Sunday, January 31, 2010

January 2010

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

Reviews and Excerpts

WITCH & WIZARD by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet (Fantasy/Supernatural Thriller)
The government has seized control of every aspect of society, and kids are disappearing. For 15-year-old Wisty and her older brother Whit, life turns upside down when they are torn from their parents one night and slammed into a secret prison for no reason they can comprehend. They soon discover they have incredible powers they had never dreamed of. Can this newly minted witch and wizard master their skills in time to save themselves, their parents --- and maybe the world? Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman and excerpted.
- Click here to read an excerpt from WITCH & WIZARD.

TANGLED by Carolyn Mackler (Fiction)
Jena, Dakota, Skye and Owen are all at Paradise --- the resort in the Caribbean, that is --- for different reasons, but in Paradise their lives become tangled together in ways none of them can predict. Over the course of four months, through four voices and four stories, what happened in Paradise will change them all. Reviewed by Norah Piehl and excerpted.
- Click here to read an excerpt from TANGLED.

VERY LEFREAK by Rachel Cohn (Fiction)
Veronica “Very” LeFreak is just like any other college freshman. Except she goes to an Ivy League school and her GPA is dropping because she would rather major in party planning than anything on Columbia’s academic roster. She is also obsessed with her iPod, iPhone, computer, video games, and just about anything else that needs a battery or a plug to run. She’s in for an intervention --- big time. Reviewed by Sarah Hannah Gómez and excerpted.
- Click here to watch a trailer for VERY LEFREAK.

INCARCERON by Catherine Fisher (Fantasy)
Incarceron is a self-sustaining prison with a mind of its own. One prisoner, 17-year-old Finn, doesn’t believe he belongs. As Finn navigates the dangerous world of Incarceron, he finds help in the most unsuspecting person --- the daughter of the Warden. Escape seems impossible, however, because Incarceron is always watching! Reviewed by Benjamin Boche and excerpted.
- Click here to watch a trailer for INCARCERON.

DAWN by Kevin Brooks (Fiction)
Since her father’s disappearance, Dawn Bundy has been forced to suppress painful memories and take care of her alcoholic mother. But these memories are brought to the forefront after unexpected visits from the two most popular girls in school. This time there is no hiding in the dark cave in Dawn’s head. Reviewed by Benjamin Boche.

CLAIM TO FAME by Margaret Peterson Haddix (Fiction)
In her numerous books for young people, Margaret Peterson Haddix has excelled in creating vivid characters enmeshed in unusual --- and often surprising --- situations. With CLAIM TO FAME, Haddix continues to surprise. The first hundred pages alone ask readers to shift directions a half-dozen times --- shifts that they will be more than happy to make as they try to figure out the mystery behind the protagonist’s odd behavior and bizarre thoughts. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

WANDERLUST: A Beautiful Americans Novel, by Lucy Silag (Fiction)
This sequel to BEAUTIFUL AMERICANS picks up right where the first one left off, with the beautiful PJ running away from her host family, while her friends at the Lycée are left with no clue as to where she is --- and Alex, Jay, Zack and Olivia each have their own problems to deal with. WANDERLUST follows the crew across France as they look everywhere for their missing friend. Reviewed by Sarah Hannah Gómez.

THE MARK by Jen Nadol (Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance)
All her life, Cassie has occasionally caught sight of a person with a strange glow surrounding him or her. And finally, at 16, she figures out what the Mark means --- that individual is going to die that day. But why does she have this “gift”? Is she able to warn that person and safe a life? Should she even try? This moral dilemma begins to haunt Cassie, causing her to search deep into her own life. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

SOME GIRLS ARE by Courtney Summers (Fiction)
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 has been "frozen out" and her ex-best friends are out for revenge. Reviewed by Christine M. Irvin.

Graphic Novels and Manga
CALAMITY JACK written by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, illustrated by Nathan Hale (Graphic Novel)
Jack is back in this sequel to RAPUNZEL’S REVENGE --- but when Jack and Rapunzel head to the big city to find Jack's momma, they discover that Jack left behind a world of trouble when he ran away from home. Reviewed by Snow Wildsmith.

13th BOY, Volume 2 written and illustrated by SangEun Lee
Hee-So and her boyfriend break up, but she can’t admit that another boy she knows would be better for her. There’s also a talking cactus, so this isn’t your typical teen drama. Reviewed by Danica Davidson.

BEAST MASTER, Volume 1 written and illustrated by Kyousuke Motomi
Yuiko Kubozuka's new classmate may be a bit of an animal, but that doesn't stop her from becoming fast friends with the mysterious, wild-eyed Leo Aoi. Reviewed by Casey Brienza.

BLACK BIRD, Volume 2 written and illustrated by Kanoko Sakurakoji
Kyo has vowed to make Misao his bride. Her feelings on the matter don't merit consideration...but could she be developing feelings for him nevertheless? Reviewed by Casey Brienza.

MARIA HOLIC, Volume 2 written and illustrated by Minari Endou

Kanako’s dream of finding love at an all-girl’s Catholic school isn’t going to be as easy as she thought. Having faced bullying and practically being held hostage by her cross-dressing, male roommate Mariya, she is finally starting to settle in. When the annual physicals come up, Kanako uncovers the real reason why Mariya is leading a secret double life at the school. Reviewed by Courtney Kraft.

Author Interviews
Carolyn Mackler
Carolyn Mackler's fifth and most recent novel, TANGLED, follows four teens whose lives interconnect and are irrevocably changed when they meet on vacation at a Caribbean resort. In this interview with founder Carol Fitzgerald, Mackler explains the challenges of writing in this format and discusses the unlikely source of inspiration for the book's plot. She also names her favorite character, describes how she can so easily get inside the heads of young adults, and shares details on her next book in the works.

Sara Shepard's Donna Volkenannt recently spoke with author Sara Shepard about her latest book, HEARTLESS --- the seventh installment in her bestselling series, Pretty Little Liars. In this interview, Shepard brings us up to speed on where this new novel finds her four protagonists, and discusses the difficulties of planning out storylines, character arcs and plot twists over the course of several books. She also talks about her family's positive influence on her work, names a few of her favorite literary characters and shares details about a new series she's writing called The Lying Game.

Maureen Johnson
Maureen Johnson has followed up her 2008 novel SUITE SCARLETT with its newly released sequel, SCARLETT FEVER. In this interview with's Sally M. Tibbetts, Johnson explains how her personal experience working with actors in New York inspired protagonist Scarlett Martin's latest adventures. She also discusses some of the timely themes about fame explored in the story and how she turned to writing after working in theater for several years.

Special Features
SCARLETT FEVER by Maureen Johnson (Fiction)
Ever since Mrs. Amberson, the former-aspiring-actress-turned-agent, entered Scarlett Martin's life, nothing has been the same.

She's still in charge of the Empire Suite in her family's hotel, but she's now also Mrs. Amberson's assistant, running around town for her star client, Chelsea --- a Broadway star Scarlett's age with a knack for making her feel insignificant. Scarlett's also trying to juggle sophomore year classes, her lab partner who is being just a little TOO nice, and getting over the boy who broke her heart.
- Click here to read an excerpt from SCARLETT FEVER.
- Click here to read Maureen Johnson’s bio.

WHAT I SAW AND HOW I LIED by Judy Blundell (Fiction)
When Evie’s father returned home after World War II, the family fell back into its normal life pretty quickly. But Joe Spooner brought more back with him than just good war stories. When movie-star handsome Peter Coleridge, a young ex-GI who served in Joe’s company in postwar Austria, shows up, Evie is suddenly caught in a complicated web of lies that she only slowly recognizes. She finds herself falling for Peter, ignoring the family secrets that surround him…until he mysteriously disappears. Now Evie must find out what happened…and how far she’ll go to protect her family.

WHAT I SAW AND HOW I LIED, the 2008 winner of the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, gives us a girl’s-eye view of a dark family history.
- Click here to read an excerpt from WHAT I SAW AND HOW I LIED.
- Click here to read Judy Blundell’s bio.

Win a Signed Copy of ALL UNQUIET THINGS by Anna Jarzab
To celebrate the release of ALL UNQUIET THINGS by Anna Jarzab, a psychologically probing debut novel that is both suspenseful and disquieting, is giving away 10 signed copies of the book. For your chance to be one of the lucky winners, fill out this form and answer the following question by Thursday, March 18th at noon EST.

Who is Brighton Day School’s mascot?
You can find the answer by reading the excerpt here.

Carly: She was sweet. Smart. Self-destructive. She knew the secrets of Brighton Day School’s most privileged students. Secrets that got her killed.

Neily: Dumped by Carly for a notorious bad boy, Neily didn’t answer the phone call she made before she died. If he had, maybe he could have helped her. Now he can’t get the image of her lifeless body out of his mind.

Audrey: She’s the reason Carly got tangled up with Brighton’s fast crowd in the first place, and now she regrets it --- especially since she’s convinced the police have put the wrong person in jail. Audrey thinks the murderer is someone at Brighton, and she wants Neily to help her find out who it is.

As reluctant allies Neily and Audrey dig into their shared past with Carly, her involvement with Brighton’s dark goings-on comes to light. But figuring out how Carly and her killer fit into the twisted drama will force Audrey and Neily to face hard truths about themselves and the girl they couldn’t save.
- Click here to watch a trailer for ALL UNQUIET THINGS.
- Click here to read Anna Jarzab’s blog post, “Ten Random Things About Me.”

Win a Copy of THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE by Jandy Nelson
Jandy Nelson's remarkable debut novel, THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE, is as much a celebration of love as it is a portrait of loss, and is a must-read for fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti and Francesca Lia Block. To celebrate the book’s March 9th release, is giving away 15 copies. For your chance to be one of the lucky winners, fill out this form and answer the following question by Thursday, March 18th at noon EST.

What character from WUTHERING HEIGHTS does Lennie think Joe looks like?
You can find the answer by reading the excerpt here.

Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life --- and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey's boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie's own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they're the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can't collide without the whole wide world exploding.

This remarkable debut is perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen, Deb Caletti and Francesca Lia Block. Just as much a celebration of love as it is a portrait of loss, Lennie's struggle to sort her own melody out of the noise around her is always honest, often hilarious, and ultimately unforgettable.

Win a Copy of THE SECRET YEAR by Jennifer R. Hubbard
ROMEO AND JULIET meets THE OUTSIDERS in this story of a clandestine romance that turns tragic. Colt and Julia share a taboo love that is cut short, leaving one behind trying desperately to forget everything about this forbidden relationship. is giving away 15 copies of THE SECRET YEAR, Jennifer R. Hubbard’s debut novel. For your chance to be one of the lucky winners, fill out this form and answer the following question by Tuesday, February 16th at noon EST.

What is the name of Colt's first real girlfriend?
You can find the answer by reading the excerpt here.

THE SECRET YEAR by Jennifer R. Hubbard (Fiction)
Colt and Julia were secretly together for an entire year, and no one --- not even Julia’s boyfriend --- knew. They had nothing in common, with Julia in her country club world on Black Mountain and Colt from down on the flats, but it never mattered. Until Julia dies in a car accident, and Colt learns the price of secrecy. He can’t mourn Julia openly, and he’s tormented that he might have played a part in her death. When Julia’s journal ends up in his hands, Colt relives their year together at the same time that he’s desperately trying to forget her. But how do you get over someone who was never yours in the first place?

In picturesque Rosewood, Pennsylvania, neighbors gossip over picket fences, and gleaming SUVs sit in every crushed-granite driveway. But recently, friendly smiles have been replaced with suspicious glares and accusatory whispers. Hanna, Aria, Spencer and Emily insist they’re telling the truth, but all of Rosewood thinks they’re simply out for attention --- and nobody likes a girl who cries wolf. So when the big bad killer comes after the girls, will anyone believe them…or will they be the next to disappear?

To celebrate the release of HEARTLESS, the newest addition to Sara Shepard's Pretty Little Liars series, is giving away 10 copies of the book. For your chance to be one of the lucky winners, fill out this form and answer the following question by Tuesday, February 16th at noon EST.

Who was the "original A"?
You can find the answer by reading the excerpt here.
- Click here to read Sara Shepard’s bio.

THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB by Elizabeth Eulberg (Fiction)
Penny is sick of boys and sick of dating, so she vows: No more. She’s had one too many bad dates, and has been hurt by one too many bad boys. Penny thinks she might be crazy for swearing off boys --- but soon a few other girls are inspired, and a movement is born. Girls are soon thronging to The Lonely Hearts Club (named after the Sgt. Pepper’s band) and Penny finds herself near legendary for her non-dating ways --- which is too bad, since the leader of The Lonely Hearts Club has found a certain boy she can’t help but like…

To celebrate Penny's Lonely Hearts Club movement, is giving away 15 copies of THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB, Elizabeth Eulberg’s debut novel. For your chance to be one of the lucky winners, fill out this form and answer the following question by Tuesday, February 16th at noon EST.

Who is always at the top of Tracy's date list?
You can find the answer by reading the excerpt here.
- Click here to read Elizabeth Eulberg’s bio.

Books into Movies Roundup
2010 is already shaping up to be a fantastic year for literary-based blockbusters, and February’s Books into Movies roundup features two can’t-miss films that promise just a taste of what we can expect in the months ahead.

Dear John, starring Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried, hits theaters February 5th. Based on a novel by the king of tear-jerking romantic dramas, Nicholas Sparks, it chronicles the six-year romance developed through letters written between a college student and a soldier stationed in the Middle East. And if weepy romances aren’t your thing, February 12th marks the release of Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, adapted from the first installment of the bestselling Percy Jackson & the Olympians series by Rick Riordan. Directed by Chris Columbus, who brought us the first two Harry Potter movies, this fantasy adventure follows a teen who discovers he’s the son of a Greek god and finds himself caught up in a war being fought among the other residents of Mount Olympus.

And a must to add to your DVD collection is Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging, now in stores. This wacky teen comedy from across the pond brings the unforgettable Georgia Nicolson --- heroine of the bestselling series by Louise Rennison --- and all her zany boy-chasing adventures to life on the small screen.

Cool New Books

January’s roundup of Cool New Books includes VERY LEFREAK by Rachel Cohn, a funny yet touching story about a girl and the technology habit that threatens everything; CAPTIVATE, the sequel to Carrie Jones’s NEED, a gripping novel full of romance, suspense and a touch of the paranormal that had teens thinking about pixies in a whole new way; HEARTLESS, the seventh installment in Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars series that finds Hanna, Aria, Emily and Spencer threatened by someone who would like nothing more than to silence them permanently; and CALAMITY JACK, a follow-up to Shannon and Dean Hale’s RAPUNZEL’S REVENGE, in which Jack (with the help of Rapunzel and her trusty braids) attempts to free his beloved city of Shyport from a crew of enormous Ant-People who have been terrorizing the townspeople.

New in Paperback
January’s roundup of New in Paperback titles includes CHAINS, Laurie Halse Anderson's compelling examination of the very different implications of freedom and loyalty for slaves during the American Revolution; KILLER, the sixth installment in Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars series that finds Aria, Hanna, Spencer and Emily stumbling over a deadly new secret after a shocking discovery at the end of WICKED; AFTER TUPAC AND D FOSTER, in which Jacqueline Woodson’s naïve but perceptive narrator yearns to understand the world and find her Big Purpose in life; PERSISTENCE OF MEMORY, a thrilling tale of love, loyalty and illusion from the bestselling author of the Kiesha’ra series, Amelia Atwater-Rhodes; and the 2008 National Book Award winner WHAT I SAW AND HOW I LIED, Judy Blundell's coming-of-age novel set against a backdrop of mystery, lies and shattering reality.

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