Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Alex Award Winners

The Alex Awards are given to the ten best adult books that appeal to teen audiences. This year's winners are: Caring is Creepy by David Zimmerman, Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman, Juvenile in Justice by Richard Ross, Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan, My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf, One Shot at Forever by Chris Ballard, Pure by Julianna Baggott, The Round House by Louise Erdrich, Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt, and Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple

I have read:

and loved all three. Can you guess my favorite by reading my word cloud?
If I was on the committee to select the Alex Awards, I would have chosen The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker.  A coming of age novel about a girl who is learning to navigate middle school in extraordinary times.  On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, 11-year-old Julia and her family awake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. The days and nights grow longer and longer, gravity is affected, the environment is thrown into disarray. Yet as she struggles to navigate an ever-shifting landscape, Julia is also coping with the normal disasters of everyday life--the fissures in her parents’ marriage, the loss of old friends, the hopeful anguish of first love, the bizarre behavior of her grandfather who, convinced of a government conspiracy, spends his days obsessively cataloging his possessions. As Julia adjusts to the new normal, the slowing inexorably continues.
The Age of Miracles

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Award Winning Books for Teens!

Big library news yesterday when the ALA (American Library Association) announced the top books for young adults at the annual Midwinter meeting in Seattle.  Here are the titles!

The John Newbery Medal (for outstanding contribution to children's literature)

The One and Only Ivan The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.  I read this book earlier this year, and loved it!  See my review here.

Honor books for the Newbery were:  Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz, Bomb:  The Race to Build and Steal the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin, and Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage.

The Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults.

 In Darkness by Nick Lake
In the aftermath of the Haitian earthquake a boy is trapped beneath the rubble of a ruined hospital: thirsty, terrified and alone. 'Shorty' is a child of the slums, a teenage boy who has seen enough violence to last a lifetime, and who has been inexorably drawn into the world of the gangsters who rule Site Soleil: men who dole out money with one hand and death with the other. But Shorty has a secret: a flame of revenge that blazes inside him and a burning wish to find the twin sister he lost five years ago. And he is marked. Marked in a way that links him with Toussaint L'Ouverture, the Haitian rebel who two-hundred years ago led the slave revolt and faced down Napoleon to force the French out of Haiti. As he grows weaker, Shorty relives the journey that took him to the hospital, a bullet wound in his arm. In his visions and memories he hopes to find the strength to survive, and perhaps then Toussaint can find a way to be free ...
Four Printz Honor books were also named:  Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, Dodger by Terry Pratchett, The White Bicycle by Beverly Brenna.

The William C. Morris Award for a debut book published by a first time author writing for teens:

 Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.

I am reading this book now!  I will let you know what I think when I am finished.

Other finalists for the award were:  Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby, Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo (see my write up here), After the Snow by S. D. Crockett, and The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth.

The YALSA award for excellence in non-fiction:

 Bomb:  The Race to Build --and steal--the world's most dangerous weapon by Steve Sheinkin

honor books:  Steve Jobs:  The Man Who Thought Different by Karen Blumenthal, Moonbird:  A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95 by Phillip Hoose, Titanic:  Voices fromo the Disaster by Deborah Hopkinson, and We've Got a Job:  The 1963 Birmingham Children's March by Cynthia Levinson.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Love and Other Perishable Items

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Love is awkward, Amelia should know.

From the moment she sets eyes on Chris, she is a goner. Lost. Sunk. Head over heels infatuated with him. It's problematic, since Chris, 21, is a sophisticated university student, while Amelia, 15, is 15.

Amelia isn't stupid. She knows it's not gonna happen. So she plays it cool around Chris—at least, as cool as she can. Working checkout together at the local supermarket, they strike up a friendship: swapping life stories, bantering about everything from classic books to B movies, and cataloging the many injustices of growing up. As time goes on, Amelia's crush doesn't seem so one-sided anymore. But if Chris likes her back, what then? Can two people in such different places in life really be together?

Through a year of befuddling firsts—first love, first job, first party, and first hangover—debut author Laura Buzo shows how the things that break your heart can still crack you up.

Love and other Perishable Items is a debut novel from Australian author, Laura Buzo.  It is also on the list for a Morris Award (an award for a teen debut novel).  Read the great review by NJ Librarian, Elizabeth Burns, here:

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pizza, Pizza, Pizza for Teens

Waiting on Wednesday...books and music!

Dance of Shadows (Dance of Shadows, #1)
click on the book cover to see it on Goodreads

Dancing with someone is an act of trust. Elegant and intimate; you're close enough to kiss, close enough to feel your partner's heartbeat. But for Vanessa, dance is deadly – and she must be very careful who she trusts . . .

Vanessa Adler attends an elite ballet school – the same one her older sister, Margaret, attended before she disappeared. Vanessa feels she can never live up to her sister's shining reputation. But Vanessa, with her glorious red hair and fair skin, has a kind of power when she dances – she loses herself in the music, breathes different air, and the world around her turns to flames . . .

Soon she attracts the attention of three men: gorgeous Zep, mysterious Justin, and the great, enigmatic choreographer Josef Zhalkovsky. When Josef asks Vanessa to dance the lead in the Firebird, she has little idea of the danger that lies ahead – and the burning forces about to be unleashed. 

This cover is GORGEOUS!  I can't wait to read it!

Also, I have two movie soundtracks on hold, and hope they come in soon.  Pitch Perfect and Les Miserables. 

Pitch Perfect Soundtrack List
click here for catalog access

click here for catalog access

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Who I Kissed by Janet Gurtler

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She Never Thought A Kiss Could Kill. . .
Samantha is new at school and just recently joined the swim team. She’s been flirting with one of her teammates, Zee, who invites her to a party and just as quickly dumps her for another girl. Hurt, but pretending not to care, she turns to his best friend, Alex, and gives him a kiss. And he dies—enroute to the hospital.  Alex was allergic to peanuts, and Samantha had eaten a peanut butter sandwich right before the party. She didn’t know. Overnight, Samantha turns into the school pariah and a media sensation explodes. Consumed with guilt, abandoned by her friends, and in jeopardy of losing her swimming scholarship, she will have to find the inner-strength to forgive herself for the tragedy.  
Who I Kissed is actually a good realistic fiction, that focuses on death, and Sam's ability to forgive herself and move on. The cover of the book made me think it was a light romance, but this book definately has some interesting characters, and makes some great points about forgiveness, and how difficult it can be to be a teenager.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Middle School Monday: Edge of Nowhere by John Smelcer

Edge of Nowhere
access the catalog here

Summary from "An astonishing tale of survival in Alaska, this poignant Robinson Crusoe story is based on true events A year after his mother dies, 16-year old Seth and his dog, Tucker, are washed overboard from his father's fishing boat during a torrential storm, and are assumed drowned. But by good fortune, Seth and Tucker make it safely to one of the hundreds of islands that line the Alaskan coast. Over many months, the two castaways endure hardships to survive off the land and the sea as they make their way, island by island, toward home. More than an adventure novel, this is a story about reconciliation, about heritage, and about struggling to deal with grief."

I enjoyed this book, and read it all in one sitting.  Seth and his father are both grieving - Seth's mom was killed in an automobile accident over a year ago.  Seth has buried his grief in fast food, video games, and solitude.  After an argument on the boat, Seth's father angrily shouts "You wouldn't last a day in the wilderness".  When Seth and his dog, Tucker, are swept off the boat, and swim to a small island, they begin a journey of survival on the Alaskan coast, encountering killer whales, bears, and other wildlife.  Seth rediscovers his Alutiiq heritage, and begins to remember stories and words that his grandmother taught him before she died. 

If you enjoyed reading Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, and like outdoor adventure - Edge of Nowhere by John Smelcer is the book for you! John Smelcer has written over 40 books, including The Trap and The Great Death.  He has also written several native mythology books, and several pieces on how the Exxon Valdez oil spill affected the Prince William sound in Alaska. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Breaking Point by Kristen Simmons

Isn't this cover awesome?  Breaking Point, the sequel to Article 5 will be published on February 12, 2013.  I can't wait!  Article 5 was one of my favorite dystopian novels from 2012 - and I am anxious to find out the continuing story of Ember and Chase.  Here's a summary from the author's website:

After faking their deaths to escape from prison, Ember Miller and Chase Jennings have only one goal: to lay low until the Federal Bureau of Reformation forgets they ever existed.
Near-celebrities now for the increasingly sensationalized tales of their struggles with the government, Ember and Chase are recognized and taken in by the Resistance—an underground organization working to systematically take down the government. At headquarters, all eyes are on the sniper, an anonymous assassin taking out FBR soldiers one by one. Rumors are flying about the sniper’s true identity, and Ember and Chase welcome the diversion….
Until the government posts its most-wanted list, and their number one suspect is Ember herself.
Orders are shoot to kill, and soldiers are cleared to fire on suspicion alone. Suddenly Ember can’t even step onto the street without fear of being recognized, and “laying low” is a joke. Even members of the Resistance are starting to look at her sideways.

Do you ever create music playlists for your books?  Author Kristen Simmons did just that for Breaking Point!  Access her playlist here.!/playlist/Breaking+Point/81492627

Make sure you read Article 5 now, so you are ready for the sequel!

Access the catalog here

Monday, January 7, 2013

Middle School Monday Pick: Losing It by Erin Fry

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Bennett Robinson loves baseball, especially watching Dodgers games with his dad while munching on burgers and fries-the perfect "game food." Baseball even helped Bennett and his dad get over his mom's death from cancer. But there's no way Bennett could ever play baseball. Bennett is fat, the kind of fat that gives you belly button sweat stains and makes it tough to get off a sagging couch. But on one perfect, baseball-watching day, everything changes. Bennett's dad is taken away on a stretcher, and Bennett doesn't know if he will live or die. Now Bennett has to move in with know-it-all Aunt Laura. And she's making it her personal mission to Get Bennett Healthy. Bennett knows that Aunt Laura will take over his entire life if he lets her. It's time for Bennett to step up to the plate. Because maybe there are some things a Fat Boy can do . . . like talk to a girl, run a mile, and maybe even save his own life.

Fellow librarian, Cathy Henderson, just read this book and loved it!  She said you will be cheering for Bennett to succeed, and may be inspired to tackle a challenge yourself.  It is next on my "to read" shelf! 

About Erin Fry

Erin Fry ran her first mile—gasping and barely shuffling—at age thirty-two. Since then she and her running shoes have become a dynamic duo, eventually conquering the L.A. Marathon. When Erin’s not running, she’s often writing about running, coaching kids who like to run, or driving one of her three kids to cross-country practice. She is also a curriculum writer, book reviewer, kickboxing instructor, and teacher. Losing It is her first novel for middle-grade readers. She lives in Glendora, California, with her family. Learn more about the author: and

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

What I'm Waiting for Wednesday

What I'm Waiting For Wednesday....

I love new books, and am waiting for several to be released in January.  Here's a list of five books I am anxiously waiting to read!  What's on your list?

1.  I loved Across the Universe, was not thrilled with the way the characters progressed in A Million Suns, but I have to know how the story ends!  I also HATE this new cover - the original Across the Universe cover was simply gorgeous.  Here's a clip from Goodreads describing the story:
"Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They're ready to start life afresh--to build a home--on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.

But this new Earth isn't the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed's former passengers aren't alone on this planet. And if they're going to stay, they'll have to fight.

Amy and Elder must race to discover who--or what--else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed--friends, family, life on Earth--will have been for nothing."

2.  I love historical fiction, and the premise of magic and WW II has me intrigued.  From "When two beautiful teenage stage magicians in World War II England meet a pair of handsome men who can do real magic, sparks fly. But is it illusion, or delusion? Opening-night jitters are nothing new for Phil and Fee Albion, who come from a long line of stage illusionists. The girls love to dazzle London audiences, but in the aftermath of the Blitz they're bundled off to the countryside, where they're safe from bombs and Nazis--and bored to pieces. Phil, always the passionate one, discovers a hidden college of real magicians led by the devastatingly handsome Arden. If only Phil can persuade these unworldly magicians to help England win the war! Daredevil that she is, she'll risk anything to give her country a fighting chance, even if it means losing her heart . . . or her life."


Gayle Forman is a great contemporary writer, and I am really looking forward to her newest book, Just One Day. She also wrote If I Stay and Where She Went. From, "When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.

Just One Day is the first in a sweepingly romantic duet of novels. Willem’s story—Just One Year—is coming soon!"

4.  Paper Valentine Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff. Wow - what a gorgeous and original cover! Here's a summary of the book from "The city of Ludlow is gripped by the hottest July on record. The asphalt is melting, the birds are dying, petty crime is on the rise, and someone in Hannah Wagnor’s peaceful suburban community is killing girls.

For Hannah, the summer is a complicated one. Her best friend Lillian died six months ago, and Hannah just wants her life to go back to normal. But how can things be normal when Lillian’s ghost is haunting her bedroom, pushing her to investigate the mysterious string of murders? Hannah’s just trying to understand why her friend self-destructed, and where she fits now that Lillian isn’t there to save her a place among the social elite. And she must stop thinking about Finny Boone, the big, enigmatic delinquent whose main hobbies seem to include petty larceny and surprising acts of kindness.

With the entire city in a panic, Hannah soon finds herself drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets. She realizes that only by confronting the Valentine Killer will she be able move on with her life—and it’s up to her to put together the pieces before he strikes again."

5.  The Madman's Daughter (The Madman's Daughter, #1) 

The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

It sounds deliciously creepy. From, "Sixteen-year-old Juliet Moreau has built a life for herself in London—working as a maid, attending church on Sundays, and trying not to think about the scandal that ruined her life. After all, no one ever proved the rumors about her father's gruesome experiments. But when she learns he is alive and continuing his work on a remote tropical island, she is determined to find out if the accusations are true.

Accompanied by her father's handsome young assistant, Montgomery, and an enigmatic castaway, Edward—both of whom she is deeply drawn to—Juliet travels to the island, only to discover the depths of her father's madness: He has experimented on animals so that they resemble, speak, and behave as humans. And worse, one of the creatures has turned violent and is killing the island's inhabitants. Torn between horror and scientific curiosity, Juliet knows she must end her father's dangerous experiments and escape her jungle prison before it's too late. Yet as the island falls into chaos, she discovers the extent of her father's genius—and madness—in her own blood."