Monday, February 28, 2011
If you can't see the video above, click here.
What does loyalty mean to you? Leave a comment below and let us know!
Today's Featured Title is the very last of February, and our theme of Loyalty. I'm so happy to be going out with a bang via one of my all-time writer heroines, Laurie Halse Anderson, and her book, INDEPENDENT DAMES: What You Never Knew About the Women and Girls of the American Revolution.
Listen up! You've all heard about the great men who led and fought during the American Revolution; but did you know that the guys only make up part of the story? What about the women? The girls? The dames? Didn't they play a part?
Of course they did.
Here's what Laurie has to say:
Sunday, February 27, 2011
I didn't know her well, but my one meeting with her will always be significant to me. We were both at ALA this last summer and met through our mutual friends (Lisa is on the far left).
Then we went out to lunch with a group, and somehow Lisa and I ended up connecting - not on a superficial level, but on a heart level. Even in a moment, I could tell that's the kind of person Lisa was. We talked about loss and writing and the things that matter. She told me about her early battle with cancer, and her beautiful husband and son. I told her the story behind Tell Me a Secret. We both cried a little.
I won't ever forget that.
Lisa, we miss you.
Greg Taylor's The Girl Who Became a Beatle is a novel "about the good and the bad of Hollywood, fame and rock 'n roll." It has a photographic homage for a cover, and it's striking. I had to ask him how that came about.
"I had a cover in mind as I was writing the book. It became a kind of visual mantra through the many drafts and years it took for me to complete the novel. As for what it looked like, I think I'll keep that to myself.
"My publisher did not ask for my input on the cover design. Maybe it's different for the big, bestselling authors, but I believe that's common practice, publishers not involving an author in the artwork for their book. Can't say as I blame them.
"I did describe the cover I had in mind to my publisher, however. As it turned out, they went with another idea...."
Read the rest of Greg's Cover Story on BN.com's Unabashedly Bookish blog.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
Friday, February 25, 2011
Today, Priya reviews Enchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst (you can read the Cover Story here!):
"Lily Carter, age 16, just wants to finish high school and get into her dream college, Princeton. As everyone knows, the admissions process can be very difficult - however, her grandfather, a Princeton alumnus, has signed her up for the Legacy Test, which, if she passes, will grant her automatic admission into Princeton. Her task? To find the 'Ivy Key.' What's that? Who knows. As Lily struggles to complete the test, her magical past is revealed and she realizes that the world is nothing like she thought it was.
"Enchanted Ivy was yet another entertaining read from Sarah Beth Durst. With witty writing, a fast plot, and a cast of admirable characters, this book was so much fun to read. I appreciate how closely readers can identify with Lily - college admissions is definitely a big part of high school and it was nice to see a character who finally cared about their education and wasn't constantly off having adventures and not doing their homework.
"However, I felt like Lily was so skeptical whenever she encountered magic..."
Read the rest of this review on Priya's blog.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
"I wrote the book somewhat on a whim, and I never (initially) expected it to be published. After the book's sale, I definitely thought about the cover and I figured that there was a good chance it would be a photograph since that's very popular in YA right now.
"It's funny though because none of my favorite YA books growing up ever had photographic images as covers.... Sometimes, I love to reimagine what those covers would have looked like if they were photos.
"The publisher (HarperCollins) was extremely nice about listening to input. They asked for it after the first initial image (which was just a mock-up) of a girl standing on a cobblestone street. This version reflected the NYC Corrinne, but the story primarily takes place in Texas.
"I really wanted a truck on the cover since trucks (especially one named Billie Jean the Second) are important characters in my novel. I wanted the cover to be more country..."
Monday, February 21, 2011
If you're looking for a recommendation, how about today's Featured Title, Broken Soup by Jenny Valentine?
Positive.Negative.It's how you look at it. . . .
Sunday, February 20, 2011
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Attention, Seattle teens, teachers and librarians!
There's a new movie version of Jane Eyre coming out and you can get passes to a Seattle sneak preview and a fancy party!
Focus Features is sponsoring a contest to encourage reading . . . We like that.
Here's what they told us about the contest:
Our plan is to have area high school students submit a one to two paragraph essay about some aspect of the classic novel Jane Eyre.
25 high school students will be selected at random from all eligible entries to participate in An Evening with Jane Eyre at The Fairmount Olympic Hotel. Refreshments reminiscent of the era in which Jane Eyre was written will be served at a special reception in the students' honor. From there, they will go to a special advanced showing of Focus Features' new adaptation of Jane Eyre starring Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender.
Any student who submits an entry will receive a pass and guaranteed seating at our special advanced screening and will be entered into the drawing for The Fairmount Olympic Hotel Evening with Jane Eyre.
Check out the preview!
So, teens, get writing! Teachers and librarians, encourage your teens! (There might be movie passes in it for you too!) I have a book/movie study guide available. Comment here with an e-mail address if you'd like me to send it along.
Submit your essay to:
PO Box 47087
Seattle, WA 98146
or email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Include contact info so you can get your premiere passes. The 25 party guests will be asked for parental permission to attend the party.
Deadline: Noon, Wednesday, March 9
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Secondly, I miss Brian Jacques! With his family in the Northwest, we were able to see him speak in all his glorious voices to readers dressed with passion as his characters. What a heart he had! You might touch it in each of his books.
We send our love to the families and friends of Margaret and Brian. We will miss them both!
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
We're honored to have her here as part of the rgz SALON, a feature where four of the top kidlit experts clue us in to the best YA novels they've read recently. Here's René, reviewing The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney. (Ages 14 and up. Little Brown, 2010).
"The Mockingbirds takes place in a boarding school. Themis is a quiet school, people are expected to behave honorably, but when something horrible happens and you can’t go to the school, what do you do? When music student Alex is raped after a concert where she had too much to drink she has no idea what to do. She is embarrassed, feels like it was her fault, doesn’t want people to know, she doesn’t feel as if there is anywhere to turn. When the boy starts to spread rumors about her, The Mockingbirds step in to help. They are a secret group dedicated to righting the wrongs perpetrated by students on students that the school can’t or won’t take on.
"The Mockingbirds deals with a harsh issue but one that needs to be taken on. More women than you know have to deal with this issue and, even though we are given the right to say no, between one thing and the other, NO doesn’t happen. When Alex wakes up in the morning and doesn’t have a clear idea how she got naked, she begins to feel sick and when she sees the condoms in the garbage she feels ashamed. She doesn’t know how she got here and can’t remember anything. Over the course of time, snippets of the night before come back, and with each memory she becomes more and more depressed. When her friends finally pull the reason out of her, they take steps to help her to deal with it.
"It’s a hard book to read, but an important one. We still don’t talk about sex openly, we hide it away and when it happens, whether by choice or not, it often becomes something that is distasteful and shameful and it is almost always the girl who gets hurt. Maybe this book will help girls become stronger, maybe it will help us figure out how to keep it from happening, maybe it will keep us from being embarrassed by something we didn’t instigate, want, or need and start the discussion about staying safe." -René
Monday, February 14, 2011
*A little bit of background: I was working as a very junior level editor at the publishing house that released this book, and I remember very clearly seeing the cover at an early positioning meeting. I was immediately hooked. A great cover for a fantastic book!
Sari and Jess are best friends and total opposites. They've liked each other ever since they discovered that they are the only two normal people at Eldridge Alternative. As they prepare to face the trials of ninth grade, Sari is psyched. Jess is not. How can she face the Prada Mafia, the most evil clique in school? Or Mr. McGuiness's unnervingly long nose hair? What if something really interesting happens to Sari and nothing whatsoever happens to Jess?
But not even Jess can predict the mayhem that erupts when Sari falls madly in love with David Cole. David is a senior. He's been dating Thea Melendez for forever. So he couldn't possibly be interested in Sari. Or could he? And if he is, where does that leave Jess?
Fredericks writes with confidence and authenticity about the very real complications of even the deepest friendships. I'm so excited to welcome her to the blog today! Here's what she had to say about Loyalty:
Loyalty. That promise we make to friends and family to be on their side. To never hurt them. Never betray them. Loyalty is what makes friendship a refuge, a place in this world where you can reveal yourself without fear. (That is, until one friend spreads the other friend's business all over town.)
We get through life with allies, people we trust to be there for us. Always. And in the same way. But of course, people change. And change can threaten those connections. When I was in high school, I wanted my best friend and I to be the same. Geeks against the world. I did not want her to go and do things I knew were stupid and dumb and lame. (And which, by the way, I was far too scared to do.) I judged her for doing them; she judged me back for being gutless. And that's where we betrayed each other.
Obviously, that?s the story behind of Cleavage, in which two friends betray each other in different ways. Sari puts her relationship with a boy before her friendship with Jess. The things she liked to do with Jess, she now thinks are uncool. She obnoxiously asserts her own newfound coolness. Jess struggles to stick by her friend, but then she commits her own ugly act of betrayal.
"Ragged, battered, but still loyal." That's a line from Jess's beloved fantasy series, Hollow Planet. I think it describes many of my long term friendships. I've gotten more tolerant? I hope. As long as there's respect and a shared love of cheesy movies, I'm true to the end.
Well, she had me at "cheesy movies." Definitely the key to any strong, lasting friendship. Thanks for stopping by, Mariah!
So readergirlz - on Valentine's Day, tell us about some of your favorite stories (real life, or literary) of loyal friends!
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Friday, February 11, 2011
Rgz Salon: What Can't Wait by Ashley Hope Perez and A Good Long Way by Rene Saldana, Jr., Reviewed by Lyn Miller-Lachmann
We're honored to have Lyn here as part of the rgz SALON, a feature where four of the top kidlit experts clue us in to the best YA novels they've read recently. Today, she reviews What Can't Wait by Ashley Hope Perez (Lerner/Carolrohoda, 2011) and A Good Long Way by René Saldaña, Jr. (Pinñata Books, 2010).
"Although Jessy is only one of three point of view characters in A Good Long Way, Saldaña weaves her story in with that of the two brothers, Roelito and Beto, Jr. After a fight with his father, Beto, Jr. runs away to Jessy’s house, hoping she’ll take him in. Jessy refuses, fearing the rage of her alcoholic father if her friend is discovered. The next day, Jessy, an honor student, breaks down in class, remembering her own attempts to run away, while Roelito looks for his older brother at school and Beto Jr. goes to work with his father in order to reconcile with him. Saldaña explores a man’s responsibility—a father for his family, and an older brother for his younger brother—and a girl who has to give up responsibility for her dysfunctional family in order to save herself.
"A Good Long Way takes place over a single 24-hour period in which the precipitating event leads to new insights and changes for all three characters. Jessy’s strength in facing her difficult family situation helps Beto, Jr. to see the good in his own father’s rules for him, while she decides to bide her time until she can go to college and make her own life. Saldaña uses multiple points of view effectively to tell his characters’ stories and differentiate them. He explores a theme about which he is passionate without being preachy, instead letting his characters come to their own conclusions. The ticking clock adds to the tension and urgency, helping to make this short but profound novel a first choice for reluctant readers.
"While Jessy looks forward to college, Marisa, the protagonist of What Can’t Wait, sees her academic achievements belittled by her immigrant parents, neither of whom went beyond the sixth grade in school. The youngest of three children, Marisa, a high school senior with dreams of studying engineering at the University of Texas, is expected to meet the needs of everyone else in her family, including her five-year-old niece because older sister Cecilia’s husband is an abusive drunk. When Cecilia’s husband is critically injured in a work accident, Marisa’s father promises that their family will be taken care of. No one will go hungry or become homeless, but everyone will have to make huge sacrifices. For her part, Marisa has to take on more hours of work at the supermarket, as well as caring for her niece. Her schoolwork suffers, and she has to make hard choices about the viability of a relationship with the boy she likes. Attending the University of Texas in Austin means abandoning her troubled family altogether, because they live in Houston and she will only be able to visit occasionally on weekends.
"Perez sets up a seemingly intractable conflict between a teenage girl’s loyalty to her family and her quest for individual fulfillment and success. She shows both sides of the values that have kept Marisa’s impoverished family together and with the bare necessities at the same time as those values reduce the options of its most ambitious members. Like A Good Long Way, Perez’s novel doesn’t preach, and it doesn’t offer easy solutions, but it depicts a strong Latina teenager who seizes control of her life in pursuit of a better future for herself and, in the long run, for her family too." -Lyn Miller-Lachmann
Thursday, February 10, 2011
We are building the playlist for March. Our theme is Risk-Taking. Give me your suggestions in the comments below, and I'll create our mix through Project Playlist.
Suggestions so far:
Dare You to Move by Switchfoot
Go For It by Girlfriend
A Praise Chorus by Jimmy Eat World
Declaration by David Cook
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Congrats, LW! We are so proud of you. Awesome possum glasses, btw. :~)
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
The Story of First Book from First Book on Vimeo.
Monday, February 7, 2011
Today I'm so happy to shine our spotlight on A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS, by Megan Whalen Turner.
"Teenaged Sophos is his uncle's heir, but his love of poetry and lack of interest in ruling have caused his father to send him to a remote villa. When it is attacked by the king's enemies, Sophos is sold into slavery, where he begins to mature and develop both physically, from the hard manual labor, and emotionally. He makes the decision to escape slavery and try to resume his place as heir and eventually king of Sounis, traveling to Attolia to try to recruit support from its queen and king, Sophos's friend, Eugenides, the protagonist of The Thief and The King of Attolia. Layers of intrigue follow Sophos as he tries to protect Sounis from various groups of enemies, leading to a surprising twist at the conclusion."
--School Library Journal
Here's what Megan Whalen Turner has to say to us about Loyalty:
Sunday, February 6, 2011
"I don’t usually write with a cover in mind. I know what my characters look like and I write with the image of their landscape in my head. While I was working on A Little Wanting Song I saw an image of Charlie, a girl with long dark hair, playing guitar on the back porch. I saw Rose, restless and angry, sitting on a hill overlooking a highway.
"Mostly when I write I hear the character’s voices. So it’s the soundtrack of the novel that I’ve got playing in my head – the dialogue and in the case of this book, Charlie’s songs.
"The cover for the book is so much more evocative than any of the images I had in my head. The designer has captured how I feel when I’m writing. To me the cover and the pages have sound escaping from them – and this is similar to my writing process.
"My editor showed me both covers after they were finished and we talked about what we loved about them. I didn’t give any input before the art department started working because I think more in terms of sound than visuals. Also, I’d heard that the designer had read my book and loved it – and I think writing the book is my input. I trusted her to see what I’d written..."
Read the Cath's full Cover Story at Unabashedly Bookish on bn.com.
Saturday, February 5, 2011
It's been a while since I've done one of my favorite things - going to book events and telling you about them. That's changing now, though, because it's an exciting time for book releases in Seattle!
On Wednesday night, I got to gather with other local YA writers and friends (including divas Holly and Martha!) to celebrate the release of Deborah Reber's first novel!
You've seen Debbie around here before. She's also the author of a bunch of non-fiction books that we here at readergirlz highly recommend, plus she runs an amazing blog called Smart Girls Know.
Janna is quickly adapting to life in Seattle as a high school exchange student from Hungary. Or at least Julian, the cute boy she met in a coffee shop, thinks she is. The truth is, he overheard Janna using a phony accent, and now she's stuck playing the part ... Will Julian want to be with the real Janna? Or will she discover that lies don't always translate to love?
Me, Debbie, Peeps and the giveaway books