Saturday, August 30, 2014

All About Middle Grade Review: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making


The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making (Fairyland, 1) by Catherynne M. Valente, illustrated by Ana Juan, May 8, 2012. 247 pages. Published by Square Fish. Source: publisher.
Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday.
First Sentence:
Once upon a time, a girl named September grew very tired indeed of her parents' house, where she washed the same pink-and-yellow teacups and matching gravy boats every day, slept on the same embroidered pillow, and played with the same small and amiable dog.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

All About Middle Grade Review: Watch Out, Hollywood! More Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child [blog tour]

Watch Out, Hollywood! More Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child (Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child, 2) by Maria T. Lennon, August 26, 2014. 240 pages. Published by HarperCollins. Source: publisher.
Charlie's adventures offer a fresh look at middle school, bullying, and mean girls. In Book Two, Charlie navigates sudden celebrity and auditions for a television series, but a little white lie may endanger the one friendship Charlie can truly count on—and her connection to swoon-worthy crush Bobby! Poignant and seriously funny, Charlie's account of her dilemma is one all tweens will relate to.

Charlie knows what it feels like to be stuck in the middle, but it's finally her time to shine. After saving her friend Marta in the old Houdini tunnels of Los Angeles, Charlie's become a local hero, gained sudden celebrity, and *MIGHT* just become a TV star! But will Charlie let her newfound fame go to her head? Watch out, Hollywood!
First Sentence:
Here's why I believe in second chances:
    Yesterday, I nearly got kicked out of school for something I didn't do.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. To participate, simply do the following: Grab your current read Open to a random page Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Young Adult Review: Love in the Time of Global Warming

Love in the Time of Global Warming (Love in the Time of Global Warming, 1) by Francesca Lia Block, August 27, 2013. 240 pages. Published by Henry Holt and co. Source: Library
Seventeen-year-old Penelope (Pen) has lost everything—her home, her parents, and her ten-year-old brother. Like a female Odysseus in search of home, she navigates a dark world full of strange creatures, gathers companions and loses them, finds love and loses it, and faces her mortal enemy.

In her signature style, Francesca Lia Block has created a world that is beautiful in its destruction and as frightening as it is lovely. At the helm is Pen, a strong heroine who holds hope and love in her hands and refuses to be defeated.
First Sentence:
The building has gold columns and a massive doorway, a mural depicting Giants, with bodies sticking out of their mouths like limp cigarettes.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Young Adult Interview with Georgia Clark (Parched)


Today, I am excited to welcome Georgia Clark, author of Parched, to the blog to discuss her book and show off her writing cave.

About the Author:
I'm a young adult novelist with a weakness for hot nerds and cheese platters, not necessarily in that order. I live in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and spend a lot of time hanging out with improvisers and searching for the perfect pair of skinny jeans. I love Katniss, Katsa, Karou, Clary, Grace, Puck, Lena—you get the picture.

You can haunt Georgia Clark at-
Goodreads | Twitter | Website |



Interview


In five words tell us about your book Parched.

Girl meets boy. Action happens.

Why do you think readers will enjoy Tess's story? One personality trait of Tess's that might prove to be problematic to staying alive?

I reckon readers will be into Parched if they were excited by Hunger Games and Divergent. I wrote this novel to be a big, high-concept action-adventure story featuring a plucky young girl with nothing to lose. It’ll also appeal to sci-fi geeks who are into robots. And people who like kissing.

Tess is stubborn and proud. She’s actually pretty good at staying alive – when the story starts she’s been living in the hot, tough Badlands for a year, on her own – but she refuses to bend to authority. So that puts her life in danger more than once!


What was the hardest part of the book to write? Care to share with us a two sentence teaser from your favorite chapter of Parched?

Hmm, good question. For this book, the hardest part was the romance. I love romance but it’s hard to write it in a way that feels fresh, real, and sigh-worthy. I think that’s a real skill, and I take my hat off to those who can do it well! I also think succiently expressing my belief about something important is hard. It should be easy. But it’s not.

Okay, here’s the start of Chapter 17. I like this because it’s immediate and enticing.

The front door is ajar: an invitation. I push it open, knowing this is dangerous, knowing this could be a trap.

If you could live inside a book for the day and befriend a character, which book and character would you spend the day with? Tell us why you chose both?

This is such a great question because so many books I love take place in settings or situations I NEVER want to be in (Delirium, Never Let Me Go, Fight Club etc) One of the first books I remember loving as a teen was My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. It tells the story of the author’s boyhood spent on the Greek island of Corfu in the 1930s. It paints a wonderful, imaginative and generous portrayal of his life then, and makes me long for Greece. So I would want to be there! All of the characters would be fun to spent time with, but I seem to recall Spiro, a local taxi-driver as being particularly colorful.

Last book you lost sleep to finish and why you couldn't put it down?

I just finished Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. I loved Gone Girl and was interested in her back catalog. It is DARK! Truly creepy. She is a master of suspense. I couldn’t put it down because I had to find out who killed the Day family! For thriller fans only!

Three non-writing things: one thing your good at; one thing your bad at; and one thing you wish you could do?

1. Good at: I’m a good host! I love having people around for wine, cheese, and conversation. I have a cute apartment and love nothing more than a long, uproarious evening with a jazz soundtrack and close friends.
2. Bad at: Exercise. I keep myself healthy but really, any excuse to put off a yoga class. My girlfriend can attest to this. She stretches every morning; I lie in bed and drink coffee.
3. Wish I was good at: I’d love to be a “whizz with desserts”. I want people to be like, “Oh Georgia? Boy oh boy, she is a whizz with desserts!”

If you could meet any author, dead or living, and ask them one question about one of their books who and what would it be?

Thanks to Twitter, I can ask any living author anything I want, so I’d have to use this wish on a dead author. So, Charlotte Bronte: Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books. I’d make it nice and open-ended. “Tell me about your life. Everything. Just start talking.”


The world has fallen to a robot invasion and only one heroine/hero can possibly save the day, who do you choose?

Buffy. Okay, so her thing is vampires, but I just really like Buffy. I want her around. Let’s get her in the mix.


Care to tell us about your writing cave (include picture if you want)? Any up coming project you can
share with us?


My writing cave is The Writers Room, which is in New York City. It’s a quiet space for writers, and I’ve written three books there so far, including my new book, The Regulars. It’s my first adult fiction, and is a contemporary, set where I live in Brooklyn, about three girls in their early twenties. It’s about beauty, and it has a magic realist premise. It’s fun! I’m just about to finish the first draft – wish me luck!

Georgia, thanks so much for stopping by and answering a few questions.




Parched by Georgia Clark, March 14, 2014. Published by Holiday House.
Robots, renewable resources, and romance get tangled together in this thrilling futuristic adventure novel about a utopian city struggling to keep its peace.

"A gutsy teen living on an arid, depleted Earth two centuries in the future faces danger and shocking revelations when she covertly joins a subversive group.

Sixteen-year-old Tess lived in Eden, a seemingly idyllic, domed city where access to information and water is regulated by the governing Trust. After a rogue robot killed her scientist mother, Tess fled with a terrible secret to the desperate, arid Badlands, where she’s recruited by Kudzu, explained to her as a “nonviolent collective working to undermine the Trust and free the Badlands.” Learning Kudzu plans to destroy Aevum, the Trust’s latest advanced robot, Tess reluctantly returns to Eden, where she finds the luxurious life morally unconscionable and secretly trains with Kudzu. Living with her uncle, who’s involved with Aevum, Tess is strangely attracted to his sympathetic assistant, Hunter. During a Kudzu raid on the Trust’s lab, Tess discovers that Aevum will be used to eradicate all inhabitants of the Badlands—and that Hunter’s not what he seems to be.

Tess’ first-person, present-tense voice lends chilling immediacy to her no-nonsense story of mixed loyalty, disturbing secrets, and ethical dilemmas associated with diminishing natural resources and scientific experimentation.

You can add Parched to your Goodreads shelves.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

All About Middle Grade Review: Evil Fairies Love Hair [Blog Tour]



Evil Fairies Love Hair by Mary G. Thompson, August 5, 2014. 320 pages. Published by Clarion Books. Source: blog tour.
Ali and her middle school classmates are raising flocks of fairies to make their wishes come true. But growing a flock is harder than it sounds: the fairies eat only human hair, and the rules for dealing with them are confusing, misleading, and subject to change. As Ali and her friends struggle to earn their wishes, mistakes are made, spells go awry, and soon Ali is up against hundreds of two-inch-tall imps who have very big plans. Comedy and fantasy intertwine in this lively tale of intrigue, magic, and the power of hair.
First Sentence:
"Alison Elizabeth Brown Butler!"

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

YA Review: The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone [Blog Tour]

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin, August 12, 2014. 256 pages. Published by Soho Teen. Source: publisher.
National Book Award-finalist Adele Griffin tells the fully illustrated story of a brilliant young artist, her mysterious death, and the fandom that won't let her go.

From the moment she stepped foot in NYC, Addison Stone’s subversive street art made her someone to watch, and her violent drowning left her fans and critics craving to know more. I conducted interviews with those who knew her best—including close friends, family, teachers, mentors, art dealers, boyfriends, and critics—and retraced the tumultuous path of Addison's life. I hope I can shed new light on what really happened the night of July 28.
—Adele Griffin

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. To participate, simply do the following: Grab your current read Open to a random page Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Monday, August 18, 2014

All About Middle Grade Review: Skies Like These *ARC*



Skies Like These by Tess Hilmo, July 15, 2014. 240 pages. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR). Source: publisher.
A funny, friendship-filled novel with a cowboy twist

Twelve-year-old Jade’s perfect summers have always been spent reading and watching TV reruns, so she’s not happy when her parents send her off to Wyoming to her aunt’s house. She meets a boy who calls himself Roy Parker—just like the real name of the legendary rebel cowboy Butch Cassidy. Roy’s dad’s hardware store has closed because a chain store has opened up in town, and Roy thinks it is just like the big cattle barons in Butch’s day who put the local ranchers out of business. He wants Jade to be his Sundance Kid and help him pull some stunts worthy of Butch Cassidy. Sabotage the big store? Outsmart the store’s owner by doing reconnaissance on his ranch? Jade wants to be a good friend, but she’s not so sure about Roy’s schemes.
First Sentence:
Jade gazed out the car window at knee-high yellow grass rolling and bending across the prairie like waves in the ocean, crashing into black, jagged mountains off in the distance.   

Crow's Rest by Angelica R. Jackson [Cover Reveal]

While I not be really big on paranormal books these days, this one sounds interesting and the cover's kind of pretty. I may have to keep this one in mind...maybe.

About the author:
Angelica R. Jackson, in keeping with her scattered Gemini nature, has published articles on gardening, natural history, web design, travel, hiking, and local history. Other interests include pets, reading, green living, and cooking for food allergies (the latter not necessarily by choice, but she’s come to terms with it). Ongoing projects include short fiction, poetry, novels, art photography, and children’s picture books.

In 2012, she started Pens for Paws Auction, which features critiques and swag from agents and authors to raise money for a no-kill, cage-free cat sanctuary where she volunteers, Fat Kitty City.

She’s also been involved with capturing the restoration efforts for Preston Castle (formerly the Preston School of Industry) in photographs and can sometimes be found haunting its hallways.

You can haunt Angelica R. Jackson at-
Goodreads | Twitter | Website |



Crow's Rest by Angelica R. Jackson, May 15, 2015. Published by Spencer Hill Press.
Avery Flynn arrives for a visit at her Uncle Tam's, eager to rekindle her summertime romance with her crush-next-door, Daniel.

But Daniel’s not the sweet, neurotic guy she remembers—and she wonders if this is her Daniel at all. Or if someone—some thing—has taken his place.

Her quest to find the real Daniel—and get him back—plunges Avery into a world of Fae and changelings, where creatures swap bodies like humans change their socks, and magic lives much closer to home than she ever imagined.

Don't forget, you can add Crow's Rest to your Goodreads shelves.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Catholic Review: Life of Christ

Life of Christ by Fulton J. Sheen, September 16, 2008 (first published January 1, 1958). 658 pages. Published by Image. Source: bought.
Widely proclaimed a classic work of Christian faith, Life of Christ has been hailed as the most eloquent of Fulton J. Sheen's many books. The fruit of many years of reflection, prayer, and research, it is a dramatic and moving recounting of the birth, life, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of Christ, and a passionate portrait of the God-Man, the teacher, the healer, and, most of all, the Savior, whose promise has sustained humanity for two millenia.

With his customary insight and reverence, Sheen interprets the Scripture and describes Christ not only in historical perspective but also in exciting and contemporary terms -- seeing in Christ's life both modern parallels and timeless lessons. His thoughtful, probing analysis provides new insight into well-known Gospel events.

An appealing blend of philosophy, history, and biblical exegesis, from the best-known and most-loved American Catholic leader of the twentieth century, Life of Christ has long been a source of inspiration and guidance. For those seeking to better understand the message of Jesus Christ, this vivid retelling of the greatest story ever lived is a must-read.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wish List Wednesday

Drop Dead Demons (Divinicus Nex Chronicles, 2) by A&E Kirk, May 27, 2014.
Survival. It's an on-going battle.

GOING ON A TREASURE HUNT...
Aurora Lahey finally knows why supernatural slayers salivate to slaughter her, but how to stop them? Not so much. Sure, she's discovered her own lethal powers, and has six sexy, super-charged, demon hunting Hex Boys watching her back--the hottest one watching every part of her. But when a seductive stranger delivers a deadly ultimatum, Aurora and the Hex Boys plunge into a do-or-die hunt for a legendary Mandatum treasure, which will finally shift power in their favor. Or unleash hell on earth.

NEX MARKS THE SPOT...
Pursued by demons of mythical proportions, Aurora and the Hex Boys race deeper into the shadowy world of a centuries-old mystery and brutal conspiracy, where no one and nothing is what it seems. Where love and betrayal go hand-in-hand, and trusting the wrong person not only breaks your heart, but gets you killed.

DEMONS ON YOUR TAIL...
Uncovering shocking secrets from the Hex Boys' past, hiding her Divinicus Nex identity, lying to her pretend-wish-he-were-real boyfriend, dodging demons, breaking into ancient tombs, taking the unexpected side trip to the dark depths of the Waiting World, tracking a traitor, and passing Physics...Aurora could do that in her sleep. Or more likely, die trying.

DON'T GET CAUGHT!
Why: While I may not read much in the way of paranormal/supernatural books anymore, I cannot wait to see what happens in Drop Dead Demons because the first book was most excellent. I'm really excited to see where the authors will take the story next and to dive back into the characters' lives.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. To participate, simply do the following: Grab your current read Open to a random page Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Monday, August 11, 2014

All About Middle Grade Review: Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child


Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child (Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child, 1) by Maria T. Lennon, August 27, 2013. 288 pages. Published by Harpercollins. Source: Blue Slip Media/publisher.
It's Mean Girls for tweens in the tradition of Paula Danziger's Cat That Ate My Gymsuit and Judy Blume! Watch out, world: here comes Charlie C. Cooper-computer whiz, reformed bully, and so-called middle child-in this seriously funny debut tween novel from screenwriter Maria T. Lennon.

Confessions of a So-Called Middle Child stars the hilariously cheeky reformed bully and tween hacker Charlie Cooper as she tries to ditch her middle-child reputation and make cool friends at her new school in Los Angeles. But being cool isn't as easy as it looks. Charlie has to face down the mean girls and decide between right and wrong once and for all when she learns the terrible truth behind Marta the Farta's bad attitude and loner status. And Charlie has to do it all in outfits meant for the runways!
First Sentence:
9:00 A.M. What twelve-year-old kid is forced to spend her last day of summer vacation reading books in her room?

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Wish List Wednesday

Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass, 3) by Sarah J. Maas, September 2, 2014. Published by Bloomsbury USA Children's.
Lost and broken, Celaena Sardothien’s only thought is to avenge the savage death of her dearest friend: as the King of Adarlan’s Assassin, she is bound to serve this tyrant, but he will pay for what he did. Any hope Celaena has of destroying the king lies in answers to be found in Wendlyn. Sacrificing his future, Chaol, the Captain of the King’s Guard, has sent Celaena there to protect her, but her darkest demons lay in that same place. If she can overcome them, she will be Adarlan’s biggest threat – and his own toughest enemy.

While Celaena learns of her true destiny, and the eyes of Erilea are on Wendlyn, a brutal and beastly force is preparing to take to the skies. Will Celaena find the strength not only to win her own battles, but to fight a war that could pit her loyalties to her own people against those she has grown to love?

Why: I cannot even begin to tell you how much I need Heir of Fire in my life!!!!!!!!!!! I just really, really  need to know what is going to happen next...and a month (give or take a few days) is just too long!!!!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. To participate, simply do the following: Grab your current read Open to a random page Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Tangled Magick by Jennifer Carson (Cover Reveal)

I am excited to help reveal the cover for Tangled Magick, the second book in the Hapenny Magick series, by Jennifer Carson.

About the author:
Jennifer Carson lives in New Hampshire with her husband, four sons and many furred and feathered friends. She grew up on a steady diet of Muppet movies and renaissance faires, and would occasionally be caught reading under the blankets with a flashlight. Besides telling tales, she also creates fantasy creatures and characters and publishes her own sewing patterns. In 2010 her first children’s novel, To Find A Wonder, was produced as an original musical at the New London Barn Playhouse in New London, New Hampshire.



Tangled Magick (Hapenny Magick, 2) by Jennifer Carson, April 21, 2015. Published by Spencer Hill Press Middle Grade.
It’s been two years since Maewyn Bridgepost discovered her magick and saved the Wedge from another troll invasion. Now the villagers are embarking on an age-old tradition, given up after the first invasion, the Great Expedition. This journey is a chance for the happenies to discover the world outside their village. But the outside world can be a scary place, and the happenies soon find themselves knee deep in troll trouble.

Monday, August 4, 2014

YA Review: The Unbound

The Unbound (Archived, 2) by Victoria Schwab, January 28, 2014. 368 pages. Published by Hyperion. Source: Library.
Last summer, Mackenzie Bishop, a Keeper tasked with stopping violent Histories from escaping the Archive, almost lost her life to one. Now, as she starts her junior year at Hyde School, she's struggling to get her life back. But moving on isn't easy -- not when her dreams are haunted by what happened. She knows the past is past, knows it cannot hurt her, but it feels so real, and when her nightmares begin to creep into her waking hours, she starts to wonder if she's really safe.

Meanwhile, people are vanishing without a trace, and the only thing they seem to have in common is Mackenzie. She's sure the Archive knows more than they are letting on, but before she can prove it, she becomes the prime suspect. And unless Mac can track down the real culprit, she'll lose everything, not only her role as Keeper, but her memories, and even her life. Can Mackenzie untangle the mystery before she herself unravels?
First Sentence:
My body begs for sleep.

The Empress Chronicles by Suzy Vitello [Cover Reveal]



In this dazzling novel from the author of THE MOMENT BEFORE, one courageous girl seeks keys to the past to unlock the future…
When city girl Liz is banished to a rural goat farm on the outskirts of Portland, the 15-year-old feels her life spiraling out of control.  She can’t connect to her father or his young girlfriend, and past trauma adds to her sense of upheaval.  The only person who seems to keep her sane is a troubled boy who is fighting his own demons.  But all of this changes in one historical instant.
*
One-hundred fifty years earlier, Elisabeth of Bavaria has troubles of her own.  Her childhood is coming to a crashing end, and her destiny is written in the form of a soothsaying locket that has the ability to predict true love.  But evil is afoot in the form of a wicked enchantress who connives to wield the power of the locket for her own destructive ends.
*
When Liz finds a timeworn diary, and within it a locket, she discovers the secrets and desires of the young Bavarian princess who will one day grow up to be the legendary Empress of Austria. It is in the pages of the diary that these two heroines will meet, and it is through their interwoven story that Liz will discover she has the power to rewrite history—including her own…

Readers of books like Rachel Harris’s MY SUPER SWEET SIXTEENTH CENTURY will love THE EMPRESS CHRONICLES


Release Day: September 4th 2014




Published by Diversion Books



About The Author
Suzy Vitello is a proud founding member of a critique group recently dubbed The Hottest Writing Group in Portland, and her short stories have won fellowships and prizes (including the Atlantic Monthly Student Writing Award, and an Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship).

Twitter: @suzy_vitello

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Books Have Broken My Brain...

You know how one sometimes has the feeling of not being able to read after reading something most excellent... well, I seem to be suffering from that but on a much bigger scale.

So, y'all are probably wondering what could be worse than a book hangover. Well, the simple answer to that would be a triple book hangover. Yep, you read the right, a triple heart-rending, brain mashing book hangover.



I really don't know what I was thinking reading these three books back-to-back-to-back; maybe because I randomly selected one, one was due back to the library, and one just pulled me in. I really was not expecting any of them to leave me in a reading low as I haven't felt one of these since the last time I read The Last Battle and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Here are the books that broke my reading streak with too much...everything. It started with...

Stay Where You Are & Then Leave by John Boyne which was beautiful and heartbreaking. This book had me practically in tears from page three through till the end-that's huge because I don't do tearful at all.

 
and then I chased it with...

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo, which was the perfect end to a favorite series. I just love her writing and her Grisha trilogy has been one of my favorite series to date. It was just every thing one could ask for in a fantasy book.



then, I took a nosedive right into something serious...

The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri J.M. Nouwen, which was very, very thought provoking and has left me with much to think on.


and now I cannot get into anything. Even the most excellent The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Design even though I'm totally in love with the writing and world that the author has created.

So, between the lack of reading and (now) seven straight days of rain and no sunshine, which means no running as well, I'm starting to feel like this...
gif by Aurorawolfa
And this, this is why my reading has been practically wiped out this past week. So, what was the last book that left you "book hungover"? How did you get out of it?????

Catholic Review: The Return of the Prodigal Son

The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri J.M. Nouwen, March 1, 1994. 152 pages. Published by Image Books / Doubleday Publishing Group. Source: Blogging for Books.
A chance encounter with a reproduction of Rembrandt's The Return of the Prodigal Son catapulted Henri Nouwen on a long spiritual adventure. Here he shares the deeply personal and resonant meditation that led him to discover the place within where God has chosen to dwell.

In seizing the inspiration that came to him through Rembrandt's depiction of the powerful Gospel story, Henri Nouwen probes the several movements of the parable; the younger son's return, the father's restoration of sonship, the elder son's vengefulness, and the father's compassion. In his reflection on Rembrandt in light of his own life journey, the author evokes the powerful drama of the parable in a rich, captivating way that is sure to reverberate in the hearts of readers. The themes of homecoming, affirmation, and reconciliation will be newly discovered by all who have known loneliness, dejection, jealousy, or anger. The challenge to love as the father and be loved as the son will be seen as the ultimate revelation of the parable known to Christians throughout time, and here represented with a vigor and power fresh for our times. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Children's Review: Back to School, Weird Kids Rule!

Back to School, Weird Kids Rule! (My Weird School Special) by Dan Gutman, June 24, 2014. 144 pages. Published by HarperCollins. Source: Publisher.
A.J. and the gang from My Weird School star in this special series of after-school, holiday-themed chapter books featuring all-new hilarious stories and thirty-two pages of games, puzzles, and more.

Summer is almost over, and you know what that means—time to head back to school! But when a tropical storm ends A.J.'s vacation earlier than expected, he and his family have to stay at Andrea's house. Ugh, disgusting! When everyone in the house starts getting cabin fever, and even back-to-school shopping won't calm the kids down, Andrea and A.J. are sent to Camp Ockatollyquay. The catch? It's a camp to get kids ready for school! But not to worry—Andrea and A.J. rally the Ella Mentry School gang to end their summer on a note they'll never forget.
First Sentence:
My name is Andrea and I love school!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Keepin' It Real Interview with Kate Hattemer


Y'all may not know this. but on occasion I do enjoy reading contemporary books. While I may not go down that bookish road often, there are quite a few titles near and dear to my heart.
   A big thank you goes out to Kaitlin @ Reading is My Treasure for putting together the Keepin' It Real event to celebrate YA contemporary fiction.

About the Author:
Kate is the author of The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy (Knopf, Spring 2014) and The Land of Ten Thousand Madonnas (Knopf, 2015).

You can haunt Kate Hattemer at-
Website |






Interview

1.   In five words, tell us about The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy.

            Ezra Pound meets reality TV.

2.  Why did you choose to have Ethan and friends use a long poem to speak against For Art's Sake? 

            I blame it all on my Wikipedia procrastination habit.  Trawling the pages for various poetic genres (this is what I do when I should be writing), I became fascinated with the weird form of the long poem.  It’s a genre that’s defined more by what it’s not than what it is -- and a genre that’s been used to reclaim the voice of a downtrodden culture.  I’d started with the idea of writing a farce, and clearly it’s pretty farcical to have a long poem as the vehicle of protest against… a reality show.  Then the serious aspects of the plot and themes grew out of the opposition, and apposition, of Pound’s Cantos and reality TV.  What’s the distinction between life and art?  What about between art (“art”) and pop culture?  How does an artist’s life reflect upon his work?  What does it mean to be a good person?  A good artist?

3.   Kate, what was the hardest chapter for you to write in your book? Would you mind sharing a two-sentence teaser from your favorite chapter?

            My narrator, Ethan, is pretty clueless, especially in regards to the people he idealizes:  his English teacher, his best friend, and his crush.  My biggest challenge was to stay within the bounds of his unreliable narration while also portraying these characters as they are, not just as they’re imagined by Ethan.
            To be honest, it’s hard for me to pick a favorite chapter because I don’t really feel very affectionate toward the book anymore… When people say their books are like their children and they can’t pick a favorite, I start fearing for my future kids. 
            But here’s a randomly selected bit about Ethan’s introduction to long poems:

I titled my half-assed page of notes Long Poems, and then added a parenthetical note:  (wah).  How long, I wondered, is long?  A page?  More than a page?  I tried to find someone to exchange commiserative glances with, but Luke was still writing intently, and Jackson was staring down at his crotch, surreptitiously playing (let’s hope) one of the math games he’d written for his graphing calculator.

4.  If you could rediscover any young adult contemporary book, for the first time, which book would it be and why?
         
   I’m really good at forgetting all major plot points, which is dreadful for my job at an independent bookstore (“Oh, yeah, you should totally read that book!  It’s about… uh…”).  But it generally makes for a delightful rereading experience.
            However, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forget the twists Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity, and so that’s the one I’d choose to rediscover fresh.  What a book:  heartbreaking and insanely clever.

5.   Who are three of your favorite YA contemporary authors you think everyone should give a shot?

            It’s hard to choose!  But I’m a huge fan of Emily Danforth’s The Miseducation of Cameron Post (lyrical and melancholy yet very funny), Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (as my sister said, the book creates a world of its own), and Sarah Combs’s Breakfast Served Anytime (which contains the funniest, most accurate line about a high schooler imagining being a teacher that it is possible to write).

6.  Last book you stayed up late into the night to finish?

            Michael Chabon’s Wonder Boys, in part because I was cringing so hard (at the characters, obviously, not the writing!) I couldn’t look away.

7.   The world has fallen to a robot invasion and only one heroine/hero can possibly save the day.  Who do you choose?

            I’ll send Ruby Oliver (of E. Lockhart’s fresh, smart, and funny series, starting with The Boyfriend List).  The robots would be so intrigued by her use of footnotes, so enamored by her fishnet stockings, and so tenterhooked by her romantic ups-and-downs that they’d forget to besiege civilization.

8.   Care to tell us about your writing cave (include picture if you want)?

            I’ve got the most gorgeous writing cave in the world right now!  I’ve been working at a summer wilderness camp for girls, and I was planning to head home a few weeks ago to finish my revisions but my generous director is letting me write here in exchange for some activity-teaching and dish-doing.  Perks include several things I don’t get in regular life:  delicious and varied meals, a lake to jump in, human contact.

9.  Any upcoming project you can share with us?

            Yes!  My second novel, The Land of Ten Thousand Madonnas, will be out from Knopf in fall 2015.  It’s the story of a seventeen-year-old boy who’s just died of heart defect; a year later, his three cousins, his best friend, and his girlfriend are sent on an enigmatic backpacking quest to Europe.  It’s currently in shambles -- the manuscript includes lots of comments like  “Delete this” and “Too melodramatic” and “That joke is not funny” and “This is just plain wretched” -- but I’m hoping that within a few months I’ll have slightly more positive feelings about it.


Thank you so much, Orchid, for hosting my interview!  Best wishes. :)

Kate, thanks so much for stopping by. 



The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer, April 8, 2014. Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers. 
Witty, sarcastic Ethan and his three friends decide to take down the reality TV show, For Art's Sake, that is being filmed at their high school, the esteemed Selwyn Arts Academy, where each student is more talented than the next. While studying Ezra Pound in English class, the friends are inspired to write a vigilante long poem and distribute it to the student body, detailing the evils of For Art's Sake. But then Luke—the creative force behind the poem and leader of the anti-show movement—becomes a contestant on the nefarious show. It's up to Ethan, his two remaining best friends, and a heroic gerbil named Baconnaise to save their school. Along the way, they'll discover a web of secrets and corruption involving the principal, vice principal, and even their favorite teacher.
You can add The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy  to your Goodreads shelves.

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