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Video reveal for Mary Amato’s GET HAPPY

Mary Amato (author of Guitar Notes) has a new YA coming out on October 28 – Get Happy – about a 16-year-old singer-songwriter named Minerva who is desperate for a ukulele. The story also chronicles Minerva’s painful journey to decide whether or not to reconnect with a father who left her when she was a toddler. As with her previous book Guitar Notes, Amato has written words and music for the songs that appear in the book for readers to enjoy. This time, she teamed up with young performing artist Jamey Geston ( http://www.jameygestonmusic.com/) who is recording videos of the six songs in preparation for the book’s release.

Here’s the video reveal of the song Geston just recorded. This song, called Salt, expresses Minerva’s pent-up anger at her long-lost father, a marine biologist, who wants to reconnect.

The Luna ukulele that Geston is playing in this video will be offered as a giveaway through Amato’s site. Stay tuned for the book, the music, and more at Amato’s site: www.thrumsociety.com and/or through twitter @maryamato.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpQfXNbL12c?rel=0]
About Get Happy:

In this poignant, realistic, contemporary YA by a state master list star, perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Gayle Forman, a young songwriter builds a substitute family with her friends in place of the broken family she grew up with.

A hip high school girl who loves music, writes songs, and is desperate for a ukulele, learns to her shock that her father did not abandon her years ago and has been trying to keep in touch. She begins to investigate him, only to discover that he has a new life with a new family, including the perfect stepdaughter, a girl who Minerva despises.

Coming in October from EgmontUSA. Book description from publisher.

Take 5: New Titles Coming from EgmontUSA

Get Happy by Mary Amato

Publisher’s Description: In this poignant, realistic, contemporary YA by a state master list star, perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Gayle Forman, a young songwriter builds a substitute family with her friends in place of the broken family she grew up with.

A hip high school girl who loves music, writes songs, and is desperate for a ukelele, learns to her shock that her father did not abandon her years ago and has been trying to keep in touch. She begins to investigate him, only to discover that he has a new life with a new family, including the perfect stepdaughter, a girl who Minerva despises

Karen’s Thoughts: I simply love and adore Guitar Notes so I am very much looking forward to reading this. Plus, you can’t go wrong with a title that mentions Sarah Dessen and understands how glorious she is.

Publishes October 2014. ISBN: 978-1-60684-522-6

BZRK Apocalypse by Michael Grant

Brief Synopsis: A war is raging at the nano level as a group headed by evil geniuses tries to get control of nanotechnology and politics to create a world that fits their idea of utopia. Teens are being enlisted for their gaming ability to control the nanotechnology but now they have to figure out what side is the good side, or at least the less bad side, and see if they can stop the war before madness sets in.

Karen’s Thoughts:  This is a really good, thrilling series that reminds me a lot of Michael Crichton. I’m looking forward to reading the conclusion.

Publishes May 8, 2014. ISBN: 9781405263467

Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin

Publisher’s Description: The Bourne Identity meets Divergent in this heart-pounding debut.

Sixteen-year-old Sarah has a rare chance at a new life. Or so the doctors tell her. She’s been undergoing a cutting-edge procedure that will render her a tabula rasa—a blank slate. Memory by memory her troubled past is being taken away.

But when her final surgery is interrupted and a team of elite soldiers invades the isolated hospital under cover of a massive blizzard, her fresh start could be her end.

Navigating familiar halls that have become a dangerous maze with the help of a teen computer hacker who’s trying to bring the hospital down for his own reasons, Sarah starts to piece together who she is and why someone would want her erased. And she won’t be silenced again.

A high-stakes thriller featuring a non-stop race for survival and a smart heroine who will risk everything, Tabula Rasa is, in short, unforgettable.

Karen’s Thoughts: You just read the part where it said “The Bourne Identity meets Divergent” right? Yeah, sign me up for that. Also, I’m all in for a female Bourne.

Publishes September 2014. ISBN: 978-1-60684-518-9

Amity by Micol Ostow

Publisher’s Description: For fans of Stephen King and American Horror Story, a gruesome thriller suggested by the events of the Amityville Horror.

Inspired by a true-crime story of supernatural happenings and gory murders, Amity spans two generations and beyond to weave an overlapping, interconnected tale of terror, insanity, danger, and death.

Karen’s Thoughts: The cover, the subject matter – teens (and me) are always looking for more horror and this coming out in the fall sounds like a no brainer. Plus, they recently announced they would be making another Amityville movie starring Disney star Bella Thorne. Should have some high interest.

Publishes August 2014. ISBN: 978-1-60684-156-3

Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday

Publisher’s Description: A romantic, historical retelling of classic Gothic horror featuring Edgar Allan Poe and his character Annabel Lee, from a New York Times best-selling author.

Summoned to her father’s home in 1820’s Philadelphia, a girl finds herself in the midst of a rash of gruesome murders in which he might be implicated. She is torn romantically between her father’s assistants-one kind and proper, one mysterious and brooding-who share a dark secret and may have more to do with the violent events than they’re letting on.

Karen’s Thoughts: Look, I used my high school graduation money to buy the complete works of Poe, so I’m all over this. Here’s a look at some more YA lit inspired by Poe  

Publishes September 2014. ISBN: 978-1-60684-463-2 

Edited on 4/02/2014 because I had the UK version of the BZRK Apocalypse book up. The one you see now is the U.S. version. 

Writing About Grief and Recovery in Spies and Prejudice by Talia Vance (a guest post)

When I first got the idea of writing a story about teenage private investigator Berry Fields, I knew right away that Berry had lost her mother at eight years old, and that this loss would inform every aspect of her character.  Berry’s loss made her grow up fast, contributing to her strong and independent personality, but it also left her vulnerable and distrustful.  

Take 5: Spies Like Us (books about spies)
Berry coped with grief by throwing herself into her father’s business and closing herself off to most relationships, choosing to keep around her only those people she was close to before the death of her mother. This devastating loss left Berry with a deep-rooted fear of abandonment, contributing (along with her experience tailing cheating husbands) to her determination to avoid romantic entanglements.
When the story opens, eight years have passed since Berry’s mother died, but the death still haunts Berry, enough that she still sneaks off to the library periodically to read the newspaper story describing the car accident that killed her mom.  
I write down the witness’s name even though I memorized it years ago. Heather Marrone. Writing her name down at least makes me feel like I’m doing something.  The paper calls the whole thing an accident, and I read the article a few more times as if doing so will make it true.  An accident means she didn’t leave me on purpose.
Berry thinks she keeps her grief hidden, but in actuality, she wears it on her chest, a suit of armor so thick it’s nearly impossible to pierce. Berry is trapped in denial, one of the five stages of grief, and she won’t be able to move past it until she confronts what happened to her mother. When a letter surfaces that raises new questions about how her mother died, Berry can’t stop herself from following the trail of bread crumbs and solving the mystery, even if it means risking the few relationships she has left.  
Is that what this is?  An investigation?  I have a new understanding of the women who hire my dad, women whose relationships are already so damaged that they’re willing to pay money for the proof of it.  I won’t believe that she left me until I see something concrete, but I can’t trust her either.  Will I be surprised when I’m finally confronted with the truth?  The ones who cling to false hope always are.
For me, Berry’s was always the story of a girl who had closed herself off from love, learning to open her heart to new possibilities, but it was important that she also recognize that there was no magic cure for her grief.  Time does not heal all wounds. Time can dull the edges, but the wound remains, a hole in the heart that never fully closes.  And, as Berry discovers, time sometimes makes things worse as memories start to slip away, until it’s hard to distinguish between what’s real and what is cobbled together from old photographs and videos. 
The woman in the picture has long brown hair and a slightly crooked smile. She looks exactly like I remember, but I can’t tell if it’s because she really looked like this or because all I have now are the pictures.  It’s as though all my memories are two-dimensional.
In Spies and Prejudice, Berry doesn’t get over the loss of her mother. That kind of loss is not something that can be overcome.  Berry’s grief is a part of her, but she does learn to accept it and finds the strength to risk her heart again: the strength to be vulnerable.

More on Grief: Check out Quotable RA, sometimes it is among the dying that we remember to live

About Talia Vance
Talia Vance is a practicing litigation attorney living in Northern California with her real life love interest, two-point-five kids, and a needy Saint Bernard named Huckleberry. Talia has been writing since she could talk, making up stories for every doll, stuffed animal and action figure she could get her hands on. She grew up hoping to write the great American novel, but her life ran more along the lines of tortured romance and fast paced thrillers, so that’s what she writes.

Book Review: BZRK Reloaded by Michael Grant

At the end of BZRK, our the entire BZRK cell was left in ruins after a battle at the nano level with the evil Armstrong Twins, conjoined brothers who see emotion and free will as the downfall of mankind.  Their goal is to use nanotechnology to rewire human brains and will stop at nothing to see it happen.  BZRK leader Vincent sits in a comatose state with secrets haunting his shattered mind, secrets that some people will stop at nothing to protect.

On the other side of the nanotech war, Bug Man has taken control of the president’s brain, with devastating consequences.

Noah and Sadie are left reeling from moment to moment trying to figure out who to trust, what to fight for, and holding on to whatever free will they can with little nanobots running through their bodies.  Oh, and trying not to get dead.

BZRK Reloaded continues the heart stopping action and deep philosophical discussions that first presented themselves in BZRK.  The stakes are upped, the action is amped, and the questions raised are powerful.

Here are my five reasons why you should be reading this series:

Who Do You Trust?

When you spend a lot of time with a person, years, they change in little ways.  I have been married 18 years and my husband has changed a lot.  I have given birth to two children and they have changed a lot.  We always assume and take for granted that they are in charge of their destinies, that they are the ones choosing to become who they are becoming.  But what if they are not?  What if right beside you the person you loved was slowly changing and it wasn’t because of what they were experiencing and choosing, but because someone had taken and placed nanotechnology into their brains and were slowly rewiring them so that they could control them?  One of the main themes present in BZRK Reloaded is trust: trusting your government, trusting your partner, trusting your loved ones.  We trust because we assume free will and self determination, but what if the technology existed to take that away and we just didn’t know it yet?  BZRK asks us to question the limits of science, to examine who we trust, and to imagine a world where we can’t trust the people we think we can.

Free Will

As a person, as a U.S. citizen, I hold free will to be the most basic and fundamental of freedoms.  You don’t get to tell me who to be, how to think, what to do, etc.  But what if the technology existed to take those freedoms away?  What if, worse yet, you didn’t even realize you were losing that freedom because the technology literally rewires your brain?  It feels like that is what you are thinking and feeling, even if it is coming from an outside source.  Free will is one of the primary themes of the American life, of human existence, and these thought provoking novels.

The Government

We talk a lot about the government in the news lately.  Recent reports indicate that there is an increase in use of excessive force against U.S. citizens.  After the Boston bombing martial law was declared as the police hunted for the suspects.  It turns out the government is collecting data and using it every day in ways we didn’t know.  There are a lot of people out there with different theories about the government, but it could be worse than we ever imagined: the government could be puppets for evil conjoined twins who have the technology to make the government do what they want them to do.  In a time like today when we are questioning who is controlling the government, BZRK takes that thought process to whole new – and terrifying – levels.

Human Trafficking and the Ethics of Science

Human trafficking is a growing issue.  We now know that 1.2 million children are trafficked each year.  Most of these individuals end up being used in various forms of sex slavery.  In BZRK, they are also used as human experiments.  Captured and experimented on against their will, the ethics of science become a huge talking point.  It is a fascinating and all too important discussion that we should be having as we learn more and more what we can do with science.  The question is: should we be doing it?

More Than YA

Although BZRK is told from teenager’s Noah and Sadies points of view, it is also told from a wide variety of grown up points of view as well.  If there is anything I think this series is failing at, it is the marketing.  This is not truly a YA book, it is a great Science Fiction series that also has some teenage points of view.

You do have to read BZRK first or you will understand nothing.  But BZRK has the most amazing opening sequences ever so go for it.  Here’s what Karen had to say about BZRK earlier.

The Things That Scare Us by Em Garner (author of Contaiminated)

As a kid, I loved scary movies and books. Monsters under the bed or in the closet. A ventriloquist’s dummy that just might come to life. (I still have him. He sits on my bookshelf in my office and watches over me as I write.) Werewolves, vampires, things that go bump in the night.

Now that I’m older, I still love to read and watch horror, and I can still get chills and thrills from those supernatural creatures. But the things that scare me truly frighten and horrify me down to the core of my soulmight wear the shambling, moldy form of a zombie, but the heart of my fear comes from an entirely different place.
My debut young adult horror novel, Contaminated, came from that place. The book is about the path of destruction wreaked by contaminated protein water that has turned a huge portion of the population mindless and rageful, incapable of restraining their baser urges toward violence. Connies, which is what those affected by the prion disease eating holes in their brains are called, don’t react to pain or fear. They’re driven by anger and lack of control. That’s pretty scary.
What’s scarier to me, though, is how the contamination has affected the world as a whole. Connies aren’t undead, risen zombies. They’re real people who are no longer able to keep themselves from hurting others or themselves. They’ve lost their humanity…but they are still vulnerably, desperately human. It could be easy to hate and fear them, but for the fact they are our neighbors, teachers…our parents.
Velvet Ellis is, at seventeen, left without either of her parents after they both became contaminated. In charge of her younger sister, Opal, Velvet struggles not only with the normal problems of teenage life-school, a boyfriend, a jobbut also with taking care of her mother when she’s released into Velvet’s care. Fitted with a special shocking collar that’s supposed to keep the Connies under control, Velvet’s mother is not able to take care of herself. She needs help dressing and feeding herself. She can’t be trusted not to wander away in the night. And, if she gets too agitated, the collar around her neck will first put her down. Then, if she doesn’t control herself, it will kill her.
While the backdrop of a world gone crazy–people rioting and destroying things in the streets–the government taking over, might seem to be the “boo!” factor in Contaminated, for me while writing it, the real, true horror was always twofold. One, as a parent, worrying that I will somehow be rendered incapable of taking care of my children. And two, the idea of a child having to become responsible for the full caretaking of a parent no longer able to function normally.
So, while Contaminated might be about a new kind of zombie, and is set in a world that’s slowly disintegrating, at its heart I always intended the book to be the story of how family and love binds us together, and what we will sacrifice in order to take care of those we love.

From Em Garner’s webpage: Em Garner writes books.
She began writing at a very young age, always preferring the stories about what goes bump in the night. An avid reader of horror, science-fiction and fantasy, she first turned her hand to short stories about the sorts of things that hide under the bed…and she kept right on going.

Now Em spends most of her time in front of her computer, writing away at all the ideas she has swirling around in her head and hoping she can get them into a story before she forgets them.

She loves zombies, unicorns, and rainbows, the color purple and the smell of roses. She hates the smell of lilies, the feeling of corduroy and biting sandpaper. (Well. Who doesn’t?)

EgmontUSA Fall 2013 Releases


Here’s a look at what EgmontUSA has coming your way in Fall 2013.

MONSTERS (978-1-60684-177-8) by Ilsa J. Bick. Hardcover. On Sale: 9/10/2013. Ages 14+.
With this final volume of The Ashes Trilogy, Ilsa J. Bick delivers a riveting, blockbuster finish, returning readers to a brutal, post-apocalyptic world where no one is safe and hope is in short supply.
A world where, from these ashes, the monsters may rise.
A REALLY AWESOME MESS (978-1-60684-363-5) by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin. Hardcover. On Sale: 7/23/2013. Ages 14+.
Narrated in alternating voices, A Really Awesome Mess is a laugh-out-loud, gut-wrenching/heart-warming story of two teenagers struggling to find love and themselves.
A SUMMER OF SUNDAYS (978-1-60684-030-6) by Lindsay Eland. Hardcover. On Sale: 7/9/2013. Ages: 8-12
When you’re the third of six kids, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle, but Sunday Fowler is determined that this summer she’ll find the one thing that makes her stand out from her siblings. She discovers a manuscript locked tightly away in the library basement, and when she shows this to the world, she’ll be famous! But Sunday must decide if some things—loyalty, trust, friendship—are worth more than her name in the headlines. 
CONTAMINATED (978-1-60684-354-3) by Em Garner. Hardcover. On Sale: 7/23/2013. Ages: 12+
After the Contamination – an epidemic caused by the super-trendy diet drink SlimPro that turned ordinary citizens into shambling creatures unable to control their violent impulses – the government rounded up the “Connies” to protect the remaining population. And then the government declares that the Connies will be rounded up and neutralized, once and for all. Sacrificing everything, Velvet Ellis will do anything to protect her mother—even if it means risking all their lives. 
BZRK RELOADED (978-1-60684-394-9) by Michael Grant. Hardcover. 10/8/2013. Ages 14+
The nano is as terrifying, exhilarating, and unpredictable as ever. But the wall of secrets that surrounds it is cracking. What will it reveal? And once the dust has settled, who will be sane enough to find out? The second installment in the highly acclaimed BZRK trilogy, BZRK RELOADED is terrifying, boundary-pushing, and mind-bending.
WHAT I CAME TO TELL YOU (978-1-60684-433-5) by Tommy Hays. Hardcover. 9/24/2013. Ages 8-12
As tensions mount between father and son, two unlikely forces conspire to lead the Johnstons on a new path—until one devastating disaster threatens to tear them apart. Tender, touching, and utterly compelling, What I Came to Tell You, is a story of grief, love, and hard-won redemption.
GUINEA DOG 2 (978-1-60684-452-6) by Patrick Jennings. Hardcover. 9/24/2013. Ages 8-12
When his classmates learn about Fido, the guinea pig that acts like a dog, they all want a piece of Rufus, her owner. But Rufus hates the attention, the demands, the “celebrity.” So he decides to make Fido learn how to be an actual guinea pig. But when she goes missing, he feels terrible. Was she lost, “dognapped,” or did she run away, because he no longer liked her just the way she was?
SAVING THANEHAVEN (978-1-60684-274-4) by Catherine Jinks. Hardcover. 7/9/2013. 10+
Noble is a knight with a heart that’s true and, well, noble. With his not-so-trusty sword, Smite, he fights his way through a vicious, unfriendly landscape, sure that one day he’ll defeat the bad guys and win the heart of a beautiful princess. With a slippery, ever twisting plot that is set inside a very confused computer, Catherine Jinks’s latest novel will pull in fans of adventure, computer games, and just plain fun.
INFINITYGLASS: AN HOURGALSS NOVEL (978-1-60684-441-0) by Myra McEntire. Hardcover. 8/6/2013. Ages 14+
The stakes have risen even higher in this third book in the Hourglass series.
The Hourglass is a secret organization focused on the study of manipulating time, and its members — many of them teenagers -­have uncanny abilities to make time work for them in mysterious ways. Inherent in these powers is a responsibility to take great care, because altering one small moment can have devastating consequences for the past, present, and future. But some time trav­elers are not exactly honorable, and sometimes unsavory deals must be struck to maintain order.
VORDAK THE INCOMPREHENSIBLE #4: TIME TRAVEL TROUBLE (978-1-60684-461-8) by Vordak T. Incomprehensible. Hardcover. 8/27/2013. Ages 9+
After having yet another evil plan to rule the world foiled by Commander Virtue, Vordak travels back in time in an attempt to defeat his archnemesis at the point of his greatest vulnerability — his childhood.
QUARANTINE #2: THE SAINTS (978-1-60684-336-9) by Lex Thomas. Hardcover. 7/9/2013. Ages 14+
Nothing was worse than being locked in–until they opened the door…McKinley High has been a battle ground for eighteen months since a virus outbreak led to a military quarantine of the school. When the doors finally open, Will and Lucy will think their nightmare is finished. But they are gravely mistaken. The captivating sequel to the highly acclaimed Quarantine #1 : The Loners.
THE CODE BUSTERS CLUB, CASE #3: THE SECRET TREAUSURE OF PIRATE COVE (978-1-60684-457-1) by Penny Warner. Hardcover. 10/22/2013. Ages 8-12
On a class trip to the Cornell Mission, The Code Busters learn about Hippolyte de Bouchard, California’s only known pirate. Now the Code Busters are on the trail of a new prize: pirate gold! But with a fortune at stake, the codes are bound to be hard. Will the Code Busters be able to figure them out, or will this mystery prove to be too difficult to solve?

GOOFBALLS #5: THE HA-HA-HAUNTING OF HYDE HOUSE (978-1-60684-446-5, 978-1-60684-447-2) by Tony Abbott. Simultaneous Hardcover and Digest release. 8/27/2013. Ages 7-9.
When the Goofballs–Jeff, Brian, Mara, and Kelly–hear about a house that might be haunted, where someone disappeared years before, it sounds like the perfect case for them to solve on Halloween. But they’ll need their best sleuthing skills and, of course, the help of the Goofdog, because this may be their silliest–and scariest–mystery yet!


SHIFT (978-1-60684-500-4) by Em Bailey. Paperback. On Sale: 8/6/2013. Ages 12+.

A chilling psychological thriller that tears through themes of identity, loss, and toxic friendship, Shift will leave readers guessing until the final pages.


TAKEN BY STORM: A RAISED BY WOLVES NOVEL (978-1-60684-497-7) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. Paperback. On Sale: 7/9/2013. Ages 12+.

Bryn is the alpha of the Cedar Ridge werewolf pack. She is young. Female. Human. Physically weaker than any werewolf. Yet she cannot refuse a summons from the werewolf Senate. A rogue werewolf is attacking humans. The risk of exposure threatens to destroy pack life, and the center of the crisis is Cedar Ridge territory—her own lands. 

KILL ME SOFTLY (978-1-60684-495-3) by Sarah Cross. Paperback. On Sale: 8/27/2013. Ages 14+.

Fairy tales aren’t always pretty things, and they don’t always end in happily ever after. Mirabelle has a role to play, a fairy tale destiny to embrace or resist. And she’ll find that love, just like fairy tales, can have sharp edges and hidden thorns. Here’s what Karen had to say about this title earlier.

HORSE CAMP (978-1-60684-499-1) by Nicole Helget and Nate LeBoutillier. Paperback. Ages 9+

A funny novel about farms and family, animals and antagonism—and the paths kids take, sometimes while living in the same house, before coming home.

THE PARADISE TRAP (978-1-60684-496-0) by Catherine Jinks. Hardcover. 7/9/2013. Ages 8-12

A boy . . . a witch . . . and a totally sinister paradise: that’s what Marcus gets when his mom rents a scuzzy trailer and parks it near a dirty, noisy beach. Some vacation! Marcus would rather play video games anyway, but when he discovers a staircase underneath the trailer, it looks as if he may be in for some kind of multilevel, multiplayer experience controlled by a complete nightmare of a witch. It’s just like a game—except it’s all too real. On the Tween’s list of 5 audiobooks you should listen to right now.

ONE MOMENT (978-1-60684-436-6) by Kristina McBride. Paperback. 7/9/2013. Ages 14+

Maggie remembers hanging out at the gorge with her closest friends after a blowout party. She remembers climbing the trail with her perfect boyfriend, Joey. She remembers that last kiss, soft, lingering, and meant to reassure her. So why can’t she remember what happened in the moment before they were supposed to dive? Why was she left cowering at the top of the cliff, while Joey floated in the water below–dead? One Moment is a mysterious, searing look at how an instant can change everything you believe about the world around you.  Here’s what Stephanie had to say about this title earlier.

FAMILY (978-1-60684-393-2) by Micol Ostow. Paperback. 7/23/2013. Ages 14+

It is a day like any other when seventeen-year-old Melinda Jensen hits the road, leaving behind her fractured home life and fractured family.  Henry is the handsome, charismatic man who comes upon her, one that will embrace her and give her love. And this new family, Henry’s family, shares everything. They share the chores, their bodies, and their beliefs.  And if Mel truly wants to belong, she will share in everything they do.  No matter what the family does, or how far they go.

DARK WATER: A SIREN NOVEL (978-1-60684-437-3) by Tricia Rayburn. Paperback. 7/23/2013. Ages 14+

In this chilling and romantic conclusion to the Siren trilogy, Vanessa must finally confront her identity head-on to save those she loves. The question is will she be saving them from herself?

JAGUAR STONES #3: THE RIVER OF NO RETURN (978-1-60684-456-4) by J&P Voelkel. Paperback. 9/24/2013. Ages 10+

In the jungles of the Maya, the Death Lords are on the warpath. Can video-gaming, pizza-loving Max Murphy and Lola, his modern Maya sidekick, save the world one more time? Not if they can’t get past the zombie army, the mutant cave spiders, and some very dark family secrets.

THE CODE BUSTERS CLUB, CASE #2: THE HAUNTED LIGHTHOUSE (978-1-60684-455-7) by Penny Warner. Paperback. 10/8/2013. Ages 8-12

When Cody and her friends get a mysterious e-mail hinting at a treasure on Alcatraz Island, they can’t wait to get started on their clue hunt. Luckily, a class trip to the prison is the perfect cover to start their search. This interactive mystery features more than fifteen codes and puzzles for you to decipher along with the Code Busters, including Morse code, the tap code, LEET, and zigzag code. Answers are in the back, if you ever get stuck. 

Egmont USA Week, July 15-19

July 15th is the 2 year anniversary of the Teen Librarian Toolbox.  And we are joining forces with Egmont USA this week to celebrate.  All this week we will be talking about Egmont USA titles, sharing some author guest posts, and giving away Egmont titles.  This will be our hub and we’ll add new posts each day as they post.

Let me just take this moment to say THANK YOU! Thank you for reading this blog, sharing your passion for books and libraries with us, and for giving us this forum to talk about the things we want to be talking about.  We have gotten a ton of great feedback from you all and it genuinely makes our day every time it happens.  And a special thanks to Christie Gibrich, Heather Booth, Robin Willis and Stephanie Wilkes who have all been such an important part of TLT.  And, of course, thank you to EgmontUSA for this great week of books and giveaways. 

The Egmon tUSA giveaway is open to residents of the U.S.  You can enter multiple times so check out our daily posts. Rafflecopter will select our prize package winner and they will be contacted by EgmontUSA for shipping purposes.  Contest ends on Friday, July 19th at Midnight.

This is What Losing Everything Looks Like: How TLT started
Fall 2013 Releases 
MG Review: Vordak, Time Travel Trouble
The Things That Scare Us by Em Garner, author of Contaminated
Book Review: Quarantine 2 The Saints by Lex Thomas
Book Review: Contaminated by Em Garner 
Book Review: BZRK Reloaded by Michael Grant
Book Review: Saving Thanehaven by Catherine Jinks
Book Review: What I Came to Tell You by Tommy Hayes
Writing About Grief and Recovery in Spies and Prejudice, a guest post by Talia Vance
Summertimes by Lindsay Eland, author of A Summer of Sundays
Book Review: A Summer of Sunday by Linsday Eland

Previous Egmont USA Posts

Guest Posts
10 Reasons You Should Buy QUARANTINE for Your Library by Lex Thomas
Who Watches the Watchers? A guest post by Ashes author Ilsa J. Bick

Book Reviews
Book Review: Quarantine book 1: The Loners
Book Review: Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick
Book Review: Shadows by Ilsa J. Bick
Book Review: One Moment by Kristina McBride 
Book Review: Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross
Book Review: The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison
Book Review: Notes from Ghost Town by Kate Ellison
Book Review: Hourglass by Myra McEntire
Book Review: Timepiece by Myra McEntire 
Book Review: Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynne Barnes

Booklists and Readalikes
Top 10: You Could Have Been an X-Men – readalikes for the X-men fans 
Top 10: YA Books that Buffy Fans Will Like 
Top YA Books for the Doctor Who Fan 
Take 5: Spies Like Us – great spy reads

Sunday Reflections: This is what losing everything looks like

This week we begin EgmontUSA week here at TLT.  We also begin celebrating the second year of this blog.  But let’s go back in time and talk about how TLT started . . .
Round 1 of losses in the 2011 flood.

Before I lived in Texas, I lived in Marion, Ohio.  In 2010, Marion County was declared the county with the highest poverty rate in all 88 counties of Ohio.  And at the end of the month of February 2011, the county flooded.  The night before we had received 12 inches of snow.  The next night, we received a quick, stunning downpour of rain that melted the already 12 inches of snow.  Between the frozen ground and the overload of precipitation, the water had no where to go.  So this county that was already struggling to survive, these people that were struggling to work and eat and feed their children, lost almost everything in a flood.

At 4 o’clock that morning I awoke to a burning smell in my house and for some reason, I could tell it was coming from my basement.  When I opened the basement door I could see that it was rapidly filling with water.  And the water was electrified by a blue arc of light that was coming out of one of the electric sockets in my basement.  When I opened the front door to begin evacuating my children, I saw waist high water rushing down my street.  It was coming up on to my porch.  I shut the door quickly as I tried to figure out how I was going to evacuate an 8-year-old and a 2-year-old through freezing, rushing water at 4 a.m. and make sure they stayed safe.  It was in that moment that two men knocked on my door and asked if I needed help.  One of the men tried to go to the basement to turn of the breakers so my house wouldn’t burn down, but when he stepped into the water it shocked him so the house was on its own.  Then both of the men carried my daughters through the freezing water up onto a hill patch where we would be safe.

It was a terrifying experience.  We lost 1/3 of our possessions, everything we had in our basement including a variety of books (gasp), my husband’s artwork and tools, children’s toys and more.

Children’s toys, Christmas decorations and more float in 3 feet of water the day after

I tell you all of this because this past week, the county had flash flooding again, the second time in a little over 3 years.  In fact, they have had very few dry days in 2013.  Once again these people who are trying to barely survive in a county where so many of the children are on free or reduced lunch (over 80%) will have to find a way to restore homes, replace lost items, refill refrigerators that are now empty because of power outages.

I have lived for 40 years now and it definitely seems that we are seeing a huge rise in the number of natural disasters and their devastating impacts on the lives of the people that they touch.  Tornadoes, Tsunamis, Hurricanes, Flooding.  In the past 3 years alone my life has now been touched twice by tornadoes and now twice by flooding.  And when you are barely scraping by under normal conditions, any type of disaster can end it all for you.  I have also had 3 friends try (two of them were successful) to end their lives in the last 3 years due to extreme financial circumstances.

So why TLT?  When my house flooded in 2011, my husband was already working in Texas and came home occasionally when he was off.  In June of 2011 we moved the kids here so we could be together as a family and I knew it would be hard to find a new job because I knew what was happening in the economy.  I did find a job, but I now work part-time with no benefits because even libraries are resorting to this tactic more and more to reduce their expenses.  There are man highly educated and experiences workers out there living paycheck to paycheck, with no benefits or retirement, wondering how they will fill their pantry and help their children go to college.  And so I blog.  I blog because I care about libraries and books and people.  I blog because I believe that in doing so, I can help my three loves: libraries, books and people.  I blog because I want people to understand and remember what it is like to be a teenager, what it is like to live in and surrounded by poverty.  I blog because I want to encourage us all to do the right thing and help each other out.  I blog because I hope one day, in some small way, my words might make a small difference and touch even one life.

In the last few years a lot of people have lost everything.  I can tell you what it looks and feels like because I am one of them.

I realize this is not the happy 2 year anniversary post that you were expecting, and I apologize.  But this is the reality of so many of the lives of the people we live by, serve, and talk to on a daily basis.  When we take a moment to understand what they may be going through, it can change our perspective, which is part of the reason we advocate reading.  Thank you for reading my blog, for reading this post, and for letting your heart be open to the reality of the world we are living in.  Thank you for this opportunity to share, on a daily basis, my passion.

 So why EgmontUSA? Egmont was one of the first publishers to work with me.  EgmontUSA was the first sponsor of the first ever It Came from a Book Teen Art Contest.  They were there at the beginning, so we are celebrating with them now.  They publish the stories that help soothe us in the worst of times, remind us to think of others, and help us all be good at our jobs. 

It Came from a Book, the second annual Teen Art Contest

YA Lit + Teen Created Art = It Came from a Book!
Teens – we want to see your book inspired artwork!
Librarians – we want to help you get your teens reading and creating, and we want to give you a great way to celebrate YA lit.

Share
Librarians, we need your help encouraging teens to read and create art.  Please download the 11×17 poster and help us get the word out.  You can share the information on your library websites, Facebook pages and other social networking sites.  You can also print copies of the poster to put up in your libraries.  You can download official posters at www.libraryasincubatorproject.org.

Submit
To submit artwork, simply send a digital photograph, or file if your artwork is digital, to 2013artcontest@gmail.com by November 1, 2013.  Teens can submit artwork themselves or librarians can submit artwork on behalf of their teens.  Please just make sure we have the information requested below.

Your e-mail submission should include your full name, the name of your school or public library, the title and author of the book that inspired your art piece, and the statement “I affirm that this is an original piece of artwork.”  We will use your submitting e-mail address to keep in contact with you.

Vote
Beginning November 8th, tell your family and friends to visit the online It Came from a Book art gallery at The Library as Incubator Project.org and vote.  Online voting will determine our grand prize winner.

Win
One grand prize winner will be announced on November 18th.  They will receive a $50.00 Amazon gift card, The Library as Incubator Project t-shirt, and book from our sponsors EgmontUSA and Zest Books.

A special note to librarians:
As you encourage your teens to read, create and submit, I want to encourage you to consider having a YA lit inspired art show at your library.  Your teens will still have their art pieces since we are only requesting digital submissions, so that means you can set up a great art gallery right there in your school or public library.  Have an opening night reception with food and drinks and give your teen artists the chance to talk about their artwork as the public comes in to view it.  For more information on this idea, check out how Justin the Librarian created a teen art gallery in his library.  Be sure to check out our Teen Programs in a Box (TPiBs) for some great book inspired craft ideas to do with your teens.

Also, please share with your teens the ya lit inspired photography series of Margot Wood, The Real Fauxtographer.  She has an ongoing blog where she discusses the teen fiction she reads and shares the pictures she takes inspired by the books.

Keep your eye on Library as Incubator Project for more ways to get art into your libraries and for additional blog posts throughout the next few months regarding It Came from a Book. 

Throughout the next months we will have blog posts supporting this project and more. You can visit any of the sponsoring sites – Library as Incubator Project, EgmontUSA, Zest Books and TLT- for information.

A special thank you to The Library as Incubator Project, EgmontUSA, and Zest Books for supporting this project and encouraging teen reading and art.