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Starting a Vampire Book Club, a guest post by Carrie (The Sunnydale Project Year 3)

Back when Edward Cullen was at his very sparkliest, I was teaching English at an all-girls high school. I have never seen anything like it. Spontaneous character debates broke out in class and my pro-Jacob leanings earned me some enemies (I make no apologies. He was WARM and could FIX THINGS). Whispers of “Team Edward” followed me down the hallways. Backpacks were heavy with books and my heart was light: kids were READING. 
 I do not want to bag on Twilight. It got kids to read, and that is an amazing and admirable thing. We should never shame anybody for reading whatever they damn well please, and the reason I wanted my students to go beyond Bella wasn’t that I thought Twilightwas a “bad book,” it was because I wanted them to realize that it wasn’t the ONLY book, that they could keep having that incredible experience of being immersed in another world, over and over again, for the rest of their lives.
I also wanted to give them more characters who could help them navigate their lives with confidence and courage. When I looked at the students in my class I saw smart, strong, funny, kick-ass young women who could change the world. I also saw vulnerable kids fending off endless online approaches by strange men and whose boyfriends demanded they get Brazilians before the big dance. (And that’s just the stuff I knew about.) They needed somebody fierce to help guide them.
So I gave them Buffy.
(Eventually.)
First, I started a vampire book club. It would be totes legit, I assured my skeptical colleagues: We would investigate vampire myths! We would explore the genre! We would move on to classic literature and soon the girls would be gushing about gothic novels instead of Edward’s abs…
Yeah, none of that really happened. 
Image from Muppet Wikia

They did read some new books, and a few even tackled Dracula. We discussed how vampire myths are tied to the Count on Sesame Street and we had a good time, but it never felt like enough. I was entertaining them, sure, but I wasn’t giving them any characters or ideas they could take away and hold close to bring out when they felt scared or unsure. I wondered about this in my three minutes of free time a week (#teacherlife) and decided I was being unrealistic. Maybe what I wanted to give them didn’t really exist – or maybe it wasn’t even mine to give.

We met during lunchtimes and after a few months the girls decided that watching some vampire videos would really “help with their understanding,” and, coincidentally, they just happened to have The Vampire Diariesright here.  
“No!” I said, desperately fighting to maintain control of my creation. “Come back tomorrow and we will watch the best show about vampires that ever has been, is, or will be.”
And that’s how my book club turned into a Buffy club.
None of the students had seen it before, and after a few “look at baby Booth” giggles they settled in. In fact, they were hooked. Once a week wasn’t enough for them anymore: soon they were knocking everyday on the staffroom door, eyes shining and hands outstretched, pleading for the next episode.
They cheered when Buffy told Angel that being stalked “isn’t exactly a big turn on for girls” and they cried when he lost his soul and Buffy realized when she would have to do to stop him. A lot of the references flew past them (New Zealand teenagers have never seen the softer side of Sears) but it didn’t matter: the characters and the themes were relatable and timeless. They got it. Buffy was in their heads and she’d be there, making bad puns and refusing to back down, whenever they needed a boost of confidence.
I left the classroom but stayed in town and I still run into the Buffy girls every now and again. One of them served me a coffee a year later and told me she and a few friends had pooled their money to buy all five seasons of Angel. At the New Zealand film festival screening of Much Ado About Nothing I waved across the room to a group of them, giddy with excitement and dressed to the nines in honor of Joss Whedon’s latest production.
Buffy is not a perfect character. She is not the “anti-Bella” or the answer to every teenage girl’s problems. Nothing is that simple. But showing teenagers a brave, flawed, kind, strong, ass-kicking female character canmake a difference. Those students probably don’t remember all the stuff I spouted in class about visual and verbal language features (even I have blocked most of those memories) – but they do remember Buffy.
My vampire book club (like so many things in life and teaching) didn’t quite turn out the way I thought it would. We didn’t read as many books as I’d hoped, and I certainly can’t prove I upped any test scores. But it is one of my absolute favorite teaching memories, and I will always be grateful that Buffy was there when my students and I really needed her. 


Meet our guest blogger, Carrie Boufard
Bio: I’m a Vermonter in New Zealand who spends my days working with teachers and librarians to build strong reading cultures in schools and get students excited about books. I spend my nights writing middle grade stories and drinking lots of coffee. I’m repped by Carrie Howland, which makes me a very lucky writer indeed. I’m jumping back into social media after a break (there was a whole baby/sleep deprivation thing) and I would love to connect with you on my blog, Twitter, or Goodreads.

Why The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa is an Important Banned Books Week Read

1984. Fahrenheit 451. Brave New World.  These are all great, classic reads that highlight the dangers of censorship.  Two of them happen to be among my favorite books of all time.  Brave New World is not.  But sometimes, authors can slip in powerful statements against censorship in the most surprising of places.  Exhibit A: The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa.

The Immortal Rules is the first book in The Blood of Eden series by Kagawa.  It is set in a world where vampires rule.  Not sparkly vampires, but tyrannical vampires who will, in fact, suck you dry if you do not comply.  All humans are forced to register with the new vampire government and are forced to basically pay a blood tax.  Those humans that don’t register remain outside the city limits on the fringe where they barely survive, scrounging for food and praying for safety.  One wrong step and you may suddenly find yourself being used as an example.  Not a good example, but a food example.

This is where we meet Allie.  Allie refuses to register and is hanging with a rag-tag gang who despise the vampire monsters.  And Allie likes to read, which has basically been outlawed.  Understanding the danger of knowledge, the vampires have burned the libraries and tried to destroy all the books.  Allie remembers her mother reading to her as a little girl, and she knows how.  Occasionally she stumbles upon a book and she takes them to her “home”, trying to keep her stash secret.  It is in this world that we find a great defense against censorship:

“Words define us,’ Mom continued, as I struggled to make my clumsy marks look like her elegant script. ‘We must protect our knowledge and pass it on whenever we can. If we are ever to become a society again, we must teach others how to remain human.”

“There will come a time when man is no longer concerned only with survival, when he will once more be curious as to who came before him, what life was like a thousand years ago, and he will seek out answers for a hundred years or so, but humans’ curiosity has always driven them to find answers.” 

“I recognized it instantly. It was a made-up story, a fantasy, the tale of four kids who went through a magic wardrobe and found themselves in a strange new world. I’d read it more times than I could remember, and although I sneered at the thought of a magical land with friendly, talking animals, there were times when I wished, in my most secret moments, that I could find a hidden door that would take us all out of this place.” 

Allie despises the fact that those around her choose to cower in fear and ignorance.  She speaks often of the fact that if they understood what they were capable of, what the world could be like, they would choose to rise up and fight against the vampires.  Which is the very reason that the vampires have burned the books.  They understand that knowledge and story are powerful things.  That they can inspire.  That they can ignite. That they can lead those they wish to rule to challenge that rule.  And in this world we see a subtle, powerful and glaring reminder of just why we must fight for the freedom to read.  The knowledge found in the pages of books can empower us all, and those who wish to rule us would love to take that power away.  The best way to do that is to ban the books.  The Immortal Rules takes us on an exciting journey in this vampire filled world and uses this journey to remind us all, we must fight against censorship because we must fight for our right to rule ourselves.  Also, this is just a really good series.  And there are some really interesting twists.  Read it for Banned Books Week.

Booktalk This! When You’re Tired of Emo Vamps (by Kearsten)

Burned out on vampire romances? Wish the creatures lurking in the dark were a little more bloodthirsty (or possessing more of a sense of humor)? Me, too!  I spent the week rereading Justin Cronin’s The Passage, an epic, sprawling novel of the build-up to and the aftermath of a completely terrifying vampire-virus apocalypse. Cronin’s vamps are deadly and truly scary, but if you’re looking for a shorter read for older teens (The Passage is a door stop), why not hand over one of these titles featuring vamps that are more interested in more than finding his/her one true love.

Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer by Dustin Higgins and Van Jensen.
He’s a puppet with a past and a score to settle!  In this black and white graphic novel, Pinocchio turned angry and vengeful the day his father, Gepetto, was murdered by evil vampires.  Long gone is that cheerful performer of years past.  In his place is a snarky and dangerous vampire slayer, who doesn’t need anyone to cut and sharpen stakes for him.  Pinocchio grows his own by shouting elaborately funny yet untrue battle taunts and trash talk, and then breaks off his newly grown wooden nose.  Talk about deadly D.I.Y….
Peeps by Scott Westerfeld
Cal Thompson is parasite positive, or a peep for short, but instead of going crazy as most peeps do, he’s maintained his sanity. Unfortunately, the infection passes through saliva, and while Cal isn’t crazy dangerous…all those girls he made out with recently? Not so lucky. But as Cal sets out to hunt down his exes as well as the one who infected him, he begins to realize that something is going very wrong…  This one is good fun, and includes a lot of gross and fascinating information about very real parasites in the world around us. 
I am Legend by Richard MathesonYes, maybe you saw the movie, and yes, Will Smith was pretty awesome in it, but those weird vampire/zombie hybrids? NO. Read this vampire classic about a man fighting to stay alive and sane against hordes of vampires, all while worrying that he may be the last human alive. It’s short and intense and a must for anyone looking for scary vamps.

Life Sucks by Jessica Abel
Dave is the night clerk at a  convenience store, and finds life to be a monotonous bore. Dave is also secretly a vampire, made because his vamp boss (and convenience store owner) needed someone to cover the night shift. The only thing that keeps Dave going through daylight sleeping, blood from a donor bag (gotten from the local blood bank) and his boring job is Rosa, the goth girl he’s crushin’ on. Yes, this vamp is in love, and he’s a little mopey, but Dave feels no romanticism towards his condition, and the story pokes a lot of fun at those overly dramatic, moody vampires of popular culture.
 See also: All Things Buffy and  Vampire Books with Bite 
Also be sure and check out the new title The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Book Review: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Tana wakes in a bathtub after a night of partying only to realize that everyone else in the house has been slaughtered by vampires. Well, everyone except her former boyfriend, Aidan*, who has been bitten and saved for a snack.  In the process of saving him (oh, and the ancient vampire, Gavriel, chained up with him) Tana gets bitten. She decides to enter one of the ‘Coldtowns’ – a place where vampires roam free and humans live inside the walls with them. 

You see, in Tana’s reality, getting bitten doesn’t make you a vampire, it just makes you ‘go cold.’ You don’t become a vampire until you drink human blood. If you can survive the 88 day incubation period and deny yourself despite the overwhelming cravings, the virus will be out of your system. Tana is determined that she will live through going cold and come out on the other side. Once she gets to Coldtown, however, she gets drawn into the intrigue of centuries old vampires (thanks to Gavriel) and must learn how to survive.


I have to admit, I was a little wary of this book. While I LOVED (yes, all caps) Holly Black’s Curseworker series, I’ve never been able to get in to her Modern Tale of Faerie books. And then there is the horror aspect. Make no mistake, this is not a book that glosses over the horrific reality of living in a world with vampires. I’m good with suspense, but I have a strong tendency to shy away from horror and violence. Making the decision to read this book was a struggle for me, but OH, it was SO WORTH IT.

Holly Black has created one of the strongest, most realistic, heroines I’ve ever read. Despite her scars – physical, mental, and emotional – from her mother’s going cold and the aftermath, Tana is a survivor. Incredibly flawed, she is a character who draws you in and will not let go. All of the characters, however briefly present, are amazingly well drawn. The world the story is set in is completely realized. The story is highly engaging, with enough twists and turns to keep you on your toes while maintaining a solidly realistic thread.

I honestly cannot say enough good things about this book. It is certainly no surprise to me that it has already garnered multiple stars from reviewers. I will be very disappointed if it is not recognized by one of the awards committees.  Holly Black is a master of her craft. (All the stars – ALL OF THEM.)

*I couldn’t help but think while reading this, that it would make an excellent manual for teenage girls of what to avoid when choosing a boyfriend.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black will be available on September 3, 2013 from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (ISBN 9780316213103.) This review was done from an electronic Advance Reader Copy provided by Edelweiss.

Book Review: The Prey (Hunt #2) by Andrew Fukuda (reviewed by teen reviewer Cuyler)

Gene and his friends are on their own. With the deadly yet motherly Sissy, the group has outrun the monsters that seek to devour their sumptuous and fiercely desired Heper flesh and blood. But they are safe for now, sailing down a river where the monsters dare not enter, following the clues and secrets left behind by the Scientist, making their way towards the Promised Land. 
Soon they discover a settlement of Hepers, humans like themselves. A place called the Mission, full of everything they could have ever hoped for as a dying species. Food. Shelter. Protection from the monsters outside its fortressed walls. Finally, they have found their sanctuary. Their refuge. In a world full of creatures that wouldn’t waste a second contemplating on whether to eat you for lunch or not, a place like this is something out of Gene, Sissy, and the boy’s wildest dreams. It seems too good to be true.
Well you know what they say about that

Soon Gene and Sissy notice strange things within the Mission. Almost no men and very few boys reside inside the Mission’s walls. Most of the girls are pregnant, walking around with waddling, tiny feet and distended bellies. Women abide to a set of strict rules, and are not allowed the same privileges as the others, and the fat, strange rulers of the Mission. But this is the Promise Land. The Land of Milk and Honey. The place the group has risked their lives in searching for. But the Scientist is not here. Not where he said he’d be.
Where is the Scientist? What is the fate of Ashley June? What is really going on behind the walls of the Mission? And who, or what is the Origin?
Gene and Sissy are determined to find out. Even if it kills them.
Oh. My. Word. Uh, PERFECT sequel, party of one? Your table is ready, Mr. Fukuda. I was completely BLOWN away by this book. Not only does Mr. Fukuda thrill you with exhilarating bouts of action and adventure, throw twists and turns at you like there’s no tomorrow, and scare you so hard you jump out of your Heper skin, but he DEMANDS, once again, your attention from cover to cover.
If you read this book, your eyes are not allowed to deviate from its pages. At all. THE PREY is full of so much danger, darkness, uncertainty, and people you love as if you’ve known them your entire life. Its pages are so dark and mysterious, you don’t know what’s going to hit you when you turn the next page. Andrew Fukuda is that good. His language is fresh and lush, and you feel as if you’ve been transported to a dark and terrifying world where you fight alongside Gene and his friends. This man has exceedingly great talents.  And apparently he likes to play with us readers with his exceptional use of cliff hangers. I swear, he’s laughing at all of us behind a desk somewhere.

This is an outstanding follow up to THE HUNT, but is a thrilling tale in its own. They stand alone, shining in their brilliance, yet they go together like peanut butter and fudge. And you don’t separate genius like peanut butter and fudge. You just don’t.
If you read THE HUNT, and loved it, then your expectations of a book that will terrify you, make you cry, and turn pages like there’s no tomorrow will be blown completely sky high. Well done Mr. Fukuda. I will remain impatiently in my corner, rocking myself back and forth as I endure the time I have left to wait for the last installment. May you continue to rock and shock us with your amazing gift of wordsmithing.
The Prey is book #2 in The Hunt series by Andrew Fukuda. Published January 29, 2013 by St. Martin’s Press. ISBN: 9781250005113.  Read Cuyler’s review of book 1 here.

Book Review: The Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa

“Who are you trying to fool? People are food . . . You’re not any less of a monster then I am.”
The Eternity Cure, July Kagawa

In The Immortal Rules, book 1 in the Blood of Eden series, Allison Sekemoto made a life changing decision, technically both a life saving and a life ending choice: she choose to become a vampire rather than die.  She traveled with a group of humans, fought an evil vampire prince, and learned more about the vampire world she was living in – and about herself.  In The Eternity Cure, Allison joins forces with the one vampire she hates most, Jackal, to try and find a cure for the rabids and to save her sire, Kanin.  In this new world, the lines between human and monster continue to blur and the stakes become higher than anyone could ever have imagined.

“I hope I’m not disturbing you.”
“Not at all. At this point, I’m so disturbed that anything else will seem tame compared to the week I’ve had.”
The Eternity Cure, Julie Kagawa

The Blood of Eden series has the perfect mix of science gone bad, the world gone crazy, true love, and epic battles.  The Eternity Cure has betrayal, intrigue, and all that you can ask from a series about a dystopian world ruled by vampires who declare themselves Princes and keep humans as pets.  And Ezekiel, the potential human love interest, is a shining example of why the human race is worth saving and the perfect antidote to all those surly, questionable love interests out there in YA today.  Even in the face of gruesome deaths, plagues and the struggle for power among men disguised as monsters, The Blood of Eden series is full of stand up characters who remind us all that the choices that we make define who are. 
The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa is a previous TLT Rec of the Week

 
” . . . a demon barely restrained.”

– The Eternity Cure, Julie Kagawa

This is hands down one of my favorite vampire series out there.  As a Buffy fan, I see this as a twist on the Buffy lore: What would Buffy do if she were turned into a vampire?  To be clear, Allison is not Buffy, she does not begin as a vampire slayer but as a regular, every day human.  But she is a strong, confident young lady living in a broken world.  And when she becomes a vampire she struggles hard to maintain some resemblance of her humanity while being forced to feed on people to stay alive.  Allison forces us to think about what it means to be a monster and what it means to choose love, even if it comes as such a high price.  There is a stunning conclusion that sets us up for quite an emotional thrill ride in the next installment.  The potential romance between Allison and Zeke sizzles.  Highly recommended.  This sequel does not disappoint.

The Blood of Eden series is on my Great Reads for Buffy fans list and is a great addition to those who like to read about plagues and epidemicsThe Eternity Cure by Julie Kagawa will be released in May of 2013 by Harlequin Teen.  ISBN: 978-0-373-21069-5.

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Take 5: Vampire Books with Bite

There are no shortage of YA Vampire books, many of them extremely popular.  So here are 5 that are not wildly popular that I think should be – and as an added bonus, there are no sparkling vampires.




Peeps by Scott Westerfeld
This book rocks! In this universe, vampirism is a disease.  And every other chapter is a look at a real parasite in the world of biology.  So you read a great vampire story AND you learn some freaky facts about science.  I wouldn’t eat while you are reading it, but I would read it.

Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey
You know that wicked hot guy that you keep staring down at the bus stop? He’s a vampire.  And – more importantly – you were sworn to be his bride way back when you were a wee little tot.  Surprise!

“Lucius paused, turning on his heel to face me. “I grow weary of your ignorance.” He moved closer to me, leaning down and peering into my eyes. “Because your parents refuse to inform you, I will deliver the news myself,and I shall make this simple for you.” He pointed to his chest and announced, as though talking to a child, “I am a vampire.” He pointed to my chest. “You are a vampire. And we are to be married, the moment you come of age. This has been decreed since our births.”



Chronicles of Vladimir Tod by Heather Brewer
Eighth Grade Bites, Ninth Grade Slays, Tenth Grade Bleeds, Eleventh Grade Burns, Twelfth Grade Kills
Half vampire, Vlad struggles with his blood lust urges – and the daily tribulations of life in middle school and high school.  I have a group of kids that come into the library that think this series is the best thing since sliced bread.  Eighth Grade Bites was a 2008 Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers.  There is a companion series called The Slayer Chronicles.

“Whoever had decided that school should start so early in the morning and last all day long needed to be hunted down and forced to watch hours of educational television without the aid of caffeine.”
Heather Brewer, Eighth Grade Bites



Sweetblood by Pete Hautman
Once a straight A student, Lucy now finds her life falling completely apart.  She also fears she may be turning into a vampire.  In the end, Hautman has written a very interesting look at the life of a girl with uncontrolled diabetes. Read Pete Hautman’s essay on how he came to write Sweetblood here.  For the record, this is not technically a vampire book.



Thirsty by M. T. Anderson

“People talk about the beauty of the spring, but I can’t see it. The trees are brown and bare, slimy with rain. Some are crawling with new purple hairs. And the buds are bulging like tumorous acne, and I can tell that something wet, and soft, and cold, and misshapen is about to be born.

And I am turning into a vampire.”

 
For a really great, comprehensive booklist of vampire titles and some discussion about the appeal of the vampire, check out They Suck, They Bite, They Eat, They Kill by Dr. Joni Richards Bodart.
 
Further Reading:
 

Book Review: The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

So I am starting a new list, 10 MORE books you should read if you are a Buffy fan.  And the first book that goes on that list you ask? The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa. (You can read the original list of Buffy related reads here.)

At this point, I am only interested in vampire books if 1) there is a twist on typical vampire conventions, 2) the vampires in no way sparkles and 3) they have a female character who doesn’t play into typical female stereotypes and make me want to give 1,000 warnings of please don’t do this to my teens as I hand them the book.  Okay, obviously there are a few things I wouldn’t want my teens to do I think as I hand them this book – like become a vampire – but you know, all in all I can hand this book to my teens without that twinge in my conscience.  In fact, this is a really good book.  Let me tell you why.

“You don’t dwell on what you’ve lost, you just move on.”-Allison 
Julie Kagawa, The Immortal Rules

1.  A Different Point of View
Our main character, Allison, starts out as a Unregistered Human.  This means she has to stay below the radar because she is offered no protection and isn’t giving a regular “donation” of blood to help keep the vampires alive.  BUT, on page 78 of the book our Allie is forced to make a life saving decision that will render her kinda of alive – she becomes a vampire.  So the rest of our tale is a journey into the heart and soul of a vampire that we already know and admire as a human and watching her struggle to not become the very monsters that she hates.  Kagawa introduces us to a character we care about, changes her into the monster she despises, and then let’s us journey with her into this new, uncharted territory.

“Hunger flickered, always there, but I pushed it down. I was a vampire. Nothing would change that. But I didn’t have to be a monster.”
Julie Kagawa, The Immortal Rules



2. A Different World View
In The Immortal Rules, a plague has killed a large portion of humans and vampires rule supreme.  These vampires are not hiding out in the shadows hoping not to be discovered; they are large and in charge.  Also, humans are basically cows.  Humans are herded up to give blood “donations” to keep the vampires alive.  Mooooooo.  It’s a unique enough twist on the traditional vampire tale to give this story some real legs.  (I wish I had a really good cow tipping joke to put right here, but alas – I do not.)

 
“Growing up on the fringe, you came to accept hard truths. Nothing was fair. the world was cold, unforgiving, and people died. it was just the way things were.”
Julie Kagawa, The Immortal Rules

3.  The Bad Guys are Bad to the Bone with a Capital B
Make no mistake about it, these vampires do not sparkle all pretty like when they step in the sun.  You will not fall in love with them; no, you will tremble in fear.  At one point in our story Allie’s friends are taken hostage to old Chicago and brutal things happen.

“Sometime in your life, Alison Sekemoto, you will kill a human being. Accidentally or as a conscious, deliberate act. It is unavoidable. The question is not if it will happen, but when.”
Julie Kagawa, The Immortal Rules

4. There is Backstory
Allie is saved and turned by a vampire named Kanin, who then spends some time teaching Allie everything she needs to know about being a vampire.  But Kanin has secrets that come back to haunt them both.  In fact, many of the character’s she meets on the road have back stories that intersect and look to bring about some major blows (this is book 1 in a series).

5.  There is a Subtle But Messed Up Love Story
After her stay with Kanin, Allie is forced to flee for her life.  I told you, secrets.  So she finds herself travelling with a nomad group of humans searching for Eden (a city, not the holy land) AND trying to keep her secret.  Most humans aren’t okay with vampires after all.  Remember, they are Bad to the Bone with a Capital B.  In this group Allie meets Zeke, who is a strong leader dedicated to keeping his people alive.  There are sparks.  There are secrets. There is also the risk that Allie might get really hungry and eat his face off.  In all seriousness, Zeke is an honorable character and it was a nice, slowly growing attraction.  It was also engaging to see Allie struggle with her emotions, her hunger, and the need to make some hard decisions.

“I wasn’t thinking of his blood, rushing just below the skin. I wasn’t thinking of his heartbeat or his touch or the pulse at his throat. Right now, all I was thinking of was Zeke.”
Julie Kagawa, The Immortal Rules

6.  There is More Mad Science
Yesterday we talked about Mad Science in Origin by Jessica Khoury and shared some other titles where people do bad things with science.  Because of some bad science, you are just as likely to turn into a Rabid as you are a vampire if one tries to turn you.  It’s a gamble.  Rabids are – well – rabid; think rabid dogs but with vampires.

7.  Books!
The ruling vampires have taken one thing out of the dystopian playbook: books are forbidden.  Let’s face it, an uninformed populace is much easier to control.  Nope, there is absolutely no current day implications for this little nugget at all (she said with a wink and a nudge).  Reading is against the law. Libraries have been burned.  But our girl Allie, she is a reader and can’t help but think that if people learned to read and how the world used to be they would no longer be content with how the world currently is.

 
“Words define us,’ Mom continued, as I struggled to make my clumsy marks look like her elegant script. ‘We must protect our knowledge and pass it on whenever we can. If we are ever to become a society again, we must teach others how to remain human.”
Julie Kagawa, The Immortal Rules

In the end, The Immortal Rules has everything you would want: 8) Thrills and Chills, 9) Big Questions about humanity, government, etc. and 10) Heart.  Yes, a vampire story can have heart. 

This is not your typical vampire story; well written, unique and fully developed – The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa gets 4 out of 5 stars.  One of my few gripes with the story was the convenient way all the characters backstory intertwine themselves to bring our various groups to what will surely be major blows, but a story definitely has to have conflict and outside of the convenience of the relationships, this is certainly an interesting one. Highly recommended.

The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden, book 1) by Julie Kagawa. Published in 2012 by HarlequinTeen.  ISBN: 978-0-373-21051-0

Top 10 YA Books that Buffy fans will want to read . . .

As you know, we are in the midst of our Sunnydale Project here at TLT, where we are discussing all things Buffy blah blah blah.  Today I share with you some of my favorite must reads that will definitely satisfy Buffy fans.

Rotters by Daniel Kraus

Buffy has spent her fair share of time hanging out in graveyards waiting for vampires to rise so she can stake them through the heart.  Joey spends a lot of time in graveyards at night too, but for completely different reasons.  Sure our Slayer was quipping and the show could be funny, but sometimes it was seriously dark.  And trust me, Rotters is seriously dark and twisty and reminiscent of some of the best moments and themes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Morganville Vampires by Rachel Caine
Glass Houses is book #1

 
“Run first,’ Shane said. ‘Mourn later.’
It was the perfect motto for Morganville.” 

 

What if you went to college and learned that your college town had a secret underworld of vampires? Yeah, that’s what happens.  I love this series.  Claire’s roommates may not be showing any signs of life, but there are more than just vampires here – which makes it even more fun.

 
“There’s a ghost in this house! An unquiet spirit!”
Unquiet spirit?” Shane said under his breath. “Is that politically correct for pissed off? You know, like Undead American or something?”
 

Full Tilt by Neal Shusterman

“They were the screams of riders torn apart by the twisted reflections of their own inner selves.”
 
 


In Hush, the Gentlemen came to town and in the most amazing episode of television, and the most silent, the Gentlemen wreaked havoc and gave us all nightmares.  Full Tilt is a throwback to the days of Ray Bradbury – think Something Wicked This Way Comes.  In a very special Halloween episode of Buffy, our Scooby gang become their costumes.  Full Tilt reminds me of that kind of Buffy episode.  Blake and Quinn are brothers who find their very souls at stake when they visit a phantom carnival.  They have to ride all the ride – and they are not your normal rides – before the sun comes up or hand over their souls.
 
Bruiser by Neal Shusterman

“There’s a reason why Brewster can’t have friends – why he can’t care about too many people. Because when he cares about you, things start to happen. Impossible things that can’t be explained. I know, because they’re happening to me.”
 
 

Speaking of Neal Shusterman, one of my favorite and most underrated books ever is Bruiser by Shusterman.  This book reminds of the more emotional Buffy episodes where people can suddenly hear others thoughts.  In Bruiser, Bruiser can literally take away other people’s pain, but it means that he has to feel them.  This is an amazing and thoughtful book and if you haven’t read it yet, you should.

The Fury Trilogy by Elizabeth Miles
Fury book 1, Envy book 2

The town of Sunnydale was built right on top of the Hellmouth, and it has secrets.  Fury introduces us to a town with supernatural secrets as well.  The town in question is Ascension, Maine and Ascension is an automatic nod to Buffy, right.  Here our main characters Em and Chase are being haunted, literally, by the things they have done and someone – or some thing – is very angry.

Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross

“You went out and made magic. Made your own wishes come true.” 
 
 


There are moments on Buffy where everyone steps into some bizarro world and then suddenly, they are the Halloween costume they are wearing.  Or they become literal neanderthals from the beer that they drink.  Or they are being chased around by a cheese man in their dreams. Kill Me Softly is a look at a world where many people are living lives that are twisted version of the fairy tales.  See that girl hobbling over there down the street? She is obviously supposed to be the stepsister from Cinderella and the show didn’t fit so she hacked off her toes.  This is a dark, interesting look at a world that you can definitely see our Scooby gang making a visit too.

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

“Jazz hadn’t given her many details of exactly what life in the Dent house had been like, but he’d told her enough that she knew it wasn’t hearts and flowers. Well, except for the occasional heart cut from a chest. And the kind of flowers you send to funerals.” 
 
 


At some point or another, it seems like everyone in the Buffyverse has to try and hold back the evil inside them.  Anya is of course a demon and Angel and Spike are vampires, so they are quite literally trying to hold back evil.  But even Buffy had times where she is tempted into darkness.  And let’s not forget the story arc where Willow became addicted to magic.  I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga is also about a boy trying to hold back the evil he fears inside of him: his father is the world’s most notorious serial killer, so what does that make him.

The following books were previously reviewed and discussed.  Please click on the titles to read the reviews:

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride
Embrace/Entice by Jessica Shirvington
Every Other Day by Jenny Lynn Barnes
Ashes/Shadows by Ilsa J. Bick
Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter

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.
 
And yes, there are a few more than titles on this list – but I can live with that.  What would you add?

TRW: Bram Stoker’s Dracula vs YA Vampires

First published in 1897, Dracula by Bram Stoker is the godfather of everything vampire in today’s culture.  As history tells it, Stoker was a business manager for the Lyceum Theater in London during a time when Sherlock Holmes, The Time Machine, and The Jungle Book were all the rage.  Stoker’s Dracula would not gain cult and then critical acclaim until well into the 20th century, when his novel made it’s way onto the silver screen.


There was the 1931 Dracula starring Bela Lugosi, which is what a lot of people think when they think of Count Dracula.  In 1992, Gary Oldman took on the titular role.  1987’s The Lost Boys starring Jason Patric and Corey Haim.  This year we saw Johnny Depp reclaim Barnabas Collins and Dark Shadows, while in the past few years, Dracula has been fuzzy-wuzzied for the youth set:  Draculara of Monster High is the daughter of Dracula, while the recently released Hotel Transylvania has Dracula running a hotel for the paranormal, while trying to get his daughter to not date the human who has blundered into their mist.

 
You are about to enter the no-sparkling vampires zone . . .
Sink your teeth into these reads!


As well as movies and television, we’ve been hit with wonderful and infamous reincarnations of the vampire legend.  Bunnicula,  by James Howe, is a vampire rabbit that drains the juices from vegetables on the farm, and loved by juvenile readers since 1979.  R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike have numerous stories featuring vampires among their horror stories that, while not quite reaching critical acclaim, are devoured by readers all over.  Then Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire series and Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot.  And Stephanie Meyer revived the vampire series for teen books with her Twilight series.  What are your favorite vampire books for teens?  Share in the comments!


The Blue Bloods series by Melissa De La Cruz.  Enter the world of the Blue Bloods, not only the high society of New York, but a secret world of Vampires as well.


Peeps by Scott Westerfeld.  After a chance encounter, Cal creates vampires and must hunt them down before they can cause more damage than he can control.


The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod by Heather Brewer.  Vlad, half vampire and half human, is dealing with not only the challenges of junior high and high school, but the legacy his vampire father has gifted him.


Tantalize series by Cynthia Leitich Smith.  Left to run her parent’s bankrupt restaurant after their death, 17 year old Quincie finds her self in deep into the supernatural.


The House of Night series by PC and Kirsten Cast.  Vampires are chosen by the goddess to serve in this series, but not all vampires are serving the goddess’s true intentions.  


Rosario + Vampire series written and illustrated by Akihisa Ikeda.  When Tsukune gets enrolled into a high school for otherworlders, he quickly gets befriended by Moka, a vampire who gets addicted to his blood.


The Vampire Knight series by Matsuri Hino.  At Cross Academy  there are two different sets of classes:  Day Class, for the norms, and Night Class, for the vampires.


Sucks To Be Me by Kimberly Pauley.  Mina’s parents want her to turn:  not to religion, but to be a vampire like them.  Problem is, Mina’s not sure she wants to be.


The Vampire Kisses series by Ellen Schreiber.  When Alexander and his family move into the mansion at the top of the hill, Raven is determined to get to know him.  But will that lead to her undoing?


The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause.  Zoe, coming to terms with her mother’s illness, finds comfort in Simon, who seeks to avenge his own mother’s death 300 years earlier.
 
Be sure to check out
by Joni Richards Bodart for more paranormal awesomeness and a comprehensive look at the various vampire series out there.  This is a very informative professional development book.