Monday, February 29, 2016

Nazareth Blogger Deanna reviews Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson

Greetings! My name is Deanna Metzger and I am a graduate student at Nazareth College. I currently work at Brockport High School with 9th and 10th graders. I am an avid book worm and truly enjoy a good book. The book I am going to talk to you today is about Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson. She has written many young adult novels, titles such as Speak, Twisted, Prom, and Fever 1793. Laurie Halse Anderson is one of my favorite young adult authors, she creates realistic characters with believable life situations that everyone can relate to in some way.

Picture this, Kate a senior at Meryweather High School in Syracuse, NY. She is an A student, running to escape reality, with a perfect boyfriend, supportive friends, and her father a minister at the local church. Kate is a logical intellectual who attempts to organize her life similar to that of the periodic table of elements.

Events begin to occur similar to that of chemical reactions…
  • Kate is frantically awaiting the letter that will change her life forever…
  • Kate is FORCED to share a room with her “friendamie” Teri and her little brother Mikey...
  • KABOOM! Everything changes…
You might be wondering what the word catalyst even means? A catalyst is a person or thing that increases the rate of a reaction, it precipitates an event. In Kate’s world, these catalysts carry her in to situations that are sometimes funny, like when she her new roommates has an “accident” on her bed and she has to clean it up. On the other hand, sometimes these catalysts lead her to have face her biggest fears, like when the letter from finally arrives.

I could not put this book down. Kate’s story was realistic and I easily connected with her. Reading this book made me think back to my high school career and a time in my life when there were many catalysts that shaped me into who I am today. Just like Kate, my life was influence by things such as grades, relationships, the future, death, and college decision letters. Honestly, there were many times I found myself losing myself inside Kate’s story. … The battle between Kate’s emotions and her brains was intriguing and compelling that made the story interesting and on the edge of my seat. I know that anyone who picks up this book will find not only find Kate, her father, and even Teri to be glued to the pages as you are with them in their journey. This blog is definitely a post is a catalyst for you to go to the nearest library and read this book. You can now run very quickly to find this at your local library! Monroe County Library System Catalog

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Book Review: The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

The Impossible Knife of Memory cover imageGreetings Readers! Meg here! 

I recently finished reading The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson and let me tell you, it is an amazing, moving read!

Hayley has just settled down with her father, Andy, in a town she barely remembers from her childhood. After years of living on the road, she struggles to adjust to town life; but her father struggles even more so. Having served four tours abroad and returning home after a major injury, he grapples with PTSD and often turns to drink and drugs to forget his time overseas. This means Hayley, while still acclimating to the foreign territory of high school, has to care for her father while still tiptoeing around his moods. She must figure out how to keep her life with her father as close to normal as possible, but new variables keep getting thrown into the picture, and Hayley is not so good at math.

This book contains very heavy themes concerning drugs, alcohol and violence, so younger readers be aware, but these subjects are entirely relevant to the story. When soldiers come home after traumatic experiences, it's difficult to pick up the pieces and rebuild a semblance of a normal life. And Hayley, in the middle of all this, has to work hard with Andy, whether he's willing or not, to try and rebuild what they lacked as a family while they lived on the road. Hayley works to rekindle a friendship with a girl she barely remembers and start new relationships with whom she can relate. (Yes there's a boy. And while I'm normally not a fan of the romance, their relationship is meaningful and rather charming). 

And so Hayley maneuvers through the difficulties of high school with the additional weight of her father's well-being. She lives through his hard times, his good times, and everything in between because of her love for him. But there's only so much she can do.

This book has an excellent blend of wit, tension, and love (romantic and familial) but be aware, it's a heavy one. It depicts in vivid detail the effects of PTSD and how it can wreak havoc on not just the victim but also those around them. It's riveting, heartbreaking, and definitely worth a read. I highly recommend this book, particularly to those who have read and enjoyed Laurie Halse Anderson's other works. It's simply phenomenal.


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Volunteer Sign-Up is LIVE!

Hello TBF readers!

Ever wonder how TBF runs so smoothly? Do you recall seeing teens and young adults wearing those colorful TBF t-shirts who are stationed everywhere on Nazareth campus to help you through every part of the TBF process? These lovely people are out TBF volunteers. You can help make TBF the most wonderful event this year by volunteering!

This year we are asking for over 200 volunteers to help make TBF 2016 run smoothly. In case you missed it, TBF 2016 will be held on May 14th, 2016 at Nazareth College. It's FREE to attend!

Who can volunteer?
Teens from grades 6 through 12, college students and adults can volunteer!

How many hours does a TBF volunteer work for?
A TBF volunteer must work a minimum of TWO hours.

What are the different TBF volunteer positions?
  • Author assistants: Help the author(s) with their author panels and the autographing session as well as navigating them around Nazareth campus (Note: You must be available ALL DAY to be an author assistant. You will be stationed with your author from 8:45 am to 5:00 pm. Also author assistant positions are limited)
  • Festival greeters: Welcome all attendees to the festival and answer any questions they have about the process of TBF
  • Festival guides: You will be stationed in a designated area to help lost attendees to author panels, autographing session, cafeteria, bathrooms, etc.
Is there a volunteer meeting?
Yes! You must attend the MANDATORY volunteer meeting. The meeting will be held Tuesday evening on May 10th at Nazareth campus at the ART CENTER (Yes, a new location for training!). You are responsible for your own transportation to and from the mandatory volunteer meeting. If you are unable to attend, you must talk to the TBF Sub-Committee.

Is there a deadline for signing up to be a TBF volunteer?
Yes! Deadline is Friday, April 1st!

This sounds so much fun! Where do I sign up?
Right here, friend!

If you have any questions, email the TBF Committee at

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

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Book Review: Snow Job by Charles Benoit

Hello TBF readers,

I recently read TBF Alumni Charles Benoit's newest novel, SNOW JOB over the weekend (and dodging schoolwork). Take a look:

Does who you are in high school brand you for life?

Nick sure hopes not. It’s senior year, and he has decided that his loser friends may be going nowhere fast, but he isn’t. Instead, Nick has created the perfect list of rules for remaking his life. But meeting dark-eyed Dawn and hanging out with teen thug Zod are nowhere on that list. And making illegal deliveries definitely isn’t on it. So why is Nick caught up with these people and their dangerous schemes? Will Nick's list help him to be a hero—or turn him into a fall guy?

SNOW JOB left me speechless. It was a perfect blend of contemporary and suspense.

The main character, Nick, was what really drove the story. He was a relatable character. All Nick wanted was to get out of high school, not deal with his so-called friends and have his life mean something. He was a stand-up guy with a very snarky and sarcastic side. When a mysterious girl named Dawn enters Nick's life, it was thrown into a loop. Nick could tell that Dawn was in some sort of trouble. As he got to know Dawn, he had a strong desire to protect Dawn even if that meant dealing with a local drug lord. Helping Dawn was the perfect opportunity for Nick to have his life mean something.

I highly recommend SNOW JOB for fans of contemporary with a flair of suspense. Readers who enjoyed the sarcasm of John Green will definitely love Nick. SNOW JOB will be in your hands March 1st! Less than two weeks, readers. Be strong!

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

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood

Hi  readers!  I know the cold weather's been rough, but it's the perfect excuse to stay in and read for February break.  You can't read this one yet (it doesn't come out until May) but,  Harriet Reuter Hapgood's The Square Root of Summer is a heart-wrenching combination of realistic and science fiction.

Gottie H. Oppenheimer grew up without a mother, and her beloved Grandfather, Grey has passed away.  In the summer before her senior year, her childhood friend, Thomas comes back to their sleepy English town of Holksea and brings with him memories of the past.  As Gottie is trying to sort out her feelings about Thomas and the death of Grey, time starts to fall apart.  After studying dark matter and black holes in Physics, Gottie became obsessed with the idea of wormholes and keeps finding them throughout her town.  She is frequently transported to last summer and faces her first love, first heartbreak and the day her grandfather died.  As the summer comes to a close, Gottie is forced to face the fact that her reality is falling apart and attempt to figure out how to save it.

I was a bit skeptical when I started this book, science fiction really isn't my thing, however all of my doubts were immediately refuted.  For people who are looking for a unique read, this is the perfect book.  The romance is not the focus and neither is the time-travel, both are catalysts for the coming of age of a teenage girl who has faced far too much heartbreak.  Each of the characters is perfectly created, from Gottie's friends to her crazy physics teacher, readers everywhere will know someone who fits the bill.'

Many times, plots are quite repetitive from book to book, but this was refreshing.  New ideas are always wonderful and this one is brilliant.  This book is a must read for everyone and I know, everyone who reads it will love it.

That's all for now!  Happy reading!


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Serpent King By Jeff Zentner

Hey readers and TBF Fans, I hope the New Year has been treating you well! Although break has ended, I’ve still been reading and I’ve got a fantastic book for you today!

Dillard Early has had a rough life in the tiny town of Forrestville, Tennessee ever since his father, a pastor at the local church who encouraged his followers to handle snakes and drink poison, was arrested. Amongst the whispers and constant ridicule of the town around him, only his friends, and fellow misfits, really understand him. Dill’s two friends, Travis and Lydia, are his escapes from his chaotic life, but they have plans and futures of their own. As Dill’s senior year draws closer to an end, he has to try and unlock new doors and say some painful goodbyes. After a tragedy that affects them all, it seems only music and his promises to Lydia can save him now.

A wise author once told me that he thinks books should be written to be remembered. He told me that readers are going to remember the book that made them upset. By this I think he was saying that some of the best books worth reading aren’t the ones that make you feel happy and satisfied the whole way. They carry a message, a truth that needs to be noticed and remembered. The Serpent King was like that for me. In all honesty I didn't like it at first. It was outside my normal genre and I wasn't sure where the plot was taking me. I’m happy to report that my first impression of this book was so wrong. You know the author is doing something very right when you care enough about the characters to really feel for them. The trio of Dill, Lydia, and Travis was a fantastic oddball mix of personalities. Dill is understandably melancholy but always there for his friends, Lydia is bright, brave, and downright amazing, and Travis is the leveler who brought the two closer but still added his own spice to the story. I found the themes in this book to be thought provoking and even sometimes tear-jerking. Jeff Zentner does an absolutely fantastic job with this book. Would I recommend it to fellow teen readers? Oh yes, I would. Over and over again. I don’t regret a single minute of those twenty-four hours straight I spent reading it and I hope that neither will you.     

That's all for today!