Friday, April 29, 2011

Divergent by Veronica Roth - Review

In Veronica Roth's harsh future people are divided into five factions: Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, and Erudite. When you reach the age of 16, you are tested to see where you are best suited and then given a choice. That choice will affect everything from where you live, what you believe, and whom you befriend. If you don't pass the test once you've picked your faction, you become factionless, living without community. And you might not live through the initiation process.

Beatrice grows up in Abnegation but chooses Dauntless. She has no idea how dangerous that choice is for her, especially as she has tested Divergent - showing traits of more than one faction. She is a wild card. And wild cards are dangerous. Can Tris keep her true nature a secret? Can she protect her family and her new faction? This fast-paced, all-action page turner held me captive from beginning to end. It is violent
and dangerous, political and thoughtful, provocative and scary. And it is very, very good. I can't recommend it highly enough.

I LOVED this book and just found out they are using my review for the Summer 2011 Kids' Indie Next List

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 Trailer

And now I have to post this. Just saw it. Can't wait. Although rather sad that it's the last one.

PS. Am hoping the film does not end with the epilogue. I REALLY did not like the epilogue.

More Hunger Games Casting

I know - I seem a little obsesssed - but I'm so excited about the casting of the Hunger Games movie. Just read today that Elizabeth Banks (30 Rock) has landed the role of Effie Trinket. Banks was first linked to the role over a week ago. I was hoping for Kristin Chenoweth but actually I think Elizabeth Banks is a good choice - do you?

In other Hunger Games news, Ian Nelson and Kalia Prescott will portray the District 3 tributes. Joining the special batch of career tributes from Districts 1, 2 and 4, who look at the Hunger Games as an honor rather than a death sentence, are Tara Macken and Ethan Jamieson as the unnamed District 4 tributes.

Jack Quaid and Leven Rambin, who will portray District 1's Marcel and Glimmer, respectively, were previously cast, as well as Dayo Okeniyi and Amanda Stenberg as Thresh and Rue from District 11.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Graveminder by Melissa Marr - Review

Rebekka is no stranger to funerals and the dead. Her grandmother went to every funeral in her home town, stood at every grave, and told the dead to stay where she put them. Rebekka has spent much of her life running – from commitment, from her home town, from the memories of her sister’s suicide, and especially from her attraction to Byron. But she returns to bury her grandmother and learns more about the town’s secrets than she ever wanted to know. It changes everything. Is she really meant to take her grandmother’s place? Do the dead really walk? And, most importantly, do she and the Undertaker really not have any choice if they want to keep the town safe?

I loved this book. The mysterious world haunted my dreams. The characters crawled under my skin. This dark, scary, gothic horror manages to be edgy and seductive, disturbing and unforgettable, yet full of compassion and beauty. Filled with ancient contracts, the walking dead, and fated love, this book sucks you in and leaves you yearning for more.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

In My Mailbox

A quietish week while I wrote proposals for fall events and got ready for next week when we're hosting The Magic Tree House as a play on Wednesday for the little ones, John Flanagan on Saturday, Andrea Alban with Anya's War on Sunday May 1st, which is Holocaust Memorial Day, Neal Shusterman on Tuesday May 3, and JL Powers and Emily Wing-Smith on Wednesday May 4. Whew.

And then there are the books I received this week. One of which I had been waiting and waiting for. My thanks, as ever, to the Story Siren for hosting this meme. Now to the books (lucky me!)

1. Everlost by Neal Shusterman
I bought this to read because Neal is coming next week for the third in this series. I had no idea it was this good. I loved - really loved - Unwind. It still haunts me. Enjoyed Full Tilt, The Schwa Was here, and Antsy Does Time but somehow hadn't got to this series. But it is very very good. Try it.

2. Enthralled, edited by Melissa Marr and Kelley Armstrong
OK, this was the book I clutched to my chest and jumped around with glee when I saw it. This is the anthology put together by the women who made up the Smart Chicks. This will be fabulous, because all the writers are fabulous. And yes, I've already started it.

3. Supernaturally by Kiersten White
I so enjoyed Paranormalcy so am thrilled to get my hands on this sequel.

4. The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch
Blurbed by Suzanne Collins (always a good thing) this is another dystopia (and I love dystopias)about an America left ravaged by war where two thirds of the population are dead from a sickness they call the Eleventh Plague.

5. Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs
Three teenage descendants of Medusa must reunite to embrace their fates. Loved Oh. My. Gods nad Goddess Boot Camp. Looking forward to this.

6. The Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon
Romance, a unique supernatural hook, and an irish setting. Sweet.

What did you get this week?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Cassandra Clare and Holly Black

We were so delighted to host such great talents as Cassandra Clare and Holly Black on April 12. Background in case you don't know: Cassandra writes the Mortal Instruments series, the first of which is soon to be a movie (yay). Holly wrote The Spiderwick Chronicles, Tithe, Valiant, Ironside, White Cat, Red Glove, a graphic novel series, and a book of short stories, Poison Eaters. Oh and coedited three anthologies. We hosted the event at the menlo park library and we expected a large crowd. But we were surprised to find people starting to arriving as early as 3.30 for the 7.00 event, full of enthusiasm and toting bags of books. We gave out numbered tickets to make the signing line easier, so the earlier you arrived the earlier you would be in the signing line.

We had about 160-200 people in all. Full of enthusiasm and questions, they hung on every word the authors uttered. Lots of local bloggers, one of our local authors was there - Lisa Desrochers (Personal Demons), one of the Mundie Moms, lots of teens, all ages in fact from Spiderwick fans on up. Cassie read from the Clockwork Prince, Holly from Red Glove. We had books to give away (thank you, Nancy), Holly had bracelets to give away. The atmosphere was very festive. The audience would have kept them forever if they could. The two authors were clearly friends and clearly enjoyed working with each other and that set the whole tone of the event. And apparently they were wearing each other's shoes. Future projects? Holly has finished Black Heart and they have a cover. Cassie said they have not cast Jace yet but are down to a few candidates. Holly says she's working on a middle grade novel next. And Cassie said she'll write a contemporary novel after she finishes City of Heavenly Fire.

It was a huge signing lineand, of course, everyone had piles of books and wanted to take photos, but everyone left grinning, saying how much they had enjoyed meeting the authors and when were they coming back. We were so very lucky that the library staff were so fabulous about staying so we could get to the end of the line (we ran 40 minutes over closing time). What a fabulous event. Thank you to all who attended, especially those who drove hours to get here. They were such fun - I'd thoroughly recommend you go to any event near you if you get a chance.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Between Shades of Gray By Ruta Sepetya - Review

Here's Marilyn's glowing review of Between Shades of Gray. Doesn't it look good?

June 14, 1941: a lovely summer evening in Lithuania. In many homes like Lina's, families go about their perfectly normal activities until thunderous yelling shatters their lives forever. Soldiers inform them they are now enemies of Stalin's Russian state. The dreaded NKVD storm through their apartment, ordering them to pack their possessions. How do you decide what to pack in twenty minutes? How do you begin to think? And where is Lina’s father?

Lina’s family joins many others on an overcrowded cattle train rolling northwards. It's now obvious to Lina that the recent whispered meetings in their home were dangerous, and why her mother sewed family valuables into her winter coat. Their only chance of survival will be through cunning, bravery, and pride. Moving from rail stations to work camps and north toward the Siberian Arctic, the cattle car families must continually find ways to survive. Together, they build a steely resolve to never bow to the tyranny of Stalin's Russia. This novel is based on real people exiled from the Baltic states. Unlike Lina and the remaining lucky few from her boxcar, many never survived.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

More Hunger Games Casting

Lionsgate has just announced another cast member in the Hunger Games movie: Willow Shields will play Primrose Everdeen, Katniss' sister It'll be her debut film performance.

Said Ross of the casting: "It's so exciting to find an amazing young actress like the one we just met. Prim is an emotionally demanding role and in many ways she is the cornerstone of the story. Willow Shields will make an amazing Prim and we're lucky to have her."

Lionsgate also confirmed that Jack Quaid (Denis and Meg Ryan's son) and Grey's Anatomy's Leven Rambin have joined District 1 to play Marvel and Glimer.

Oh, and Elizabeth Banks has been rumored for the part of Effie Trinket.

Who do you think they will get to play Haymitch? I personally think Hugh Laurie would be a good pick.

Waiting on Wednesday

Haven't posted one of these WoW memes for ages but today there is a title I've just read about (in Publishers Weekly) that I really want. NOW.

The Invisibility Curse by David Levithan and Andrea Cremer

This novel follows a boy burdened by invisibility who meets a girl that has the power to see him and, possibly, cure him. Publication is currently set for 2013. Am a fan of both authors so am assuming this will be as good as their previous work and I'm hoping to get my hands on this as soon as possible. Couldn't find a cover BTW.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Rue and Thresh cast in Hunger Games movie

Saw in Entertainment Weekly that they've now cast Rue and Thresh (from District 11) in The Hunger Games movie!

Lionsgate has cast Hollywood newcomers Dayo Okeniyi and Amanda Stenberg as Thresh and Rue. Okeniyi, playing the intimidatingly strong tribute, has appeared in a short called Eyes to See and an upcoming horror film, Slew Hampshire. Stenberg, who is on board as Katniss’ arena ally Rue, has roles in the September’s Colombiana and the telefilm Taste of Romance.

The Hunger Games is due to release March 23, 2012. Can't wait!

Monday, April 18, 2011

In My Mailbox

A bit late, I know, but here it is. This week we hosted the amazing Cassandra Clare and Holly Black on Tuesday (photos to come) and Maryrose Wood on Thursday. I'm writing a proposals for the fall, if you can believe it, and we have the legendary John Flanagan from Australia to talk about the last Ranger's Apprentice book at the end of the month. As ever, thanks to the Story Siren who hosts this meme.

As to the books:

1. Die for Me by Amy Plum

Many, many people are very very enthusiastic about this title and have urged me to read it NOW (you know who you are). And here it is, in my mailbox. Oh, I think this will be my next read. Looking forward to it.

Always a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Sequel to One a Witch. And what a beautiful cover.

Illusions by Aprilynne Pike

Third in the series that started with Wings and Spells.

Oh, and I'm also reading Heartless by Gail Carriger, Oh I love that series. Mary Poppins meets steampunk. And Changes by Jim Butcher. Love that series too. This once seems to be living up to its name. What did you get this week.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Abandon by Meg Cabot - Review

Here's Amanda's review of Abandon, which looks so, so good. Can't wait to get to it.

Pierce Oliviera knows all about dying-- she did it when she was 15--at the bottom of their pool in the middle of winter, tangled up in her red -tassled scarf. But since the doctors brought her back, nothing has really been the same. And trouble is a constant companion. Now, almost two years later, her parents are divorced and Pierce and her mother have relocated to Isla Huesos--the Island of Bones. But a fresh start is hard to find when your past follows, showing up in the Island cemetery calling your name. (By the way, his name is John, and he just might be the ruler of the Underworld, and he certainly was the one you left behind when you came back to life). Pierce has lots of questions about her NDE (near-death-experience) and absolutely no answers as trouble starts anew on the Island. With death all around and love lurking in the shadows, Pierce must tread carefully--there may not be a next-time. This is the first book in the Abandon trilogy-- a modern telling of the myth of Persephone and the Underworld.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Young Adult Authors Moving to Writing for Adult Audiences

Publishing Weekly reports that more and more YA authors are writing books specifically for adults; this year, at least five bestselling authors are making the leap. And it will be the focus of a panel at BEA on May 25 starring many of the names below. Click here for more details. Oh, I wish I could at this one.

Ellen Hopkins

YA claim to fame
Free verse novels Crank, Burned, Impulse, Glass, and others

Adult novel
Triangles (Atria, Oct.)

Same song, different verse?
Hopkins touches on familiar themes, e.g., infidelity and the trials of parenting teens.

Melissa de la Cruz

YA claim to fame
The Blue Bloods series, about a group of elite Manhattan vampires

Adult novel
Witches of East End (Hyperion, June)

Same song, different verse?
De la Cruz shifts the action to the Hamptons, and witches stand in for vampires.

Melissa Marr

YA claim to fame
The Wicked Lovely series, a modern faerie story with some glamour

Adult novel
Graveminder (Morrow, May)

Same song, different verse?
Graveminder deals with the supernatural, but favors zombies over faeries. And can I say that I've read it and it is wonderful. Add it to your list.

Sonya Sones

YA claim to fame
Novels in verse What My Mother Doesn’t Know; ...Girlfriend Doesn’t Know

Adult novel
The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus (Harper Paperbacks, Apr.)

Same song, different verse?
Sones still writes in verse, but this heroine confronts menopause.

David Levithan

YA claim to fame
The Realm of Possibility (poetry); collaborations with Rachel Cohn

Adult novel
The Lover’s Dictionary: A Novel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Jan. 2011)

Same song, different verse?
Love’s the focus, but with more adult issues.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

ALA's top 10 most frequently challenged books of 2010

The ALA has just released its list of the 10 most frequently challenged books of last year. And Tango Makes Three is at the top again if you can believe it.

1. And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson

Reasons: Homosexuality, religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group

2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Reasons: Offensive language, racism, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence

3. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Reasons: Insensitivity, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit

4. Crank by Ellen Hopkins

Reasons: Drugs, offensive language, sexually explicit

5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence

6. Lush by Natasha Friend

Reasons: Drugs, offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

7. What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones

Reasons: Sexism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group

8. Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By In America by Barbara Ehrenreich

Reasons: Drugs, inaccurate, offensive language, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint

9. Revolutionary Voices: A Multicultural Queer Youth Anthology edited by Amy Sonnie

Reasons: Homosexuality, sexually explicit

10. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Reasons: Religious viewpoint, violence

Really? Having read over half of this list it's not only hard to believe but makes me want to go out and read the others. And, er, ironically aren't books banned in Brave New World?

Readergirlz suggest putting one of these books out in the world on Thursday (tomorrow) for Rock the Drop and make a statement against book banning. What a great idea. To read more about this, click here

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cassandra Clare and Holly Black - Tonight

Just wanted to remind you all that Cassandra Clare and Holly Black, two of our favorite authors, will be at the Menlo Park Library tonight at 7.00 to talk about City of Fallen Angels and Red Glove respectively. If you live in the area, don't miss this chance to meet with such talented writers.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Name a Character Contest for Becca Fitzpatrick's Silence

Sorry, haven't been blogging recently. SO busy. We hosted Kelley Armstrong yesterday for the Gathering (photos soon), and are hosting Cassandra Clare and Holly Black tomorrow (7.00 at the Menlo park Library (if you live in the bay Area, you shouldn't miss this!) and MaryRose Wood on Thursday. So am reading like crazy. Am almost finished White Cat (and love it), read The Dark and Hollow Places (what a great end to the series)and am told I must read Die for You (so I will, next week, when I can catch my breath).

But I just saw this contest and had to share. Becca Fitzpatrick is holding a name that character contest on her blog (click here to enter).

Here's what she says:

So...I am holding a contest! A name-this-character contest to be exact. I'm in the final stages of editing SILENCE, and believe it or not, I still have a character I haven't named. Use the form below to send me your character name suggestion (first and last name, please).

Contest ends at Midnight on Friday, May 6. I'll announce the winner at some point before SILENCE goes to print.

Now for the really cool part: If I select your entry, not only will you get to name a character in SILENCE, but I'll thank you personally in the book's Acknowledgments.

Good luck!

How awesome is that? You get to name the character and get to be thanked in the acknowledgments. So I'm heading over to fill out the form now. You should too!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

NCIBA Books of the year

Here are the winners of the 2011 Northern California Independent Booksellers Association Book of the Year Awards, all for books written by authors living in the region, including four honorable mentions for books that had strong second place finishes. Congratulations to all.

Fiction: Gold Boy, Emerald Girl by Yiyun Li (Random House)

Nonfiction: Packing for Mars by Mary Roach (Norton)
Nonfiction honorable mention: Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1 (University of California)

: Come on All You Ghosts by Matthew Zapruder (Copper Canyon)

Food Writing: My Calabria by Rosetta Costantino with Janet Fletcher (Norton)

Children's Picture Book
: The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Children's Picture Book honorable mention
: Zero by Kathryn Otoshi (KO Kids Books)

Teen Lit: The Sky Is Forever by Jandy Nelson (Dial)
Teen Lit honorable mention: The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney (Little Brown Books for Young Readers)

Regional Title: Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas by Rebecca Solnit (University of California)
Regional Title honorable mention: State of Change: Forgotten Landscapes of California by Laura Cunningham (Heyday

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Two More Actors Cast in the Hunger Games movie

It appears that Lionsgate has added two more actors to the cast of The Hunger Games. reported that Josh Hutcherson (The Kids Are All Right) will play Peeta and Liam Hemsworth (The Last Song) is set to play Gale. They join a cast that already includes Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss. The movie is scheduled to be released March 23, 2012.

So - what do you think? I always pictured Peeta blond and thought Gale and Katniss were meant to resemble each other. Let's hope for the best.

Red Glove by Holly Black - Review

We are so very excited about our upcoming event with Cassandra Clare and Holly Black - two of my favorite authors for teens - on April 12. Today I'm posting Megan's review of Red Glove - the follow up to White Cat (and the book I plan to read next!)

Cassel's family is dangerous. They are mobsters, con artists, murderers, and magic workers; and Cassel might be the most dangerous of them all, except that he still can't remember the entire truth of his past. Everything that he knows about himself is a lie, and there is no one left to trust, not even himself.

This book is an absolute pleasure, a thrill and a high speed vault into a world that is dark, compelling, and cruel. It's a sharp fantasy taken in the company of characters who feel astonishingly real. You'll fall hard for them: Cassel's grandfather, an assassin; his mother, who bends emotions; his lying, mobster brothers; and Lila, the girl he loves and the princess of the criminal underworld. Most of all, you'll be helpless before the charm of Cassel himself and the feeling that these are people you need to spend time with, not because they're nice or good, but because they are fascinating. They are the most dangerous of friends.

Monday, April 4, 2011

In My Mailbox

Am a bit late with this, as ever. I've read recently Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (fabulous), Scorpia Rising by Anthony Horowitz (a great ending to the series), Anya's War by Andrea Alban, The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong (review already posted), and am mid way with Dark and Hollow Place by Carrie Ryan (dar and violent and utterly compelling). We hosted Anthony Horowitz who was incredible. Anf we will host Kelley Armstrong on Sunday 10th sundy afternoon. Can't wait

Now to the books

1. Under Dogs by Markus Zusak
Now The Book Thief is one of my favorite books. This is a trilogy he wrote before the Book Thief about the Wolfe Brothers. And they are rereleasing it in September. Oh, I wish he'd write a new book...

2. Blood magic by Tessa Gratton
I pushed the knife against my skin, puckering it but not breaking through. My whole body shivered. I was about to find out if magic was real. The electric thrill of terror was sharp on my tongue. I cut deep.
Love the cover! And blurbed by Maggie Steifvater.

3. The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group by Catherine Jinks
When Tobias wakes up in the hospital with no memories of the night before his mother tells him that he was found unconscious in the zoo, in a dingo pen.He assumes his friends are responsible but they are freaked out. Then a stranger claims Toby has a rare and dangerous condition - he's a werewolf.

My thanks to the Story Siren who hosts this meme. And if you are in the Bay Area, remember to come and see Kelley Armstrong on Sunday.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Anthony Horowitz

Anthony Horowitz is a rock star among kid lit authors. His fans are legion. Reluctant readers are known to sit up through the night to finish his newest book. And yes, I am a fan. (Can you tell?) Anthony arrived early, signed presolds and stock, posed for photos, made a video, and was generally one of the most charming men I have met. Maybe I should stop gushing now. He worried about how his hair looked (!), worried about the crowd size (will I have enough time to talk to them all?), and laughed when I asked how much of his biography was true (because, well, see what you think).

A little background: Anthony Horowitz's life might have been copied from the pages of Snicket or Dahl. Anthony’s father was "a fixer for Harold Wilson" (a British prime minister) and a very secretive man. When threatened with bankruptcy, he withdrew all his money, deposited it in under a false name, and died shortly thereafter. So the money was never found. That shaped Anthony's view of things. At the age of 8 he was sent to a boarding school where he told stories of revenge to entertain his peers and found solace in the escapism of the James Bond films. And for his 13th birthday his mother gave him a human skull. Explains a lot, doesn’t it?

Anthony has been writing professionally since the age of 20. In addition to the Alex Rider books, the Power of 5 series, The Diamond Brothers series, and the Horowitz horror books, he also writes for TV (think Foyle’s War among others) and has been chosen by the Conan Doyle Estate to write a new full length Sherlock Holmes novel.

We had about 350-400 people in the audience (the largest turnout for his tour apparently), all eager to hear about this last Alex Rider book and why he decided to end the series that they all loved so well. He talked about violence in books, the gadgets he so loved, why he wanted Smithers to be so different to Q, why Sean Connery was the best Bond, why Roger Moore was too old to be Bond by the time he starred in Octopussy, and why 14 year olds are the coolest people on earth. They adored him. They had so many questions. And he charmed us all. Friendly, engaging, entertaining, funny, and oh so charismatic, he posed for photos and took his time with each and every fan. Did I mention that he’s killed off all the teachers he loathed in his books, that he’s depicted as a skeleton on the cover of one of his books, that he loves The Hunger Games, and is grateful to JK Rowling for revitalizing the world of kid lit.

I'll post video soon. And yes that's me dressed as a spy - with Matt who was dressed as security. So much fun! Am now waiting to get my hands on the Sherlock Holmes title.