Tuesday, April 30, 2013

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

I can't believe it's only 17 days until TBF! I'm really excited, but there are still so many books I want to read! If you're in the same situation that I am, one book that I'd totally recommend is War Horse -- it's been one of my favourite books for years.

War Horse chronicles the life of a youg horse named Joey, as well as that of his master Albert. Joey and Albert are living contentedly in the English countryside when disaster strikes -- World War I has begun. Now not only young men are being drafted, but horses are as well. And before long, Joey and Albert are torn apart as Joey is sold into the army and taken off to war. As the years of terror and hardship roll on, Joey finds himself in unimagnable circumstances, both good and bad. But will Joey ever be able to find his boy, his Albert, again?

This book has honestly been one of my facourites for years, so when I heard that Michael Morpurgo was coming to TBF, I was literally jumping up and down in excitement. As a kid, I was a huge fan of Black Beauty, so when I discovered War Horse in 7th grade, I soon became enamored with it. Although War Horse is similar to Black Beauty, it is also very different; the story and themes of War Horse are much more mature, though no less important or entertaining. (And after you read War Horse, you might also want to check out the movie that came out just over a year ago.) I love War Horse immensely, and I hope you'll read it and enjoy it as well before coming to meet Michael Morpurgo at TBF this year.

Happy reading!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Interview with TBF author: Laurie Faria Stolarz

18 days guys!!!

The next TBF author I'll present to you is Laurie Faria Stolarz, author of Deadly Little Secret. Here's my book review for it. She's known for her bone-chilling novels like Project 17, Bleed and Blue is for Nightmares.

Miranda Reads: The Touch series has come to a close. Are you already working on the next project?
Laurie Faria Stolarz: Yes, I'm currently working on the first book in my new DARK HOUSE series. It's called WELCOME TO THE DARK HOUSE and it's my scariest book yet. It'll be out next spring.
MR: In Deadly Little Secret, the heroine has an obsessed, lovesick stalker who gives creepy gifts and eerie phone calls. Do you remember if there was a creepy admirer stalking you or one of your friends when you were a teenager?
LFS: Luckily, no. I prefer my stalkers fictional.

MR: What YA suspense novel had you recently read and suggest?LFS: I recently read SHADOWLANDS by Kate Brian/Kieran Scott and really enjoyed it. It's one of those books that you want to reread to try to catch the clues you obviously missed the first time through.

MR: American Horror Story or Ghost Adventures?
LFS: American horror story.

MR: One of your five fun facts says that you watch an embarrassing amount of reality TV. Currently, what 3 reality TV shows are you addicted to?
LFS: Real Housewives of the O.C., The Millionaire Matchmaker, and L.A. Shrinks.

MR: What author are you most looking forward to meeting at the 8th annual Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival?
LFS: I hope this doesn't sound like a cop out, but I'm honestly looking forward to meeting all the authors. I love what I do for work - writing books for teens, that is - but it's also a thrill to be able to get out and meet fellow young adult authors, especially since so many of us stay connected online.

Thanks Laurie! See you in Rochester soon!

Readers, make sure you come back and check out the blog for more interviews and book reviews.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Zombies Calling by Faith Erin Hicks

Only 20 more days until TBF! If you’re still trying desperately to read as many books as you can before the festival (I know I am), why not try a fun, short book that you’ll be able to read in an hour or less? Because Faith Erin Hicks' Zombies Calling fits right in to that description – and on top of that, it’s a witty graphic novel too!

Joss is in the middle of university exams, and she can’t imagine life could get much worse. So to get her mind off of things, she and her two best friends watch and discuss zombie movies, imagining what it’d be like if zombies actually DID exist. And before she knows it, Joss actually is trying to fight off the zombies that have suddenly appeared on campus. With all those creatures screaming for brains, will they be able to make it out alive?

Zombies Calling is one of the best graphic novels I’ve ever read, and I don’t even usually like graphic novels very much. Zombies Calling is witty, hilarious, and fun, in both its dialogue and its illustrations. It’s half satire and half adventure, and completely worth the ride. This is one book that I’d recommend to anyone looking for a great story, whether or not you like graphic novels --- I was really impressed.

Check back soon to see a review of Faith Erin Hicks' new graphic novel with Prudence Shen called Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong. I hope you’ll come see Faith Erin Hicks at TBF on the 18th!

Happy reading!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Interview with TBF author: Sara Zarr

Hello readers!

I would like to quickly congratulate the Irondequoit Public Library for getting the "green light" to construct a new library; the best place to find great books to read.

Did you guys realize that TBF is 22 days away?! That's little bit over 3 weeks!

We're very lucky to have TBF author, Sara Zarr come back to Rochester. I remember meeting Sara at TBF 2009, my first year coming to the festival. I thought Sara was so sweet and pretty awesome after I found out she wasn't a big fan of Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea (keep in mind that  every reader likes different types of books, authors or genres). I'm happy to see her at TBF 2013!

Miranda Reads: The one book you encourage people to read is How to Save a Life because of Ravi and Dylan. How did these two people inspire you to write How to Save a Life?
Sara Zarr: Ravi and Dylan weren't really planned - they were both characters that sort of walked onto the page as the boys/men the lives of the two narrators, in different ways. I mentioned them as reasons to read because I think they're both just really great guys. Dylan is like the old comfortable boyfriend you stay friends with forever even after you break up. Ravi represents something new and unexpected that Jill needs as she gets over the death of her father.

MR: Your latest book, The Lucy Variations, is coming out in the spring. What is it about?
SZ: Lucy Beck-Moreau is this super privileged, super talented sixteen-year-old concert pianist who, before the book starts, has completely walked away from music for various reasons. Her little brother still plays, and he ends up getting a new piano teacher, Will. Will is cute and nice (and older and married), and he and Lucy bond in a way that makes her want to play again. DRAMA ENSUES.

MR: If I remember correctly, you said that The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway was one of the books you didn’t like reading in high school. What book did you enjoy/tolerate reading in high school?
SZ: Some of the books I remember really connecting with: THE JUNGLE by Upton Sinclair, LES MISERABLES by Victor Hugo, and JANE EYRE. I expected to love THE CATCHER IN THE RYE but I kind of hated it! I need to re-read that and see what I think now.

MR: What advice do you have for an inspired writer who wants to write a stand-alone novel?
SZ: Write it! Read a lot of books, and try to read like a writer. That is, pay attention tohow the author is doing whatever she or he is doing. Also pay attention towhy you don't like the things you don't like, and how you would change it. I think watching a lot of movies is good, too, just to get a sense of what makes a story, how subplots and side characters fit in, how to use setting to help tell the story. The fact that it's all visual just helps it sink in in a different way, I think.

MR: One of your five fun facts says that you met your husband when you were 16. Can you tell us the “love story”?
SZ: A girl in my drama class was working at a local community theater as the stage manager. She asked for stage crew volunteers, and I'd recently gotten my driver's license and it just sounded fun. The play was PINOCCHIO, and my future husband was in it as the evil puppeteer. He was a bit older, but it was kind of love at first sight, or at least very quickly knowing we probably would get married.

MR: What author are you most looking forward to meeting at the 8th annual Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival?
SZ: So many of my friends that I don't get to see often are going to be there! I'm excited to see them all. The YA author community is pretty awesome. We do know how to have fun.

Thanks Sara. See you soon!

Be sure to come back to the blog as Elizabeth and I countdown the days until TBF!


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

And the last TBF winner is....

i read words for suggesting the song "Rainbow Connections" by the Muppets. Congratulations! 

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway!

Attention to all TBF 2013 giveaway winnersAmy (winner of the 1st giveaway in December), Bookworm4ya (winner of the 2nd giveaway in March) and i read words (winner of the 3rd and final giveaway in April). To claim your prize, please visit the TBF booth the day of the festival (May 18th). Tell the wonderful adult volunteers that you are a TBF giveaway winner, give your name and you shall receive your prize.

Get yourselves ready for the best day of the year! Only 24 days left!

Review of Perfect by Ellen Hopkins by Guest Blogger Katie S.

I’ve always thought that the greatest books are the ones that teach you something. There’s something to be said for a literary work that not only captivates your imagination but also fuels your intellectual fire. Unfortunately, books that truly school the reader are hard to come by. With that said, Ellen Hopkins has always been one of my favorite authors ever since I read her stellar debut novel, Crank. And even though I could read her books over and over again (and I have), I hadn’t been able to relate to the characters, no matter how beautifully they were described. So, when I read Perfect, I was expecting exactly what she had given me before: a magnificently written literary piece with stunning imagery and creative originality (which is nothing trivial) but for me, one that I’ve always struggled to relate to. Instead, what I found was a book with the elements that I have always adored paired with characters that felt as if they were directly connecting to the place I am in my life, the place that I think many teenagers are in as well. 

  Perfect is a book that focuses on the subtly intertwining lives of Cara, Kendra, Sean, and Andre and their like minded goals of achieving perfection and standing up to the forces that have dictated exactly what that entails. Cara is a girl who has struggled with lackluster parents ever since her all-star brother, Conner, attempted suicide. Perception is everything in her world and she struggles to blend her growing self-awareness with the expectations of others around her. Kendra, Conner’s ex-girlfriend, has dreams of attaining a high-fashion modeling profession, even if it means giving up food to get there. She is also trying to comprehend why Conner broke up with her while dealing with a struggling family dynamic. Sean is Cara’s extremely devoted boyfriend who imagines his impending life with her. In order to gain the life that he pictures with his girlfriend, Sean has to sacrifice more than he would have ever expected. Finally, Andre fantasizes about a future career as a dancer, all while maintaining the façade of his pretend life, one that is void of dance, to his parents. These four teenagers seamlessly share the narration in Perfect and the book focuses equally on their similar attempts at gaining perfection but also contrasts their completely different ways of attaining it.

   The reason I was so captivated by the characters in Perfect was because I found that character, though being unique, had an essence of truth that made me see myself in them. This honest representation of the struggle I think every teenager faces resonated candidly through the pages; the quest for perfection is so relevant that it makes Perfect relatable to every teenager. Perfect blends the character’s reality with captivating literary strength all while maintaining the truth of the story. There is no pretence in the book and that allows the meaning of the book to penetrate through the words on the page. Finally, the book taught me that even if things are unknown, the future is scary, or you doubt your ability, there is no chance of success or true happiness without taking a chance. And that is what makes me call Perfect by Ellen Hopkins, a truly great book.

Scrawl by Mark Shulman

Less than a month until TBF, everyone! Just 24 more days to finish up your reading before meeting our authors! And if you still haven’t read Mark Shulman’s book Scrawl yet, you should definitely check it out.

Tod is a bully. After breaking a kid’s glasses, he’s gotten a month’s- worth of detention writing about his thoughts and what happens to him. As the story unfolds, Tod tells the reader about his less-than-nice home, his lousy as heck friends, and something that might become friendship, all while trying to make his way through eighth grade. But will he manage to stop being a bully and instead become a normal kid?

I REALLY liked Scrawl. I’ve been seeing it on Barnes and Noble’s website over and over, and although the concept seemed interesting, I never made the jump to read it. I literally could not put this book down. Although I wouldn’t necessarily call Tod a “sympathetic” character, he is so relatable and REAL – he is such an interesting character that I’m still thinking about him.

I’d really recommend picking up Scrawl from your library or bookstore, and reading it before TBF. You won’t be disappointed!

Happy reading!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Interview with TBF author: Lisa McMann

Hey readers!

29 days until TBF!!! Less than a month away.

I know Lisa McMann is excited to come back to Rochester this year. Last time we saw Lisa at TBF was 3 years ago. Crazy, right?!

Miranda Reads: Wake, the first book in the Dream Catcher trilogy, has been opted as a movie. Is there any news about the movie that you know of?
Lisa McMann: Paramount's two year option on the WAKE trilogy came up in March, and they have renewed the option for another 18 months. They had a script but are now looking at going in a different direction with the project. As with all film options, the chances of all the stars aligning and an actual WAKE film being made are small. Keep your fingers crossed!

MR: Crash is the first book in the Visions trilogy. It follows the chaotic life of Jules Demarco. Aside from seeing visions about dead bodies, Jules is the typical teenage girl: she thinks she’s a loser, has demanding commitments to work at Demarco’s Pizzeria and she’s secretly been in love with Sawyer, the popular, charming guy at school (also happens to be the son of the Angotti family, the
Demarco’s restaurant rival). Was it hard to write the perspective of “Jules, the girl with crazy visions” and then switching to “Jules, the typical American teenage girl”?
LM: Not hard at all. My main characters tend to be ordinary teens who just happen to have one extraordinary ability or problem, so I don't really see Jules as having two different perspectives--she's just a girl who is forced to take on one more isolating kind of thing than the other characters have to deal with. Her particular isolating thing just happens to be slightly supernatural.

MR:  For readers who have read Crash and dying for more (including myself) do you have a release date set for the second book?
LM: Yes! BANG, book 2, will be out October 8, 2013.

MR: What is your favorite Italian dish?
LM: Pasta Carbonara is probably my favorite because, well, who doesn't love a little bacon and egg in their pasta?

MR: One of your five fun facts implies that you are a Survivor fan. Let’s pretend that you’re on the show. What 3 authors would you want to compete against in Survivor? Why? (P.S. TBF author, Andrew Fukuda is a Survivor fan too. There’s a slight possibility that he’ll want to compete against you and the other authors on the show…)
LM: I am definitely a Survivor fan, but I'm not sure I'd actually want to compete against anyone because I'm kind of a klutz and sure to lose, so I have to be strategic about this... Definitely not Ellen Hopkins, because she would kick my butt. And definitely not David Levithan, because he knows too much about my past, which could throw me off my game. Margaret Peterson Haddix would most certainly beat the snot out of me in either a physical or mental challenge, so I'd vote her out week one. I could probably manipulate Terry Trueman, though. Matt de la Pena is quite possibly nice enough to let me win, so he's an option. And I'd choose Sara Zarr, because we'd probably just get to talking about philosophical stuff and the timer would run out. I will reserve judgment on this shady-sounding Andrew Fukuda chap until I have a chance to observe his game--I mean, for all I know, he could go all Brandon Hantz on us and that wouldn't be good for the children.
MR:  What author are you most looking forward to meeting at the 8th annual Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival?
LM: The cool thing about book festivals like Rochester TBF from the author's perspective is that we end up meeting other authors we have no idea we'll click with, but then we just do, and we form friendships that really last--it's pretty awesome. In looking at the TBF list, I see a dozen names of authors I've met already, and I'm extremely excited to see all of them again. I also see a few names of people whose books I've enjoyed and I'm really excited to meet, like Kate Brian, Lauren DeStefano, and Tom Angleberger. And chances are pretty good that I'll make some really great friends where I least expect to. So I look forward to that surprise as well. It's going to be a fantastic event all around. Can't wait to see everybody!
We can't wait to see you Lisa!
Make sure you entered the TBF giveaway. It ends April 22.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"Glass" Review -- Guest Blogger

Hi everyone! My name is Ashley Lysiak and I’m currently a graduate student at Nazareth College. I am in the Literacy Education program there and love reading YA novels. My ultimate goal is to become an English teacher for middle and high school students, so I am constantly on the lookout for books that teens would love.

I decided to read Ellen Hopkins' Glass after reading Crank, which is the first book in this three-part series and is told through free verse poetry. The series focuses on the troubled life of a girl named Kristina and is told from her point of view. Because the story is told from her point of view, the reader gets to experience first-hand all of the issues that Kristina is struggling with. Kristina sees herself as an average, boring, and worthless teenager and has never really felt important; she is constantly searching for something to make her life more exciting. Well, she finds that "something" one summer after visiting her dead-beat father. Kristina gets addicted to crystal meth, also known as crank, glass, blow, ice, or simply "the monster," as she refers to it. But she had no idea what she was getting herself into. Sure, she had heard about "the monster," but what she didn't know when she took that first hit was that crystal meth is one of the most highly addictive drugs in the world, and that eventually it would consume her every waking thought; what she didn't know was that once she'd met "the monster," it would be nearly impossible for her to part with it. After reading Crank and experiencing all of the pain and struggle that Kristina went through, I became invested in the character. I had to find out how her story ended. 

Now I know what you’re probably thinking: This book is 680 pages long and it’s poetry…I don’t know if I can really get into that. Well, don’t be put off by the daunting size of this beautifully written novel because, believe me, it’s worth getting into.

Despite the fact that Kristina thinks she is in control of her addiction, her actions speak otherwise and the reader can clearly see how quickly she spirals out of control. One by one, she alienates and distances herself from everyone that she cares about in her life: her family kicks her out of the house, her newborn son is snatched away from her, she stops speaking to all of her “boring” old friends, and she irreparably damages her relationship with the “love of her life.” Just when you think Kristina couldn’t possibly have anything else to lose, she finds herself in even more serious trouble…trouble so real and frightening that it’s questionable whether or not she can survive living this kind of life much longer.

Another unique quality of the Crank series is that every page is a new surprise; not only does Hopkins provide you with a heart-wrenching and emotional story, but she also experiments with the way the words are set up on the page. Oftentimes, the page layout of the poem coincides with the main idea of it. To give you an example, in one poem Kristina is talking about her money troubles, and Hopkins cleverly creates a money sign with the words of the poem.

That being said, because it is poetry and some of the poems are only a few sentences long, it's a very fast read so do not be alarmed by the sheer size of the book. The entire time I was reading this novel, I was hoping that Kristina would finally realize the damage that she was doing to herself and to everyone around her. Does she know the pain that she's causing her family? Does she know the harm she's doing to herself? Does she care? This book will take you on a journey of emotional highs and lows; at points you'll want to physically hurt Kristina, at other times you'll want to embrace her. Will she ever be able to pull herself out of this dangerous and life-threatening spiral? Will she ever really be free from "the monster"? You'll have to read to find out.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Interview with TBF author: Charles Beniot

34 days until TBF!!

So I got the chance to chat with Charles Benoit, author of You and Fall from Grace. For readers whom have been to TBF before, the TBF game show is slightly going to change this year. At TBF 2013, Charles has the honor of hosting the game show. I'm excited for this year's opening ceramony and I know that you are too!

Miranda Reads: In Fall from Grace, Sawyer gets caught up in some fun, crazy and possibly illegal adventures with a mysterious girl named Grace. Were you a troublemaker when you were a teenager? If you were a troublemaker, did you get in trouble at high school? (side note: Charles went to Greece Athena)
Charles Benoit: Hmmm... Let's just say that my friends and I didn't do anything that most of the other kids at Athena were't doing back then and leave it at that. Okay, maybe a few things.

MR: If you were able to steal one priceless item, what would it be? Why?
CB: While I write about stealing things I don't actually do it, but if I did, I'd go after a full set of first editions by P.G. Wodehouse. I know the Queen Mum had a set, so watch out Buckingham Palace.

MR: Do you have a new book that’s coming out soon?
CB: I sure do! It's a story about secrets and blackmail and the power to destroy lives. Right now the title is COLD CALLS, but you know how those things can change.

MR: Before you were a YA author, you were an adult author. What are the pros and cons to writing YA lit and adult lit?
CB: The best part of making the switch to writing YA is that now I have readers who are willing to argue with me. With adult mysteries, it all has to be tied up so neatly at the end that there's not a lot of room for discussion, and even when there is, adult readers seldom get very passionate about their opinions. Teen readers have no problem telling you what they like and what they don't like and why, and often their analysis on my books is better than what I had in mind.
As for disadvantages, I will say that it is harder writing for YA readers since they are more demanding. An adult reader will put up with a dull chapter or two, but once a YA reader hits a dull spot, she's gone. YA authors have to work harder to ensure that every sentence hits the mark, and while all authors have to do this, YA authors know that one false step and they are done. That's scary.
MR: One of your five fun facts says that you started a ska band and have been in love with it ever since. What exactly is it?
CB: Obviously the school system has failed you horribly. Ska is a music style that started in Jamaica back in the late 1950s, a unique combination of traditional Jamaican folk music and American jazz, R&B and pop music. Unlike most music you hear, with a heavy downbeat on the 1 and 3, ska hits on the 2 and 4. By 1965, ska had slowed down a lot and became what we now call reggae (Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Jimmy Cliff all started as ska singers). Ska didn't disappear though, and it branched off into ska-punk and ska-jazz. The Skatalites are the band to check for the old style sound and for something fast and new try Reel Big Fish or The New Town Kings or Rancid. And then there's my band . Thus endeth the lesson.
MR: What author are you most looking forward to meeting at the 8th annual Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival?
CB: I'm looking forward to chatting with Mark Shulman. Like me, he once worked as a late-night security guard, and his new book, SCRAWL, sounds like the kind of book I like to read. Plus he worked for NPR and I think that's cool.
Thanks Charles! We can't wait to see you again!
Make sure you enter the TBF giveaway. The deadline is April 22

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Interview with TBF author: Margaret Peterson Haddix

Hello readers!

 37 days until TBF!! So close! I hope this interview with Margaret Peterson Haddix will help you wait for the big day.

Miranda Reads: You have written tons of books including two series and several stand-alone novels. What do you like writing more: a series or a stand-alone novel?
Margaret Peterson Haddix: I don’t think it’s actually a case of liking one more than the other—I think what I really like is being able to go back and forth between the two. What makes a series fun is that by at least the second or third book, I already know the characters and the set-up well, and so returning to the world of the series can be like going back and getting to catch up with friends I haven’t seen in a while. It’s a comfortable feeling, even though there’s also a challenge in coming up with something new within that world, so I’m not just repeating myself. The other thing I like about doing series is that, with multiple related books, I get to explore tangential characters and situation I would probably have to just ignore in most stand-alones.

With a stand-alone, everything is new and hopefully exciting from the very beginning, and it’s like exploring a fascinating place I’ve never gotten to see before. And there’s something very satisfactory about ending a book and having it be done, and not having to think about what might come next.

MR: Adding to the list of your amazing accomplishments, you have written science fiction, fantasy and adventure novels. Are there some genres that are easier to write than others?
MPH: I think adventure/suspense is easiest—and easiest to do quickly--because the pace of the revelations in the story drive the pace of the writing, too.

MR: It seems that there are more upcoming films that are based on a book or series. Do you think adaptions “ruin” the books? Why?
MPH: It is very, very rare for me to prefer the movie version of a story over the book version of a story—in fact, I can only think of one time when that happened, and it wasn’t a kids’ or teen book. But I don’t think that an adaptation is automatically the ruination of a good story. I know I’m reaching way, way back in time for this example, but Holes was a great movie, as well as a great book. I think the problem is that movies and books serve different purposes, and often even have different audiences, and the need to make everything visual means that movies tend to be much more surface-y, and not so deep.

MR:What is your ideal vacation destination?
MPH: Pretty much anywhere in Europe.

MR: One of your five fun facts says that you have bad character-naming skills. Then how do you pick out names for characters? By meanings of the name? By the popularity? Based off of a celebrity?
MPH:Maybe my problem is that I don’t actually have a process! I usually feel like what happens is that a character shows up in my head and announces, “Hi, I’m ___,” and I never challenge the character on that, any more than I would challenge someone I’ve just met, “Oh, no, no, no, that name doesn’t suit you at all. That’s an awful name! Surely you want to be called something different—don’t you?”

MR: What author are you most looking forward to meeting at the 8th annual Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival?
MPH: I’ve met several of the other authors before, and am looking forward to seeing all of them again. Of the authors I haven’t met, I think the one I am most looking forward to meeting is Sara Zarr, because I have read and admired many of her books.

Thank you Margaret! We're looking forward to meeting you!

Make sure to enter the TBF giveaway: 10 door prize tickets

How to enter: in the comment box, suggest an appropriate song for Stephanie to sing at the opening ceremony

Deadline date: April 22


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Book Review: Icons by Margaret Stohl

I personally loved Margaret Stohl’s Beautiful Creatures series, which she wrote with Kami Garcia, so when I heard that she had a new book that she’d written by herself that was coming out soon (May 7th), I was intrigued. When I finally got a copy, I couldn’t put it down.

On the Day, everything changed. Strange ships descended upon thirteen of the largest cities on Earth, and everyone in a set radius around where they landed died. Dol was a baby when the Day happened, and her entire family died, but for some reason she was spared. For most of her life, she’s been living in the countryside of what used to be California, safe from the Icon that landed in what was once Los Angeles. But when she and her best friend Ro are captured and taken to the Embassy, more questions arise then are answered. Can they find a way to escape? And even if they do, is there any way that the Icons can be destroyed?

After reading Icons at a break-neck speed, I can say that this book is DEFINITLEY worth it. Yes, this book is dystopian, and even though that’s starting to become like the new “vampire trend,” Icons is not typical in the least. Margaret Stohl somehow managed to give an exotic and unfamiliar feel to a place most people, including myself, would find familiar. Not only that, but the story itself is a proper sci-fi one – dystopian, but not exclusively dystopian. I really, really enjoyed Icons, and it will be painful having to wait an entire year to get my hands on its sequel.

Keep your eyes open for Icons after it comes out on May 7th – it’s totally worth it! (And only 38 days now until TBF…)

Happy reading!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Lost Code by Kevin Emerson

Hey guys!

TBF is in 40 days!! Who's excited?!

Here's another thing to be excited about: spring! Yes, I know, it doesn't exactly feel like spring here in Rochester. Especially considering we had snow flurries a couple of weeks ago. When I read The Lost Code by Kevin Emerson, I thought about another season: summer!

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…

Percy Jackson meets dystopian. Besides being a writer and playing in bands, Kevin Emerson is a science teacher (I don't understand how he does it!). There are some spit-balls of science facts but Kevin makes learning about it so much fun (science is not my strongest subject is school but thanks to Kevin, I like it more!). So readers, if you choose to read The Lost Code instead of spending an enermous amount of time studying and a parent walks in and scolds you, your response is, "Oh this book has a lot of information on science. I am studying." (I'm just kidding. Study because it will pay off in the end).

Maybe, if everyone reads The Lost Code, that might channel some warm weather and sunshine to Rochester...


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Book Review: The Rules by Stacey Kade

I must admit that I’m a huge fan of sci-fi, no matter what its form. Everything from books with aliens to ones with dystopias interests me. So when I found out that Stacey Kade’s new novel The Rules was a sci-fi story, even if it isn’t really your typical sci-fi book, I was really excited.

Ariane has five Rules: Never trust anyone; Remember they are always searching; Don’t get involved; Keep your head down; and Don’t fall in love. The Rules are the only thing that keep her from being discovered, because Ariane isn’t like other teenagers – she’s not even fully human. Ever since Ariane escaped with her foster father from the lab were she was created from human and extraterrestrial DNA, she’s been following the rules to keep them from finding her. And it hasn’t been too bad, what with few friends and never a boyfriend; at least until now. A prank gone wrong against Ariane’s only friend causes her to decide to “date” Zane, the police chief’s son. And even though she knows that she shouldn’t, Ariane is still drawn to him. Will she be able to stay away from Zane, and keep her alibi safe?

The thing that makes The Rules really cool is that there is so much possibility within the pages, and after them. Since the book is set in modern-day Wisconsin, you get all sorts of aspects of realistic fiction, but since Ariane is part alien, you get the aspects of a sci-fi novel too – so you never really know what’s going to come at you, because Stacey Kade blends the two genres so well.

So whether you’re a fan of sci-fi or realistic fiction or you just want to find a new book to read, keep your eyes open for The Rules, which comes out on April 23rd. (In the meantime, why not try out Stacey Kade’s other really fun book The Ghost and the Goth?)

Happy reading!

New Releases by TBF Authors

Like many of you, I enjoy finding and reading any new releases that I can get my hands on. So what could be better than a list of new releases by TBF authors? We've compiled a list of our authors' newest books that were published this year, which hopefully will help you out. Here they are by month:

Crash by Lisa McMann (January 8th)
Rise by Andrea Cremer (January 8th)
Shadowlands by Kate Brian (January 8th) (check out the book trailer too)
The Prey by Andrew Fukuda (January 29th)

Hysteria by Megan Miranda (February 5th)
Scarlet by Marissa Meyer (February 5th)
Sever by Lauren DeStefano (February 12th)

Unremembered by Jessica Brody (March 5th)
Fox Forever by Mary Pearson (March 19th)

This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith (April 2nd) (check out the author interview)
Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers (April 2nd)
The Rules by Stacey Kade (April 23rd)

Icons by Margaret Stohl (May 7th)
The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr (May 7th)
Invisibility by Andrea Cremer & David Levithan (May 7th)
Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Faith Erin Hicks & Prudence Shen (May 7th)
Dark Shore by Kevin Emerson (May 21st)
All I Need by Susane Colasanti (May 21st)

Check out the reviews of the titles with links, and if we don't have a link for a book yet, check back soon for a review. (We'll be linking the new reviews here too.) Hopefully you'll be able to find a new book that you'll enjoy!

Happy reading!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

I Will Save You Review--Guest Blogger

By Matt de la Peña

Other books by Peña:

 While sitting on a long plane ride to Florida, I finished reading Matt de la Peña’s I Will Save You. This may cause you to think that I am a fascinating world traveler, but in reality, I am Katie Mason; second year literacy specialist graduate student at Nazareth College, taking a break from class assignments and teaching ELA at a secondary school. As a teacher, I am always on the hunt to find engaging YA literature that I can recommend to my students, or anyone who will listen to me for that matter.

I was inspired to pick up I Will Save You after reading another book by de la Peña, We Were Here. For those of you unfamiliar with de la Peña’s We Were Here, it is a story about a young adolescent, Miguel, struggling to forgive himself for a tragic event that changed his life and his family forever. While de la Peña informs the reader Miguel committed a tragic crime, the reader spends the rest of the novel gathering clues in order to solve the mystery of Miguel’s crime. Once you read what he actually did, your outlook on the book will forever be changed.

While de la Peña has written four YA books, I Will Save You’s jacket summary and the fact that it is was named a 2011 ALA-YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers caught my attention. Besides being on the hunt for a book I can easily get lost in, I am always on the hunt for books that appeal to my students, especially those who are reluctant.

            Once I started reading, I had a hard time putting the book down. Luckily I had plenty of time, thanks to a long plane ride, to dedicate to a nonstop reading session. De la Peña begins the book by telling you the end of the story. This may seem like a spoiler, but the story has a secret unexpected twist that does not unfold until the end of the novel. By the time you reach the climax of the novel, you forget that de la Peña already informed you of the ending.

For a sneak preview of the story, read the following excerpt:

“Please,” Olivia said in a tiny voice.

“You won’t,” Devon said.

“I have to, “ I said, and I drove him harder into the weak part of the fence until it broke like I know it would break and I shoved him down the cliff and watched his body bounce-tumble-fall-stretch-fetal-thud into the thick sad sand and lay motionless…

Initially I was taken aback when I realized that de la Peña began at the end. My first thought was, “Why even bother finishing it?” Kidd pushes and kills Devon. Olivia is sad. Kidd is put in solitary confinement. Wrong. The rest of the novel you are given a different story, one where you spend hours unraveling the mysteries of Olivia, Kidd, and Devon’s world. You spend the rest of the story analyzing all the events of the summer, trying to comprehend why Kidd pushes Devon off the cliff. Then you reach the climax and the entire fictional world you created in your head is suddenly turned upside down and nothing seems real. To find out what mind-blowing twist de la Peña writes about, you must of course read the story for yourself.

De la Peña creates such realistic characters that young readers can relate to, you almost think that they are real people. I expect that if I traveled to Cardiff by the Sea, I would find the campsite where Kidd worked and Olivia stayed during their summer. Perhaps I could speak to Kidd and hear his justification for brutally pushing Devon off the cliff. Sadly, Kidd is only fictional, but the entire novel unravels the mystery of why Kidd pushes Devon off the cliff in order to “save” Olivia.

The down sides to reading the novel? Well for starters, you will have an empty feeling when you are finished. The empty feeling is the one you may get after spending the entire story designing and creating the fictional world of Cardiff by the Sea in your head, you will wish the story could continue. You may feel exhausted after reading the book. After all, you just lived several lives in the matter of a few short hours.

Despite all these downsides, I fully expect every one reading this blog to be running to their local library to pick up their own intriguing and nail-biting copy of I Will Save You.