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March Arc Party: What the tweens/teens thought of some upcoming titles

Because of Music and then YouTube Week, this post got pushed back. But I figure I better get it up because we just had another #ARCParty last night which I need to put up for you all. So, without further ado, here’s the recap of the March #ARCParty.

It is time once again for another ARC Party. The Tween and The Bestie were over on a Friday night and we spent the evening going through some of the ARCs I have and getting their reactions. It’s always interesting to me to see how tweens and teens respond. And now that The Tween and The Bestie are reading YA, they are a good source to get feedback from. Here’s a look at the stack of books they went through.

So here they are, gearing up. It’s interesting to note that they are really into this. They went through each book one by one. They took turns reading the backs of each book aloud to each other, discussed the cover, and really shared with me what they thought about it all. Books that they were interested in went into a TBR pile.

SHADOWSHAPER was one of the first titles that they looked at, they thought the cover was very appealing. They liked the summary a lot and it went into their yes I’m going to read this pile.

The Tween is Paris obsessed so it was no surprise that she is interested in this one. She’s actually reading it now and since it takes place in a very alternate (dystopian) Paris she isn’t sure what to think of it.

WISH GIRL is actually out now, but they both were very interested in this title.

They are fighting over reading DEVOTED by Jennifer Mathieu. Too bad for them I am going to read it first and they have to wait. As The Tween looks over my shoulder watching me type this up she is asking if she can take it to school.

SUICIDE NOTES FROM BEAUTIFUL GIRLS also received an enthusiastic yes.

We didn’t get very far with GALACTIC HOT DOGS because it says wiener right there on the cover and these are 12 and 13 year olds. Below is my favorite picture of The Tween ever, she is laughing hysterically because it says wiener. See what I have to work with here people. This was 2 weeks ago and she still walks around and will suddenly just say “wiener” and start giggling.

The first book The Tween picked to actually begin reading out of the piles is THE GAME OF LOVE AND DEATH by Martha Brockenbrough. She finished it and LOVED it. She says, “I think I might like it better than The Raven Boys”, which is a really big deal because she has walked around talking about TRB trilogy for weeks telling me it is the best thing she has ever read. She also told me a part of it was “magical”. She wants you to know that it is “really, really, really good”. She says it’s “kind of like Romeo and Juliet” and they “fall in love. Amazingly in love” but there are issues because the girl is black and the boy is white and it is set in a time when “people were discriminating against black people” (and yes, they still are and this is a good opportunity for me to talk to her about that). She says the boys are “hot” and it’s all very “magical”. Basically, she highly recommends this book, “it’s beautiful and amazing”. I had the opportunity to meet author Martha Brockenbrough this past week at TLA and I got The Tween a signed copy, making me the best mom ever. When I texted her about the book she texted back “OMG OMG OMG” followed by a lot of hearts. The Bestie is now reading THE GAME OF LOVE AND DEATH and she also is highly recommending it. I would love to see this one get lots of attention because it’s really well written. It comes out April 28th and you don’t want to miss it.

Publisher’s Book Description for THE GAME OF LOVE AND DEATH: Antony and Cleopatra. Helen of Troy and Paris. Romeo and Juliet. And now . . . Henry and Flora.

For centuries Love and Death have chosen their players. They have set the rules, rolled the dice, and kept close, ready to influence, angling for supremacy. And Death has always won. Always.

Could there ever be one time, one place, one pair whose love would truly tip the balance?

Meet Flora Saudade, an African-American girl who dreams of becoming the next Amelia Earhart by day and sings in the smoky jazz clubs of Seattle by night. Meet Henry Bishop, born a few blocks and a million worlds away, a white boy with his future assured — a wealthy adoptive family in the midst of the Great Depression, a college scholarship, and all the opportunities in the world seemingly available to him.

The players have been chosen. The dice have been rolled. But when human beings make moves of their own, what happens next is anyone’s guess.

Achingly romantic and brilliantly imagined, The Game of Love and Death is a love story you will never forget.”

Tomorrow, we’ll be talking about some of the books I brought home from TLA.

Take 5: 5 ARCs I Picked Up at ALA That I Can’t Wait to Read

This year at ALA Annual I learned lots of things, met lots of people, and came back with a ton of ideas I wanted to pitch. But in the end, it always comes back to the books for me and I saw lots of great ones. From rain that will kill you to a book that asks you to determine the truth from the lies, here are 5 of the ARCs I picked up at ALA 2014 that I am dying to read asap. All the descriptions are publisher’s descriptions, but they are intriguing. You’ll also want to check out these 5 fall YA lit titles that I have read and Highly Recommend.

H2O by Virginia Bergin

It’s in the rain…and just one drop will kill you.

They don’t believe it at first. Crowded in Zach’s kitchen, Ruby and the rest of the partygoers laugh at Zach’s parents’ frenzied push to get them all inside as it starts to drizzle. But then the radio comes on with the warning, “It’s in the rain! It’s fatal, it’s contagious, and there’s no cure.”

Two weeks later, Ruby is alone. Anyone who’s been touched by rain or washed their hands with tap water is dead. The only drinkable water is quickly running out. Ruby’s only chance for survival is a treacherous hike across the country to find her father-if he’s even still alive.

Coming October 2014 from Sourcebooks Fire. ISBN: 9781492606543

Karen’s Note: End of the world scenarios? Sign me up. With real world concerns about today’s water supply and environmental issues, this is a timely read. It also sounds like it would make a good pairing with Not a Drop to Drink by Mindy McGinnis.

Press Play by Eric Devine

Greg Dunsmore, a.k.a. Dun the Ton, is focused on one thing: making a documentary that will guarantee his admission into the film school of his choice. Every day, Greg films his intense weight-loss focused workouts as well as the nonstop bullying that comes from his classmates. But when he captures footage of violent, extreme hazing by his high school’s championship-winning lacrosse team in the presence of his principal, Greg’s field of view is in for a readjustment.

Greg knows there is a story to be told, but it is not clear exactly what. And his attempts to find out the truth only create more obstacles, not to mention physical harm upon himself. Yet if Greg wants to make his exposé his ticket out of town rather than a veritable death sentence, he will have to learn to play the game and find a team to help him.

Combine the underbelly of Friday Night Lights with the unflinching honesty of Walter Dean Myers, and you will find yourself with Eric Devine’s novel of debatable truths, consequences, and realities.

Coming October 2014 from Running Press Teens. ISBN: 9780762455126 

Karen’s Note: Eric Devine is an excellent author who writes powerful, gritty stories from the male point of view. He also has written several posts for us here at TLT and wrote a chapter in the upcoming booking The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services. He has a heart for getting guys to read and you should definitely check him out. 

Chasing Power by Sarah Beth Durst

Lies, secrets, and magic — three things that define Kayla’s life.

Sixteen-year-old Kayla plans to spend her summer hanging out on the beach in Santa Barbara and stealing whatever she wants, whenever she wants it. Born with the ability to move things with her mind — things like credit cards, diamond rings, and buttons on cash registers — she has become a master shoplifter. She steals to build up a safety net, enough money for her and her mom to be able to flee if her dad finds them again. Well, that, and the thrill of using her secret talents.

But her summer plans change when she’s caught stealing by a boy named Daniel — a boy who needs her help and is willing to blackmail her to get it. Daniel has a talent of his own. He can teleport, appearing anywhere in the world in an instant, but he lies as easily as he travels. Together, they embark on a quest to find and steal an ancient incantation, written on three indestructible stones and hidden millennia ago, all to rescue Daniel’s kidnapped mother. But Kayla has no idea that this rescue mission will lead back to her own family — and to betrayals that she may not be able to forgive… or survive.

Coming October 2014 from Walker Books, an imprint of Bloomsbury. ISBN: 9780802737564

Karen’s note: If you haven’t yet read CONJURED by Sarah Beth Durst, you really should rectify that quickly. CONJURED is a bizarre and twisted in every epically awesome way possible retelling of the Pinocchio story with circuses, serial killers, and a teenage girl who can’t remember who she is and when she does it may be deadly.

There Will be Lies by Nick Lake

New from Printz winner Nick Lake—the ultimate thrill ride about the lies others tell us . . . and the lies we tell ourselves.

Shelby Jane Cooper’s world is the town of Scottsdale, Arizona, where she’s home-schooled, hits balls at the batting cage, visits the library, and sees The Boy. Life in her city in the desert is one big routine, like ice-cream-for-dinner Fridays: normal.

But in four hours, she’ll be struck by a car, and that’s when normal ends.

Barely recovered from the accident, Shelby is inexplicably whisked away by her mother—away from the hospital, her home, and everything she loves—on a manic road trip to the Grand Canyon.

Shelby’s mother says that everything’s fine. But with mile after mile falling fast behind them, Shelby starts to question everything she knows about her life and tries to piece together what’s real, what isn’t, and who she can ultimately trust.

Master storyteller Nick Lake hooks readers from page one in this emotional rollercoaster which rockets from one dramatic twist to the next until the book’s shocking conclusion.

Coming in January 2015 from Bloomsbury. ISBN: 9781619634404

Karen’s Note: Everything about this sounds good. Sign me up. The cover has not yet been revealed for this title.

Sublime by Christina Lauren

True love may mean certain death in a ghostly affair of risk and passion from New York Times bestselling duo Christina Lauren, authors of Beautiful Bastard. Tahereh Mafi, New York Times bestselling author of Shatter Me calls Sublime “a beautiful, haunting read”.

When Lucy walks out of a frozen forest, wearing only a silk dress and sandals, she isn’t sure how she got there. But when she sees Colin, she knows for sure that she’s here for him.

Colin has never been captivated by a girl the way he is by Lucy. With each passing day their lives intertwine, and even as Lucy begins to remember more of her life—and her death—neither of them is willing to give up what they have, no matter how impossible it is. And when Colin finds a way to physically be with Lucy, taking himself to the brink of death where his reality and Lucy’s overlap, the joy of being together for those brief stolen moments drowns out everything in the outside world. But some lines weren’t meant to be crossed…

Coming October 2014 from Simon &Schuster. ISBN: 9781481413701

Karen’s Note: Sometimes I am shallow, but I think this is a pretty cover. And I know that tons of my readers will be lining up for this one. Beautiful and haunting are some of my favorite book descriptors so I am in.

And Now for a Giveaway

I accidentally picked up two copies of THERE WILL BE LIES by Nick Lake while at ALA. Or perhaps the Tween picked one up. However it happened, I accidentally got two which means someone else didn’t get one so I am going to give one of mine away. You can enter to win two ways: 1) Leave a comment here with follow back information like an email or Twitter handle and/or 2) Tweet about the giveaway – helping to spread the word – and copy and paste a link to your tweet in the comments. We’ll accept entries until this Sunday, the 13th, at Midnight. Open to U.S. residents.

What upcoming releases are you looking forward to? Share in the comments. I would hate to miss a great book!   

10 to Look for in 2014- Christie’s Most Wanted (as of today….)

Looking forward, at least for today, and there are so many titles to drool over! Of course, I say that every year, but OH, so many good ones it’s hard to narrow it down to 10!

“This second novel begins in 1940, immediately after the first book ended. Having escaped Miss Peregrine’s island by the skin of their teeth, Jacob and his new friends must journey to London, the peculiar capital of the world. Along the way, they encounter new allies, a menagerie of peculiar animals, and other unexpected surprises.” January 2014

“When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is splintered. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a higher price than she’d ever expected. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai, especially the cyborg mechanic. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has.”
Oh, it is soooooo good, and my teens are begging for it.  February 2014

“When a brutal angel army trespasses into the human world, Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat–and against larger dangers that loom on the horizon. They begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves–maybe even toward love.” April 2014
“Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.
Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game; he’s sure of it. But what he doesn’t know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.”
Have read it in eArc, and ooooooooooooooohhhhhhhh, it does NOT let you down. 
March 2014
 “Author and photographer Susan Kuklin met and interviewed six transgender or gender-neutral young adults and used her considerable skills to represent them thoughtfully and respectfully before, during, and after their personal acknowledgment of gender preference. Portraits, family photographs, and candid images grace the pages, augmenting the emotional and physical journey each youth has taken. Each honest discussion and disclosure, whether joyful or heartbreaking, is completely different from the other because of family dynamics, living situations, gender, and the transition these teens make in recognition of their true selves.” February 2014

“A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.”
May 2014
I have this in eArc, and have been saving it for a break in committee/stress work to actually savor it.
“However, it only takes one urgent call to bring Alpha back home to Anthem, the older brother who raised her as well as a revolution, and Omega, her twin brother whose contrasting personality makes her feel whole. As Alpha spends more time in the Web, she notices that the number of people who look sickly and addicted seems to be rising. With Anthem’s health declining, Alpha and her friends will have to dig deeper into the mainframe than ever before in order to find the root of the Corp’s re-emergence.” May 2014
“Micah has another juggling act to perform—he must help Maske, the magician who takes in he and Drystan, at his last chance for redemption, escape those who pursue him, see where his feelings for Drystan will go, and find out how he and Cyan are tied into the mysteries of ancient and modern Ellada. ” January 2014

America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown—or to Prince Maxon’s heart. But as the competition approaches its end and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realizes just how much she stands to lose—and how hard she’ll have to fight for the future she wants.” May 2014

” Trapped in a weird, snow-choked valley, Emma meets other kids with dark secrets and strange abilities: Eric, Casey, Bode, Rima, and a very special little girl, Lizzie. What they discover is that they–and Emma–may be nothing more than characters written into being from an alternative universe for a very specific purpose. Now what they must uncover is why they’ve been brought to this place–a world between the lines where parallel realities are created and destroyed and nightmares are written–before someone pens their end.” February 2014

What Robin is Anticipating in 2014

Here are 10 books I am excited for in 2014

*The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson (January 7, 2014) I was fortunate enough to get and advanced copy of this, and it’s brilliant, and just as important as her other issue novels. This is an eye opening look at post traumatic stress and the toll it takes on a family.

*Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo (June 3, 2014) I still need to read Siege and Storm, but Shadow and Bone was one of my favorite books I read this year.

*Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins (April 8, 2014) Yes, I’ve already read this one, too – read my review here

*Firebug by Lish McBride (Fall 2014) Because, honestly, I’d read a menu by Lish McBride. If you haven’t read Hold Me Closer, Necromancer or its sequel, Necromancing the Stone, what are you waiting for?

*We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (May 13, 2014) I just got approved for an eARC of this, and I am SUPER excited! It seems like all of the authors I follow on Twitter (and many of the librarians) have either already read this or are super excited about it.

*The Unbound by Victoria Schwab (January 28, 2014) A most prolific young author! I am excited to be able to experience her long term trajectory as it unfolds. I feel like I am getting in on the ground level of a really exciting IPO – does that even make sense?

*Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray (August 5, 2014) This is the second book in Bray’s Diviners series. I would love to be a fly on the wall in the genius that is Libba Bray’s mind.

*The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (June 10, 2014) Oh, the drama! This is the conclusion of the Mara Dyer Trilogy.

*Dangerous by Shannon Hale (March 4, 2014) Something new from Shannon Hale, sign me up!

*The Eye of Zoltar by Jasper Fforde (April 10, 2014 – UK release date?) Um…yeah. It’s Jasper Fforde. Read of my love of his works here or here. This is apparently the UK pub date; I’ve been unable to find a US pub date. My local bookstore may be getting an international order.

    Because Love is a Deadly Disease: The REQUIEM ARC giveaway

    So, here’s the situation.  If you followed TLT last year, you know that I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Delirium series by Lauren Oliver.  I woke up in the middle of the night and wrote here a love letter.  I dragged my family across the city to meet author Lauren Oliver.  Christie went to ALA Annual with one instruction: Do Not Come Home unless you bring me an ARC of REQUIEM by Lauren Oliver.  Which she did. (Who loves you Christie? That’s right – ME!)

    BUT THEN . . . I turns out that neither Heather or Christie have read Delirium.  Insert for shame face here.  It’s like, I have somehow failed them.  So, we are going to be doing a group reading and discussion.  Please join us.

    The first week of February: read Delirium and join us on Friday, February 8th for a Twitter chat.  We’ll see what Heather and Christie – and YOU! – think of book one in the series. #TLTDelirium, 2/8/2013 (time TBA)

    The second week of February is Harlequin Teen week, so you’ll have 2 weeks to read PandemoniumWe’ll have a Twitter chat on Friday, February 22nd to see what everyone thinks. #TLTDelirium, 2/22/2013 NOON CENTRAL, 1 Eastern

    Then in March, we’re all about the Requiem.  Live Tweetchat Friday, March 15th at NOON Eastern. #TLTDelirium

    To help facilitate this discussion of one of Karen’s favorite YA book series, we’re giving away a copy of the ARC for Requiem.  That’s right, I am going to give you Christie’s copy.  Not mine, don’t be silly.  We are opening the contest today and it will run through Saturday, February 9th so that we can get that copy into your hands.  The CAVEAT is, you have to do a book review for us after you read it.  I can do it but it would probably go like this: Oh I loved this book so much . . . . Or, what?! How could it have ended that way?! See, I am totally not a reliable source at this point in the game.  But don’t worry, I will share with you all the feels as I read the book.

    And you did hear, right? They are going to be making Delirium into a TV series.

    All the info you need to enter the contest appears below.  Don’t let the amor delirium nervosa get to you.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Win this ARC! Ask the Passengers by A. S. King

    So, I read this book on Mother’s Day and had a moment.  Maybe you read about it.  If not, read about it here: A LETTER TO A. S. KING.

    Anyhow, I LOVE this book. Stephanie Wilkes loves this book. Christie Gibrich loves this book.  We were all amazed by the writing and the message.  So here’s what we are going to do – give you a chance to read it too!

    Good Reads Summary: Astrid Jones copes with her small town’s gossip and narrow-mindedness by staring at the sky and imagining that she’s sending love to the passengers in the airplanes flying high over her backyard. Maybe they’ll know what to do with it. Maybe it’ll make them happy. Maybe they’ll need it. Her mother doesn’t want it, her father’s always stoned, her perfect sister’s too busy trying to fit in, and the people in her small town would never allow her to love the person she really wants to: another girl named Dee. There’s no one Astrid feels she can talk to about this deep secret or the profound questions that she’s trying to answer. But little does she know just how much sending her love–and asking the right questions–will affect the passengers’ lives, and her own, for the better.

    Entering to win is super easy. 
    Just leave a comment and tell us why you love A. S. King or any of her previous books (you have read them, right?).  And, if you Tweet about the contest and leave a link to it in the comments – boom – you are entered to win again.  Be sure to leave either an e-mail or a Twitter @ so we can contact you if you win. Thanks and good luck!
    This contest is open to people in the U.S. and you have until Wednesday, August 15th to enter and win.

    Because we have another fun contest coming up soon with A. S. King.  We are going to do a live Google Chat with this fabby fab author and one lucky winner will get to join us.  The fun part, we’re going to do it wearing togas! It makes sense if you read the book, trust me.  So sometime soon look for the announcement so you can enter to win to be a part of our online Google Chat with the award winning A. S. King.  The chat will be recorded and posted for everyone to see.  Like I said, details will be coming soon regarding this epic contest.
    More A. S. King at TLT:
    Author Jenny Torres Sanchez discusses Please Ignore Vera Deitz as part of our Why YA? series.  She will soon be doing a review of Ask the Passengers for us, so keep your eyes out for that, too.  And be sure to check out her debut novel The Downside of Being Charlie.

    ALA Midwinter: The ARCs (April)

    Well, you probably thought I was never going to get back to it. And yet, here they are: a look at some of the titles coming your way in April 2012. Hang on to your seat because there are a lot of them. Remember, these are just brief overviews to help you get an idea of what you want to look for not actual reviews (unless otherwise noted).  This is not, of course, a look at everything that is coming out, just the stuff I got ARCs for at ALA.

    Belles by Jen Calonita

    Front cover blurb: Two Southern girls. One life-changing secret.
    Back cover blurb: “Jen Calonita keeps it fresh and funny!” – Meg Cabot, author of the Princess Diaries
    First lines: Isabelle Scott kicked her legs, propelling herself to the ocean surface with a final burst of adrenaline even as her lungs screamed for air.

    Jen Calonita is the author of the Secrets of My Hollywood Life series, so you know this is indeed going to be fresh and funny (who is going to argue with Meg Cabot?).  Isabelle Scott is taken from living life on the boardwalk of North Carolina to live with a long-lost uncle, and his privileged Southern family, after tragedy strikes.  Her and her cousin, Mirabelle Monroe, do not get along. But what happens when they find out that they aren’t really cousins, but sisters? 

    Poison Most Vial: A mystery by Benedict Carey

    Back cover blurb: Murder in the lab!
    First lines: Squirming her shoulders like a penguin, head down under a spray of yellow hair, Ruby Rose pushed through the tangle of legs, arms, and backpacks at the door and tripped down the steps of DeWitt Lab School, annoyed about something but not sure what it was.

    This year the SRC theme in Texas is mysteries, so I am looking high and low for new teen mysteries. It’s harder then you would think in the sea of fantasy and paranormals that currently dominate the market.  In this mystery, Ruby Rose’s father is the prime suspect when a famous forensic scientist turns up stone-cold dead. Ruby Rose may be the only one who can clear his name. Benedict Carey is a science reporter for the New York Times and is the author of Island of the Unknowns, which made the TXLA Lone Star Reading List.

    Dying to Know You by Aidan Chambers

    Back cover blurb: From one of the most celebrated writers of young adult fiction comes an unforgettable novel of love, identity, and finding one’s voice. With a node to Cyrano de Bergerac, the story follows the romance of Karl, a shy, likable plumber’s assistant, and Florella, the just-out-of-reach girls he hopes to impress.
    First lines: “Could I talk to you?”

    Aidan Chambers is a multiple award winner, including the Michael L. Printz award for Postcards from No Man’s Land. And just in time for National Poetry Month, there are some poems inside the novel.  Fiorella is an aspiring writer and she asks Karl to bare his soul to her in letter form. Karl in turn convinces her favorite novelist to write the letter for him.  Can the two of them ever come together?

    13 Hangmen by Art Corriveau

    Back cover blurb: Some people won’t believe any of this story. You might be one of them. But every single word is true. Tony diMarco does catch a murderer, solve a mystery, and find a treasure – all in the first few days after he moves, unexpectedly, to 13 Hangmen’s Court in Boston. The fact that he also turns thirteen at the same time is not a coincidence.
    First lines: Tony DiMarco kicked his sneakers off at the backdoor mat, as usual. He flung his book bag onto the kitchen table, as usual. But he didn’t raise the fridge for a slice of leftover cake as usual. It wasn’t an as-usual kind of day.

    Tony DiMarco inherits a townhouse in Boston with the stipulation that only he is allowed to inhabit the house’s top floor. The house is not what they expect and to make matters even worse, he learns that someone was murdered in the very bed he is now sleeping in. The night before his 13th birthday he sets a baseball cap on a shelf, and wakes up in what appears to be 1939. In a mystery that spans several decades, Tony and Angelo search for a treasure hidden in the house while trying to avoid others who will stop at nothing to find it for themselves.  This book should appeal to J and younger teens looking for a good mystery or interested in sports.

    Son of a Gun by Anne de Graaf

    Back cover blurb: I was crazy. Crazy mad. That’s how I felt when I turned in my AK-47 rifle. The commanding officer’s growl still haunts me: “This gun is your god. You listen to the voice of your god and go where your gun tells you.”
    First lines: Do you wonder who this boy is? This boy who is telling you this story? This boy is my brother.

    In an opening piece, author Anne de Graff talks about the civil war in Liberia and how children are forced to fight in this war, being called upon to hurt others. She says that parts of this story will be hard to read just as they were hard to tell.  This is the story of Lucky (8) and Nopi (10); they are kidnapped and made to become child soldiers in Liberia’s 14-year-long civil war. This story is based on the true stories of former child soldiers interviewed by Anne de Graaf.  This will be an important multicultural title to help tweens and teens understand what it is like to live in a country torn by civil war where children are forced to be soldiers.

    Mister Death’s Blue-Eyed Girls by Mary Downing Hahn

    Back cover blurb: Tomorrow will be the last day of Nora’s junior year. Nora heads for the party in the park, laughing and chatting with her friends, eager to leave her usual quiet, careful self behind. Other kids are drinking beer, flirting, pairing off, dancing. Even the hostile presence of a jealous ex-boyfriend can’t spoiled the fun. In a few hours, though, Mister Death will make his move.
    First lines: He opens his eyes. It’s still dark, way before dawn. He’d willed himself to wake at 3 a.m., and he’s done it. He hadn’t dared to set the alarm. What if someone heard it go off? No, he and his brother must leave the house without anyone knowing. Not his family. Not the neighbors.

    Mary Downing Hahn can always be counted on for an eerie ghost story; here she writes a novel inspired by true crime and “of the real-life ghosts who have haunted her for most of her life.” This will be a must have.

    172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad (Full review here)

    Back cover blurb: It’s been decades since anyone set foot on the moon. But three ordinary teenagers are about to change that – and their lives – forever.
    First lines: “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,” Mia Nomeland said, giving her parents an unenthusiastic look.
    It seems like the opportunity of a life time. A chance, as a teenager, to go to the moon. But according to the back cover, there is something sinister waiting on the dark side of the moon and “no one is coming to save them.” There are some eerie black and white pictures inside the book and great chapter titles like “silence” and “contact”. And I love that it appears to be a straight Sci Fi book as opposed to fantasy (which I love also, it’s just that the Sci Fi genre – like many other genres these days – is being pushed aside in favor of the fantasy/paranormal market).

    Lyga also gets the award for best packaging – ever!
    I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga (Full review here)
    Back cover blurb: What if the world’s worst serial killer . . . was your dad?
    First lines: It was a beautiful day. It was a beautiful field. Except for the body.

    Jazz is a likable teenager. He is also the son of one of the most prolific and notorious serial killers, now serving 32 consecutive life terms in prison for murdering more than 100 people.  He taught Jazz everything he knows, conditioning him from a young age to take over the family business. Jazz is trying very hard to find another way, so when a body ends up in a field he knows it is a new serial killer and he wants to use everything his father taught him to help solve the crime. I have read the first 100 pages of this book and it is sooooooo good. Lyga really knows how to build characters and turn phrases and crank up the mystery. A twist is coming.  This is a must read.

    Side note – This title contains one of my favorite descriptions of a house:
    The Dent house, a rickety colonial in a state of disrepair, sat along this drive like an afterthought, equisdistant between the McMansion and the main road. Everything about the house said, “Oh, that’s right, now I remember . . .” as though the house were slowly forgetting itself into nonexistence . . . Right here in the very middle of Middle America, hell had been born and suckled and matured. (Page 61)

    Racing California by Janet Nichols Lynch

    Back cover blurb: What if you had a chance to race with the pros?
    First lines: Ouch! I rise out of the saddle to stomp on the pedals and my quads scream in pain.

    Evan has the chance to cycle in the Amgen Tour of California with a Tour de France winner. Janet Nichols Lynch began her writing career as a cycling journalist and is herself a cyclist so this should have tons of authentic action. And it is great to see a sports book on the ya market that looks at cycling.

    The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen

    Back cover blurb: A bold plot leads an orphan on a terrible journey . . . to the brink of treason
    First lines: If I had to do it all over again, I would not have chosen this life.

    In a kingdom on the verge of civil war, a contest is held to find a young man to impersonate the king’s son.  All may not be what it seems in this fantasy adventure and Sage must discover the truth and save himself and his land.

    The Storm Makers by Jennifer E. Smith

    Back cover blurb: Enter the world of the Storm Makers, where there’s magic behind every forecast.
    First lines: Only Ruby knew about the stranger in the barn.

    Strange storms keeping happening on the farm and a stranger comes and tell twins Ruby and Simon that Simon is a storm maker; he is part of a group of people who are entrusted with controlling the weather. Soon Simon is in grave danger as he tries to master his powers in time to stop a rogue Storm Maker’s deadly plans.  Storms and weather are a popular theme right now in J/Tween lit it seems so this will be a good title to add to the collection.  Jennifer E. Smith is the author of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight and this title is geared to the upper end of the J/lower end of the YA market.

    The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict by Trenton Lee Stewart

    Back cover blurb: Long before there was a Mysterious Benedict Society, there was a brilliant young boy named Nicholas Benedict
    First lines: The train station at Pebbleton, dark and sooty though it was, glistened in the mist.

    The Mysterious Benedict Society is a wildly popular mystery series, and rightfully so. Here young readers are invited to learn about the beginning of the society and the enigmatic Mr. Benedict himself. This is a must have. Pair it with one of my other favorite mysteries: The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin.
    Next ARC preview: May 2012

    ALA Midwinter Highlights, The ARCs (March 2012)

    Although ARCs (advanced reader’s copies) are not the main point of ALA (there is so much to see and learn there, see my previous post), it is interesting to get a look firsthand at some of the books being released in the upcoming year for teens.  Many of us are operating on limited budgets (I know I am) and need to make every dollar spent count.  We are looking for popular but well written titles that will get teens reading and keep them coming back for more. We are also looking to develop a balanced collection that meets the very wide variety of needs and interests out there.  Here is a look at some of the books set for March 2012 release dates that I learned about at ALA. This does not, in any way, cover all the titles coming to you in March, and I will be reviewing some of the titles more fully for you throughout the course of the year.

    March 2012

    Me, and Earl, and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
    Back cover blurb: “A Funny, Profane, Heartbreaking Debut Novel” – You, hopefully
    First lines: So in order to understand everything that happened, you have to start from the premise that high school sucks.
    In just a brief overview, I can tell you that this title is witty and clever.  It includes a note from the author that says, “I have no idea how to write this stupid book.”  And that first line is indeed a grabber, and a premise that is hard to argue with. Although I only browsed through this title, it is clever and witty and is fun. The dying girl mentioned is a senior with cancer, so it will be interesting to see what kind of reception this book gets in the year of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I will definitely be reading this one.

    Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby

    Cover blurb: “A discovery, a rare bird, a Book You Want to Tell Everyone About. Everyone: Read Wonder Show and pass it on.” – Laini Taylor
    First lines: Wayward can mean a lot of things. It can mean lost, misled, unfortunate, left behind. That is the way the girls at The Home thought of themselves, despite their best efforts to live some other way.
    Portia joins at traveling freakshow to escape Mister, who said he would always find Portia.  I love the back cover description of this book:
    Oh, it’s not for the faint-of-heart folks. If you’re prone to nightmares or you’ve a weak ticker, you’d best move on. Within these pages lies a tale of abandonment, loss, misfortune for the rich, and glory for the poor (and a little murder doesn’t hurt). It’s a story for the ages, but be warned: once you enter the Wonder Show, you will never be the same.

    This title has an eye-catching cover and the back cover is sure to draw readers in. And who can argue with Laini Taylor?

    Traitor’s Son (The Raven Duet, book 2) by Hilari Bell
    Cover blurb: When Jason catches the small bag that a girl throws to him at the Canadian/Alaska bordering during a gun fight. all he can this is the bag must contain drugs. But if the small, brown powder is some sort of illegal substance, it’s certainly nothing he’s ever seen.
    First lines: Raven felt the change in the catalyst the moment the pouch left the girl’s hand, so sharply that he feared she’d died.
    It’s hard to imagine going wrong with Hilari Bell, and if you already have book 1 and it circulates for you then you will definitely want book 2.

    Chomp by Carl Hiaasen
    Back cover blurb: Wahoo Cray’s life is a zoo – literally.
    First lines: Mickey Cray has been out of work ever since a dead iguana fell from a palm tree and hit him on the head.
    Honestly, how can you go wrong with Carl Hiaasen? I feel like that is all I need to say here. But I will give you more . . . Chomp is the tale of Wahoo, the son of Mickey Cray, professional animal wrangle.  The two of them set off to the Everglades to film a show called Expedition Survival where they are joined by  Tuna, a girl who is sporting a shiner courtesy of her dad.  Will any of them survive this Everglade adventure?  Hiaasen can always be counted on for warm and witty with lots of animal adventures thrown in and you’ll probably by this title based on name recognition alone.

    One Dog and His Boy by Eva Ibbotson
    Cover blurb: All Hal had ever wanted was a dog . . .
    First lines: All Hal had ever wanted was a dog.
    This book is really for the tween market; the main character is Hal, who is ten years old.  There is not a lot of information on the back cover (the cover blurb is it), but the first few pages were a nice easy read and will probably fit the bill for kids loving for animal stories. Eva Ibbotson is a New York Times bestselling author.

    The Paradise Trap by Catherine Jinks
    Back cover blurb: Open a door . . . into the paradise trap!
    First lines: Marcus didn’t want to spend his summer vacation at the beach. He wasn’t a beach person.
    Catherine Jinks is the author of Evil Genius, which is a good read, and The Reformed Vampire Support Group.  Here she weaves another tale that is dark and twisted.  When his parents buy a trailer, Marcus knows it will be a horrible vacation.  But when Marcus opens a door in the basement, he finds a door to a land that may be his most amazing dream, or his worst nightmare. If you are familiar with Catherine Jinks work you know that she does dark and edgy with a sarcastic twist with excellence.  If you are not familiar with Catherine Jink – well, why not? But seriously, this has a good premise and should be a fun, adventurous read. The cover picture skews younger ya.

    The Fairy Ring: or Elsi and Frances Fool the World (a true story) by Mary Losure

    Back cover blurb: This is a true story about Frances, age nine, who saw fairies by the waterfall behind her house.
    First lines: For as long as she could remember, Frances’s parents had told her stories about England. But when she got there, the real England wasn’t like the stories at all.

    In 1917, two young girls took pictures claiming to have seen fairies. These photographs, known as the Cottingly fairies, are considered one of the world’s greatest hoaxes.  These photographs captured the attention of the world, including the famous author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  Here, Mary Losure looks at a variety of real world sources, including some primary sources, to tell the tale from the two young girls point of view.  This is delightful nonfiction; easy to read, tells a story that will interest a variety of reader’s from a variety of angles, and definitely is a currently popular topic – fairies are everywhere.  There are some photos scanned into the book, including the very fairy photos themselves.  This book should be popular and fly off the shelves.

    Eye of the Storm by Kate Messner
    Back cover blurb: In this fast-paced dystopian adventure, kids must find a way to stop killer tornadoes.
    First lines: There are no words to describe this sound.
    This is a unique twist on the dystopian novels that adds killer storms into the mix; there is a definite interest in storms and natural disasters among tweens and young teens in some of the popular fiction being released lately – think the Storm Runners series for example.  In this future, the world is being torn apart by storms and Jaden Meggs is sent to live with her father for the summer.  His research is part of the plan to help protect the future, but Jaden learns a terrible secret about his research.  As a huge tornado approaches their safe haven, Jaden must decide what she is going to do with the knowledge that she has and whether or not she can stand up to her father.  There is a definite emphasis on science and Jaden is presented as a young girl with a strong passion and mind for science, that always makes a book a plus.

    Dead is a Battlefield by Marlene Perez
    Back cover blurb: A favorite series is back – with a brand new heroine who can kick butt.
    First lines: I took a deep breath before I pushed open the door of Slim’s Diner.
    Jessica Walsh just wants to have a normal high school experience, but if you know about Nightshade you know that is probably not going to happen. For starters, the new guy at school doesn’t just make girls swoon, he seems to turn them into zombies. She also is sporting a wicked new tattoo – that suddenly appeared without her consent – that alerts her to trouble.  Is Jessica supposed to be Nightshade’s newest hero? This is a fun series and the newest entry shouldn’t disappoint.  They have fabulous eye-catching covers that definitely maintain a consistent brand and appeal to teen readers.

    Embrace by Jessica Shirvington
    Back cover blurb: It starts with a whisper. “It’s time for you to know who you are . . .”
    First lines: Birthdays aren’t my thing.
    Violet Eden is having a very bad 17th birthday the back cover says.  When she dreams, she wakes up with real injuries.  She has just been told that she is only half human.  The evidence seems to suggest that this book, which is the first in a new series, is about angels (currently popular in teen fiction).  BUT, before you write this book off as another angel series (think Fallen by Lauren Kate or Hush Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick), you should know that out of all the more than 50 ARCs I brought back from ALA this was the first one my husband picked up to read.  He stayed up all night reading it (in the words of James Patteson, is was unputdownable – the Mr. said it was definitely worth staying up for) and said it was “very good” (this is high praise coming from him). When pressed, he gave it a 9 out of 10 and said that he was looking forward to reading the next book in the series (He actually said ask them to send the second book and I told him we did not do those things, it was bad form; he will learn).  He said it was “well developed” and “believable”. The cover is eye-catching, the topic is hot, and the Mr., who is an intense critic, recommends it. This is a must have. 

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wckF97bQt_8]

    As I mentioned, these are not full reviews but brief overviews to help you make some informed decisions with your purchasing budgets.  Full reviews for some titles will be coming.

    Tomorrow: my review of BZRK by Michael Grant

    ALA Midwinter Highlights: The ARCs (January and February)

    On Monday I shared with you things I loved and learned at the ALA Midwinter exhibits. Today, I share with you the best part of ALA – the ARCs (Advanced Reader’s Copy).  So this is not the world’s longest blog post ever, today we will cover titles set to be released in January or February of 2012.  Other attendees got different arcs (Pandemonium *cough cough*) because it depends on what time of day you visit and other factors so I recommend that you visit other blogs throughout the year to get reviews of upcoming titles.  The February 2012 edition of VOYA has a list of recommended blogs so that is a good place to start.  Some that you will definitely want to keep an eye on include Girls in the Stacks and the YA Bookshelf.  Stay tuned here, too, because I will be reviewing my ARCs in order of release date (and bringing you updates about teen issues, programming, marketing and more.)  These next few posts will just be an overview of the ARCs I received for your enjoyment.

    January 2012

    Pure Love, Pure Life: Exploring God’s Heart on Purity by Elsa Kok Colopy (Zondervan)
    Since this is published by Zondervan, you know right off the bat that it has a Christian message, which in this case is sexual purity. This is aimed at older teens so it is filled with a lot of information, stories and discussion questions.  There are no pretty pictures or sidebars to catch one’s eye; it’s focus is on really digging into the meet of the issue and making you think. At the end of each chapter there are a list of discussion/journal questions.

    The Boy Project (Notes and Observations of Kara McAllister) by Kami Kinard (Scholastic)
    Cover blurb: “I, Katie McAllister, will change my image before the end of the school year. By ‘change my image’ I mean ‘get a boyfriend.’ And I know exactly how I’m going to do it . . . “
    First line: I am starting this experiment because I have no choice.
    With an appealing cover and some fun internal elements (such as note cards, quizzes, notes, etc.), this title should appeal to readers.  I haven’t read the entire work so I can’t give you a definitive go for it, but the first few chapters have a catchy tone to them, an authentic voice in the narrator and just enough spunk that this should be a success.  It definitely capitalizes on the inclusion of visual elements we see in titles like The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and fans of that will probably like this title as well.

    In Darkness by Nick Lake (Bloomsbury)
    Cover blurb: A stunning tour-de-force set in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake
    Opening line: “I am the voice in the dark, calling out for your help.”
    The earthquake in question takes place in Haiti.  There is a note to the reader from the author at the beginning that discusses his response to the Haitian earthquake and claims that little in the book is made up.  A brief browse through the book makes it clear that this is a look at light versus darkness, hope versus despair and how in the midst of darkness one can in fact find hope.  At the end of the author’s note he writes: But we’ve all been in darkness, so we all know the other side of it – that sometimes, afterwards, there is light.  There are not a lot of titles on the topic of Haiti so on that basis alone it seems like it would be a good multicultural addition.  It will be interesting to read.

    Fracture by Megan Miranda (Walker & Company)
    Back cover description: A lot can happen in eleven minutes.  Decker can run two miles easily in eleven minutes.  I once wrote an English essay in ten. No lie. And God knows Carson Levine can talk a girl out of her clothes in half that time.  Eleven minutes might as well be eternity under water.  It only takes three minutes without air for loss of consciousness. Permanent brain damage begins at four minutes. And then, when the oxygen runs out, full cardiac arrest occurs. Death is possible at five minutes. Probably at seven. Definite at ten. Decker pulled me out at eleven.
    First line: The first time I died, I didn’t see God.
    To be honest, I can’t wait to read this one.

    The Storyteller by Antonia Michaelis (Amulet Books)
    Back cover blurb: A good girl. A bad boy. A fairy tale that’s true. A truth that is no fairy tale.
    First line: Blood. There is blood everywhere.
    This is the story of a boy named Abel, who is raising his 6-year-old sister by himself. Anna is drawn to him and the tale he tells about an orphan queen with a diamond heart.  As Abel weaves people into his story, they begin to turn up dead.  Fairy tale themes are popular right now.

    Winterling by Sarah Prineas (Harper Collins Childrens)
    Cover blurb: “Simmering magic and enchanting adventure. A mischievous delight” Ingrid Law, author of Savvy and Scumble
    First line: The dog fled. He raced down a shadowy forest trail lit by the full moon.
    This is a fantasy tale where a young woman named Fer discovers an “enchanting, dangerous land” through her reflecting pool.

    There is No Dog by Meg Rosoff (G. Putnam’s Sons)
    Cover blurb: What if God were a teenage boy?
    First line: Oh glorious, most glorious glorious! And yet again glorious!
    Meg Rosoff is the Printz Award winner from her previous work, How I Live Now.  This is the tale of Bob, a teenage boy who also happens to be the creator of heaven and earth.  It is also the story of Lucy, who works at the zoo and has a sunny disposition.  One day Bob sees Lucy walking in complete joy and he knows that he must have her. Bob’s assistant, Mr. G., thinks this is a horrible idea because when Bob falls in love, people die.  When his heart breaks and he sheds tears, cities tend to flood.
    I read a portion of this book and it is well written and interesting, but I am not sure how people who believe in a God, any God, will react to the premise.  It will be interesting to see how it all wraps up.  It is definitely for more mature, sophisticated teen readers because of the storytelling mechanism and the frank sexual discussion.

    The Catastrophic History of You & Me by Jess Rothenberg (Dial Books)
    Cover blurb: Brie’s life ends at sixteen: Her boyfriend tells her he doesn’t love her, and the news breaks her heart – literally.
    First line: There’s always that one guy who a hold on you.
    Based on the description, it seems that this book employs the narrative devise used in If I Stay by Gayle Forman or The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold where the narrator, Brie, is looking down from heaven after her death. The book begins by a quote from a song by Ani DiFranco and every chapter title is a song lyric. The cover is stunning and this is on the top of my “to read” pile.

    Irises by Francisco X. Stork (Arthur A. Levine Books)
    Cover blurb is an excerpt from the story itself
    First line: Kate had finally agreed to pose under the willow tree.
    Irises is the story of two sisters, Mary and Kate, who are bound together by a mother who lays in a permanent vegetative state.  The two struggle to find ways to survive and their lives are influenced by 3 separate men. From the description this looks to be a tale about growing up and making important life decisions with some discussion of quality of life.

    February 2012

    BZRK by Michael Grant (Edgmont)
    Cover blurb: Warning: Possession of this material could put you in grave danger.  It contains revelations about a secret high-stakes game – some might call it a war – for control of your brain.
    First line: A girl sat just three chairs down from Noah talking to her hand.

    BZRK by Michael Grant is a transmedia experience; you can read the book, but there is tons of online content that you will want to check out that enhances the story.  There is even an app you can buy (I have not done so yet so I can’t comment).  I am 160 pages into this book and have some mixed feelings about it: On the one hand, it is great to be reading a more traditional science fiction story. No dystopian future, just advances in modern day technology (in this case nanotechnology) and what it means for contemporary society.  On the other hand, this book has a wide variety of main characters, some of whom are teens and some of whom are adults, and at times it reads like a book written for teens and at other times it reads more like an adult novel. The change can sometimes be disconcerting.  Given some of the adult content, this is definitely for older teens (and adults will also love it).  Grant just jumps right into the story so it takes a while to figure out what some of the terminology means, but it is a compelling read so you want to know and keep reading.  At the heart of BZRK there are two competing factions using various forms of nanotechnology (nanos and biots) to fight for their cause.  One side wants to create a type of insect like hive mind that will result in peace among humans, the other side values the concept of free will (in all of its messy glory).  There are some profound discussions to be had in the pages of this book about science, ethics, free will and more. This book also has one of the most disturbing bad guys I have ever encountered and I appreciated a lot of the creepy elements they brought to the story. Also, this has some of the best opening chapters that I have read in a while; I may not have fully understood yet what was happening, but I was hanging on the edge of my seat to find out more.  This truly is a great example of the emerging transmedia trend in books so you will want to look into for that reason alone.  Full review coming soon, but Michael Grant is a great author (he is the author of the Gone series) and he is not disappointing so far.  Put this book into the hands of Michael Crichton and Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card fans.

    More about BZRK
    Weekly articlePublisher’s
    A Q&A at Eleusinian Mysteries
    A Youtube Sneak Peek
    An you definitely need to check out the official GoBZRK site.  There is an app you can buy that goes along with the book.

    Read more about transmedia in School Library Journal

    And yes, yes I did only get one arc for the month of February. Next: March (there are so many it has to be its own post) and the Girl Meets Boy giveaway (begins January 29th).