Oct 26, 2012

Blind Spot by Laura Ellen: Review, Promotion Winners + Giveaway

Blind Spot by Laura Ellen
October 23rd, 2012 from Harcourt Children's Books

Seventeen-year-old Tricia Farni’s body floated to the surface of Alaska’s Birch River six months after the night she disappeared. The night Roz Hart had a fight with her. The night Roz can’t remember. Roz, who struggles with macular degeneration, is used to assembling fragments to make sense of the world around her. But this time it’s her memory that needs piecing together—to clear her name . . . to find a murderer.

I have been in need of a good mystery for a long time! From the beginning I was interested in Roz's story. She has a vision impairment and struggles with some everyday tasks. The girl is smart and she compensates and gets by just fine. I loved her fighting and "I can do it on my own" spirit! You don't feel sorry for her, but you do commend her for sticking it out and making due with her situation. I hope young readers look at Roz and find inspiration in her story.

The mystery behind Tricia's death, a former classmate of Roz', was really interesting and fascinating. There are all sorts of town secrets and skeletons living in people's closets. At any given time I thought the murderer was one of four people. I was looking for the giant in-your-face clue, but Ellen was smart and kept me guessing the whole time. We flash back to the beginning of the school year to the present and try to piece together what happened after this house party. We get to know Tricia, the girl murdered, and she was very difficult to like. Her behavior and antics were sometimes out of left field. I can imagine that she was a fun person to write for. When Roz's lies keep piling up, fingers being to point to her and she has to find out once and for all what happened to Tricia even though several people try to stop her.

A mix bag of characters - some you love, some you can't stand - classic who-done-it, and a really intense ending!

Add to Goodreads

Oct 19, 2012

Sneak Peek - Texas Library Association in Ft. Worth- April 24-27

It's that time of year again! TLA puts out the preliminary schedule of sessions and I drool over the amazing lineup they have. I got a sneak peek this summer for the YART sessions, but now it's real. REAL! So, let's take a look at who is joining us at TLA in April. Oh, and come see me Wednesday at 2pm - Blogging & Social Media: Best Practices For Serving Youth.

General Session - everybody scream together!!

Oct 16, 2012

YALSA's Teens' Top Ten - 2012 Winners

YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) announced their Teens' Top Ten winners for 2012! These titles are chosen and voted on by teens as the best of the best for the year. Take a look and make note to read and recommend. I have read quite a few and think they picked some great books. Have you read all 10?

1). Roth, Veronica. Divergent. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books. 2011. (978-
0062024022). Abnegation (selfless), Erudite (intelligence), Candor (honesty), Amity
(peace), or Dauntless (brave): where would you fit? Beatrice lives in a society where
she must choose either to remain with her family’s faction or set off towards
independence and her beliefs. And what happens when the unity between these
factions begins to fall apart? 

2). Green, John. The Fault in Our Stars. Penguin Group/Dutton Juvenile. 2012. (978-
0525478812). Hazel and Augustus meet and forge a relationship at a support group for
kids battling cancer. As Hazel and Augustus struggle with the “side-effects of dying,”
they come to learn the strength of wishes, the complexities of long human lives, and the
wondrous ways of the universe.

Oct 15, 2012

Dear Teen Me - Review, Interview, & Giveaway

Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters to Their Teen Selves
October 30th, 2012 from Zest Books

I am so thrilled to talk about this book and encourage everyone to read/buy/scrapbook. I have been reading the Dear Teen Me blog for....a long time. When word came out that it was being made into a book I was thrilled for the editors and contributors! The day I got the book in the mail I read all the way through. I cried, literally laughed out loud, blushed, and said the word "awe" a lot. I read a few stories to my husband and kids and eventually my 14-year-old read the entire book. People we know and love writing to their teens selves - what is not to love? 

A few stand out letters were Jessica Lee Anderson's and Ilsa Bick's. Both were totally different stories, but I remember them in detail months after reading. Anderson talks about the pressure of achieving and getting into a good college - something millions of us can relate to. I related a lot to her story, even the epic trip to Mexico. Bick's was a completely different story and absolutely took my breath away. It is one of the longest letters and yet when it ended I wanted another page. I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but let's just say her letter talks about a 40+ year-old secret and hidden past. When I meet Bick face-to-face again, this story is something I will be asking her about.

Oct 10, 2012

Don't Feed the Boy by Irene Latham (Review, Guest Post + Giveaway)

Don't Feed the Boy by Irene Latham
October 16th, 2012 by Roaring Brook Press

No kid knows more about zoo life than Whit. That's because he sleeps, eats and even attends home-school at the Meadowbrook Zoo. It's one of the perks of having a mother who's the zoo director and a father who's the head elephant keeper. Now that he's eleven, Whit feels trapped by the rules and routine of zoo life. With so many exotic animals, it's easy to get overlooked. But when Whit notices a mysterious girl who visits every day to draw the birds, suddenly the zoo becomes much more interesting. Who is the Bird Girl? And why does she come by herself to the zoo? Determined to gain her trust, Whit takes the Bird Girl on his own personal tour of the zoo. He shows her his favorite animals and what happens with them behind the scenes. For Whit, having a friend his own age that he can talk to is an exciting new experience. For Stella the Bird Girl, the zoo and Whit are a necessary escape from her chaotic home life. Together they take risks in order to determine where it is they each belong. But when Stella asks Whit for an important and potentially dangerous favor, Whit discovers how complicated friendship and freedom-- can be.

From the outside, life living in a zoo would seem like a dream come true! For Whit, that just isn't the case. I happen to agree with Whit. I'm not sure I would be cut out for full-time animal life. I felt sorry for him immediately as he let us know how much he wanted more than just zoo life. He longed for school and friends, but his parents just didn't see his side. They couldn't imagine who wouldn't want to live in a zoo and be surrounded by the animals with free train rides for life. I hoped his parents would see what was going on in Whit's little head for just five minutes. They really frustrated me. His parental situation isn't too far off for many young people. In my days, we called kids like Whit Latchkey Kids - mom and dad both work, kids are on their own a lot. That was me, but I don't remember being so out of touch with my parents as Whit was with his. When my parents were near, they were present. I wished Whit had a better relationship with them, but he did have his teacher, Mrs. Connie - I did like her! There is resolution, but I wanted a little more conversation about the turn of events and the feelings involved. Still, minds come together.

Oct 5, 2012

Banned Books Week Posters

There have been a ton of great Banned Books Week posters out there this year, and I wanted to be sure to highlight a few here! We also post them on Literary Lonestars, one of my side gigs. I hope some are new to you!

Oct 4, 2012

Giveaway - The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann

The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann
September 18th, 2012 by Greenwillow Books

Don't get yourself noticed and you won't get yourself hanged.

In the faery slums of Bath, Bartholomew Kettle and his sister Hettie live by these words. Bartholomew and Hettie are changelings--Peculiars--and neither faeries nor humans want anything to do with them.

One day a mysterious lady in a plum-colored dress comes gliding down Old Crow Alley. Bartholomew watches her through his window. Who is she? What does she want? And when Bartholomew witnesses the lady whisking away, in a whirling ring of feathers, the boy who lives across the alley--Bartholomew forgets the rules and gets himself noticed.

First he's noticed by the lady in plum herself, then by something darkly magical and mysterious, by Jack Box and the Raggedy Man, by the powerful Mr. Lickerish . . . and by Arthur Jelliby, a young man trying to slip through the world unnoticed, too, and who, against all odds, offers Bartholomew friendship and a way to belong.

Oct 3, 2012

Texas Book Festival - October 27-28, 2012

It's book fest season in Texas! Now that the Austin Teen Book Festival is a wrap, it's time for the Texas Book Festival - October 27-28th right here in Austin! This is an internationally known event that started in 1995 by former First Lady Laura Bush. The fest draws thousands of people of all ages and highlight authors from every genre you can imagine. The event takes place on the capital grounds and it is a beautiful place to spend some time. I have attended for several years and it never disappoints. The parties, authors, and volunteers all make for a great two day book extravaganza. I love volunteering in the children's signing tent and plan on helping out again this year! You can too, just go HERE.

There is a stellar lineup again this year. Here are just a few that I am most excited to meet:

Oct 2, 2012

Review: Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone

Time Between Us by Tamara Ireland Stone
October 9th, 2012 from Hyperion

Anna and Bennett were never supposed to meet: she lives in 1995 Chicago and he lives in 2012 San Francisco. But Bennett has the unique ability to travel through time and space, which brings him into Anna’s life, and with him a new world of adventure and possibility.

As their relationship deepens, the two face the reality that time may knock Bennett back to where he belongs, even as a devastating crisis throws everything they believe into question. Against a ticking clock, Anna and Bennett are forced to ask themselves how far they can push the bounds of fate, what consequences they can bear in order to stay together, and whether their love can stand the test of time.

I am loving this trend of a fantasy book that's little more contemporary than fantasy (Of Poseidon,  for example)! I have read other time travel books were we jump back and forth endless times between years or decades, and this story doesn't do that. The protagonist herself doesn't time travel. Well, that isn't exactly true, but I'm not spoiling things. The story starts off with an adult Anna meeting up with the teenager Bennett. By chapter two, we settle in as Anna as the teenager and basically stick to her timeline. When this mysterious young Bennett pops out of nowhere, literally, Anna is intrigued to learn his story. She doesn't go completely nutso over the kid from go, thank God, but when he makes a grand gesture and basically saves her life...she's in deep. I don't blame the girl.