Friday, February 27, 2015

TBF Authors and Book Awards

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Hello readers,

Award season is in full swing and I'm not talking about movie stars and singers. You probably didn't know but authors get awards for their writing too. Today I'll give you all the inside scoop of the writing awards and some of our TBF authors are nominated!

Back in December Goodreads had their annual GOODREADS CHOICE AWARDS. Two of our TBF authors were nominated. Katie McGarry was a nominee for the "Young Adult Fiction" award for her book TAKE ME ON, the fourth book in the PUSHING THE LIMITS series. Also Sarah J. Maas was nominee for the "Young Adult Fantasy" award for the third book in the THRONE OF GLASS series, HEIR OF FIRE.

Early February the American Library Association (ALA) announced the winners of various awards including the Newbery and Printz awards. TBF author, Jason Reynolds was the winner of the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award for his book WHEN I WAS THE GREATEST. Congratulations Jason!

TBF authors, Tonya Hurley and Jonathan Maberry are nominated for BRAM STOKER AWARDS. Tonya Hurley is one of the nominees for the "Superior Achievement in a Young Adult Novel" for the second book in THE BLESSED trilogy, PASSIONARIES. Jonathan Maberry is nominated for two awards: "Superior Achievement in a Graphic Novel" (BAD BLOOD) and "Superior Achievement in Long Fiction" (THREE GUYS WALK INTO A BAR).

A.S. King is nominated for a NEBULA award for her book GLORY O'BRIEN'S HISTORY OF THE FUTURE. This award is huge in the sci-fi world.

Also, Jennifer Niven, author of ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES was a "New York Times Bestseller" and continues to dominate Australian best seller list. And Gayle Forman firmly holds a place on the "New York Times Bestseller" list for two of her books, IF I STAY and WHERE SHE WENT (the sequel to IF I STAY).

Oh my gosh! Look at these awards and achievements! Congratulations to our winners and best of luck for our nominees! TBF is rooting for you!

That's it for today! Be sure to check out the blog for more book reviews, author interviews and more!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sarah Dessen: What Happened to Goodbye book review

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Who is the real McLean?

Since her parents' bitter divorce, McLean and her dad, a restaurant consultant, have been on the move-four towns in two years. Estranged from her mother and her mother's new family, McLean has followed her dad in leaving the unhappy past behind. And each new place gives her a chance to try out a new persona: from cheerleader to drama diva. But now, for the first time, McLean discovers a desire to stay in one place and just be herself, whoever that is. Perhaps Dave, the guy next door, can help her find out.

Combining Sarah Dessen's trademark graceful writing, great characters, and compelling storytelling,
What Happened to Goodbye is irresistible reading.

                I have been a fan of Sarah Dessen’s book since I first read Lock and Key, and one of her newest books What Happened to Goodbye didn’t disappoint. In fact, I loved it! Sarah Dessen effortlessly utilizes her signature expressive prose to craft a romantic tale for the ages in this novel. Furthermore, for fans of her previous books, they will be overjoyed to read of the other brief appearances of other characters from her previous books.
                The novel isn’t extremely fast-paced, which gives the readers time to fully absorb the wonderful town of Lakeview, as well as Lakeview's sometimes quite eccentric residents. In fact, for me the characters were hands-down the best part of this novel. For instance, the secondary characters Opal (the passionate manager of Luna Bleu who lacked a filter), and Gus (McLean's handsome and dedicated father), stole every chapter they were in with their dynamic personalities, and hilarious bickering.
              Furthermore, the steady pace of the novel also nicely lent itself in developing a sweet and authentic romance between the main character McLean, and her male romantic interest Dave. In fact, what I appreciated most from this novel was its ability to alter the more traditional, and quite frankly cliché, romance novel through its complex characters. The love felt authentic, based on the personality compatibility the two characters shared, and the chemistry that the two had.
Lastly, another aspect that I loved from this novel was its relatable nature.  Dessen manages to capture through McLean’s development the struggle that most teenagers contend with: discovering their true identity. I am sure at least one of McLean’s issues, which ranged from emotionally juggling her feelings about her parents’ divorce,  learning to forgive her enthusiastic, purposefully naïve mother, falling in love with the boy-next-door,  and determining her true friends, will resonate with the readers as much as they did with me. Therefore, I love that Dessen managed to skillfully pull me into the story, until I not only identified with McLean as she began to find her own voice, but also was motivated me to go on a personal journey to find my own voice.
All in all, Sara Dessen's novel, What Happened to Goodbye is a must read for anyone that enjoys romance, coming-of-age novels, or simply great books! Go to your local library, book store, or online reading database to read it today!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Thrilling News and a Book Review!

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Happy Wednesday readers,

Before I tell you all about my recent read, I want to share some exciting news! Every year, TBF has a fundraising goal and a challenge. This year's fundraising goal of $10,000. If readers met this goal, the TBF Committee will have to dye their hair and a certain committee member will get her hair shaved by our very own Terry Trueman. I am thrilled to announce that we have met our fundraising goal! We raised $10,546. Hooray! Thank you so much to everyone who donated!

Now back to the book review. I recently read THE LIVING by Matt de la Pena and it was amazing. Take a look:

Shy took the summer job to make some money. In a few months on a luxury cruise liner, he'll rake in the tips and be able to help his mom and sister out with the bills. And how bad can it be? Bikinis, free food, maybe even a girl or two—every cruise has different passengers, after all.
But everything changes when the Big One hits. Shy's only weeks out at sea when an earthquake more massive than ever before recorded hits California, and his life is forever changed.

The earthquake is only the first disaster. Suddenly it's a fight to survive for those left living.

On a scale of one to ten, how terrified am I to go on a cruise after reading THE LIVING: a ten.
Matt de la Pena’s fifth young adult book (six books total if you count his new children’s book LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET) grabbed my attention from chapter one. It’s fast-paced and one heck of a thriller. Things get rocky for our main character, Shy, after he witnessed a passenger jump off the ship and shortly after the incident, a strange man follows Shy wanting to know more about the suicide. When the captain of the cruise announces there’s a minor storm approaching, the “minor storm” turns into the first big disaster. Oh, and there’s more disasters throughout the book that makes the first one look like a baby.

When I like about this book is the constant presence of fear. Shy is fearful of several things at different times in the book. He’s fearful of the mysterious man stalking him, this epidemic disease that is invading his hometown, the “minor” storm threatening the cruise and ultimately surviving to see the next day. The fear and the small details that play a key part in the end will keep you on your toes when you read THE LIVING.
I highly recommend this book for readers who like a fast-paced thriller novel (although I would not recommend this book for readers who are going on a cruise in the near future). And look out for the sequel, THE HUNTED. It is released May 12th, just in time for TBF!

For more information on Matt and his books, check out his website. Be sure to follow him on Twitter.
And share your excitement for TBF on Twitter and Facebook using the official Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival hashtag: #ROCTBF2015

That’s it for today. Check out the blog again for more book reviews, author interviews and more!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

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Hey, readers! Many of you who've been to the Festival before have probably heard or met A.S. King, one of our numerous alumni. Once again, she'll be joining us at TBF, and while you're waiting for May to come around you should totally check out her novel Ask the Passengers!

Astrid Jones wishes she could confide in someone. But that's hard to do in a small Pennsylvania town, especially when everyone has their own dirty little secrets to hide. As for Astrid, she feels like her secrets are even bigger than everyone else's. Not only is her mother an emotionally-distant workaholic and her father's a pothead -- Astrid might also be falling in love with a girl. With no one she feels she can totally trust, Astrid turns instead to the passengers in the airplanes up at 30,000 feet, pouring out to them the love she wishes that she could properly give to and receive from the people around her. How is she supposed to figure out herself if she can't reveal who she truly is to anyone else? And what will become of all these secrets?

Ask the Passengers has been one of my favourite books ever since it was first released in 2012. I was going through a hard time, and Astrid was one of the few characters I could relate to and take comfort in. Ever since I read it for the first time, Ask the Passengers has been a constant in my life; I've re-read it at least 8 times, and during hard times it would always be in my bookbag. A.S. King's writing is always incredible, but Ask the Passengers is some of her best work, completely captivating the reader. By having such an intellectually-driven character as Astrid, the reader is not only put into her story but her mind as well, which makes the reading experience so much richer. And the subtle aspects of magical realism really add to the story, especially the literary quality.

At any rate, you all really ought to check out A.S. King's amazing novel Ask the Passengers. I know you'll love it!

Check back next Wednesday for a new book review!

Happy reading!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Interview with TBF Author: Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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Hello TBF readers,

I have a gift for you today: an interview with Jennifer Lynn Barnes, author of THE NATURALS. (What is this book called THE NATURALS? Check out my book review!)

Miranda Reads: What kind of research did you do when writing THE NATURALS?

Jennifer Lynn Barnes: I think there are two kinds of research that writers do: there's the research you do once you have a book idea, to flesh it out, and there's the kind of research that involves amassing knowledge in your day-to-day life and then using that knowledge down the road, when you're writing a book. The majority of my research for THE NATURALS series was the second kind. I have a Ph.D. in psychology (and degrees in psychiatry and cognitive science as well), so I've basically spent the last thirteen years amassing expertise in the psychology of how we read people and interpret their mental states and motivations. That was, in fact, one of the reasons I wanted to write a series about an FBI think tank that uses teenagers who excel in this arena to catch killers. Going into writing the book, I had a pretty good basis for most of the Naturals' skills: reading emotions (Michael), detecting deception (Lia), understanding numbers and rules-based systems (Sloane), and using behavior to diagnose personality and personality to predict behavior (Cassie and Dean). The one area that I did do some active research on relates to criminal profiling, since my expertise is more in the kind of profiling we all do on a day-to-day basis. For that research, I read memoirs written by real-world FBI profilers, to get a sense for what it's like to be inside a criminal profiler's head.

MR: How many books will there be in THE NATURALS series?

JLB: I get this question a lot, and the answer is that I don't know! I have currently written up through book three. I would love to write a book four, but my publisher and I have not discussed it yet, so I do not know what the future holds!

MR: How would you describe a dinner party with Cassie Hobbes (from THE NATURALS), Spencer Reid (from CRIMINAL MINDS), Patrick Jane (from THE MENTALIST) and Sherlock Holmes (from BBC SHERLOCK)?

JLB: I imagine that it would involve a lot of Cassie, Jane, and Sherlock reading each other, and Spencer missing out on some of the subtext between the other three! Interestingly, I think Cassie might be harder for Jane and Sherlock to read than the reverse, simply because she doesn't fit the "type" that people usually associate with a brilliant crime-solver/profiler type. Jane is charismatic and commands a room. Sherlock sees no reason whatsoever to hide his own brilliance--it's constantly on display. But Cassie--in part because of her personality and in part because she's a teenage girl, which comes with a whole different set of societal pressures and expectations--presents very differently. I think that Sherlock and Jane would probably peg Cassie as being very observant, but I also think they might underestimate her, at least at first!

MR: Let's pretend you're performing in your high school talent show. What's your talent?

JLB: I cannot sing. I used to dance, but it's about thirteen years too late for that one. So I think I'm going to have to go with "reading very quickly." Sometimes I attract that attention of the people sitting next to me on airplanes, because I am tearing through the pages of a book at a pretty high speed. I am also totally okay with idea of going out on stage, and just sitting there, silently reading a book.

MR: Which author are you most looking forward to meeting at the 10th Annual Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival?

JLB: Everyone, of course! It's always so nice to go to conferences and to get to see author friends (and to make new ones!).

Thank you so much Jennifer! We're excited to meet you in May!

To learn more about Jennifer and her books check out her website. Also be sure to follow her on Twitter.

That's it for today. Come back to the blog for more book reviews, author interviews and more!

Book Review: The Lost Code by Kevin Emerson

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Hello, everyone!

I just read The Lost Code by Kevin Emerson. It is the first book in The Atlanteans series, check it out:

In the year 2086, Camp Eden promises summer “the way things used to be,” back before the oceans rose, the sun became a daily enemy, and modern civilization sank into chaos. Located inside the EdenWest BioDome, the camp is an oasis of pine trees, cool water, and rustic charm.

But all at Camp Eden is not what it seems.

No one will know this better than 15-year-old Owen Parker. A strange underwater vision, even stranger wounds on Owen’s neck, and a cryptic warning from the enchanting lifeguard Lilly hint at a mystery that will take Owen deep beneath Lake Eden and even deeper into the past. What he discovers could give him the chance to save the tattered planet. But first, Owen will have to escape Camp Eden alive…

I really loved this book, especially the new take on a dystopian future and the lovable Owen. The world Kevin Emerson created in this book is set in the distant future. The ozone has disintegrated and fresh water is rising and evaporating at a rapid rate. The heat is unbearable and can cause life-threatening illnesses. Global Warming, it’s time to meet your big brother. It is a very unique take on a futuristic dystopian setting. I have not read a novel quite like this before.

In addition to the amazingly crafted setting, the main character Owen is an awkward and sarcastic teenage boy. Finally! There is someone who is not a bad boy or a stuck up genius! Not that I don’t like either of those (Tony Stark anyone?), but it’s refreshing to see that he’s just a kid in a dystopian setting. Throughout the book we get to see him slowly draw strength from within himself and become a leader, an unlikely hero. I just couldn’t help but love him. I absolutely adore Owen and his hilarious commentary throughout the novel.

Honestly, I could keep going on and on about this book, but you guys really just ought to go and read it for yourselves. It’s fabulous and Kevin Emerson really wrote a unique and clever story shrouded in the myth of Atlantis. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next book in this awesome series! I would recommend this book for people who like dystopian and mythology based novels done in a unique way with loveable characters. 

I hope you guys are enjoying a great new year and new books!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

HUGE Author News

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Happy Wednesday TBF readers,

I have some VERY exciting news for you all today: Sarah Dessen is coming to TBF 2015! Yes, the Sarah Dessen! She is the author of best-selling author of That Summer, Someone Like You, Keeping the Moon, Dreamland, This Lullaby, The Truth About Forever, Along For the Ride, Just Listen, Lock and Key, What Happened to Goodbye, The Moon and More and Saint Anything. Her newest book, Saint Anything, will be released May 5th!

Let's hear you're excitement with all of our TBF 2015 authors by using the official TBF hashtag: #ROCTBF2015

That's it for today! Make sure you come back to the blog for more author interviews, book reviews and more!