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!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Little Willow's Book Bag

This Week's Picks
Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker
The Fox Inheritance by Mary E. Pearson
The Heart is Not a Size by Beth Kephart

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Cover Stories: Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker

As you know if you read this blog, I'm kind of into covers. So when it comes to the subject of my own covers, I feel especially, um, assertive. I like to give inspiration images, write random things down, and generally insert myself to a point that might be annoying.

When my editor Caroline asked me if I had any cover ideas for Small Town Sinners, I sent her this email:

"I'm going to attach some images and give a little explanation of why they're in the mix for me.

"If we show LACEY: I picture her sort of like an early Sissy Spacek:


"The FEEL: I love the late sunset, dusty, small-town feel of the NYLON cover, the 'portrait' (really small, sorry), and that GUARDIAN ANGELS book. The color and tone of these images is really appealing to me.
**I do really love the close-up on one girl kind of cover, and an American gothic 70s feel seems right to me.

Read the rest of my Cover Story, part 1, at melissacwalker.com.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Cover Stories: The Summer I Learned to Fly by Dana Reinhardt

I spent my weekend curled up with Dana Reinhardt's The Summer I Learned to Fly (finished last night) and it's just an enchanting summer story. Here's Publisher's Weekly's starred review. Read, read, read!

And isn't that cover just all twilight and fireflies and wildflowers and good things? Here's Dana to talk about it:

"I never have any idea of what my covers should look like.  I fully recognize that it’s not what I do—I’m not a designer, I’m a writer. I do have strong opinions, though. I know what I like and I know what I don’t and I’m usually pretty good at articulating why.

"They typically ask me if I have any ideas and I typically say no. Then I hold my breath and wait to see what they come up with and hope that I think it’s on the right track. If it’s not, they’ve been great about listening to my reaction.

"With this cover, I fell in love.  Immediately.  This hasn’t always been the case, but it was absolutely the case with this particular cover. It’s just perfect. And it obviously doesn’t hurt to have Markus Zusak’s name on the cover.  In fact, it might even be better if they just took mine off…"

Read the rest of Dana's Cover Story, and see all of her original covers (which have been redesigned!) at melissacwalker.com.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Little Willow's Book Bag

This Week's Picks
The stories of Hans Christian Andersen
Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu, illustrated by Erin McGuire
Baltimore, or The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden

Cover Stories: Wolves, Boys & Other Things That Might Kill Me

Kristen Chandler's Wolves, Boys & Other Things That Might Kill Me (read Book Harbinger's great review) got a paperback makeover this year, and I love the new cover! So I asked Kris how it came to be, and what she thought about the redesign. Here she is:

"I was thinking that the paperback would be like the hardback cover (below right)--urban angsty--but I was wrong. Now it's wilderness angsty. Doesn't it just give you the shivers to look at it?

"I didn't give any input for the paperback. I think that's the way it usually works. I was so used to the hardback cover as the face of the novel... It was like having your friend get a makeover that includes their skin color. But the new cover grew on me quickly.

"I was so consumed with the writing of my next book and the marketing, sharing of the WOLVES I didn't even realize that the paperback would have another cover. So it was sort of like... SUR-PRISE! We hope you love it!"

Read the rest of Kristen's Cover Story, and see her original hardcover at melissacwalker.com.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

NYC Host: Summer Catch up!

I think the ongoing heatwave must have fried my brain, it's been so long since I posted about all of the fun summer book events going on here in NYC! But in honor of diva Melissa's book release this week, I thought I'd share a quick snapshot from her recent NYC YA baby shower. Left to right, that's Natalie Standiford, me, Jenny Han, Gayle Forman, Libba Bray, and Melissa, of course! What do YA writers discuss over Sunday brunch? Mostly John Hughes films, it turns out.
A book birthday and a baby all at the same time? CONGRATS, Melissa!

And speaking of releases, I've been so caught up in celebrating family that I haven't had a chance to share the trailer for my newest release, What Would My Cell Phone Do? Bad author! 
I'm headed upstate for the month of August, where unfortunately my internet connection is less than reliable, but I promise to try to be more timely about these things going forward! 

Happy summer, and happy reading!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cover Stories: OyMG by Amy Fellner Dominy

Amy Fellner Dominy's debut novel had me laughing as soon as I heard the title and tagline: OyMG "Jewish Girl. Christian Camp. Holy Moly." Now Amy's here to share her Cover Story:

"I hate to admit it, but I had no clue what would make a good cover for this book. When my editor asked if I had any suggestions, I drew a complete blank. (Literally.) I’m guessing I did what many authors do:  I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

"In truth, my cover was all the things I didn’t want: An actual face for my main character; Religious symbols—including a cross; And no cute guy.

"But I took one look and immediately LOVED it.  Truly!  It just felt 'right.' Thank goodness, because my editor told me that was the 16th version I was seeing. (And no, I didn’t ask to see all the other ones.)

"The only request I made was to have them bump up the romantic elements on the cover. The relationship is such an important part of the book, I didn’t want that to be lost..."

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

PS-Read more about the book, and see the trailer, at The Contemps.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Little Willow's Book Bag

This Week's Picks
My Not-So-Still Life by Liz Gallagher
Heist Society by Ally Carter
Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter

Shout Out: Small Town Sinners in NY Times Book Review!

Yay for our own Melissa Walker and her Small Town Sinners! Did you catch the New York Times Book Review? Woot! Congrats, Melissa!

"Walker has written a credible and tender evocation of the moment when a young person’s beliefs begin to emerge and potentially diverge from the teachings of a family’s religion."

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Rgz Salon: Lyn Miller-Lachmann on Girls Who Try to Help

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 Camo Girl by Kekla Magoon (Simon & Schuster, 2011) and The Trouble With Half a Moon by Danette Vigilante (Putnam, 2011):

"In the first year of my MFA program, I wrote a YA novel about a 14-year-old girl who takes a number of risks in order to help a boy she wants as a friend. As a result of my own project, I’ve been drawn recently to novels about other tween and teen girls who also get involved in the troubled and perhaps dangerous lives of younger boys. Two of those books, Kekla Magoon’s Camo Girl and Danette Vigilante’s The Trouble with Half a Moon portray young protagonists who are, like mine, biracial or bicultural.

"Magoon’s second novel, following the acclaimed The Rock and the River, explores a 12-year-old girl’s conflict between her loyalty to her oldest friend and her one chance to become popular. Shunned by most of her classmates and teased for her vitiligo, more visible because it’s on her face and she’s biracial—African American and white—sixth grader Ella Cartwright finds companionship in Z, a white boy who lives in a fantasy world. Z used to be Ella’s neighbor and consoled her when her father died, but his life fell apart after his father abandoned the family, his house was foreclosed, and he and his mother started to sleep at the Wal-Mart where she works. When the handsome, outgoing new student Bailey—the only other black student in the class—wants to be Ella’s friend, she begins to neglect Z in favor of Bailey and his friends.

"Ella feels guilty when she pulls back from Z, and her abandonment of him sets off a spiral of events that lead him into danger and she and Bailey following in a last-ditch effort to save him. Did she, in fact, betray her oldest friend for the cool new kid? Is she responsible for what happens to Z, or are his problems beyond her ability to fix? Camo Girl addresses these questions in a way that is poignant and realistic, leaving much for the reader to think about in terms of standing up, fitting in, and our responsibility to each other.

"Vigilante’s main character, 13-year-old Dellie, is of Puerto Rican and Afro-Caribbean heritage, living in a culturally diverse housing project in Brooklyn, New York. Ever since her five-year-old brother died in an accident resulting from her negligence, Dellie has not been allowed to leave her suddenly overprotective parents’ sight. They are consumed with grief and emotionally distant. When five-year-old Corey and his irresponsible, abusive mother move downstairs, Corey fills the emotional void that Dellie’s brother’s death left. Dellie finds herself becoming increasingly involved in Corey’s precarious life at the same time as she grows more distant from her best friend and worries that a boy she likes may be attracted to a cleverer rival. Another new neighbor—an older Jamaican woman with deep spiritual roots—shows Dellie the way to help Corey, her parents, and herself.

"Pitch perfect dialogue and strong, complex characterizations made this debut novel a gripping story from the very beginning. Vigilante does a good job of creating a five-year-old boy who acts his age and reveals only enough to get what he needs without drawing too much attention to himself and provoking more abuse. Little Corey, in fact, becomes a flashpoint in the conflict between Dellie and her friend, which grows out of her friend’s relationship with a boy with whom Dellie does not get along. As in Camo Girl, the climax of The Trouble with Half a Moon comes when Dellie’s devotion to the younger boy puts her own life in danger as well as his, and she learns the limits of her love and protection." -Lyn Miller-Lachmann

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Summer Blog Blast Tour, Shirley Vernick and "The Blood Lie"

If you love writing, reading, and reading interviews with writers, make sure to follow the Summer Blog Blast Tour (SBBT) all week long. Organized by Colleen of the blog Chasing Ray, the SBBT is now in its fifth year of fun. Click here for the full schedule.

Today, I posted my interview with author Shirley Vernick at my blog, Bildungsroman. Here's a sneak peek:

In 1928, a little girl from New York disappeared, and a young Jewish boy was thought to be her murderer - but he was truly innocent. This real-life tragedy inspired Shirley Reva Vernick's debut novel, The Blood Lie, which will be available September 1st. Shirley's relatives were directly victimized by the real event, and she grew up in the town where it happened, yet she didn't know it until she was a college student. In her own words:

Shirley Vernick: I was already in college when I first learned about it. I came home for fall break my sophomore year with an assignment for a sociology class. Students had to identify a local community conflict – past or present – and write a paper about it. I remember thinking, I'm screwed – no juicy controversies ever happen in my dinky little town of Massena, New York. So I asked my dad, who also grew up in Massena, if he had any ideas. That's when he told me, for the first time, about the blood libel that happened in Massena when he was a high school senior. It was just before Yom Kippur, and a little Christian girl disappeared while playing in the woods near her house. The next thing you know, the local Jews – including my dad's family – were being accused of kidnapping and murdering that little girl and baking her blood in their "holiday foods." I couldn't believe what I was hearing. In America? In the 20th century?

To read the full interview, please visit Bildungsroman!

Cover Stories: Possession by Elana Johnson

Elana Johnson's Possession has great buzz. For example: “Emotion pumps through every scene of this thriller. Given all the urgency and action, the novel’s ending may surprise readers as the heroic adventure turns into a tragic love story.” –School Library Journal

The book also has a simple but captivating cover. Here's Elana to talk about that:

"I didn’t dare dream of a cover. That way, if it wasn’t what I’d pictured, I wouldn’t be disappointed. And luckily, someone much smarter than I am designed my cover—and I love it!

"I got to give input after I saw the design, and something I suggested actually got changed. It was something little about the font on my name, which used to be a much tighter, more Zaner-Bloser, type of cursive. I didn’t like the cursive at all..."

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

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Little Willow's Book Bag

This Week's Picks
Sharks & Boys by Kristen Tracy
Girl Wonder by Alexa Martin
The Summer I Learned to Fly by Dana Reinhardt
Doggirl by Robin Brande

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Shout Out: Miss Erin in The Mooring!

Okay, the teaser just released. *squeeeeeeeeee* Our own Miss Erin, postergirl and head of the Street Team, is in this upcoming movie! Enjoy the following creepiness!

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Rgz Street Team: Olivia reviews The Amanda Project Revealed by Peter Silsbee

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, Olivia reviews The Amanda Project Revealed, by Peter Silsbee (which has an amazing interactive website you can get involved with to help write future Amanda books!):

"In Revealed, the second book in the Amanda Project series, high school students Hal, Callie, and Nia continue to try to solve the mystery of their missing friend, Amanda Valentino, who has disappeared. Amanda herself is a mystery and seems to be leaving them clues, encouraging them to follow her path and try to find her. While the first book in the series, Invisible I, was from Callie’s perspective and was written by Melissa Kantor, the second book is from Hal’s perspective and was written by Peter Silsbee.

"Revealed resumes the adventures of Hal, Callie, and Nia shortly after they launched the Amanda Project website at the end of the first book, Invisible I. At the beginning of Revealed, Hal has been called to the principal’s office to talk to the police: Vice Principal Thornhill, who has always had a mysterious link with Amanda’s disappearance, has been attacked after his office was broken into. While Callie creates a distraction, Hal breaks into Thornhill’s office and finds a hidden list of names, some that he recognizes (including his own family), on Thornhill’s computer. This is just one of the many mysteries that pop up during Revealed.

"After being released by the police, Hal meets Nia and Callie at Play it Again, Sam, the vintage clothing store that Amanda often frequented. The cryptic store owner, Louise, had called them to the store and has a message for them that she can’t directly reveal. Instead, she leads them to the back of the store, in which they find Amanda’s wardrobe and a wooden box that Louise lets them take home. The trio is certain that the box contains valuable pieces to solve the puzzle of Amanda’s disappearance, but they struggle with opening the box and it is then stolen by another student in the school.

"While the book could be said to focus on Hal, Callie, and Nia trying to recover the box, it follows the pattern of the previous Amanda Project book in that many other mysteries and discoveries are made but are not necessarily solved within the book. Because it is part of an eight-book series, Revealed is not the typical mystery that is solved by the end of the book. While it is not confusing, it is certainly complicated, which many readers might embrace. The fact that it is an eight-book mystery also allows the author to focus not solely on the mystery, but also develop more fully the relationship between the characters, as much of Revealed is about the dynamics between Hal, Callie, and Nia, which makes the story more interesting.

"The writing in Revealed is not extraordinarily beautiful or epic, which fits with the concept that the book is narrated by a teenage boy and makes the book easier to read and more relatable to the average teenager. The purpose of the story is not the writing but the plot, and those at HarperCollins have done an admirable job of making the plot central both through the actual story and through the Amanda Project website. On the website, readers create a character that is somehow part of Amanda’s life in the fictional world, and can post ideas and start debates about Amanda and her disappearance. Every Friday, a new part of the mystery is unraveled or a new mystery is generated when a story is posted on the website that website members can then discuss.

"The website is closely linked to the book series, and the website is often referred to throughout the books as a place where Hal, Callie, and Nia go to look for new discoveries or clues. Members of the website can also post art work or writing for others to read and comment on. The Amanda Project as a whole is a very unique and progressive way of involving readers in the story and creating interest and activity surrounding the series long after the publication of one of the books.

"While Revealed is an extremely interesting book, any potential reader might first want to look at the first book in the series, Invisible I, so that they can be more fully informed about the series before jumping into the mystery in Revealed. I would recommend this book to all young adult readers but especially anyone who enjoys interactive communities on the internet and would like to become a part of the Amanda Project website." --Olivia

Saturday, July 2, 2011

What are you reading this weekend?

Happy July 4th, readergirlz! What book are you reading in your sun-screened hands this weekend? I'm reading The Mammoth Hunters by Jean M. Auel for a little research. You?

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz