Friday, September 28, 2007


Ok, I'll admit. I'm not the queen of Meg Cabot fandom. I've genuinely liked much of what she's written, and vehemently disliked, well, some of the more recent stuff. HOWEVER, I am addicted to her blog and today she announced that:

"film rights to The Mediator* have been optioned as well, to the producer of The Spiderwick Chronicles and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. And we had a long talk about how hot Jesse is, so I feel confident she gets how important it is that whoever plays Jesse is, um, hot. Oh, yeah, and I’m, like, co-producing, or something, so I’ll be completely involved."

Yeah, that's HANDS DOWN my favorite series by her. Which I've probably said on this blog like twelve times. But whatever.

Also, and I KNOW you don't want to pass down this opportunity - Meg Cabot kicks off the Reader Girlz 31 Flavorite Authors ON MONDAY!** If you've somehow forgotten, EVERY NIGHT*** in October. 8 pm EST/ 5 pm PST over on the Reader Girlz MySpace Forum. (Except for that one author on Halloween. Oh, what's her name? Writes those books about vampires... some of you may have read them... Right. STEPHENIE MEYER****. She'll be at midnight. I'm guessing midnight EST, but I'll get back to you on that. Back - yep. Midnight EST, 9 pm PST, Oct. 31st.)

*Is there any series that have gone through more covers than the Mediator series?
**I'll stop shouting now.
***Oops. I lied. But that totally needed the emphasis!
****I don't think that it's possible to say that name without all caps. Not when referring to her chatting online with whomever shows up. Furthermore, I'm even more in love since the BFF sent me a signed copy of Eclipse as a total surprise. Because she rocks. Sarah, I mean. Though Meyer's probably pretty cool, too.

Cybils Press Release


CHICAGO – Will Harry Potter triumph among critical bloggers? Will novels banned in some school districts find favor online?

With 90 volunteers poised to sift through hundreds of new books, the second annual Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards launches on Oct. 1 at Known as the Cybils, it's the only literary contest that combines both the spontaneity of the Web with the thoughtful debate of a book club.

The public's invited to nominate books in eight categories, from picture books up to young adult fiction, so long as the book was first published in 2007 in English (bilingual books are okay too). Once nominations close on Nov. 21, the books go through two rounds of judging, first to select the finalists and then the winners, to be announced on Valentine's Day 2008.

Judges come from the burgeoning ranks of book bloggers in the cozy corner of the Internet called the kidlitosphere. They represent parents, homeschoolers, authors, illustrators, librarians and even teens.

The contest began last year after blogger Kelly Herold expressed dismay that while some literary awards were too snooty – rewarding books kids would seldom read – others were too populist and didn't acknowledge the breadth and depth of what's being published today.

"It didn't have to be brussel sprouts versus gummy bears," said Anne Boles Levy, who started Cybils with Herold. "There are books that fill both needs, to be fun and profound."

Last year's awards prompted more than 480 nominations, and this year's contest will likely dwarf that. As with last year's awards, visitors to the Cybils blog can leave their nominations as comments. There is no nomination form, only the blog, to keep in the spirit of the blogosphere that started it all.

See you Oct. 1!

For further info: Anne Boles Levy

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


If for some reason you were dying to know more(ish) about me or wanted to see a picture*...Well, now's your chance. My profile is up on the Cybils Blog.

*yeah, you still probably won't recognize me walking down the street. I like to thwart.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Your Friendly Neighborhood Cybils YA Committee

I'm BEYOND excited to announce (quick-ishly) on the heels of the Cybils Blog, the panelists for the YA Fiction Category.

Young Adult Fiction Category Organizer:

Jackie Parker (Interactive Reader) ( Hey! That's Me!!)

Nominating Panel:
Stacy DeKeyser (Stacy's Journal)
Trisha (The YaYaYas)
Jackie (Interactive Reader) (Me again!!)

Since I'm sure you are interested in ALL of the Cybils announcements and panels, head on over to the CYBILS BLOG for the breaking news!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Do Not be fooled into thinking there's Magic. There isn't.

What have we here? Is it another Jaclyn Moriarty? Be still my beating heart!

Listen Taylor and her father have just moved in with Marbie Zing. Listen is enthralled with Marbie and the Zings. She finds something that she's never before experienced: Family. People who actually take an active interest in her life. But the Zing Family has a Secret, and Listen is determined to find out what it is.

There isn't a way to shortly sum up or book talk this title accurately. The above sounds good, but it isn't at all reflective to the scope or actuality of the novel. The above is just one story line, one point of view. There are *quickly does head count and comes up with a probably inaccurate number* about six different, intertwined, POVs.

Truthfully, it's the sort of thing that you'd expect to come out of the opium dens of yore. It doesn't mean that it's badly written or that it doesn't do exactly what the author intends, but for the reader, for me, it was a painful contortion of plot and characterization. I only kept reading because I trusted Moriarty. I trusted the track record I had with her. I read on (and on*) simply because of Moriarty's past abilities to transform, in an altogether unexpected way, the meaning of the entire text in one deft plot twist. What may have in fact been intended as that plot twist was easy to discern and so obvious that I read the whole novel with that (correct) interpretation. Which left nothing to stun me into admiration in the end. Perhaps I am tainted in that I expected it of her.

In all fairness, The Spell Book of Listen Taylor is a rework of another Moriarty novel, not published in the U.S., I Have a Bed Made of Buttermilk Pancakes. It should be noted that IHBMBP is an adult title in Australia, and I honestly think that adults will appreciate Spell Book more than the teens it's being marketed to in this reworked package. The abundant adult characters are largely boring and/or unlikable, and I find it unrealistic and off-putting that of the four adult female characters EVERY ONE of them either cheats on their significant other, contemplates it, or is in fact the Other Woman. Four.

The adults' story lines over shadow that of the two kids, Listen and Cassie. I believe that the book would have been much stronger if Moriarty had focused either entirely on the adults OR the kids, and then released it for those perspective audiences. Listen really was a very intriguing character, but she's utterly lost in the muddle. A book solely from her point of view would have been wonderful. As it stands, Listen and her excuse for a spell book don't really warrant their titular position. But then titular can be in name only. It's such a shame, as she was a beautifully complex character having a bad year and trying to find her way. Perhaps just read the Listen portions. Yeah, actually. Do that.

Other people's thoughts:
Teen Reads
Teens Read Too
Literary Dump

*dang thing took me a good two months to read. I kept stopping and picking up something shinier.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Evening Plans

You're not doing anything tonight, now are you? Why not click on over to the Reader Girlz MySpace Forum around 7pm PST/ 10pm EST and chat with National Book Award Finalist, Quill winning author Patricia McCormick? It'll be fun, and it's cheaper than dinner and a movie! Probably better for your brain, too.

I'll be back later this week with some actual reviews. It's been a busy couple of weeks out here in the kidlitosphere. Oh, and I get distracted easy. I'm like a small creature like that. Oo! Shiny!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Return of the Cybils

Remember that thing I did last year? Well, I'm doing it again this year, and those foolish people in charge are letting me lead the YA Division (muhahaha). If you are a kidlit blogger and move very quickly, you can volunteer yourself and your social life to the "organic chicken nuggets" of awards. And make several friends in the process. Just check out the shiny new Cybils site and read over the blog. Even if you aren't willing to sacrifice your social life for virtual friends, "global fame" and some free books, be sure to register for the Cybils forum where you can join in on the fun from a safe, but social distance. Either way, get ready to nominate your favorite 2007 books - 'cause starting October 1st, the floodgates will open and you can submit a favorite title in each of the 8 categories.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Robert's Snow: A Call to Bloggers

A couple years ago I was a paraprofessional picking up extra hours at the branch library I grew up in. This is neither here, nor there, but one of those quite nights I was going through the new picture books and I came across Robert's Snowflakes. I marveled at the collection of illustrious illustrators and was filled with wonder at how so many people could be handed the same little cut-out snowflake and each one create something so different and so unique - and all for a cause.

Robert Mercer, husband of noted children's author, Grace Lin, was diagnosed with cancer five years ago. On August 27th, just a few weeks ago, he lost his battle. Many of us in the kidlit blogging community noted his passing and then Jules, over at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast (7-Imp), had an idea: We should do something. Help out however we can. Why not take a page from the Great Organizer, Colleen Mondor?

And so with a handful of emails Clever Jules has got it all worked out. We're calling out to all our blogging readers to help raise attention to the annual online auction at Robert's Snow. And we're going to do it by featuring as many of the 200+ illustrators and their snowflakes on our blogs as we can. Each blogger will claim - on a first come, first serve basis - the illustrators (up to 5) that you'd like to feature.

Head on over to 7-Imp for the details and to see how you can help.


Monday, September 10, 2007

Impeccable Foresight

The Quill Awards were announced today, and Patricia McCormick won with Sold in the Young Adult category. Conveniently, Sold is September's Reader Girlz selection. Here's your chance to chat with the award winning author: Thursday, September 20th at 7 pm PST / 10 pm EST on the MySpace Reader Girlz forum. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

What if the world DID turn upside down?

Last book about Cancer for awhile. I promise (but you know how much my blogging promises are worth).

I'm not a girl who weeps. I'm just not. I can count on one hand how many times books have made me cry. In Deadline, like in The Book Thief, the author tells the audience what will happen, and readers spend the rest of the book convincing themselves that there will be a last minute reprieve, much like anyone with a death sentence must think. We have as humans an incredible ability to deceive ourselves. But Chris Crutcher is all about the truth, and it is death and truth that we have to deal with alongside of Ben in Mr. Crutcher's newest novel. Deal and weep.

Normally, I'd give a little book talk here, but Ben does it better:

"I walked away understanding I have a rare form of whatever the hell it is and without treatment my chances sucked, but with it they still sucked and somehow I knew my chances aren't about living, they're about living well. I wouldn't recommend this for anyone else, but I'm not going out bald and puking. I don't have anything to teach anyone about life, and I'm not brave, but I'd rather be a flash that a slowly cooling ember, so I'll eat healthy food, take supplements, sleep good, and take what the universe gives me" p10.

So Ben doesn't tell anyone he's sick. He drops cross-country, where he was a star, and decides to become the smallest player on the football teem. He chooses to really take life in and question everything. This doesn't necessarily make him everyone's favorite person (especially not the government teacher). But you can't hide the fact that you are dying. Not forever.

Ben has a clear, striking voice that makes you love him from the first page: "My SATs said I wasn't even close to brain dead and I was set to be accepted at any college I chose, as long as I chose one that would accept me." The magic of Mr. Crutcher is that he can tackle every single hard, real issue out there and retain the humor. You laugh, and you cry, and you are immensely proud of his young characters that discover the strength they have within themselves. And he does it every time. Since knowing you are strong means that you have power, and since power is a dangerous thing indeed, I think that's the real reason his books are regularly challenged.

One thing I'd like to see (beyond the one character in Wale Talk) in Mr. Crutcher's work is someone with religion who isn't portrayed as hypocritical and narrow-minded. I don't know how one gets around an anti-gay mindset, but I know that there are those out there who proudly label themselves as Christian who don't equate homosexuality with sin. I just don't seem to know many. And, hey! Christianity isn't the only religion (and that's some of what always got dear, deceased Madeline L'Engle in trouble!). Anyway, I'd like to see him tackle religion in a positive light. I say this as a good little Agnostic.

Last word about Deadline: Best. English. Teacher. Ever. And he's so gonna take flak for him.

Here's something you haven't heard me say on this blog: I'm going to go buy several copies and hopefully get them signed, so I can hand them out. Like candy. Really good mind sustaining, it's-a-complete-diet candy. I say hopefully, as Mr. Crutcher is supposed to be at the bookstore downtown on Monday, September 17th, at 7:30, and I work until 8, 35 minutes away...sigh. *crosses fingers*

Be sure to log on to the Reader Girlz forum to chat with Chris Crutcher on October 9 at 5:00 pm PST (8 EST) as part of 31 Flavorite Authors every night in October. As a Reader Girlz Poster Girl, I get to moderate Mr. Crutcher's chat, but as you all will be perfectly behaved and have LOTS of great questions, I'm sure you won't need me at all!

Meanwhile, to whet your appetites since Deadline isn't out until September 18th (cruel world), see:

PW Interview (very good)
Finding Wonderland Interview (also great)
Bookshelves of Doom (review & SDQ interview)
Proper Noun

Emotionally Berating

So, speaking of cancer...

This was the first self-published title I read. I was really, really pulling for the author. I wanted her to overcome that cover. I wanted it to be good because, well, I'm selfish and I would have to say here, in public, what I thought of it. I've put it off for months. Months.

Thirteen-year-old Kay has it good. Her parents are nice, she's got great friends and the cute 16-year-old jock, Jamie, sees something in the shy blond girl. Soon she's got a boyfriend the other girls envy (in a friendly way). She has everything she could possibly want. But then there's a tragic car crash and an ominous diagnosis. The perfect boyfriend and her perfect life is no more.

I'm sorry, Kitt Raser Kelleher. This Time, Last Year wasn't good. Perhaps with a good editor to reign the story and language in...I won't deny that some love a good depressing read, but did Jamie's mom really need to lose her husband (before the book opened), her older son (car crash near the beginning), AND her younger son (cancer, at the end)? Seems like just two of those would be enough. Which isn't to say that no mother out there hasn't gone through something similar, but it was rather over the top here. In addition, point of view was all messed up. Kelleher would have been better off going with 3rd person. As it stands, there's an uncomfortable mesh of 1st limited and 1st omni, which, well, doesn't work.

On a second read, I found that the foreshadowing was well done, until Kelleher took it too far by page 82. Also, Jamie's doctors SUCK. It took them, what, at least two months to diagnose him? And then that was the hospital staff, due to the car wreck.

As much as I deride Lurlene McDaniel, well... if you happen to have this lying around and someone doesn't much care about grammar or language in general and who wants to be attached to the tissue box for the duration, well, there ya go. This will work until the next sob-fest gets published. In all fairness, This Time, Last Year does highlight that life does go on after loss. No matter how acutely you feel the death of a loved one, the love you felt for them will still live, but you must move on. In time.

Also, if you need a kissing primer - this'll do it. See p 57.

And, as for self published titles, I've actually read worse since this one. It was a picture book depicting scenes from the Bible where all the people are, inexplicably, frogs. This includes the Crucifixion scene. And just so we're clear: Crucified frogs. You knew they were dead because of the x-ed out eyes and the protruding tongues. It was disturbing and grotesque. (and shamefully, just a little bit hilarious in an entirely appalling way.)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


In one of those moments where I just wasn't really in the mood to read what was sitting on the "to be read" shelf, I went out to the stacks (god, being a librarian is awesome) and took a gander at the new teen shelf. I liked how short Amy Goldman Koss' Side Effects is. I hadn't read any reviews, but recognized the author and knew that other books she's written have been well-received. But what really (sadly?) drew me in was the cover. Clearly a girl, if a little punk or masculine, but defiant and triumphant all at the same time. It reminded me a little of the air that surrounds Cecil Castellucci's characters. At least in my head. And I really wanted to get to know this girl.

It'd been a bit since I read it, so I sat down to rekindle the memory and before I knew it, Koss had captivated me again with Izzy's voice, and I'd read nearly half the book. We meet Izzy as she starts a typical day, goes to school, day dreams about the school hottie, gives her mom a hard time, and gets out early for a doctor's appointment. A few hours later, she's rushed to the Children's Hospital with a cancer diagnosis. The world around her gets a bit hazy with Izzy's bewilderment at the sudden change in the world order. But here's where Koss shines - Izzy remains the same girl we met complaining about her mother on the first page. She gets tired and angry, but even when she can't come up with a scathing quip because her brain is mush, she still doesn't let those around her get away with anything.

Izzy is awesome. She's strong and sarcastic and has a dry sense of humor. Basically, she's right up my alley. Example:

"'How was school?'
She perked up. 'Really?'
'It sucked, Mom. It always sucks.'
'Please don't use that word'
'Which word?'
Mom sighed" p11.

Koss is succinct; there's nothing extraneous in her text, and she manages to create a swath of memorable characters in less than 150 pages. Anyway, it's a fantastic and quick read.

Definitely for fans of Castellucci. And you could try to wean your readers off Lurlene McDaniel with it. If that's your thing. But then, our girl lives (this is not a spoiler), so perhaps it's more for fans of No More Dead Dogs. heh.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Breakfast is always best then.

Awesome title. Great cover. "Eh" book. People seem to compare it to Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist, but I think that it's closer to an older title that has alternating boy/girl voices: Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen. Although, now that I really think about it, Scrambled Eggs at Midnight is probably the dot connecting those two books.

Calliope's moved A LOT. Eliot wishes more than anything that he could get away from the Religious Fat Camp his father runs in North Carolina. When Calliope's nomad mother follows a Renaissance Faire circuit (Delores is a wench. Really.) to Eliot's town, Cal may just have found the place she can call home. If only she can convince Delores.

So, why am I just lukewarm about the title? Nothing terribly specific. It's not that I didn't like it, but Brad Barkley & Heather Helper's joint project just didn't read terribly fresh. Bad parents, bad religion, teens who know better, one wise adult. The Renaissance faire stuff was unusual and interesting, and I believed the characters, but somehow I just didn't connect to them. I didn't care. Maybe because the broad strokes of the ending were a forgone conclusion, and the elements that weren't, were rather unlikely.

There are some very cute moments in it that are tempered with our teens relationships with their "good" parents (as literally opposed to the "bad" parents each have). Cal's feelings toward her father are especially well done, and Eliot's mother is actually a fascinating character. She's torn between her role and her desires, and there was great insight there. It's a light, amusing romantic read, and the alternating voices will make it an easier sell since you'll be able to tailor the book talk to the sex of your audience.

But hey, I'm not the only one who has an opinion on this one:

Literate Mama