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We Came, We Saw, We Talked, We Stalked: Christie’s ALA Highlights

We Came
I had a blast at ALA Annual in Chicago. Buses and transportation got a little weird, but I loved the energy with the Blackhawks celebration and the Pride Celebration and everything else going on. So much fun! And add into the mix all the authors and librarians and the craziness that we have anyways, and it’s always a good time!

We Saw
There were some sessions that I missed due to the rooms being overfull past the point of fire codes (YA Dystopian Authors, Cory Doctorow and DRM) which is something that needs worked on. I did run into a lot of my conference family and even people I’ve worked with in the past that I never see except for conferences which is always a wonderful time. I attended a wonderful session on graphic novels entitled Let’s Discuss This: A Roundtable Discussion which featured Gail Simone, John Green (from Disney’s Phineas and Ferb and Teenboat), Paul Pope, Gregg Hurwitz, and Jeffrey Brown talking about the comic industry.
John Green and Gail Simone
And I was also able to attend the Scholastic Brunch, where I was treated to reader theater and learned about new titles by Gordan Korman and others…
Gordon Korman with his new series The Hypnotists

Kat Falls and her new book Inhuman

Brandon Mull and Spirit Animals #1: Wild Born, a multiplatform series

We Talked
I represented the Rainbow Project (of which I am chair this year) at the SRRT All Committee meeting and on the exhibits floor to help find titles for this year’s list. Karen and I also spoke about Free Comic Book Day on the Graphic Novel Stage.
Free Comic Book Day Panel
We Stalked
And then there were the authors….  I got to talk to Marie Lu (Prodigy/Legend) and SJ Adams (Sparks), Malinda Lo (Ash, Adaptation), and then got mutually stalked by Tim Federle (Better Nate than Never, Tequila Mockingbird). That Guy got to talk with Cory Doctorow (Homeland, Big Brother) and they are sharing emails.
Me and SJ Adams (Adam Selzer)

Me and Marie Lu

Me, That Guy, and his side of the family
Heather, Karen, and me
And I got to meet Heather in person and part of our family came over, so a good time was had by all!  What were your highlights of ALA?

Book Review: Sparks by S.J. Adams

Ten Commandments of the Holy Church of Blue
  1. Matters of the heart come first.  Especially someone else’s heart.
  2. Be thou not an asshole.  This is the point to all religion.  Everything else is just commentary.  But exceptions can be made for people who deserve it.
  3. Goest thou on holy quests- do amazing things.  Silly, helpful, and seemingly pointless things are also acceptable.
  4. Taketh thou any detours or side trips or odd suggestions that come up, for they will lead thee to knowledge, and to adventure, and bring thee closer to Blue.
  5. Never put thy words in the mouth of Blue. Thou knowest not what sort of Spark of Blue is inside of thee, or what sort is inside of others. The entire Church of Blue is an educated guess. Remember this. Don’t get cocky.
  6. Floss thy fucking teeth. Thou only getteth one set.
  7. Weareth thou no garment that costeth thou more than a tank of gas.
  8. Thou Shalt Not Maketh Thy Home in Nebraska (Nebraska is bluish hell).

Secretly hiding the fact that her best friend is the love of her life, Debbie Woodlawn is heartbroken to find out that her BFF has gotten a boyfriend- and even worse, it’s NORMAN.  Having joined the Active Christian Teens and devoted every Friday night to Full House re-runs, Debbie is desperate to figure out how to declare her love for Lisa, so that their relationship might blossom. Enter Emma and Tim, the devotees of The Church of Blue, who take Debbie on a “holy quest” to profess her love and see what may come of it.  But will the quests of Blue take Debbie closer to Lisa, or will Debbie find out that her spark of Blue is more for something else?

Sparks is a hysterical and irreverent read from the get-go.  Debbie has joined the ACTs in order to spend all her time with her BFF- and the result is subjourning herself into the tight little box that fits into both Lisa’s religion and her mom’s worldview:  squeaky clean television and activities  while washing out her thoughts lest someone with mind-reading abilities can pick up the dirtier bits.  When Lisa gets a boyfriend, Debbie’s carefully constructed world falls apart, because she’s in love with Lisa, but never said anything.  Yet, mysteriously, she finds Emma and Tim, who have created their own religions, Bluddiasm, where holy quests are everything, everyone has their own spark of Blue that resonates within their sole, and a checklist of things that need to be done.  Thrust into their topsy-turvy world and needing to profess her love before Lisa and Norman go past first base, Debbie criss-crosses the town, learning new things about her friends and herself.

An excellent read, one that I would pair with Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist, or Dash & Lily’s Infinite Book of Dares for the humor.  But be forewarned, those that are extremely sensitive about their religion might not see the humor, and there are *naughty words*.  4 out of 5 stars.

I really enjoyed Sparks, and not just for the finding themselves theme that goes on within the book.  Yes, Debbie is a huge part who needs to find herself (and after 5 years of burying her personality, who wouldn’t), but we also discover a whole underground with Emma and Tim.  They start off more sidekicks to the story, but as Debbie starts on the road to Bluddism, their story fleshes out even more.  You learn that Emma has major self-esteem issues, and that has lead to (or come from) eating disorders and weight issues.  She and Tim are criss-crossed lovers, with Emma re-routing Tim’s messages from the Queen Bee because she’s scared that he’ll be with the prettier girl, while Tim just wishes that Emma would believe that she’s beautiful and special and the one he wants to be with.  The holy quest that Debbie, Emma and Tim go on is not just for Debbie, but also for Emma and Tim- like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, where I always thought the movie focus should have been about Cameron and his growth rather than Ferris and how he got out of everything.

The only thing I would hesitate about with Sparks is giving it to some of your teens that you know are ultra-religious.  It does poke fun of Christian group stereotypes, and some teens might not be able to see the humor.  Others, however, will lap it right up.  Sparks is definitely one of those books that I’ll re-read over and over.
Flux by S. J. Adamds.  Published by Flux, 2011. ISBN: 978-0738726762