Friday, October 30, 2009

October 2009

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

Reviews and Excerpts
FIRE by Kristin Cashore (Fantasy)
It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. In King City, the young King Nash is clinging to the throne, while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. War is coming. And the mountains and forest are filled with spies and thieves. This is where Fire lives, a girl whose beauty is impossibly irresistible and who can control the minds of everyone around her. Reviewed by Norah Piehl and excerpted.
- Click here to read an excerpt from FIRE.
- Click here to see the book trailer and casting widget for FIRE.

LEVIATHAN by Scott Westerfeld (Alternate Historical Fiction)
With World War I brewing, Prince Aleksandar of Austria is on the run with the hope of finding peace from the enemies who want him dead. Meanwhile, Deryn Sharp has managed to enlist in the British Air Service, even though girls are strictly forbidden. Will these sworn adversaries unite when both their livelihoods are threatened? Reviewed by Benjamin Boche and excerpted.
- Click here to read an excerpt from LEVIATHAN.

ARCHENEMY: The Looking Glass Wars, Book 3 by Frank Beddor (Fantasy/Action & Adventure)
Imagination has been lost in Wonderland. Queen Alyss and her evil aunt, Redd Heart, are wondering aimlessly while King Arch of Borderland has taken control of the powerful Heart Crystal. Alyss’s only hope to regain the power of imagination is to work with the last person she expected --- Redd. Reviewed by Benjamin Boche.

THE ISLANDS OF THE BLESSED by Nancy Farmer (Fantasy)
Jack, an apprentice bard, and his friend Thorgil, a shield maiden, have survived many adventures together. They have traveled the Hollow Road deep underground. They have visited Jotunheim, land of the trolls. They have even seen Yggdrasil, the world tree. The ringing of a magic bell sets their third adventure into motion. Visiting the realm of the fin folk and quelling unrestful spirits are just a few of the stops in Nancy Farmer’s final volume of her Sea of Trolls trilogy. Reviewed by Sarah A. Wood.

SKELETON CREEK #2: GHOST IN THE MACHINE by Patrick Carman (Mystery/Suspense)
Strange things are happening in Skeleton Creek --- and Ryan and Sarah are trying to find out why. Ryan writes down everything in his journal, and Sarah records everything on her videocam. The two move deeper into the mystery they've uncovered, determined to discover the secrets buried in Skeleton Creek, in the conclusion to Patrick Carman's thrilling series. Reviewed by Sally M. Tibbetts.

HOW TO STEAL A CAR by Pete Hautman (Fiction)
Some teenagers have healthy outlets for stress. These include sports, music and sleeping. Other teenagers take the rebellious route. They drink, sleep around, or are prone to violence. For 15-year-old Kelleigh Monahan it is stealing cars --- and she can’t stop at just one. Reviewed by Benjamin Boche.

PURPLE HEART by Patricia McCormick (Fiction)
Matt Duffy is a private in the U.S. Army, serving in the Iraq War. After an attack by Iraqi insurgents, Matt wakes up in a green-zone hospital bed and is told that he was "on the business end of an RPG" (rocket-propelled grenade.) He has sustained a traumatic brain injury and is awarded the Purple Heart for service to his country. Still trying to piece together what happened to his squad, Matt faces a criminal inquiry relating to civilian casualties in the attack. Reviewed by Melanie Smith.

LEIGH ANN’S CIVIL WAR by Ann Rinaldi (Historical Fiction)
Ann Rinaldi is one of the most popular historical fiction writers for young people today. One of her favorite topics, the American Civil War, comes alive again in this novel told through the point of view of 11-year-old Leigh Ann Conners, a half-Cherokee girl living in Georgia. The story revolves around Leigh Ann’s tumultuous family life, the difficulties of growing up in a fractured nation, and the effects that war had not only on the country, but on the individual person as well. Reviewed by Amy Alessio.

CHANGE-UP: Mystery at the World Series, by John Feinstein (Fiction)
An underdog team stuns the baseball world by winning the National League Championship Series. An obscure minor leaguer is called up late to pitch in the “Bigs.” In John Feinstein’s latest sports mystery, teen reporters Stevie Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson uncover a secret that could affect the outcome of the World Series. Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt.

ONCE WAS LOST by Sara Zarr (Fiction)
To everyone else, Samara’s life and family may seem perfect, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Her pastor father is too busy helping the congregation to have time for Sam, her seemingly perfect mom is battling an alcohol addiction, and she is struggling with her faith. To complicate life even more, a girl in the church is abducted, setting the town in an uproar. Sam desperately grasps for someone or something to hold on to while her world spins out of control. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.
- Click here to read Sara Zarr’s blog post, "Being Funny, Writing Serious."

Author Interviews
Laurie Faria Stolarz
Laurie Faria Stolarz is the acclaimed author of such young adult books as BLEED, PROJECT 17 and the Touch series. In this interview with's Usha Reynolds, Stolarz explains what inspired her to create her latest work, BLACK IS FOR BEGINNINGS, as a graphic novel companion to her Blue is for Nightmares series, and discusses how she was able to transition easily between the two formats. She also describes how her upbringing in Salem, MA influenced her writing and research on the paranormal subjects in her work, and reveals how she stays current on what's important to her teen audiences.

Holly Black
Holly Black's latest book, KITH, is the second installment in The Good Neighbors trilogy --- a graphic novel collaboration with artist Ted Naifeh about a young girl who finds herself caught in a battle between the good and evil forces of the faerie realm. In this interview with's John Hogan, Black brings us up to speed with protagonist Rue Silver since the end of the series' first book, KIN, and elaborates on the complex relationship Rue has with her mother. She also explains how she became interested in comics, discusses the origins of her fascination with ghosts and faeries, and shares details about what's in store for her characters in the next and final chapter of the series.

Laini Taylor's Usha Reynolds recently spoke with author and artist Laini Taylor, whose latest release, LIPS TOUCH: THREE TIMES, is an illustrated collection of three fantasy short stories about love and romance, each of which share a common theme --- a transformative and sometimes dangerous first kiss. In this interview, Taylor explains the book's origins as an online writing exercise and discusses the stories' various sources of inspiration, such as mythology, world religions and 19th-century poetry. She also recalls the experience of collaborating with her husband, illustrator Jim Di Bartolo, sheds light on the stories' recurring themes, and lists some of her old and new favorite books and authors.

David Whitley
David Whitley's debut novel, THE MIDNIGHT CHARTER, is the first book in a trilogy that follows two orphaned servant children attempting to survive in a city where their fate is dictated by their worth. In this interview with's Sarah Rachel Egelman, Whitley elaborates on this complex fictional city --- from its lack of religion to its 18th-century influences --- and discusses the inspiration behind its unusual and rather dangerous economic system. He also describes the significance of his main characters' names, lists some of his favorite dystopian novels, and shares details about what readers can look forward to in the second installment of the series.

David Small
Having made a name for himself writing and illustrating children's books for nearly three decades, award-winning author David Small recently turned his attention to more serious and personal matters, penning a memoir in graphic novel form that chronicles his childhood in an abusive and emotionally absent household. In this interview with John Hogan, the Editorial Director for, Small talks about what prompted this departure from his usual fare, and recalls both the traumatic and thrilling experiences of reliving such a painful period in his life. He also explains what he has since learned about his family that perhaps provides some insight into their behavior, and shares how his upbringing helped shape him into the artist he is today.

Special Features
BLACK IS FOR BEGINNINGS written by Laurie Faria Stolarz and artwork by Janina Görrissen (Graphic Novel)
The Blue is for Nightmares series that put a spell on more than half a million readers continues --- in graphic novel format! Prophetic nightmares. Near-brushes with death. Killers pursuing her and her friends. Stacey Brown knows that being a hereditary witch isn’t all it's cracked up to be.

All she really wants to do is work things out with Jacob and figure out what to do with the rest of her life. But before Stacey and Jacob can have a future, they must face their pasts. BLACK IS FOR BEGINNINGS reveals the never-before-seen backstory --- and what lies ahead --- for the young, spellcasting lovers.

BLACK continues the harrowing adventures of Stacey and Jacob in the wake of Jacob's brush with death. Ever since he lost his memory, Jacob hasn't been able to remember Stacey --- his own soul mate. He leaves Massachusetts, returning to his childhood home in Colorado, hoping to jog his memory. What he remembers is Kira, his ex-girlfriend. As Jacob works to piece together his past, will there be room for Stacey in his future?
- Click here to read more about BLACK IS FOR BEGINNINGS.
- Click here to browse inside BLACK IS FOR BEGINNINGS.
- Click here to read Laurie Faria Stolarz’s bio.

THE GOOD NEIGHBORS, Book Two: Kith written by Holly Black and illustrated by Ted Naifeh (Graphic Novel)
Rue Silver's life is not what it appears to be. Her mother is a faerie, and has been taken back to the faerie realm. As Rue goes to bring her back, she must travel deep into an inhuman world. At the same time, the faerie realm is venturing into our world too, and taking its toll on those Rue loves. When her grandfather's plans threaten Rue's city, she realizes that she's the only one who can stop him. But is Rue a human or a faerie? Where does she fit? How does she know the difference between love and enchantment?
- Click here to look inside KITH.
- Click here to read Holly Black’s bio.

THE MIDNIGHT CHARTER by David Whitley (Fantasy/Thriller)
In the tower of Count Stelli in the ancient city-state of Agora, two children meet, apparently by chance. Mark has escaped the plague ravaging the city’s slums, and Lily is the servant who takes care of him. At first, their only goal is survival: in Agora everything can be bought and sold, debt is death, and Mark and Lily must barter their labor for their lives. When Lily escapes the tower for the city outside, Mark stays on as a servant to the count. Though Mark and Lily choose two very different paths, their lives remain strangely intertwined by the long-held secret prophecy of the Midnight Charter. What is the charter? Who knows of its power, and why are Mark and Lily destined to uncover its meaning?

As the mystery of the charter unfolds, Mark and Lily face dangerous enemies and shifting loyalties --- and a choice that could shape the future for all of Agora.
- Click here to read more about THE MIDNIGHT CHARTER.
- Click here to read an excerpt from THE MIDNIGHT CHARTER.
- Click here to read David Whitley’s bio.

To celebrate the release of the major motion picture Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant, is giving 50 readers the chance to win a special edition movie poster and a copy of THE VAMPIRE'S ASSISTANT AND OTHER TALES FROM THE CIRQUE DU FREAK by Darren Shan. This new movie edition paperback features the first three books of the series --- A LIVING NIGHTMARE, THE VAMPIRE'S ASSISTANT and TUNNELS OF BLOOD --- bound up in one volume.

To enter, fill out this form and answer the following question by Thursday, November 19th at 11:59PM.

Who are Darren's three best friends?

You can find the answer by reading an excerpt from CIRQUE DU FREAK: A LIVING NIGHTMARE here.
- Visit the official movie site,

Win a Copy of THE MAZE RUNNER by James Dashner
When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by other boys of various ages --- trapped within a maze.

To celebrate the October 6th release of THE MAZE RUNNER by James Dashner, is giving 30 readers the chance to win a copy of this highly anticipated first installment in a planned trilogy. To enter, fill out this form and answer the following question by Monday, November 16th at 11:59PM.

What does the boy call Thomas once he is lifted out of the box and into the Glade?

You can find the answer by reading the excerpt here.
- Click here to read Chapters 1-9 online!

Books into Movies
This Month’s Books into Movies Feature includes:
The Vampire’s Assistant
Where the Wild Things Are
Whip It
A Christmas Carol

Cool New Books
October’s roundup of Cool New Books includes THE MAZE RUNNER, a post-apocalyptic thriller by James Dashner in which a 16-year-old wakes up and finds himself surrounded by other boys of various ages --- trapped within a maze; FIRE, a companion to Kristin Cashore’s acclaimed fantasy novel GRACELING; LEVIATHAN, a departure from Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series that he describes as “a steampunk-zombie-airship adventure” set during World War I; and THE VAN ALEN LEGACY, the fourth installment in Melissa de la Cruz’s Blue Bloods vampire series.

We also spotlight a number of popular series that are coming to an end in October. Among these concluding titles are SPLENDOR (The Luxe by Anna Godbersen), ARE THESE MY BASOOMAS I SEE BEFORE ME? (Confessions of Georgia Nicolson by Louise Rennison), ARCHENEMY (The Looking Glass Wars trilogy by Frank Beddor) and FRONT AND CENTER (the Dairy Queen trilogy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock).

New in Paperback
October’s roundup of New in Paperback titles includes THE KINGDOM ON THE WAVES, the sequel to the National Book Award winner THE ASTONISHING LIFE OF OCTAVIAN NOTHING, in which M. T. Anderson recounts Octavian's experiences as the Revolutionary War explodes around him; RUNEMARKS, a fresh, funny and wonderfully irreverent new take on the old Norse tales, marking the fantasy debut of bestselling author Joanne Harris; KIN, the first book in Holly Black’s graphic novel series, The Good Neighbors; PLAY ME, a story of love, loss and redemption from GOOD GIRLS author Laura Ruby; and LET IT SNOW, a trio of interconnecting holiday-themed romance stories written by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle.

Click here to read the full newsletter.