Friday, March 26, 2010

Late March 2010

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

Reviews and Excerpts
MAXIMUM RIDE #6: FANG by James Patterson (Fantasy/Action & Adventure)
Max and her flock of human/bird hybrids are back for their sixth book of nonstop action and adventure. This time, they head to Africa to help out at a refugee camp. But they are in for a surprise when they meet a brand new kid/bird hybrid --- genetically engineered to be Max’s perfect other half. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman and excerpted.
- Click here to read an excerpt from FANG.

BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver
In this affecting and original page-turner, 17-year-old Samantha Kingston dies. But that's not the end of her story. Instead, she relives her last day over and over again, seven times. Can Sam figure out why she's getting these extra chances…and what she needs to do to find redemption? Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon and excerpted.

HEIST SOCIETY by Ally Carter (Fiction)
Katarina Bishop belongs to an internationally famous family --- of con artists and master thieves. At age 15, she decides to trade the family business for a normal life. But when her father is threatened by a ruthless mobster, Kat has two weeks to rescue her father and pull off a daring heist. Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt and excerpted.
- Click here to read Ally Carter’s blog post, “The Family Business.”

THE DEAD-TOSSED WAVES by Carrie Ryan (Fantasy/Thriller)
Readers of Mary’s terrifying trek through the deadly forest in THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH will remember that she survived the all-too-real nightmare to finally realize her dream of seeing the ocean. Now it’s her daughter Gabry’s turn to face the forest. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman and excerpted.
- Click here to read an excerpt from THE DEAD-TOSSED WAVES.

TOKEN OF DARKNESS by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes (Supernatural Thriller)
Cooper Blake has everything going for him --- until he wakes up from a car accident with his football career in ruins and a mysterious, attractive girl by his side. Cooper doesn’t know how Samantha got there or why he can see her; all he knows is that she’s a ghost, and the shadows that surround her seem intent on destroying her. Reviewed by Melanie Smith and excerpted.
- Click here to read Amelia Atwater-Rhodes’s blog post, “Amelia Atwater-Rhodes on the Mythology of TOKEN OF DARKNESS.”

OUT OF MY MIND by Sharon M. Draper
Multiple Coretta Scott King Award winner Sharon M. Draper tackles disability and prejudice in OUT OF MY MIND, a deeply personal, moving story full of heartache and hope inspired by Draper’s own family experiences. Eleven-year-old Melody is a girl whose voice readers will never forget. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

WOODS RUNNER by Gary Paulsen (Historical Fiction)
Thirteen-year-old Samuel's story begins with a deadly attack on his family's settlement by British soldiers accompanied by Native Americans. Can he rescue his kidnapped parents? As Samuel tracks his loved ones through the frontier, readers learn intriguing facts about the little-known side of the Revolutionary War. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

GONE by Lisa McMann (Paranormal Romance)
Janie thought she knew what her future held. And she thought she had made her peace with it. But she can’t handle dragging Cabel down with her. She knows he will stay with her, despite what she sees in his dreams. Janie sees only one way to give him the life he deserves: she has to disappear. Then a stranger enters her life --- and everything unravels.

THE RIVER by Mary Jane Beaufrand
A miserable Veronica Severance has been yanked out of her fast-paced life in Portland and shipped off to the sleepy town of Hoodoo. There Ronnie meets Karen, a precocious 10-year-old who introduces her to a whole new way of looking at the world. But then a horrible tragedy occurs, as Karen accidentally falls into the river and drowns. Or was it murder? Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.
- Click here to read Mary Jane Beaufrand’s blog post, “Mary Jane Beaufrand on How to Avoid the Smugfests.”

HAPPYFACE by Stephen Emond
Presented in sketchbook format, HAPPYFACE chronicles the life of a teenager trying to navigate the troubled waters of adolescence. Will he get with the hot girl? Will he survive his parents’ divorce? Will he score at the school dance? Will everyone figure out that he’s hiding something behind his smile? Reviewed by Benjamin Boche.
- Click here to read Stephen Emond’s blog post, “Journals and Self-Expression.

FREEFALL by Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams (Mystery/Adventure)
FREEFALL, the third book in the Tunnels series, finds Will, Chester and Elliott thousands of miles deep in the earth after falling into the mysterious and deadly Pore. Rumors have it that only one person has ever managed to escape the depths of the Pore. Will our heroes be so lucky? They will escape…or die trying! Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

THE IRON KING: The Iron Fey, Book One by Julie Kagawa
(Urban Fantasy)
When her little brother is kidnapped, Meghan Chase must enter a world where anything she touches may kill her --- including the icy prince who stirs her wakening senses. As she steps into the Nevernever, finding her brother is only the start of her problems. For the trail leads Meghan toward the most dangerous threat of all: the mysterious Iron Fey. Reviewed by Melanie Smith.

Graphic Novels and Manga
ULTIMO, Volume 1 written and illustrated by Hiroyuki Takei
Together, Stan Lee and Hiroyuki Takei show a world where the ultimate evil and the ultimate good are made into mechanical boys. In a fight to the death, will good or evil be the winner? Reviewed by Danica Davidson.

NIGHTSCHOOL, Volumes 1 and 2 written and illustrated by Svetlana Chmakova
Alex must register in the Nightschool for teenage demons, vampires, weirn and more to search for clues to her sister Sarah's disappearance. Reviewed by Snow Wildsmith.

BLACK BUTLER, Volume 1 written and illustrated by Yana Toboso
Sebastian, butler for the 12-year-old Earl Ciel Phantomhive, is the best at what he does. But is the butler too good to be true, or just too good to be human? Reviewed by Snow Wildsmith.

HERO TALES, Volume 1 written by Huang Jin Zhou and illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa
When he is presented with a mysterious sword --- and it is immediately stolen --- Taitou learns of his destiny as one of the seven hero stars of the Big Dipper. Reviewed by Snow Wildsmith.

HERO TALES, Volume 2 written by Huang Jin Zhou and illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa
Taitou begins to try to learn to control his ki, but a dangerous enemy may not give him time to do so. Reviewed by Snow Wildsmith.

ITAZURA NA KISS, Volume 1 written and illustrated by Kaoru Tada
Kotoko finally gets up the courage to give a love letter to her crush, Naoki, but he brutally rejects her. So how are they supposed to get along when their families move in together? Reviewed by Snow Wildsmith.

TWO WILL COME, Volumes 1 and 2 written and illustrated by Kyungok Kang
Teenager Jina will probably die from her family’s curse. Two people she trusts are supposed to kill her…unless she can find a way to stop it. Reviewed by Danica Davidson.

OPERATION LIBERATE MEN, Volume 1 written and illustrated by Mira Lee
Sooha, a 16-year-old tomboy, ends up in another world where the women have full power and the men are enslaved. Operation Liberate Men is a series about the restrictions societies might place on people. Reviewed by Danica Davidson.

Author Interview
Francisco X. Stork
Francisco X. Stork’s latest novel, THE LAST SUMMER OF THE DEATH WARRIORS, is loosely based on Miguel de Cervantes’s classic DON QUIXOTE and portrays the unlikely friendship formed between two young men --- one is determined to avenge his sister’s mysterious death, while the other is suffering from a terminal disease. In this interview with’s Norah Piehl, Stork describes how he was able to put himself in the shoes of two characters caught in such difficult circumstances and elaborates on the qualities that helped form the basis of their strong bond with one another. He also explains why he chose to set their story in the American Southwest, discusses the parallels between this book and his previous acclaimed work, MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD, and suggests some further reading for those who enjoy his writing.

Jen Calonita
Drawing upon her previous career as an entertainment journalist, Jen Calonita’s Secrets of My Hollywood Life follows teen starlet Kaitlin Burke on her adventures in and out of the spotlight. In this interview with’s Donna Volkenannt, Calonita describes where her fifth installment, BROADWAY LIGHTS, takes her protagonist and discusses how her characters have grown and changed over the course of the series. She also shares some back story on the books’ stylish covers, compares and contrasts writing fiction with magazine articles, and reveals what she has planned now that the Secrets stories will be coming to an end soon.

Swati Avasthi
In this interview with’s Usha Reynolds, debut author Swati Avasthi discusses the inspiration behind her newly released novel, SPLIT --- which centers on a teenage victim of domestic violence --- and explains why she chose to focus her narrative on how her main character copes in its aftermath rather than on the abuse itself. She also describes how writing the book became a semi-cathartic experience for her, provides some information on where domestic violence victims can get help, and shares details about her current work-in-progress, BIDDEN.

Julie Anne Peters
Julie Anne Peters is the author of over a dozen books that often deal with “controversial” issues faced by children and teens regarding sexual identity, abuse, destructive relationships and problematic family dynamics. Her latest teen novel, BY THE TIME YOU READ THIS, I’LL BE DEAD, follows a suicidal high school student who has been the victim of peer bullying for years. In this interview with’s Norah Piehl, Peters explains what prompted her to tackle this difficult and timely topic, and reflects on the negative effects of the Internet Age on “bullycide.” She also shares advice for young people in similar situations to her main character, Daelyn, and addresses her reputation for writing about challenging subject matter.

Author Talk
Ally Carter
Though Kat Bishop --- the protagonist of the newly released HEIST SOCIETY --- leads a pretty atypical life compared to your average teenager, she still struggles with the same issues that people her age face, including finding a sense of self, learning how and who to trust, and discovering the true meaning of family. In this interview, bestselling author Ally Carter discusses how these themes arose naturally in her story about a 15-year-old art thief, and describes some of the similarities she shares with her characters, based on her own childhood in the family business. She also reveals some surprising information she learned in her research on real-life heists, explains what she likes best about writing for teens, and provides fairly basic but profound pieces of advice to aspiring authors about the craft of writing.

Special Features
Her star power in demand on a hit Broadway play, Hollywood teen starlet Kaitlin Burke packs up her entourage (ok, her showbiz family, friends, assistant, and publicist, but not the dreamy boyfriend) and moves to the Big Apple for the summer.
- Click here to read more about BROADWAY LIGHTS.
- Click here to read an excerpt from BROADWAY LIGHTS.
- Click here to read Jen Calonita’s bio.
- Click here to read Jen Calonita’s blog post, “Jen Calonita Wants You to Be Careful What You Wish For.”

SPLIT by Swati Avasthi
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.
- Click here to read more about SPLIT.
- Click here to read an excerpt from SPLIT.
- Click here to read Swati Avasthi’s bio.
- Click here to read Swati Avasthi’s blog post, “Swati Avasthi on What Happens After.”

Daelyn Rice is broken beyond repair, and after a string of botched suicide attempts, she’s determined to get her death right. She starts visiting a website for “completers” ---

While she’s on the site, Daelyn blogs about her life, uncovering a history of bullying that goes back to kindergarten. When she’s not on the Web, Daelyn’s at her private school, where she’s known as the freak who doesn’t talk.
- Click here to read more about BY THE TIME YOU READ THIS, I’LL BE DEAD.
- Click here to read an excerpt from BY THE TIME YOU READ THIS, I’LL BE DEAD.
- Click here to read Julie Anne Peters’s bio.

Feature and Contest
Win a Copy of THE LAST SUMMER OF THE DEATH WARRIORS by Francisco X. Stork is giving away 10 copies of THE LAST SUMMER OF THE DEATH WARRIORS by award-winning author Francisco X. Stork, a touching story of friendship, hurt and healing.

Death surrounds Pancho. His father, in an accident. His sister, murdered. His own plans to find her killer. And D.Q. --- a guy Pancho’s age who’s dying of cancer. That is, if he’ll ever shut up. D.Q. is writing “The Death Warrior’s Manifesto,” a guide to living out his last days fully. He needs just one more thing: the love of the beautiful Marisol. But as Pancho tracks down his sister’s murderer, he finds himself falling for Marisol as well….
- Click here to read more about THE LAST SUMMER OF THE DEATH WARRIORS.
- Click here to read an excerpt from THE LAST SUMMER OF THE DEATH WARRIORS.
- Click here to read Francisco X. Stork’s bio.

Win a Copy of THE CLONE CODES by Patricia C. McKissack, Fredrick L. McKissack and John McKissack
THE CLONE CODES takes readers on a thrill ride 160 years in the future, where cyborgs and clones are treated like slaves and secret organizations fight for freedom from an oppressive government. When Leanna's mother is targeted and captured for being part of this radical movement, Leanna finds herself on the run from a dangerous bounty hunter, triggering a chain of events that forces her to face her past, present and future in this dystopic society. is giving away 10 copies of THE CLONE CODES, which Newbery Honor winner Patricia C. McKissack wrote with her husband Fredrick and son John.

THE CLONE CODES by Patricia C. McKissack, Fredrick L. McKissack and John McKissack (Science Fiction)
The Cyborg Wars are over and Earth has peacefully prospered for more than 100 years. Yet sometimes history must repeat itself until humanity learns from its mistakes. In the year 2170, despite technological and political advances, cyborgs and clones are treated no better than slaves, and an underground abolitionist movement is fighting for freedom. Thirteen-year-old Leanna's entire life is thrown into chaos when The World Federation of Nations discovers her mom is part of the radical Liberty Bell Movement.
- Click here to read more about THE CLONE CODES.
- Click here to read an excerpt from THE CLONE CODES.
- Click here to read the McKissacks’ bio.

Win a Copy of GREEN WITCH by Alice Hoffman
In this spellbinding sequel to GREEN ANGEL, Alice Hoffman shows us how loss and grief can be transformed into action, love and hope. Ten readers will win a copy of GREEN WITCH, the story of persevering Green, who must learn about the "witches" of the past so that she can shape her own present and future.

GREEN WITCH by Alice Hoffman (Fiction)
In this powerful, lovely sequel to GREEN ANGEL, Green must learn the stories of a number of "witches" and free her true soul mate from a prison as she grapples with life, love and loss in a post-disaster world.
- Click here to read more about GREEN WITCH.
- Click here to read an excerpt from GREEN WITCH.
- Click here to read Alice Hoffman’s bio.

Books into Movies
Director Tim Burton offers the perfect antidote to the bleakness of this seemingly never-ending winter with his latest quirky, eye-popping fantasy adventure, Alice in Wonderland. This highly-anticipated film --- loosely adapted from Lewis Carroll's classic whimsical tales, plus a little bit of "The Jabberwocky" thrown in for good measure --- promises to take us down quite a rabbit hole with visually stunning effects, an A-list cast including Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter and Alan Rickman, not to mention all of the...well, just plain weirdness we've come to expect and love from a Tim Burton flick.

And offering an early taste of summer is the latest Nicholas Sparks book to hit the big screen, The Last Song, which follows a rebellious teen as she is forced to reconnect with her estranged father at his beach home on Tybee Island, GA. This part coming-of-age tale, part weepy family drama is sweetened by a romance between the main character and a local resident --- played by Miley Cyrus and her real-life beau, Liam Hemsworth.

Cool New Books
March’s roundup of Cool New Books includes FANG, the sixth installment in James Patterson’s high-flying Maximum Ride series; THESE BOOTS ARE MADE FOR STALKING, the 12th novel in Lisi Harrison’s series about Westchester County's most exclusive private middle school girls; THE LAST SUMMER OF THE DEATH WARRIORS by Francisco X. Stork, the story of a friendship that helps two young men become all they can be; THE DEAD-TOSSED WAVES, a companion to Carrie Ryan’s THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH that conveys the same world from a different point of view in a gripping story bound by rules and fences; and GREEN WITCH, Alice Hoffman’s sequel to GREEN ANGEL, in which Green must learn the stories of a number of "witches" and free her true soul mate from a prison as she grapples with life, love and loss in a post-disaster world.

New in Paperback
March’s roundup of New in Paperback titles includes CATHY’S RING, the final adventure-packed story in the Cathy Vickers trilogy; HERE LIES ARTHUR, Philip Reeve’s retelling of the legend of King Arthur, who is portrayed as the leader of a ragtag war band; FRAGILE ETERNITY, Melissa Marr’s third mesmerizing tale of Faerie, following WICKED LOVELY and INK EXCHANGE; MADAPPLE, a page-turning exploration of human nature and divine intervention from debut novelist Christina Meldrum; and CHASING THE BEAR, in which the late Robert B. Parker sheds light on private investigator Spenser's formative years spent with his father and two uncles out West.

Click here to read the full newsletter.