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!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Quote Call: See It, Say It

Hey rgz,

Can you believe our 7 year birthday is coming? Seriously, March 1, we are 7 years old! Watch for posts throughout the month of authors we featured in the past. They will be sharing 7 Things We Don't Know or giving a speedy update on their writing.

But now, I'm posting to make a quote call. Let's See It, Say It. Take your favorite quote from YA lit, snap a pic of the page, or write the quote out and take a pic, or design something awesome over at Polyvore. However you like, get it visual and post it on our Facebook page. Authors, draw from your own works and others; readers share the best bits from the books you heart; and librarians, teachers, and booksellers, jump on in.

Our beloved Ellen Hopkins has done this for awhile:

Here's one from co-founder Dia Calhoun:

And here's another from co-founder Justina Chen:

Here's one from me which I put together on Polyvore:

Loose Threads Quote

So you get the idea right? Okay! Find those quotes and get them onto our Facebook page. We'll make an album and cull some for the blog as well. Thanks for celebrating with us! Happy early birthday, rgz! xox

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Watch for It: Formerly Shark Girl

Here's a verse novel to watch for, rgz. You know I'm partial to the verse novel. Kudos to publishers who continue to give them voice! So, remember Shark Girl? You can read Kelly Bingham's full issue for rgz here. Get ready to see what happened afterwards: Formerly Shark Girl!

Kelly picks up Jane's story a year after the shark attack. She's waffling between nursing and art school. She's dealing with unexpected pain, a possible surgery, fan mail, and a bucket list for her senior year. The pages turn quickly as you journey with Jane through her choices, and she reaches satisfying conclusions.

Way to go rgz, for nudging Kelly to tell the rest of the story. Her dedication reads: "This book is for all the readers who asked for more of Jane's story. Without you, this book would not have been written." Brava, rgz!

Formerly Shark Girl
by Kelly Bingham
Candlewick Press, 2013

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

About a Boy: Boy on the Edge

We don't offer recommends with boy protagonists, but there should always be an exception, right? About a Boy entries will be for exceptional books that cross our path that we want to share. Boy on the Edge by Fridrik Erlings is my first entry.

I thought it would be compelling to read an Icelandic author. Don't you think? And it was. The Home of Lesser Brethren is perched in a lava field on the edge of the sea, and Henry is sent to reside there to live with other young boys, the reverend, and his wife. With a stutter and clubfoot, Henry makes his home in the cowshed, tends to the livestock, befriends the bull, and finds hope in a dark, barren place.

While the setting is new and fresh, the truths of the individuals resonate. Maybe that's a slight difference between our writing and this work from Iceland. The themes aren't buried quite so deeply. The reverend says, "And that is my biggest failure, I guess. Believing that absolute control would make everything all right." Even the flap copy notes, "This story is meant to show that there is always hope, even though its existence may sometimes be denied." So themes are closer to the surface, without giving the feeling the reader is being preached to.

I recommend this peek into Iceland, and getting to know Henry, who will haunt your soul. Read, reflect, and reach out, rgz! Read about a boy.

Boy on the Edge
by Fridrik Erlings
Candlewick Press, 2014

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Read, Reflect, and Reach Out: Gendercide

Hey readergirlz,

As a community which reads, reflects, and reaches out, I have to share the impetus for my lastest novel, Firstborn. In 2004 I happened upon a snippet of an article which spoke of ekthesis, the word for infant exposure in Greek antiquity. I was dumbfounded to learn that girls were still being left in the elements to die, just because they were female. Today we use the term gendercide, and over 37 million girls are missing in China alone, due to the One Child Policy.

Having learned of the modern practice, my rage looked for a place to turn. The release came through writing. What if I could create a fictional story illustrating a society practicing gendercide? What if that story could raise awareness and sympathy, and ultimately action against the horror? I began to write Firstborn.

Just think for a moment, how many readergirlz' lives would have been threatened or forfeited by the practice of gendercide if each had been born in another situation? The United Nations estimates 200 million girls are missing worldwide.

There are things to do. You can make an impact. Start by watching It’s a Girl movie. It's Instant View on Netflix. Share the link, the trailer, and your reactions.

Grow familiar with the Global Gendercide Advocacy and Awareness Project. They offer internships! Visit All Girls Allowed, where you can learn the latest news and sponsor a mother carrying a female child.

I am sharing posters I created on Polyvore across social media for 30 days. I'm gathering them in an album on my Facebook Author Page hoping they will be shared and awareness will grow.

Gendercide Poster #5

Gendercide is an atrocity. Don't look away. Read, reflect, and reach out, rgz. May they all be allowed to live.

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Cover Stories: The Sisters 8

Lauren Baratz-Logsted has been here many times sharing Cover Stories, and here's one for the final book in her Sisters 8 series (which she writes with her husband and daughter)! You can read the Cover Story for the first two books here.
Take it away, Lauren!
"On August 7, 2012 the ninth and final volume in The Sisters 8 was published. The Sisters 8 is a series for young readers, that I created with my husband and daughter, about octuplet girls whose parents go missing one New Year's Eve.
"From the time we sold the first book to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, I was curious about what the cover would look like. Perhaps more than any area of books I can think of, series for children are defined in the public mind over a long period of time by the packaging. Can you imagine Harry Potter or Junie B. Jones with a different style artwork on the cover? Try switching the two styles in your mind. Does your head hurt yet? So, as perhaps you can imagine, I was nervous..."
And more of Lauren's Cover Stories are here: Crazy Beautiful and The Twin's Daughter.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Cover Stories: Firstborn by Lorie Ann Grover!

Our beloved Lorie Ann Grover, a co-founder of readergirlz.com, is the soul behind this site. Her spirit, her love of reading and her writing... Well, let's just say we all look up to her mucho. Her latest novel, Firstborn, already has a star from Kirkus. And she has this to say about it: 
"Firstborn originally sprang from an article I read on gendercide. Over 37 million girls are missing today due to China’s One Child Policy. Visit Global Gendercide Advocacy Alliance Project or All Girls Allowed to learn more and act."
And now, her Cover Story:
"I’m so honored to be included in Melissa’s Cover Stories! I have to say, we authors usually sit at home holding our breath, waiting for our cover reveal from the publishing house. On rare cases we are able to interject a thought before the creation. In On Pointe I was able to ask for a specific type of toe shoe to be portrayed (read that epic Cover Story!). Even more unusual is the request for a correction after the image is designed. Upon seeing the cover for Loose Threads, I asked for embroidery needles to be replaced by knitting needles, in keeping with the story. My request was granted. But as I waited for the unveiling of the Firstborn cover, I prepared to give zero input. Zero. Like normal.
"What a delight to not have a speck of criticism. When I opened the cover file for Firstborn, I was blown away! I remember sitting in amazement that Mike Heath from Magnus Creative had caught the atmosphere, the character, the place with his art. The font itself conveyed the angst and aggressiveness I had hoped to convey within the story. There was my moment of awe, followed by chills, a prayer of thanks, a happy dance, and then a call to my family to see and share my first fantasy cover.
"When I’m working on a novel, at the start or shortly after, I’ll often create a vision board to help me capture those first impressions and hold onto them through the process to publication. I’ll tear out images of characters, the setting, and objects from magazines and books. Then I compose the pieces into a unified whole. This is the vision board I created for Firstborn:
"I believe the essence of my board lies in the Blink cover, which was created before I shared this image with the team. "
"I’m incredibly blessed to be working with such a talented team at Blink. I appreciate that they have visually brought my story to the cover. It’s a perfect bridge to the reader."
Thanks, LA! Cannot WAIT to read this book (which is out this week!).

Monday, February 10, 2014

Watch for It: Feral Curse by Cynthia Leitich Smith

The second book of the Feral series, Feral Curse, releases tomorrow! Here's what Kirkus said:

"Campy humor is paired with themes of social justice in this fast-paced, clever second volume in the Feral series. ... [T]he dynamics among characters are fascinating and are well-served by the first-person narration alternating between Yoshi and Kayla. A neat, smart middle novel that clearly sets the stage for an epic showdown between those who champion the rights of shifters and those blind to their humanity."

Kayla is a strong female protagonist, perfect for readergirlz, while many will swoon for Yoshi. The pacing is fast, the mystery layered, and the adventure full. Congratulations, Cynthia! Happy book birthday!

Feral Curse
by Cynthia Leitich Smith
Candlewick Press, 2014

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Cover Stories: The Witch Narratives, Reincarnation

 I often talk to authors who have very little say in their covers, but today I'm hosting Belinda Vasquez Garcia, who had total control.  The Witch Narratives Reincarnation was featured alongside Unbreak My Heart in Kirkusand I thought the cover was so incredibly arresting that I had to ask her about it. Here's Belinda:

"In choosing my cover image for The Witch Narratives Reincarnation, I searched through stock photos. I was looking for a photo I had found on the internet and was using on my website at the time. In keeping with my covens, The Sisterhood of the Black Rose, a photo of a black rose with its leaves flung out like arms was so haunting.

"There are drops of blood on the stem, as though the black rose has been wounded. To me, this bleeding black rose represented Salia, my main character, a 3rd generation witch forced by her mother and grandmother to follow their paths. However, though I found this picture on various photo websites, it was not on any sites of stock photos that could be purchased...."

Read Belinda's full Cover Story on melissacwalker.com.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Diva Delight: Going Over by Beth Kephart

I trotted home with one book from ALA Midwinter. I was so excited to see Beth Kephart's upcoming Going Over being released from Chronicle. I love Beth. I love Chronicle. That's enough for me.

As always, the language is gorgeous, the love full of meaning, and the plot tight and tense.

"We live with ghosts. We live with thugs, dodgers, punkers, needle ladies, pork knuckle. We live where there's no place else to go."

Set in a 1983, within a divided Berlin, two teens in love are separated by the wall. The work is told in both their voices so that the reader can sit in the East and the West. An unexpected layer adds the plight of the immigrants of Kreuzberg and the further oppression of Turkish women.

Aside from the language, the imagery, and the sensory input, I marveled at the pacing. Beth creates these moments of stall, rewind, and then a lurch forward, over and over. As the story progresses, the pauses shorten and the reader is launched farther and farther. That so perfectly mimics the passing of time for the characters themselves, caught on either side of the wall. Simply brilliant.

Don't miss this important novel. There's a great giveaway over at Goodreads right now. Click here and leap over! Congrats, Beth, and bravo, Chronicle!

Me, I'm off to read: Nest. Flight. Sky. Beth's new memoir!

Going Over, starred review from Booklist
by Beth Kephart
Chronicle Books, 2014

LorieAnncard2010small.jpg image by readergirlz