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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: adam selzer, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 7 of 7
1. MORE Book Birthdays! Wow...

Sparks: The Epic, Completely True Blue, (Almost) Holy Quest of Debbie by S. J. Adams (aka Adam Selzer)

 Do you feel lost? Confused? Alone? 
(Circle one): Yes or No. 
The Church of Blue can help. We are not a cult. $5 for a holy quest is a good deal. 

Since sixth grade, Debbie Woodlawn has nursed a secret, heart-searing crush on her best friend, Lisa. But all those years of pretending to enjoy Full House reruns and abstinence rallies with Lisa go down the drain when her friend hooks up with Norman, the most boring guy at school. This earth-shattering event makes Debbie decide to do the unthinkable: confess her love to Lisa. And she has to do it tonight--before Lisa and Norman go past "the point of no return." So Debbie embarks on a quest to find Lisa. Guiding the quest are fellow students/detention hall crashers Emma and Tim, the founding (and only) members of the wacky Church of Blue. Three chases, three declarations of love, two heartbreaks, a break-in, and five dollars worth of gas later, Debbie has been fully initiated into Bluedaism--but is there time left to stop Lisa and Norman from going too far? 

SPARKS is a great choice for:

*Those who love goofy/touching/funny/romantic 
* Those who love John Hughes movies
* Anyone who has ever had an unrequited love that has driven them to go to semi-crazy lengths
* Anyone who has ever started their own religion

Extraordinary*: *The True Story of My Fairygodparent, Who Almost Killed Me, and Certainly Never Made Me a Princess  
by Adam Selzer  (aka S. J. Adams)

 Jennifer Van Der Berg would like you to know that the book ostensibly written about her--"Born to Be Extraordinary" by Eileen Codlin--is a bunch of bunk. Yes, she had a fairy godparent mess with her life, but no, she was not made into a princess or given the gift of self-confidence, and she sure as hell didn't get a hot boyfriend out of it. 

Here's the REAL scoop . . .

EXTRAORDINARY is great for:

* Twi-Haters
* Anyone who thinks that vampires & werewolves are probably NOT so great in the romance department and that unicorns are probably pretty gross to cl

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2. I Kissed a Zombie and I Liked It

I Kissed a Zombie, and I Liked ItI Kissed a Zombie, and I Liked It Adam Selzer

Zombies of Des Moines!

Alley is known as the Ice Queen of the viscous circle-- the cynical sarcastic kids who write the school paper and will actually leave their Des Moines suburb once they're done with high school.

It all changes when she goes to review a band for the paper. The band itself is awful, but they guy they get to sing a few songs? Alley's immediately smitten and her Ice Queen heart melts all over her laptop.

What she doesn't realize is that Doug is one of the zombies that Megamart created a few years ago to cut labor costs. Once the world discovered the zombies, the vampires also "came out of the coffin" and it's now a post-human world. Only Alley's guidance counselor (vampire) doesn't like the living dating the dead and demands Alley convert on her birthday or dump Doug. Doug can't leave Des Moines-- can Alley leave him? Or should she stay? And what's with all these new zombies roaming around demanding brains?

A few minor points made me really like this--

1. It takes place in Des Moines. While all Alley wants is to leave it, the Des Moines she lives in is not a stupid caractature of "small midwestern hicksville." Des Moines has surburbs, and is very much... Des Moines. Selzer grew up there and it shows.

2. Alley (and her best friend Sadie) are Jewish, but it's not a major part of the book (except that matzoh balls are things zombies can eat. Also, Des Moines has more zombies than Jews, which is just funny.)

Selzer captures well the heady feeling of first love and the willingness the change everything for a relationship before you start to actually think things through. While Alley was this really strong character who was willing to change EVERYTHING for a guy, the way Selzer wrote it made it totally believable and not weak and insipid. I think it's because she thought through her decisions and her parents and friends kept trying to drum some sense into her.

Either way, a light fun book about dating the undead.

Book Provided by... my local library

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2 Comments on I Kissed a Zombie and I Liked It, last added: 6/16/2010
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3. I Kissed a Zombie and I Liked It by Adam Selzer

I Kissed a Zombie and I Liked It
Written by Adam Selzer
Delacorte Press, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-385-73503-2
Age range: 14+

We don't read or review very many young adult books for KinderScares, tending to already run the gamut from baby board books to middle-grade novels.  You have to draw the line somewhere, right?  Besides that, it's not exactly hard to find YA books with horror or paranormal themes - all you have to do is walk into any bookstore.  You (presumably) don't need our help for that.

Despite this general avoidance, we knew as soon as we heard the title that we were going to have to check out I Kissed a Zombie and I Liked It.  We then promptly forgot to pick it up when it first came out, but finally nabbed a copy in a recent book-buying frenzy and bumped it straight to the top of our to-read pile (it's really more of a mountain at the moment...).  I'm really glad we did - and that I was the one to get to it first - because I enjoyed every minute of it.

A few years ago all the post-humans (vampires, zombies, werewolves...) came out of the woodwork and are now settled in as a normal part of society.  Unlike the majority of her high school peers, though, Alley Rhodes isn't impressed by the brooding, emo pers

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4. How to Get Suspended and Influence People -- Adam Selzer

Fourteen-year-old Leon isn't your stereotypical "gifted child":

Now, on TV or in the movies, whenever the main character is a boy genius or something, the smart classes are made up of dorks who tuck their shirts into their underwear, do math in their heads, and might actually sign up for the good grooming activity.  In reality, our advanced classes and gifted pools were always made up of a bunch of miscreant kids who just happened to read books from the adult section of the library.  Many of us even read newspapers.  That was all.  The real dorks weren't smart enough to get in.

How to Get Suspended and Influence PeopleWhen he and the rest of the advanced students are told they are to make health-related videos for the sixth and seventh-graders, they aren't interested in recreating the snorefests that they've been subjected to for years:

It sounded to me like the school was just trying to spare the expense of buying a bunch of new videos, but I had to admit that the project sounded like fun.  When Mr. Streich passed around the list of possible subjects, I looked them over and was a bit surprised to see that sex ed was on the list.  They were actually going to trust an eighth-grader to make a sex-ed video?  Were they drunk when they wrote out the list of topics?  It was like being handed a live grenade and being invited to lob it at one of the teachers.  Eating disorders struck me as a good topic, too, because you'd have a great excuse to do a puking scene, but I couldn't say no to the chance to make a sex-ed video that every student really wanted to see.

At first, Leon is mainly concerned with cramming as much nudity as possible into his video, but as he progresses, he becomes more and more interested in making Great Art That Might Help Kids Understand Themselves.  Of course, what with the subject matter (and the nudity) some adults don't see it quite the same way. 

How to Get Suspended and Influence People is a freaking laugh riot.  Leon is super smart but not overly mature for his age, I loved his friends and his parents.  Totally fun and enjoyable (and educational, but not in an annoying or overly obvious way).

I wouldn't be all that surprised if this one gets challenged at some point -- though that would be a tad ironic, since it is partly a story about censorship.  The book jacket will hopefully (HOPEFULLY) make the content obvious to any freak-out-prone adults.  The inside flap is very clear about the topic of Leon's project and the word 'smart-ass' pops up both there and on the back cover, so maybe they'll steer clear. 

If they don't, they'll probably find something to be offended by -- the gifted kids pretend to be Satanists to annoy a teacher, there is some swearing, some talk about pot and (this might end up being the biggie) one of Leon's main video goals (other than flashing boob pictures) is to get a "masturbation is normal" message across.

As I said though, WAY FUN.  I hope that it finds an audience, and I hope that there'll be more from Adam Selzer soon.

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5. How to Get Suspended and Influence People

book cover

You might want to avoid eating or drinking anything while reading Adam Selzer’s debut novel, so as to avoid spraying food or drink all over the book’s pages. It’s just that funny. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

“How to Get Suspended” is the story of Leon Harris, a “gifted and talented” eighth grader who finds himself in the middle of a debate about censorship. Leon’s class is assigned the job of making educational videos for the sixth and seventh grade classes. Leon chooses sex ed, deciding to make an avant-garde film. (”I was sure that if mine was bizarre enough to be considered ‘artsy,’ I could get away with putting just about anything in there,” he reasons.)

Leon’s friend Anna offers to help, at first by bringing him several of her parents’ art books and a copy of Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. (”I could tell it was good, because half the time I had no idea what was going on,” Leon says.)

Leon’s project meets with the disapproval of the gifted program director, Mrs. Smollett, and Leon soon becomes a “political prisoner,” thrown into in-school suspension for the “inappropriate” content of his film. Students and teachers rally around him in ways Leon never expected.

“How to Get Suspended” is laugh-out-loud funny, but it also deals with the heavy issues of censorship and morality in a smart, realistic way. I couldn’t recommend this book more. A sequel, “Pirates of the Retail Wasteland,” is due out in early 2008.

With this review, I am also introducing my “5 Lists of 5″ interview.

5 Lists of 5, with Adam Selzer

5 authors you admire or have influenced you:

  • Daniel Pinkwater - I’ve based my life on his teachings, and travel to places he wrote about around Chicago regularly. Those that haven’t been torn down for condos or a Starbucks, anyway.
  • Charles Dickens - esp. the mid-to-late novels
  • Bill Bryson - my fellow Des Moines native
  • Harlan Ellison - I discovered him in 8th grade - there was a copy of Paingod and Other Delusions in this little bookshop that was also a tanning place in Urbandale, IA, and I just couldn’t pass up a book with a title like that.
  • Gordon Korman - I wonder if he’d let me write a new Bugs Potter book?

5 Books you’d bring with you to a deserted island:

  • Tristram Shandy by Laurence Stern - a very long, post-modern 18th century novel that makes very little sense. It’d be good to have on a desert island because it would keep me busy for years.
  • I Hated Hated Hated Hated this Movie by Roger Ebert - to remind me that there are worse things than being stranded on a desert island
  • Bleak House by Charles Dickens - pretty much the same reason as Tristram Shandy, only it has the added bonus of having a character who spontaneously combusts midway through the book.
  • 5 Novels by Daniel Pinkwater - all in one volume, so it only count as one, not five. ha!
  • A blank one so I can write things down - plus, I could obsess for weeks over how to make ink using stuff on a desert island

5 CDs You Can’t Live Without:

(I’ll keep this to one per artist)

5 favorite movies/TV shows:

5 things on your dresser or nightstand:

  • Singer’s Saving Grace throat spray
  • Count Chocula bobble head
  • a stack of copies of my own albums
  • empty ben and jerry’s container (half baked)
  • a Han Solo in Carbonite action figure (which is really an inaction figure)

1 Comments on How to Get Suspended and Influence People, last added: 3/13/2007
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6. The Cybils YA shortlist

There were 123 books nominated in the YA category, and since only seven titles made it to the final round of judging, that means each book had a .8% chance of making the shortlist. (I had to use a calculator to figure that out, unlike Josh Mendel.)

Reading and talking about the books with the other panelists was fun, but picking the final seven was really hard. There were so many deserving books that we just didn’t have room for. But here is the shortlist we came up with, blatantly stolen from the Cybils blog:

Parttimeindian The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
by Sherman Alexie
Little, Brown
Meet Junior, a skinny, teenage Spokane Indian with hydrocephalus, ugly glasses and too many teeth. He knows that to make his dreams come true, he has to go where no one in his tribe has gone before—a white high school outside the reservation. Sherman Alexie’s semi-autobiographical novel comes at you with its chin up and fists flying. You’re guaranteed to fall in love with this scruffy underdog who fights off poverty and despair with goofy, self-deprecating humor and a heart the size of Montana.
—Eisha, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
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21mdyeg1ndl_aa_sl160__2 Billie Standish Was Here
by Nancy Crocker
Simon & Schuster
Summer 1968. Billie Standish is a young girl with a lot of heart and soul whose life is about to change forever when the rains come pouring down. Newly befriended by a neighbor, Miss Lydia, neither suspect how close danger lurks to young Billie—and it’s not danger from the rising storm waters threatening the town’s levee. Billie Standish is a story of friendship, courage, and devotion that will charm readers young and old as they fall in love with Billie’s world.
—Becky, Becky’s Book Reviews
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Boytoy Boy Toy
by Barry Lyga
Houghton Mifflin
Eighteen-year-old Josh Mendel can calculate batting averages and earned run averages in an instant, but coming to terms with his past has been impossible. Until, perhaps, now. Bypassing the tawdry and sensational, Barry Lyga takes a ripped-from-the-headlines plot (Teacher-Student Sex Scandal!) and explores the devastation it leaves behind. Told with intelligence and sensitivity, Boy Toy is a powerful story that may occasionally disturb, but ultimately captivate readers.
—Trisha, The YA YA YAs
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Offseason The Off Season
by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Houghton Mifflin
Farm girl and football player D.J. Schwenk’s refreshing voice and self-deprecating humor return in this continuation of her hilarious and occasionally heartbreaking coming-of-age story. Catherine Gilbert Murdock’s characters are authentic and fully realized, and the story perfectly captures the rhythms and conventions of life in a small, rural town. D.J.’s straightforward and endearing personality shines as she faces up to everyday adversity and struggles to find her voice.
—Anne, LibrariAnne
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Redglass Red Glass
by Laura Resau
Sophie, an Arizona teenager full of insecurities and phobias, becomes the foster sister to an orphaned illegal immigrant boy. When the boy’s family is located in southern Mexico, Sophie goes along on the trek to return him, all the while hoping he’ll decide to come with her back to the U.S. As she journeys through Mexico and beyond, evocative settings and vivid characters immerse the reader in Sophie’s world. Sophie finds guardian angels along the way, and discovers inner strength.
—Stacy, Reading, Writing, and Chocolate
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Tips Tips on Having a Gay (ex)Boyfriend
by Carrie Jones
Tips is in many ways a typical high school story—loves lost and won; navigating the social minefields of a small town; figuring out who you are, measured against the way others see you. It depicts a week in the life of Belle, a high school senior who’s just been dumped by her “true love”—for another guy. Belle progresses through heartbreak to jealousy to anger, to genuine concern for Dylan (her ex), whose road will be much tougher than her own. And Belle’s gradual realization that she and Dylan weren’t meant to be opens her to new possibilities. Belle is a sweet and optimistic narrator with quirky but believable friends and family.
—Stacy, Reading, Writing, and Chocolate
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Wednesdaywars The Wednesday Wars
by Gary D. Schmidt
Condemned to spend every Wednesday afternoon alone with a teacher he is sure hates him, Holling despairs. When two demon rats escape into the classroom walls, and Mrs. Barker brings out Shakespeare, Wednesdays seem to grow even worse. But despair has no place in this very funny and deeply moving book about 7th grade love, the Vietnam War, heroes, true friendship, and the power of giant rats.
—Charlotte, Charlotte’s Library
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I’m so glad I had the opportunity to serve on the panel. Not only did I get to talk books with six great people, it also introduced me to books I probably would not have otherwise picked up. Billie Standish Was Here? Love, love, love it (the book was great, and, oh, Harlan… What can I say? Some of the nominated books had really awesome love interests), but I think I would have passed it by had I not been on the panel. So, if you haven’t already, go and read these books. They’re all wonderful.

But when only 5.6% of all possible titles make it on to a shortlist, there will be some great books that get left out simply because there’s no room for them. Two books that I feel truly deserve a wider audience, but which did not make the shortlist, are Brothers, Boyfriends, and Other Criminal Minds by April Lurie and How to Get Suspended and Influence People by Adam Selzer.

Brothers, Boyfriends, and Other Criminal Minds is set in Brooklyn, 1977. Fourteen-year-old April Lundquist agrees to help shepherd her neighbor, Larry (who seems to be autistic, though it’s never specified), to school. Is this just a way of paying her off? Larry’s father is a mobster, $100 suddenly start appearing in April’s books, and Larry’s father seems to be warning her about her older brother’s relationship with the daughter of a fellow mobster. While there’s nothing groundbreaking about the story, what it does it does well. In a way, it’s a very refreshing book, simply because it’s not another high concept, plot-first story. It’s also a really funny book. I’m not sure exactly how to describe the humor. It’s not loud or mean or snarky, it’s just plain funny, and I had a good time reading it, which is always nice.

I do have to admit the setting did make me wary at first. Did I really want to read a book set in the 1970s? Ultimately, it’s a coming-of-age/slice-of-life (thanks, Jackie) story first, a book set in 1977 second. Lurie strikes a good balance of establishing the period, making it come alive in a positive way (by which I mean, she makes the era seem fun, not like other historical novels that make you think, “Man, I’m glad I wasn’t alive back then”) and depicting characters who are products of the setting, while making the story almost timeless—it definitely has teen appeal and is written for teens, not nostalgic adults—and not overwhelming readers or the characters with minutiae. And did I mention it was funny?

As for How to Get Suspended and Influence People, well, among the trends I noticed while reading the nominated books were long titles and awful, or just plain insane, parents. Leon’s parents fall into the insane category, but I mean that in a good way. Leon’s parents love him and are really supportive, but they’re nuts! Again, in a good way. His father’s an aspiring inventor who won’t listen to his son whenever Leon points out that the things he wants to invent have already been invented. His mother likes to cook purposefully bad food—Leon’s parents call themselves “food disaster hobbyists”—with recipes from cookbooks with titles like The Wonders of Lard and You and Your Artichokes. It therefore shouldn’t be much of a surprise that when Leon’s advanced studies class is assigned to make educational videos for 6th and 7th graders, Leon decides that his project will be an avant-garde sex ed video. This is a hilarious book with a strong message about intellectual freedom but never comes across as preachy. Just fun.

As for me, as great as the Cybils experience was (and I would totally do it again), I’m very happy that I now have enough time to finally watch Veronica Mars Season Three and Jumong Volume Four. But mostly that I can read The Sweet Far Thing.

Oh, and two of the shortlisted authors have previously been interviewed by a panelist. Read Becky’s interview with Barry Lyga and Jackie’s interview with Sherman Alexie. They’re worth your time.

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7. Last minute Valentine’s Day Ideas

10 beautiful books for Valentine's Day—poetry, love, and stickers.

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