Wednesday, October 29, 2008

New Competition

Yes, you read that correctly. Another competition!

This month I'm giving away a copy of Identical by Ellen Hopkins. It's about two sisters, Kaeleigh and Raeanne, who are identical down to the dimple. As daughters of a district-court judge father and a politician mother, they are an all-American family -- on the surface. Behind the facade each sister has her own dark secret, and that's where their differences begin. For Kaeleigh, she's the misplaced focus of Daddy's love, intended for a mother whose presence on the campaign trail means absence at home. All that Raeanne sees is Daddy playing a game of favorites -- and she is losing. If she has to lose, she will do it on her own terms, so she chooses drugs, alcohol, and sex. Secrets like the ones the twins are harboring are not meant to be kept -- from each other or anyone else. Pretty soon it's obvious that neither sister can handle it alone, and one sister must step up to save the other, but the question is -- who?

Here's all you have to do.
I'm going to give it to the person who posts the most on the blog. That's it. Post a comment on our book reviews or events--new or old, tell us what you are reading, what you have just read, what you can't wait to read, which event you want to attend, which movie you want to see, whether you preferred the movie to the book, or who you would like us to interview. Easy.

Good luck!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sneak Peak at Our Christopher Paolini Interview

Antonia got to interview Christopher Paolini when he was in the Bay Area. Yes, she did ask him how old he is (24, and, this November, 25). Here's a sneak peak of Christopher talking about the problems young writers encounter:

"Well one of the biggest problems for me when I started, the biggest psychological barrier I had, was that I just didn’t know of anyone my own age who had done what I was trying to do. So in some ways I was thinking well, maybe it’s impossible, maybe there’s a reason no other young person has done what I was trying to do. After the fact, of course, I learned that there have been plenty of other young authors, I just didn’t know about them. For example, the author of The Red Badge of Courage was 18 or 19 when he wrote that book. Steven King started The Dark Tower series when he was 19, I think, so there were a lot of talented young writers in that age range. I do think the biggest difficulty young writers have is not having someone who can mentor them, or who can edit their work and help them really develop as a writer. That’s something they end up having to do on their own, which takes another 10, 15 years. Also, they don’t know anyone who would allow them to get the attention their work deserves, someone in marketing or publishing or someone to tell them something as simple as how to format the manuscript properly or how to send it out properly, or even how to write submission letters to the publishers and the agents. That can be difficult stuff to do when you’re 15 or 16 or 17. You maybe don’t know how to navigate the adult world yet, and that’s where family can be very important."

What would you most like to ask him?

Monday, October 27, 2008

John Green update

Just found out that John is bringing a musical guest, Abby Simons, for an exclusive performance. Here's a sample of Abby's work:

If you want to see more of Abby's work go to

Saturday, October 25, 2008

James Owen

We were fortunate to host James Owen as he kicked off his tour of the third volume in his series, The Chronicles of The Imaginarium Geographica, The Indigo King. If you haven't yet read them, the stories are fabulous--well crafted and multi-layered--and the illustrations incredible. But to meet and listen to James Owen is to be inspired. He stood before his audience talking about a car accident that damaged his hand and left doctors telling him to think about alternate careers. Then he told us that drawing is just a set of small lines, turned around, and in small steps drew an incredible dragon. This is a man who believes in taking charge of his destiny. Everyone should have the pleasure of meeting people like James who show us all what is possible.

If you are reading this, James--thank you.

Below I have posted two videos. In the first, James describes The Indigo King. Try it. In the second he shows how to draw a dragon.

I'll post my interview with James sometime next week so keep checking. Find out what inspired him to write this series, whether he identifies with any of his characters, which writers he admires most, and what book he's like to read again for the first time. Lots more of course. And if you want to read about the event from his perspective click here to get to his own journal (dated Oct 26).

Thursday, October 23, 2008

John Green Reads Paper Towns Prologue

I couldn't resist. I had to post this clip of John Green reading the prologue from Paper Towns. Hope he's this funny when he visits next week. Do you have a favorite chapter you hope he reads on his visit?

New Twilight Trailer

I had to post this. I just had to. Who plans to go opening night?


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E Lockhart

I can't wait to tell you about this book. I've just finished it and absolutely loved it. Frankie is a sophomore at a private east coast boarding school. She’s blossomed over the summer and catches the eye of the most popular boy in the school. She’s thrilled — of course she’s thrilled — but it seems this is not enough. She wants to be seen as pretty and desirable, the girl Matthew wants her to be, but also as a force to be reckoned with, an equal. She’s always been “bunny rabbit” to her family -- sweet, adorable, harmless -- and she is tired of this.

Frankie knows about the school’s secret society because her father was a member. She knows it is for males only, she knows her boyfriend is in the society, she knows he’s lying to her about it, and this just drives her crazy. Just because it’s always been done a certain way does not make it right. The question is, what is she willing to do about it?

She takes on a secret email address and leads the society to pranks far beyond their imaginations. They are wonderful, hilarious, devious, unpredictable, and thought-provoking. And along the way we learn about the panopticon, P.G. Wodehouse, neglected positives, and girl power.

Why did I wait so long to read this book? I read it in a gulp, cheered for Frankie, and want to thank E Lockhart for giving us such a strong, gutsy, endearing feminist as a heroine. Oh, this has my vote for the National Book Award. It is wonderful.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Competition winner

Thanks to all of you who entered our competition to win a Gallagher Girl t-shirt. We had two outstanding contestants and really I want to reward both of you. So I will.

Aribobari--congratultions, the t-shirt is yours. Email me at for a time to come in to collect your prize.

DarlingDiva--congratulations, I've decided to give you something I think you'll love--my arc of The Forest of Hands and Teeth (I know you'll enjoy it and otherwise you have to wait until March!) Also email me at to arrange a time for you to come and collect the book.

Congratulations to both of you.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

National Book Award Finalists

The National Book Foundation just announced the finalists for the 2008 National Book award. The nominees are:

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Underneath by Kathi Appelt
What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

Have you read any of them? I'm reading The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks at the moment and love it so far. Which would you choose?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Skinned by Robin Wasserman

If you were as rich, popular, and gorgeous as Lia Kahn, you too would believe you set fashion not followed it, that it’s all about you, that you could have any boy you wanted, and you would succeed no matter what. Then the unthinkable happens, a car accident almost kills her, and life will never be the same again. Lia’s parents turn to the best doctors and technology there is and download her brain into a new body. She awakens to find herself still alive, with her own memories and thoughts, but in another body--a man-made body. So is she still Lia Kahn? Was the process unethical like the faithers believe? Can she go back to her old life? Will her friends accept her? Will she ever accept herself?

This is an extraordinary story that underneath it all asks what makes us human. It kept me reading late into the night. I loved it.

Let me know what you think.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Cybils Nominations

Ever wondered about literary awards and why the books you love don't always get nominated? Well, the nominations for the third annual Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards (the Cybils) opened Wednesday, October 1st and run through Wednesday, October 15th. The goal of the Cybils team (some 100 bloggers) is to highlight books that are high in both literary quality and youth appeal.

Anyone can nominate books in nine categories (one nomination per person per category). Nominated titles must be published between January 1st and October 15th of this year, and the books must be in English (or bilingual, where one of the languages is English). To nominate titles, visit the Cybils blog ( between October 1st and 15th. Vote for your favorites--I have!

Then between October 16th and January 1st, Cybils panelists will winnow the nominations down to a 5-7 book short list for each category. A second set of panelists will then select the winning titles for the different categories. The winners will be announced on February 14th, 2009.

Who did you vote for?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Neil Gaiman

On Saturday, Neil Gaiman read chapter 5 from The Graveyard Book to about 600 people. He's reading a chapter on every stop of his tour. If you missed it--and it was fabulous--he's had every reading videotaped and posted on He sat on a leather chair, surrounded by headstones, with a crow perched next to him. It was amazing. You should have seen the huge white spider that dropped from the rafters! Oh, and you can see what Neil thought of the reading in his own journal.

Gaiman says that The Graveyard Book is a reworking of Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book about a young boy who escapes into a graveyard and is raised by ghosts (rather than into a jungle and is raised by animals). Here's the rather scary first lines:

"There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.

The knife had a handle of polished black bone, and a blade finer and sharper than any razor. If it sliced you, you might not even know you had been cut, not immediately."

So, have you read it? What did you like best about it? Can you believe how many books he signed for us despite his broken finger? And if you're interested in things like what graveyard skill Neil would choose if he could have one, or whether he'll write more about Nobody Owens, please check the web site later this week when I'll post my interview with him.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Jeanne DuPrau

Having read the Ember books, I can't wait to see the movie, which I believe comes out this Friday. I heard Jeanne talk on Friday at the Keplers/Menlo Park Library event and wanted to post this video clip where she talks about her next project. Sounds great.

So, have you read the series? And do you plan to see the movie? It stars Soairse Ronan (Atonement), Harry Treadaway, Tim Robbins, and Bill Murray (as the mayor).

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Teen Read Week, October 12-18

Did you know that it's Teen Read Week from October 12-18?

The American Library Association's Young Adults Library Services Association (YALSA) celebrates teen readers and the books published for young adults every year. Books were nominated by members of teen book groups in fifteen school and public libraries around the country. And you can vote for your favorites from October 12 to 18, 2008. Readers aged twelve to eighteen can vote right here, online, anytime during October 12-18.

These are the nominated titles:

Before I Die. Jenny Downham.
Betrayed. P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast.
City of Bones. Cassandra Clare.
Daemon Hall. Andrew Nance and Colin Polhemus, illus.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Jeff Kinney.
Eclipse. Stephenie Meyer.
Extras. Scott Westerfeld.
Evil Genius. Catherine Jinks.
Genesis Alpha. Runes Michaels.
Glass. Ellen Hopkins.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. J.K. Rowling.
Ironside: A Modern Faery’s Tale. Holly Black.
Jango. William Nicholson.
Jinx. Meg Cabot.
The Luxe. Anna Godberson.
Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports. James Patterson.
Penelope. Marilyn Kaye.
Saving Zoë. Alyson Noël.
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow. Jessica Day George.
The Sweet Far Thing. Libba Bray
Tamar. Mal Peet.
Twisted. Laurie Halse Anderson.
Unwind. Neal Shusterman.
Vampire Academy. Richelle Mead.
Wicked Lovely. Melissa Marr.
Wildwood Dancing. Juliet Marillier.

So, which is your favorite?

By the way, last year's winner was New Moon by Stephenie Meyer