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add it to the list (2)

inspired by The Story Siren, here are books i've added to my ever growing TBR pile in the past week or so...

for review from the publisher...

author: Tony Lee illustrator: Sam Hart
publisher: Candlewick
drops: March 2011

In a dramatic and moving tale of trickery and betrayal, forgiveness and hope, the legend of King Arthur, his loves and losses, the fall of Camelot, his Knights of the Round Table, the secrets of his past and mysteries of his future, all come to bear in this visually stunning portrait of a man. Before Arthur's father, Uther Pendragon, was murdered by Ulric, as a final act, Uther thrust his sword, Caliburn, into a rock. Only a man true of heart would be able to draw and wield the weapon once more. Until that time, Ulric would become King of the Britons, raining terror over all the land. And the people of Albion would wait for a beacon of hope. The wizard Merlin knows just who that person is destined to be. If Ulric is to be overthrown, then it is Arthur, son of Uther, who must pull out the sword and become the rightful leader of the Britons. So, until Arthur comes of age, Merlin hides the future King - in so doing he strikes a dangerous bargain with the dark Unseelie Fae. As the day approaches when Arthur will come of age, there are strong powers at play. Not everyone wishes for Arthur to succeed - for it was Morgana, Arthur's half-sister, who Merlin traded to the Unseelie, in place of her brother, all those years ago. And now the witch has a vengeful score to settle.

Ruby Red
author: Kerstin Gier
publisher: Macmillan
drops: May 2011

Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era!
Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon—the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.

Death Sentence - Escape from Furnace 3
author: Alexander Gordon Smith
publisher: Macmillan
drops: August 2011

Furnace Prison, where death is the least of your worries. 

To escape, I must become one of them. We had one last shot at freedom and we failed. This time our punishment will be much worse than before. Because in the bloodstained laboratories beneath the prison lies the horrific truth behind the warden's plans. Down here, monsters are made. I'm changing: something evil is being pumped into my veins. I'm becoming one of them... a creature of Furnace. How can I escape when the Darkness is inside me?

author: Marcus Sedgwick
publisher: Macmillan
already dropped. paperback coming September 2011

1910. A cabin north of the Arctic Circle. Fifteen-year-old Sig Andersson is alone. Alone, except for the corpse of his father, who died earlier that day after falling through a weak spot on the ice-covered lake. His sister, Anna, and step-mother, Nadya, have gone to the local town for help. Then comes a knock at the door. It's a man, the flash of a revolver's butt at his hip, and a mean glare in his eyes. Sig has never seen him before but Wolff claims to have unfinished business with his father. As Sig gradually learns the awful truth about Wolff's connection to his father, Sig finds his thoughts drawn to a certain box hidden on a shelf in the storeroom, in which lies his father's prized possession - a revolver. When Anna returns alone, and Wolff begins to close in, Sigs choice is pulled into sharp focus. Should he use the gun, or not?

for the Nook...
by John Green
by Kristin Cashore
by Cassandra Clare
by Meg Rossow

wants vs. needs

okay, so i know y'all are sick to death of this whole ebook vs. print media debate. but wait! there's someone with a fresh opinion and idea that you just might be interested in hearing.

Robert Niles, over at OJR: The Online Journalism Review, has this to offer:

"Last week's announcement that Borders would close 200 stores across the country  might have seemed to some the inevitable next step in the publishing industry's conversion from printed to digital media. As more and more Americans choose to order books online, or to switch to e-books, they don't need to patronize physical bookstores any longer.

But any sales person ought to know that need and want are two different things.  

I can find a much larger selection of books by firing up my Web browser than heading over to my local Borders, which is among those scheduled to close. I don't need that Borders in order to find and buy the books which interest me.

But, as an enthusiastic reader, I want to have an excuse to get out of the house once in a while and spend some time alone with fresh books and magazines.  My middle-school, book-worm daughter wants a place to hang out with her friends after school. No, we don't need a physical place to buy books any longer, but we want "that alternative".

i must say, i agree. while i adore my nook and the ease of online browsing, there is something i equally adore about being in a physical bookstore. something about being surrounded by books and looking at their physical covers and turning physical pages while with friends or drinking coffee or whatever totally warms my soul. and while i think the library can fulfill most of those needs, there is something about being in a bookstore that's just...different. different in a good and irreplaceable way.

full article by Robert Niles, including his proposal on finding the middle ground, can be found here.

shout out to Shelf Awareness for featuring him first.

Review: Paper Towns by John Green

in a sentence or so: Quentin's got one month until he graduates from high school...which is just enough time for his gorgeous and enigmatic next door neighbor to take him on a night of crazy pranks, disappear, and leave the slightest hint of a trace on how she can be found - should he so desire. he does.

Margo Roth Spiegelman has been Quentin's next door neighbor and childhood friend for as long as he can remember. this does not mean, however, they are currently friends. mainly because Margo is the Queen Bee of high school while Q is friends with the band geeks. that's right - he's not a band geek...he is friends with the band geeks and spends his after school time waiting for them by the band door. now, this isn't to say that Q isn't totally fabulous in his own way because he TOTALLY is. but he's awesome in that gangly, awkward, gaming, potty-humor 18 year old boy way. Margo is awesome in a way that's hard to put your finger on, but you just KNOW she's smarter than you, funnier than you, thinking deeper thoughts than you, and is downright more attractive than you.

so, imagine Q's surprise when Margo pops up at his window in the middle of the night, for the first time in a good 8 years, for a night of pranks. on a school night! gasp! obviously, Q is hesitant...he does have perfect attendance after all...but you don't just ignore Margo Roth Spiegelman. not because she twists your arm or guilts you or anything, but because she's just the type of person you WANT to be around and WANT to hear and WANT to laugh with and bask in the glory of. so he goes. he pranks and he plots and he breaks and he enters. Q has the time of his life and can't wait to see what the future holds for him and Margo. but the next day, Margo's car is gone. she's left without a trace...or so they think. Q starts to notice some signs that Margo might have left for him and Q can't help but get drawn in to the mystery of finding her. he realizes soon that there are parts of Margo he never knew and for Q to find Margo means to really and truly discover the gorgeous, mysterious, and secretive girl next door.

alright, i'll just throw this out there straight up. i am a HUGE John Green fan. i adored Looking For Alaska and An Abundance of Katherines. this is mainly because John creates a nerdariffic and hilarious cast of characters that i cannot get enough of AND creates a intellectually kickass plot of mystery and self discovery AND infuses humor that is exactly my style. this love definitely continues with Q and his pals, Radar and Ben. there is such authenticity with their interactions and banter that reminds me of my high school days and makes the characters feel absolutely tangible to me.

one of the things i loved about Paper Towns was following the clues to discover Margo. it soon becomes a group effort and we learn more about who she is through those who knew her. the core of Q's path to discover Margo is through a highlighted copy of the Walt Whitman collective poems "Leaves of Grass" which, admittedly, is already quite gorgeous in itself.  the mystery of finding Margo drives the story on, but the true enjoyment for me was the self exploration on behalf of the characters. for instance, Q gets mad at Ben because he isn't putting the same value on finding Margo as he is (mainly because he's hungover at that time) and Radar comes out with some seriously insightful mediating that blew my adult mind away.  he concludes his argument with "Just saying: stop thinking Ben should be you, and he needs to stop thinking you should be him, and y'all just chill the hell out." (155) genius.

if you're the kind of person who likes smart, witty, silly, hilarious, relateable, thought provoking, intentional, intellectual and sophisticated reads from an adorably nerdy-yet-cool teen boy perspective - then this is the book for you. in related news, John Green is the author for you.

fave quote: "I couldn't help but think about school and everything else ending. I liked standing just outside the couches and watching them - it was a kind of sad I didn't mind, and so I just listened, letting all the happiness and the sadness of this ending swirl around in me, each sharpening the other. For the longest time, it felt kind of like my chest was cracking open, but not precisely in an unpleasant way." (172)

fix er up: the prom drama wasn't my fave, but it is their senior year and is totally something teen readers can relate to, so it makes sense.

title: Paper Towns
author: John Green
publisher: Dutton Juvenile (part of Penguin Publishing)
genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Humor

FTC Notice: i did not receive compensation or anything for this review. i bought the book with my own straight cash, homey.

fresh reads

i know that sometimes in this ya blogosphere we can get sucked into reading the same books by the same authors in the same cycles.  good thing our ole pal Booklist Online is here to help break us from the reading rut and find some fresh reads!

the full Booklist Online's Best Fiction for Young Adults 2011 List
3 previously undiscovered titles i'm adding to my list...

Scrawl by Mark Shulman
Tod Munn is a bully. He's tough, but times are even tougher. The wimps have stopped coughing up their lunch money. The administration is cracking down. Then to make things worse, Tod and his friends get busted doing something bad. Something really bad.
Lucky Tod must spend his daily detention in a hot, empty room with Mrs. Woodrow, a no-nonsense guidance counselor. He doesn't know why he's there, but she does. Tod's punishment: to scrawl his story in a beat-up notebook. He can be painfully funny and he can be brutally honest. But can Mrs. Woodrow help Tod stop playing the bad guy before he actually turns into one . . . for real?
Read Tod's notebook for yourself.

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco X. Stork
When Pancho arrives at St. Anthony's Home, he knows his time there will be short: If his plans succeed, he'll soon be arrested for the murder of his sister's killer. But then he's assigned to help D.Q., whose brain cancer has slowed neither his spirit nor his mouth. D.Q. tells Pancho all about his "Death Warrior's Manifesto," which will help him to live out his last days fully--ideally, he says, with the love of the beautiful Marisol. As Pancho tracks down his sister's murderer, he finds himself falling under the influence of D.Q. and Marisol, who is everything D.Q. said she would be; and he is inexorably drawn to a decision: to honor his sister and her death, or embrace the way of the Death Warrior and choose life. 

Nuanced in its characters and surprising in its plot developments--both soulful and funny--Pancho & D.Q. is a "buddy novel" of the highest kind: the story of a friendship that helps two young men become all they can be.

Every Little Thing in the World by Nina de Gramont
A teenager. A pregnancy. A familiar story. NOT 

When sixteen-year-old Sydney Biggs’s pregnancy test shows the tell tale plus sign, she confides in only her best friend Natalia, and Natalia promptly “borrows” her mother’s car so Sydney can confront the baby’s father. But after the car is reported stolen and police bring the girls home, their parents send them away to wilderness camp as punishment. With six weeks to spend in the wilds of Canada, time is ticking for Sydney, who isn’t sure what she wants to do about the pregnancy. As she befriends her fellow adventuremates and contends with Natalia’s adamant opinions on the choices available, Sydney realizes that making the right choice can mean very different things.

the full Booklist Online's Top 10 Quick Picks 2011 List
a title i've had on my list for a long time but am def bumping towards the top...

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers
Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard--falling from it is even harder.  Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High... until vicious rumors about her and her best friend's boyfriend start going around.  Now Regina's been "frozen out" and her ex-best friends are out for revenge.  If Regina was guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth and the bullying is getting more intense by the day.  She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past who she herself used to bully.  Friendship doesn't come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend... if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don't break them both first.

Tensions grow and the abuse worsens as the final days of senior year march toward an explosive conclusion in this dark new tale from the author of Cracked Up To Be.

the full Booklist Online's Great Graphic Novels for Teens List
2 previously undiscovered titles i'm adding to my list...

Brain Camp by Susan Kim and Laurence Klavan

Neither artistic, dreamy Jenna nor surly, delinquent Lucas expected to find themselves at an invitation-only summer camp that turns problem children into prodigies. And yet, here they both are at Camp Fielding, settling in with all the other losers and misfits who’ve been shipped off by their parents in a last-ditch effort to produce a child worth bragging about.
But strange disappearances, spooky lights in the woods, and a chilling alteration that turns the dimmest, rowdiest campers into docile zombie Einsteins have Jenna and Lucas feeling more than a little suspicious . . . and a lot afraid.

Mercury by Hope Larson

August 31, 5:15 PM, French Hill, Nova Scotia: A girl named Tara is running. She runs through her nice neighborhood and up a road to the burned ruins of what was once a beautiful house—her family's house.
August 31, 1859, French Hill, Nova Scotia: A girl named Josey is picking blackberries with her friend Connie. As the girls gossip, a handsome stranger knocks on the door of Josey's house. His name is Asa, and with his coming, Josey's life—and later in time, Tara's as well—is about to change forever.
Because there is treasure in the woods that belong to Josey's family. Gold—an untold fortune. Asa has a secret way of finding it, and his partnership with Josey's father could make them all rich. But there is darkness in the woods, and in Asa. And in the present day, Tara, Josey's descendent, is about to discover the truth about what really happened in the family's past.
Eisner award winner Hope Larson weaves together history, romance, and a touch of her trademark magical realism in this remarkable graphic novel of how the past haunts a teenage girl's present.

go! find some new books to read!

Review: Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

in a sentence or so: when a creepy carnival rolls into town, Will and Jim seem to be the only two aware that the carnies are stealing souls to finance their attractions. horror ensues.

Will and Jim are the paradoxical besties. they are as different as they are alike. for instance, Will is blonde while Jim is a dark brunette.  Will was born one minute before Halloween, while Jim was born one minute after Halloween.  but these neighbor childhood friends do enjoy exploring together. they love running and discovering new things and sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night to do whatever it is that preteen boys do.  they also sense something isn't right about the carnival that rolled into town at 3 a.m. on a weeknight. so, being the little explorers they are, they sneak out to see what's the buzz with this Dark and Cooger carnival. unfortunately for them, they find out from the very beginning of their adventure that the carnival is dark, twisted, and supernatural.

i've never read a Bradbury book before, so i wasn't sure what to expect. it took me a little while to fit into the author's blend of first person introspective with third person omniscient narrator...but once i did, i was hooked. the story is SPOOKY until next week and there were surprising character developments and depth i wasn't anticipating in a quick horror read.

for example, Will and his dad (who is significantly older than other dads) have a chat at 1 a.m. on the front lawn. Will starts dropping some serious questions on dad that still fit within the framework of the overall narrative. dad replies the best he can, mostly giving his son space to share.  and then dad says, "The front lawn at...let's see...one-thirty in the morning...is no place to start a philosophical..." (134). but that's the beauty of it! that's the PERFECT time to chat with a budding adolescent about the deep questions of our existence! oh Bradbury, you knew.

i was surprisingly freaked out by some of the imagery and methods that Bradbury introduces with the creepy carnival folk. i won't spoil any of the bizarre 'abilities' that they possess...but suffice it to say that despite the main characters being two pre-teen boys, this book is spooky as hell. plus, Bradbury infuses a maturity and thoughtfulness in his writing and plot that i wasn't expecting, but was pleasantly surprised to discover.

fave quote: "'The stuff of nightmare is their plain bread. They butter it with pain.'" (200)

fix er up: the shifting narration style made it hard for me to stay totally committed to the flow of the story the whole time.

title: Something Wicked This Way Comes
author: Ray Bradbury
genre: Horror

geeking out hard

i was (quite loudly) squealing and jumping for joy when i found this waiting for me at my doorstep today.

Excalibur: The Legend of King Arthur
Author: Tony Lee
Illustrator: Sam Hart
Publisher: Candlewick Press

Arthur Pendragon was raised in obscurity, but fate will not leave him to the shadows. In a moment of desperate need, he draws a legendary sword from its stonebed and commences the life he was born to lead. A series of adventures sparked by the elusive wizard Merlin launches Arthur through love and betrayal, domination and defeat, and toward the prophesied end awaiting him. Merging a faithful retelling with dynamic illustrations, EXCALIBUR invites long-time fans to relive the legend and those new to the story to experience it up close in a vivid graphic adventure.

i LOVE Arthurian legend. so so so so much.

in related news, i really should read Le Morte d'Arthur. do i sense another reading challenge coming on? (spoiler alert: YES).

Slog's Dad Winner

grats to Kristen for winning a copy of Slog's Dad!

if you didn't win, you should still TOTALLY buy the book. it's out now! go get it and fall in love.

authors i adore

i know we all have our favorite authors. i also know that when we read a new book and fall in love, we expect to fall in love with the author's online personality. and sometimes, we're lucky and they are just as awesome as we expect them to be. le sigh.

these are some of the authors i adore. i would honestly read anything they ever write because i love them THAT much. for serious.  yes, even if it were a memoir .

Laurie Halse Anderson (ya author heavyweight, tbh. author of Speak, Wintergirls, Chains, and more...)
blog post of note: in which she celebrates Wintergirls in the UK and posts a sweet book trailer. peep here.
tweet quote of note: Valentine's Day is not just for lovers. It's for friends, too. I lift my mug of hot chocolate in honor of friendship!!! 

Patrick Ness (author of my fave dystopian series of all time, Chaos Walking)
blog post of note: in which he clarifies that he's GOT BOOKS TO WRITE omgggg yes please. more books from you, please! more here.

John Green (author of Looking for Alaska and more)
blog post of note: in which he plays Chubby Bunny and then things spiral out of control...but not necessarily in the way you'd expect. and it's hilarious. peep here.
tweet quote of note: Next time we tour, WE TOUR IN A CHRYSLER. Or a Winnebago. I would also accept a Winnebago.

so thanks to the authors out there for giving us nerds more fodder for our bookish obsessions. we love you!


omg i'm in love with this trailer.

i'm looking forward for my final chance to see my favorite gingers in action.

mega tears coming in july...

more reasons to love the a.v. club

sometimes i think the a.v. club just has some sort of device that sees straight into my soul. and then it uses said device to carefully select these findings and loves them and shares that love with me so i can fall in love with a movie/tv show/music all over again.

the latest in this soul searching connection between a.v. club and myself are their reviews of Spaced. Daisy Steiner just might be the fictional love of my life. for real, i ADORE Daisy Steiner (and, by association, Jessica Stevenson/Hynes)

Spaced, according to wikipedia: Tim Bisley (Pegg) and Daisy Steiner (Hynes) are two London twenty-somethings who meet by chance in a café while both are flat-hunting. Despite barely knowing each other, they conspire to pose as a young professional couple in order to meet the requisites of an advertisement for a relatively cheap flat in the distinctive building at 23 Meteor Street, Tufnell Park, which is owned by and also houses the landlady, Marsha Klein (Julia Deakin). Also in the building is Brian Topp (Mark Heap), an eccentric conceptual artist who lives and works on his various pieces in the ground floor flat. Frequent visitors are Tim's best friend, Mike Watt (Nick Frost), who ends up becoming a lodger after Marsha's daughter Amber Weary "flies the nest", and Daisy's best friend, Twist Morgan (Katy Carmichael).
The series largely concerns the colourful and surrealistic adventures of Tim and Daisy as they navigate through life, decide on what they want to do with their lives, come to terms with affairs of the heart, and try to figure out new and largely unproductive ways of killing time. Tim and Daisy repeatedly stress that they are not a couple to everyone but Marsha, but despite (or because of) this, romantic tension develops between them, particularly during the second series.

okay but really if you haven't watched it. do it now. right here.

cybil winners

ok ok i KNOW this is old news, but i wanted to share it anyway!

the 2010 Cybils award winners were announced here. and for those who don't know, the Cybils are the awards given to children and YA lit by bloggers. so that's kinda cool.

the titles i knew about already (but am MORE interested in now that they've won the award) are:

Rot & Ruin 
author: Jonathan Maberry
genre: Zombie, Sci-Fi
publisher: Simon & Schuster

In the zombie-infested world Benny has grown up in, every teenager must work once they turn fifteen—or they’ll lose their food rations. Benny isn’t interested in taking on the family business, but he reluctantly agrees to train as a zombie killer with his boring big brother, Tom. He expects a dull job, whacking zombies for cash. What he discovers is a vocation that will teach him what it really means to be human.
As Benny’s worldview is challenged again and again by the lessons he learns from Tom, he is forced to confront another horrifying reality: sometimes, the most terrible monsters are the human ones.
Critically acclaimed author Jonathan Maberry crafts a terrifying future vision of the zombie apocalypse, brought to life through the rich emotional struggles of a teenager trying to find his place in a tumultuous new world.

author: Swati Avasthi
genre: Contemporary, Abuse, Realistic
publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Sixteen-Year-Old Jace Witherspoon arrives at the doorstep of his estranged brother Christian with a re-landscaped face (courtesy of his father’s fist), $3.84, and a secret.

He tries to move on, going for new friends, a new school, and a new job, but all his changes can’t make him forget what he left behind—his mother, who is still trapped with his dad, and his ex-girlfriend, who is keeping his secret.

At least so far.

Worst of all, Jace realizes that if he really wants to move forward, he may first have to do what scares him most: He may have to go back. First-time novelist Swati Avasthi has created a riveting and remarkably nuanced portrait of what happens after. After you’ve said enough, after you’ve run, after you’ve made the split—how do you begin to live again? Readers won’t be able to put this intense page-turner down

the titles i did not know about, and am DEF going to check out are:

genre: Contemporary, Humor, Coming-of-Age
publisher: Amulet Books

In this funny, uncannily wise portrait of the dynamics of a sixth-grade class and of the greatness that sometimes comes in unlikely packages, Dwight, a loser, talks to his classmates via an origami finger puppet of Yoda. If that weren’t strange enough, the puppet is uncannily wise and prescient. Origami Yoda predicts the date of a pop quiz, guesses who stole the classroom Shakespeare bust, and saves a classmate from popularity-crushing embarrassment with some well-timed advice. Dwight’s classmate Tommy wonders how Yoda can be so smart when Dwight himself is so clueless. With contributions from his puzzled classmates, he assembles the case file that forms this novel.

author: Jason Shiga
genre: Graphic Novel, Humor, Choose-Your-Own-Adventure (!!!!)
publisher: Amulet Books

Chocolate or Vanilla? This simple choice is all it takes to get started with Meanwhile, the wildly inventive creation of comics mastermind Jason Shiga, of whom Scott McCloud said “Crazy + Genius = Shiga.” Jimmy, whose every move is under your control, finds himself in a mad scientist’s lab, where he’s given a choice between three amazing objects: a mind-reading device, a time-travel machine, or the Killitron 3000 (which is as ominous as it sounds). Down each of these paths there are puzzles, mysterious clues, and shocking revelations. It’s up to the reader to lead Jimmy to success or disaster.

Meanwhile is a wholly original story of invention, discovery, and saving the world, told through a system of tabs that take you forward, backward, upside down, and right side up again. Each read creates a new adventure!

Giveaway Contest: Slog's Dad

you're witnessing history, folks. i'm having my very FIRST giveaway ever!  and, quite frankly, i can't think of a more worthy book for me to share than my latest review - Slog's Dad.

to enter:
  • leave a comment (either here or with the review) telling me why you're interested in reading Slog's Dad.
  • be sure to leave your email address with the comment too, please.
  • you have to be a US resident. (i'm cheap!)
deadline for the contest is Monday, February 21st. i'll pick the winner at random and announce it here on Tuesday, February 22nd.

that's it!  good luck!

Review: Slog's Dad by David Almond

in a sentence or so: before he died, Slog's dad promised him he'd be back to visit Slog when spring came. but still, Slog's bestie Davie can't help but be suspicious when when Slog starts talking to a hobo on a bench claiming to be his dad. all Slog knows is that his dad kept his word and he has one last moment to share with him before he's truly gone.

i'm going to go a bit outside of the box with this review, and not share any other plot points of this book.  it's SO much better for you to discover it on your own.

but what i WILL tell you is that this was a quick, quirky, and beautiful read. i loved Kit's Wilderness by Almond based on the blurred lines between fantasy and reality and the uniqueness of his characters. Almond brings back that signature style and pairs it with the illustrations of Dave McKean (who Almond worked with on The Savage).

the book alternates about eight pages illustration with four or five pages of print narrative told from Davie's perspective. you get a peek into where the story is going through the illustrations by McKean before Almond tells you the details. but holy moly - both story styles pack an emotional punch. the illustrations have a raw simplicity that say volumes...and the narrative is crisp, thoughtful, and refreshingly creative.

at only fifty-five pages or so, Slog's Dad is surprisingly emotional and touching. there are images that will stick in my mind and i will for sure ponder Slog's dad's life after death for a long time.

fave quote: "'They can hack your body into a hundred bits,' he'd say. 'But they cannot hack your soul.'" (pg 20)

fix er up: it happened so fast! i mean, i know that's the point. i think it's a HUGE credit to the writing and illustrations that so much happens so quickly. is this even a critique? hm.

title: Slog's Dad
author: David Almond
illustrator: Dave McKean
genre: Graphic Novel, Death

[hey FTC, i received a copy of Slog's Dad from Candlewick Press but i didn't write this review for compensation or anything.]

publisher perspective

so the other day, while in the midst of requesting review copies and browsing NetGalley, i heard back from a publisher. he approved my galley and mentioned he'd seen my blog before. which blew my mind for two reasons. 1. it's still hard for me to believe that anyone other than my bestie Eriks read this rambling on books. 2. publishers look at YA review blogs. i had to know more. so i asked him. smart, huh?

meet Harrison Demchick from Bancroft Press.

I know you're the guy that approves my viewing of galleys, but what is it you do exactly?

I do a little bit of everything. Editing is what I consider my primary job, and usually that means working with the authors in taking the manuscripts we decide to publish from first draft to finished novel. It's a process that can take months, or even over a year, and it doesn't stop until we're all sure the book is the best it can be.

Bancroft Press is a small press, so I've also become very involved in marketing these books--because when you spend so much time with them, of course you want them to succeed. That's where NetGalley comes in, and also direct blog e-mails, and whatever particular strategies might be right for a given book. We got an incredible Washington Post review last month for one of our adult books, Ron Cooper's Purple Jesus, and that was the result of nearly ten months of persistent (or obnoxious) e-mails.

I handle all non-Amazon eBook distribution, I conduct research into film production companies that might be interested in our properties, and, really, I do everything that needs doing.
The most unusual thing I do is write screenplays--mostly screenplay adaptations of Bancroft books, which we then try to sell to the aforementioned production companies. I think we're the only publishing company to make screenwriting a major part of our approach.

How has the growth of digital galleys changed the scene for publishers?

It's made a huge difference, and very quickly, but it still depends heavily in the kind of book. For example, digital galleys haven't been an especially big help for a book we put out at the end of 2010, The Naperville White House, by Jerome Bartels. They were a minor help for Purple Jesus, earning it one really major blog review.

But for our young adult titles, starting with Karen Hart's Butterflies in May and absolutely exploding with Eden Unger Bowditch's The Atomic Weight of Secrets or The Arrival of the Mysterious Men in Black and Hannah Sternberg's Queens of All the Earth, it's been an incredible help. Digital galleys enable us to get review copies out faster and cheaper, and moreover, they create a demand and a buzz that would be extremely difficult to create on our own.

I do personally contact blogs to solicit copies for review, but the existence of digital galleys--and, moreover, digital galleys would-be reviewers can simply request--is a major boost in this effort. Digital galleys help us get our books to libraries and bookstores that might not otherwise see them. We're a small press, which puts us at a disadvantage in getting our books onto shelves, but in the world of digital galleys, we're on equal footing with the larger publishers.

What do you hope for in a reviewer?

Most basically, I want someone whose response, if positive, can help sell the book. From there, it depends on the sort of galley we're sending out.

Physical galleys usually go to big names, in the hope of getting some strong blurbs to put on the jacket of the final printed book. The Atomic Weight of Secrets, for example, has a great blurb from P. B. Kerr, bestselling author of the Children of the Lamp series. That immediately lends credibility to The Atomic Weight of Secrets, and helps get the book places it might not otherwise get.

Finished books and late galleys--too late to get blurbs--will go to review publications like Kirkus and, for young adult titles, VOYA, and if it's the right sort of book, we'll push it to the newspapers, too. Reviews in any of these major publications can really boost sales.

They'll also go to the blogs. The lit blog community is incredible, because they exist out of pure love of literature. They don't care if you're a big publisher or not--they just want to read something they like. But because these are physical galleys, I want to be sure the blogs I'm contacting have a decent following.

As for digital galleys, I'll usually approve requests for anyone who has a blog, any librarian, any bookseller, and any educator--anyone, in short, I think can help if they like the book. I decline requests from readers who post only on Amazon or Goodreads or similar sites, because anyone can do that. I'm looking for reviewers whose influence can be above the norm.

What's the best thing you've read lately?

I don't know if this is true of every editor, but for me, when you do so much reading during the day, it's just not what you feel like doing when you go home. So unfortunately, I don't get much reading in during my free time, except on vacations or long plane rides. The last time I had one of those, I got back into Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Love in the Time of Cholera, which I've managed to read bits and pieces of since, and hopefully I'll be able to finish it before too long, because it's fantastic. But then, all the Marquez I've read has been.

Do you have any words of wisdom or advice for bloggers out there?

I don't think I'm in any position to tell the lit bloggers how to do what they do! I certainly couldn't do it. Somehow, the members of the lit blog community manage to keep active, engaging blogs--and read the books to review on them--while still handling work, school, families, and everything else that goes into the real world. I have no choice to assume there are more than twenty-four hours in their days. I'm in awe of that. If anything, I should get advice from them.

thanks to Harrison for being a bro and answering all my questions. a SPECIAL thanks to Harrison for giving props to the lit blog community. sometimes it's nice to hear how awesome we are.

links from the post:
Bancroft Press
Purple Jesus
The Naperville White House
Butterflies in May
The Atomic Weight of Secrets or the Mysterious Arrival of the Men in Black
Queens of All the Earth
Children of the Lamp series
Love in the Time of Cholera

13 reasons why: the movie

i heard that Selena Gomez was cast to play Hannah. i was skeptical. and then i read this.

i GUESS if Jay is excited about it, i can be okay with it.

in related news, be sure you read 13 Reasons Why. it's incredible.

in other related news, i totally took that photo from his blog post. so there's the credit.

Review: Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A. S. King

in a sentence or so: Vera's ex-best friend Charlie's death left many things unsaid. like how he loved her. like how she loved him. like how she HATED him. like how he changed and turned into someone she knew he wasn't. but mostly, how his death is part of a lie that only Vera can unravel. but does she have what it takes to find the truth? does she even want to?

Vera's miserable since Charlie died. well, she was miserable before Charlie died. actually, she was miserable since her mom left six years ago and at least had Charlie to lean on. until he started drift away to leave her all alone. i mean, she has her dad. her neurotic, organized, overbearing, but totally loving and practical dad. he reminds Vera constantly of making good choices (unlike her parents) and responsibility (delivering pizzas and still getting straight As), but is lacking in the expressing-of-emotion and verbalizing-love departments.

Vera just wants to be ignored. she's just trying to get her business done, finish school, and get mad tips from her gig as a pizza delivery technician.  she does a pretty decent job of this, considering she's trying as hard as she can to keep the secret identity of her mother under wraps.  Vera's may be doing a good job of getting ignored by her peers, but she isn't getting ignored by Charlie. in fact, he's been pushing, prodding, and provoking ever since he died for her to reveal the truth about what happened. the truth about what happened the night he died, and the truth about what happened to him.

okay, this book has been ALL over the ya blogosphere. and for GOOD REASON. it was incredible. like, i'm trying not to just say 'IT'S AWESOME' for an entire post. so let me try and gather my thoughts into a coherent blurb.

Vera's voice is spot on. i knew her. i love her. i loved learning about her. i cried when she talked about someone throwing dog crap at her (she didn't cry, just me). i was scared for her when she drank herself silly and didn't think it was a big deal.  i was happy for her when she starts a new romance with an older co-worker.

but the true winning feature of this book for me was the relationship between Vera and her dad.  don't get me wrong, the Vera and Charlie storyline is super important and crucial to the plot and everything. but i was so excited for the few chapters that were written by Ken Dietz. the way King was able to craft a story about parent's hopes for their children and children's awareness of their parent's shortcomings left me weepy.

this is a story about loss. but it's more so a story about self-discovery and acceptance. it's a story about being scared to do what you need to do and finding the courage to do it anyway.  contrary to the title, please do not  ignore Vera Dietz. pick her up. NOW.

fave quote: "I haven't been Charlie's friend since April, when he totally screwed me over and started hanging out full-time with Jenny Flick and the Detentionhead losers. Let me tell you - if you think your best friend dying is a bitch, try your best friend dying after he screws you over. It's a bitch like no other." (pg 7)

fix er up: okay, i'll admit it. i was curious as to what was on the package. i don't want to drop a spoiler, so i'll leave it at that.

title: Please Ignore Vera Dietz
author: A.S. King
genre: Death, Coming-of-Age

other reviews you may want to peep:
Reading Rants
Story Siren
Forever YA

the source:
A.S. King

[hey FTC, i checked this book out from the library. so i didn't get compensated or anything for my review.]

six things i'm loving at thinkgeek.com

six things i'm loving up over at think geek.

1. USB Robot Owl be sure you watch the video... awesomeness increases tenfold

2. Inanimate Character Stickers reminds me of a certain snl sketch

3. Zombie Head Cookie Jar. oh how the tables have turned...

4. Falling Puzzle Blocks Mug. who doesn't love tetris? if you don't love tetris, you've just outed yourself as a pod person.

5. Molar Mole t-shirt. i just LOVE moles. so much. i daresay i am a mole most days. sigh...

6. Digit-Conductive Glove Pins. i just wish they came with those super cute gloves.

this is in NO WAY a complete list of the things i LOVE at think geek...but just things i'm most in love with, right now. if i had a million dollars, i'd spend at least half stocking up on geek goodies.

get ready

i had the chance to participate with the Booklist webinar today about upcoming teen titles...and let me tell you, there's some good stuff coming down the pike. 

as for me? here are some of the titles i'm most looking forward to (that were shared today) listed by release date. the ones i'm SUPER DUPER excited about are starred*

Human.4 by Mike Lancaster (drops March 8, 2011)

'My name is Kyle Straker, and I don't exist anymore.' So begins the story of Kyle Straker, recorded on to old audio tapes. You might think these tapes are a hoax. But perhaps they contain the history of a past world...
If what the tapes say are true, it means everything we think we know is a lie.
And if everything we know is a lie, does that mean we are too?

Enclave by Ann Aguirre (dropping April 12, 2011)
In Deuce’s world, people earn the right to a name only if they survive their first fifteen years. By that point, each unnamed ‘brat’ has trained into one of three groups–Breeders, Builders, or Hunters, identifiable by the number of scars they bear on their arms. Deuce has wanted to be a Huntress for as long as she can remember.
As a Huntress, her purpose is clear—to brave the dangerous tunnels outside the enclave and bring back meat to feed the group while evading ferocious monsters known as Freaks. She’s worked toward this goal her whole life, and nothing’s going to stop her, not even a beautiful, brooding Hunter named Fade. When the mysterious boy becomes her partner, Deuce’s troubles are just beginning.
Down below, deviation from the rules is punished swiftly and harshly, and Fade doesn’t like following orders. At first she thinks he’s crazy, but as death stalks their sanctuary, and it becomes clear the elders don’t always know best, Deuce wonders if Fade might be telling the truth. Her partner confuses her; she’s never known a boy like him before, as prone to touching her gently as using his knives with feral grace.
As Deuce’s perception shifts, so does the balance in the constant battle for survival. The mindless Freaks, once considered a threat only due to their sheer numbers, show signs of cunning and strategy… but the elders refuse to heed any warnings. Despite imminent disaster, the enclave puts their faith in strictures and sacrifice instead. No matter how she tries, Deuce cannot stem the dark tide that carries her far from the only world she’s ever known.

A & L Do Summer by Jan Blaznin (dropping May 10, 2011)
A light, fun read about two friends - one country bumpkin and one city girl - who spend the summer before their senior year trying to skyrocket themselves to popularity. Hilarity ensues.

Flawless by Lara Chapman (drops May 10, 2011)
Sarah Burke is just about perfect. She's got killer blue eyes, gorgeous blond hair, and impeccable grades. There's just one tiny-all right, enormous-flaw: her nose. But even that's not so bad. Sarah's got the best best friend and big goals for print journalism fame.
On the first day of senior year, Rock Conway walks into her journalism class and, well, rocks her world. Problem is, her best friend, Kristen, falls for him too. And when Rock and Kristen stand together, it's like Barbie and Ken come to life. So when Kristen begs Sarah to help her nab Rock, Sarah does the only thing a best friend can do-she agrees. For someone so smart, what was she thinking?
This hip retelling of Cyrano de Bergerac is filled with hilariously misguided matchmaking, sweet romance, and a gentle reminder that we should all embrace our flaws.

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier (dropping May 10, 2011)

Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era!
Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon--the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.

Notes From the Blender by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin (drops May 24, 2011)
Declan loves death metal--particularly from Finland.  And video games--violent ones.  And internet porn--any kind, really.  He goes to school with Neilly Foster and spends most of his classroom time wondering what it might be like to know her, to talk to her, maybe even to graze against her sweater in the hallway.  Neilly is an accomplished gymnast, naturally beautiful, and a constant presence at all the best parties (to which Declan is never invited).  She's the queen of cool, the princess of poker face, and her rule is uncontested-- or it was until today, when she's dumped by her boyfriend, betrayed by her former BFF Lulu, and then informed she's getting a new brother--of the freaky fellow classmate variety.  Declan's dad is marrying Neilly's mom.  Soon.  Which means they'll be moving in together. 

Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey (drops June 21, 2011)
1872, London, England
Violet Willoughby doesn’t believe in ghosts. But they believe in her. After spending years participating in her mother’s elaborate ruse as a fraudulent medium, Violet is about as skeptical as they come in all matters supernatural. Now that she is being visited by a very persistent ghost, one who suffered a violent death, Violet can no longer ignore her unique ability. She must figure out what this ghost is trying to communicate, and quickly because the killer is still on the loose.Afraid of ruining her chance to escape her mother’s scheming through an advantageous marriage, Violet must keep her ability secret. The only person who can help her is Colin, a friend she’s known since childhood, and whom she has grown to love. He understands the true Violet, but helping her on this path means they might never be together. Can Violet find a way to help this ghost without ruining her own chance at a future free of lies?

Siren series by Tricia Rayburn (book 2, Undercurrent, drops July 12, 2011)
Seventeen-year-old Vanessa Sands is afraid of everything—the dark, heights, the ocean—but her fearless older sister, Justine, has always been there to coach her through every challenge. That is, until Justine goes cliff-diving one night near the family’s vacation house in Maine, and her lifeless body washes up on shore the next day.

Though her parents hope that they’ll be able to find closure back in Boston, Vanessa can’t help feeling that her sister’s death wasn’t an accident. After discovering that Justine was keeping a lot of secrets, Vanessa returns to Winter Harbor, hoping that Justine’s boyfriend might know more. But Caleb has been missing since Justine’s death.
Soon, it’s not just Vanessa who’s afraid. All of Winter Harbor is abuzz with anxiety when another body washes ashore, and panic sets in when the small town becomes host to a string of fatal, water-related accidents in which all the victims are found, horrifically, grinning from ear to ear.
Vanessa turns to Caleb’s brother, Simon, for help, and begins to find herself drawn to him. As the pair tries to understand the sudden rash of creepy drownings, Vanessa uncovers a secret that threatens her new romance—and will change her life forever.

*Escape From Furnace series by Alexander Gordon Smith (Book 3, Death Sentence, is dropping August 2, 2011) 
In the adrenalin-fueled five-book Escape from furnace series, Alex Sawyer seeks to break free of a hellish underground penitentiary for teenage offenders. But with every step toward freedom, Alex finds there will be no escaping the secret horrors and nightmarish creatures haunting his endless nights until he confronts and destroys the prison's mastermind.

*The Death Catchers by Jennifer Anne Kogler (drops August 16, 2011)
On her fourteenth Halloween, Lizzy Mortimer sees her first death-specter.
Confused at first, Lizzy soon learns from her grandmother Bizzy that as Death Catchers, they must prevent fate from taking its course when an unjust death is planned-a mission that has been passed down from their ancestor, Morgan le Fay. Only, Lizzy doesn't expect one of her first cases to land her in the middle of a feud older than time between Morgan le Fay and her sister Vivienne le Mort. Vivienne hopes to hasten the end of the world by preventing Lizzy from saving King Arthur's last descendant-humanity's greatest hope for survival. It's up to Lizzy, as Morgan's earthly advocate, to outwit fate before it's too late.
With its unique spin on Arthurian legend, this fresh, smartly written story will stand out in the paranormal genre.

Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick (paperback coming in 2011)
1910. A cabin north of the Arctic Circle. Fifteen-year-old Sig Andersson is alone. Alone, except for the corpse of his father, who died earlier that day after falling through a weak spot on the ice-covered lake. His sister, Anna, and step-mother, Nadya, have gone to the local town for help. Then comes a knock at the door. It's a man, the flash of a revolver's butt at his hip, and a mean glare in his eyes. Sig has never seen him before but Wolff claims to have unfinished business with his father. As Sig gradually learns the awful truth about Wolff's connection to his father, Sig finds his thoughts drawn to a certain box hidden on a shelf in the storeroom, in which lies his father's prized possession - a revolver. When Anna returns alone, and Wolff begins to close in, Sigs choice is pulled into sharp focus. Should he use the gun, or not?

Review: The Betrayal of Maggie Blair by Elizabeth Laird

in a sentence or so: when a beached whale shows up on Maggie's doorstep, she senses a big change coming.  mere weeks later she is falsely accused of witchcraft, narrowly escapes her death, and flees to long lost family.  Maggie finds that they too are struggling with their own set of problems. namely, the growing religious oppression from the King. Maggie is trying to find her way in life with her past clinging too close and her future looming too far ahead in a country that is uncertain, unsafe, and her home.

to say Maggie's Granny is crabby would be a HUGE understatement.  she's the crotchety-est of the crotchety, and scares the neighbors and townsfolk into a hushed respect. she's always ruffling feathers in Sclapsie Bay, Scotland, but she goes just a little too far and stirs up more trouble than she can handle. soon, the town is turned against them both and it's all Maggie can do to get away and survive.

Maggie hopes for open arms from her extended family, but is met with a lifestyle unlike any she expected. it is through her new home that she is able to finally learn to read and write, but also that she learns of the greater Troubles plaguing Scotland. her uncle is a key resister and is drawing far too much attention to the family. now, toss in Annie, a horrible, nasty, lying B from Maggie's past she'd MUCH rather forget, and you've got a culmination of obstacles almost too great for anyone to overcome. but Maggie has to try.

i feel like i just can't do the summary justice. there are three core plots to this story: Maggie's accused of witchcraft, Maggie discovers family, and Maggie journeys to find justice for that family.  the story flowed in a beautiful narrative that i fell into step with immediately.  there are prevalent religious tones to the story, which totally makes sense as Scotland was going through a serious religious shift at the time (17th century). Maggie struggles with where she fits inside of all of the religious tension. she's not a witch, but she's not a church-goer either...so where does that leave her?

power was definitely a recurring theme. Granny wielded power to her own destruction. her uncle struggles for power against the King who wants power over the church. Annie (the worst of the worst villains EVER) wields power over Maggie and holds her hostage with her threats. Maggie struggles to find how she can use the power given to her to do what is right...as soon as she can figure out what that is.

i adored Maggie. her voice was so gentle and concerned. she truly wrestled with her decisions and her own self-consciousness. she's uncertain, but never whiny. she just felt so real.   i'd go on another journey with Maggie any day.

fave quote: "And then she was off, and I watched her running after her loathsome master, as if she was afraid that I would call the Devil down on her. Which, to be honest, I would have done - if I'd any inkling how." (88 | 435 Nook)

fix er up: while definitely polished and well written, i couldn't help feeling as if the language lacked something in the historical feel. this certainly had a more contemporary vibe than i was expecting.

title: The Betrayal of Maggie Blair
author: Rebecca Laird
genre: Historical Fiction
release date: April 2011

[hey FTC, i received a copy of this from NetGalley and reviewed it without compensation]

add it to the list (1)

i've been wanting to share the books i've been getting lately (which, to be fair, haven't been very many! you're welcome, husband!), but i didn't feel like i could use the In My Mailbox title because i don't really get books in my mailbox. so i just haven't been sharing the books i've gotten.

but then i thought, why don't i go to the source? The Story Siren hosts "In My Mailbox", and if i received her 'blessing' to do my own variation of the meme, i'd feel better about doing it. she gave it. so here we are.

here are the books i've added to my list since the start of 2011.

cash money
(books i bought)

Kiss of Life by Daniel Waters (i'll be reading this for my Serious Series personal challenge)
When Phoebe's best friend Adam takes a bullet for her, it proves everyone right - Adam is in love with her. And now that he's come back to life, Phoebe's presence may be more important than ever. They say that a zombie can come back from death faster if they're loved... and kissed - which means Phoebe has to say goodbye to Tommy Williams, the other zombie in her life. While coaxing Adam back to reality and fending off Tommy's advances, Phoebe continues to carry on as if everything's normal. But normal has been different since American teenagers started rising from their graves. Although some try to bridge the gap between the living and the differently biotic, there are scores of people who want nothing more than to send all of the undead back to their graves. And the dead kids in Phoebe's school don't like that one bit...

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer (i'll be reading this for Dystopian February)
Miranda's disbelief turns to fear in a split second when an asteroid knocks the moon closer to the earth. How should her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis wipe out the coasts, earthquakes rock the continents, and volcanic ash blocks out the sun? As summer turns to Arctic winter, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove. In her journal, Miranda records the events of each desperate day, while she and her family struggle to hold on to their most priceless resource—hope.


got it from the galley
(free e-book downloads from NetGalley)

Savannah Grey by Cliff McNish

A monster's out there... Only one girl can stop it. But will love get in the way?
It's a difficult time for fifteen-year-old Savannah Grey - she's settled into her latest foster placement, but her body is acting oddly. Then other strange things begin to happen. Birds behave erratically; gusts of wind blow leaves so fiercely they seem to lure people away. And Savannah discovers she has supernatural powers.
Only new boy Reece Gandolfo thinks Savannah's powers are a special gift. No wonder she's attracted to him. But there's another force that wants to lure Savannah from safety into danger...
From the multiple-award winning author of Breathe: a ghost story and Angel, comes Cliff McNish's third stand-alone novel, a chilling story of love and horror.

Science Fair Season by Judy Dutton
The engaging true story of kids competing in the high-stakes, high-drama world of international science fairs.

The Atomic Weight of Secrets or The Arrival of the Mysterious Men in Black by Eden Unger Bowditch

In 1903, five truly brilliant young inventors, the children of the world's most important scientists, went about their lives and their work as they always had.
But all that changed the day the men in black arrived.
They arrived to take twelve-year-old Jasper Modest and his six-year-old sister, Lucy he with his remarkable creations and she with her perfect memory from their London, England home to a place across the ocean they'd never seen before.
They arrived to take nine-year-old Wallace Banneker, last in a long line of Africa-descended scientists, from his chemistry, his father, and his New York home to a life he d never imagined.
Twelve-year-old Noah Canto-Sagas, already missing his world-famous and beloved mother, was taken from Toronto, Canada, carrying only his clothes, his violin, and his remarkable mind.
And thirteen-year-old Faye Vigyanveta, the genius daughter of India's wealthiest and most accomplished scientists, was removed by force from her life of luxury.
From all across the world, they've been taken to mysterious Sole Manner Farm, and a beautiful but isolated schoolhouse in Dayton, Ohio, without a word from their parents as to why. Not even the wonderful schoolteacher they find there, Miss Brett, can explain it. She can give them love and care, but she can t give them answers.
Things only get stranger from there. What is the book with no pages Jasper and Lucy find in their mother's underwear drawer, and why do the men in black want it so badly?
How is it all the children have been taught the same bizarre poem and yet no other rhymes or stories their entire lives?
And why haven't their parents tried to contact them?
Whatever the reasons, to brash, impetuous Faye, the situation is clear: They and their parents have been kidnapped by these terrible men in black, and the only way they're going to escape and rescue their parents is by completing the invention they didn't even know they were all working on an invention that will change the world forever.
But what if the men in black aren't trying to harm the children? What if they're trying to protect them?
And if they're trying to protect them, from what?
An amazing story about the wonders of science and the still greater wonders of friendship, The Atomic Weight of Secrets or The Mysterious Men in Black , the first book of the Young Inventors Guild trilogy, is a truly original novel. Young readers will forever treasure Eden Unger Bowditch's funny, inventive, poignant, and wonderfully fun fiction debut.

The Hole in the Wall by Lisa Rowe Fraustino
Eleven-year-old Sebby has found the perfect escape from his crummy house and bickering family: The Hole in the Wall. It’s a pristine, beautiful glen in the midst of a devastated mining area behind Sebby’s home. But it’s not long after he’s found it that his world starts falling apart: His family’s chickens disappear, colors start jumping off the wall and coming to life, and after sneaking a taste of raw cookie dough he finds himself with the mother of all stomachaches. When Sebby sets out to solve these mysteries, he and his twin sister Barbie get caught in a wild chase through the tunnels and caverns around The Hole in the Wall—all leading them to the mining activities of one Stanley Odum, the hometown astrophysicist who’s buying up all the land behind Sebby’s home. Exactly what is Mr. Odum mining in his secret facility, and does it have anything to do with the mystery of the lost chickens and Sebby’s stomachache? The answers to these questions go much further than the twins expect.

The Vespertine by Saundra Michell
The summer of 1889 is the one between childhood and womanhood for Amelia van den Broek-and thankfully, she's not spending it at home in rural Maine. She's been sent to Baltimore to stay with her stylish cousin, Zora, who will show her all the pleasures of city life and help her find a suitable man to marry. 
Archery in the park, dazzling balls and hints of forbidden romance-Victorian Baltimore is more exciting than Amelia imagined. But her gaiety is interrupted by disturbing, dreamlike visions she has only at sunset-visions that offer glimpses of the future. Soon, friends and strangers alike call on Amelia to hear her prophecies. Newly dubbed "Maine's Own Mystic", Amelia is suddenly quite in demand. 
However, her attraction to Nathaniel, an artist who is decidedly outside of Zora's circle, threatens the new life Amelia is building in Baltimore. This enigmatic young man is keeping secrets of his own- still, Amelia finds herself irrepressibly drawn to him. And while she has no trouble seeing the futures of others, she cannot predict whether Nathaniel will remain in hers. 
When one of her darkest visions comes to pass, Amelia's world is thrown into chaos. And those around her begin to wonder if she's not the seer of dark portents, but the cause. 


props to publishers
(received an arc from Candlewick Press)

Slog's Dad by David Almond and Dave McKean
release date February 22, 2011

"Slogger, man," I said. "Your dad’s dead."
"I know that, Davie. But it’s him. He’s come back again, like he said he would."

Do you believe in life after death? Slog does. He believes that the scruffy man on a bench outside the butcher shop is his dad, returned to visit him one last time. Slog’s friend Davie isn’t so sure. Can it be that some mysteries are never meant to be solved? And that belief, at times, is its own reward? The acclaimed creators of The Savage reunite for a feat of graphic storytelling that defies categorization. Eerie, poignant, and masterful, Slog’s Dad is a tale of astonishing power and complexity.
The ineffable nature of grieving and belief inspires a tender, gritty, and breathtaking work of graphic storytelling from the creators of The Savage.

Blink and Caution by Tim Wynne-Jones

Boy, did Blink get off on the wrong floor. All he wanted was to steal some breakfast for his empty belly, but instead he stumbled upon a fake kidnapping and a cell phone dropped by an "abducted" CEO, giving Blink a link to his perfect blonde daughter. Now Blink is on the run, but it’s OK as long as he’s smart enough to stay in the game and keep Captain Panic locked in his hold. Enter a girl named Caution. As in "Caution: Toxic." As in "Caution: Watch Your Step." She’s also on the run, from a skeezy drug-dealer boyfriend and from a nightmare in her past that won’t let her go. When she spies Blink at the train station, Caution can see he’s an easy mark. But there’s something about this naïve, skinny street punk, whom she only wanted to rob, that tugs at her heart, a heart she thought deserved not to feel. Charged with suspense and intrigue, this taut novel trails two deeply compelling characters as they forge a blackmail scheme that is foolhardy at best, disastrous at worst - along with a fated, tender partnership that will offer them each a rare chance for redemption.
Two street kids get tangled in a plot over their heads - and risk an unexpected connection - in this heart-pounding thriller by Tim Wynne-Jones.

The Anti-Prom by Abby McDonald

They’ve spent years at the same high school without speaking a word to one another, but that’s all about to change. Popular Bliss was having the perfect prom until she found her BFF and boyfriend making out in the back of a limo. Bad girl Jolene wouldn’t be caught dead at the prom, yet here she is, trussed up in pink ruffles, risking her reputation for some guy - some guy who is forty minutes late. And shy, studious, über-planner Meg never counted on her date’s standing her up and leaving her idling in the parking lot outside the prom. Get ready for The Anti-Prom, Abby McDonald’s hilarious, heart-tugging tale about three girls and one unforgettable prom night.
Three unlikely allies team up for a night of rebellion, romance, and revenge in a high-stakes dramedy from acclaimed young author Abby McDonald.

Sister Mischief by Laura Goode

Listen up: You’re about to get rocked by the fiercest, baddest all-girl hip-hop crew in the Twin Cities - or at least in the wealthy, white, Bible-thumping suburb of Holyhill, Minnesota. Our heroine, Esme Rockett (aka MC Ferocious) is a Jewish lesbian lyricist. In her crew, Esme’s got her BFFs Marcy (aka DJ SheStorm, the butchest straight girl in town) and Tess (aka The ConTessa, the pretty, popular powerhouse of a vocalist). But Esme’s feelings for her co-MC, Rowie (MC Rohini), a beautiful, brilliant, beguiling desi chick, are bound to get complicated. And before they know it, the queer hip-hop revolution Esme and her girls have exploded in Holyhill is on the line. Exciting new talent Laura Goode lays down a snappy, provocative, and heartfelt novel about discovering the rhythm of your own truth.
A gay suburban hip-hopper freaks out her Christian high school - and falls in love - in this righteously funny and totally tender YA debut, for real.

so that's what i've been collecting these days. pretty exciting stuff! oh, and FTC, i haven't received any of these books to review for compensation.