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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

High School Pick: What Comes After

What Comes After
by Steve Watkins
Candlewick Press
352 pages

Sixteen year old Iris finds herself suddenly orphaned and homeless. First, she moves into her BFF Beatrice's home with her family and begins to grieve for her father. The stress of an outside child proves too much for Beatrice's family and they are forced to ask the state to step in. The state officials send Iris to live with her estranged Aunt Sue and cousin Book in North Carolina.

Poor Iris! There is nothing likeable or praiseworthy about Aunt Sue or Book. They are two of the most bitter, mean-mouthed, nastiest human beings since Uriah Heep appeared in Charles Dicken's David Copperfield.

Iris is alone and unloved. She has no time to grieve her lot; however, Aunt Sue soon puts her to work on their small farm caring for the milk goats. Aunt Sue mistreats and abuses the goats and their pet dog Gnarly. If it weren't for Iris, the animals would see no love or empathy.

When Iris eats only peanut butter sandwiches, Sue's rankles. She forces meat products on her neice, but Iris won't give up her vegetarian ways. The last straw comes when Iris lets the milk goats loose rather than have them butchered for meat.

Luckily, what comes after that gets better. The first 3/4 of this novel had me turning the pages--hoping that Iris would find some solace and peace--but I must warn readers, it was gloomy, disheartening, and pathetic. Iris is still able to find brief patches of sunshine and humanity.

In the end, she makes friends and survives despite the obstacles in her life.

Well-written and plausible, but sad. This is not a "feel good" story.

Recommended for readers grade 9-up. Violence, alcohol and drug abuse, physical and emotional abuse, adult situations

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Book Giveaway: Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

Win a FREE copy of Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma

Five lucky winners will win a copy of this edgy ya title from Simon & Schuster. Recommended grade 10-up. Mature theme, adult situations, incest (brother/sister).

Read more here

Post a comment here and include your email contact and state (just because I like to know where everyone is from:). Deadline is Tuesday, June 7, 2011 at noon MST. Winners will be notified by email. Please respond by email within 36 hours. Winners who do not respond withing 36 hours will be notified that their copy of the book is forfeited, and the next poster will receive the book title. Books will ship from the publisher Simon & Schuster.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Scars by Cheryl Rainfield awarded YALSA's Top Ten

Scars by Cheryl Rainfield
This great ya novel has just been awarded "Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers 2011" and "Quick Pick Top Ten 2011" by YALSA--Young Adult Library Services Association of the ALA, American Library Association.

Scars is out in paperback May 25, 2011--Now available!

Read the fantastic review with author of Scars

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Paranormal Pick: Haven

by Kristi Cook
Simon Pulse
401 pages

Don't miss! This novel is a must-read!

Mesmerizing, exciting, romantic, thrilling, and radically cool, Haven is the BEST paranormal romance since Twilight. In fact, it's
BETTER than Twilight. Haven leaves an open ending for sequels, and this reviewer hopes the sequels prove equally as satisfying. (You heard it here first--I think movie rights will be sold and the movie will be a HUGE hit with teens).

Violet is strangely drawn to a boarding school in New England, and soon finds out that Winterhaven (Haven) is a paranormal school: there are shape-shifters, precogs, werewolves, astral projectors, and, yep, good ol' vampires. What makes this story different is that some vampires are actually working toward a "cure" for their sickness.

Enter Aidan--who is smoking hot and way sexier and more charming than Meyer's Edward. Violet is a strong female protagonist and a worthy warrior--fierce and confident--more likeable than whiny Bella in the Twilight series. Aidan and Violet, with the help of a handful of super-friends (think The Fantastic Four, but uber-rad), face off against the biggest threat to their kind.

Readers who loved Twilight and Shiver, will devour this book and its sequels.

Highly, highly recommended grades 9-up. Mature grade 8 readers--with caution, Aidan and Violet are quite sexy but not explicit.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Previous Book Giveaway Winners

Previous winners! I am posting names and the first initial of the last names and location of winners just to show how people from all over are entering and winning free copies of new ya and tween titles. Lucky Joleen has won twice! Here are the previous winners:


Jennifer S.
Cloverdale, IN
High school

Connie S.
High school
Harrison, OH

Leslie S.
High school

Robin W.
High school

Jackie K.
Fredricksburg VA
High school


Joleen W.
High school

Mary S.
High school
Asheville, NC

Terri S.
High school
Norman, OK

Heidi L.
Barnwell, SC
High school

Carla S.
Middle school
Danbury CT


Kristen S.
Barlow, KY

Gloria R.
El Paso, Texas

Charity Gallardo
New Port Richey, FL

April V.
Arroyo Seco, NM

The Sweetest Thing

David B.
New Milford, CT

Amanda G.
Wichita Falls, TX

Public library
Temecula, CA

Jessica M.
Thiells NY

Michelle A.
Public library
Baca Raton, FL


Terri B.
Livonia, MI

Lisa H.
Gunter TX

Jennifer S.
Trinity TX

Sarah H.
Tucson AZ

Kim G.
Mebane, NC

The Silver Bowl

Joleen W.
Aberdeen, ID

Barbara G.
Sudbury, MA

Chrystie L.
San Luis Obispo, CA

Kristin L.
Clarkston, MI


Kathleen C.
Columbia, SC

Kathleen R.
Greenport, NY

Sandi P
North Carolina

Jennifer S.
Trinity, TX
public library

Bill K.
Newark, New Jersey

Monday, May 23, 2011

Paranormal Pick: Hereafter

by Tara Hudson
Harper Teen
416 pages

Available June 7, 2011

This debut paranormal novel will thrill readers who liked Hush, Hush and Before I Fall. Amelia is lost--but there is one thing she knows for sure--she is dead. She doesn't remember anything but her first name and the fact that she drowned. She wanders aimlessly near a bridge and a river and finds herself forever dreaming of her drowning and walking in a spooky cemetary.

When she attempts to save a human boy from drowning in the same spot she died in--she finds that as a ghost, she can't save him because she can't feel him. She uses all her "spirit" (pun intended) to wish him to live, and he locks eyes with her and gets to the surface. Later, Joshua looks for the strange but beautiful girl who saved him.

Amelia realizes that Joshua is the only human who can see and hear her. She is thrilled to finally have some company--even if she is a ghost and he is a living, breathing human. The more time they spend together, Amelia begins feeling more human--she can feel a breeze and smell scents she never smelled as a spirit. Joshua and Amelia try to uncover her past and figure out how she died, but Joshua's grandmother is convinced that Amelia is a bad spirit and must be exorcised.

Romantic, sweet, and enjoyable, Hereafter will thrill paranormal romance readers.

Recommended grade 7-up. No language, no sex.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Book Giveaway: Die For Me by Amy Plum

5 copies of Die For Me are up for grabs! Exciting new paranormal by Amy Plum. Post a comment here with email contact and state; winners notified by email. Contest opens Monday, May 23 at 12:01 a.m. and deadline for posts is Friday, May 27, 2011 at noon MST. Books will ship from Harper Collins in New York. Good luck!

Dark Days of Summer book trailer click here

Friday, May 20, 2011

Funny Paranormal Pick: Starstruck

by Cyn Balog
Delacourte Press
256 pages

Available July 12, 2011

In your face sarcasm, biting social commentary and laugh out loud snarkiness make Starstruck one hilarious young adult novel. Gwendolyn (Dough, for short) is starting her junior year and dreading it. Far from the social butterfly, Gwen likes the shadows and wishes she were invisible, but it's hard to blend in or disappear when you've put on seventy pounds. If that weren't bad enough, Gwen gets an email that Wish, her best friend since grade school, is about to return to New Jersey. They have been long distance "dating" for the past couple of years keeping in tough via email and Facebook, but Wish has no idea that Gwen is overweight. He is in for a HUGE (pun intended) surprise.

Gwen is horrified and only has three days to get in shape. She practically passes out doing Billy Bank's Tae Bo tapes. When Gwen sees Wish again, she about faints--he has turned into a beautiful, well-toned Greek god. He doesn't seem to notice her weight at all; there's something strange going on here. Gwen's mom hires a creepy guy with an attitude to work at the family bakery; the new hire has an idea that all is not right with Wish.

Strange weather patterns develop and Gwen's sister Evie has an unexplained fever that sends her to the hospital. Weird things are unfolding in Cellar Bay--and it all began when Wish came to town.

Readers will laugh at Gwen's descriptions; when describing her family's lack of wealth, she calls them a, "coupon-clipping, water-down-the-ketchup-to-make-it-last-longer kind of family." When describing her younger sister's naivete, Gwen calls Evie "Nai-Evie."

A new kind of paranormal book, Starstruck is a winner.

Recommended grades 7-up. The words "sex" and "virgin" are mentioned in passing. No details. No characters engage in sexual activity.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publsiher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Between Here and Forever

Between Here and Forever
by Elizabeth Scott
Simon Pulse
256 pages
Available May 24, 2011

Pitch perfect, poignant, and provocative, Between Here and Forever is the perfect novel for readers who like a sad/romantic/brooding story.

Abby has always lived in the shadow of older, brighter sister Tess. Tess, the golden child, worshipped by their parents and classmates alike. No boy can turn away from her charm. Now Tess lies in a hospital bed in a coma after an accident. Abby visits her daily, talking to her, singing to her, hoping for her to move, if only an eyelid.

With their perfect child lying in a coma, Abby's parents have a terrible time connecting with their younger child. This family is beyond dysfunctional. Abby deals with all her pent up anger and jealousy by trying to wake up Tess--not that she misses her, she doesn't miss her at all--but she doesn't want to forever be "the girl with a sister in a coma." And she doesn't want her parents spending their every waking hour worrying over Tess; doctors have told them that she'll never wake up but they keep hoping. Abby enlists the help of super-hot gift store guy Eli--they both try to wake Tess.

When a shattering secret is revealed, Abby sees the events of the past couple of years in clear detail. Family secrets can cause harm, pain, and tragedy.

Recommended for high school grades 9-12.
gender issues, same sex relationships

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Book Giveaway: Blessed

5 copies of Blessed by Cynthia Leitich Smith

click here for the book trailer

Quincie is in the fight of her life or undeath. When her vampire chef infects half of Austin, Texas, Quincie calls on her friends to help her find him. They are going to have to kill him soon before he can become the king of all vampires!

Post a comment and include your email contact. I will contact you by email if you win. Deadling for posting is Friday, May 20 at noon MST.

YA Thriller: Abandon

by Meg Cabot
Point, 2011
320 pages
Now Available

click here for the book trailer

Mistress of ya novels, Meg Cabot has done it again. Every novel and genre she touches turns into pure gold! Abandon is the first in a planned trilogy of mythology/afterlife paranormal books.

Pierce doesn't fear death--she's already died once only to see "the other side" and come back to life. When she drowned in her family's pool, she went to a strange place where people were waiting in line for a boat. She was cold and wet and scared until she saw someone she knew. A man she remembers meeting in the cemetary when her grandfather died is sitting atop a huge horse. She waves him down and almost gets crushed!

Somehow, Pierce is able to escape the strange place but not her memories of the man. He seems to haunt her every thought. Just who is he? Why can't she stop thinking about him?

When her mother moves her to a small island off Florida, things get creepier. From the strange high school to her criminal uncle and bad-tempered cousin to the weird kids at school, Pierce can't seem to fit in. Then she sees him again--in the cemetary--again.

A great combination of romance and mythology, paranormal readers will like this one. A real page-turner and this series will be popular.

Highly recommended grades 8-up. Kissing scene.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Book Giveaway: The Silver Bowl

The Silver Bowl by Diane Stanley

Five copies of this exciting new read are up for grabs!

Molly is just a scullery maid but she has a special gift. She can see the future. She holds the future of the royal family in her hands and the safety of her kingdom. Thrilling new fantasy novel! Grades 5-8.

Post a comment here to win. Please include your state and a contact email address. I need the email in case you win. Deadline for posting is Friday, May 20 at noon MST. Winners will be notified by Friday, May 20. Books will ship from the publisher.

Book Giveaways and Blogger Trouble 5/12/11

Because Blogger was unavailable for posting last Friday, many comments were emailed to me directly. Some winners were able to post to this blog prior to Friday's mishap. Others sent me an email directly. To be fair, I included those people who could not post comments because of the problem with blogger. The winners will be notified today, May 16, 2011 for copies of Scars and Human.4. Thanks, Pamela

Friday, May 13, 2011

Girl Pick: The Summer of May

The Summer of May
Cecilia Galante
252 pages

Twelve year old May (Maeve--except that she hates that name) is in trouble. She has been acting up, fighting with friends, talking back to teachers and her dad, and now she's finally gone too far! May has painted graffiti on the wall of her English teacher's classroom. Her punishment is to attend summer school and repeat English--with that very same teacher.
May hates Movado the Avocado--what she secretly calls Ms. Movado behind her back--and simply won't put up with her every day of the summer.

Since her mother left, May has been in trouble and her grades have slipped, her father works too much and her grandmother s depressed and rarely leaves the bedroom. When May has a huge fight with her best friend Olive, May soon discovers she has no one else to turn to.

Days spent in English class drag on at first, but then May begins to realize that even teachers are human. As she gets closer to Ms. Movado, May begins to realize her own behavior needs to change.

Readers won't see the shocking ending until it's upon them. Deftly told, believable characters, and tween angst abound.

Highly recommended grades 5-8.
FTC Required Disclaimer:I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive any monetary compensation for this review.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Paranormal Pick: Die For Me

Die For Me
by Amy Plum
Harper Teen
352 pages (page count from publisher's website)
Available May 11, 2011

Compelling, exciting, and entertaining, Die For Me is a new twist on the tired and trite paranormal vampire romance book. There are no vampires here! Readers will relish the fresh approach to girl meets boy, but girl can't ever really "have" boy.

A week before Christmas sixteen year old Kate Mercier's parents are killed in a car accident. It is decided that Kate and her older sister Georgia must move to France to live with their grandparents. Georgia fills her days and nights with parties and boys while Kate mopes around the house in a dark depression. When she finally goes outside, she begins visiting a lively French cafe. On one outing, Kate notices an otherworldly, blindingly gorgeous Vincent.

Vincent begins to fill the void left in Kate's life. She is stangely attracted to him, yet knows that something is just not right. She fears he is a criminal, but he tells her he is working "undercover."

Then strange things start to happen. Kate sees Vincent's friend Jules killed by a metro train, Jules shows up again very much alive. When Kate sees a fifty year old picture of a firefighter saving lives during the 1968 Paris riots--she knows it's Vincent. But how can that be? The article with the picture says the firefighter died that day. Just who is Vincent and who are his creepy, yet astonishing beautiful friends?

The closer Kate gets to the answers, the more danger she finds herself in.

Highly recommended for paranormal romance readers grades 9-12.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Interview With Cheryl Rainfield, author of Scars

I received a copy of Scars from the author several months ago and was just overwhelmed with emotion and empathy. I asked Cheryl and her publicist Julie if they would mind sponsoring a book giveaway on my blog and if Cheryl would answer some interview questions along with it. Both ladies agreed! Scars is such an important ya novel, and Cheryl's story has helped many teens find answers and help. I am thrilled that Cheryl gave such insightful answers to some very tough questions. This interview was conducted by email. The book giveaway if at the end of this interview.

Interview Questions for Cheryl Rainfield, author of Scars
Q=me, Pamela
A=author Cheryl Rainfield

Q: You mention “ritual abuse” in the author’s note of Scars. What is ritual abuse and how

widespread or prevalent is it?

The short answer: Ritual abuse is torture perpetrated by cults.

A longer answer: Ritual abuse is frequent, prolonged, and systematic physical, sexual, and psychological torture used to control children and adults that uses mind control, torture, rituals, and an ideology within an (often intergenerational) cult.

Ritual abuse often includes, but is not limited to: rape; impregnation; abortions; child pornography; child prostitution; torture; electroshock; confinement; murder; mind control and cult conditioning; and the constant threat of death, torture, and rape.

You can check out my article on ritual abuse if you’d like to know more. Please know that it can be heavy reading; what happens in ritual abuse is extreme torture.


People like to think it doesn’t happen in our civilized societies. It does. Most of the abuse and torture I experienced was in Canada, though some was in the US. I have met other survivors from the US, UK, and Canada.

I don’t know how widespread it is. I only know my own abuse experience, and what I’ve heard from other survivors. Because so many people do not want to believe in ritual abuse, and because ritual abuse occurs in secret and with threats of death, most survivors don’t come forward, and those that do are often not believed (such as the McMartin case). There’s very little research on how much of it goes on. But I think it’s fairly widespread.

In Scars, Kendra is taught to cut herself by her father. That is an example of programming (though I didn’t show it fully), and is something I also experienced—something that happens only within ritual abuse.

I also draw on my experience of ritual abuse and cults for my upcoming YA paranormal fantasy, HUNTED, where Cassie is oppressed, her life threatened, and faces electroshock.

Q: Besides cutting, what other outlets do teens turn use to help them “stop the pain”?

It depends on how bad the pain is, how much support the teen has, what other resources the teen has. Some healthy, common outlets of escaping pain involve forms of expression—writing, singing and songwriting, art, dance, drama. Talking about the pain with other people. Escaping into a book, a movie, music. When those things don’t work or the pain is too bad, people can then turn to others things to suppress the pain, such as smoking, overeating, eating disorders, drug use, self-harm. But all those things also hurt us.

Q: Kendra is interested in girls, and her mother and father believe this fascination is caused by her abuse by a man. In her case, does she “turn” gay because of the abuse?

Absolutely not! I think that people thinking someone has turned gay because of sexual abuse is trying to understand why someone is gay—through the lens of homophobia or bias—and trying to come up with an answer that is acceptable to them.

Kendra is queer because that is what feels good and right to her. Just as I am.

Q: What help is out there for teens with gender identity issues?

There are many resources, especially online. Teens can check out:

The Gay Youth Corner: http://www.thegyc.com/

Oasis Magazine: http://www.oasisjournals.com/

Queer Attitude http://www.queerattitude.com/

It Gets Better Project http://www.itgetsbetter.org/

And many, many more.

You can also check out PFlag’s Be Yourself pamphlet: http://www.pflag.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Publications/Be_Yourself.pdf

For crisis and suicide prevention for queer youth, check out:


Q. What is a common misconception about gay teens?

I think one misconception or myth is that queer youth can change their sexual orientation if they really want to. Or that a queer youth is queer just to make it hard on their parents. Both of those are incorrect, and hurtful.

Q: Besides costly private therapy, is there anything Kendra (or anyone like her) could do to find the answers to the questions she was seeking? Like: Who was the abuser? Why did he abuse her? Why her? Why does she carry the guilt? Why is she cutting? How can she stop? Etc.

Private therapy may be costly, but it can save lives. It saved mine, over and over. And getting support is SO important, especially for sexual abuse survivors and people who are using self-ham. But if someone can’t afford therapy, there are other resources out there. And, of course, there is one’s own strength.

Some other resources might be:

-for sexual abuse survivors—to read books such as The Courage To Heal by Ellen Bass and Laura Davis, and work through the chapters. That book is hugely supportive, informative, and helpful.

-for people who are using self-harm, to read sites such as The Secret Shame http://www.palace.net/~llama/psych/injury.html

-to find someone to talk to—a friend, a family friend, a teacher, a supportive adult.

-join an online community and get support there.

-do journaling or drawing on the issues. Ask yourself questions and then answer them.

Q. How likely is it that a sexual predator (like Kendra’s abuser) will quit on his own?

In my experience, it doesn’t happen. My great-grandmother, my grandparents, and my parents were all still sexually abusing me until I managed to escape. And since they all sexually (and ritually) abused me, I know that they must have also abused each other—my great-grandparents would have abused my grandparents, my grandparents would have abused my parents. It is often cyclical and intergenerational.

I think it takes survivors—victims who face their own abuse with strength and courage, and who will not abuse others—to break the cycle.

Q. Writing Scars proved therapeutic in your case, how did it help you?

Writing Scars didn’t feel therapeutic while I was actually writing (and rewriting) it; while I was writing it, I was still living the pain, and I also got so many rejections for the manuscript. But once Scars was published, the experience was incredibly therapeutic. My abusers told me repeatedly that no one would listen to me, no one would believe me, and I would never succeed. But getting Scars published and having it reach so many people showed me that the opposite was true. It feels wonderful to have Scars reach people—to get so many emails telling me that Scars made a difference in people’s lives—stopped them from cutting, helped them get into therapy, helped them not kill themselves. I care a lot about healing, and encouraging healing in others, so this has felt wonderful.

Q: That is your arm on the cover of Scars. Whose idea was it to use your arm? (it was a gutsy decision and an image readers won’t forget):

I had some professional photos taken of my arm, and I asked my editor if they’d consider using them. And they did; I’m so glad! I think it helps tell the reader immediately what the story is about, without being overly dramatic (which I was afraid of). I like the cover, and what they did with the photo, a lot.

Now, totally different questions:

Q. What was your favorite book as a child?

I had too many favorites to list just one! I loved The Story of Ferdinand; Green Eggs and Ham; Madeline; Snow by Roy McKie; Big Max by Kin Platt; King Midas and the Golden Touch by Al Perkins; all of The Adventures of Tim by Edward Ardizzone; Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell and Lillian Hoben; the Clifford books by Norman Bridwell; and many more books, including most by Dr. Seuss.

Q. What was your favorite book as a teen/mature reader?

Again, I had so many! I loved all Lois Duncan’s books, most especially Down a Dark Hall (my absolutely favorite), The Third Eye, Stranger With my Face. Anne of Green Gables; The Pistachio Prescription; The Forgotten Door; The Three-Legged Race. And SO many more!

Q. what is your favorite “classic” novel? Why?

Anne of Green Gables, because I indentified with her so much—being highly creative; initially unloved; having very high highs, and very low lows.

The Girl of the Limberlost, again, because I identified with her being abused by her mother, and because I loved that she struggled against it and managed to find a way out of it.

Q. What book –among those you have written—is your favorite and why?

Scars is my favorite—I think because it breaks silence, and does exactly what I wanted it to—encourages compassion and greater understanding for people who use self-harm, sexual abuse survivors, and those of us who are queer, and lets people who use self-harm, who’ve been sexually abused, or are queer know they’re not alone.

Q. What is your mood this minute?


Q. What is “the meaning of life” in five words or less?:


Scars is coming out in paperback May 25; I’ll be having a contest on GoodReads to give away 5 copies, and in ebook in August.

And my new paranormal fantasy, HUNTED, is coming out this October. Although it’s a fantasy, I drew on my abuse experience to write it, the way I did for Scars. You can read more about it here:


Book Giveaway

Five copies of Scars are up for grabs. Post a comment and include your name,city, state, and email contact. You must include an email in case you win. Good Luck!

New Book Giveaway: Human.4 by Mike A. Lancaster

Win a copy of Human.4, a great new sci-fi read! Exciting and a real page turner!

Five copies of the novel are up for grabs! Contest opens May 9 at 12:01 a.m. Mountain Standard Time and the deadline for posting is Friday, May 13 at noon MST.

Post a comment HERE. Include your name, city, school or library and an email contact. If you don't include your email, I can't contact you if you win.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Fun Pick: The Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book

The Wimpy Kid Do-It-Yourself Book
by Jeff Kinney

224 pages (illus. + color pages)
Due in stores May 10, 2011

Hilarious, creative, and visionary, Jeff Kinney has done it again! He will have the hit of the summer! Teen and tween boys (and girls) are going to want their own copy of this unique book. Greg Heffley (the wimpy kid) warns them, "don't write down your 'feelings' in here. Because one thing's for sure: This is NOT a diary."

Wannabe writers, cartoonists, graphic novelists, and artists will show their talents on these pages. Kids can write cartoons, fill in the characters' voice bubbles, answer all kinds of interesting questions like: "Have you ever peed in a swimming pool?" and "Does it get on youur nerves when people skip?" Kids can fill in pages planning their dream home of the future, what they think their future life will be like and what will be the annoying catchphrase in the future.

With Kinney's insightful and hilarious art, this Diary of a Wimpy Kid is a true winner! The book has 32 pages of full color cartoons and lined pages where kids can tell their own story. Great fun!

Highly, highly recommmended grades 4-up and anyone who likes art, drawing, doodling, and humor. Many adults I know would benefit from this book. Lighten up, already!

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the sneak peek from the publisher. I did not receive any monetary compensation for this review.

The Amanda Project contest sponsored by Plumwillow

The contest is open on this site

The Amanda Project is an exciting series of ya books

The contest wants entrants to create a look that embodies Amanda's style

Winners receive an autographed copy of the latest Amanda book and a $50.00 gift card to spend in any of the PlumWillow stores--featuring Alloy, Hot Topic, Old Navy and many more!

What a fun way to mix fashion, style, and reading!

Post comments here to show off your fashion sense!

Spooky Pick: Morpehus Road: The Light

Morpheus Road: the Light
by D.J. MacHale
341 pages

Book Two: Morpheus Road: The Black just published in April 2011

Spooky cool and heart-pounding, Morpheus Road: The Light is a thriller not to miss!

This is the first book in the series and after reading this one, readers will surely want to read more of Marshall Seaver's strange adventure of being haunted by a figment of his artistic imagination: Gravedigger. Marshall is a fan of graphic novels and comics and reads them with an artist's eye; art seems to run in his blood. His mother was an award winning travel photographer until her tragic death in an earthquake. Marshall keeps drawing the same character over and over again: Gravedigger.

When things start going bump in the night and Marshall sees visions and creepy faces at the window, he knows he's got to get out of his house. Marshall agrees to team up with Sydney, sister of his best friend Cooper to find out where Cooper could be. Cooper has been missing for two days when the pair set out to find him. Weird forces from beyond seem to be helping them, but evil forces seem to want to harm them. In a classic battle of good versus evil, who will win?

The book ends in an open question: Can Cooper help Marshall find the answers? What will Marshall have to risk? Who or what is behind Gravedigger? Who will travel Morpheus Road?

Highly, highly recommended grades 7-up.
FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Guys Read Pick: Mac Slater Hunts the Cool

Mac Slater Hunts the Cool
by Tristan Bancks
Simon & Schuster
203 pages
originally published in 2008 by Random House, Austrailia

Cool, funny, wacky, and out of this world, Mac Slater Hunts the Cool is a great guy read for reluctant readers. Mac is a teen inventor and nerd-y geek. He and his friend Paul are trying to develop a bicycle that can fly. The opening chapter has Mac taking the fall--literally!

When he is approached by two stangers named Tony and Speed, website developers of "Coolhunters" from the Internet, he declines their invitation to go around Kings Bay (his hometown) with a video camera filming "hunting the cool," Paul is already mad at him, feeling that Mac is leaving him out, but when mean girl and fellow cool hunter Cat begins to tease Mac and bully him, he begs friend Paul to help him beat her.

They have one week to upset Cat and her minions of evil, popular followers. The Internet can be a funny thing--no telling if someone is following your vlog because it's really "cool" or whether they are following it to find out how weird you are. It doesn't matter to Mac and Paul--they enlist the help of Mac's hippie lightning farm inventer father and film lightning hitting metal rods during a storm. Their followers can't figure out if they are geeks or revolutionaries!

For every geek, nerd, underdog, and inventor wannabe, this book is for you! You will believe that bicycles can fly!

Highly recommended grades 6-up and reluctant readers!

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.

Monday, May 2, 2011

High School Pick: Beauty Queens

Beauty Queens
by Libba Bray
Scholastic Press
page count not yet determined, the arc had 396 pages
Hardcover available May 24, 2011

Quick, biting, satiric, sardonic, and sophisticated, Beauty Queens is Libba Bray's best young adult novel to date. Bray is the queen of the one-two punch and is the teen set's David Sedaris.

Teen contestants from across the United States are on board a jet carrying them to a beach destination where they will set up a photo shoot. The plane goes down killing the camera crew, pilots, adult sponsors, and many of the contestants. Miss Texas (of course, Miss Texas, who else?) Taylor Rene Crystal Hawkins takes over as the leader of the few Teen Dream contestants left alive. You can almost hear the twang in her voice when she tells the other girls what to do and continues to grill them on their pageant practices.

The girls are ill-prepared and even less equipped to last long on an island where they have no electricity, no running water, no spray tans, and no beauty parlors. First they lament their lack of necessities like hair extensions and shaving cream; then they get busy creating an existance, still hoping someone is looking for them and that they will be saved soon.

Meanwhile, the island is a hotbed of smuggling and weapons deals: the Corporation--the same company that sponsors the Teen Dream Pageant--is selling weapons to Mo Mo Be ChaCha, ruler of the Republic of ChaCha. The girls' presence on the island must be dealt with; no one can risk the eyes of the world on the island and the rescue of teen-age girls--much less nubile beauty contestants lost at sea who overcame great odds and built a civilization of their own. Imagine the headlines! Beauty Queens Spoil Arms Deal!

Bray's footnotes are hilarious. About Che Guevara, she writes, "the Argentine Marxist revolutionary who later became a best-selling t-shirt icon."

When Miss New Mexico exticates herself from the plane, an airline food tray is lodged in her forehead. As she is crying and begging the girls to remove it, Taylor suggests that she just grow bangs to help hide the tray!

Later Taylor says, "Let's not speak ill of the dead, no matter how hideous their fashion sense," referring to Miss Massachusetts' choice of evening gown.

State stereotypes abound and Bray has fun with them. Audina, Miss Ohio, tells the girls, "I'm from the Buckeye State. We are serious about our tailgating parties. I can turn ANYTHING into a grill."

Teens and adults who love satire and lunacy will love Beauty Queens. It reminded this reader of "Idiocracy" the film that made fun of how stupid Americans have become. Reality television has corrupted our thinking, and Bray has fun pointing this fact out.

Highly, highly recommended for high school collections. Grades 9-up. Language, sex, mature themes, mature humor.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this arc from the publisher. I did not receive any monetary compensation for this review.

New Book Giveaway-Shine by Lauren Myracle

Five free copies of Shine by Lauren Myracle are up for grabs! You don't want to miss this important book. Reviewers and bloggers are going crazy for this one, including me! I think book clubs around the country will be clamoring to read this book together. Shine is a triumphant novel! Teens, teachers, and parents will be talking about this one, and maybe it will brew some serious controversy.

High school appropriate; I would not recommend this book for under grade 9. Violence, drug abuse, language, brutality, sexuality.

To enter the giveaway, simply post a comment. Please include your name, city, state and type of library (if you are a librarian). You must include your email address so that I can notify winners. If you don't leave me a contact email, I can't notify you.

Contest opens May 2, 2011 at 12:01 a.m. MST. Deadline for posting is Friday, May 6 at noon MST. Winners will be notified May 6. Books will ship from Texas May 9, 2011.Books compliments of Abrams publishing. Good luck, and thanks for entering!