Friday, May 29, 2009

May 2009

The following reviews, interviews and features are running on for the month of May.

Reviews and Excerpts
BEING NIKKI: An Airhead Novel, by Meg Cabot (Fiction)
Emerson Watts was pretty sure there couldn't be anything worse than being a straight A student whose brain had been transplanted into the body of a teenage supermodel. But she was wrong. Because that supermodel could turn out to have a mother who's mysteriously gone missing, a brother who's shown up on her doorstep demanding answers, ex-boyfriends crawling out of the woodwork who want more than just a photo op, and a British heartthrob who's written a song about her that's topping the charts. Reviewed by Jana Siciliano and excerpted.

THE CHOSEN ONE by Carol Lynch Williams (Fiction)
Thirteen-year-old Kyra has grown up in an isolated community without questioning the fact that her father has three wives and she has 20 brothers and sisters, with two more on the way. But when the Prophet decrees that she must marry her 60-year-old uncle --- who already has six wives --- Kyra has to make a desperate choice in the face of violence and her own fears of losing her family forever. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

FRAGILE ETERNITY by Melissa Marr (Fantasy/Romance)
In Melissa Marr's third mesmerizing tale of Faerie, Seth and Aislinn struggle to stay true to themselves and each other in a milieu of shadowy rules and shifting allegiances, where old friends become new enemies and one wrong move could plunge the Earth into chaos. Reviewed by Sarah Sawtelle.

KING OF THE SCREWUPS by K. L. Going (Fiction)
Liam is the kid everyone loves. He might not get the best grades or always do the right things, but there’s something about his personality that make people want to be with him. Everyone, that is, except his father. When Liam is shipped off to upstate New York to live with his glam rocker uncle, Liam finally has a chance to change and prove to his father that he’s not just Mr. Popular. Reviewed by Kristi Olson.

REALITY CHECK by Peter Abrahams (Mystery)
Master suspense novelist and Edgar Award-nominated author Peter Abrahams introduces a new character --- and a compelling mystery --- in REALITY CHECK, a fast-paced story about a young man who must learn to trust himself when he can’t trust anyone around him. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

MY VICKSBURG by Ann Rinaldi (Historical Fiction)
During the Battle of Vicksburg, Mississippi, which lasts for 47 days, the Union Army with General Ulysses S. Grant lays siege to the town, while residents live in caves. Award-winning author Ann Rinaldi brings readers right into the Civil War with her well-crafted historical setting and offers flawed but lovable characters. Reviewed by Amy Alessio.

AFTER THE MOMENT by Garret Freymann-Weyr (Fiction)
Garret Freymann-Weyr’s teenagers seem serious beyond their years, deeply invested not only in their own lives but also in the often complicated lives of their adult family members. AFTER THE MOMENT is no exception, and its male protagonist further cements Freymann-Weyr’s reputation as a risk-taking author unafraid of tackling topics, and taking perspectives, unusual in young adult literature. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

In a family of women who have loved and lost, Quinn struggles with conflicting feelings about her charismatic but fickle father. When she and her little sister team up with their stranger/half-sister to undertake a quest of karmic healing, she discovers truths about all kinds of love that are sure to resonate with readers. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

SURFACE TENSION: A Novel in Four Summers, by Brent Runyon (Fiction)
Four summers at the family’s lake cabin illustrate a young boy’s reluctant journey from innocence to experience in Brent Runyon’s SURFACE TENSION, an evocative portrait of the stages of adolescence set against a memorable backdrop. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

LOOK BOTH WAYS: A Midnight Twins Novel, by Jacquelyn Mitchard (Mystery)
Meredith and Mallory Brynn’s latest visions show a mysterious white mountain lion prowling the locker room at school. The 13-year-old identical twins fear the visions have something to do with the varsity cheerleading tryouts that are approaching. Someone is in danger, but who? And what can the girls do to help? Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

THE UNINVITED by Tim Wynne-Jones (Mystery/Suspense)
A broken-down cottage in Ontario is the summer vacation destination for Mimi Shapiro, an NYU student who sets out on a much-needed retreat after fleeing from a sordid affair with her college professor. But someone named Jackson Page is already living there and isn't expecting her. Jackson mistakes her for a mysterious intruder who has been breaking into the cottage to leave disturbing reminders that an uninvited visitor is watching. Reviewed by Melanie Smith.

THE PLAGUE by Joanne Dahme (Historical Fiction)
In a land overshadowed by death, 15-year-old Nell’s uncanny resemblance to Princess Joan brings her to act as her double. But when the plague catches up to the royal entourage, thwarting the King’s plan for the princess to marry the Prince of Castile and seal an alliance between their kingdoms, Nell’s life could change forever. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

A CERTAIN STRAIN OF PECULIAR by Gigi Amateau (Fiction)
Thirteen-year-old Mary Harold Woods suffers from panic attacks, and when the kids at school zero in on her with cruel insults, it certainly doesn’t help. She decides she can’t take it anymore and begs her mom to move in with her grandmother in Alabama. When her mom says no, she takes matters into her own hands and drives the 600 miles herself. Will Mary find a way to fit in on Wren Mountain? Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

SOUL ENCHILADA by David Macinnis Gill (Fantasy)
Eunice “Bug” Smoot has worked hard for everything she has in life. When a suspicious repo man shows up for her 1958 Cadillac Biarritz, Bug refuses to hand it over. It isn’t until he demands her soul that Bug realizes that much more is at stake --- her immortality. Reviewed by Benjamin Boche.

THE SILVER DOOR: Moon & Sun, Book Two by Holly Lisle (Fantasy)
Towering high above the valley is the Spire, a magnificent and forbidding mountain whose peak is higher than the clouds. It is the last place Genna, chosen as the Sunrider, expects to find herself after being carried away in the mouth of the world's last dragon. What Genna and her friend Catri find when the dragon leaves them there is a magnificent city built of ancient human magic. But the Spire has ideas of its own, and they are not ones that make Genna feel safe. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

Author Interviews
Cathy Brigg
Artist Cathy Brigg is probably best known for her literary "alter-ego" Cathy Vickers, the protagonist of the hugely successful CATHY'S BOOK and CATHY'S KEY, along with the newly released CATHY'S RING. In this interview with's Sally M. Tibbetts, Brigg likens her role as illustrator to that of an actor's, and sheds light on how she and fellow collaborators Jordan Weisman and Sean Stewart work together to create "Cathy's Universe." She also explains why they chose to incorporate modern, everyday technology into their unique method of storytelling, discusses how the books' interactive components have evolved with each installment, and shares details about her artistic background and interests.

Lauren Myracle
Lauren Myracle --- author of more than 15 bestselling and critically acclaimed titles, including ELEVEN, TWELVE and THIRTEEN --- recently published her latest novel, PEACE, LOVE, AND BABY DUCKS. In this interview with's Norah Piehl, Myracle discusses some of the real-life experiences from her teen years that inspired many elements of this latest book, and explores the similarities in personality between herself and her main character, Carly. She also creates a playlist of her favorite '60s music to correspond with the story, talks a bit about collaborating with fellow YA authors E. Lockhart and Sarah Mlynowski for last year's HOW TO BE BAD, and shares her excitement over being able to interact with her readers through the blog on her website.

Susane Colasanti
Former high school science teacher Susane Colasanti is the author of YA romances WHEN IT HAPPENS and TAKE ME THERE. In this interview with's Kristi Olson, Colasanti explains the significance of her latest book's title, WAITING FOR YOU, and shares real-life experiences in the classroom that inspired some of her books' characters and scenes. She also discusses how she incorporates her taste in music and movies into her writing, muses on the pros and cons of referencing pop culture in novels, and talks about upcoming projects, including her next book, SOMETHING LIKE FATE.

Sheba Karim
Sheba Karim's debut novel, SKUNK GIRL, follows a 16-year-old Pakistani Muslim girl and her struggles to live a "normal" teenage life while attempting to reconcile two very different cultures. In this interview with's Alexis Burling, Karim sheds light on some of these differences, and challenges Pakistani women face in both their home countries and in the U.S. She also compares writing novels with short stories, explains why she chose to give up her law career to become an author, and shares details about the book she's currently working on.

Special Features
PEACE, LOVE, AND BABY DUCKS by Lauren Myracle (Fiction)
Growing up in a world of wealth and pastel-tinted entitlement, 15-year-old Carly has always relied on the constancy --- and authenticity --- of her sister, Anna. But when 14-year-old Anna turns plastic-perfect-pretty over the course of a single summer, everything starts to change. And there are boys involved, complicating things as boys always do. With warmth, insight and an unparalleled gift for finding humor even in stormy situations, beloved author Lauren Myracle dives into the tumultuous waters of sisterhood and shows that even very different sisters can learn to help each other stay afloat.
- Click here to read Lauren Myracle’s bio.

WAITING FOR YOU by Susane Colasanti
At the beginning of her sophomore year, Marisa is ready for a fresh start and, more importantly, a boyfriend. So when the handsome and popular Derek asks her out, Marisa thinks her long wait for happiness is over. But several bumps in the road --- including her parents’ unexpected separation, a fight with her best friend, and a shocking disappointment in her relationship with Derek --- test Marisa’s ability to maintain her new outlook. Only the anonymous DJ, whose underground podcasts have the school’s ear, seems to understand what Marisa is going through. But she has no idea who he is --- or does she?
- Click here to read Susane Colasanti’s bio.

SKUNK GIRL by Sheba Karim (Fiction)
If Nina Khan were to rate herself on the unofficial Pakistani prestige point system --- the one she’s sure all the aunties and uncles use to determine the most attractive marriage prospects for their children --- her scoring might go something like this:

+2 points for getting excellent grades
–3 points for failing to live up to expectations set by genius older sister
+4 points for dutifully obeying parents and never, ever going to parties, no matter how antisocial that makes her seem to everyone at Deer Hook High
–1 point for harboring secret jealousy of her best friends, who are allowed to date like normal teenagers
+2 points for never drinking an alcoholic beverage
–10 points for obsessing about Asher Richelli, who talks to Nina like she’s not a freak at all, even though he knows that she has a disturbing line of hair running down her back.

In this wryly funny debut novel, the smart, sassy and utterly lovable Nina Khan tackles friends, family and love, and learns that it’s possible to embrace two very different cultures --- even if things can get a little bit, well, hairy.
- Click here to read an excerpt from SKUNK GIRL.
- Click here to read Sheba Karim’s bio.

NECROPOLIS: Book Four of The Gatekeepers, by Anthony Horowitz
(Fantasy/Action & Adventure)
As the fourth novel in the spellbinding Gatekeepers series begins, the world is under the greatest threat it’s ever known. The evil corporation Nightrise has amassed an immense amount of power…and the devastating force of the Old Ones is about to be unleashed around the globe. To stop this from happening, Matt and three of the Gatekeepers head to Hong Kong --- not just the modern city of skyscrapers and wealth, but the secretive underworld beneath. In Hong Kong they will meet theLink final Gatekeeper, a girl named Scarlet, whose fate is inextricably joined to their own.
- Click here for all the contest details.
- Click here to read an excerpt from NECROPOLIS.
- Click here to read Anthony Horowitz’s bio.

THE LAST THING I REMEMBER: The Homelanders, Book One by Andrew Klavan (Thriller)

Charlie West just woke up in someone else's nightmare.

He's strapped to a chair. He's covered in blood and bruises. He hurts all over. And a strange voice outside the door just ordered his death.

The last thing he can remember, he was a normal high-school kid doing normal things --- working on his homework, practicing karate, daydreaming of becoming an air force pilot, writing a pretty girl's number on his hand. How long ago was that? Where is he now? Who is he really?

And more to the point…how is he going to get out of this room alive?
- Click here to read all the contest details.
- Click here to read an excerpt from THE LAST THING I REMEMBER.
- Click here to read Andrew Klavan’s bio.

STRANGE ANGELS by Lili St. Crow (Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy)
Dru Anderson has what her grandmother called “the touch.” (Comes in handy when you’re traveling from town to town with your dad, hunting ghosts, suckers, wulfen, and the occasional zombie.)

Then her dad turns up dead --- but still walking --- and Dru knows she’s next. Even worse, she’s got two guys hungry for her affections, and they’re not about to let the fiercely independent Dru go it alone. Will Dru discover just how special she really is before coming face-to-fang with whatever --- or whoever --- is hunting her?
- Click here to read all the contest details.

Beach Bag of Books Contest
Can't wait to grab a beach towel and head to the shore with some of the hottest books of the summer? Well, is going to help five lucky readers on the way to their vacation destinations with our Third Annual Beach Bag of Books Contest.

From May 22nd through June 25th, you can enter to win a " Beach Bag of Books." Five winners each will receive a beach bag that includes 12 books --- THE ALCHEMYST: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, Book 3 by Michael Scott; THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH by Carrie Ryan; GHOST HUNTRESS, BOOK 1: THE AWAKENING by Marley Gibson; L.A. CANDY by Lauren Conrad; NORTH OF BEAUTIFUL by Justina Chen Headley; PARTIES & POTIONS by Sarah Mlynowski; THE REAL REAL by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus; SLEPT AWAY by Julie Kraut; SUITE SCARLETT by Maureen Johnson; SWIM THE FLY by Don Calame; VACATIONS FROM HELL by Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Claudia Gray, Maureen Johnson and Sarah Mlynowski; and WINGS by Aprilynne Pike.

Along with the books, winners will find their lime green hobo-style beach bag stocked with tons of great summer goodies: an oversized green and orange beach towel, a pair of psychedelic paisley flip-flops, Banana Boat Sport sunblock, H2O+ Mineral Spa Shower Gel, a variety of colored elastic hairbands, an inflatable tube, fish and shell towel clips, three packs of Tic Tacs in assorted flavors, a box of Dots candies, Crystal Light Iced Tea Mix, and a terrific cap we found that turns any can into a bottle to prevent sand and bees from finding their way into your drink.
- Click here for all the contest details.

Cool New Books Roundup
May’s roundup of Cool New Books includes CATHY’S RING, the final adventure-packed story in the Cathy trilogy; BEING NIKKI, Meg Cabot’s second Airhead novel starring a former tomboy who now has the body of a teen supermodel thanks to a brain transplant; TAKE A CHANCE ON ME, the third installment in Cecily von Ziegesar's follow-up series to Gossip Girl featuring the Carlyle triplets of Nantucket; PEACE, LOVE, AND BABY DUCKS, in which Lauren Myracle dives into the tumultuous waters of sisterhood and shows that even very different sisters can learn to help each other; THE SORCERESS, book three in Michael Scott’s bestselling series, The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel; and THE CHOSEN ONE, a searing, provocative novel by Carol Lynch Williams, who takes readers inside the head --- and heart --- of a young girl living in a polygamous society.

New in Paperback Roundup
May’s roundup of New in Paperback titles includes LOCK AND KEY, in which Sarah Dessen explores the heart of a gutsy, complex girl dealing with unforeseen circumstances and learning to trust again; JINX, a chilling novel of paranormal romantic suspense penned by Princess Diaries author Meg Cabot; STOP IN THE NAME OF PANTS!, the ninth installment in Louise Rennison's hilariously entertaining Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series; HERO, a moving and funny novel from Perry Moore (the executive producer of the Chronicles of Narnia films) about a high school basketball star who keeps two major secrets from his father; and BEFORE I DIE by Jenny Downham, a thought-provoking book about a 16-year-old girl with a terminal case of leukemia who compiles a "To Do Before I Die" list.

Click here to read the full newsletter.