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!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Diva Delight: Hideous Love and Wicked Girls

Hideous Love Cover

Wicked Girls Cover

Did you get a chance to read these two beauties from Stephanie Hemphill, readergirlz? From Mary Shelley to the girls involved in the Salem witch trials, you'll be in the thick of characters longing to be esteemed and loved.

Both are novels-in-verse, with delicious poetic language. Get ready to sink into the settings and hold your breath at the turning points.

Here is what Booklist said about Hideous Love:

Hideous Love
Wicked Girls
by Stephanie Hemphill
Balzer & Bray

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Holiday Fun: Guilty as Charged!

Here's a step away from the usual at rgz for the holiday season. Guilty as Charged! the Party Game of Pointing Fingers offers fun exchanges for friend and family gatherings. After reading a topic card asking such as, Who's most likely to:
Compliment a complete stranger on their moustache
Alphabetize their book collection
Take the last piece of pizza,

everyone in the group uses a pointer to reveal their answer. When we played, there was laughter, denial, and groans of agreement in our family. If you are looking for that last minute gift or searching for the perfect party spice, add this from Chronicle Books. You'll be amazed how others perceive you. It may be something to write about...

Guilty as Charged!
Chronicle Books

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Celtic Tales: Kate Forrester

Celtic Tales Cover

Everything about Celtic Tales, Fairy Tales and Stories of Enchantment from Ireland, Scotland, Brittany, and Wales calls to be held, read, and visually absorbed. The design is simple but beautiful. Kate Forrester's imagery is beguiling. I've awaited this release with images from the catalog taped to my wall. In the sophisticated art, there's a refined simplicity. The Celtic tales themselves are fresh and surprising.

This is a beautiful pick to gift someone for the holidays. Just be aware:

"Do not think the fairies are always little.
Everything is capricious about them, even their size...
Their chief occupations are feasting, fighting, and making
love, and playing the most beautiful music."

~William Butler Yeats, Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry.

Celtic Tales
illustrated by Kate Forrester
Chronicle Books, 2016
LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Famous Friends: Jennifer Castle and Bill Spring

Famous Friends Cover

In the spirit of celebrating friendship, check out Famous Friends by Jennifer Castle and Bill Spring. The cover doesn't do justice to the breadth of the text. From John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, and John Lennon to Paul McCartney, the little features and anecdotes are delicious. I found myself smiling over the bromance between Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart. So fun and dear. Kindred spirits finding each other on our planet should be treasured. Go through a trove in Famous Friends. Too much fun. Yay for Marilyn Monroe and Ella Fitzgerald. I mean, seriously! #beautyallaround

Famous Friends
by Jennifer Castle and Bill Spring
Scholastic, 2014
LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Monday, November 14, 2016


Over on the readergirlz facebook page, we are sharing the thoughts of YA writers and industry professionals post U.S. election, 2016. Feel free to add your views as well. #wethepeople #inked #andnowwewrite #love.

Onward, rgz. Read, reflect, and reach out! ~Lorie Ann Grover

Monday, October 17, 2016

#RocktheDrop Thanks!

Thanks to all who celebrated #TRW16 with #RocktheDrop! It was a great event filled with love of YA lit. Thanks for impacting communities with joy, readergirlz! Brava!

Check out a few pics from twitter!

Rock the Drop 16 AJ
AJ Pine

rock the drop 16 window
Katie Bayerl

Rock the Drop 16 Melissa W
Melissa Walker

Rock the drop 16 starbucks
Valerie Lawson

Rock the Drop 16 books
Sara Fujimura

Onward, rzg!

Friday, October 14, 2016

#RocktheDrop for #TRW16!

It's time to #RocktheDrop! Right now!!! Let's wrap up #TRW16 by leaving a YA book in a public place to be found and treasured. Here are your bookmarks. Full info here.

Show us your pic and post: #RocktheDrop and #TRW16. Happy #RocktheDrop to you and your community!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

#RocktheDrop and #TRW16

It's coming! Sunday is the first day of #YALSA Teen Read Week, readergirlz! Did you remember we are celebrating with #RocktheDrop on Friday, October 14? Instead of dropping YA books in public places in April for Support Teen Lit Day, we are collectively leaving our books in the wild a week from Friday for Teen Read Week, #TRW16. So here are your bookmarks. Print and place them in your favs, and be ready to leave the books someplace special for a happy reader to find. Full info here.

As always, snap a pic and post: #RocktheDrop and #TRW16. We want to see your contributions! Let's get ready. One, two, three...GO!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Comics Confidential: Leonard S. Marcus

Comics Confidential Cover

I've only popped open this exquisite work and already have quotes to share:

"Art-making at its best is a confrontation with the mysterious and the irrational. If we listen to the people concerned mainly with classification or marketing, we end up not making honest and true works of art, but only product, rubber-stamped and made to fit into a prefab box that might as well be a casket." David Small

"Without quite realizing it, these indie artists and writers had invented a new art form--a new kind of book for which people at first did not have a name. By the early 2000s, the books were everywhere." Leonard S. Marcus

Whether you call them graphic novels or comics, the current creators are a force in the publishing industry. Comics Confidential, Thirteen Graphic Novelists Talk Story, Craft, and Life Outside the Box, compiled and edited by Leonard S. Marcus, is a documentary treasure of the creative contribution from thirteen viewpoints. Each interview includes a comic and sketches or manuscript pages about "the city." Those nest among personal stories of out of the box artists, including Harry Bliss, Hope Larson, and Sara Varon.

Thank you, Leonard, for stopping and sharing so beautifully the backstories, practices, and thoughts of this group. And thanks, Candlewick Press!

Comics Confidential
Thirteen graphic Novelists Talk Story, Craft, and Life Outside the Box
compiled and edited by Leonard S. Marcus
Candlewick Press, 2016

~Lorie Ann Grover

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Poetry of Summer

Every week, poets, book bloggers, librarians, and other bookworms share their original or favorite poems as part of Poetry Friday. (Learn more at Poetry Foundation.) I participate at my blog, Bildungsroman. I tend to select poems based on my mood or recent events. This month, I shared four Mary Oliver poems, including her aptly-titled piece August:

When the blackberries hang
swollen in the woods, in the brambles
nobody owns, I spend

all day among the high
branches, reaching
my ripped arms, thinking

of nothing, cramming
the black honey of summer
into my mouth; all day my body

accepts what it is. In the dark
creeks that run by there is
this thick paw of my life darting among

the black bells, the leaves; there is
this happy tongue.

What poems or poets make you think of summer? Leave a comment below and let us know!

Special thanks to my friend and fellow writer Courtney Sheinmel for introducing me to Mary Oliver's poetry a few years ago!

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Ghosts of Heaven: Marcus Sedgwick

The Ghosts of Heaven Cover

Master storyteller Marcus Sedgwick winds four separate tales along a connecting spiral shape. Twirling from prehistory into the future, characters face the symbol of life that "copies itself and builds on itself, forever."

A girl in a cave with a charred stick, an accused woman plunged below water, a poet in a sanitarium, and an astronaut turning in a spiral in space all find the stair to climb higher and higher, while they remember the past and reach forward into the future.

Marcus' woven stories turn the reader round and round, yet he leaves them before the light of wet grass, an apple tree, and love. If you didn't cross paths with The Ghosts of Heaven last year, readergirlz, find it and turn, turn, turn.

The Ghosts of Heaven
by Marcus Sedgwick
Roaring Brook Press, 2015

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Just. One. Book.

Margaret at the blog Throwing Chanclas recently shared the plight of a school in her neighborhood:

The local junior/senior high school has not been able to purchase new books since the 90s. Some of the "check outs" for old books are in the 1980s. There are no books by people of color in the library. Hardly any books by women are in the few book cases except your standard Austen and Lee. It's an uninviting place. There hasn't been a librarian for nearly a decade. And volunteers weren't allowed. The last eight years students couldn't even check out books.

But all that is changing now.

Margaret is now collecting books for the library. Let's help out! You can donate books via their Amazon wishlist or by sending books directly to the address below. For more informaion, please email Margaret and visit her blog.

Greenville High School/Indian Valley Academy
Library Project Attn: Margaret Garcia
117 Grand Street
Greenville, CA 95947

If sending during the month of July, when school is closed, please send to:

Library Project/Margaret Garcia
PO Box 585
Greenville, CA 95947

Monday, June 6, 2016

All We Have is Now: Lisa Schroeder

My most recent read is All We Have is Now by Lisa Schroeder. With the end of the world quickly approaching, how would you spend your last hours? What if you were a homeless teen, what choices would you make?

Lisa explores the value of now and the gift of kindness. A diverse group of characters is met and wishes are fulfilled as humanity explores compassion when all is to be lost in moments.

Thought provoking and hopeful, be kind to yourself and read All We Have is Now, rgz. A great follow-up movie would be Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World Poster

All We Have is Now
by Lisa Schroeder
Point, Scholastic, 2015

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Memory of Light: Francisco X. Stork

Just finished The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork. The exploration of depression is honest and may give words as well as hope to those within the condition. Learning to exist in the midst of the trial is displayed with a tender compassion.

Watch for Vicky's story of crisis and recovery. It may help you find your own memory of light or assist another along the path beside you.

The Memory of Light
by Francisco X. Stork
Arthur A. Levine Books, Scholastic, 2016
Edited by Cheryl Klein

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Monday, May 23, 2016

This is the Story of You: Beth Kephart

Each Beth Kephart book which sails onto the shelf is like polished sea glass refracting the light of truth. This is the Story of You is a poetic rendering of loss and isolation after an epic storm. Mira is asked if she is strong enough to stand on her small, destroyed island and help the community that has shaped her every heartbeat. With her mother and brother off-island, she finds her family is broader than she ever expected.

Find the work, readergirlz, and listen to Beth's love of the sea. Draw your mind in directions unexpected, and finish the last page with the sound of the ocean and one girl's resilience shoring you up in your own story of you.

This is the Story of You
by Beth Kephart
Chronicle Books, 2016

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Dan vs. Nature: Don Calame

With this on the cover: "An outrageously funny and wickedly raunchy romp in the woods," how could I NOT crack the book open? Dan vs. Nature delivers. Author Don Calame caught me from the first line and kept me beside Dan the entire way. I was laughing out loud through the 375 pages. Seriously.

Dan sets out on a wilderness adventure with his future stepfather and his best friend. The mission, apart from survival, is for the teens to stop Dan's mother's upcoming marriage. Matters are complicated by Dan's assignment to care for the Life Skills class baby doll along the journey and the addition of a geektastic hot girl being added to the group. From bears to bugs to lightning storms, the group is tested and tried. The male author carefully unwraps the emotional journey of one boy recovering from abandonment by his father, hit by hilarious physical trials, amidst a group of hard-earned friendships.

I zipped through this work, rgz, laughing and thinking of who to loan it to next. Find it. Laugh. And look for more by Calame. Well done!

Dan vs. Nature
by Don Calame
Candlewick Press, 2016

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Rock the Drop, October 14, 2016!

Hey rgz!

We have a giant update for you. YALSA has decided to discontinue Support Teen Literature Day in April. We've enjoyed celebrating the day for 8 years by rocking the drop through Operation Teen Book Drop. We've donated thousands of books to teens in hospitals and those on Tribal Lands. We've left young adult books around the world to be found by happy readers. Well done, all!

SO WE ARE GOING TO CONTINUE ANYWAY! We are going to #RocktheDrop in October, on Friday, the 14th, of Teen Read Week. Deal? For now, stash those books to the side, and we'll collectively drop them together next fall. We'll give you a heads up as the time approaches. Let's get those donation piles taller in the meantime.

Be ready to #RocktheDrop on October 14th. It's going to be a great addition to Teen Read Week. Ready, set, go!

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Monday, March 28, 2016

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

Hermione Winters is about to start her senior year of high school. As summer draws to a close, she heads off to cheer camp with her coach and her teammates, including Polly, her best friend and co-captain, and Leo, her boyfriend. Knowing this will be the last time she attends the camp, Hermione intends to make it the best one ever, to work hard, to enjoy the challenges and the routines and the music and the friendships, and to set a good example for her teammates and friends.

Then, on the night of the camp dance, Hermione is raped - her cup of punch drugged by a boy, she blacks out and wakes up in the hospital. The night holds no memories for her past the blackout. She cannot remember the face of her attacker, nor does she have any recollection of what he actually did to her. All she knows is what the doctors, nurses, and detectives have put together from examining her.

Her town is small; everyone knows what happened. The hallways of her school are filled with whispers and judgmental looks, and her relationship with her boyfriend dissolves. But Hermione doesn't withdraw from social interaction or change schools - the latter doesn't even occur to her. She doesn't like being the subject of gossip or scorn or pity. She remembers who she was, she knows who she is, and she is determined to stay true to herself while dealing what has happened.

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston was above and beyond what I hoped it would be. Compelling writing, complex characters, realistic dialogue - there is much to praise here. This book could have been riddled with cliches; it was not. It could have been predictable or saccharine; it was neither. The events and reactions were feasible, believable, never farfetched or contrived. The story was layered and nuanced, allowing for warmth and humor sometimes when you least expected it (and most needed it).

Hermione tells her story in first-person narrative. She is an intelligent, resilient, mature young woman who is stronger than she knows. The characters that surround her are so vividly drawn - especially Polly, the fierce and loyal best friend who is equal parts fire and compassion - that any one of them could have a book of their own. And that is one of the loveliest things here: that the supporting characters are truly supportive of Hermione, that she is not dealing with this alone - and also that the supporting characters have their own arcs, their own problems and heartbreaks and priorities.

There is so much I want to say about this book. How it treats subjects such as sexual assault, doctor's visits, therapy, and victim shaming head-on, honestly and openly; how it encourages cheerleaders to be seen as athletes, not airheads; how it includes a variety of characters of various ages and personalities; and, most of all, how it allows its protagonist to be human, to wrestle with emotions and choices and ultimately emerge triumphant not because of or in spite of what happened/happens to her, but because of how she chooses to see herself, not a victim, not a statistic, not diminished, and how she chooses to live, unashamed, undeterred, always moving forward.

I knew before I was raped that this year would be the end of something. I just thought I'd be able to control the ending.

And, again, the magnificent writing: the choice of words, the steady pacing, the characterizations; the importance of a chair, a song, a friend; the details of a waiting room, a quiet house, an exuberant squad; the feeling of flying -- There is so much to applaud here.

Both thought-provoking and profoundly memorable, Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston is a triumph. I encourage people to read and re-read this book and to share it with others. Don't be surprised if you find yourself both crying and smiling as you turn the final page - and then start reading it all over again.

If you like this book, you will also like Swollen by Melissa Lion and All the Rage by Courtney Summers.

Exit, Pursued by a Bear is included on my Tough Issues for Teens booklist.

This review was originally published at my blog, Bildungsroman.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

The Battle of Darcy Lane by Tara Altebrando

The Battle of Darcy Lane by Tara Altebrando is a great pick for our middle school readers!

All Julia really wanted to do this summer was hang out with her best friend, Taylor - and maybe her neighbor/friend/secret crush Peter, too. Then Alyssa moves into the neighborhood. Julia immediately doesn't like her; Taylor does. And just like that, Julia's best friend has a new friend, and Julia has a rival.

Alyssa is really into a ball-bouncing game called Russia. At first, Julia doesn't care for it, but then she realizes that she might be able to beat Alyssa at her own game. Over the course of the summer, while Julia tries to hang on to her friendship with Taylor, she also attends band camp, bonds with Peter over a TV show she's not supposed to watch, and challenges Alyssa to an epic game of Russia. She also avoids cicadas and tries to talk her parents into letting her move into a different room in their house.

Julia's an only child, born to parents who love her and - get this - love each other. It's refreshing to read a book in which the parents are happy together, and it's wonderful to see how the child reacts to that relationship. In this case, Julia feels left out, not only because she is the youngest member of the household AND the only kid AND she has to go to bed earlier than her parents, but also because her parents are so close, she feels like there's no room for her sometimes - like she's interrupting something. There's a beautiful moment in which Julia overhears her parents talking outside, their voices drifting up to her window:

They were laughing a lot, and they sounded like something other than a husband and wife, something other than a mom and dad: they sounded like best friends.

Not only does this perfectly capture their relationship, it also ties back to Julia's concerns about her own best friend. Taylor is spending more and more time with Alyssa and less time with Julia. Teasing, confusion, and jealousy ensue. (Goodness, I don't miss middle school!) But thankfully, instead of being your typical mean girl story, this book offers something more plausible, something more satisfying and more age-appropriate, with the Russia showdown and the additional revelations in the denouement.

The Battle of Darcy Lane is a solid story for young readers. It's kind of like a modern-day Now and Then. Julia tries to test the boundaries a little a couple of times, and she sometimes struggles over the right thing to do, but overall, she has a pretty good head on her shoulders. Though the word "tweens" or the term "tween fiction" may not appeal to everyone, it's appropriate when you consider what it means: between. When you're eleven and twelve, you might feel trapped between your little kid years and your teens, torn between wanting to feel more grown up and wanting to stay a kid. This is best exemplified by the scenes in which Julia feels compelled to put away her dolls and knickknacks, even though she still kind of likes them.

Tara Altebrando has a knack for depicting honest relationships between protagonists and their families and friends, and I regularly recommend her YA books to teens looking for realistic modern-day stories. Now I can give The Battle of Darcy Lane to slightly younger readers. I also plan to read her other middle grade novel, My Life in Dioramas.

And who knows - maybe I'll have the opportunity to play Russia somewhere along the way, too.

This review was originally published at Bildungsroman.

The end of the book includes instructions on how to play the ball-bouncing game referred to as Russia or Onesies, Twosies. I also found instructions at the website howstuffworks.com. Have fun!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

We Loved Your Light, Marlena

Our hearts are so saddened by the passing of one our dearest readergirlz. Marlena Carcone was a light to our group in our earliest days at Myspace. She was full of life and joy and compassion for others. We shared our passion for books, especially all things Harry Potter. Here are her words:

"i love being a part of readergirlz, i feel so special! i feel like i finally belong somewhere, finally!"

Sending our love to her loved ones and family. Thank you for touching our lives with your light, Marlena. <3

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Thursday, January 21, 2016


Last year, author Courtney Summers posted:

"I write about girls.

"I write about girls because every girl deserves the opportunity to pick up a book and see herself in its pages.

"I write about girls because girls, and their stories, matter.

"It's my way of letting them know."

On April 14th, 2015, she posted this with the hashtag #tothegirls to tell girls all over the world that they are seen, heard, and loved. People all over the world chimed in on social media, posting messages of support and encouragement, sharing thoughts and quotes both funny and profound.

Today, January 21st, it's time to spread the word again. Use the hashtag #tothegirls2016 along with your personal message of support and encouragement on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, your blog, your vlog, wherever you see fit. Write a note on your wipe-off board on the door of your dorm room or stick a Post-It note on your family's fridge or bathroom mirror. Share the message, and share the love.

For more information, visit http://tothegirls2016.tumblr.com and follow Courtney Summers @courtney_s on Twitter.

A few thoughts from me to the girls in 2016 and beyond: 

You are awesome.
You can do this.
Just breathe.
Just believe.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Sounds Like Me: My Life (so far) in Song by Sara Bareilles

In her book Sounds Like Me: My Life (so far) in Song, Sara Bareilles proves to be just as candid and charming on the page as she is on stage. Whether it's talking about her grade school years, her anxieties, or the true story behind her hit Love Song, Sara is frank, funny, and open about her life, her career, her struggles, and her triumphs. Her very naturalistic, conversational writing style makes her comes across like a friend talking to you at the dinner table or over the phone, equal parts self-deprecating, hopeful, grateful, and humble.

Sara relates her stories in nine chapters - or essays, if you prefer - each bearing the title of a song she's written. (The section also begins with that song's lyrics, handwritten, which is a very nice touch.) As one might assume with a biography, the book begins with her childhood and ends with her current work on the musical Waitress and is lightly peppered with photographs. In-between, we get a glimpse into her early songs and shows, the year she spent in Italy in college, and her first love and heartbreak. Fellow performers will enjoy the details of life on the road, the gigs when she was just starting out as well as the times she performed in large arenas or on television shows, and so forth, but moreover, they will find connection and comfort in knowing the difficulties Sara faced breaking into the business (and the continued difficulties staying there) as well as the doubt, worry, and vulnerability she feels when writing new songs, collaborating with others, or trying to express her truest feelings in music and words.

Mid-way through the book, in the chapter Beautiful Girl, Sara writes letters to her younger self. This is possibly my favorite section of the book, and it serves as a reminder to be our own best friends, to stop putting ourselves down and to keep our chins up, because time and experience can truly make things better and clearer.

This book will be treasured by Sara Bareilles's fans. I also hope it reaches people who perhaps haven't heard her music, who find her through this book first, because what an amazing experience that would be, to be moved enough by this book and these words to go pick up her CDs. I only wish this book contained all of her albums - but, wait, I already have those. :)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

What book did you start with in 2016?

Happy new year, rgz! Sending our love and wishes for many great books to fall into your hands.

I started 2016 off with:

How about you?

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz