readergirlz is a literacy and social media project for teens, awarded the National Book Foundation's Innovations in Reading Prize. The rgz blog serves as a depot for news and YA reviews from industry professionals and teens. As volunteers return full force to their own YA writing, the organization continues to hold one initiative a year to impact teen literacy. All are welcome to "like" us on Facebook!

Monday, February 28, 2011

What Loyalty Means to Me by 4 Cool Kids

February's theme at readergirlz is loyalty. When discussing loyalty, these teens thought of their friends, their families, and their pets, among other things.

If you can't see the video above, click here.

What does loyalty mean to you? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Featured Title: INDEPENDENT DAMES, by Laurie Halse Anderson

Hello readergirlz!
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: 

Remember the Ladies Or Else!

Too often our understanding of the American Revolution comes bowdlerized by Victorian-era sentiments. This is why we’ve misunderstood the role of women during the Revolution for so many generations.

Women were a vital part of the founding of the United States. Their participation ran the gamut: from taking over businesses and farms, to organizing and participating in boycotts, raising money, spying, smuggling, fighting, healing, feeding, and weaving a ocean’s worth of home-spun fabric. And they did it wearing long skirts that usually had a few kids clinging to them!

Staying home to knit? Not so much.

My favorite dame in the book is 9-year-old Susan Boudinot, who, when served tea at the mansion of the royal governor of New Jersey, tossed the foul beverage out the window. And then there was Elizabeth Burgin, who helped 200 POWs escape from their prison ships in the dead of winter. Gumption!

Juggling the layers of storytelling in DAMES; the narrative, the speech bubbles, the mini-bios, the time line, and the back matter sometimes made it feel like I was writing an epic novel instead of a picture book. But when I saw Matt Faulkner’s sketches of my clever and stubborn dames, everything fell into place.

When you pick up DAMES, be sure to check out the acknowledgements page. There you’ll find the names of 22 women – all of them grandmother of mine -  who lived during the Revolution. Being able to share the stories of their world with today’s readers gives me goosebumps!

Ooh, I've got goosebumps now, too! Here's a pic of Laurie at a Valley Forge reenactment. Love her commitment to research (it also looks like she's having a darn good time)!

Want to learn more about DAMES? Catch the snazzy book trailer:
Thanks so much for joining us, Laurie! And thanks for being so committed to stories about strong, complicated women!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Remembering L.K. Madigan

The YA world's heart is breaking this week as we learned of the loss of Lisa Madigan, Morris Award-winning author of FLASH BURNOUT and THE MERMAID'S MIRROR. She touched so many lives through her kindness, bravery, and truthful words.

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.

I just saw one of Lisa's best friends at an author event yesterday, reminding me of how connected we are and how much one loss affects us all. Lisa's husband has posted on her blog about the outpouring of support and will continue to keep her blog open. Also, we can show our tangible support by contributing to her son's college trust fund (details at the above link).

And we can continue to buy and read her books to remember her. Check out FLASH BURNOUT and THE MERMAID'S MIRROR to celebrate her life.

Lisa, we miss you.

Cover Stories: The Girl Who Became a Beatle by Greg Taylor

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.

Here's Greg:

"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

Little Willow's Book Bag

This Week's Picks
All the Things You Are by Courtney Sheinmel
What's Your Status? A Top 8 Novel by Katie Finn
The Sweetness of Salt by Cecilia Galante

Friday, February 25, 2011

Rgz Street Team: Priya Reviews Enchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst

The rgz Street Team is a group of teens who bring YA reviews to our blog, led by Postergirl Miss Erin. Find out more.

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

$10,000 Scholarships From Kohl's Cares

Every year, Kohl's recognizes and rewards young volunteers (ages 6-18) across the country for their amazing contributions to their communities. This year they are recognizing more than 2,100 kids with more than $415,000 in scholarships and prizes.

We're kind of betting that readergirlz know someone to nominate. Go ahead, do it. Deadline 3/15.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Broken Soup: Have you ever kept a family secret?

This week's featured title, Broken Soup by Jenny Valentine, shows main character Rowan taking care of her family after the death of her brother.

To "keep it all together," Rowan ends up keeping some family secrets--for better or worse.

Have you ever kept a family secret? Was it the right thing to do?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cover Stories: Where I Belong by Gwendolyn Heasley

The cover for Gwendolyn Heasley's Where I Belong (out this month) made me think of about a million things I love: Texas cowboys, green-gold fields, Louboutins... it's pretty genius. I had to ask her how it came to be:

"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..."

Read the rest of Gwendolyn's Cover Story, and watch the book trailer, on melissacwalker.com.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Featured Title: BROKEN SOUP, by Jenny Valentine

Happy Presidents' Day, readergirlz! We hope you're getting some good reading in over the long weekend! 

If you're looking for a recommendation, how about today's Featured Title, Broken Soup by Jenny Valentine? 

It's how you look at it. . . .
Someone shoves a photo negative into Rowan's hands. She is distracted but, frankly, she has larger problems to worry about. Her brother is dead. Her father has left. Her mother won't get out of bed. She has to take care of her younger sister. And keep it all together . . .
But Rowan is curious about the mysterious boy and the negative. Who is he? Why did he give it to her? The mystery only deepens when the photo is developed and the inconceivable appears.
Everything is about to change for Rowan. . . . Finally, something positive is in her life.
Award-winning author Jenny Valentine delivers a powerful and life-affirming story of grief, friendship, and healing that will resonate long after the last page.

This month's theme here at the blog is Loyalty, and Broken Soup is a complex matrix of relationships both friendly and familial alike. In the aftermath of her brother's death, Rowan finds loyalty and love from some unexpected new friends; in the end, she learns to rely on these newcomers as a sort of makeshift extended family itself. 

I won't say too much for fear of giving away the ending of this quiet, but unexpected story that Publishers Weekly calls "a solid tale of what it takes to grow up and how to ask for help." This is one you'll want to read for yourself!

In the meantime, tell us: what are some of your favorite stories of unconventional "families," and the ways that their members show each other support? 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cover Stories: The Language of Love by Deborah Reber

NewLangofLove.jpgHappy week o' Valentine! The Cover Story feature today is actually about two books. Deborah Reber, author of The Language of Love (one of the books in this two-book set) is here to tell the story behind the cover of Love, Love, Love, which also includes a book by Caroline Goode called Cupidity.

"If the cover story for my book Language of Love were to be made into a movie, it would have
as many twists and turns as any good romantic comedy.

"It all started with this cover, below right, which I LOVED. This original cover was illustrated by Ann Zeak, who has designed covers for the more than two dozen Simon Pulse Romantic Comedies, the series to which Language of Love originally belonged.

"In developing this cover, Simon Pulse asked for guidance regarding the physical description of my main characters Janna (Emma Waston pre-pixie haircut) and Julian (a scruffier version of a Zac Efron/Chace Crawford blend) and any insight I could provide on the setting for the book or a scene that might make for a good cover. And this is what they came back with, right.

"I absolutely love this cover, especially the color scheme, the adorable rain jacket and rain boots, and Seattle's landmark Space Needle in the background. The scene portrayed on the cover stems from the night that Janna and Julian fell in love. Awww...

"But then this cover went away..."

Read the rest of Deborah's Cover Story at melissacwalker.com.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Little Willow's Book Bag

This Week's Picks
A Girl's Best Friend by Leslie Margolis
I Now Pronounce You Someone Else by Erin McCahan

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Seattle: An Evening with Jane Eyre Contest

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:

Jane Eyre

PO Box 47087

Seattle, WA 98146

or email to jwmovieclub@gmail.com

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

Rest in Peace, Margaret and Brian

Among those passing from us, two dear souls especially make me grieve. First is Margaret K. McElderry. At 98, she has left us. Her contribution to children's literature endures through her imprint. I'm honored to bear her name on my books.

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!

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

The True Meaning of Cleavage: Friendships Betrayed

This month's theme is Loyalty, and our Featured title this week is The True Meaning of Cleavage by Mariah Fredericks. In Monday's post, Mariah shared the real story that the book is based on -- one where she and her best friend in high school parted ways, slowly losing each other as their social worlds separated.

Loyalty is a beautiful thing, but even in the truest of friendships, it is sometimes tested.

So how about you, readergirlz: Have you ever knowingly betrayed a friend? Or has a friend betrayed you? Were you (or s/he) ever able to forgive?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Rgz Salon: The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney, Reviewed by Rene' Kirkpatrick

René Kirkpatrick has been a bookseller and book buyer, specializing in children's and teen literature, for many years. She has a degree in elementary education and reads widely across all genres. She is currently a buyer at Third Place Books.

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

PS-Read the Cover Story for The Mockingbirds and Story Secrets about the book too!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Featured Title: THE TRUE MEANING OF CLEAVAGE, by Mariah Fredericks

Hello, readergirlz, and happy Valentine's Day! This is the perfect day to spotlight Mariah Fredericks' wonderful friendship tale, The True Meaning of Cleavage, because I absolutely loved this one!

*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 The True Meaning 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

Cover Stories: The Space Between Trees by Katie Williams

space cover.jpg
Katie Williams has one of the most jump-out-at-you covers I've seen in a while. It's got three dimensional cut-outs. Seriously! It's hard to do the cover of The Space Between Trees justice in this 2D format, but hopefully you've seen the book in person (if you haven't, definitely seek it out).

Here's Katie with the Cover Story:

"I'm superstitious, so as I'm writing something, I try hard not to think about the will it? or won't it? of publication, and that includes dreaming up cover designs. I must be very strict with myself! In fact, I try to pretend that I have the demon hand from the Evil Dead movies; my left hand may be sending out stuff to editors or my agent, but the rest of me is writing away in an oblivious, artistic bubble.

"Once I found out that The Space Between Trees was accepted for publication, I suppose I may have
entertained a cover daydream or two. I probably imagined we'd end up with the body part of a girl--so popular these days--but I never imagined anything as cool as what Chronicle did.

"Chronicle is so good to their authors! My editor asked my for input on the design. She had the idea of the cut-out branches and negative space, which came from the title (also, her idea). I suggested that the tree branches might form the outline of a girl's face, and the art team even mocked that up for us (right). In the end, though, it was too subtle an image for someone glancing at a bookshelf packed with enticing covers..."

Read the rest of Katie's Cover Story on melissacwalker.com.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Little Willow's Book Bag

This Week's Picks
Ninja Cowboy Bear Presents the Way of the Ninja by David Bruins, illustrated by Hilary Leung
Warp Speed by Lisa Yee

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

Rgz SALON member Lyn Miller-Lachmann has been the Editor-in-Chief of MultiCultural Review; the author of the award-winning multicultural bibliography Our Family, Our Friends, Our World; the editor of Once Upon a Cuento, a collection of short stories by Latino authors; and most recently, the author of Gringolandia, a young adult novel about a refugee family living with the aftermath of the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile. The book is in its second print run and is available for order. (Don't forget to read the fascinating Cover Story for Gringolandia.)

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).

"Talented young Latinas who struggle to reconcile their dreams with the demands of their families are featured in two new books by Latino authors. In both What Can’t Wait and A Good Long Way the girls’ families expect them to cook, clean, babysit, or contribute to the family income through part-time jobs that encroach on their time for schoolwork and rest. While responsibility to family is important, these strong girls find ways to overcome the restrictions and limitations and to build the foundation for a better life than that of their mothers and sisters.

"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

Suggest Songs for Our March Playlist

Hey rgz!

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

Little Willow on 90210!

Did you catch 90210 this week? Our own Little Willow was in the episode with one awesome line! Watch the below youtube. At 4 minutes is our postergirl!

Congrats, LW! We are so proud of you. Awesome possum glasses, btw. :~)

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Win THE THIEF by Megan Whalen Turner!

Megan Whalen Turner shared her thoughts on the difficulties of Loyalty on Monday, and today she's generously offered to give away 20 -- yes, twenty -- copies of her first book in the featured series, The Thief, to 20 lucky readergirlz!

Here's how it works: Send an e-mail to Megan at meganwhalenturner AT harpercollins DOT com including your mailing address and a description of how you will share the book if you receive a copy (through a blog or by sharing with a friend or librarian or anyone!).

The first 20 emailers will receive a paperback copy of The Thief with the understanding that they will somehow pass it on to a new reader after they've read it.

Sound good? Good! Now get to emailing Megan, readergirlz!

****UPDATE: Megan has well over 20 entrants now, so the winners are chosen! (But if you just want to say hi and tell her you love her books, I'm sure she's still open for that.)****

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

First Book Love!

You know we loved partnering with First Book for A Novel Gift last December, and we are just getting the engine running again for our next project. We'll have more soon, but watch this video for the origins of the organization. Shout out to our own Mitali!

The Story of First Book from First Book on Vimeo.

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Monday, February 7, 2011

Featured Title: A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS, by Megan Whalen Turner

Hello, readergirlz, and welcome to our first official Featured Title of February! This month's theme is Loyalty, and our trusty postergirlz have done an amazing job, as always, of selecting books that perfectly embody that theme!

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: 

When I was younger, I had an idea that virtues like patience, honesty and loyalty were pretty simple and always for the good. (That’s what it meant to be a virtue. Duh.) They might not be easy to practice, but the concepts involved didn’t seem particularly convoluted. That lasted right up until I had two friends who got into a huge fight and stopped speaking to each other. Divided loyalties are not only complicated, they are almost inevitable. We have loyalty to our families, loyalties to our friends, loyalties to our jobs or our co-workers, or our communities. In that tangle there are bound to be conflicts somewhere. Sometimes, it’s hard to see what the virtuous options are. Is honesty always the best policy?  Is patience always the best course of action? Should you stand by your man? Really?

Almost all of my stories are Fantasy, set in made up worlds with supernatural elements, but that’s not because they have nothing to do with real life. My main character in A Conspiracy of Kings is Sophos.  He is the heir to the King of Sounis and would do almost anything to avoid inheriting a kingdom when his uncle dies. He thinks he wouldn’t make a good king, and by avoiding the responsibility he is being virtuous. Real virtue turns out to be more complicated than he thought.

Really, everything is more complicated than he thought. Sophos wants to trust his friend Gen not only with his life, but with the kingdom of Sounis. He’s more than a little surprised when his friend dumps that loyalty back into Sophos’s lap with a big “No, thank you.”

Sophos has to figure out for himself just what friendship and loyalty mean when you are responsible for an entire country. Then he has to convince Gen to see things his way. Even if it means dumping Gen on his ass to do it.  

So true - loyalty may seem like one of those "easy" dictates of virtue, but often, real life is way more complicated. Have you read this book yet? Has Sophos inspired you to rethink your own definition of loyalty? What about someone else in your life - real OR literary? 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Cover Stories: A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley

Cath Crowley's A Little Wanting Song needed a cover that conveyed music, friendship and romance, a tall order for any designer. Here's Cath to tell us how her final cover came to be:

"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

rgz Seattle HOST: Deborah Reber! (With Giveaway!)

Hello, Readergirlz!

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.

Love, Love, Love is actually two books in one: Debbie's Language of Love, plus Cupidity by Caroline Goode. If you're a fan of the Simon Pulse series of romantic comedies, I can guarantee you'll love both!

Here's what Language of Love is all about, from the back cover:
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?
To celebrate, Debbie hosted a super-fun party at Secret Garden Books. There were hot-pink cupcakes and Valentine's Day Peeps! She also put together a quiz about other love stories set in Seattle. Guess what? I won the quiz! Which means I have a copy of Love, Love, Love to give away!

Leave a comment on this post and I'll choose a random winner (US only)! Plus, I also won a raffle prize that I'll throw in! It's a copy of Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul, which Debbie worked on. You've got from now 'til next Saturday, the 12th, at noon pst to comment and win both! Please leave an email address in your comment so I can let you know if you won.

Me, Debbie, Peeps and the giveaway books

Now, I'm off to get in a Valentiney mood with Love, Love, Love!