Sunday, January 31, 2016

Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

Hey, readers! Even though the weather keeps getting warmer, I still love curling up with a good book and a cup of tea. And if I'm looking for something I can finish in one or two sittings, what could be better than a graphic novel? That's why I'd recommend Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki for a great winter read.

1993. Kimberly is the only Asian student in her all-girls high school. She calls herself "Skim" ironically, even though she's still not completely okay with that. Things start to get complicated after the boyfriend of one of her friends commits suicide, throwing the whole school into disarray -- between the teachers trying to prevent other students from killing themselves and the formation of a new club, Girls Celebrate Life! Amidst all this turmoil, Skim is still trying to figure out the teenage problems of friendship and falling in love.

Skim is one of the best graphic novels I've read in the past few years. Even though not all is subjects are ones that every teen can identify with, its central problem is one we all can relate to -- finding a way to be your true, authentic self. High school is hard enough, and having that added on top of things sure is difficult. Skim captures this struggle with grace and understanding, and the illustrations wonderfully advance the story. (I also loved that the graphic novel didn't hesitate to show Skim as someone who wasn't stick-thin, since a lot of graphic novels only feature a slim-waisted cast of characters.) Skim is definitely a book for older teens, since it deals with some pretty heavy issues, so I'd recommend it to readers 16 and older.

If you decide to read Skim, I really hope you enjoy it, and come meet Mariko Tamaki at TBF 2016!!

Happy Reading!


Monday, January 18, 2016

Author Report: A.S. King

Hands down, there is no question that A.S. King is one of the greatest YA authors to walk this earth. You probably recognize a lot of her novels Everybody Sees the Ants, Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future and her latest release: I Crawl Through It. However (and I know this to be true for myself) there are probably a lot of things you don’t know about A.S. King. So in celebration of her participation in TBF 2016, here is a list of the Top Ten Little Known Facts about A.S. King.

1. She has worked at a wide variety of jobs including not just writer but photographer, pizza delivery girl and even poultry breeder.

2. She had an imaginary friend called Wolfie who was quite fashionably dressed.

3. The A and S in her name stand for Amy and Sarig respectively.

4. She’s seen a ghost before­ or ghost truck, more accurately­ while working as a pizza deliverer.

5. Her favorite author is Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

6. She had two siblings and was the youngest in her family.

7. She has written a book for adults called Why People Take Pictures that appears in another of her novels. Props if you know which.

8. She first met her husband when she was 17 at a summer camp they both had a job at.

9. She was a victim of bullying in college.

10. Her next book features the story of a girl who learns about herself and her family through three other versions of herself throughout her life. It is scheduled to be published in fall 2016. (Which is only, like, 9 months from now)

Thanks for reading and hope to see you all at TBF!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Meet TBF Blogger Katie

Hello TBF readers!

Please welcome our newest blogger Katie, who will be blogging about TBF!

Hi, my name is Katie and I'm a tenth grader. I've been attending TBF for the past two years and am really excited to be, this year, helping out the blog. The best part of TBF for me is definitely getting to see my favorite authors and fangirling over them in person but I like getting exposed to the new books as well. I don't have a particular favorite genre but I do love it when a book has a strong female protagonist. Hope to see you all at TBF!

Thank you so much, Katie!

Be sure to check Katie's post as well as our other TBF bloggers right here on the blog!


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Book Review: Hotel Ruby by Suzanne Young

Hello TBF readers,

I recently read, HOTEL RUBY by Suzanne Young and I didn't check out until I finished this creepy, delightful book. Take a look:

Stay tonight. Stay forever.

When Audrey Casella arrives for an unplanned stay at the grand Hotel Ruby, she’s grateful for the detour. Just months after their mother’s death, Audrey and her brother, Daniel, are on their way to live with their grandmother, dumped on the doorstep of a DNA-matched stranger because their father is drowning in his grief.

Audrey and her family only plan to stay the night, but life in the Ruby can be intoxicating, extending their stay as it provides endless distractions—including handsome guest Elias Lange, who sends Audrey’s pulse racing. However, the hotel proves to be as strange as it is beautiful. Nightly fancy affairs in the ballroom are invitation only, and Audrey seems to be the one guest who doesn’t have an invite. Instead, she joins the hotel staff on the rooftop, catching whispers about the hotel’s dark past.

The more Audrey learns about the new people she’s met, the more her curiosity grows. She’s torn in different directions—the pull of her past with its overwhelming loss, the promise of a future that holds little joy, and an in-between life in a place that is so much more than it seems…

Welcome to the Ruby.

What a roller coaster this book was! It was a thrilling ride that kept me guessing and made me grip the the book until it was over. I had no idea where this book was heading.

The Hotel Ruby was filled with secrets. When a hotel so beautiful, luxurious and glamorous was too good to be true, you're bound to be a bit suspicious. The Hotel Ruby seems to have a mind of her own. She makes sure she has everyone, staff and guests, right where she wants them. Throughout the novel, Audrey learns about the tragedy that has filled the grand hotel. A horrible fire broke out when the hotel was first built, killing many of the staff and guests in the ballroom. It is rumored that ghosts haunt the hotel. Whether that's fact or fiction, you will have to find out for yourself.

HOTEL RUBY was a perfect blend of mystery, suspense, romance and may or may not be a horror book. This perfect mix made it hard to put down. The book is fast-paced and a quick read. I wouldn't be surprised if many of you read it in one sitting. HOTEL RUBY will make sure you stay in that world forever.

I highly recommend HOTEL RUBY to anyone who wants a thrilling quick read. Fans of The Twilight Zone will devour this book.

That's it for today! Make sure you check out the blog again for more book reviews and author interviews!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Interview with TBF Author: Janet B. Taylor

Hello TBF readers,

I am delighted to share with you my interview with Janet B. Taylor, debut author of INTO THE DIM!

Miranda Reads: INTO THE DIM is part sci-fi, part historical fiction. What kind of research did you do to cover both aspects of the novel?

Janet B. Taylor: I have always been a huge history nerd. Yep, I’m one of those annoying American Anglophiles, who are totally fascinated by those cool (sometimes nutso) British kings and queens. I also travel a lot, so much of the historical research was done on location, which was amazing! I even spent a couple of nights at Fontevraud Abbey in the South of France, where Eleanor spent her last few years, and where she, Henry II, and their son Richard the Lionheart are buried.

The Sci-Fi part wasn’t quite as fun. Can’t really travel through a wormhole yet…YET…But it was still really cool. I researched of articles and papers by noted physicists like Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Micho Kaku; all who believe there is some relevance to the theory of time travel.

Miranda Reads: In the story, Hope travels to Scotland where she discovers her aunt is part of a secret society of time travelers. Why Scotland? 

Janet B. Taylor: I am completely and utterly obsessed with the Scottish Highlands. Many of my ancestors came from that region, and I’ve been there several times. Now, I know this sounds bizarre, but…whenever I visit, I experience this weird sense of belonging. It’s almost as if I can hear my great-great great grandmothers calling to me. Plus—it’s the most incredible and breathtaking place I’ve ever seen. It has this raw, brutal beauty that’s still basically untouched by the modern age.

Miranda Reads: Eleanor of Aquitaine helps and interacts with the characters in INTO THE DIM. I have to say she was pretty hardcore both in history and the story. What made you choose to have Eleanor of Aquitaine in the story instead of another strong woman in history like Cleopatra VII or Queen Elizabeth I?

Janet B. Taylor: Weeelll…First, let me just say that their adventure with Eleanor isn’t the last for Hope and the gang. Book 2 of The Dim Series comes out Spring 2017, and we’re hoping that won’t be their last. *wink wink*

As for Into the Dim, I’ve been obsessed with Eleanor since I saw the movie, “The Lion in Winter,” (with the inimitable Kathryn Hepburn), years and years ago! Eleanor of Aquitaine was the richest heiress in the world. She was only fourteen when she became queen of France. And she’s the only woman ever to rule over both France and England.
Eleanor birthed ten living children. Advocated education for girls. Waged war against her own husband. And lived well into her eighties in an age when the average mortality rate for women was around thirty six.
She was simply the most fascinating, badass lady who ever lived, and I’ve always known that I’d write about her one day.

Miranda Reads: What three different time periods would you love to time travel to in history (excluding 12th century England)? 

Janet B. Taylor: Hmm…Well, without giving anything away…

I adore the energy of the entire Renaissance period.

The dichotomy of incredible wealth and terrible destitution that brought about the French Revolution and the beheading of Maria Antoinette.

I dig the spooky, gothic feel of the Victorian age.

As you mentioned above, I would love to one day ‘meet’ that most-fascinating queen, Cleopatra Philopater—last Pharaoh of Ptolemaic Egypt.

And finally…I mean, who doesn’t want to go back in time and hang with those crazy Tudors?

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

Janet B. Taylor: You guys have so many amazing authors coming, it’s hard to choose! As a ‘newbie,’ I gotta tell you, it’s going to be hard not to hide my full-on fangirl mode. But I’ll likely embarrass myself most when I meet:

Sara Rees Brennan
Jennifer Donnelly
Mercedes Lackey
Scott Westerfeld
Suzanne Young

And I’m SUPER excited to hang w/my fellow Sweet 16ers, Anna Breslaw, Harriet Hapgood, & Jeff Zentner. The four of us together? The trouble….oh my, the trouble… ;)

Thank you so much Janet! Readers, keep your eyes open for INTO THE DIM which will be travelling to your local bookstore and library March 1! You can follow Janet on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Goodreads and Pinterest!

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

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Book Review: Hunter by Mercedes Lackey

Happy New Years TBF Readers! I don't know about you but I was able to get a lot of reading done over the winter break. I finished a new fantasy/sci-fi book by Mercedes Lackey called Hunter and it was amazing! Where to start...

Hunter is an intriguing read, one that I particularly enjoyed because Lackey pulled off the combination of fantasy and science fiction in one book! Now how is this possible? 

Joyeaux (Joy) Charmand lives in the former United States after the destruction wreaked by the Diseray, the event that broke the barriers between out world and the Otherworld. Creatures straight out of mythology escaped into our world, forcing the human population into closed shelter in cities across the country. Only Hunters (those born with the ability to summon and control Otherworld creatures) can keep these monsters at bay, and Joy is one of them. But Hunters must work to protect the Apex, the largest city left, to protect the vast majority of the population. Joy is from a close-knit mountain community that secretly keeps every Hunter born there to protect themselves. But when the Apex discovers that Joy is a Hunter, she is forced to leave or the Apex may come to forcibly collect her and discover all the other Hunters on the mountain.

So Joy is whisked off to the Apex to train as a Hunter there, and she finds the Apex to have some stark differences from the mountain. The tech, the attention, and the way of life are largely alien to Joy, as the limit of her knowledge of the Apex comes from a TV that the mountain community keep on only when they watch the news. But it's not just the culture that keeps Joy on her toes. The Apex attracts a much larger number of the Otherworld monsters, as they attack areas with larger populations of humans. Within two days she completes two difficult Hunts. But even for the Apex, this is an unusual number of attacks from Othersiders. What's causing it?

Lackey does a phenomenal job with this genre twister. She has a tremendous amount of experience in writing and it shows. It's got the post-apocalyptic feel with all the depth and detail of high fantasy, so I would highly recommend it for anyone interested in either of these genres. It's the start of the series and I am so excited to keep reading! 

I hope readers enjoy it as well! Happy reading!


Saturday, January 2, 2016

Book Review: The Notorious Benedict Arnold by Steve Sheinkin

Hi Readers!  I hope you all enjoyed the holiday season and had a great start to the new year.  TBF is approaching fast and will be here before you know it, so for all you history buffs out there, have I got a book for you; The Notorious Benedict Arnold by Steve Sheinkin.

We all know the end of Benedict Arnold's story, the betrayal of his nation, however, not everyone knows his life before.  Arnold grew up doing everything he could to redeem his family name, through several businesses and trades, Arnold became wealthy but still felt that he had to do more.  At the beginning of the American Revolution, he joins the Continental army and quickly rises in the ranks.  Arnold impressed higher ranking officers with his tactical genius and bravery.  Willing to do anything to prove his worth, Arnold was at time reckless with his behavior in fighting the British.  Culminating with his traitorous behavior, Sheinkin's action packed book takes readers through the tumultuous life of the historical figure.

I love the revolutionary war era and was very excited to read this book.  Each chapter brought new information not only about Arnold, but the time period as well.  Many historical nonfiction books are very dense and read like a textbook which can be quite tedious, Sheinkin's writing read like a novel, keeping the reader engaged the entire time, making it perfect for people who generally don't like nonfiction.  Every person who picks up this book will love the story and the facts and will find themselves learning things about the revolution that will astonish them.

Nonfiction lovers will definitely enjoy this book, as will readers who branch out when picking it up.  For anyone interested in American history, adventure or the musical Hamilton, The Notorious Benedict Arnold is sure to be the perfect read.

Happy Reading!