Saturday, June 27, 2009

"I have a parking fairy. I'm fourteen years old. I can't drive. I don't like cars and I have a parking fairy."

A parking fairy? How undoos can you get? Charlie loves to play sports, especially basketball. She attends a sports-focused high school, and, oh yeah, she has a fairy. Most of the people in New Avalon have fairies. Some, like her friend Rochelle's personal shopping fairy are doos, while others, such as her own parking fairy are decidedly doxy. In Justine Larbalestier's How to Ditch Your Fairy, Charlie is doing everything she possibly can to lose her fairy and gain a new one. She has denied it the joy of parking for months in the hope that it would leave and she could move on with a fairy more suited to her needs and interests.

It sounds simple--don't get into a car, deny the fairy it's usefulness, and it will soon go away. However, everyone wants to use Charlie's fairy to find parking, so it's tricky to avoid being in a vehicle. Plus, she has to contend with earning demerits for all the missteps which she believes trying to rid herself of the parking fairy are causing. In order to erase the demerits, she must do hours of public service at the New Avalon Cemetery. During her service, she begins to spend time with Fiorenze, who happens to have an all boys like her fairy. While Charlie thinks she would like to have Fio's fairy, Fio is trying as hard as she can to avoid all boys and get her poxy fairy to leave her alone as well. Her plan seems to be working until Steffi enters the picture. The boy fairy works especially well on Steffi and Fio can't avoid him.

Since Fio's parents are fairy experts, the girls come up with a plan to rid themselves of their fairies once and for all. However, does it pay to ditch your fairy? Is one really better than another? Some crazy things happen throughout this book as Charile and Fio try to lose their fairies and Charlie tries to land Steffi, the pulchy boy of her dreams. I loved the fun vocabulary used in New Avalon--a glossary is included. As for me, I'm afraid I'm hoping for a pretty boring, but useful fairy who will pair and fold all the socks when I do the laundry!

How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier was published in 2008.

Friday, June 26, 2009

"I don't just want to be the girl you hooked up with. I want to be the girl you go out with."

Kate is going to have the perfect summer. She plans to take a summer writing class at the U, play tennis with her best friend Laura, and have fun just hanging out. That is, she was going to do those things . . . until her mother decided to take her across the country to stay with her college roommate's family for the summer. Kate's parents have decided to spend the summer apart to evaluate their relationship and she will be with her mother.

Kate is not thrilled to have her summer plans changed. It doesn't get much better when they arrive in Cape Cod and she finds that Sarah, the daughter of their hosts, is not exactly overjoyed to have her as a guest. At first it seems like Kate might have a hard time fitting in, but then she meets Adam. Although Kate has never had a boyfriend, she thinks Adam just might be interested in her. While she continues to write and her parents try to figure out their marriage, Kate attempts to answer one question: is she Girlfriend Material?

I remember that, "Does he like me? Is this going to happen?" feeling of being a teenager. All nervous and crazy! This book tries to capture those moments of wondering that happen when you're young.

Girlfriend Material by Melissa Kantor was published in May 2009.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Bloggiesta! Wrap-Up

On Thursday afternoon, I decided to join Bloggiesta in order to work on some posts I have been putting off for a while. My (ambitious) goal was to complete ten posts in 48 hours. Sadly, I was only able to finish four of the ten and begin a draft of number five. I didn't realize how much would pop up over the 48 hour period, making sitting down to write a challenge in itself.

A special thanks to Natasha at Maw Books Blog for hosting this event, as well as all the other bloggers who hosted mini-challenges:

Rebecca at The Book Lady’s Blog - Getting out from underneath the feed reader.
Beth from Beth Fish Reads - On lists and opinions.
Jill at Fizzy Thoughts - Just when you thought the feed reader was halfway managed.
Emily from Emily’s Reading Room - Are you talking about me?
Deborah from Books, Movies, and Chinese Food - You have a blog? So tell me about it.
Lynn from Chronicle of an Infant Bibliophile - Get listed.
Jen from Devourer of Books - Wow. I wrote that when? Let’s update.
Amy from My Friend Amy - I need a friend.
Trish from Hey Lady! Watcha Readin’? - On favicons and gravatars. Huh?
Michelle from GalleySmith - Anchor text. You mean there’s a way this *should* be done?
Andrea from Book Blather - Authorities? What authorities?
Ruth from Bookish Ruth - You’re going to analyze what?

I was able to work on a few of these also. I spent some time with Google Reader, as suggested by Rebecca. I also listed Bedtime Booktalks with a few directories, as suggested by Lynn. Most importantly, though, I ended up spending a lot of time learning about blogging and reading the helpful information provided in the links of each challenge. Karen and I have a lot to discuss in Chicago!

Thanks again to all those who put in TONS of hard work to make Bloggiesta happen. I had a great time and learned a lot. Plus, as a bonus, my work will carry through this week as I finish my six waiting posts.

"Don't ever forget it. Petra will need you to be just as good a friend someday, okay?"

I first learned about The Weight of Silence at Book Expo America in the Harlequin booth. I saw the poster but I did not see any ARCs. I didn't know anything about the book, but the cover really drew me in (Have I ever mentioned that I sometimes DO judge books by their covers? Well, at least, I select them that way). The photo of the dirty hands of an obviously young girl holding a music note necklace -- its a great cover! Then I saw an ad in my Shelf Awareness email about the book. And there was a preview! As soon as I read the 20 page excerpt, I knew that I needed to read this book.

Calli Clark is 7 years old and she is mute. She hasn't spoken since she was 4. But her older brother Ben and her best friend, Petra Gregory, protect her and speak for her. But one morning Calli is dragged into the woods by her father, Griff, unbeknownst to anyone. When Petra's parents discover her missing as well, the stories of the Clark and Gregory families become even more intertwined. As we learn more of the story through the eyes of numerous characters, the tension and mystery builds. What has happened in the woods? And who is responsible? Those looking for the girls (especially Ben and Calli's mom Antonia and Petra's parents, Fielda and Martin) question whether they have let Calli and Petra down, if there was something else they could have done to prevent these young girls from going missing.

Some books stay with you long after you stop reading them. And this is one of those books. I keep going back to the story in my mind and thinking about all the characters and how the choices we make impact not only ourselves, but sometimes also those around us, in ways that cannot be predicted. A story about friendship and family, Heather Gudenkauf, in her debut novel, has written a story that is at once moving and suspenseful. I was not disappointed and can't wait to share this book!

The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf will be published on July 28, 2009.

Friday, June 19, 2009

"I don't actually know that much about food."

I love watching cooking shows. I'm not really a great cook, nor do I really aspire to be one, but seeing amazing (often unknown) ingredients come together just makes me happy. I think that's at least part of what I loved about Lara M. Zeises's new book, The Sweet Life of Stella Madison: many of the chapters begin with a gourmet menu--yum!
Stella is the daughter of a restaurant owner mother and a world famous chef father. She is surrounded by gourmet food all the time, which is pretty funny because she prefers Doritos, Rice Krispie treats, and other decidedly non-gourmet delicacies. As summer begins, Stella knows she will spend time hanging out with her friends and working at her mother's restaurant, The Open Kitchen, a showcase restaurant where chefs come to demonstrate their cooking to the customers. She hopes to earn enough money to purchase a car. It's going to be a long summer, but it will be worth it. Then, due to a last-minute change at the local paper, she is offered an internship. Ironically, they want her to write restaurant reviews. She's not sure this is exactly what she wants to do, but the money is too good to pass up.
Mixed in with all the food talk is Stella's relationship with her boyfriend. She is not the commitment type, so when he starts getting serious, it's time to run. What better arms to run to than Jeremy's, the hot new intern chef at her mother's restaurant? Will Stella end up with Jeremy? Is the pressure to write a restaurant review too much for this non-gourmet girl?
The Sweet Life of Stella Madison will be released July 14, 2009.

"What do you want, Maybe? What do I want, I wonder."

Maybelline Mary Katherine Mary Ann Chestnut, also known as "Maybe," lives an unconventional life. Her mother, Chessy, is a former beauty pageant queen who makes a living training teen beauty queens. Maybe is not one of those teen queens. In fact, Maybe makes a point of being exactly the opposite of the girls her mother coaches. Chessy is getting married for the seventh time and Maybe has had enough. Following an awful incident with Jake (husband-to-be #7), Maybe decides to leave for California with her friends Hollywood (who is going to start college) and Ted on an adventure to find her father.
Upon arriving in California, Hollywood and Ted quickly assimilate into their new lives. Maybe, however, struggles. She can't find a place to stay, her belongings are stolen, and she doesn't really know how to go about finding her father. Hollywood quickly tires of having Ted and Maybe live in his dorm room, so they must find other accommodations. While Ted has found a job working for an aging starlet, he also finds Sammy (husband #2 and #4) who moved to California to pursue his career as a photographer. Maybe moves in with Sammy and finds a job. While living with Sammy, Maybe is forced to confront some difficult truths about her mother and herself, which, in the end just may make her stronger and repair her relationship with Chessy.
Lisa Yee's novel, Absolutely Maybe is now available from Scholastic.


Emily has it all: a loving family, a great best friend, and she's involved in school activities. While her parents are on a trip, Emily has a party. In the middle of the party, her Aunt Jolie shows up. Emily thinks she's going to get in trouble, but the news Jolie brings is much worse: she tells Emily to turn on the TV and Emily finds that her parents have been killed in a plane crash. A reporter at the scene holds up a tray table on which her mother has written in lipstick, "EMILY PLEASE FORGIVE ME." Everyone wants to know: who is Emily? Emily wants to know: why does my mother need to be forgiven?

Now Emily is forced to leave her home in Pennsylvania and move in with her Aunt Jolie, AKA Jolie Jane, make-up artist to the stars. She enters an exclusive private school and begins to make friends with the other students, gets invited to exclusive parties, and tries to deal with her grief. However, can she truly move forward with her mother's cryptic apology hanging over her head?

Through bits and pieces of information she gathers from photographs and her mother's journals, Emily discovers her mother's secret. In Jennifer Jabaley's debut novel, Lipstick Apology, Emily comes face-to-face with the fact that we never really know our parents. Emily's mom was an artist. She painted and even worked in a New York City gallery before Emily was born. These things Emily knew, but she didn't know her mother's biggest secret. Now Emily has to decide: should she leave her mother's secret alone, or confront the truth?

Jennifer Jabaley's debut novel, Lipstick Apology, will be published on August 6, 2009.

PS The funny thing about this book: the whole time I was reading it, I kept thinking about how my husband and I traveled on different flights to California last summer because I couldn't stand the idea of being on a plane at the same time when we have small children. Funny enough, Jabaley tells on her website how a trip her sister took without her children inspired this story.

"I do want what I have, but if you don't reach for something more--I don't mean things, I mean more for yourself--how can you grow?"

When I began my career as a librarian, I had taken one Young Adult Literature class and one Children's Literature class. They were both great, but certainly not enough to "cover" what I was going to need. One of the ways I became acquainted with what my students were really reading was paying attention to what they were checking out. As soon as I noticed a trend, I began reading the authors and titles. The first author on my radar was Pyhllis Reynolds Naylor. The middle school girls could not get enough of Alice, while the boys gravitated to Shiloh. I fell in love with Alice and have kept up with her "life in books," as well as the censorship and challenges that have plagued her growing pains. I was thrilled to find out that Naylor had a new title forthcoming and picked up an ARC of Faith, Hope, and Ivy June at ALA Midwinter in Denver.

Ivy June and her family live in Thunder Creek, Kentucky. The people there live simple lives, with many families relying on dangerous mining jobs as a source of income. Catherine and her family live in Lexington, Kentucky. They have a fancy house and Catherine attends private school. Both girls have been chosen to participate in an exchange program. They will stay in each other's homes, attend school together, and document their experiences to share with their respective classmates.

Both Ivy June and Catherine start the exchange with preconceived notions of what the other's life will be like. Although they both try to keep and open mind, they have both grown up with stereotypes about life in Thunder Creek vs life in Lexington. As the exchange begins, Ivy June settles into Catherine's home and school. She realizes that she can keep up with the work at school and enjoys the activities Catherine has planned for her, including seeing a musical and going horseback riding. However, she does notice that Catherine's family lives a life more secluded from one another and more hectic than her own. It's also interesting to get to know Catherine's friends. However, when Ivy June reveals one of Catherine's secrets to her friends, will their relationship survive?

During the second half of the exchange, Catherine comes to live with Ivy June and her Mammaw and Papaw Mosley. Because her parents' home is too crowded, Ivy June lives with her grandparents. They do not have an indoor bathroom or the luxuries that Catherine enjoys in her home. It is evident, though, that they are hard-working and happy people. Catherine adjusts to not being able to take a shower each day, as well as walking a long distance to catch the school bus, but is less accepted by Ivy June's best friend Shirl.

Just as Catherine becomes more comfortable, tragedy strikes both girls' families. They must work together to cope with their fears and have hope and faith that everything will turn out for the best. This is story of love in families, friendship, as well as one of learning to understand the similarities and differences among people. Faith, Hope, and Ivy June is now available from Random House.

PS My Phyllis Reynolds Naylor books now take up an entire shelf and I can't wait to see what she writes next!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I'm in!

I've been doing more reading than writing lately, so I'm officially "in" on Bloggiesta! in order to get the posts I have been putting off done. I don't know if I can do 20+ hours in 48 as I have three young children and a working husband, but I'm going to log as many hours as I can--ya never know!

Here's a sneak peak at what I will be writing about:

Faith, Hope, and Ivy June by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Lipstick Apology by Jennifer Jabaley

Absolutely Maybe by Lisa Yee

The Sweet Life of Stella Madison by Lara M. Zeises

Girlfriend Material by Melissa Kantor

A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn

The Beef Princess of Practical County by Michelle Houts

Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor

How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier

Feathers (audio) by Jacqueline Woodson

Whew! How did this happen to me? My stack of done, not written about, has grown while I finished school, baseball, softball, and Brownies. This should be an interesting weekend.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

"I never liked history. And now I knew why. It's all about dead people."

In Joanne Dahme's new novel, Tombstone Tea, Jessie has just moved to a new school in Philadelphia, near the Schuylkill River. Laurel Hill Charter School is named after and affiliated with the cemetery that has become a sculpture garden and park over the years. When Jessie accepts a dare to spend the night in the cemetery to become friends with girls in her new school, she meets Paul, a worker in the graveyard. He becomes her tour guide that first night and protects her from the "actors" that he claims are recreating the Tombstone Tea of years ago. When the actors turn out to not be what Jessie expects, she is confronted with new knowledge of her own abilities and a history lesson that is more alive than dead.

For the majority of the book, Jessie is our narrator. And while it is an interesting story, we learn more about the cemetery and its inhabitants then we ever really do about Jessie. We learn the most about Paul, and the most angry of the cemetery dwellers, Amy and her mother, Jenny.

This book is due to be released in September 2009.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

"This time I truly mean it."

I just finished Justine Larbalestier's new book, Liar.

Meet Micah. She's a liar. And she makes no bones about telling you that, right from the start. But she also promises that she is going to tell YOU the truth. But even that truth keeps shifting. The reader never really gets a sense of what is the truth and what is a lie and what is made up. Even after Micah telling us that she really IS telling the truth this time, we wonder. I mean, really. She IS a liar. What is to stop her from lying about lying?

The reader questions her family life, her friends, her relationship with her after hours boyfriend Zach. I can't say much more, because to talk about her lies too much will give away part of her truths too!

This book is due to be a available in October 2009.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Hungry for Catching Fire

I, like many others, picked up a copy of Catching Fire, the second book in Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games series, at BEA. I couldn't wait to start it. And I was not disappointed! I can't really booktalk it, because the more I think about it, the less I can say that won't give away some major plot point or event. When a co-worker asked what it was about, I stuttered starts to maybe 3 different sentences before explaining that I really couldn't: I don't want to spoil it. It really is THAT good!

I only recently read the Hunger Games, in anticipation of the sequel, even though I have been hearing about it and reading about it since it came out. It was a short wait of only a few weeks then before I was able to read this second installment. About halfway through Catching Fire, I realized that it will likely be over a year before I even get my hands on the next book! So I started to slow down my reading, really savoring each page and each moment.

Catching Fire is certainly worth the wait, even for those who have been waiting longer than I have (at least that is my guess). I LOVED it. And I love Katniss more, if that is even possible. I just want to know what is going to happen next!

This book is due to be published on September 1, 2009.