Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Still More From Shel...

Unfortunately for us, Shel Silverstein passed away in 1999--but he isn't done tickling our funny bone just yet. Harper Collins Children's Books recently announced that they will be publishing a posthumous book of Shel's poetry in 2011; chock full of those silly illustrations and rhymes that make his work so memorable. The beloved author of Falling Up, Where the Sidewalk Ends, and A Light in the Attic has sold more than 25 million copies of his books and has been translated into 30 languages.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Meyer Novel of Interest....

Fans whose hopes were dashed when Stephenie Meyer sidelined Midnight Sun, her planned fifth book in the Twilight Saga, after it was leaked online, have reason to get excited. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers will publish Meyer's The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella on Saturday, June 5. The book goes on sale at 12:01 a.m. with a 1.5 million-copy first printing (an e-book version will be available at 6:00 a.m.). One dollar for each copy sold from the first printing will be donated to the American Red Cross International Response Fund.
The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner tells the story of a newborn vampire introduced in Eclipse, who will also appear in the film version of Eclipse, scheduled to be released on June 30. The book was originally envisioned as part of Meyer's The Twilight Saga: The Official Guide. "I'm as surprised as anyone about this novella," said Meyer in a statement. "When I began working on it in 2005, it was simply an exercise to help me examine the other side of Eclipse, which I was editing at the time. I thought it might end up as a short story that I could include on my website. Then, when work started on The Twilight Saga: The Official Guide, I thought the Guide would be a good fit for my Bree story. However, the story grew longer than I anticipated, until it was too long to fit into the Guide."
In addition to the print edition, the book will be available to read online for free from June 7 to July 5 at "[S]ince this story had always been an extra for me, and was meant to be released with the Guide, I wanted to be able to offer it to my fans for free," Meyer said in a post about the book on her Web site. "You all have bought a ton of my books, and I wanted to give you this story as a gift."
Meyer's Twilight Saga has been published in nearly 50 countries and has sold more than 100 million copies, including nearly 26.5 million in 2009 alone, according to PW's recent Facts and Figures issue.

How Now Mad Cow....

Perhaps many of you have already read Libba Bray, after all she's the writer of the Gemma Doyle trilogy, which I've seen leave the check-out desk many, many times. Her new book, Going Bovine, recently won the Printz award for 2010 and so I wanted to let you guys (and gals!) know about it.
Going Bovine is written from the point of view of Cameron Smith, a down and out high school student who discovers he has the fatal brain disease, Mad Cow. His life is pretty boring at the start of the book: he's a social misfit with an incredibly popular older sister, his parents are both teachers, he's an underachiever, and has very few friends. His life changes when he starts having strange visions and convulsions. While in the hospital, Cameron is visited by an angel with pink hair and combat boots named Dulcie. She tells him that his disease has been caused by a wizard and that the same forces destroying his brain will eventually destroy the world. Dulcie tells him if he can find Dr. X he can be cured and save the world
Talk about pressure!
On his quest Cameron meets all sorts of people: Gonzo, a Mexican-American dwarf from his high school, a garden gnome who's really a Norse God, a happiness cult, an Inuit rock band and more. His journey takes him from his Texas hometown to New Orleans and Florida.
Cameron's voice is unique and very funny--I think a lot of you will relate to his pop culture references and the soul-searching he is trying to do to save himself and the world. This book will make you laugh, cry, and maybe even go a bit "mad".......
To read a free sample of this new book, go to Libba Bray's website

Friday, March 19, 2010

An Interview with Carrie Ryan

Yesterday I told you about two books I was really enjoying: The Forest of Hands and Teeth and the Dead Tossed Waves. As chance would have it, I stumbled upon an interview with the author, Carrie Ryan, which I thought would add some creedence to my recommendation. Hope you enjoy it:

Do you think of The Forest of Hands and Teeth and The Dead-Tossed Waves as zombie novels?

I think of them as novels that happen to have zombies in them. When we say zombie novels people expect the zombie apocalypse. But my books are about how you survive intense challenges in life and there are zombies around while you are trying to survive them.

How about as dystopian novels?

I don't know if I'd consider them dystopian. Though I think that people who like dystopian novels would like my books because society has fallen apart and the stories are about how you live in such a society.

How did you conceive of the world?

I became fascinated by zombies when my fiancé took me to see Dawn of the Dead. That's when I began a steady diet of zombie movies and books. Then for NaNoWriMo [National Novel Writing Month] in 2006 I had to start a new novel and for the fun of it I decided to write my zombie apocalypse. The first line came to me on the way home one day and this book eventually became The Forest of Hands and Teeth. I wanted to experiment with voice—I didn't think it would go anywhere really—it really was an experiment. The dedication of the book is to my fiancé JP for giving me the world-we spent so much time talking about zombies and the world for this book.

Why so bleak all the time?

That's just the world of my protagonists. It's a terrible world. It's a world that isn't fair. A lot of what Mary—my heroine in The Forest of Hands and Teeth—has to do is constantly make hard choices. She was to decide what she is willing to give up in order to take risk on her own behalf. I thought her story and Gabry's story—my heroine in The Dead-Tossed Waves—are hopeful in the end. In both books the characters learn a tremendous amount about themselves. They learn to trust others, and to rely on and believe in themselves.

Why did you switch heroines between books?

The first book was supposed to be a standalone. When we talked about the possibility of a sequel I was excited because I loved Mary's world. Then I thought it would be unfair to Mary to get her all the way to where she was at the end of The Forest of Hands and Teeth—which I think was a really hopeful place after so much loss and difficulty—and then say, "psyche!" and push her into more peril for the next book. Besides, I really like introducing a reader to a world through someone who has always lived in it, and Mary hadn't grown up in Gabry's world, which is the setting for The Dead-Tossed Waves.

Where do you get your inspiration to write?

A lot of times something that unsettles me will stick in me and I want to figure it out, figure out why it's unsettling. When I was watching Dawn of the Dead I started wondering what I would do to survive a zombie apocalypse. When something doesn't fit together in my head I usually figure it out through telling a story about it, and with these two novels I am trying to figure a zombie apocalypse out through these two characters and by asking how far they are willing to go to survive.

How would you describe your writing style?

One thing that really matters to me is the rhythm of the world—I don't use a lot of commas and I want the reader to literally be breathless. The voice for The Forest of Hands and Teeth is a voice I found first in college and I'm really glad I found it again. I was taking a personal essay class and the assignment was to echo Jamaica Kincaid. This story I wrote came out with this rhythm and a lot of repetition—it came from nowhere. When I think about where the voice of these two books came from I can pinpoint exactly this story from college.

Has your writing process changed at all since you got published and started making a name for yourself?

Before selling books I had all the time in the world to figure my story out, but now I'm under more pressure. But I also have the experience of being able to make a story work at least once or twice before, so now when I start to feel panic I also have more confidence in being able to do it again this time.

Tell us what's next?

There is a third book in the series coming out in a year—next spring. It's called The Dark and Hollow Places. It's already written.

Will you ever write a happy book?

I'm not telling—that would be a spoiler! Well, I don't think my books are unhappy books, really. People say they're scary and I didn't intend them to be scary. I feel like even in a world that's terrifying you still have friends and love and hope—it's just friendship and love and hope that are appropriate to the nature of that world. Mary and Gabry both have to have happiness in these things, because without them they'd just give up. In even a dark, dark time you can find happiness.

What are you doing to celebrate the release of The Dead-Tossed Waves?

I'm on tour and it's great—I have an event every night and I'm having the best time. I started the tour the Tuesday the book came out—March 9th. I love talking to readers and writers and meeting people. A bookstore is actually hosting a zombie prom on Friday night to celebrate my book in Rochester Hills, Michigan. Then in Seattle, a bookstore has two makeup artists coming in to turn everyone into zombies.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Love? Adventure? ....Zombies?

If you haven't picked up Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan or it's sequel, The Dead Tossed Waves, I suggest you do so immediately. They are intelligently written, fast-paced, thought provoking, and most importantly.....delightfully scary!! Like a bon-bon or cherry smoothie these books are so delicious you almost feel guilty savouring them. I recently finished the second book which is receiving great reviews from the publishing community as well as your peers! If you enjoyed Incarceron, Leviation, Shiver, or the Hunger Games, chances are you would also enjoy these books. In addition, there is an awesome love story that takes place in both books that will surely keep you entertained and take care of your romance-bug. Guys will appreciate the adventure and zombie killing action, while you ladies will be taken away by the plot and the riveting relationships that take place. Recommended for both sexes, ages 13 and up. But beware---like smoothies, they're totally addicting!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sweet Sixteen and behind the Wheel?

Women make up for more than half the drivers on the road, but most of us don't know the difference between a radio and a lug-nut. That's why ZEST books is giving away copies of their new book Driver's Seat: A Girl's Guide to Her First Car. To be eligible, all you have to do is send the publisher an email ( describing your funniest or most embarrassing driving moment as a teen (and let's face it--there are lots of them)! Entries must be received by 5 p.m. on March 22nd, 2010. Winners will be notified by email within 5 days.

The Driver's Seat encourages young women encourages women to get comfortable with their four-wheeled friends and gives advice on how to change a tire, how to handle insurance, how choose a mechanic, and much, much more! I wish I'd had this book around when I was your age--I would have made less mistakes for sure. There are also funny statistics of things women do behind the the book is entertaining as well as informative.

Side note: I have a great embarrassing story. Right after I turned 16, my parents told me that if I ever saw an animal or object in the road to STAY ON THE ROAD. What they meant was they didn't want me swerving off the road and into a ditch or a tree as that could be tremendously damaging--so basically they were asking me to SLOW DOWN. Well....a couple months later I was on the way to a friends' house and saw a couple of deer in the road. All I could think about was my parents warning me to STAY ON THE ROAD so I sped up to about 60 and plowed right into the deer--totalling my parents' car in the process. When the tow driver brought me home and my parents asked what happened I said, "I did exactly what you told me to do. I sped up and hit the deer because you told me if I ever saw anything in the road to stay on it." Needless to say, they weren't very happy.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A newly famous fantasy.....

Incarceron by Katherine Fisher is starting to get a lot of press and the word on the street is that it's AMAZING! It was Amazon's book of the month in February and recently received a starred review in Booklist. If you were a fan of the HUNGER GAMES or THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH I strongly suggest you check this out. Here's the review from Booklist:

The vast prison Incarceron, made of metal and cutting-edge technology, was designed as a grand experiment: all undesirables would be sealed inside and given everything for a model utopia. But the experiment failed as Incarceron grew self-aware and tyrannical, resources dwindled, and prisoners divided into factions. Centuries later, prisoners exist under Incarceron’s watchful eyes with one belief: no one from Outside enters, no one from Inside escapes. Finn, however, believes he’s from Outside, and after he finds a crystal key that opens any door, he embarks on a journey to escape. Outside Incarceron, Claudia, the warden’s daughter, is also looking for escape, from an arranged marriage and from her role in a plot to end Protocol, which forces inhabitants to live according to seventeenth-century norms. When she too finds a crystal key, she comes into communication with Finn, who she believes is the true prince of the Realm. This gripping futuristic fantasy has breathless pacing, an intelligent story line, and superb detail in rendering both of the stagnating environments. Fisher’s characters are emotionally resonant, flawed, determined, and plagued by metaphysical questions. With some well-timed shocking twists and a killer ending, this is a must-have. Grades 9-12. --Krista Hutley

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Whale of a Tale.....

I'm currently reading a non-fiction title called "Whaling Season" by Peter Lourie that is about whale hunting in North America--it's history, who does it, why it's controversial, etc. It really gives an interesting look at the whaling industry and Publishers Weekly recently gave it a starred review for the unique insights it offers--Here is that review:

Gr 4–8—Lourie skillfully describes the delicate three-way relationship that exists among the Iñupiat of Alaska, the bowhead whales, and the scientists who are there to collect data and study the animals. The Iñupiat have hunted bowheads for thousands of years and their very existence depends upon the harvesting of the leviathans. The scientists are there to determine whether the whaling done by these communities is sustainable and not decimating the bowhead population. Using a day-in-the-life format, Lourie follows one particular scientist, John Craighead George, as he goes about collecting the necessary data. The biologist is careful not to disturb the integrity of the harvest and, in fact, works closely with the Iñupiat to do what he needs to do. Interwoven throughout this daylong saga are historical information, scientific facts, and cultural tradition. Crisp color photographs on every page provide a lush complement to the engaging, informative text. Young readers will come away with a stronger appreciation of the bowhead whales, the people who both hunt and respect them, and the scientists who straddle the traditional and modern worlds to gather important information. An excellent addition to any collection.
—Jody Kopple, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA

Recommended for anyone but especially those interested in the environment, whales, marine biology, and Native Americans. Put this title on hold today! The pictures alone are worth the effort!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Is Your Mother Reading YA???

So you found your mom sitting on the couch with a bag of Cheetos and a Sprite reading Twilight, or the Hunger Games, or Eragon. What to do you're wondering? Well, you are not alone. YA fiction is a fast growing tumor that is spreading rapidly amongst the adult population. Young Adult fiction (in my humble opinion) is often better than the books on the adult shelf and with such authors as JK Rowling, Rick Riordan, and Stephanie Meyer breaking out staggering best-sellers expect YA to continue to rise in popularity. Here is a great article by the LA times documenting the phenomenon:

I suggest you read it if you're at all freaking out about your mom stealing your books--Don't worry--it's normal!!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Get Involved!

We all have social causes we care about and so I wanted to turn you on to a great Web-site that allows you to pick your cause and then help you find organizations to become involved with. It's called and it's a site dedicated to helping teens find a solution to their volunteering hang-ups. I really suggest you check it out and see what it has to offer. I know many of you have school requirements that you have to volunteer so many hours--and why not spend it doing something you're really passionate about?

Want to do something even more??

Start your own "Do Something" Club. Details can be found on the website or you can fill out an application here:

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

GLBTQ YA Literature

As many of you know, I've been working on completing a Master's degree in Library Science at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. A class I'm enrolled in right now, "GLBTQ Young Adult Literature" is asking us to promote our GLBTQ books for our patrons young and old alike. The books can easily go unnoticed in the stacks and because it IS an important part of our collection, I am taking this opportunity to acquaint you with some of the great "Queer Literature" in our teen area. If you have the time or interest, please give some of these great books a look.

Totally Joe, by James Howe is a great book for middle readers (grades 5-8) that is a thoroughly enjoyable tale of how one young man comes to terms with his identity. This funny and poignant book (written like a memoir) explores the adolescent journey of discovering one's sexuality through journal writings written from the author (Joe) to his teacher. This was a favorite of our class and one we highly recommend for those who are seeking some answers or for anyone who enjoys a good laugh. A great read for all ages!

Ash, by Malinda Lo was another class favorite, and as I've mentioned to some of you is a unique "fairy tale with a twist." This unique Cinderella-type tale tells the story of Ash-- who must traverse the perils of her evil step-mother and sisters, the enchanted forest, and Sidhean (the male equivalent of a fairy god-mother only not-as-nice) to capture the heart of her one true love. The language of this story is incredibly rich and the author describes the scenery so beautifully it's as if you're actually there. The lush setting and perfect love story make this a winner! Check it out today!

Luna, a book by Julie Ann Peters is the story a young woman who struggles with her brother's "coming out" as a woman. Both funny and dramatic, the characters in this story pull the reader in, and whether one has dealt with an issue remotely close to this or not, the story is what counts and it's brilliant. My professor, Ms. Mary Wepking, says this has been a class favorite for years. Be sure to check out my January 7th blog for an excellent interview with Luna's author.