Friday, April 29, 2016

Alan Lawrence Sitomer

Happy Friday, readers!

I have some news. Unfortunately, Alan Lawrence Sitomer will not be attending TBF this year due to unexpected scheduling complications. But wait! Did you notice that we have 31 wonderful authors coming to Rochester in 15 DAYS?!

Yes! It's that close! Grab a calendar and start crossing out those days!

TBF Author Bio: Laurie Halse Anderson

Hello TBF readers!

It is a known fact that authors are some of the awesomest people on the planet. After all, what’s cooler than devoting your life to developing entire worlds inside your head, writing about them and then having them actually be read by hundreds of teenagers. But even among the best of the best, some writers still stand out.

One of these is Laurie Halse Anderson. Author of several famous YA books such as Speak, The Impossible Knife of Memory, and Wintergirls, Laurie isn’t afraid to take a tough stance on issues most people are afraid to speak about.

Here are a couple of facts about one of the most amazing authors to grace TBF.
  1. She started writing in second grade.
  2. Her first job as an author was being a freelance reporter.
  3. She also has written several picture books, several of them about women in American history.
  4. If she could have one book to read on a desert island, it would be Ulysses by James Joyce.
  5. She lives in a town called Mexico in northern New York...
  6. ...where she has her own writing cottage built by her husband.
  7. A couple of her hobbies include: knitting, running and gardening.
  8. A tip for meeting her at TBF: “Halse” is pronounced like “waltz.”
  9. She has worked on a pig farm.
  10. And to top it off, she’s been given the Margaret A. Edwards award for lifetime achievement.
Enjoy and hope to see you at TBF!


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

TBF Blogger Katie's Experience at TBF

Hello TBF readers!

As you all know, TBF is literally right around the corner! TBF blogger, Katie shares her experience at TBF last year! Take a look:

TBF was definitely an amazing experience (how could it not be- it was a day devoted to books). I’ve been an attendee for the past two years and have enjoyed it so much both times. Obviously, the best part was meeting the authors. Last year, I managed to get in to see Ally Condie, author of Matched. Together, several other teens and I, got to hear all about what actually inspired her to write the series and what her thought process was. Then we got to ask any questions we had about her series or her as an author. It was like being inside an author’s brain- but in a non-creepy way. Later, there was book signing where you actually got to talk to the author yourself and deliver a short 30-second speech about why their books are the best things known to man actually that was probably only me. Before the signing, of course, is book buying. If you are so inspired by one of the author’s talks (or, like me forgot to bring your own books), then Barnes and Noble has a whole table set up for you to buy their work. Bring money. As much money as you can. Believe me, you will not regret it.

Verdict: TBF gets a thumbs-up from Dumbledore and the odds may always be in its favor.

Thank you so much Katie!

Talk to you guys again!

Monday, April 25, 2016

TBF 2016 Map and Schedule


So in case you missed it, TBF 2016 will be May 14 at Nazareth College. The festivities kick off at 8:45am with our fantastic author parade near the Schults Center. Mark your calendars and set your alarms! This year 32 wonderful YA authors will be attending! You do not want to miss it!

You're probably thinking, where will my authors be? I need to plan my day! Well we have a map of the Nazareth College to show you where the authors will be and the authors' schedules.

Here is the TBF Map! Our authors will be spread out in six buildings at Nazareth: Arts Center, Golisano Academic Center (GAC), Wilmot Library, Peckham Hall, Shults Center and Smyth Hall.

Be sure to have your best walking shoes on! Our wonderful TBF volunteers will be stationed in each building to help you get to each building. You will have approximately 15 minutes to travel between each author session.

And here is the TBF Schedule! Pick your favorite authors and attend their author sessions!

Please Note: Some of our authors will be NOT be in the Shults Gym during the Autographing Session. Instead they will be in the same building where they held their author sessions. The reason for this is to avoid overcrowding in the gym. These authors include:
  • Mercedes Lackey:  Arts Center A-13
  • Tamora Pierce: Arts Center  A-14
  • K.L. Going and Carolyn Mackler: GAC Basement
  • Laurie Halse Anderson: GAC Chapel
  • Kekla Magoon: GAC-151
  • Anna Breslaw, Harriet Reuter Hapgood and Janet B. Taylor: Wilmort Library Study Area
  • Ellen Hopkins: Peckham-012/014
  • Justine Larbalestier and Scott Westerfeld: Shults Forum 
All the other authors will be in the Shults Gym during the Autographing Session.

Are you guys excited?! The TBF bloggers are!

Talk to you guys soon!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Book Review: Magic or Madness by Justine Larbalestier


I'm back in action with a new book review of Magic or Madness by Justine Larbalestier. Before I start gushing about this wonderful book, check out the summary:

Reason Cansino has lived fifteen years in the Australian outback with her mother, Sarafina. They're on the run from Reason's grandmother Esmeralda, who believes in magic and practices horrifying dark rituals. But when Sarafina suffers a mental breakdown, Reason is sent to the one place she fears most-Esmeralda's home in Sydney.

Nothing about the house or Esmeralda is what Reason expected. Then, when she walks through Esmeralda's back door in Sydney and finds herself on a New York City street, Reason is forced to face the shocking truth. Magic is real. And Reason is magic. 

Doesn't that sound amazing? I'm here to tell you it is.

I am a huge lover of urban fantasy, and Larbalestier provides a new take on magic as we know and love it. It is realistically built with rules that are followed throughout the book, no plot holes to be found here. This is not Harry Potter with wands and spells, but personalized magic from within that can come at a cost. Without giving too much spoilers (since it's kind of in the title) the women of Reason's family as well as other magic users can either use magic or go mad. This puts our main character in a bit of trouble, since her mother had raised her to fear magic and her grandmother who believes in it. It's a new interesting view on magic.

This story hops between New York and Australia, which is super cool. The book comes with a dictionary for some of the Australian terms which was helpful, so that I didn't have to take time away from the story to go search what it means. The story is told primarily by Reason in first-person but also by her two friends Tom and Jay-Tee. This provides the story in two cultural perspectives, making for an even more interesting read. At first, I thought that this might detract from the story, but it actually worked really well. Out of the three narrators, Reason is my favorite though.

This novel is fast paced and will keep you hooked until you turn that last page and beyond. It is constantly raising questions and giving answers as both Reason (and us) discover this entire world of magic hidden in plain sight. The ending left me satisfied, but with enough questions that I can't wait to get my hands on the next book in the trilogy.

I would love to go on and on, but I don't want to accidentally spoil the book. I would recommend this to people who don't like fantasy as a good book to try because I think that the magic is realistic, has repercussions, and is fused quite wonderfully to the natural world.

Hope your day is magical!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Nazareth Blogger Leah reviews The Program by Suzanne Young

Hello TBF readers! My name is Leah Schaffer and I am a graduate student in the literacy department at Nazareth College in Rochester, NY.  After graduate school I plan to become an inclusive classroom teacher or a literacy specialist.  I am very excited to share with you some information on my new favorite book.  This book is The Program by Suzanne Young.  The Program is a young adult fiction book that is part of the Program series and falls into the science fiction genre.

The first time I read The Program I choose it because I become extremely engaged in science fiction texts.  Specifically at the time, my favorite series to read was the Divergent series written by Veronica Roth.  I had truly enjoyed the whole dystopian and young love themes that were presented throughout the series. As a result I decided to find another series that I would enjoy to read just as much.  So one day when I was at the library I saw this book that had an almost all white cover with some yellow standing out.  This drew me to the book right away.  Instantly after I read the short summary, I was hooked. 

The Program focuses on a teenage girl named Sloane as she attempts to remain true to herself, despite living in a chaotic and dystopian society.  It is chaotic because people are fearful of what they are calling the suicide epidemic.  In order to end this epidemic “the program” is created.  This is a program where any teen that appears depressed will be taken away from their family and friends, in order to be rehabilitated in an institution.

 So I bet know you are thinking “what is so wrong with that as long as the person is getting help and their life is being saved?”  Well here is where the book gets really interesting.  When a teen enters the program, their memories are gradually taken away from them until they cannot remember their friends and important life events such as their first love.  The program takes these memories away because they are seen as potentially harmful to the teens.  However, with no memories the teenagers return home lost and confused.  This is why Sloane attempts to do everything in her power to avoid admittance into the program.  Doesn’t this book sound extremely unique and interesting?

I really enjoyed this book because it was super easy to relate to the characters as I read. As a reader I progressed through the book and witnessed Sloane flashback to important memories in her life and saw her make new memories.  However, as the book continued I then witnessed Sloane slowly start to lose her memories and herself, until I eventually knew Sloane better than she did herself. 

I would like to offer a warning however to future readers of this book or series.  The struggles that people with depression face are explicitly represented in this book. For example, the following quote is from one of these scenes which occurs right before Sloane enters the program during chapter fourteen of the first section, “I’M CHEWING ON MY LIP AS I DRIVE, TEARING AT THE flesh, wincing when it burns.  My lips are chapped from crying in my car day after day, but I don’t care.  My hair is knotted and uncombed.”   This scene illustrates the intense emotions that Sloane faces throughout most of the book.  At the same time this scene shows us how actual people struggling with depression feel.

 Despite the fact that this book represented people with depression as people that need to be taken out of society until they are “fixed”, scenes like this one help us connect with the characters and gain a better understanding for people struggling with depression. Basically, I think this book can help readers feel the opposite way about how to help support people with depression.  Overall I highly recommend that anyone looking for an engaging and unique book read The Program by Suzanne Young.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Interview with TBF Author: Sarah Rees Brennan

Happy Friday!

I chatted with Sarah Rees Brennan, author of The Lynburn Legacy series and her latest novel, TELL THE WIND AND FIRE. Take a look:

Miranda Reads: Your latest novel, Tell the Wind and Fire came out this month. Tell us more about it!

Sarah Rees Brennan: A New York very different from ours, with magic users, harsh laws and harsher penalties. Lucie is a celebrity in Light New York, and has a rich adoring boyfriend, and her life looks great. Except then her boyfriend's soulless double appears, and saves her boyfriend's life. And Lucie thinks she should help this guy out. But she doesn't expect the city to be plunged into revolution and her own dark secrets, the sketchy things she did to get where she is today, to be revealed. She does not expect that!

Miranda Reads:TELL THE WIND AND FIRE is loosely based on Charles Dickens's A TALE OF TWO CITIES. What was the inspiration behind this retelling with a fantastical twist?

Sarah Rees Brennan: I absolutely love A TALE OF TWO CITIES, but two things about it always bothered me. One was that there are these two randomly identical guys--they're not secret twins, what is going on? And their lives are so intertwined: one of them twice has to save the other. It made me think of the legend of the doppelganger--a supernatural being with your face, whose coming spells your doom. But what if your doppelganger chose to save you instead? The other was that the heroine of the book is given nothing to do: the hero proposes to her dad instead of her, she spends the end of the book in a faint and a carriage. I wanted to put power and choices into her hands. So I started by giving her magic rings, a sword, and a past...

Miranda Reads: What advice would you give to someone who is writing a retelling of a story?

Sarah Rees Brennan: I think: decide very early on what is going to be different, and what is going to be the same. What elements do you love and want to reproduce, because it's ridiculous to retell a story that you don't love. But also, which elements do you want to change, because if you don't want to change anything the retelling is pointless: you can just leave it as-is. You have to sort the story parts, as you might sort differently-coloured jellybeans. (Am I the only one who does that?)

Miranda Reads: You have co-written a couple of novels with different YA authors like Justine Larbalestier and Cassandra Clare. What is the co-writing process like compared to writing solo?

Sarah Rees Brennan: Oh, it's fun in a lot of ways! Justine and I were living in Ireland and Australia, so she'd write while I was asleep: the book was literally getting written while I slept. It felt like elves were doing it. On the other hand, being together is fun too. I wrote one story in the Bane Chronicles with Cassandra Clare on a tour bus, and she was leaning her head on my shoulder as I typed frantically about a handsome boy shooting a chandelier.

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

Sarah Rees Brennan: Oooh that is tough! One of the authors I am very excited to meet is Laurie Halse Anderson. I really admire her! But also Rachel Hawkins, because she seems like so much fun. But ALSO I always want to see Tamora Pierce, because she wrote the first fantasy book I ever read and she'll always be my hero.

I am most excited, always, to meet readers! It is thrilling to have people who willingly stepped into your imagination come out and meet you.

Thank you, Sarah! We are so excited to meet you in May!

You can follow Sarah on Twitter and Tumblr.

Talk to you guys next time!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Nazareth Blogger Stephen reviews Tricks by Ellen Hopkins

Check out the book trailer
Hi, my name is Stephen and I am a graduate student at Nazareth College. Not only am I a graduate student but I am also a graduate assistant for Dr. Jones and have been helping plan and organize the Teen Book Festival this year! I hope you all love reading as much as I do and trust me, I have quite the book for you.

I have just finished reading Tricks by Ellen Hopkins. Now this novel does not pull any punches. This book is based on real stories which happened to real people. This novel includes sex, drugs, alcohol, sexual violence, abuse, questioning sexuality, and much more; definitely not for the faint of heart.
This book follows five teenagers as they go through situations which push each of these teens into prostitution for their survival: 

Ginger is a young woman in a broken family. She lives with her five siblings who she takes care of, her grandmother who maintains the house, and her mother who is a prostitute and often never home. Ginger must fill her role as a teenage girl, mother to her siblings, and home caretaker with her grandmother. If this chaos was not enough, she finds herself attacked by men twice and raped just to learn later on it was her mother who sold her for sex without her knowledge and she runs away with her friend to escape her nightmare of a life in Las Vegas…

Seth is a young man who struggles with telling his father that he is gay so he sneaks out to be with men he has found over the internet instead. His father find out and kicks Seth out of the house giving him only $40 which he throws on the floor for him to pick up. In order to survive Seth begins sleeping with men in exchange for a place to live and one particular man brings Seth with him to his new home in Las Vegas…
Whitney is a young woman who lives in her sister’s shadow. Her mother does not care for her and her father is hardly around. Her only solace is her boyfriend, Lucas who ends up sleeping with her only to take her virginity and then dump her. Whitney then finds another man while still feeling very vulnerable and flies off to Las Vegas with him where she slowly takes on the life of prostitution and drugs…

Cody is our last young man lives in Las Vegas. Cody lives with his mother, step-father, and younger brother. As his step-father becomes ill and eventually dies Cody takes it upon himself to be the man of the house and provide for everyone. While trying to pay for everything Cody falls heavily into the realm of gambling and also takes up prostitution to help pay debts and bills…

Eden is a young woman who is raised by a very strict Catholic family. Her father is a minister and her mother is very involved in church activities. She falls in love with a young man whom her parents disapprove of and is sent away to a concentration camp like reform boot camp. Here she finds herself using her body for sex to get what she wants and to eventually escape and try to make her way back home and finds her way to Las Vegas…

You may think this is all fiction and that this cannot really happen but the events Ellen Hopkins describes here really did happen to teens. Ellen Hopkins interviewed teen prostitutes and listened to their stories while also talking to other authors who have researched teen prostitution.
In order to tell these teen’s stories, Ellen Hopkins uses free verse poetry style which I found to be incredibly unique and powerful. Here is a short excerpt from Eden’s storyline to give you an idea:

A Poem by Eden Streit
My Future
Is meaningless now,
Flavorless as an icicle
melting, drip by
to puddle and freeze
again upon shadowed
ground. They say to
the pretense, as if
confessing my heart
was a game of charades.
such as these could
only be born of soul-
ripping sorrow. They
in relentless procession,
summer rain upon
parched playa,

What I find so wonderful and intriguing about the free verse style is that it evokes powerful emotions from me as I read the novel and really helped make a bond between me and the characters. Also, the free verse is written in first person so it really put me into the mindset of each character and I struggled with them as they felt each new heartbreak and disappointment and at the end I was yelling at the characters for their decisions. Another big bonus is that I have never read a free verse book like this anywhere before! Other than just being drawn into the story, free verse changes the way the read with shorter lines making you stop more frequently and making each savory detail hang just that much longer in your mind before you begin the next line. As an added bonus the free verse style sometimes holds double meanings such as the one above where you can read it as a whole or read just the right side for a whole new meaning! This has become my new favorite writing style and I am clamoring to read more of Ellen Hopkins’ books because of it.

But wait! I want you to know that, in the end not everything is hopeless. I will not tell you what happens to all the different teens you will meet in this book, but I will tell you that some of these teens do get out. For example, things happen in Eden’s story which eventually allows her to meet people who help her to get into a group home.  I strongly recommend you pick up a copy of Tricks by Ellen Hopkins today or borrow it from your local library; you will NOT be disappointed, I promise you that.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Book Review: These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

Hello TBF readers,

I recently read an amazing novel called THESE SHALLOW GRAVES by Jennifer Donnelly and I can't wait to tell you all about it! Take a look:

Jo Montfort is beautiful and rich, and soon—like all the girls in her class—she’ll graduate from finishing school and be married off to a wealthy bachelor. Which is the last thing she wants. Jo secretly dreams of becoming a writer—a newspaper reporter like the trailblazing Nellie Bly.

Wild aspirations aside, Jo’s life seems perfect until tragedy strikes: her father is found dead. Charles Montfort accidentally shot himself while cleaning his revolver. One of New York City’s wealthiest men, he owned a newspaper and was partner in a massive shipping firm, and Jo knows he was far too smart to clean a loaded gun.

The more Jo uncovers about her father’s death, the more her suspicions grow. There are too many secrets. And they all seem to be buried in plain sight. Then she meets Eddie—a young, brash, infuriatingly handsome reporter at her father’s newspaper—and it becomes all too clear how much she stands to lose if she keeps searching for the truth. Only now it might be too late to stop.

The past never stays buried forever. Life is dirtier than Jo Montfort could ever have imagined, and the truth is the dirtiest part of all.

This historical and mystery novel is absolutely fantastic! I was swept away by the characters (especially by the charming and infuriating Eddie Gallagher), the suspenseful plot and the 1890's New York City setting.

What made this book stand out was the main character, Jo Montfort. It's the 1890's and girls back then were expected to do two things: marry rich and have children. Right from the first chapter Jo did not fit this perfect society girl mold. She wanted to write shocking news stories like about the abuse that factory workers face. Of course, the only acceptable writing pieces women were allowed to write were about poems about sewing and puppies and they were never to be in the papers. When Jo's father died, everyone but Jo was convinced that it was a suicide. When she found out that Jo found out that her father was murdered, she is determined to find out who killed him. The more Jo discovered what happened, she became daring and adventurous. She was a strong, intelligent heroine who grew a backbone. Jo realized that sometimes she has to risk everything to be the person she always dreamed about. This novel is a true discovery of identity and how to follow your own path even though society constantly doubts or discourages you.

I highly recommend THESE SHALLOW GRAVES to fans who love historical and mystery novels and don't mind a little romance.

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

Monday, April 4, 2016

Nazareth Blogger Erica reviews Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt

Hello TBF readers! I am currently a graduate student at Nazareth College studying to become a Literacy Specialist.  I have the pleasure of taking a Young Adult literature course and am very excited to share my thoughts with you.  I just recently finished reading Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt and cannot stop thinking about it. 

I was initially interested in reading this book because the title sounded appealing, but after reading, I realized the importance of the title itself.  I’m sure that most of you reading this have taken a science course, or have an understanding of what orbiting means.  To orbit means that one object goes around another object.  The Earth orbits the sun and the moon orbits the Earth, for example.  In Orbiting Jupiter, we are introduced to Joseph, who is placed with a foster family on a farm in Maine.  The reader and the characters in the book, including Joseph, orbit Jupiter, his daughter whom he has never met.  She is the central focus by which all other aspects of this book orbit, or revolve. 
When an item orbits another, it is allowed to stay in orbit due to gravity.  Gravity constantly pulls the orbiting object toward the central focus, while the orbiting body’s momentum or movement continue to propel it forward, allowing the moving object to follow a continuous path around the central object, forever. 

The interesting part though, is if the force of gravity is too strong, the orbiting object will collide with the central object, damaging or potentially destroying both objects.  On the other hand, if the momentum of the orbiting object is too strong, the object would continue on, forever leaving its once central focus.  To orbit means to be in perfect balance between wanting something so badly, but knowing that giving into gravity will result in damage of what you want, and continuing to push forward, but from a distance. 

No, this book is not about space, but if you were to apply this scientific concept of orbiting to relationships, to people, and to ourselves, you have just gained an understanding of the intricate content within this book. 

We follow Joseph as he struggles in wanting to find and be with Jupiter, his daughter, but also being pushed forward by his circumstances.  It’s about the push, the pull, the constant tug-of-war between what is wanted, what is expected, and what is necessary to keep this delicate balance.  And of course, it is also about, what happens if one of these pieces becomes unbalanced.

I recommend this book, not only because it is both beautiful and tragic, but also because it is a memorable, relatable, and a constant page turner.  If you enjoy realistic fiction this is definitely the book for you, and even if you don’t I still suggest giving this book a try because I am confident you will not be disappointed.  I have taken the liberty of recommending this book to almost everyone I know and I extend the invitation to you, TBF readers!