get any new information about a certain beloved [spoiler] she killed off in [spoiler]. But we did have the opportunity to harangue some of the other authors, who discussed the tension between emotional attachment and resonance and deciding when a character’s death serves the story best.

The panel centered on diversity in YA was especially powerful. The panelists discussed YA literature’s erasure and misrepresentation of people with diverse gender identities and sexuality, people of color, and people with disabilities — as well as the kind of backlash faced by authors who create those characters. I found it provocative when the authors on the panel discussed a question they often get regarding their characters of color: “Why did you make that character a specific race if your story isn’t about racism…why bother?”  The discussion which followed emphasized the importance of recognizing the bountiful diversity of experience in the world and the role literature plays in representing that diversity to its readership.

While most of the programming at LeakyCon Lit this year was phenomenal, a couple of the panels were better in conception than they were in execution. One panel called “I Made You, You’re Perfect” focused on romance in YA and how to construct romantic relationships and compatible characters. The panel, however, was comprised entirely of straight women; this lack of diversity was particularly apparent during a mishandled question on asexuality. The “War on YA” panel was concerned with the way that YA as a genre has been either denigrated by the media as too sweet and too small (especially for adult readers) or lambasted as the source of all evil for young people. Rather than exploring this phenomenon and its impact in depth, however, the speakers on the panel mostly reiterated what many of us had seen them write on Twitter and their blogs in recent months.

Overall, however, LeakyCon Lit was a perfect mix of whimsy, banter, and critical discussion. The authors are all knowledgeable and engaging, and their comments and discussions were accessible and enjoyable. I’ve been attending this track for the past four years and I can say with certainty that there is plenty to enjoy for both teens and adults.

The rest of the LeakyCon is not devoid of book-related fun for kids and grown-ups, of course. The subjects of the panels range from investigations into Harry Potter canon and characters to sing-alongs and debates. Each night there’s a concert by bands who get their material from Harry Potter (or The West Wing, or Doctor Who, or a whole host of other awesome platforms and stories). Pemberly Digital, a production company which creates modern adaptions of well-loved classics, premiered the first two episodes of Frankenstein, M.D., which follows Victoria Frankenstein, a young doctor determined to prove herself in a male-dominated field. Pemberly Digital is the same group who created the Emmy award–winning adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. Which you should watch right now. Don’t worry. I’ll wait!

Seriously though, they are really good – as is Emma Approved (adapted from Jane Austen’s Emma), which is currently airing on Pemberly’s YouTube channel.

By the time we woke up on Sunday morning, we were about ready to lounge the day away by the pool. But we were in Orlando, and there is no such thing as a trip to Orlando without a visit to the Magic Kingdom. We did have to put down all our new books and our new geeky swag…but books are always there when you get back!

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3. A LITTLE SOMETHING DIFFERENT by Sandy Hall

"Review My Books" Review by Ryann Dannelly  A LITTLE SOMETHING DIFFERENT by Sandy Hall Genre: YA Contemporary, NA, Romance My Rating: 5/5 stars Goodreads | Amazon The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common—they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together.Lea and

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4. GET EVEN (Don't Get Mad) by Gretchen McNeil {Review}

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5. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Last Gleaming

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight Volume 8: Last Gleaming Joss Whedon, Georges Jeanty, Scott Allie

So, Twilight would have been a logical conclusion to the season, but no, this one’s all about consequences, so it takes a bit of a left turn here in a way that actually works.

So, Buffy and Angel can never just be happy--no when they had superpower sex they created an entire universe, and Buffy then abandoned it to return to Earth. But nature, even on other planes, abhors a vacuum and, well, there are consequences to creating a universe, and there are consequences to abandoning it. It all ties back to the seed of wonder--the root of magic on Earth that turns out is physical object… and it’s in Sunnydale.

The question is what to do with it--protect it? Destroy it? Give it away? The gang goes back to the beginning--back to Sunnydale and back to the Protector, who is an awesome bit of “casting” on the part of Whedon et. al. Some very nice parallels with the beginning of the series (and by that, I mean the first season that was on TV beginning of the series).

And of course, at the end of Twilight, we had Spike show up in a goddamned spaceship piloted by giant cockroaches because OF COURSE SPIKE NOW HAS A GODDAMNED SPACESHIP PILOTED BY GIANT COCKROACHES. (This makes me joyously happy, both for the WTF?! factor, but also because I just love Spike. Who doesn’t love Blondey-Bear?)

Things never go right in Sunnydale, and what happens there is devastating on so many levels, making it surprisingly satisfying end to the season, and perfectly setting up the Angel & Faith spinoff.

And oh man, I thought this season dealt well with the consequences of creating a slayer army? There are MAJOR consequences to what goes down in Sunnydale--ones that are going to haunt Buffy & Co. for a long, long time.

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

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6. Just a girl from where nothing really happens

isobel journal Just a girl from where nothing really happensHipster teens rejoice! Here is your new poster child (though she would probably reject the title — which is, of course, the hipster thing to do).

With The Isobel Journal: Just a Girl from Where Nothing Really Happens (Switch Press, August 2014; first published in her native UK by Hot Key Press, 2013), nineteen-year-old art student Isobel Harrop shares her journal of quirky drawings accompanied by obvious, but often hilarious, observations about life. (Sometimes she likes to play “Pretend I am Beyoncé.” Don’t we all?) Imagine Amelia of Amelia’s Notebook growing up and going to the Rhode Island School of Design. If you love the grungy and odd, vintage clothes, championing music no one else has heard of, rhapsodizing about tea, and ironically listening to ’90s girl bands, meet your new best friend!

A few of my favorite entries:

isobel tea Just a girl from where nothing really happens

I can empathize — I, too, fear of being “one of those people.”

isobel smile Just a girl from where nothing really happens

isobel bathroom floor Just a girl from where nothing really happens

Here’s a link to a soundtrack compiled by Isobel to listen to while perusing the book.

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7. Review of A Creature of Moonlight

hahn creature of moonlight Review of A Creature of MoonlightA Creature of Moonlight
by Rebecca Hahn
Middle School, High School    Houghton    314 pp.
5/14    978-0-544-10935-3    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-0-544-11009-0    $17.99

Marni is the daughter of a princess and the powerful dragon who presides over the kingdom’s magicked woods. When she was a baby, her grandfather surrendered his throne to his son to save her life. Marni has grown up in relative obscurity with Gramps in a hut on the kingdom’s outskirts. Now she is almost seventeen, and the woods are encroaching on the kingdom — her dragon father’s attempt to call her to him. After tragedy strikes, Marni (the king’s only heir) leaves home to make a life for herself at court — and to seek vengeance on her uncle for her mother’s murder. But the king’s increased fear and hatred eventually drives Marni to seek out her father. While in the woods, she finally chooses who she will be and where home truly lies. Full of court intrigue, family secrets, marriage proposals (several by a beguiling and bewildering lord), fantastical creatures, legends, and magic, Hahn’s debut novel is first and foremost a journey of self-discovery. Marni, like Katsa in Graceling (rev. 11/08) and the eponymous Seraphina (rev. 7/12), is a strong, plainspoken protagonist who learns to embrace her uniqueness and power with newfound confidence and fierce independence. Hahn’s poetic style gives the narrative depth and beauty with vividly rendered settings and sophisticatedly complex characters. It’s an eloquent story about free will, the meaning of home, and love’s varied forms.

From the July/August 2014 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

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8. Hollywood Sisters: Caught on Tape

Here's another reprinted review from the much-missed Edge of the Forest

The Hollywood Sisters: Caught on Tape Mary Wilcox

Life in Hollywood can be crazy, but for Jessica Ortiz, it’s not tabloid party-girl crazy. In this third installment of The Hollywood Sisters, Jess’s romantic complications continue, an overzealous tour company is eluding the police, plus there’s always drama on the set, and not just the scripted kind.

Jess’s TV star sister, Eva, has decided that, in order to speed things up on the Jeremy front, it’s time for fake-boyfriend Heathcliff to appear in person. Only she cast the brother of Jess’s creepy ex-boyfriend.

Not only has the Golden Tours bus company figured out where the Ortiz’s live, they’ve been pulling into the driveway! And it’s not just the Ortiz’s house—somehow this tour group even knows when gated houses are open, and always when the police are on the other side of the neighborhood.

Meanwhile, on the set, Lavender’s ex-boyfriend is pulling some very nasty, and very public, practical jokes on her. Jess knows it’s Murphy, but how is he getting onto the set? And how will she find out when she’s spending all of her time avoiding this week’s Very Special Guest Star?

A light, quick read, Caught on Tape shows the craziness of life in Hollywood, while featuring well-grounded characters that non-starlets can identify with. Jessica solves mysteries through observation and quick thinking. I also appreciate that her frequent poems read like they were written by the teenager she is. Overall, Hollywood Sisters is a very entertaining and fun series for tweens and teens.


Book Provided by... The Edge of the Forest, for review

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

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9. Go your own way

Teen boys go on journeys both physical (road trip!) and psychological in these affecting YA novels.

smith 100 sideways miles Go your own wayFinn Easton, protagonist of Andrew Smith’s 100 Sideways Miles, has unusual scars on his back, products of the freak accident that also killed his mother when he was a kid. He has a pretty good life otherwise: his sci-fi novelist father loves him; his best friend Cade makes him laugh; and he has recently met Julia, the girl of his dreams. After Julia moves away, crestfallen Finn embarks on a college visit with Cade, a trip that turns the boys into heroes. Finn has a funny, fluid narrative voice, and his banter with Cade is excellent — and often hilariously vulgar. (Simon, 14 years and up)

willey beetle boy Go your own wayAs Charlie Porter convalesces from a ruptured Achilles tendon, his past — years of being paraded around in a beetle costume by his opportunistic father as the child author of the Beetle Boy series — resurfaces in nightmares in which he’s tormented by a giant beetle. Charlie wrestles with anger regarding the exploitation and abandonment he suffered as a child, guilt for escaping that suffering while leaving his little brother behind, and gratitude toward the crotchety children’s book author who cared for him. In her relentlessly honest but hopeful novel Beetle Boy, author Margaret Willey crafts a delicate psychological landscape through carefully timed flashbacks. (Carolrhoda Lab, 14 years and up)

sheff schizo Go your own wayTwo years ago a family outing to the beach ended in trauma when fourteen-year-old Miles experienced a psychotic break. While recovering in the psych ward, Miles received a life-changing diagnosis of schizophrenia along with some devastating news: during the commotion of his episode, Miles’s little brother went missing and is presumed drowned. Miles begins a risky investigation into his brother’s disappearance shortly after ditching his cocktail of medications. Some readers will guess the twist ending of Nic Sheff’s Schizo, but will nevertheless hope for Miles to find peace with his life and with his illness. (Philomel, 12 years and up)

hiaasen skink no surrender Go your own wayAs Carl Hiaasen’s farcical Skink — No Surrender opens, teen narrator Richard’s cousin, Malley, runs away from home, and Richard is certain that she’s with a chat-room acquaintance almost twice her age. He tells Clint Tyree, a.k.a. Skink (the unkempt and unwavering former Florida governor who stars in several of Hiaasen’s adult novels), and the pair immediately takes off on an event-filled road trip to rescue Malley. Hiaasen smoothly integrates Skink’s vulnerabilities with his larger-than-life behaviors — including eating roadkill and wrestling an alligator — and Richard’s naiveté plays nicely against Skink’s extremism. (Knopf, 12–15 years)

From the August 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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10. Storm - a review

Napoli, Donna Jo. 2014. Storm. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Stormtold in first person, present tense prose, presents the story of the biblical flood through the eyes of 16-year-old Sebah, an unlikely stowaway aboard Noah's massive ark.

The story unfolds in chapters that correspond with the biblical timeline - 40 days of rain, 150 days for the waters to recede, 10 months until the mountains become visible, 40 days until the release of a bird, etc.
(All can be found in the 7th and 8th chapters of Genesis.)

After chronicling Sebah's three week struggle to survive the deluge with her companion Aban, the chapter titled, "Day 22," ends,

It's another creature.  Like the first, but larger.  And obviously male.  He perches in a round hole high in the side of the ship.  There is a line of such holes.  And I passed another line below as I climbed.
A whole ship of these creatures.
I think of letting go, disappearing into the sea. I let loose one hand and look down. The sea is far below. I feel the energy seep from me. It would be so easy to just give up.
...
The creature behind me nudges my dangling hand.
I reach for the male's hand, and I am half pulled, half shoved up through the hole and into the ship.

Ms. Napoli clearly put an enormous amount of thought into the logistics of preparing for a massive exodus of animals with little or no possibility of resupply for more than a year. She details the grueling work of the voyage.  While Sebah struggles to remain hidden and survive in the enclosure of the bonobos, Noah and his family have a huge responsibility to the ark's inhabitants. The animals must be secure from each other, their enclosures must be cleaned, they must be fed, they must have fresh water. Their survival is imperative. The family collects rainwater, they dry and ration supplies of fresh fruits and vegetables for the ark's herbivores, they fish to obtain fresh food for the carnivores. The family's nerves grow frayed under the stress.  They begin to argue and turn against one another.  The hidden Sebah sees much,

"Respect!" Noah claps his hands above his head, and dust flies through the dim light.  "And haven't you learned arguing gets us nowhere?"  He takes his ax back from Ham. "The bottom deck stinks.  I have to breathe shallow to stand going down there.  Everyone has to help Japheth and me clean it out.  Today! Let our wives feed and water the animals of this deck and the top —while we shovel waste.  Noah goes up the ladder with Japheth at his heels.
How you will perceive this book will depend greatly upon how you perceive the biblical story of the great flood. Arguments could be made for classification as historical fiction, alternative history, survival fiction, dystopian fiction, or fantasy. However you choose to view the book, it cannot be denied that it is a thought-provoking look at the nature of humans and animals, of loss and love, of despair and hope.

An Author's Note, Timeline from Genesis Verses, and Bibliography are included.  Visit the author's website http://www.donnajonapoli.com/ya.html#STORM to read an excerpt.

(I'm not a Russell Crowe fan, but now I think that I might want to watch the movie, Noah, just to see another perspective.)

(My copy of the book was provided by the publisher, and was an Advance Reader Copy)


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11. "The Giver," The Godmother


I was on a recent business trip and wandered into the airport bookstore. Always dangerous. I can rarely keep my purchase contained to just one book, even when I'm traveling. This time I was able to squeeze out with one literary magazine, a terribly thick nonfiction book, and "The Giver" by Lois Lowry.

I picked up "The Giver" because it had the gold Newberry Medal Award sticker on its cover and a fascinating illustration of an old man (not to mention the bare tree limbs that also look like crackles of lightning that merge with the old man's scraggly beard). It wasn't until after I read the back cover that I noticed that next to these copies of the book was another grouping with the same title but a cover that had the two hot teens on it with the blurb "Now a major motion picture!" 

Being the book snob that I am, I almost put it back. I just don't like jumping into a book because it is already popular or because a movie is coming out. In fact, it almost ruins it for me. I like to find a book and love it all on its own long before someone tries to ruin it by making a movie of it (which I will inevitably get super excited to see, then afterward complain about all the details the screen version got wrong). And I never, if at all possible, buy a copy of a book that touts "now a major motion picture."

"The Giver" was a fairly thin novel, so when I settled into my flight I pulled it out first. What piqued my interest the most was that I knew absolutely nothing about it other than what the lovely jacket with the old man on it had hinted. I love going into books like that, don't you? When there are no expectations, no preconceived ideas, no pre-knowledge of plot lines.

As I got into it I saw that it was another dystopian YA book, but it was well done. Interesting. Held my attention. But the focus was a bit narrow and it ended somewhat abruptly and left me a little unfulfilled. I couldn't help but compare it to "Matched," "Hunger Games," and "Divergence." It had the same feel, but not quite the complexity of the others. 

On the other hand, it felt ... clean. Clean like contemporary furniture or modern architecture. The plot line was direct, not overly embellished, and structurally sound, with a beauty coming from the complexity of its spare but perfect balance.

"The Giver" felt like the grandmother, the genesis, of all the others. The forbearer.

When I got home I did some research on Lois Lowry and I found that she is indeed considered the godmother of this type of book. I also found out that she wrote three subsequent novels of a similar vein with different characters, and then a fourth that wove all of their stories together. But the most interesting point was that she wrote these four books not as a preconceived series, but as what I can only describe as sister-books, related but individual, between many other novels and publications over some 20 years.

This may all be old news to many of you, but it was a delicious revelation to me.

I'm glad I found "The Giver," in spite of the fact that I must give credit to the movie for bringing even this Newberry Award edition to my attention. Because without the film, the book wouldn't have been in the airport for me to find.

I'm eager now to pick up "The Giver"'s mates and, I must admit, I'm curious about the movie. 

But I'll be sure to read all the books before seeing the film, so that I have plenty to complain about at dinner afterward.
***

Have you been moved by "The Giver"? Eager for or dreading the movie adaptation? 
OR
What book has recently surprised you?

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12. Cover Reveal and Giveaway: Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer Estep

Cold Burn of Magic is sooooo on my wish list, so I’m happy to share the cover reveal this morning.  The book sounds so good!  What do you think of cover?  Is this on your reading list?
 
 
Cold Burn of Magic

Black Blade #1

Jennifer Estep

Releasing April 28th, 2015
 
KTeen, imprint of Kensington Publishing




THERE BE MONSTERS HERE…


It’s not as great as you’d think, living in a tourist town that’s known as “the most magical place in America.” Same boring high school, just twice as many monsters under the bridges and rival Families killing each other for power.

I try to keep out of it. I’ve got my mom’s bloodiron sword and my slightly illegal home in the basement of the municipal library. And a couple of Talents I try to keep quiet, including very light fingers and a way with a lock pick.

But then some nasty characters bring their Family feud into my friend’s pawn shop, and I have to make a call—get involved, or watch a cute guy die because I didn’t. I guess I made the wrong choice, because now I’m stuck putting everything on the line for Devon Sinclair. My mom was murdered because of the Families, and it looks like I’m going to end up just like her…


Pre-Order
 
 
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway



New York Times bestselling author Jen­nifer Estep is constantly prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea. Jennifer is the author the Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series for Kensington and the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series for Pocket Books. She is also the author of the Bigtime paranormal romance series. 

Jen­nifer is a mem­ber of Romance Writ­ers of Amer­ica, Sci­ence Fic­tion and Fan­tasy Writ­ers of America, and other writ­ing groups. Jennifer’s books have been fea­tured in Cos­mopoli­tan, Enter­tain­ment Weekly, South­ern Liv­ing, and a vari­ety of other publications. 


To learn more about her, visit www.jenniferestep.com . You can also sign up for Jennifer’s fan page on Facebook and follow her on Twitter and Goodreads.



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13. Cover Reveal: The Elementalists by C Sharp

 

I have a couple cover reveals this morning.  First up:  I read about The Elementalists last week, and the plot sounds intriguing.  Besides, anything with dragons gets a second look from me.  What do you think of the cover?

The Elementalists

C. Sharp

It is the hottest year on record for the fifth year in a row, and famine riots spread across much of Africa. Along the Gulf Coast, the hurricane season is one of the worst in memory. The latest in a string of 9.0 strength earthquakes has claimed two-hundred thousand lives in central China. Far below the earth’s crust, imprisoned in ancient slumber, the elemental powers of the land grow restless…

All seems normal in small town Virginia, where fifteen year old Chloe McClellan dreads the start of her sophomore year. Whip-smart, athletic and genuine, she’s also a bit of an angry loner who is totally unaware of her charms. Despite her plans to stay under the radar, Chloe becomes a target for the fiery queen of the It-girls in fifth period gym. She then draws instant notoriety when she’s struck by lightning after her first disastrous day of school. As if that weren’t bad enough, she soon comes to believe, that either she’s going insane, or her accident has unleashed a powerful and terrifying creature from the mythological world—triggering the final countdown to the world’s sixth great extinction level event.

Chloe finds some solace as she inexplicably wins the affections of an unlikely trio of male classmates: the earthy and gregarious captain of the football team, the flighty stoner with a secret, and an enigmatic transfer student who longs for the sea. All the while she struggles with the growing realization that “Dragons” exist, and she may be the only one who can stop them.

The Elementalists, book one of the Tipping Point Prophecy, follows Chloe and her group of friends, and enemies, as they struggle to save humanity by harnessing the power of the elements.

Author bio:

This is C. Sharp’s debut novel. He studied English Literature and Anthropology at Brown University and Mayan Archaeology at the Harvard Field School in Honduras. He works in film and commercial production. Chris now lives in Concord, MA with his wife and daughter.

Goodreads link:

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22838892-the-elementalists

Sales widget:

https://ganxy.com/i/95879/c-sharp/the-elementalists-the-tipping-point-prophecy-book-one

eISBN:

9781626813113

Price:

$4.99

The post Cover Reveal: The Elementalists by C Sharp appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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14. Servants of the Storm by Delilah S. Dawson {Review}

SERVANTS OF THE STORMby Delilah S. DawsonHardcover: 384 pagesPublisher: Simon Pulse (August 5, 2014)Language: EnglishGoodreads | Amazon Dovey learns that demons lurk in places other than the dark corners of her mind in this southern gothic fantasy from the author of the Blud series. A year ago, Hurricane Josephine swept through Savannah, Georgia, leaving behind nothing but death and

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15. MAGNOLIA by Kristi Cook {Gush . . . errr I mean Review}

Review by Andye  MAGNOLIA by Kristi Cook Hardcover: 336 pages Publisher: Simon Pulse (August 5, 2014) Language: English Goodreads | Amazon Jenna and Ryder are far from friends—until a storm stirs up their passion in this contemporary southern romance from New York Times bestselling author Kristi Cook. In Magnolia Branch, Mississippi, The Cafferty and Marsden families are practically royalty.

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16. Read or Listen to MURMUR by Jamie Haden **YA Fiction**

**MURMUR by Jamie Haden **YA Fiction** Beginning August 6, 2014**

When sixteen-year-old Adama Mahoney moves from West Virginia to a small coastal town in North Carolina she is certain she will be able to put the past behind her. Soon, however, Adama realizes that that isn't the easiest thing to do, especially when the past refuses to go away.


Stop by http://bigworldnetwork.com/site/series/murmur/ each week to read or listen to a new episode!










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17. {Quick-Fire Review} The Memory of Before by Lenore Appelhans

THE MEMORY OF AFTER Previously Level2 Memory Chronicles #1 by Lenore Appelhans Hardcover: 288 pages Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (January 15, 2013) Buy the book:  Amazon Audio CD Publisher: Listening Library (Audio); Unabridged edition (January 22, 2013) Buy the audio: CD, Audible Mark on Goodreads In this gripping exploration of a futuristic afterlife, a teen

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18. Maggie Stiefvater Keynote: A Thief & An Artist, Stealing Stories from Life

The magical Maggie Stiefvater
Maggie Stiefvater is nothing short of astonishing. She's the author of many YA novels, including the bestselling Raven Boys series and the Printz Honor Award-winning SCORPIO RACES.

She talked to us about her life as a writer—which has more dimensions than that single word contains.

"I'm not sure if my job description is actually writer," she said. "It should be thief. Or maybe, if I'm being kind, artist."

"I used to think that my ideal job was to write. To make up stories. To lie for a living." Now that she's a professional writer, knows that she observes, steals, and stylizes for a living.

When she writes, it's not so much that she is creating new things out of nothing, but that she steals from the world and makes it her own. She used to be a professional portrait artist, something she had to practice a lot (much like writing). One challenge of being a portrait artist was that people would move. She learned to look for people being still.

She found one once in a window seat on an airplane—the seat she wanted—and she sketched him with delight. And then she found out he was watching her draw. She teased his life story out of him, or at least part. Specifically the hand part. He had an oddly shaped hand, so he told her the story of how he broke it. On someone's face.

He said he was defending his sister's honor, and she listened to him with her mind on record, as she planned to steal him and his soft southern accent.

Over the years, her thefts have gone from the surface much deeper. Faithful, accurate renderings aren't what she wants. These are mere copies. She wants the essence. The soul. Why that guy threw that punch, or why he never threw one earlier. His broken hand was broken for a reason. He could have been, and probably was, lying.

The truth: A boy had once lost his temper, much to his shame. He had to look at the memory of that moment every single day. Everything else was just details. Just noise. "That was the soul," she said. "And that was what I stole."

He became Adam Parrish in THE RAVEN BOYS.

She talked to us about what the old writing advice "write what you know" really means, charming us with the stories of her childhood horse, a former racehorse that wasn't ready to retire and very well could have killed her. This fed into THE SCORPIO RACES, a book about vicious horses that are very likely to eat anyone who tries to ride them.

The thief then hands the job over to the artist, who understands what details to keep, and what details to cut.  "If I do my thievery well, if I steal the truth and not the details, and then I add the details back in, then I end up with a book that is not just true, but specific, and in only the way I can write it," she said.

She said her most Maggie book of all is THE RAVEN BOYS, one rich with things she's pilfered from her childhood, and literally about someone who can summon things from his dreams, just as she summons from her own.









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19. JUST CALL MY NAME by Holly Goldberg Sloan {Review}

"Review by Books" Review by J  Just Call My Name  (I’ll Be There #2)  by Holly Goldberg Sloan Page Count: 352 Genre: YA/Contemporary Rating: 4.5/5  Goodreads | Amazon The happily-ever-after of Holly Goldberg Sloan's acclaimed debut, I'll Be There, is turned on its head in this riveting, emotional sequel about friends, enemies, and how those roles can shift in a matter of moments.

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20. OF METAL AND WISHES by Sarah Fine {Quick-Fire Review}

Review by Andye OF METAL AND WISHES by Sarah Fine Hardcover: 336 pages Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books (August 5, 2014) Language: English Goodreads | Amazon This love story for the ages, set in a reimagined industrial Asia, is a little dark, a bit breathless, and completely compelling. Sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic, housed in a slaughterhouse staffed by

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21. Maybe Too Much Going On?

I like books that stay on task, as I always put it. It may be that as a reader I get distracted if there are too many different things going on. I found the cookery part of Getting the Girl, A Guide to Private Investigation, Surveillance, and Cookery by Susan Juby distracting.

Sherman Mack is a wonderful character, like a younger, less raunchy, undamaged Seth from Home to Woefield. The mystery he's investigating, who singles out girls to be turned on by the general population, is a serious one, if maybe a little over the top. Sherm's interest in cooking ties in to the mystery by the end, but it seems unconnected until then. Same with his out-there Mom and the neighbor guy who serves as a father figure for Sherm.

Juby does a couple of interesting things here. First, she does a neat twist on the cliched mean girls stereotype. She also has created a world in which every popular kid in school, whether they earned their popularity with their looks, their athletic prowess, or something else, isn't hateful. They certainly aren't heroic or particularly positive in their behavior, but, again, they aren't the evil stereotype we're used to seeing.

I have another one of Juby's books here that I hope to get to in the next few weeks. 


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22. RANDOM by Tom Leveen {Review}

"Review My Books" Review by Krista Random by Tom Leveen Hardcover, 224 pages Expected publication: August 12th 2014 Simon Pulse Goodreads | Amazon Who's the real victim here? This tense and gripping exploration of cyberbullying and teen suicide is perfect for fans of Before I Fall and Thirteen Reasons Why. Late at night Tori receives a random phone call. It's a wrong number. But the caller

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23. Review: Magnolia by Kristi Cook

 

 

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

Magnolia is a hard book to rate.  For the most part, I really enjoyed this Shakespeare inspired YA romance.  It’s Romeo and Juliet in reverse.  Jemma and Ryder have been at odds ever since the 8th grade, when a misunderstanding drives them apart.  Too bad their families keep pushing them together!  Nothing would make their parents more happy than if they became a couple, and their mothers have been doing everything in their power to make that happen.  From the time they were babies, they have shared cribs, vacations, and countless meals, but Jemma’s had enough.  While once Ryder lit up her world, his cruel words have driven them apart, and Jemma can’t wait to get away from tiny Magnolia Branch so she doesn’t have to deal with him anymore.

Second chance at love is my favorite trope, so I was looking forward to reading this.  After overhearing Ryder talking to his friends about her, Jemma’s young heart is crushed.  While she has developed a huge crush on him, she thinks that he’s only being nice to her to please his over-controlling mom.  She’s done everything in her power to avoid him for the last four years, but she seethes with anger every time she sees him.  Worse, they usually end up arguing about the stupidest things, which makes her even more upset.

In her senior year, Jemma has big dreams for the future.  She has a secret plan; she wants to attend film school in NYC, far away from her family and friends.  And far away from Ryder.  When her sister, Nan,  is diagnosed with a life threatening illness, her dreams are derailed.  Her parents have to fly to Houston with her sister for her treatment, leaving Jemma alone and confused.  Frightened for the well-being of her one daughter, her mother refuses to even discuss letting Jemma apply to a school as far away as NYC.  Worried and resigned that Nan’s future is more important than hers, Jemma waits at home, alone, for word of her sister’s progress.

While everyone is out of town, the worst hurricane since Katrina barrels down on Mississippi.  This was my favorite part of the book, because the author captured the intensity of the storm so vividly.  Howling winds, pelleting rains, surging floods – you name it, and Jemma and Ryder had to face these terrible threats alone.  The whole storm sequence was engrossing and I couldn’t put the book down.  Jemma and Ryder are forced to put their differences aside and work together to make it through the storm.  They arrive at a truce, and maybe something more, until life returns back to normal in the aftermath of the hurricane.  Then they are at odds again, but for entirely different reasons.

This is where the story fell ever so slightly off the rails for me, but I don’t want to go into detail because it’s a pretty major spoiler.  Suffice it to say, this latest roadblock to true love seemed very contrived and I just didn’t buy into the tragedy.  And, to be honest, it’s kind of hard to beat the tension and fear of eminent death brought on by the hurricane, so anything that happened after it blew itself out of town was kind of anticlimactic.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

Jemma and Ryder are far from friends—until a storm stirs up their passion in this contemporary southern romance from New York Times bestselling author Kristi Cook.

In Magnolia Branch, Mississippi, The Cafferty and Marsden families are practically royalty. Neighbors since the Civil War, the families have shared vacations, holidays, backyard barbecues, and the overwhelming desire to unite their two clans by marriage. So when the families finally have a baby boy and girl at the same time, the perfect opportunity seems to have arrived.

Except Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden have no intention of giving in to their parents’ wishes. They’re only seventeen—oh, and also? They hate each other. Jemma can’t stand Ryder’s nauseating golden-boy persona, and Ryder would prefer it if stubborn-headed Jemma didn’t exist. And their communication is not exactly effective: even a casual hello turns into a yelling match.
But when a violent Mississippi storm ravages through Magnolia Branch, it unearths feelings Jemma and Ryder didn’t know they had. And the line between love and hate just might be thin enough to cross…

The post Review: Magnolia by Kristi Cook appeared first on Manga Maniac Cafe.

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24. DROWNED by Nichola Reilly {Review}

"Review My Books" Review by Emily  DROWNED Drowned #1 by Nichola Reilly Series: A Drowned Novel (Book 1) Hardcover: 304 pages Publisher: Harlequin Teen (June 24, 2014) Goodreads | Amazon Coe is one of the few remaining teenagers on the island of Tides. Deformed and weak, she is constantly reminded that in a world where dry land dwindles at every high tide, she is not welcome. The only bright

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25. Maggie Stiefvater: Building Characters with Heart

Thank you to Marquita Hockaday for the photo. 

Maggie Stiefvater
is the #1 New York Times best-selling author of the novels Shiver, Linger, and Forever. Her novel The Scorpio Races was named a Michael L. Printz Honor book. She has also written the Raven Cycle series among many books for young adults.

For Maggie her primary concern, above everything else, is character.

“For me what really pulls a book through are the humans.”

She notes that what is true for her might not be true for you.

She sees herself not a good writer but a better thief. She can’t create anything from scratch, not characters that actually breath and walk on their own.

She starts with people who have a real human heart and sees it more as creating portraits of people.

You need to know the rules of character building. You can't go around breaking rules without knowing the rules you're breaking. If you know the rules, and break them anyways, then it’s experimenting.

Some rules: 

·      The narrator should be a character who shifts the plot the most. (This rule is very central to commercial fiction.)

·      The narrator should be the character who changes the most. An intriguing character is one who is both internally and externally active.

·      Characters should be sympathetic and relatable ( a rule Maggie disagrees with). You should understand why a character does what they do, but it doesn’t have to be choices you would make.

·      It’s bad writing to write yourself into a character (Maggie also disagrees with this). She believes accidentally writing yourself in is bad writing, but doing it on purpose is creating a portrait of yourself. 

Maggie creates characters subtractively: when she's stealing from real life it’s often a matter of subtraction. From The Scorpio Races she stole from her brothers. One of the characters is very liked by readers, the other is not. So she has one happy brother, one not so much. But if she wrote them exactly as they are they’d be all over the place, so she focuses on the first idea she gets of them, developing the character from there.






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