Monday, August 31, 2009

August 2009

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

Also mentioned in the Newsletter Opener, which can be read here:

THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins
CATCHING FIRE by Suzanne Collins
TEMPO CHANGE by Barbara Hall
LOVE IS THE HIGHER LAW by David Levithan

Reviews and Excerpts
ALPHAS by Lisi Harrison (Fiction)
Lisi Harrison, bestselling author of the Clique novels, presents a new series about fierce competition. Alpha Academy is an ultra-exclusive boarding school designed to prepare the next generation of world-class females. Everything is put on hold as the desire to be the best sometimes means crushing those beneath you. Reviewed by Benjamin Boche.

DANIEL X: WATCH THE SKIES by James Patterson and Ned Rust
(Science Fiction)
All's quiet in the small town of Holliswood, the television sets a-glow in every home. But not all is as perfect as it seems. A terrifying outlaw has just arrived in town, with the goal of throwing it into chaos --- and filming the pandemonium for the fellas back home. Only one person can stop him and his thugs from destroying the city and everyone living there. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub and excerpted.
- Click here to read an excerpt of DANIEL X: WATCH THE SKIES.

GIRL STAYS IN THE PICTURE: A Girl Novel, by Melissa de la Cruz (Fiction)
Melissa de la Cruz begins another hot new series with GIRL STAYS IN THE PICTURE, the story of three teens in the South of France who work in the movie industry. Devon, Livia and Casey struggle to find their footing and a way to stand up for themselves among several phony people trying to bring them down. Reviewed by Amy Alessio.

INTERTWINED by Gena Showalter (Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance)
One gifted teen unknowingly attracts humans and creatures with supernatural abilities. Aden Stone has four souls within his body, each with a unique talent. Julian can raise the dead, Elijah can tell the future, Eve can travel through time, and Caleb can possess other bodies. Elijah has predicted Aden's death in one possible future, but within that future also lies a chance to set the souls free. Reviewed by Melanie Smith and excerpted.

CHELSEY written by Chelsey Shannon, edited by Deborah Reber (Memoir)
Chelsey was dealt the unthinkable. When Her Only Surviving Parent, her beloved father, was violently murdered days before her 14th birthday, Chelsey's life was forever changed. As she was forced to come to terms with a new home life, a new school, a new identity as an orphan, Chelsey struggled to make sense of her personal tragedy. Yet she found a way to flourish despite all the odds. Reviewed by Amy Alessio.

EMILY written by Emily Smucker, edited by Deborah Reber (Memoir)
Plagued with some sort of cold or fever or bizarre aches and pains for much of her life, Emily thought the dizziness and stomach aches at the start of her senior year were just another bout of "Emily flu." But when they didn't go away, she knew something was seriously wrong. Eventually diagnosed with the rare and incurable West Nile virus, Emily watched her senior year and the future she had planned for go up in smoke. Reviewed by Amy Alessio.

MARNI written by Marni Bates, edited by Deborah Reber (Memoir)
Unable to deal with the mounting stress at home, in school and with friends, Marni's compulsion to pluck out her eyebrows, eyelashes --- even the hair from the top of her head --- helped her to quiet her mind and escape the pressures of the world around her. Marni first began pulling the summer just before entering high school, and she was immediately hooked. Unfortunately, by the time she discovered that her habit was an actual disorder, it was way too late. Reviewed by Amy Alessio.

ANDROMEDA KLEIN by Frank Portman (Fiction)
In this highly original tale, Andromeda Klein's best friend, "Twice Holy Soror" Daisy Wasserstrom, has died; Andromeda's crush has abandoned her; and the Friends of the Library are unwittingly unraveling her spiritual quest. Yet Andromeda's life rolls on, aided by her tarot readings, mysterious dreams, quirky "friends" and the belief that Daisy is trying to contact her. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

GEEKTASTIC: Stories from the Nerd Herd edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci (Fiction/Short Stories)
Don’t be put off by the title, as GEEKTASTIC is full of stories by many prominent and acclaimed authors of young adult literature. Whether you’re a die-hard geek or a regular everyday geek, there is something for everyone in this collection. It’s time to embrace your inner geek. Reviewed by Benjamin Boche.

IF THE WITNESS LIED by Caroline B. Cooney (Thriller)
Teenagers Madison, Jack, Smithy and Tris Fountain were subject to the whims of the media after the deaths of their parents made national headlines. Was baby Tris really responsible for such tragic events? Could the only witness have lied? Television cameras are clamoring to capture what happens next. Reviewed by Benjamin Boche.

TOMBSTONE TEA by Joanne Dahme (Horror/Suspense)
Jessie is new to Philadelphia and desperately lonely. So when a few girls who are part of the “in-crowd” offer up a dare in order to join their group, Jessie jumps at the chance. All she has to do is survive a night alone in a cemetery. But it turns out she’s not alone --- and she’ll be lucky to escape with her life. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

JAKE RANSOM AND THE SKULL KING’S SHADOW by James Rollins (Fiction/Action & Adventure)
When a mysterious envelope arrives for Jake Ransom, he and his older sister, Kady, are plunged into a gripping chain of events. An artifact found by their archaeologist parents on the expedition from which they never returned leads Jake and Kady to a strange world inhabited by a peculiar mix of long-lost civilizations, a world that may hold the key to their parents' disappearance --- if Jake and Kady can survive long enough to solve the mystery. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

THE LOST SUMMER by Kathryn Williams (Fiction)
Helena Waite has been attending the same summer camp for years and loving every minute of it. But this year, Helena returns to Southpoint not as a camper, but as a counselor. Unfortunately, best friend Katie Bell, who missed the age requirement by only a few months, must remain a camper for another year. But that shouldn’t matter, right? Surely, camp will be as amazing as ever. However, little do they know, this summer will change their lives forever. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

THE ORANGE HOUSES by Paul Griffin (Fiction)
Not many books will tell you the end of the story on the first page. The prelude to this astounding novel tells of the end --- the hanging of Jimmi Sixes, a war veteran from a row of orange houses in New York. After Jimmi received a mandatory discharge from service and returned home, he was hung on the streets of his own neighborhood by a mob. The focus of this rare book is the few spirited inhabitants of the orange houses who endure a darker side of life than most. Reviewed by Melanie Smith.

SECRETS OF TRUTH & BEAUTY by Megan Frazer (Fiction)
When a disastrously misinterpreted English project lands Dara Cohen in the counselor's office --- and her parents pull her out of school to save face --- she opts to visit her estranged sister at the Jezebel Goat Farm in Hollis, Massachussetts. Life on the farm becomes a cooperative experience for Dara that encourages true bonds of family and discovery of her own self worth. Reviewed by Melanie Smith.

Author Interview
In this interview with's Norah Piehl, award-winning children's and young adult author Avi discusses why he chose to revisit characters from his 1999 novel, MIDNIGHT MAGIC, in his 70th published work, MURDER AT MIDNIGHT, and his reasoning behind the book's recurring elements and unique format. He also elaborates on some of its characters --- most notably a magician who doesn't believe in magic --- explains how his interest in history influences his story ideas, and shares details about the projects he's currently working on.

Special Features
A plot to overthrow King Claudio is brewing in the Kingdom of Pergamontio, Italy. Mangus the Magician has been marked as an easy scapegoat for the traitor lurking within the king’s court. Against all odds, his faithful new servant boy, Fabrizio, sets out to solve the mystery and prove his master’s innocence before the stroke of midnight…in order to save him from certain death!

Intricate plotting, surprise twists, a marvelous literary duo, and an artful blend of medieval history with magic and intrigue make for another gripping and suspenseful page-turner that stands alone or sets the stage for more captivating adventure in MIDNIGHT MAGIC!
- Click here to read an excerpt from MURDER AT MIDNIGHT
- Click here to read Avi’s bio.

DAUGHTERS OF THE SEA: HANNAH by Kathryn Lasky (Fantasy)
Hannah Albury is not like other girls in the turn-of-the-century Boston orphanage where she grew up. Instead of seasickness, she gets land-sickness. Billowing waves exhilarate her, but flat plains away from the ocean leave her dried out, parched and ill. She leaves a ring of salt in the tub when she bathes, and sometimes she sees a faint tracing of scales on her delicate feet. It’s freakish, horrifying…and deeply thrilling.

As Hannah becomes a young woman, she can sense that a powerful change is coming. A choice lies ahead, and Hannah must discover if she is a creature of the land --- or of the sea.
- Click here to read an excerpt from DAUGHTERS OF THE SEA: HANNAH
- Click here to read Kathryn Lasky’s bio.

IMPOSSIBLE by Nancy Werlin (Romantic Suspense/Fantasy)
Inspired by the ballad “Scarborough Fair,” this riveting novel combines suspense, fantasy, and romance for an intensely page-turning and masterfully original tale.

Lucy Scarborough is 17 when she discovers that the women of her family have been cursed through the generations, forced to attempt three seemingly impossible tasks or fall into madness upon their child’s birth. Unless she can complete these tasks, Lucy will go mad, just like her mother and all the Scarborough women before her. But Lucy is the first girl who won’t be alone as she tackles the list. She has her fiercely protective foster parents and her childhood friend Zach beside her. As they struggle to make sense of the puzzle in the ballad and play by the dangerously important rules, time is slipping away and Lucy’s fate hangs in the balance. Do they have love and strength enough to overcome an age-old evil? ran a special contest for IMPOSSIBLE, where we gave away 20 copies of the paperback edition (which releases on August 11th) to readers who were interested in reading the book and commenting about it. Congratulations to all our winners! We will contact you shortly and ask you to respond with your thoughts about the book.
- Click here to see the winners of the IMPOSSIBLE giveaway.
- Click here to read an excerpt from IMPOSSIBLE.
- Click here to read Nancy Werlin’s bio.

SHELF DISCOVERY: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading, by Lizzie Skurnick (Memoir)
Remember that book you read at that time in your life when everything seemed to be going crazy --- the one book that brought the world into focus and helped soothe your raging teenage angst?

From Laura Lippman’s Foreword
“Some people are baffled by re-reading. What’s the point? There’s so much else to read. With these essays, Lizzie Skurnick has answered those questions. It’s as if a kindly psychiatrist suddenly appeared with a sheaf of missing brain scans. Do you giggle when someone tells you to ‘sit here for the present’? You are channeling Ramona Quimby, who turned those simple words into a daunting challenge. Does the mere mention of a mink-trimmed coat make you secretly swoon, even though you are rabidly anti-fur? You have ‘A Little Princess’ complex. Do you long to cover your enemies with leeches? You’re having a ‘Little House’ flashback…. So stretch out on Dr. Lizzie’s couch and find out why you think it would be kind of cozy to be locked up in an attic with your brother. Or learn to dissect the subtle class consciousness of Judy Blume’s New Jersey. Ponder the way that Lois Duncan’s characters come into unexpected powers, natural and supernatural alike, as they enter adolescence.”

And most of all, enjoy.
- Click here to read an excerpt from SHELF DISCOVERY.
- Click here to read Lizzie Skurnick’s bio.

SHIVER by Maggie Stiefvater (Supernatural Romance)
For years Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf --- her wolf --- is a haunting presence she can’t seem to live without.

Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human…until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellLinkow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It’s her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears and the temperature drops, Sam must fight to stay human --- or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.
- Click here to read all the contest details.

Cool New Books
August’s roundup of Cool New Books includes ALPHAS, a new spin-off of Lisi Harrison’s Clique series, set at the ultra-exclusive Alphas-only boarding school; TRICKS, a moving work of fiction from Ellen Hopkins about making choices, taking leaps of faith, falling down and growing up; LOVE IS A HIGHER LAW by David Levithan, in which the lives of three teens are altered forever on September 11, 2001; Maggie Stiefvater’s SHIVER, a supernatural romance about a young lady whose yellow-eyed wolf is a haunting presence she can’t seem to live without; AFTER by Amy Efaw, a fast-paced, gripping novel that tells the story of a responsible, hard-working and mature straight-A student who is accused of an unthinkable crime; and Louder Than Words, a powerfully penned series of true-life stories by teen girls.

New in Paperback
August’s roundup of New in Paperback titles includes THE DISREPUTABLE HISTORY OF FRANKIE LANDAU-BANKS, E. Lockhart’s story of a teenager who finds a way to infiltrate her school’s boy-only secret society and practically becomes a criminal mastermind by the age of 16; IMPOSSIBLE by Nancy Werlin, a riveting novel that combines suspense, fantasy and romance for an intensely page-turning and masterfully original tale; THE LAND OF THE SILVER APPLES, the highly anticipated sequel to THE SEA OF TROLLS from National Book Award winner and Newbery Honor author Nancy Farmer; KINGDOM KEEPERS II: DISNEY AT DAWN, which marks the return of our heroes from Ridley Pearson’s DISNEY AFTER DARK as they embark on another adventure to save Walt Disney World; and THE CASTAWAYS, the conclusion to Iain Lawrence’s The Curse of the Jolly Stone Trilogy, in which Tom Tin and his four convict companions save two sailors stranded on an iceberg.

Click here to read the full newsletter.