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!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Little Willow's Book Bag

This Week's Picks
Ordinary Beauty by Laura Wiess
The Summer Before Boys by Nora Raleigh Baskin

Friday, May 27, 2011

Cover Stories: Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott

Elizabeth Scott has been here before to share Cover Stories (which I'll link to when melissacwalker.com is fully functional again--soon, soon!). Now, she's back with a beautiful tale of Between Here and Forever:

"I had no idea about the cover at all--when I'm writing, I never think what I'm writing will be published, so I don't think about it. I wasn't asked for input on the cover, but let me tell you, this cover was everything I had no idea I wanted--and MORE!

"When I first saw my cover, my exact thought, as written to my editor, was, 'OMG I LOVE it! It's so perfect and holy crap, the way it ties into Bloom is BRILLIANT!!!' (I tend to be very caps happy when I'm happy).

Read the rest of Elizabeth's Cover Story, and see the new paperback for her 2010 title, The Unwritten Rule, at melissacwalker.com.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

rgz Self-Esteem Shoutout: The 3E Workshop Series

You may be familiar with Mary J. Blige's work as a singer/songwriter, with hits like "Real Love, "No More Drama," and "Just Fine." You may also have seen her work as an actress in movies (I Can Do Bad All By Myself) and her personal appearances on TV shows such as Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and Entourage. But did you know about her charity work? Check out FFAWN, The Mary J. Blige and Steve Stoute Foundation for the Advancement of Women Now, Inc. In their own words:

"The Mary J. Blige and Steve Stoute Foundation for the Advancement of Women Now, Inc. (FFAWN) was created and funded in 2007 by recording artist Mary J. Blige and marketing pioneer Steve Stoute in order to use Mary's personal story and success to inspire women from all walks of life to reach their individual potential. Mary hopes to help these women overcome the difficulties they face in their lives and to provide them with the drive and confidence to pursue – and realize – their goals and dreams."

This is the kind of thing that makes me want to yell, "YES!" I am extremely happy when people realize their potential. Are you with me?

FFAWN's programs and projects include The Mary J. Blige Center for Women, a career, education, and life skills resource center in Yonkers, New York (Mary's hometown!), and the 3E Workshops, monthly workshops and open forums for women. FFAWN also gave scholarships to graduates of The Women's Academy of Excellence in the Bronx. The FFAWN website says they will offer more scholarships this year, but they haven't posted the information or applications yet, so bookmark their site and check back later for updated info.

Fast facts:
Mary will play Justice Charlier in the upcoming film adaptation of the musical Rock of Ages. The MJB Center is associated with Westchester Jewish Community Services.
3E stands for Empowerment through Education and Encouragement.
The J. in Mary J. Blige stands for Jane.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

rgz Newsflash: Crush, with Melissa Walker!


This just in from iheartdaily: Andrea N. Richesin has collected 26 stories of first love for readers. Included are David Levithan and our own, Melissa Walker! She says in "Notebook 286" she recorded all the deets about her crush.

Hurry to iheartdaily because they are giving away five copies. Woot!

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Friday, May 20, 2011

Little Willow's Book Bag

This Week's Picks
Jersey Tomatoes Are the Best by Maria Padian
Everybody Bugs Out by Leslie Margolis
OyMG by Amy Fellner Dominy

Rgz Street Team: Sarah Reviews OyMG by Amy Fellner Dominy

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, Sarah reviews OyMG by Amy Fellner Dominy:

"OyMG was such a funny book. Every single page made me crack up and laugh so much. The characters were so realistic and well developed that I couldn't help loving the story. Ellie was full of energy and spirit. I loved the determination that she had to get what she wanted. Devon was so sweet and I adore him. I loved the attraction between Devon and Ellie. Zeydeh made me laugh a lot and I loved the strength and optimism that he had.

"The plot of this book is more complex then just a Jewish girl going to a Christian camp. It has a lot of depth about religion and choosing between what is right and what isn't..."

See Sarah's full review of this book on Sarah's Random Musings.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

LIVE Chat 8pm EST/5pm PST: Michael Northrop!

Check out tonight's Live Author Chat on Reach Out Reads! 8pm EST/5pm PST (that's really soon! And it's hosted by Melissa Walker!):

Learn more about the month-long chat series here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

LIVE Chat 8pm EST/5pm PST: Holly Schindler!

Check out tonight's Live Author Chat on Reach Out Reads! 8pm EST/5pm PST (that's really soon!):

Learn more about the month-long chat series here.

Rgz Street Team: Sarah Reviews Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott

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, Sarah reviews Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott:

"I love Elizabeth Scott. Her books are always fantastic and surprise me in some way. Between Here and Forever was definitely amazing.

"Abby feels that she can't measure up to her sister, but I think that everyone feels that way about someone that they won't ever be as pretty or smart enough. She would do anything in order to wake up her sister and I adored her dedication to her sister. It was similar to what I would do for my sisters.

"She thinks that no one can see past Tess, but the whole time she was wrong. Tess had secrets that were uncovered and I found it sad that the person that Abby knew was not the person that she was..." --Sarah

See Sarah's full review of this book on Sarah's Random Musings.

Monday, May 16, 2011

LIVE Chat 8pm EST/5pm PST: Joe Lunievicz!

Check out tonight's Live Author Chat on Reach Out Reads! 8pm EST/5pm PST (that's really soon!):

Learn more about the month-long chat series here.

An Interview with Saved by the Bell Star Elizabeth Berkley

Today I Heart Daily interviews "Saved by the Bell" star and author Elizabeth Berkley about her bestselling book for girls, Ask Elizabeth, and the fans who inspired it. She also has an incredible website for fans where they can connect with her and support each other.

Elizabeth says, "One of the taglines of my workshop is 'How do we help her?' It is not enough to just talk about our feelings -- what do we DO about it is the biggest piece we fill in together."

Check out the full interview!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Rgz Street Team: Sarah Reviews Moonglass by Jessi Kirby

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, Sarah reviews Moonglass by Jessi Kirby:

"I love the beach and beach reads seem to capture the sun on your skin, the sand between your toes, and the scent of the ocean. Moonglass had all of these feelings and more. The setting of Crystal Cove was a perfect setting. Anna was an awesome girl. She was very down to Earth and innocent.

"Unlike the protagonists in most young adult novels, she was still haunted by her mother's death and still hung out with her dad a lot, which meant that her parents were a huge part of the story. Tyler was so sweet and I adored him. He was unpredictable, which kept me guessing..." --Sarah

See Sarah's full review of this book on Sarah's Random Musings.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Little Willow's Book Bag

This week's Picks
Creative Girl by Katharine Sise
Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg
BFF Breakup by Taylor Morris

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Rgz Salon: This Thing Called the Future by JL Powers, 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 third 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 top kidlit experts clue us in to the best YA novels they've read recently. Today, she reviews This Thing Called the Future by J.L. Powers (Cinco Puntos Press, 2011).

"Growing up in a shantytown in today’s South Africa, 14-year-old Khosi Zulu rarely sees her mother, a teacher in a distant town, or her father, who lives with his mother even farther away. She is shocked, therefore, when her mother returns to the shantytown after a two-month absence, wasted and coughing blood. Although Khosi’s mother shuns traditional healing in favor of modern medicine, she refuses to visit a clinic for medicine because she doesn’t want to find out that she has AIDS. Schooled in traditional medicine by her Gogo (grandmother) and the neighborhood healer, Khosi wants to be a healer herself, a mission reinforced by her regularly occurring dreams and visions; yet to achieve this aim, she has to stand up to a witch who has cursed her, a drunk man who harasses and beats her because she won’t let him be her 'sugar daddy,' and a neighbor who accuses Khosi’s mother of stealing her insurance money and threatens revenge. In addition, Khosi has promised her mother she will become a nurse and leave South Africa, and the act of choosing between healer (the past) and nurse (the future) means showing disrespect to at least one of her ancestors.

"Powers seamlessly combines contemporary realism with the supernatural in this powerful and singular novel for readers in middle school through adult. The story is grounded in Zulu beliefs, legends, and folk traditions, giving Khosi’s dreams and the interventions of her ancestors a level of believability that most contemporary realistic novels with a fantasy component lack. Furthermore, the dreams are relevant to the story events, and all of the scenes, whether realistic or supernatural or morphing from one into the other, tie into the central theme of how respect for ancestors can guide a young person toward the future. While maintaining her central theme as the focus throughout, Powers builds tension and interest by raising the stakes through the three pursuers of Khosi—the witch, the drunk, and the vengeful neighbor—her mother’s physical decline, and the life-threatening purging ceremony that Khosi and her Gogo endure in hopes of saving Khosi’s mother." -Lyn Miller-Lachmann

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

And the Winner is...

Congrats to Debbie Duncan, in Palo Alto, for her amazing Rock the Drop efforts!
Debbie has been selected as the winner of a set of E. Lockhart's Ruby Oliver books, which we'll send out shortly. Debbie, you should be hearing from our team directly soon.

Click the above link to see Debbie's ultimate rock-out, and thanks again to everyone who made Rock the Drop a success!

LIVE Chat tonight 8pm EST: Jessica Anderson!

Check out tonight's Live Author Chat on Reach Out Reads! 8pm EST/5pm PST:

Learn more about the month-long chat series here.

Monday, May 9, 2011

rgz Seattle HOST: Deborah Reber Reading

Hi, readergirlz!

I went to see Deborah Reber promote her new book, Language of Love, at University Books in Bellevue. Deborah shared the inside story: she wrote her book under contract, and went through the whole back-and-forth of the editorial process. Then, shortly before pub date, her editor told her the house had decided not to publish any more romantic comedies. They were going to cancel her book.

For an author, that's like putting a year's worth of work through the shredder. It was not a good day, Deborah said.

However, Simon Pulse realized Deborah's book was too good to lose. So with a little creative thinking, and a little genre-shuffling, they were able to package it into a two-book collection titled Love, Love, Love. And now it’s on the shelves, with the coolest cover ever. For the inside story on that, check out Melissa Walker’s blog post.

Here’s a picture of Deborah and me, above, with her beautiful book.

See you soon, girlz!

Our Seattle Host, Stephanie Guerra, teaches children’s literature, young adult fiction and a seminar in writing instruction at Seattle University. She also heads a volunteer creative writing program at King County Jail, and researches and speaks about literacy instruction for at-risk and incarcerated young adults. Stephanie lives in Seattle, Washington with her husband and children. Her debut young adult novel, TORN, will be published by Marshall Cavendish in spring of 2012.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Free Comic Book Day: Saturday, May 7th

Saturday, May 7th, 2011 is Free Comic Book Day across the nation!

If you love comics, then you probably already have your calendar marked for Free Comic Book Day. Every year on the first Saturday in May, comic shops all around the U.S. allow patrons to pick up a free comic book.

Different stores have different rules, of course, so please observe them! Many places have designated comics which are free, while other items in stock are still regular price, so ask before you grab.

Not really into comics and/or have a reluctant young reader in the family? This could be a great time for you to venture into a comic book shop and pick up a little something.

Free Baltimore!
Rumor has it you can pick up Baltimore: A Passing Stranger by Christopher Golden and Mike Mignola for free at ANY comic book shop participating in Free Comic Book Day. YES!

If you live in or near New Hampshire, you should visit Jetpack Comics on Saturday, May 7th, where you can meet a plethora of comic book artists and authors including but not limited to Tom Sniegoski, Christopher Golden, Ed McGuinness, Joe Hill, Rich Woodall, and Jason Ciaramella!

We've spotlighted and discussed graphic novels here at readergirlz before. Check out our July 2009 issue, when we featured The Plain Janes, written by Cecil Castellucci with art by Jim Rugg. We launched a project called Art Saves and received unique artistic contributions from folks around the work. Check out their collages, photographs, and sketches in the July 2009 issue of readergirlz.

Which comic did you pick up for Free Comic Book Day? Leave a comment below to let us know!

Little Willow's Book Bag

This Week's Picks
Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu (coming out in October)
Exposed by Kimberly Marcus
Calli Be Gold by Michele Weber Hurwitz

Friday, May 6, 2011

Cover Stories: Huntress by Malinda Lo

Malinda Lo stopped by to talk about her debut cover for the lovely Ash a while back, and she's here once again because her latest book, Huntress, just hit the shelves in April.

Once again, Malinda has a stirring cover with a great back story. Here she is:

"While I was writing Huntress I truly didn't have any idea what the cover might look like, and I didn't even spend much time thinking about it. I absolutely adore the cover that my publisher created for Ash, and I would never have come up with that as a cover concept — I'm definitely a writer, not a designer! So I was excited to see what they came up with for Huntress.

"The first cover concept I saw was this one (right). I was immediately struck by the meditative quality of the image, which I thought reflected the book pretty well — and the snow! I loved the snow! A little known fact about me is that I'm kind of obsessed with the idea of ice. Most people want to vacation in Hawaii; I desperately want to take a trip to Antarctica. (Yes, I'm strange.)

"Anyway, a good part of Huntress involves the main characters crossing a giant glacier, and I was thrilled that this aspect of the book was reflected on the cover.

"I did have a few suggestions, though, because I felt that the girl on the cover didn't entirely reflect my vision of Kaede, the main character. Of course, I know that book covers are designed to sell books, not to look exactly the way an author sees her characters (and, you know, the girl on the cover of Ash doesn't really look like her, but I think it very nicely fits the mood and feel of the book).

"One of my main concerns in this case was that the girl looked a little too young, because Kaede is 18 in the book, and I wanted to make sure this looked like a YA title..."

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

PS-If you're lucky you can catch Malinda on the Diversity in YA Tour this month (amazing lineups)!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

LIVE Chat tonight 8pm EST: Judy Dutton!

Check out tonight's Live Author Chat on Reach Out Reads! 8pm EST/5pm PST:

Learn more about the month-long chat series here.

rgz Newsflash: Congrats to Green and Levithan!

The Children’s Book Council (CBC) announced the winners of the fourth annual Children’s Choice Book Awards. Our congrats to John Green and David Levithan for Teen Choice Book of the Year, Will Grayson, Will Grayson. 

Way to go, guys! 

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Monday, May 2, 2011

Guys Lit Wire Book Fair for Ballou Senior High School

There are over 1,200 students currently enrolled in Ballou Senior High School in Washington, D.C.

There are approximately 1,150 books in their library.

Less than one book per student. Unbelievable. The American Library Association (ALA) standard is 11:1, not 1:1. Let's help fill Ballou's library with wonderful books, both fiction and non-fiction, and of every genre!

Colleen from the blog Chasing Ray, the mastermind behind Guys Lit Wire and previous GLW Book Fairs, has created a book wishlist for Ballou through Powell's Books. Colleen's directions:
Once you have made your selections head to "checkout" and you will be prompted to inform Powell's if the books were indeed bought from the wishlist. This lets the store know to mark them as "purchased" on the list. After that you need to provide your credit card info and also fill in the shipping address.

Melissa Jackson, LIBRARIAN
Ballou Senior High School
3401 Fourth Street SE
Washington DC 20032
(202) 645-3400

It's very important that you get Melissa's name and title in there - she is not the only Jackson (or Melissa) at the school and we want to make sure the books get to the library.

Spread the word! Share the links to both the wishlist + to Colleen's post at GLW through email, Facebook, Twitter, and blogs so we can get this library PACKED!

Don't let it stop there. If you know of a library, school, shelter, or hospital that's in great need of books and other items, give back. Rally up your co-workers, patrons, students, and friends, gather donated items (new or gently used), and donate them to your chosen organization or charity. Share your good fortune and good spirits with others.

Learn more about the Book Fair for Ballou: Read Colleen's post at Guys Lit Wire.

Click here to check out the wishlist and select books to donate!

Reach Out Reads: Live Author Chats All Month Long!

ReachOut.com is a place where teens and young adults can go online to improve their understanding of mental health issues, develop resilience and build their coping-skills.

Reach Out Reads is a new campaign launching this month and running through the end of May (National Mental Health Awareness Month). YALSA has a list of recommended titles (a few of which are readergirlz picks too!).

Reach Out Reads will be streaming live chats with YA authors throughout the month of May! The first one is Tomorrow Night (Tuesday 5/3, 5pm PST/8pm EST) with the amazing Blake Nelson... click for more info:
We'll keep you posted on upcoming Reach Out Reads chats this month via the blog, twitter and Facebook. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Cover Stories: We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han

The final book in Jenny Han's delicious summer trilogy is here! She has shared the Cover Stories for Book 1 (The Summer I Turned Pretty) and Book 2 (It's Not Summer Without You), and now we have the scoop behind We'll Always Have Summer (out this week). Here's Jenny:

"A girl in a white dress is what always what I wanted for the final book. I had this in mind even before I knew what I wanted for the second book.

"I actually bought the dress the cover model is wearing. I spent two days trolling the city for the perfect flowy white dress, and let me tell you, this was no easy feat. It was September, when white dresses had already been whisked off the sales racks and there was only like, plaid and back-to-school corduroy everywhere. I found the dress in the last store I went to, the night before the shoot. And on sale, no less!

"Lucy Cummins, the ever-amazing book designer, also brought some white dresses to pick from, but we ended up going with mine because it was the fanciest. You can’t tell by the cover, but it’s floor-length, halter neck, and silk. And it’s currently stuffed in an envelope somewhere behind my filing cabinet..."

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