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Book Review: Pyromantic by Lish McBride

pyromanticThe ARC for this sequel to her 2014 novel Firebug hit my doorstep extremely early, but I still dropped everything to read it – and I was not disappointed. I enjoyed this entry into McBride’s universe every bit as much as her previous novels. Rejoining her characters felt like coming home.

For some context, read my review of Firebug here.  We also have a great interview from her blog tour for Firebug here.

Summary from the publisher:

Ava is having a rough time. Getting rid of Venus didn’t set her free—she’s still Coterie. Her new boss seems like an improvement, but who knows if he’ll stay that way? The Coterie life changes people. And since Ava’s currently avoiding her friends after (disastrously) turning down a date with Lock, well, everything kind of sucks. And that’s not even taking into account the feelings she might have for him.

But when a mysterious illness starts to affect magical beings, it’s up to Ava and her team to stop its spread . . . or else one of them might be next.

I don’t really want to get into the plot here – too many spoilers. What I’d like to reflect on, however is Lish McBride’s ‘dual giftedness’ that makes her one of my favorite authors. As I said above, rejoining her characters felt like coming home. A model of ‘show not tell,’ McBride’s characterizations are delightful. Even her minor characters come fully fleshed with individual flaws and weaknesses. Her main characters are so fully realized that you feel they are close friends after reading the story. Secondly, McBride is gifted in the style of storytelling I like most, where individual threads of story are introduced individually and slowly woven together to form a complete and often bizarrely interrelated story. In the beginning, all you can see are the separate threads. By the end they make a picture so complete and detailed, without ever ‘overtelling.’

If I were you, I would drop everything to get my hands on a copy of Pyromantic. And if you haven’t yet read Firebug, or her other novels in this world Hold Me Closer, Necromancer and Necromancing the Stone, you are in for a treat!

Pyromantic hit shelves on Tuesday, March 21st.

Blog Tour and Giveaway – Firebug by Lish McBride


We are so pleased to be a stop on Lish McBride’s Blog Tour for her upcoming novel Firebug! In case you missed it, you can read my review of it here. (OMG, you guys, dream. come. true.)

Firebug will be available next Tuesday, September 23! Lish joins us today to answer some very silly and somewhat personal questions that have been weighing heavily on my mind…

Congratulations on the new baby! Are there any books you got so sick of reading to your first baby that you’re planning on hiding them before this one is old enough to ask for them?
 
Thanks! He’s certainly been a dramatic little guy so far!
As for reading material, no—we get rid of those books as soon as the baby turns around. And for the new ones we get, well, we’ll ask our ten year old to read those. You know, until he catches on. I did read Goodnight, Moon so many times I memorized it, though. It always makes me think of the Simpsons where they had Christopher Walken reading it. 


I love it when you post about the bookstore on Twitter! Describe the most interesting customer interaction you’ve had at the bookstore. Or, if you’re not allowed to do that, what item is most frequently stolen from the bookstore?

 
We get a lot of great people in the bookstore. For those that haven’t been there, the idea behind Third Place Books is centered on one of Ray Oldenburg’s essays where he states that the first place is home, the second place is work, and the third place is community. So a large part of the bookstore is surrounded by this giant commons area where people can eat, knit, play board games, and meet up for language groups. A lot goes on there. The downside is…sometimes you see an odd side of people. I’ve seen some really weird stuff there. Really weird. Tales I probably shouldn’t tell. Let’s just say I’ve seen the cops a great deal for being in such a nice neighborhood and working in a bookstore. Personally, though, I’ve had ladies start randomly running their hands through my hair as I walk them to a section, and I had to stop wearing my name tag for a while because I got tired of people asking me if my name is short for “delicious.” (It’s not.)


I’ve seen topless guys shaving (and singing) in the men’s bathroom, there’s a lady who really likes our bear statue (she brings it presents) and I watched a guy OD once. That was sad. As for stuff getting stolen, I’m not sure we have a top item. Art books get stolen a lot, as does Graphica, which is one of my sections. Inventory is always off there.


Other than that, just normal bookstore stuff—like that time a customer wouldn’t believe me that the book she needed to get her daughter for school was in the Science Fiction/Fantasy section. She kept telling me, “No, no—it’s a classic. She needs it for school.” And I had to keep saying, “Yes, I know. It’s a popular book for High School English classes. Trust me, it’s a classic. You should read it when your daughter is finished with it. There are a lot of classics in that section.” After the third round of that, and her thinking that maybe she had the wrong book, she finally said, “Are you sure? And it’s in Science Fiction?” Then I just walked her back and handed her the book and cried a little inside.
The book was Fahrenheit 451 by Bradbury.


Do you like to travel? You get to do an author event anywhere in the world – where do you choose to go?

 
I do! Not a huge fan of planes, but I like going to all different kinds of places. If I could chose, I’d like to go back to either Ireland or Scotland. Love those countries.


You discover you are a were creature – what do you become? (Bonus – as this were creature, what is your most powerful ability?)

 
I’d become Keanu Reeves, because I think he’s my spirit animal. No, not really. I mean, I love Keanu, but he’s not an animal. He’s a man. So…I don’t know. A raccoon? An otter? Something small that gets into stuff. Man Friend says I’m a lot like Stitch from Lilo and Stitch, because I communicate mostly through hissing and pointing, and I like to destroy things, but Stitch is a made up creature, so I probably can’t use that. 


My most powerful ability would be super rabies if I were a raccoon, or the ability to hold things in my tiny paws, which works for either. Also maybe to look so cute people would get distracted, and then I’d take their wallets.


You are haunted by the spirit of a historical figure. Who is it and why are they haunting you?

 
Probably Charles Dickens, because I always say I want to go back in time and punch him. And that’s not nice, so he’s demanding an apology. Touché, Dickens. I’m sorry I said I wanted to punch you. I need to learn to use my words instead of my fists.


What is your favorite breakfast food?

 
So breakfast is sort of my nemesis, because I have several favorite foods, so every time we got out to eat, it becomes this showdown between waffles, French toast, and eggs Benedict. That being said, if the restaurant happens to have vegetarian biscuits and gravy (that does NOT involve mushroom gravy, as I am not a lover of fungus) then I usually order that. It’s hard to do a good vegetarian biscuits and gravy. My mom can do it, even though she must think it’s somewhat of an abomination. Because really, it should involve actual sausage, but she kindly indulges her weirdo vegetarian daughter. (My mom has always been quite supportive of my vegetarian ways.) One thing I miss about living in the south is the abundance of biscuits. They don’t eat them as much up in Seattle, and it’s just not right.

Enter here for a chance to win a free hardcover copy of Firebug: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Get started before it comes out – download the first 5 chapters here


For the record, I would also like to punch Dickens.

Book Review (and swag giveaway): Firebug by Lish McBride

http://www.indiebound.org/book/9780805098624

Author Lish McBride returns to the world established in Hold Me Closer, Necromancer and continued in Necromancing the Stone, with the story of Ava, a teenage girl who can set fires with her mind. As a ‘firebug,’ Ava is a valuable asset to her local supernatural group of thugs, the ‘Coterie,’ to whom she is under binding contract. Her capitulation to this contact was secured through death threats to those she holds dear, of course, as the Coterie is run by the sadistically evil vampire, Venus.

Ava, along with her two best friends, Lock (half-dryad) and Ezra (werefox), are an assassination team sent in to do the Coterie’s dirty work. Understandably, they’re not exactly willing participants. They go along with the assignments, though, in order to secure the safety of their loved ones – until the day when they are assigned Duncan, a supernatural who is a good friend to Ava and her guardian, Cade. Venus sees Duncan (and some of his recent activities) as a threat to her position and wants him eliminated. She is not unaware of Ava’s relationship with him, and wants her for the job because she can get past his defenses. Ava, however, has other ideas.

Read our previous reviews of Necromancing the Stone


Unlike the Necromancer books, which are set in Seattle, Firebug takes place in Maine and Boston (mostly). Although they are located on opposite sides of the country, I have it on the best of authority that McBride intends for the characters from the two locations to meet eventually. (Isn’t Twitter a marvelous thing?)

While set in the same world, with many of the same conflicts and struggles, I found that the tone of Firebug differed significantly from that of the Necromancer books. While the Necromancer books are full of quipy, quirky snarkiness and bizarre humor (which I greatly enjoy), Firebug relies much more on the intensity of emotion and gravity of the situations in which the main characters find themselves. Which is not to say that McBride’s trademark humor is not evident, it just doesn’t set the major tone for the book. Overall, I found myself much more drawn into the lives of the characters, and more gripped with suspense during the action of the book. I also felt that the characterization and detailed unfolding of the relationships between the main characters was much more robust with this novel.

All of this is to say, I suppose, isn’t it amazing to watch truly talented authors whose work you admire and enjoy grow and change with their subsequent books? Being a reader is such a great privilege.

Another great privilege (also facilitated through Twitter) is my fortunate ability to give away a set of  author swag from the generous Lish McBride herself. Winner will receive all items pictured to the left (4 bookmarks and 2 stickers.) Please forgive my appallingly poor photography skills. We all have our gifts…

Leave a comment on this post to enter the giveaway. Winner will be drawn 1 week from today. Good luck! Also, you should follow Lish McBride on Twitter. She’s @TeamDamnation (of course she is.)

This review was based on an eGalley provided by NetGalley. Firebug will go on sale September 23, 2014. You can preorder it in all the usual locations, including your local bookstore or online through IndieBound if you don’t have a local bookstore.

Book Review: Necromancing the Stone by Lish McBride

The Brief Review:

I love this book hardcore and if you don’t read it minions will die and dragons will torch the Earth.  It will be all your fault.  Plus, you will be missing one of the most laugh out loud reading experiences you will ever have.  People will sit around at dinner parties talking about it, rolling in laughter, and you will feel left out and wonder what you are missing.  And what you are missing is awesomesauce!

The Real Review:

Necromancing the Stone is the sequel to Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride, a title that appears on my Top 10 Reads for Buffy Fans.  That is your first clue that this is a good series.  The question you are asking yourself is this: Why? Here are 5 reasons.

Synopsis: With the defeat of the evil Douglas behind him, Sam LaCroix is getting used to his new life. Okay, so he hadn’t exactly planned on being a powerful necromancer with a seat on the local magical council and a capricious werewolf sort-of-girlfriend, but things are going fine, right?

Well . . . not really. He’s pretty tired of getting beat up by everyone and their mother, for one thing, and he can’t help but feel that his new house hates him. His best friend is a werebear, someone is threatening his sister, and while Sam realizes that he himself has a lot of power at his fingertips, he’s not exactly sure how to use it. Which, he has to admit, is a bit disconcerting.

But when everything starts falling apart, he decides it’s time to step up and take control. His attempts to do so just bring up more questions, though, the most important of which is more than a little alarming: Is Douglas really dead? (from the Goodreads page)


The Snark is Strong with This One

Sam is a likable guy as a main character.  An “average Joe” really who doesn’t really know what to do with his skateboarding, fast food life until FATE takes over and we learn that Sam was never really average because he is a necromancer.  I will save you the trip to dictionary.com and tell you that a necromancer is someone who can raise and control the dead.  And Sam does all of this while punning away and providing snarktacular quips as asides.

 
“I know you’re frustrated, Sam, but the reality is you’re in a world now where the majority of the people you run into will be able to snap you like a twig.”

“My world was like that before.”
Lish McBride, Necromancing the Stone

 
“Slow down and explain to us plebeians. If you have to, use sock puppets.”
Lish McBride, Necromancing the Stone

Don’t Let the Snark Fool You, There is Depth

Many people get up in arms when magic and witchcraft and zombies appear in a book, and they definitely have a right to their personal opinions.  But here is the deal: Sam is an incredibly moral young man thrown into a bizarre world with incredible power that could absolutely corrupt him and he struggles immensely with making sure he uses that power responsibly.  He lives in a world where people murder people – even animals – without a second thought and yet Sam has second, third and fourth thoughts and makes some profoundly difficult and moral decisions.  And he is a vegetarian; again another personal lifestyle choice, but another example of how he regards the sanctity of life and his moral character.  A lot of paranormal fiction I read (and I read a lot) has some shady ethics and puts some admittedly despicable characters on a pedestal.  Seriously, sometimes the heroine in paranormal falls in love with a guy that you wouldn’t want your worst enemy dating in real life.  For example, although I love many things about Masque of the Red Death and feel it is an excellent book, one of the 2 male sides of the love triangle just squicks me out – he would not be a real life option for anyone other than those type of girls that write letters to serial killers in prison.  But I digress, my point is this:  Sam is likable, relateable, commendable, funny and thoughtful.  I don’t mean thoughtful like he’ll bring you flowers and open doors on a date, but thoughtful in that he thinks about this world he has been thrust into and what it all means and who he wants to be as a part of it.  He uses both his heart and his noggin to navigate the landscape.  Bottom line: Readers will like Sam and root for him.

 
“Life is a series of calculated risks, James. I happen to think that this one is worth it.”
Lish McBride, Necromancing the Stone
 
“Sometimes life offers you up that kind of dichotomy, that soul-shearing rift of two very different things happening at once.”
Lish McBride, Necromancing the Stone
 
“Fear, left unchecked, can spread like a virus.”
Lish McBride, Necromancing the Stone

The Joss Whedon Family Effect

I believe the underlying meme of the Whedonverse is that we are broken people and we build our own families.  And is this not the quest of the teenage years to find your pack (or hive or group or whatever)?  And the reality is, friends and family sometimes fail us – we can forgive or wake up one day as old cranky people yelling at the neighbors to stay off of our lawn.  Sam’s story is one about finding family, choosing to love and forgive, and accepting the weirdness that comes when your best friend can turn into a grizzly bear.  What?  Oh, did I not mention there were a lot of cool fantasy elements and characters?  My bad.  There are.  It is fun.  There are dragons.  I want a dragon.

“And maybe I was a fool, but I wanted to believe – I needed to believe – that James had started to see us all as friend. As family.”
– Lish McBride, Necromancing the Stone

Bonus Points for Strong Women

I am a huge fan of Brooke.  And Brid.  This is our Brid: “I’m sorry, did you just try to order me around?” (p. 297).  Sam and Brid have some serious bumps in their relationships here; although to be fair, they did meet while being held hostage in a cage together in book one.  Plus, Brid is surrounded by a pack of alpha males that she is supposed to lead, which is no doubt challenging.  And she doesn’t really have an easy time of it here in book 2.  McBride puts her characters through some unkind challenges, because even in the midst of paranormal worlds, real life still happens.  That’s the beauty of it – the characters and heartbreak are relatable even if you won’t find yourself surrounded by magical creatures and such.  But I am holding out hope for Sam and Brid.

Name That Tune

As with Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, every chapter title is a song lyric.  I wondered if McBride would go with movie titles given the nod to Romancing the Stone as the title, but it’s song lyrics.  Right there you have a fun built in contest or way to use your social media page with teens – have them find out what song the lyrics are from.  You will want to as you read.  (Okay so I just went and looked it up, there is a song called Romancing the Stone by Eddy Grant.  The universe is once again in synergy.)

Sample chapter titles:
Hello darkness, my old friend
Our house, was our castle and our keep
Hello, is it me you’re looking for?
Summertime, and the living is easy

I obviously like and recommend this series.  It gets bonus points because I think teen guys will read and love it and Sam.  I am always looking for good guy reads, it is my quest.  Pair this series with A Bad Day for Voodoo by Jeff Strand and Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan.  Necromancing the Stone by Lish McBride is nominated for the 2012 Cybils in the Teen Science Fiction/Fantasy category.  It was published in 2012 by Henry Holt. ISBN: 978-0-805-09099-4. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Top 10 Reads for Buffy fans
Book Review: A Bad Day for Voodoo by Jeff Strand
Book Review: Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

Necromancing the Slayer (The Sunnydale Project)

“Most people felt lost after high school. Sometimes I felt like I’d never really been found in the first place.”  – Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride

The first book I ever reviewed for VOYA was a Buffy the Vampire Slayer book by Nancy Holder.  I have read almost all of them, and for a while they took up about two shelves of my YA collection.  And then one day came the sad news that they were being discontinued.  Since that time, I have been on my own personal slayer quest: to find Buffy readalikes.  I have throughout the years found a few, but my favorite has hands down been the book Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride.

Synopsis:
“Sam leads a pretty normal life. He may not have the most exciting job in the world, but he’s doing all right—until a fast food prank brings him to the attention of Douglas, a creepy guy with an intense violent streak.

Turns out Douglas is a necromancer who raises the dead for cash and sees potential in Sam. Then Sam discovers he’s a necromancer too, but with strangely latent powers. And his worst nightmare wants to join forces . . . or else.

With only a week to figure things out, Sam needs all the help he can get. Luckily he lives in Seattle, which has nearly as many paranormal types as it does coffee places. But even with newfound friends, will Sam be able to save his skin?” (from Goodreads) (Henry Holt &Co., 2010 ISBN 9780805090987)


Sam thinks he is your average, unambitious dude working dead end jobs and crushing after girls but it turns out, “dead” means something much more to him.  You see, Sam is not your average guy but is in fact a Necromancer.  He just doesn’t really know it at the beginning of our book.  So imagine his surprise when a talking head shows up in a box on his doorstep.  Not just any talking head, but someone he knows that has quite an attitude.  Turns out she kind of liked being attached to her body.  Oops.

Suddenly Sam finds out that much like Sunnydale, there is an unseen part of Seattle that involves councils, power plays, and a whole bunch of evil voodoo mojo out there.  Sam kinda prefers not knowing to be honest because now, well, one of the most powerful necromancers has Sam on his radar and he does not appreciate the competition.  Not that Sam knows he is competition.

Am I the only one who things that psychopathic killers should have imposing names like Vlad the Impaler, Genghis Kham or Vigo the Carpathian? As a name, Douglas was a letdown.
Sounds like Buffy, right?  Douglas is our powerful Necromancer.  For the record, once you figure out what Douglas means, it makes more sense.


Like Buffy, every good slacker hero needs some trusty sidekicks.  It is usually helpful if one is more than just a head in a box, but ghosts work well.  As do smart aleck friends.  And, well . . . maybe a werewolf would be nice.  He may also have to make some deals with some other magical creatures.

 
“You want waffles?” I tried to keep the skepticism from my voice. “No firstborn or a pot of gold?”
“I’m not a leprechaun, Sam. And what would I do with a baby?” Her eyebrow shot back up, and she crossed her arms. “I want waffles. Take it or leave it.”
I glanced at Brid, who was staring at Ashley shrewdly.
“Let’s talk numbers,” she said. “Are we talking, like, twenty waffles all at once? Or a waffle a week for six months? What?”
“Every day for two years,” Ashley said.
“That’s outrageous,” Brid sputtered.”
  – Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
 
You know what else we need?  A twisty potential romantic love interest.  How about, let’s say, a wereperson.  Better yet, how about a wereperson with some serious attitude and the name Brid.
What happens when Sam is thrown into a cage with Brid?
 
“On top of all that, you’re naked. And while I’m going to hate myself for this later, could you put on some clothes? At least just for a little while, so I can think. Then you can go right back to being naked. All the time. With my full blessing.”  – Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
 
As you can clearly see, Lish McBride gets the wit and snark perfectly right.  Like the Whedon universe, McBride’s characters come face to face with unknown terrors and dangers and give them a sarcastic kick in the pants.  In addition to the tone, McBride also builds for Sam that Whedon version of “family” with some fun, colorful sidekicks that include both the paranormal and completely average every man.  And like in Buffy, the magical underworld is both organized and constantly vying for powerplays.  Sam’s troubles begin with Douglas not because he is a necromancer, but because he is a necromancer in Douglas’s territory.  Oops again.  Guess Sam’s parents were hoping it skipped a generation.
 
And like Whedon, the talented McBride gets in some fun pop culture quips.  In fact, every chapter title is in fact a reference to song lyrics.  Part of the fun of starting each chapter is remembering the songs that the chapter titles come from.
 
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer is a laugh out loud fun read, perfect for Buffy fans.  And thankfully, there is going to be a sequel.  Necromancing the Stone comes out in September from Henry Holt & Co. (ISBN 9780805090994).  It looks like this time we’ll be doing movie titles and I can’t wait.
 
“Begin at the beginning,” I said, “and go on till you come to the end. Then stop.” 
 
What are your favorite Buffy readalikes? Tell us in the comments.
 
Slayer Scavenger Hunt
 
 
Did you notice some words written in red in this post? If not, go back and take a look. You’ll want to, I can reassure you. Why? Because we are having a Buffy themed scavenger hunt! How fun is that? To find out how to participate, read the details below. And I know you’ll want to participate because we are working on getting some GREAT prizes lined up for the winners!
  • Each week on our Slayer Saturday posts look for the words highlighted. There will be 3 sets of words each weekend, so make sure to visit all three blogs (Bookish Comforts, Patricia’s Particularity and Teen Librarian Toolbox).
  • Write down the words each week (Sept. 8 – Oct. 20), putting them in an order that makes sense. All together these words create a quote from Buffy.
  • During the last week a form will be made available on all three blogs where you can turn in the quote that you have pieced together.
  • On the last weekend of The Sunnydale Project, Oct. 27, the quote will be revealed! We will then draw a winner from those who have correctly completed the quote.
We really hope you have fun with this! We’re still finalizing the prize, but it’ll be worth participating for! An announcement will be made when all details have been finalized.

Book Review: Cornered, 15 Stories of Bullying and Defiance

You can’t turn on the nightly news without hearing news stories about how bullying is affecting the lives of our teens.  Make no mistake, bullying has always been an issue, but the impact of it seems to be changing as bullying takes to the Internet.  Teens are talking about it.  Parents are talking about it.  School are talking about it.  And authors are writing about it.  So I was interested in seeing this collection of 15 stories about bullying.

Cornered has a foreward written by Chris Crutcher.  Chris Crutcher is a fabulous author, he is one of my favorites, but he is also an adolescent psychologist with keen insight into the teenage psyche.  In his forward Crutcher notes that “bullying starts with adults” because we “don’t tolerate kids finding their ways through natural developmental stages.”  I also appreciate it when Crutcher says, “If you want to find the bullies, a good place to look is among the bullied.  Most of what we learn as little ones comes through our pores.  Back before language we absorb through our senses.”  In some ways, when we are talking about teens, it is too late, they have already learned the ways of violence.  Crutcher’s introduction provides a keen, thoughtful introduction to these varied 15 stories.  And the stories themselves will prompt some good discussion about the topic with your teens.

Here’s another interesting thing about short story anthologies; although it seems like they would be an easy sell – especially to reluctant readers – they are, in fact, a very hard sell in terms of library circulation I have always found.  I imagine they work well in the classroom and the school library, but I have always found they are dust collectors in the public library.  But, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t purchase them.  (What about at your library – do short story collections circulate for you?)

But let’s talk about this particular collection of short stories, shall we?  Like all short story collections, there are some good and some kinda meh.  There are a couple of stories, like Inside the Inside by Mayra Lazara Dole, that take the topic of bullying out of reality and into the realm of fantasy.

The two stories that have stayed with me the longest after reading this collection are Nemesis by Kirsten Miller and How Auto-Tune Saved My Life by Brendan Halpin.

Nemesis is the story of an individual who goes by the name, well, Nemesis.  Once a victim of bullying herself, she now offers a unique service to those being bullied: she anonymously documents their tormentors and sends them a cease and desist order or threatens to go public.  But what happens if the person that contacts you for this service happens to be the person who tormented you?

How Auto-Tune Saved My Life is a fascinating look at bullying because in this case, it is the teacher that it a bully.  Of course it is true, with power and authority, such as teachers have in the classroom, comes a great temptation to abuse that power – and your students.  This was a brutal story.  We all know teachers that had a reputation, but it is nothing compared to the teacher in this story.  Here, some students get together and find a unique way to try and bring the problem to light, with interesting results.  Because the sad truth is that sometimes, the bully wins and justice does not prevail.

Like Kicking a Fence by Kate Ellison (author of The Butterfly Clues, a previous Rec of the Week) touches on what Crutcher mentioned in his foreward.  As the title implies, this is a brutal story, full of raw emotion and some intense physical violence.

In this collection of 15 stories there are a wide variety of targets and perpetrators and there is good coverage of various scenarios.  Issues of sexuality and gender identity are raised, suicide is discussed, and the role and reactions of parents and educators are highlighted.  I tried to read these stories in one sitting but it was rough; these are intense, raw emotions being discussed.  I posted rants several times while reading these stories on my Facebook page about my thoughts on bullying and how angry it makes me.  These stories will definitely make you think, challenge some of what we think we know about bullies and bullying, and can really open the floodgates of discussion.  For me, personally, a couple of the stories simply didn’t work; but a couple of the stories worked so well that it makes the collection a good purchase, especially for schools.  I would love to see schools make reading and discussing How Auto-Tune Saved My Life a regular part of staff development to be honest.

And to close our 15 stories, there is a short story by Lish McBride, author of Hold Me Closer, Necromancer.  Let me just say that if you have not read Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, you should stop what you are doing and go read it NOW! Seriously, I’ll wait.  I love that book – it is wicked funny and very Buffyesque.  Her short story here, We Should Get Jerseys ‘Cause We Make a Good Team, has some Necromancer tie-in and it ends the collection on just the right note.

As a total side note, since we are discussing short stories about bullying, I would like to recommend that you pair this collection with the truly amazing short story All Summer in a Day by Ray Bradbury, one of the most gut wrenching stories about bullying I have ever read.  I read it in English class, 8th grade, and still think of it often to this day.  You can view the story here.  It would make an interesting unit to look at the old and the new and compare the two.

As for Cornered, it comes out in July of 2012 and is being published by Running Press Teens.  I give it a 3 out of 5 stars and recommend it particularly for school libraries and classrooms.  And like I said, schools should consider reading and discussing How Auto-Tune Saved My Life as part of their yearly staff development.

Table of Contents:
Nemesis by Kirsten Miller
On Your Own Level by Sheba Karim
The Shift Sticks by Josh Berk
Everyone’s Nice by David Yoo
Defense Mechanisms by Elizabeth Miles
Sweet Sixteen by Zetta Elliott
Like Kicking a Fence by Kate Ellison
How Auto-Tune Saved My Life by Brenda Halpin
TK by Rhoda Belleza
The Ambush by Matthue Roth
Inside the Inside by Mayra Lazara Dole
But Not Forgotten by Jennifer Brown
The Truest Story There Is by Jaime Adoff
Still Not Dead by James Lecesne
We Should Get Jerseys ‘Cause We Make a Good Team by Lish McBride

Want to win a copy of this ARC?  Leave a comment before June 17th – our 1 year birthday – and you’ll be entered to win.  Be sure to leave a contact e-mail in your comment.