Maggie Stiefvater, Linger Contest, and photos

Some of you may know that I started out reviewing on Young Adult Literature Review Blogspot.  I still hang out of there with my friend Vi and Renee.  I did a blog post with my photos from the Maggie Stiefvater event at Borders/Glendale (Monday, July 26, 2010) and am offering up a signed copy of my ARC of Linger.  To enter the contest, find out more about this phenomenal event, click here.

Winner of the Keys to the Repository Contest

Congratulations!  There is a winner for the Two-in-One Contest.  Diana G. – you won a signed copy of The Keys to the Repository by Melissa De La Cruz.  Please contact me at kidlitfrenzy(at)gmail(dot)com within the next 24 hours.

Thanks to everyone who entered.  For those of you, who were hoping to win, the Heist Society by Ally Carter – keep an eye open for another chance to win.

Book Review: Linger

Author:  Maggie Stiefvater

Publisher: Scholastic Press (July 13, 2010)

Reading Level: Young Adult

Source: Advanced Reader’s Copy

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Description from GoodReads:

In Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver, Grace and Sam found each other.  Now, in Linger, they must fight to be together. For Grace, this means defying her parents and keeping a very dangerous secret about her own well-being. For Sam, this means grappling with his werewolf past . . . and figuring out a way to survive into the future. Add into the mix a new wolf named Cole, whose own past has the potential to destroy the whole pack.  And Isabelle, who already lost her brother to the wolves . . . and is nonetheless drawn to Cole.

At turns harrowing and euphoric, Linger is a spellbinding love story that explores both sides of love — the light and the dark, the warm and the cold — in a way you will never forget.

I received a copy of Linger back in March and basically inhaled it in one sitting.  However, it was too early to write a review at that point.  Anyway, I am glad I saved my review though for now because I can do a back to back post.  First, a review of Linger and then follow it up with an Author Event post about Maggie’s visit to Borders/Glendale.  Maybe even a contest for that ARC I have.

Back to my review of Linger.  Last year, I accidentally happened upon Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater.  I was looking for a book to read and saw a display on release day and picked it up.  I read it straight through and fell in love with Grace and Sam.  Stiefvater’s writing was lyrical, heart-warming, and moving.  There was something magical about it and I wasn’t referring to the werewolves.  It was probably my favorite read of the summer of 2009, and I highly anticipated the release of Linger.

In March, I had a chance to finally find out what happened to Sam and Grace.  Linger picks up where Shiver left off.  (Please note there will definitely be spoilers for Shiver and I will attempt to keep this as spoiler free for Linger.) Sam has supposedly been cured and isn’t shifting from boy to wolf based on temperature.  This should be an exciting time for Grace and Sam.  However, this is a book 2.  I say this because book 2 is always where the author takes her beloved characters and makes them struggle, suffer, go through really crappy things.  And Stiefvater does not disappoint.  These are the things that I *hate* about book 2, in any series. There were times while reading that I wanted to throw the book and other times when I wanted to scream at Stiefvater.  Yes, I get emotional when reading about my favorite characters.  And if the characters didn’t struggle, the author wouldn’t have done her job.  Without saying much more about some of those struggles, let me just say keep the tissue box close by.

Now that you know what I *hated* about Linger.  Here is what I loved about Linger?  I loved the addition of a new wolf, Cole.  Cole is charming, sexy, and definitely a bad boy.  You will love him.  He plays well off of Isabel’s character and offers a bit of relief from the emotional rollercoaster that Sam and Grace are navigating.

What I am still up in the air about? Grace’s parents have a much more prominent role in this book than they did in Shiver.  I have mixed feelings about the transition from book 1’s lack of involvement to book 2’s extreme involvement.  I’m still not sure about this, but you will have to see what you think about it.

Finally, the ending of the story, though the cliff-hanger, was somewhat predictable.  I am not certain if the ending was the most natural progression for the story or if it was just the easiest.  Despite though having a strong idea about how the book would end (not all of the details but the conflict), I still cried.

Linger may not win over any Shiver fence-sitters, but it will definitely be a book that passionate fans will be eager to read and devour.

If you post any comments, please keep them spoiler free.

Congratulations to Maggie Stiefvater for debuting at #1 on the New York Times Best-Seller List.  Now I wonder if I can hack into her computer and download Forever?

-Aly

Book-a-Day Challenge Week 5 Update

It is amazing that I am already doing a week 5 update.  It is also scary at how fast my summer is flying by.  The Book-A-Day Challenge is being hosted by Donalyn Miller, teacher extraordinaire and a write to boot.  I have been linking to her original challenge but she recently posted an her own update which included a list to the blogs of others participating in the challenge.  You can find it here.  It has been fun seeing what everyone is reading for Book-A-Day.  Lots of wonderful books.

I have to confess that this was not one of my best reading weeks.  It was a busy week with lots of commitments that left little time for reading.  Since I knew it was going to be a slow reading week, I stocked up on graphic novels, manga, and picture books.

Book-A-Day Week 5 Reads:

Picture Books

It’s A Book by Lane Smith (Advanced Readers Copy) This picture book will be out in the fall.  It is hysterical!  One character is very technology savvy.  The other is partial to traditional books.  The dialogue between the two is hilarious.  Check out Amazon’s page for the trailer.  Note: Some parents may not appreciate the use of “jacka**” in the book.  You will have to read it and determine its appropriateness for your class.

Mirror, Mirror! A Book of Reversible Verse by Marilyn Singer This is a beautiful and amazing book.  Filled with two page spreads that incorporate stunning illustrations and reversible text that provides two sides for every featured fairy tale.  For my review, click here

Alfred Zector, Book Collector by Kelly DiPucchio Alfred as a young boy sets out to collect every book in the town and then to read every book.  In the end, he learns a lesson that reading books is good but sharing them is even better.

Non-fiction Picture Books

Hot Diggity Dog: The History of the Hot Dog by Adrienne Sylver  I love finding creative non-fiction picture books to use with upper grade elementary students.  This one covers the history of the hot dog.  For my review, click here.

Graphic Novels:

Flight Explore, Vol. 1 by Kazu Kibuishi This is Kibuishi’s Middle Grade version of his Flight series.  I enjoyed the collection of stories included in this volume and hope that more will be coming.  For my review, click here.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Long Way Home (Season 8 Vol. 1) by Joss Whedon This is Whedon’s first attempt at writing a graphic novel and also a chance to continue the Buffy Series after it went off the air.  It benefits the reader if you are familiar with the series.  Though it is a little “clunky”, I did enjoy it and have been promised by friends that subsequent volumes improve. (Note: This would be considered YA and up).

Manga

Death Note Vol. 1 Boredom by Tsugumi Obba A bright but bored teen discovers a Death Notebook left intentionally by a death god.  Light (main character) attempts to create an utopia using the notebook.  The dialogue between Light and Ryuk (death god) is probably the best part of the book.  Not sure Manga is really my thing but this was interesting.

YA

Restoring Harmony by Joelle Anthony This has been on my TBR list since before it was released and is part of my list of books for the 2010 Debut Author Challenge.  Considered a dystopian novel (and it does have many elements of a dystopian novel) it is very different from something like The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  For my review, click here.

All in all, still a pretty good reading week.  What have you been reading this summer?  Share your thoughts in the comment section.

Two-in-One Post

Debut Author, Joelle Anthony (RESTORING HARMONY), is celebrating Indie Bookstore Week over on her blog.  You can check out her blog post and contest here.  In honor of Indie Bookstore Week, I want to tell you about my favorite local indie Bookstore.

Vroman’s Bookstore is located in Pasadena, CA.  It is an amazing bookstore, with incredible customer services, and the most fantastic  events.  Of course one of my favorite areas of the store is the children’s section which is quite large (actually there are some indie Bookstores that would fit in the children’s book area) and the selection of books from picture books to YA is fabulous.

Today, I was at Vroman’s for an author event.  Two awesome YA authors were featured at the afternoon event. Ally Carter (Heist Society, The Gallagher Girls) and Melissa de la Cruz (Van Alen Legacy, Blue Bloods) shared the spotlight in front of a packed out audience.

Ally Carter began with talking about her books followed by Melissa De La Cruz.

Of course, Pasadena and the Los Angeles area is home to some great YA authors who also stopped by to show their support.

Yes, you guessed it Margie Stohl and Kami Garcia were in the audience.  They brought along Vania (known on Twitter as ReverieBr).

After waiting in line and getting books signed by both Melissa and Ally.  They were gracious enough to take pictures with me.

Thanks Kami for taking the picture of Melissa and me.  Vania snapped the one of me and Ally.

Also, another local blogger and friend was on hand.  Here is a picture of Janelle and Ally.

Now for a surprise.  I have a hardcover copy of the Heisty Society signed by Ally Carter and a copy of the Keys to the Repository signed by Melissa de la Cruz to give away.   One lucky winner will be able to win one book (either Heist Society or the Keys to the Repository).

Here are the rules:

1.  All entrants must complete the attached entry form.

2. Entrants must be 13 or older.  International participants are welcome.

3. Please leave a comment about which book you would like and why.

4. Contest closes at 11:59 p.m. PDT on Wednesday, July 28, 2010.

Please complete the Entry Form (click for link).  If you have trouble with the link, please email me at kidlitfrenzy(AT)gmail(DOT)com.

Good luck everyone and if you have an Indie Bookstore in your area – go out and support it!

– Aly

Book Review: Restoring Harmony

Author: Joelle Anthony

Publisher: Putnam Juvenile (May 8, 2010)

Reading Level: YA (6th grade up)

Source: ARC for review

Rating: 5 Stars

Description from GoodReads:

The year is 2041, and sixteen-year-old Molly McClure has lived a relatively quiet life on an isolated farming island in Canada, but when her family fears the worst may have happened to her grandparents in the US, Molly must brave the dangerous, chaotic world left after global economic collapse—one of massive oil shortages, rampant crime, and abandoned cities.

Molly is relieved to find her grandparents alive in their Portland suburb, but they’re financially ruined and practically starving. What should’ve been a quick trip turns into a full-fledged rescue mission. And when Molly witnesses something the local crime bosses wishes she hadn’t, Molly’s only way home may be to beat them at their own game. Luckily, there’s a handsome stranger who’s willing to help.

Restoring Harmony is a riveting, fast-paced dystopian tale complete with adventure and romance that readers will devour.

When I received the Advanced Reader’s Copy (ARC) of Restoring Harmony, I was bogged down with books to read for book club or prior books for review.  In addition, work/life was just really busy.  Some books I have a gut sense that I am going to enjoy and I don’t want to rush through them. I had that feeling about Restoring Harmony and I found myself carrying it around but not reading it because the time wasn’t right.  Finally, I had just the right time and I devoured the book in one sitting.

Let me just start with what I liked about the book…

I have discovered that I love books with short chapters.  This may be a silly thing but it makes the book feel like a super fast read even if it takes me exactly the same time to read as any other book with the same number of pages. Additionally, it means that the book will go on my list to recommend to reluctant readers.

Another reason that this will go on my list for reluctant readers is that Anthony grabs you from the beginning and keeps you hooked in until the end.  I really don’t feel that as the reader I should wade through 75 or 100 pages before the book “gets good”.  My reluctant readers won’t even hang in there for that many pages before giving up on the book.

My third reason for loving this book – I loved the characters.  Molly is a wonderful protagonist.  She is bright, tenacious, resourceful, and just plain likable.  She is sent out on a journey to contact her grandparents and convince them to return to Canada with her.  Molly embraces her mission and despite obstacles and set-backs plunges forward without giving up and without annoying the reader.  Molly isn’t the only character I loved.  There is Spill.  You really need to read the book – you will fall in love with Spill too.  He is swoon-worthy in a very good way.  I am adding him to my list of fictional crushes.

My fourth reason for loving this book – I truly appreciate books that have a sense of community in them and adults who are not all jerks.  I realize YA is written from the perspective of teens, but not all teens hate all adults.

Just a few more things…I can share Restoring Harmony with readers from sixth grade on up.  I appreciated the timeless feel to the book, and the dialogue did not annoy me.  Have you ever read a book where the voice of the characters just irritated you?  I have and it really is a turn off – not so with this book.

Finally, the writing of the book was wonderful.  Anthony does an incredible job in describing her world, the struggles of the society, the challenges facing the characters, the emotions behind the words.  There is intensity and darkness balanced with hope.

Joelle Anthony’s debut novel, Restoring Harmony, is a wonderful offering and one that I hope really gets the attention that it deserves.  I look forward to future books by this author.

Check out Joelle’s blog for more information about Restoring Harmony and to listen to some related music or check out the wonderfully done book trailer.

Book-A-Day Challenge Week 4 Update

Can’t believe that I just finished the fourth week of the Book-A-Day Challenge hosted by Donalyn Miller (The Book Whisperer).  I did get in 8 books this week including a Manga book which was a new genre for me.  I was aiming for a few more books but I had a couple of days where I was doing some vacation/touristy things with my sister and didn’t get in any reading.

Book-A-Day Week 4 Reads:

Picture Books:

Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse by Rebecca Janni  Nellie Sue wants a horse.  She will do just about anything to show her parents that she can be responsible for a horse.  On her birthday, Nellie Sue gets a surprise gift from her parents.  A fun story, with great language, imagination, and illustrations.

Birdie’s Big Girl Shoes by Sujean Rim  The illustrations really won me over on this one.  This is a book for every girl who has either wanted to play dress up with her mother’s heels or who has played dress up or who has tried to do anything in heels will get a kick out of this book.  Birdie learns that heels aren’t all they seem.

Graphic Novels:

Amulet Book 2: The StoneKeeper’s Curse by Kazu Kibuishi  Though the first book in this series had some rough spots technically (awkward transitions, and areas that were unclear), I was interested in seeing if book 2 was better developed.  I am glad to say it is.  Emily (The StoneKeeper) and her brother Navin continue on their journey to learn how to control the amulet (and not let it control them), to fight the Elf King, and to save their mother.  Note: This is a Middle Grade level graphic novel.

Manga:

Black Bird, Vol. 1 – Kanoko Sakurakoji  – This was my first time reading Manga and it required that I get use to the back to front, right to left format.  Misao is a 16 year old girl who can see spirits.  These are demon spirits who she discovers wants to eat her (guess her blood is powerful but also smells good).  She is courted by Kyo (a tengu demon and head of his clan) and another demon (also head of his clan).  Classic love triangle and feels like a Japanese twist on the Twilight story.  Interesting.  I will probably give volume 2 a shot but not sure if I want to read every one in the series at this point.  Note: This is definitely a YA Manga series.

Middle Grade:

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper Melody is an 11 year old girl with severe Cerebral Palsy.  She is unable to speak or to let anyone know what she is thinking.  And Melody has a lot of thoughts.  This is a remarkable story about perceptions and attitudes towards children and people with disabilities.  Every teacher should read it.  I think it ill be a contender for an ALA/Schneider Family Award in 2011 (MG book with a character with a disability).

A Place For Delta by Melissa Walker  Joseph spends the summer in Alaska with his Aunt Kate helping to care for a polar bear cub and trying to find out who killed Delta’s (polar bear) mother.  An interesting story of friendship, mystery, and the care of the environment.  Read my review here.

YA:

Spirits that Walk In Shadows by Nina Kiriki Hoffman  Jaimie has grown up in a family using magic.  Kim is from a world without magic.  Jaimie and Kim end up as roommates in college.  Turns out that  Kim’s struggle with depression may not be purely psychological.  An interesting twist on the typical world of magic, and paranormal beings.

Top Secret Manuscript – I also read an author friend’s second book in her paranormal romance series.  The book will be out next year and it will be great.  But I can’t say anything more than that.

Adult:

First Rule by Robert Crais  Joe Pike is back and this time it is personal.  A former member of his team has been killed along with his family.  Was he killed because he was “dirty” or did the killer have the wrong home?  I love Robert Crais books and this one was no exception.

In progress:

A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby Payne Several teachers on my staff and I are reading a couple of chapters of this each week and discussing it.  Very powerful and practical.

So how are you doing on your summer reading challenge?  Read any good books lately?  Post a comment about what you are reading.

-Aly

2010 Debut Author Challenge Update

Several months ago, I signed up for the 2010 Debut Author Challenge being hosted by the wonderful Story Siren (Krisit).  I have been terrible at posting my reviews on her site.  So in some ways you would think I had done nothing towards this challenge.  But I have and I am going to write one large update right here.  For more information about the Debut Author Challenge click here.

January

Scones and Sensibility by Lindsay Eland  – Twelve year old Polly is a hopeless romantic who loves Pride & Prejudice and Anne of Green Gables.  As she travels about town delivering, scones and other baked goods from her parents’ bakery, she schemes about ways to play matchmaker for friends and family.  Hilarity ensues and some lessons are learned.  Read my review here.

February

The Reinvention of Edison Thomas by Jacqueline Houtman – Edison “Eddy” Thomas is a middle school student, who loves to tinker with inventions but struggles to understand innuendos of those around him. After coming in 3rd in a school science fair, Eddy begins to tinker with another invention which leads him to some interesting lessons, new friends, and a lesson in understanding bullying.  Read my review here.

March

Under My Skin by Judith Graves – I love stories that are filled with paranormal beasties, great characters (especially kick-butt heroines), resident hotties, and humor! This one has it all.  It has probably been one of my most fun debut reads.  Fans of Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance will love this.  Read my review here.

April

The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams by Rhonda Hayter – This middle grade debut is filled with magic, humor, history lessons, and some great fun.  Middle grade girls will especially love Abbie and her magical ways.  Read my review here.

13 to Life by Shannon Delany – Between Judith Graves and Shannon Delany, I am becoming more and more a werewolf fan.  I really enjoyed this book.  I read it in one sitting.  Love the characters, the mythology, and the overall story.  Read my review here.

May

Sea by Heidi R Kling – Fifteen year old Sienna (Sea) lost her mother in an airplane accident over the ocean.  Three years later her father decides to take her to assist with orphan victims of the tsunami.  Her journey provides her with experiences that lead her to grow emotionally and personally. Read my review here.

Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy – How many teen girls wish that they were cool, popular, and dating a hunk?  Fifteen year old, Jess learns that it isn’t all about appearances but that it really is an issue of girl empowerment and good battling evil.  Read my review here.

June

Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus  – So often in Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romances, a human girl falls in love with a supernatural boy or vice a versa.  Hopcus has main characters that are equally matched with secrets of their own.  Great characters, well developed story, and I am already pining for book two. Read my review here.

July

The Shadows (The Books of Elsewhere #1) by Jacqueline West – A haunted house, a curious 11 year old girl, talking cats, enchanted glasses, and a mystery.  This was a great read.  What a wonderful Middle Grade debut novel.  One of my favorite reads this year.  Read my review here.

The guidelines of the challenge encourage participants to read at least 12 debut novels.  I am 3/4 of the way to the minimum goal.   However, I am determined to read closer to 25 books by debut authors.  Guess I should get reading if I am going to meet that goal…

-Aly

And we have a winner…

For the first Summer Giveaway Challenge, we have a winner – Sharmaine (@rawstatic)!  I will be sending you an email which you will need to respond to within 24 hours.  Congratulations on winning a signed copy of Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

-Aly

A Literary Day Trip

Yesterday, I had a chance to spend the day in Amherst, Massachusetts.  It was the first time in many years that I got to visit the place I spent four years of my life.  Even after an extended absence, as I was driving into Amherst I had the same feeling as my first time – I love this place.  Sometimes, I even wonder why I left.  Well, I won’t dwell a lot on those decisions, but let me tell you about my visit.

My sister and I first stopped in Amherst at my favorite bakery/deli/cafe.  If you ever get to Amherst, you must stop by for a chocolate croissant or a sandwich and a Chai latte.  My personal favorites.  Though my sister claims the cheese danish is to die for. I am pretty sure that you can’t go wrong with anything that you order.

When my sister first proposed a trip up to Amherst, she wasn’t thinking about the literary richness of the area.  She wanted to go to a Butterfly Conservation Garden and thought it would be a “nice day trip”.  How long can you look at butterflies anyway?! Right?!  In my mind, there would be plenty of time to see some pretty butterflies and then drag her around to museums. 🙂

After looking at many beautiful butterflies, I suggested to my sister that we stop at the Emily Dickinson House.  We made it just in time for a tour which turned out to be just my sister and me led by a really cute South African graduate student doing a summer internship at the museum.  I can’t believe that I lived about 2 miles from the museum for four years but that this was the first time I actually visited the house.  I wish we could take pictures of the inside of the buildings.  The information was wonderful and I grew in my appreciation of Emily Dickinson and her poetry.

After visiting the 19th century, my sister and I jumped into the 21st century with a visit to Hampshire College’s Eric Carle Museum.  The museum has three exhibit areas that were currently displaying a permanent collection of art and information on Eric Carle.  The middle gallery had some lovely artwork on display from illustrator Leo Lionni (Swimmy, Little Blue & Little Yellow).  The third gallery was displaying Lisbeth Zwerger’s artwork.  Zwerger was actually at the museum signing copies of her books.

The museum also contains a beautiful art room that welcomes visitors, young and old, to develop their own tissue paper creations.

So what have you been up to this summer?

Any fun literary trips?  

Love to hear what you have all been doing….

-Aly