Thursday, March 31, 2016

Come Volunteer For TBF!

Hi everyone, I'll cut right to the chase. We still need volunteers.

If any of you have already signed up, great! I look forward to seeing you there! For those who haven't, I would like to give you some quick insight as to why you should.

I have been a Teen Book Festival Volunteer for the past four years and this upcoming TBF will be my fifth. Volunteering for TBF has been absolutely amazing. It makes me feel more a part of the festival than just attending. Over the past few years I have been lucky enough to be an author assistant to some of my favorite authors which allowed me to be able to get autographs, insight into their writing, and even advice for my own, all while being able to give them the rock-star treatment that they definitely deserve.

As I have been promoting TBF, and excessively insisting that everyone I know volunteer, I have come across a few questions that, if gone unanswered, could turn potential volunteers such as yourselves away. Firstly, if the idea of donating your entire Saturday to TBF does not appeal to you, worry not. Volunteer opportunities range from all day to only a few hours. Secondly, If you do decide to become an author assistant, an all day commitment, you don't have to stay with your author 24/7. You are not their sole assistant and, as a teen, you are able to take one session away to go see other great people or to get those signatures that your books might be lacking at the book signing sessions. If you are an adult author assistant, you do have to stick with your author all day but hey, that's pretty awesome too. Thirdly, if you're not sure if you can get a ride to TBF, check with your school or local library, there is always a chance they're providing transportation to the event; you'll never know unless you ask.

Lastly, the Teen Book Festival is loads of fun! Come because it's amazing! TBF is an event that I am passionate about. Find your way there and enjoy yourself. The festival is May 14th at Nazareth College, you can sign up to volunteer at

Hope to see you all there!

Interview with TBF Author: Harriet Reuter Hapgood

Happy Thursday!

I had the pleasure of interviewing one of our TBF debut authors, Harriet Reuter Hapgood! Take a look!

Miranda Reads: Your debut novel, THE SQUARE ROOT OF SUMMER, is coming out in May. Tell us about it.

Harriet Reuter Hapgood: It’s a summer holiday coming-of-age story set in north Norfolk on the English coast. I describe the genre as time-travel-quantum-physics-grief-romance, in lieu of anything snappier. It’s about a seventeen-year-old girl, Gottie H Oppenheimer, who’s dealing with the death of her grandpa, the breakup of a recent relationship, and the unexpected return of her childhood BFF. All of which combine, naturally, to create wormholes in space-time. Also there’s a mysterious kitten called Umlaut, many delicious snacks, and a smorgasbord of cute boys.

Miranda Reads: What inspired you to write THE SQUARE ROOT OF SUMMER?

Harriet Reuter Hapgood: My grandmother died a few years ago, and I found it incredibly difficult – a tidal wave of grief. I was surprised by my own reaction and wanted to explore it, and write myself a little story about my family. And I’ve always loved summer books – there’s something special about coming-of-age stories set outside the confines of school, when there’s too much time on everyone’s hands, and a lack of structure. Books like The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson and The Greengage Summer by Rumer Godden, and the latter half of I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. I started with just a handful of simple ideas – grief, a grandparent, family, summer, the sea. Oh, and quantum theory.

Miranda Reads: Describe your main character, Gottie.

Harriet Reuter Hapgood: Gottie is a lot cooler and more together than I was at seventeen – not that she’s aware of it. She’s handling things pretty well for someone in mourning, dealing with heartbreak, and potentially destroying the universe… Gottie is a maths and physics prodigy, whose intelligence doesn’t extend to other subjects, or emotional range. She’s something of a loner, a daydreamer who’s maybe a little bit selfish with her time and could do with extending her gaze outwards. She’s also outdoorsy to the point of being part of the landscape – you’ll find her in trees, fields, swimming, folding herself into the world. She’s not afraid of bruises or scabs, she’s very physical, perhaps because she grew up in this weirdo bohemian household with her dad, brother and grandpa – who she describes as Peter Pan, Axl Rose and Dumbledore, respectively.

Miranda Reads: In THE SQUARE ROOT OF SUMMER, Gottie is incredibly intelligent and has a great understanding of physics. Before writing it, did you already have a great understanding of physics or did you do extensive research specifically for the novel?

Harriet Reuter Hapgood: Hahaha! I knew NOTHING. I’m trained as a fashion journalist. My areas of expertise are teen television shows of the nineties, celebrity cats, and skincare routines. I had this innocent little idea that I’d write about a maths nut, a physics whizz – an homage to my grandpa, a legit mathematical genius, and to my grandmother; one of the last conversations we had, strangely, was about particle physics. I wanted to stuff the book full of references to my family. Then I opened a textbook… *makes “mind blown” explodey gesture with hands* The universe really is complicated! I read so many books, googled so many theorems, disappeared down internet wormholes looking up cool theories. The funny thing is, I still don’t understand physics – that’s all Gottie, she’s far more clever than I am.

Miranda Reads: Which author are you most excited to meet at the 11th Annual Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival?

Harriet Reuter Hapgood: My fellow Sweet Sixteen 2016 debut authors, Anna Breslaw (Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here), Janet B Taylor (Into the Dim – time travel, represent!) and Jeff Zentner (The Serpent King). We spend a lot of time on the internet raving about each other’s books, I’m excited to squeal at them in person.

Thank you so much Harriet! We will see you in May!

Be sure to follow Harriet on Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and Pinterest!

Talk to you guys next week!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Book Review: Disney After Dark by Ridley Pearson

Hope you guys are having a good spring break! I took this opportunity to read Disney After Dark by Ridley Pearson. It's the first book the series Kingdom Keepers, which has ten books and another newer series still coming out called The Return. With that much material, you're guaranteed tons of adventure.

KKI: Disney After DarkThe story is centered around Walt Disney World and mixes technology and fantasy for a really creative premise. At night, the whole park comes alive, and heroes and villains alike from all the rides and attractions run the park. They are brought to life by the imaginations and beliefs of the visitors that fill the park during the day.

But the park runs into some problems: the villains are wreaking havoc in the park at night, damaging rides and stealing things. Animatronics and Holograms can do just as much as real human, but no one can see them. So some workers decide to use that to their advantage and develop DHI (which could mean Disney Host Interactive or Daylight Hologram Imaging). If other holograms work at night, what happens if you make a hologram of a real person?

Enter five young teens, chosen to be the models and voices of these guides. They just wanted to take advantage of the perks of the job (namely free passes to Magic Kingdom for life) but instead find that the DHI technology allows them to enter the park at night by slipping into their hologram counterparts, which allows them to see, and more importantly stop, the characters trying to take over the park. And to do so, they have to solve a riddle left behind by Walt Disney himself, all before the villains overrun the park or even worse, start setting their sights on the world beyond the park.

Pearson has started an intriguing series with Disney After Dark with a very original and well planned premise. It's fun and thrilling and I still can't get over how wicked cool it is that the kids can become their hologram hosts at night. And all five protagonists are good kids with interesting personalities. Even though it's geared towards younger teens, as a high school student, I still enjoyed it thoroughly, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys urban fantasy or adventure of any sort. Happy reading!


Monday, March 28, 2016

Nazareth Blogger Katie reviews Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going

Hello TBF readers!  My name is Katie Ducett, and I am so excited to tell you about a book that I just finished reading!  Before I do that, let me tell you a little bit about myself.  I am a Chemistry and Special Education teacher currently in graduate school to become a Literacy Specialist.  In one of the classes I am taking, I had to read a book by an author who is going to be at the Teen Book Festival this year so I could tell you guys why you should read it.  So here it is!

I read the book Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going.  There are a few reasons that I chose this book to read.  For one thing, I was very intrigued by the title and the design of the cover.     As you can see the cover has a picture of a drum set.  I love music and was excited to see that the book might be about music. 

This book takes a look a deep look into the insecurities that adolescents deal with on a daily basis.  Issues such as bullying, suicide, depression, and drugs are all looked at throughout this book.  From the very first line in the book I knew that this was going to be dealing with topics like this: “I’m a sweating fat kid standing on the edge of the subway platform staring at the tracks.  I’m seventeen years old, weigh 296 pounds, and I’m six-foot-one” (1).

This quote was said by the main character Troy, a boy who’s family dealt with a huge loss years before, and due to that loss is hurting and going through depression.  We follow Troy on his adventure through life, trying to realize who he is and what his purpose is.  He meets the other main character, Curt, a homeless boy who lacks real stability in any form in his life, until he meets Troy, Troy’s father, and Troy’s brother Dayle. 

The unexpected friendship between Troy and Curt grows as they form a band.  Funny part is, Troy has never played the drums before.  They do not let that stop them from trying to make things work, all the while discovering new things about themselves.  Troy really moves strides in his self-esteem throughout the book, realizing that he may not really be as big of a spectacle as he thought in the beginning.  This was very prevalent when he went to his first concert towards the middle of the book. 

“With one gesture I’ve moved from the world of imagination to the world of funky sweat stench and ear-ringing volume.  The guitars screech, the sound shakes the club, and the best part is, no one’s looking at me.  I’m six-foot-one, three hundred pounds, and no one is looking at me.”
I hope you give this book a shot!  It was really fun to read and helps you to look at yourself and people around you in a new way!

Be sure to check out Fat Kid Rules the World at your local library!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt

Hi readers!

I hope you are all looking forward to Easter and spring break!  If you need a book to read in your free time, I would definitely recommend Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy.

In 1912, Turner Buckmisnter and his family move from Boston to Phippsburg, Maine, where his father will be the new minister at the First Congregational church.  Turner's life in Maine does not start out well and he feels as if the whole town is out to get him and report to his father.  One day, as he is wandering around alone, as usual, he meets Lizzie Bright Griffin, a black girl who lives off the coast on Malaga Island.  The two become fast friends and spend more and more time with each other as the summer presses on, but people begin to notice the minister's son hanging around with a black girl from the very Island they are trying to destroy.  As tensions grow higher in the town and in his family, Turner is forced to decide whether he will do what is easy and go along with the town's racist sentiments. or do what is right and stand up for his friend and her family.  Both Turner and Lizzie's lives are changed forever by the friendship that they have formed on their beach.

I didn't know what to expect when I started this book, however, once I started reading, I was enthralled and devoured it in one day.  Based on true events, this novel draws the reader in to Maine at the beginning of the twentieth century and brings the characters to life.  The characters are ones that exist in every town and readers everywhere will be able to relate to and understand what Turner is feeling.  He doesn't fit in, he's lonely, he has one true friend that he can always count on.  As he learns about the two worlds that exist in his town, he feels that his loyalties are divided between his own family and Lizzie's family, who he has learned to love.

Each chapter brings another unexpected twist and left me wanting more.  As cliche as it sounds this book made me laugh and cry and feel like I was a part of the story.  It is not a read that I will soon forget.  I would highly suggest this book to people who are interested in history, but are also ready to read a book that will make them think and question their own thoughts.

That's all from me for today, happy reading!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Kory Merritt and Charles Benoit's Local Events

Hello TBF readers!

If you didn't want to wait until May to see two of your TBF authors, you are in luck! Kory Merritt will be doing a local event THIS SATURDAY for his newest book, POPTROPICA: BOOK 1: MYSTERY OF THE MAP! Here are the details:

Kory Merritt
Where: Pittsford Barnes and Noble
             Pittsford Plaza
             3349 Monroe Avenue
             Rochester, NY 14618
When: Saturday, March 26th
Time: 2:00pm

Charles Benoit will be doing two author events in April for his newest book, SNOW JOB. Here are the details to these events:

Charles Benoit
Where: Barnes and Noble at Greece Ridge Mall
             Mall at Greece Ridge Center
             330 Greece Ridge Center Drive
             Rochester, NY 14626
When: Tuesday, April 12th
Time: 7:00pm

Charles Benoit
Where: Pittsford Barnes and Noble
             Pittsford Plaza
             3349 Monroe Avenue
             Rochester, NY 14618
When: Thursday, April 14th
Time: 6:00pm

An extra bonus: TBF Alumni Linda Sue Park will be in the area too for her latest novel, FOREST OF WONDERS. Here are the details:

Linda Sue Park
Where: Pittsford Barnes and Noble
             Pittsford Plaza
             3349 Monroe Avenue
             Rochester, NY 14618
When: Saturday, April 9th
Time: 2:00pm

I hope to see you all at these author events!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Nazareth Blogger Anna reviews A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly

Hello fellow young adult literature lovers! My name is Anna Doane and I am currently a graduate student at Nazareth College, home of the Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival! Here at Nazareth I am studying to become a literacy specialist, and in one of my courses I was provided with the opportunity to read a novel by one of the authors that will be at the book fest this year: Jennifer Donnelly!

A murder mystery based on a true story that takes place in Upstate New York. Are you hooked, yet? I know I was. I was instantly drawn to Jennifer Donnelly’s novel, A Northern Light because of its apparent closeness to myself. The story is set in a small town near Fourth Lake in The Adirondacks. I have actually spent several summers vacationing right on Fourth Lake so I was immediately intrigued by the mystery surrounding a place I thought I knew quite well. As it turns out, although my initial connection to the story remained in tact, I grew connected to this story for so many more reasons than its location, reasons that I honestly did not expect. Donnelly artfully creates a storyline that is completely multifaceted. On the surface this story appears to be a murder mystery, but it turns into so much more. So much more in fact, that I created a wordle to gather all of the ideas just I was able to relate to as I read the story.
Donnelly’s story is told through the eyes of Mattie Gokey, a young girl that finds herself tangled into the secret life of murder victim, Grace Brown. As the story develops you find yourself just as curious about Mattie’s story as the mystery behind Grace. Mattie is a young adult that anyone can relate to. She struggles with family conflicts, relationships with friends and love interests. We see the difficult choices Mattie has to make between continuing her education and beginning a career as a writer and becoming a wife, because in 1906 women could rarely do both.

If you are looking at the wordle I created and wondering what in the world the word “sesquipedalian” has to do with Donnelly’s novel, fear not. Here is your answer.  Mattie’s love of language invites you to explore your own vocabulary, as many of Donnelly’s chapters in the story are titled using one of Mattie’s dictionary “Words of the Day.” This added stylistic element is really attention grabbing. I found myself at the start of every chapter wondering how each word would be used. It definitely adds something to the reading experience!

In the story Mattie poses a poignant question that becomes a central theme to the novel, and one I feel anyone can relate to:

“Why did little towns in Herkimer County never get a mention in anybody’s book? Why was it always other places and other lives that mattered?” (Donnelly, pg. 61)

Jennifer Donnelly answers Mattie’s question with her novel. She shows us just how much the seemingly little towns that we are all familiar with, and the lives of those living in them can and do matter. They matter a great deal.

Are you hooked yet? Go pick up a copy of Jennifer Donnelly’s A Northern Light at your local library!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Garden of Eve by K. L. Going

Hello everyone! I hope you've all been enjoying the nice warm weather!

I recently enjoyed The Garden of Eve by K. L. Going and I hope you choose to pick it up!

After her mom died, Eve is forced to move to upstate New York where her father has bought a dying apple orchard in a town that is believed to be cursed. Eve refuses to believe in curses anymore though, or any types of magic for that matter, but Eve's world gets turned upside down after receiving a magical seed and making fast friends with the local ghost. Eve suddenly has to decide what's real if she wants to save her new home and her new friends.  

The Garden of Eve was haunting and beautiful. K. L. Going was able to weave a poetic and bitter sweet tale of two children taking on their grief but still learning to open their eyes and believe. Although relatively short in comparison to other books I've read, this story had no need to be longer as it was beautifully written and had nothing lacking. All the characters were easily imagined and relatable in their struggles. I would strongly suggest The Garden of Eve to anyone looking for a quick and easy read that's still poetic, deep, and meaningful.

That's all for this review! Don't forget to check back in for more and happy reading!


Monday, March 14, 2016

Nazareth Blogger Kaitlin reviews What We Left Behind by Robin Talley

            Hello! My name is Kaitlin Isabelle and I am a graduate student at Nazareth College. I am currently studying Literacy education to become a literacy specialist and have been spending some extra time lately in search of some good books. Speaking of good books, What We Left Behind by Robin Talley is a must read!
Whether you are a TBF reader already in high school, or are just starting, college probably feels far away. However, everyone know how exciting graduation is! For many, college is the first of many big changes. Take a moment to imagine what getting ready for college will feel like. What are you excited about when you started? What will you be afraid of? Who will you hope to meet? Will you have to leave anyone behind? What do you dream college will be like?
Many of those thoughts you are having are the same that main characters Toni and Gretchen’s had when finishing high school and starting college. This emotional story starts off with the introduction of a romance between these two girls. They met, they fall in love and they were inseparable since that first day. They love each other so much that whenever either of them takes a moment to think about herself,   it is not simply Gretchen thinking about Gretchen or Toni thinking about Toni.  Instead, it’s always- “Gretchen and Toni”. A captivating line that shows the depth of their love is when we hear Toni as she thinks to herself “I never imagined that being one half of a whole could make you feel more whole yourself”.
But when their plan to go to college in the same town changes, they decide that even though the distance will make it tough, their love is tougher. This whole starting college thing sounds so easy for them right? However, this easy task quickly becomes difficult for Gretchen and Toni as they start on independent journeys towards self-identification. Starting college leaves these girls questioning who they really are. For example, Gretchen moves to New York to go to NYU. While she is there she starts to confuse who she really is to who she was when she was with Toni. But Toni’s journey is quite different than Gretchen’s. In this new world of Harvard in Boston, Toni joins the LGBTQ community on Harvard’s campus. With a new group of friends she starts to question her gender. She knows she does not identify as a female, so she is left struggling with whether she identifies as a male or neither gender. We really start to understand this internal struggle as we hear Toni’s thoughts while she is with her sister, Audrey.

“I want to be the sister Audrey wants me to be. No, not the sister. The sibling. I need to stop defining myself according to other people’s expectations. I need to figure out who I am. Not just whether I’m a guy, either. What do I actually want for myself? Outside what my friends see, or my girlfriend sees, or my family sees? Maybe things will never be the way they were before between me and Audrey. Because I’m not the same.”

            As you look down the road to your life in a few years, do you think you will know who you truly are. Determining our identity is part of life when hitting high school and then going into college. Whether trying to find friends that you click with or even what gender to identify as, this journey of identity is one all must take. How will these two unique journeys for two unique girls affect their relationship? Will Gretchen start to understand who she is as just Gretchen? What will Toni decide when it comes to her gender identity? You’ll have to read this great book to find out!

To find this book in your area, check out one of the Monroe County Libraries.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Nazareth Blogger Sam reviews The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler

My name is Sam Marollo, I am currently an elementary teaching assistant at a school in Penfield and my goal is to work as a 3rd grade teacher promoting the mystery and magic of reading to my students. This is the first year I have ever heard of the Teen Book Festival.  However, from what I have learned, I can’t wait to go this year and be a part of all the fun. As I am sure you already know, TBF fans, getting to meet some of the brilliant minds who craft these stories is something you don’t get the opportunity to do very often.
TBF Readers, I have to tell you that I have come to believe that the best books are those that include characters or situations that are unfamiliar, and sometimes uncomfortable. With a helpful recommendation from my professor, I choose the book The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler. To be completely honest, when I first read the title “my butt” I actually giggled quite a bit.  How many books have I ever read that has “my butt” in the title? None, to be exact. Once I started reading the book though, I learned that not everything is a joking matter.
The main character, Virginia is an average teenager, with average problems, below average social status, and above average expectations from her family. She excels in school, but friends and boys seem to be more complex than string theory. She can’t seem to control her eating habits (but let’s be honest, with a sundae in front of you and some brownies in the fridge, the conflict of self-control is similar to finding $100 on the ground and walking away) which leads her to all sorts of struggles. As if Virginia’s struggle with her own body image wasn’t enough of a problem, another catastrophe happens.  This time though, the issue is with her formerly perfect older brother.      

Now, at this point some of you readers might be thinking, “oh this is a book for girls.”  I want to make it clear that I think this is a book that young men and women should read and discuss together. This is a book about all kinds of struggles. Struggles that I will estimate 10 out of 10 young adults are fighting every day of the week: the struggle with relationships, with family, with breaking through the social barriers in school. In addition, there is the most significant struggle, understanding that a person has a right to say “no.” Any reader can gain insight into how people can feel so vulnerable and helpless in relationships, especially if there is not communication.

Now readers don’t get me wrong. While Virginia’s story can be depressing and somewhat difficult to read, it has so many parts where I felt overwhelmingly happy or I just laughed out loud. The very first passage, Virginia explains that a boy has just officially touched her chest! What better why is there to reel you in right away? By the end of the story, Virginia will have you wanting to go do something you’ve never done before! Something spontaneous and wonderful that will make you happy to be you.

            It is a quick read that will keep your attention, so check the Monroe County library catalog where it’s available, hopefully a bunch of people are checking it out, so you may have to check a few libraries!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

TBF Author Bio: Charles Benoit

Happy Tuesday TBF Readers!

Today is a special day for two of our TBF authors. Charles Benoit's SNOW JOB and Janet B. Taylor's INTO THE DIM are out TODAY! Break out the confetti! To celebrate Charles Benoit's latest novel, guest blogger Katie gave us some fun facts about him. Check it out:

Without a doubt, one of the most interesting books featured at TBF is You by Charles Benoit. It’s the story of Kyle, a teenage kid, and the danger and daring in his path to finding who he wants to be, and also is one of the few books ever written in 2nd person.
Unsurprisingly, Charles Benoit, himself, is similarly unique. Here are ten facts on the author of You, Cold Calls, and Fall from Grace.
  1. He published his first book, Relative Danger, at 46.
  2. He works as an ad writer. (Watch the TV commercials, my friends, for you might just be seeing the work of Charles Benoit)
  3. He originally started writing Young Adult because his wife dared him.
  4. For that matter, he was originally an adult mystery writer.
  5. He beats writer’s block by talking to his characters out loud
  6. Two of his favorite authors are Roald Dahl and P.G. Wodehouse.
  7. He was actually born here in Rochester, NY.
  8. He says that his favorite topic to write books about is unusual circumstances and the people who get caught up in them.
  9. He enjoys ska (Jamaican-style) music and plays in Some Ska Band.
  10. He plays tenor sax in this band and tends to line up other songs he plays to what he’s writing.
Hope you enjoy, my fellow book enthusiasts, and see you at TBF!

Thanks Katie! Since today is Charles's book birthday, we are hosting a giveaway! You can win a SIGNED copy of SNOW JOB. Here is how you can win:

In the comments below post your favorite P.G. Wodehouse quote. If you want to be a writer, Charles highly recommends you read him. Even if you're not a writer, you should still read this legendary writer. This giveaway ends MARCH 22!

That's it for today! Be sure to enter the contest!