Thursday, September 26, 2013


Happy Banned Books Week to all!

And now we'll have some news of of book censorship!

Both Rainbow Rowell and Meg Medina have recently had author visits canceled due to their books' content.  From Blogging Censorship.

Reflections on Rainbow Rowell's cancellation.  From Monkey See.

The Handmaid's Tale will remain accessible to 12th graders in Guilford, NC, high school libraries.  From SLJ.

New York librarian fired after standing up for a kid who "read too much."  From The Daily News.

Embracing diversity in YA literature.  From SLJ.

11 things you may not know about JK Rowling.  From BuzzFeed.

R.J. Palacio talks about how one moment gave way to the book Wonder.  From NPR.

How to make school better for boys.  From The Atlantic.

The voices behind Winnie-the-Pooh.  I love it when voice actors look like their animated characters.  From BuzzFeed.

The problem with gendered reading.  From BookRiot.

Reading for pleasure can improve your math scores!  From The Guardian.

Marion County, FL, is down to 15 librarians.  Total.  From SLJ.

Why most YA movie franchises haven't taken off.  From Complex Culture.

A behind the scenes look at The Fault in Our Stars! From The Hollywood Reporter.

Julie Berry talks about All the Truth That's In Me.  I read an ARC of it and thought it was great.  From SLJ.

10 beautiful posters inspired by Roald Dahl.  From Flavorwire.

Horror is YA is a staple, not a trend.  From SLJ.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on The Midnight Dress by Karen Foxlee.

Quiet misfit Rose doesn't expect to fall in love with the sleepy beach town of Leonora. Nor does she expect to become fast friends with beautiful, vivacious Pearl Kelly, organizer of the high school float at the annual Harvest Festival parade. It's better not to get too attached when Rose and her father live on the road, driving their caravan from one place to the next whenever her dad gets itchy feet. But Rose can't resist the mysterious charms of the town or the popular girl, try as she might.

Pearl convinces Rose to visit Edie Baker, once a renowned dressmaker, now a rumored witch. Together Rose and Edie hand-stitch an unforgettable dress of midnight blue for Rose to wear at the Harvest Festival—a dress that will have long-lasting consequences on life in Leonora, a dress that will seal the fate of one of the girls. Karen Foxlee's breathtaking novel weaves friendship, magic, and a murder mystery into something moving, real, and distinctly original.

The Midnight Dress comes out October 8, 2013.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Serafina's Promise by Ann E. Burg

Serafina lives in Haiti with her mother and father, not far outside Port-au-Prince.  More than anything, Serafina wants to go to school so that one day she can become a doctor.  But her family has no money for school, and she must stay home and help her mother, so is expecting a baby.  But Serafina won't give up on her dream, and makes a promise to herself that one day she'll make it to school.

This was a lovely, uplifting story that was full of hope.  It was about the power of love and family, and that even when terrible things happen, you can rise above them.  The book is written in verse, which, as I've said before, I don't usually love, but I will say that it worked well for this story and was not distracting.

At first, I wasn't sure where the book took place.  It didn't say specifically, and Serafina's father worked "in the city."  It wasn't until Port-au-Prince was specifically mentioned that I realized where we were, and then of course started worrying because there was probably an earthquake coming.

Small spoilers

Sunday, September 22, 2013

All the Truth That's In Me by Julie Berry

Judith returns to her village two years after her friend Lottie was found dead and Judith disappeared.  She returns mutilated, and her mother forbids her to try speaking.  The village treats her like she's been cursed, and Judith sees no future for herself.  In her head, Judith speaks to the boy she's always loved, but who no longer speaks to her.  When her village is attacked, Judith is forced to take action and make decision.  Perhaps she will finally be able to reclaim her voice and speak the truth.

I blazed through this.  I wanted to know what really happened to Judith and hope she would finally get the courage to defend herself from all the people who looked down on her, took advantage of her, and generally treated her like crap.  It did remind me of Speak, a bit, in that something traumatic has happened to a girl and she is unable to tell anyone what happened (although for very different reasons) but eventually finds it in herself to reclaim her voice.

Judith's life is sad, and made harder because of the happy family she remembered.  She returns home after being held captive for two years to find her beloved father has died and her mother seems to be a different person after dealing with the disappearance of her child and the death of her husband.  At first she is joyful at Judith's return, but it quickly turns to fear when she sees what has happened to Judith.  Judith obeys her mother's command to not speak, and when questioned by the village council cannot say what happened to her or defend herself when accusations are made against her. 

For two years Judith has lived in the village in silence.  And object of ridicule and disgust to everyone, including her own family.  Judith keeps watch on the boy she loves but knows she can never be with, Lucas, who while not cruel to her, pays her no attention.

Things begin to change when the village is under attack.  Judith knows someone who can help, if she dares to return.  Her actions set in motion a series of events with both positive and negative consequences.  Lucas starts to be looked on with suspicion, Judith makes a friend who encourages her to speak, and Judith slowly begins to piece together everything that happened and understands who is behind the murder of her friend Lottie.

There are some truly cruel characters that live in Judith's village, but most of them are just indifferent, which hurts just as much.  Lucas' and Judith's relationship evolve, but Lucas is far from perfect and Judith learns to see his flaws and that he's not the perfect boy she made him into.  The story is dark and sad, but Judith is strong and triumphant by the end.

All the Truth That's In Me comes out September 26, 2013.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Wake Up Missing by Kate Messner

Cat fell out of a tree a couple months ago, and she's still suffering from the concussion.  Headaches, hard to focus, forgetful, Cat wants her old life back.  She and her mother discover a clinic called I-CAN that uses cutting edge gene therapy to help people recover from head injuries.  Cat is eager to start getting better and begins treatment at the clinic, but soon she realizes the doctors' main focus isn't on making her and the other kids well.

This was a good middle grade science fiction read.  And it wasn't too science fictiony.  No space or super computers or interplanetary whatever.  Four kids with concussions are in danger of being implanted with the DNA of past scientific geniuses.  And no, I'm not giving anything away by saying that, because that's on the back of the book.  Kind of dumb, really, because then there's not anything to reveal in the course of the book, but there it is.

Cat, even before her concussion, was struggling with who she was, a classic middle school experience.  We learn that her best friend, Lucy, has recently ditched her, and Cat had spent all her life doing whatever Lucy did, whether she really liked doing it or not.  Now Cat is feeling even less like herself, suffering from memory loss and unable to concentrate on anything. 

Cat goes off to the miracle head injury clinic in the Everglades and finds that there are only five other kids there, all around her age.  Cat is hopeful at first, since two of the other kids who were there before her already seem so much better.  But it isn't long before things don't seem quite right.  It's hard for Cat to piece everything together, because it's so difficult for her to concentrate.  But one kid seems to have undergone a complete personality change and another is confined to her room for mysterious reasons. 

While freaking out about becoming part of a crazy scientific, possible terrorist plot, Cat is also beginning to learn how lead and not just follow and to trust herself.

So good dose of middle school issues and finding yourself, along with science fiction mad-scientist plot.  Good times for all!

Wake Up Missing came out September 10.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Beauty's Daughter by Carolyn Meyer

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on Beauty's Daughter by Carolyn Meyer.

 What is it like to be the daughter of the most beautiful woman in the world? Hermione knows . . . her mother is Helen of Troy, the famed beauty of Greek myth. Helen is not only beautiful but also impulsive, and when she falls in love with charming Prince Paris, she runs off with him to Troy, abandoning her distraught daughter. Determined to reclaim their enchanting queen, the Greek army sails for Troy. Hermione stows away in one of the thousand ships in the fleet and witnesses the start of the legendary Trojan War.  In the rough Greek encampment outside the walls of Troy, Hermione’s life is far from that of a pampered princess. Meanwhile, her mother basks in luxury in the royal palace inside the city. Hermione desperately wishes for the gods and goddesses to intervene and end the brutal war—and to bring her love. Will she end up with the handsome archer Orestes, or the formidable Pyrrhus, leader of a tribe of fierce warriors? And will she ever forgive her mother for bringing such chaos to her life and the lives of so many others?

Beauty's Daughter comes out October 8, 2013.

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Walking Dark by Robin Wasserman

The Killing Day happened a year ago.  Five perfectly normal people suddenly started killing, and then killed themselves.  12 people were dead, and no one left to explain why, except for one girl, who has no answers to what happened.  After a tornado partially wrecks the town of Oleander and causes a breach in a nearby military complex, the townspeople are prevented from leaving, supposedly for their own good.  But are the soldiers protecting the town from the breach?  Or is the rest of the state being protected from them?

So I didn't finish it.  Not completely.  Around page 250 I really just wanted to know how it was all going to come out.  But the big reveal of what was really going on hadn't even happened yet, and there was another almost 200 pages to go.  I was getting tired of the buildup.  I got it.  Something was afoot.  Everyone was acting crazy and murderous except a select few.  It clearly wasn't natural.  So I started skimming.  And I skimmed my way through the rest of the book and I feel completely satisfied.

I have to say I haven't really liked any of Robin Wasserman's other books.  They've been fine.  They fit in neatly with whatever is popular at the time, be it dystopia or paranormal or whatever so they're always a safe buy.  I was enjoying this one more than I had any of her others when I first started reading it.  It was much darker than any of her others, and also a lot more gripping and interesting.

The story centers around five teenagers.  West, Daniel, Ellie and Jule all witnessed one of the murders on the Killing Day.  Cass killed a baby that day, had has supposedly been in a mental hospital for the past year.  She has no idea why she did it.  The five all have vastly different lives.  West is the golden boy football player.  Ellie is incredibly religious and thinks she hears God, or someone, in her head.  Daniel's father is an alcoholic and he's just trying to care for his younger brother.  And Jule's family runs a huge meth lab.  They were all interesting characters who develop other the course of the story.

But it was taking FOREVER.  At first the slow build was fine.  It made things dramatic.  But I think it just went on too long, as things get worse and worse in the town.  More and more people seem to lose it, and I felt like it was high time for this all to start going somewhere.  Even the prospect of the town trying to burn Cass at the stake was not enough to keep me reading.  I just wanted to know WHY it was all happening.  And the reason why was good too!  It really was.  I just lost the patience to get there.

So...yeah.  How's that for a mixed review.  I recommend it, even though I didn't finish it.  Perhaps you'll be more patient than I am, or be more pulled in.

The Walking Dark came out September 10.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


PW 2013 Fall book preview.

Why The Fault in Our Stars will be the best movie ever.  I would be happy with it being a good adaptation. From Bustle.

13 children book quotes every adult should know.  From Mashable.

Joe McKendry, children's book author and illustrator, created the We Art Boston benefit auction which has over 40 children's illustrators signed up to participate.  From PW.

Amazing.  An infographic of all the deaths in Charles Dickens' books.  And how they died.  From Dear Mr. Dickens.

Science fiction is no longer a boys club.  From Salon.

Capstone donates over 3,000 books to Moore, Oklahoma elementary schools.  From SLJ.

Gene Luen talks about his two book graphic novel collection Boxers & Saints.  From EW.

For the first time ever, Dr. Seuss classics will be available as ebooks.  From PW.

Q & A with Holly Black about her new book, The Coldest Girl in Cold Town.  She came to our school last Friday and was fabulous.  From PW.

Susan Cooper's new novel.  From The Daily Beast.

Morrison's Bluest Eye joins wide range of books challenged in Alabama schools.  From SLJ.

Whhaa?  A new Hercule Poirot mystery?  But why?  From EW.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: All the Truth That's in Me by Julie Berry

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on All the Truth That's in Me by Julie Berry.

 Four years ago, Judith and her best friend disappeared from their small town of Roswell Station. Two years ago, only Judith returned, permanently mutilated, reviled and ignored by those who were once her friends and family. Unable to speak, Judith lives like a ghost in her own home, silently pouring out her thoughts to the boy who’s owned her heart as long as she can remember—even if he doesn’t know it—her childhood friend, Lucas. But when Roswell Station is attacked, long-buried secrets come to light, and Judith is forced to choose: continue to live in silence, or recover her voice, even if it means changing her world, and the lives around her, forever. This startlingly original novel will shock and disturb you; it will fill you with Judith’s passion and longing; and its mysteries will keep you feverishly turning the pages until the very last.

All the Truth That's in Me comes out September 26, 2013.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Giveaway: Hostage Three

We have a great giveaway for September!  Win an ARC of Printz Award winning author (for In Darkness) Nick Lake's new book Hostage Three.

As Amy sets out to sea with her family on a yacht, she's only thinking about the peaceful waters and the warm sun. But she doesn't get either after a group of pirates seize the boat and its human cargo, and the family becomes a commodity in a highly sophisticated transaction. Hostage One is Amy's father--the most valuable. Hostage Three is Amy, who can't believe the nightmare she's in. But something even stranger happens as she builds a bond with one of her captors, making it brutally clear that the price of life and its value are two very different things.

Hostage Three will not be released until November 12, 2013.

This giveaway is now closed.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Living with Jackie Chan by Jo Knowles

Josh has left his home and all his friends for his senior year of high school and moves in with his Jackie Chan obsessed uncle.  Josh needs to get away from last year and everything that happened.  He can't face her.  But leaving everything behind hasn't gotten rid of the guilt and the wondering and the pain of not knowing, and Josh doesn't know how to make it better.

This is a companion to Jumping Off Swings, which I have not read.  This book stands alone of its own quite well, but after having read it I'm curious to read Jumping Off Swings.

Josh was a relatable character.  He's doing his best to act like everything is fine.  He doesn't want to be trouble for anyone.  But things are not fine at all.  Luckily for Josh, he's living with his uncle Larry, who was probably the best person Josh could live with.  Larry didn't, and couldn't, fix things for Josh, but he was a presence unlike any Josh had had in his life before.  Larry is full of positive energy and life.  Josh described him as like a puppy, and that seemed pretty accurate.  Larry is an advanced black belt in karate, and convinces Josh to take lessons.  Again, karate doesn't fix things for Josh, but it does provide him with an outlet.

I liked reading about Josh's parents.  Josh's parents are still together, but from what he says, that hadn't really spoken to each other in years.  It didn't seem like there was a whole lot of support for Josh the previous year.  But when Josh leaves, his parent's begin to undergo a transformation of their own.  Josh's leaving makes them reconsider their own lives, and they start to work to make things better, for themselves and for Josh.  We only see Josh's parents through his perspective, it's never their story, but I like that angle.  There were a lot of people undergoing transformations of one kind or another over the course of this school year.

The final plot point is Josh's relationship with Stella, who lives in his building and also takes karate.  The two are friends outside of school, but Stella has a jealous boyfriend and she won't talk to or even acknowledge Josh in school.  Josh tries to convince himself that this is for the best, since it's not like he wants a relationship, not after what happened last year.


Saturday, September 7, 2013


Chicago has a new hybrid school and public library.  From SLJ.

Watch the new trailer for The Book Thief.  From

Esther Earl, the girl who John Green dedicated The Fault in Our Stars to, will have a book of her writings released posthumously.  From USA Today.

This man proposed through a children book he hid in a library.  Awwww.  From The Globe and Mail.

Rita Williams-Garcia on writing about genital mutilation.  From The Guardian.

10 YA books that didn't cut it as movies.  From moviefone.

In Philadelphia, libraries still in flux.  From SLJ.

NYC school librarians hold protests to protect jobs.  From Library Journal.

Educators, parents fight NYC bid to bypass state mandate for school librarians.  From SLJ.

Young adult book quiz. Can you match the quote to the book?  From The Christian Science Monitor.

Trailer for How I Live Now. No release date yet.

Thursday, September 5, 2013


From page to screen.  From SLJ.

The call that changes everything - or not.  Authors and illustrators on winning the Newbery or Caldecott medal.  From PW.

Want children to read?  Embrace ebooks.  From The Christian Science Monitor.

Francesca Lia Block drew on her personal life while writing Love in the Time of Global Warming.  From The Lost Angeles Times.

Publisher Klaus Flugge publishes a book of the beautiful envelopes he's received over the years.  From PW.

What makes The Princess Bride so popular?  Because it's awesome.  Duh.  From The Daily Beast.

Thought writing picture books was easy?  You're wrong.  From The Times New Jersey.

Patricia Polacco and her family of storytellers.  From NPR.

Read about the New York Public Library's amazing children's book exhibit.  From PW.

Helping kids make sense of war.  From PW.

Common Core tests widen achievement gap in New York.  From The Washington Post.

What do children look for in stories?  From The Guardian.

Is it time to retire the Chosen One trope?  From The Atlantic Wire.

A librarian told a kid he couldn't participate in the summer reading contest because he "reads too much."  Not cool, librarian.  Not cool.  From Page Views.

Ridiculous ways the Internet explain why adults read YA.  From Book Riot.

The most love children's books in infographic form.  From Book Patrol.

Kid's books have always been a surprising violent place.  From The Boston Globe.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Relativity by Cristin Bishara

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on Relativity by Cristin Bishara.

If Ruby Wright could have her way, her dad would never have met and married her stepmother Willow, her best friend George would be more than a friend, and her mom would still be alive. Ruby knows wishes can't come true; some things just can't be undone. Then she discovers a tree in the middle of an Ohio cornfield with a wormhole to nine alternative realities.

Suddenly, Ruby can access completely different realities, each containing variations of her life—if things had gone differently at key moments. The windshield wiper missing her mother’s throat…her big brother surviving his ill-fated birth…her father never having met Willow. Her ideal world—one with everything and everyone she wants most—could be within reach. But is there such a thing as a perfect world? What is Ruby willing to give up to find out?

Relativity comes out September 10, 2013.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Dead Ends by Erin Jade Lange

Dane Washington is a loner with a tendency to hit people.  He would have been kicked out of school long ago if it wasn't for his good grades. One day on his way to school, Dane meets Billy D., a boy with Down Syndrome.  Somehow, Billy D. manages to worm his way into Dane's life, and convinces Dane to help him find his father.

Dane's mother had him when she was very young, and his father was never in the picture.  Dane doesn't know who he is, and the times he's tried to ask about him, his mother says it's for the best if he doesn't know.  Perhaps it's Dane's lack of father that allows Billy D. to feel comfortable with him.  That, and the fact that almost everyone in school leaves Dane alone, and Billy D. gets picked on a lot.  Billy D. says that if Dane helps him find his father, he'll help Dane find his father too, but Dane isn't interested in looking for his dad, or so he claims.

Billy D. has an atlas that was his fathers.  In the atlas are written riddles, and Billy D. is convinced that the riddles will lead him to his father.  Billy D. has story after story about the things he and has dad did together, and how great he is.  Dane can't help but wonder, if Billy D.'s dad is so great, why isn't he here now, with his son?  What if he doesn't want to be found?

Dane has anger problems.  He and his mom don't have much.  He sees himself as a "have not" in a world of "haves."  When Dane gets angry or frustrated, the only thing that makes him feel better is to hit people.  Another constant source of frustration is the fact that his mom constantly wins the lottery (usually small stuff) but never cashes in any of the tickets.  They could have so much more, but his mother refuses.

Despite Dane's anger issues, he was a sympathetic character from the very beginning.  I wanted things to work out for him.  I wanted him to make it through school and go to college and get away.  I was annoyed at Billy D. who kept pulling him back into trying to find his dad regardless of what the consequences for Dean might be.  Dean does a lot for Billy D., at first because it makes him look good to the school principal, but then because he realizes Billy D. has become his friend, and he wants to look out for him.  Billy D., it turns out, is very good at manipulating Dean.  Dean does some things that he knows will have serious consequences because he wants to help his friend.

Billy D. isn't telling Dane the whole truth about his father.  Not by a half.  It's hard for Dane to contain his anger when he realizes the perfect man Billy D. has been talking about for months is far from perfect.

Dead Ends comes out September 3, 2013.

Monday, September 2, 2013

All Our Yesterdays by Christin Terrill

Em has tried everything to stop the creation of Cassandra, a time machine that will destroy the world.  Each time she goes back ends in failure and lands her in the same military prison.  Em has one last chance, and one last thing to try.  She can't fail.

I enjoyed this.  And I appreciated how Christin Terrill got around the tricky situations that time travel causes.  In this version of time travel, traveling in time creates "paradoxes," things that won't change even if other events are altered.  For example, you shouldn't be able to go back in time and shoot your own grandfather.  But in this kind of time travel, you could.  You would cease to be with the death of your grandfather, but a remnant of you would always be there to shoot him.  Time travel can get super confusing, and many writers don't take the time to work out the rules of their time-traveling world.  It's science fiction, and if the rules of the world are established, I am willing to suspended my disbelief.  So well done there.

The book goes back and forth between Em and Finn, who have gone back in time to stop the creation of the time machine, and Mariana, James and Finn (yes, same Finn, just different version) who are living in the time Em and Finn go back to.  Mariana and Em are our two main characters, although both Finns and James play a large part.  Mariana has been in love with James for a while now, but James, who is a genius and at 19 is already working on a Ph.D. thinks of her as a friend and is far too focused on his work.  Mariana will do anything for James.  She finds Finn, James' friend annoying and doesn't like James' focus taken from her.  Em is tough.  She and Finn have been through hell, and they are fiercely determined to fulfill their mission, even though that once they achieve their goal they will cease to be. 

I don't really want to say much more about this one.  I would hate to give anything away.

 I was surprised to realize that All Our Yesterdays is the beginning of a series.  I was surprised because the ending didn't seem to leave much to continue.  I'm sorry that it is a series, actually.  It does well as a stand-alone.

All Our Yesterdays comes out September 3, 2013.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Starry Nights by Daisy Whitney

Julien loves art and giving tours at the Musee d'Orsay in France.  He wishes he was a better artist, but his drawings are exact and sterile with no feeling behind them.  Then one night while Julien is alone at the museum, the paintings begin to come to life.  And when Clio steps out of her painting, she and Julien begin to fall in love.  As Julien and Clio become closer, the art seems to sicken.  To save the art of the world, they might have to make the greatest sacrifice.

This was a sweet love story set against the backdrop of Paris and famous romantic paintings.  Julien loves art so much, but can't seem to make his drawings have any feeling, so he can't understand why the art in museums starts becoming alive for him and no one else.  I liked that Julien found that his exact art was exactly what he needed when saving the art of the world.

The first paintings to come alive are the ones by Renoir, and the Musee d'Orsay is about to get a Renoir that had been thought lost for centuries.  The Girl in Garden is the only painting mentioned in the book that is not an actual painting.  Supposedly the both Renoir and Monet were in love with the girl in the painting.  Clio, the girl in the garden, steps out of the painting and Julien can tell she isn't like the other paintings come to life, who rarely speak.  Clio seems real.  But as the their love grows the art starts to fade away, and Clio won't tell Julien who she was before.

It was a nice story, with great supporting characters.  Julien's friends were delightful and colorful.  It was fun to read with a happy ending.

Starry Nights comes out September 3, 2013.
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