Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Book Trailer: SLEEPLESS

I've seen so many great book trailers lately that I can't let them go unmentioned! I'll start with SLEEPLESS.

My review of SLEEPLESS is here, but even better check out the book trailer here:
(These are posted on YouTube, so if you're in a school where it's blocked - you will see a blank white box - sorry!)

Book Trailer: BLISS

My review is here, but I think this trailer may really convey the creep factor much better:
(again - from YouTube)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Yvonne Collins & Sandy Rideout. GIRL v. BOY

Luisa Perez feels invisible at her high school. The fact that nine other girls have her exact name only increases her generic-ness. But this year, everything changes. Her school begins to participate in a fundraising contest to raise money for literacy. The principal makes the boys compete against the girls in the school to see who can raise the most money. When her English teacher gives her an assignment to write an anonymous column in the school paper to represent the girls she's reluctant, but gives it a shot. He also assigns an anonymous boy to write from their point of view. Their assignment is to talk about the contest, but a battle of the sexes begins and the readers love it. The column becomes hugely popular and even gets syndicated and printed at five other schools. In the meantime, Lu begins dating a boy she really likes, but he doesn't know she writes the column. She's a little afraid of what will happen when he finds out, since she has mentioned him a few times in the paper. As the big fundraising gala approached, she realizes that she won't be invisible anymore when she is revealed as the anonymous writer. Will she be able to handle the spotlight? Will she lose her boyfriend?

This was so much fun! The characters were realistic and enjoyable. Some were even hysterical (Mariah Mendes). I loved the dynamic between Lu and her sister. The jealousy pitted against the "taking care of you" vibe was totally believable. Plus, Lu’s two friends Izzy and Rachel round out the cast of characters nicely. The only thing I wasn't sure about was the fact that the mayor could grant a school two weeks extra vacation. But hey, it's fiction! And frankly if some school could really raise that much money for literacy - maybe it could really happen!

This dynamic duo has written several other books together.

I reviewed THE BLACK SHEEP here. That was a really unique story! (the book has a new cover, but I kinda like this one still)

You can find out more about these authors and their books here.

I have this one on my "to read" list

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Favorite Holiday Books.

With the holiday season upon us, I thought I'd share some of my favorite holiday books. (they're mostly Christmas. I can't say I've read any Hanukkah or Kwanzaa books, sorry. It wasn't intentional. If you read any good ones, let me know in the comments)

by Charles Dickens
I guess this one seems obvious. Well, I think the reason I love it so much is because as a language arts teacher, we read this book every year in all my classes. Each time I read it, I discovered more beauty, humor and genius in the language.
Here a just a few of my favorite parts:

The first paragraph! What a way to begin a book:
"MARLEY was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner." (somehow, that cracks me up)

NEXT: When the men come to collect for charity to help the homeless, Scrooge suggests that if they have nowhere to live then they should go live in the prisons.
So, the man says, "Many can't go there; and many would rather die." And Scrooge hits him with "If they would rather die, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population."
Wow...really tells the reader what kind of man Scrooge is, huh?

THEN: When Marley comes to inform Scrooge of his fate later that night, Scrooge notices the chains Marley is dragging behind him:

"You are fettered," said Scrooge, trembling. "Tell me why?"

"I wear the chain I forged in life," replied the Ghost. "I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?"

Then Scrooge denies any wrong doings and tells Marley - he was such a good man of business, where Marley replies with:

"Business!" cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. "Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!"

Wow - Marley has learned his lesson, for sure. Scrooge is next.

And I could go on & on. There are more creepy parts, more sad parts, as well as more funny and happy sections. But, I think you get my point. It's a lovely, lovely friend worth visiting each holiday season. By the way, I know most people prefer the George C. Scott version of the movie, but my personal fav is the Patrick Stewart version. (I love him)

FAVORITE non-YA Holiday Books
Every few years, Mary Higgins Clark & her daughter Carol do a Christmas book. They began the tradition by having characters from each of their own popular books meet each other during the course of a holiday mystery. (they're both mystery writers, if you aren't already acquainted with the authors). Then every few years, they write another book with this combination of characters. They are always amusing, suspenseful and just plain fun to read during this time of year. The most recent in this series was just published a few weeks ago. It's called DASHING THROUGH THE SNOW. I'd recommend reading all of them, but it's certainly not mandatory to enjoy the fun. (the books are totally appropriate for teens)

Another non-YA holiday book that I really love is THE CHRISTMAS TRAIN by David Baldacci. I haven't read any of his other books, but one Christmas, some years back, this book caught my eye when I was browsing for a holiday treat. I read it, loved it, and since it still sticks with me after all these years, that says something. Here's a description from the author's website:

"Disillusioned journalist Tom Langdon must get from Washington to Los Angeles in time for Christmas. Forced to take the train across the country because of a slight "misunderstanding" at airport security, he begins a journey of self-discovery and rude awakenings, mysterious goings-on and thrilling adventures, screwball escapades and holiday magic. He has no idea that the locomotives pulling him across America will actually take him into the rugged terrain of his own heart, as he rediscovers people’s essential goodness and someone very special he believed he had lost."

Like I said, it's been a few years since I've read it, but I still remember it being really heart-warming and perfect for the holiday season. (it's on the shelf in my library, so totally appropriate for teens)

Last, but certainly not least, my favorite YA Holiday book
LET IT SNOW by Green, Johnson & Myracle. I just reviewed this a few weeks ago, so I'll just refer you there for more info. It's a humorous and lovely holiday gift.

Any good holiday book you can recommend? Let us all know in the comments!

Terri Clark. SLEEPLESS

Trinity has an unusual talent. She “dreamwalks.” In other words, she is lucid in her dreams, which means she can control them, but she can’t control the people she encounters and the disturbing things she learns about them. It’s a talent she’d rather not have, especially after the most recent, tragic incident where she witnesses a girl in mortal danger. She called the authorities, but they got there too late to save her. Trinity has felt guilty about it ever since. Now the murderer is visiting her in her dreams and threatens her life. After finding out that the murderer has escaped from the mental hospital, she freaks. She teams up with an unlikely partner to find the murderer before he finds her.
It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed a psychological thriller. As an added bonus, it’s love story too. I had a ton of fun getting to know Trinity. She’s an intriguing character. I’ve heard there may be a sequel. I’m all for it, since there is so much more story here.
The writing is awesome; the book really flowed nicely. It has a perfect combination of humor, thriller, coming of age, and love. (Warning: it will keep you up at night! Oh and you may be compelled to get a dreamcatcher after reading)

By the way, I’ve had the pleasure of encountering Terri Clark in her day job, and she’s marvelous. I hope she still has time to write a sequel!

Here’s her website to read more about the her.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

John Green, Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle. LET IT SNOW

What an awesome Christmas present to me. Three of my favorite authors together delivering a funny and heartwarming holiday tale! This lovely book contains three different stories, but with connecting characters. It's as if there are spotlights shining in three different locations in the same town on Christmas. Then at the end, the spotlights become one as all the stories weave together for the last scene at the Starbucks. The first story is about a girl named Jubilee who has a wrench thrown in her Christmas plans because her parents get arrested. However, the adventure that ensues brightens up her holiday after all. The second story involves a desperate attempt to trudge through a snowstorm to reach fourteen cheerleaders at a Waffle House. The last story is about a girl with a broken heart who learns how to think of others and appreciate her friends.
All three involve love, but not in an overly mushy way. The stories are realistic and the characters feel like real teens. In fact, the characters are so unique and fun that I enjoyed spending time with them. Most of all, I laughed my rear off. In the first story, I bookmarked several funny parts, but I think the funniest part is about what happens to your body when you fall in a frozen creek. (too much to quote here, but original & funny enough that I had to show it to several people). One of the funniest lines in the second story is about a guy with greasy hair. A character says, "I feel like if you wrung out his hair every day or two, you could potentially end America's dependence on foreign oil." There were funny parts in the third story, too, but what I really liked was the realistic portrayal of a girl who is trying, but keeps getting in her own way. Perhaps that just felt a little too familiar to me.This would make a great holiday gift for someone or for yourself. Definitely one I'll have to revisit during future Christmases. Loved it!

All three authors have many other books to choose from. Here are their websites to check them out:
John Green
Maureen Johnson
Lauren Myracle

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Lauren Myracle. BLISS

Wow! What a great departure from what Lauren Myracle typically writes (well except for RHYMES WITH WITCHES - I knew that name Lurlene was familiar!).But for the most part I think people associate Myracle's name with her wonderful tween books (Eleven, Twelve etc.) or the TTYL series.
This is quite different from those. It's creepy, chilling, and has the coolest opening line. "Grandmother won't tolerate occultism..." OK, but tell me what grandmother would! That cracked me up. But it was a great way to set you up for the time period of this novel, which is 1969, because she's actually referring to Bewitched - the TV show.
The main character Bliss has been dropped off at her grandmother's house because her hippie parents have had some trouble carting around a teenager in the midst of protesting the war and fleeing to Canada. So, Bliss has been deposited at her grandmother's house for a safer, cleaner environment. Her grandmother enrolls her in a private prep school called Crestview. It's an old school, and Bliss finds out the scary way that a girl killed herself in one of the creepy old buildings. She hears her voice calling to her. The voice implores her to come to her and tells her she is the key. The key to what? Bliss wonders. Bliss tries her best to ignore the creepiness of the new school by forming a few friendships and going about her life. But one girl will not let her and tries to involve Bliss in some really creepy activities.
This book is a delicious blend of late 60's prim, prep school and creepy, bloody ghost story. Plus, who would've predicted that both Andy Griffith and Charles Manson would ever be in the same book! You'll have to read it to find out what I mean. Really, I can't say much more without giving away the juicy parts.
Definitely a fun, entertaining, yet slightly disturbing book worth your time!

Check out Lauren's website here and her blog here