Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Rebecca Stead. WHEN YOU REACH ME

Sixth Grader Miranda navigates her New York City neighborhood all by herself. She knows the safe places to go, the little tricks to avoid strange people and how to get her keys in her hand before she reaches her building. But some mysterious events occur that cause her to question what she knows. A crazy man begins hanging out on her corner doing weird things. Her best friend ditches her. Then she gets an unusual note that says:

“I’m coming to save your friend’s life, and my own. I ask two favors. First you must write me a letter...”

She doesn’t know who wrote the note or why. Then several other notes come to her. One mentions three events that come true over the following weeks. How could someone know what is going to happen in the future? And how is she involved?
This book is rich with details and wonderful characters. The setting is so well described, I felt like I was there in New York in the late 70’s. The story itself is so unique and intriguing. Every last detail is in place, which is no easy task with this kind of plot. I can’t say more about the plot without spoilers. This is just a smart, remarkable book that you will absolutely LOVE!!

I'm intrigued by this author & plan to read more by her. Here is her website.
This one looks awesome:

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Elizabeth Scott. THE UNWRITTEN RULE

YAY! I was lucky to receive an ARC of THE UNWRITTEN RULE to review!

Sarah and Brianna have been friends since Kindergarten when Brianna saved Sarah from a bully. They’ve been close ever since. The boys always go for Brianna. Sarah has been the trusty best friend. She’s been there to encourage and support Brianna consistently and without question (even at her own expense).

However, now that Brianna is dating Ryan, Sarah is having major conflicts within herself. She had always like Ryan ever since he invited her to the dance in 8th grade. They didn’t end up going together that night due to unforeseen circumstances. But Sarah never stopped liking Ryan. Brianna doesn’t know that or simply refused to pay enough attention.
What should Sarah do? She knows she’s breaking the unwritten rule of friendship, but she’s never wanted a boy so much before. Does she ruin her friendship or does she allow her heart to break?

I love a great love story! What I really admire about Scott’s writing is the way she is able to portray so much energy and feeling between two characters. With only a word, a look, or a brush of a hand, you totally feel the chemistry between two people. I also love the way she gave Sarah and Brianna so much depth. Their friendship was complicated. I remember in SOMETHING MAYBE the way I was taken back to my own teen years with the authentic emotions created. I felt the same realness in this book. It feels like Scott has a direct link to the teenage heart!  And without giving too much away – I thought the ending was realistic and perfect!

Check out Scott’s other books at her website here.
My review of SOMETHING MAYBE

Friday, December 18, 2009

Author Interview!! MELISSA DE LA CRUZ

YAY! I got the privilege of interviewing Melissa De La Cruz, author of the intriguing BLUE BLOODS saga. It's a stellar vampire series that truly gets better with each installment.

It's no wonder the books are so intriguing - so is the author!


Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for me and my readers!

Anytime! Thanks for having me and for the great reviews of the books. Yay!

When did you start writing?

I started writing professionally in 1996. I was twenty-five years old and I submitted an essay to the New York Press. Back then you still had to fax your articles in, and the editor actually called me to tell me they were accepting it. It was one of the happiest days of my life. When the article came out I went and grabbed five issues from the bin. I remember feeling so giddy. The feeling of validation—that YES, I can do it and YES, people will pay me to do it—is immeasurable.

Did you always know you would become a writer?

Yes. It was the only thing I wanted to do, ever since I learned how to read. But did I know it would happen? I definitely hoped so and I worked very hard to make it happen. There's a difference between what you can do and what you want to do. I was a very capable: computer programmer, fashion editor, magazine editor. I did a good enough job at my day jobs, and if I had gone to law school and become a lawyer, I probably would have been a decent lawyer.

I always laugh when I read about how if Quentin Tarantino did not become a filmmaker, he says he would have been a "criminal". He was a clerk at a video store! I don't mean to bash, I love his movies, but I think artists sometimes give this perception that we are just made for our art and that is it. As someone who had a day job for nine years and made a decent living at it, I don't think it's quite true. I was competent. But I did feel like I was dying inside. Until I got my first book deal I was depressed for many years. There's this huge burning ambition and desire, and when you feel like it's not happening you feel like less of a person. I remember when I quit my day job after I sold my first novel, I gave an interview and said "I'm going to be a starving artist but I can't be happier." The fact that the books are doing so well is just gravy. I'm just thankful I get to do this.

Thanks for sharing that. It's encouraging to others who are still pursuing their dreams to here your story. We're so glad you persisted and get to enjoy your books!
Now, on to the BLUE BLOODS SAGA…
The idea of vampires as fallen angels is so intriguing, what inspired you to write your vampires this way?

I wanted to have an origin story for my vampires – and the story of Paradise Lost fit so well – I'd always loved the story of Lucifer's Fall and I wanted my vampires to have a very solid foundation in the myths of the world. I'd never read any vampire book that explained WHY they were around. So I wanted an explanation for that.

So true. I do enjoy the explanation - the unraveling we get along the way. 
You skillfully combine ancient history and fantasy. Did you have to do a lot of biblical research for the series?

No. I grew up knowing these stories – I grew up in the Philippines, and went to Catholic school. Religion and mystery and superstition are all much more weaved into daily life in my country. I grew up going to processions – walking for miles holding a candle for the Feast of the Holy Virgin, or during Lent you would see people walking by the highway wearing barbed wire crowns dragging crucifixes. It was just part of what I knew growing up. We moved to America when I was fourteen, and in college when I took a literature class on the Bible I was amazed at how little many of my fellow students knew about the stories.
But the Blue Bloods story is not rooted in a Biblical story per se – Lucifer's Fall is a pre-Biblical story – there's not much mention of it – and while Lucifer is thought to be Satan it's debatable—I think of the angels story as not quite canon – and I would never touch events that were important to the religion I was brought up in.  For instance a reader asked if Schuyler was related to Jesus—No, No, No! I'm not writing the Da Vinci code. I would never go there. I'm Catholic! The myth of angels exists in Christian, Hebrew and Muslin theology, so while it seems like the books are tied to a certain religion, my idea was that they are tied more a more universal myth. And I wanted the Blue Bloods to be tied to all the major historical events, so yeah, they were in Egypt and Rome and Versailles, but they're not part of the New Testament.

Wow, what an interesting upbringing! It's no wonder you've be able to weave in all the different myths and histories so seamlessly. I think that's what makes the novels so rich (for me anyway).
I love posting your Book Trailers with my reviews. Who does those? Do you have any say in what they will look like?

Of course! I produced and paid for them. I hired a company that specializes in anime to do the Revelations trailer and my cousin who's a comic-book artist did all the art. For Van Alen Legacy, a good friend of mine from college is a stop-motion animation director and I hired him to do the trailer (he makes commercials for McDonalds and AT&T and he gave me a discount on his fee – thank god!)– I write all the scripts and then the directors translate my ideas into the screen. I'm really happy with both, and I give them notes on what I think is working or not working. I have a huge say in them since they are an extension of my work. My publisher also made a trailer for Van Alen Legacy, with more of the idea of showcasing me, so I had to appear on camera, and then they show me the piece and I tell them which angles I like better. Their trailer was also amazing – I loved what Disney did and I'm so glad I had two awesome trailers for the book!

Speaking of movies of your books, if BLUE BLOODS becomes a movie, who would be your ideal casting for Schuyler? Or any of the other characters? (We would all be lining up to see this movie on opening day!)

It's hard to say – whoever plays Schuyler would have to look fifteen years old and I am not as up on the young actresses as some of my readers are. I do see some of the dream-casts and they are so great, I'm always so impressed. I think Alexis Bledel would have made a good Schuyler, she's probably too old now. But someone who had her look would nail it I think. I also love Amanda Seyfried for Mimi, she could probably still play it if the movie gets made sooner rather than later.

You're so right about Amanda Seyfried - that's exactly how I picture Mimi in my head!
I heard that you’re working hard on the next BLUE BLOODS installment – can you give us any teasers about it?

Sure! I've given teasers to other sites, so I'll talk about things I haven't yet before. We see a lot of Allegra in this book, part of the book takes place in Florence during the Italian Renaissance and in a boarding school in Connecticut in the 1980s. It's really fun to work with the same characters but in different time periods.

Oh I can't wait to hear more about Allegra. All this time, she's been such a mystery, and everyone has had so much passion for her. I'd love to read her life story.
Thank you so much!! I’ll send the link to the interview when I’ve posted it. Looking forward to the next book!


You're so welcome!! This was fun! Can't wait to see it!



To find out more about Melissa De La Cruz, please visit her website here
Here is the link to my review of the latest in her BLUE BLOODS saga THE VAN ALEN LEGACY.
I'll let you know when the latest installment is out! 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

D. J. Steinberg & Brian Smith. THE ADVENTURES OF DANIEL BOOM aka LOUD BOY

I’m reviewing some of the latest graphic novels for my new graphic collection at my library. The Adventures of Daniel Boom is way more fun than I imagined it would be. Here are some of the little things that I appreciate:

The villain is named Old Fogey, The ear doctor’s name is Dr. Des E. Bell and the cafeteria lunch lady is called Ms. Grossweiner. Yes, I also think Captain Underpants is funny!

But the story is good too. Daniel Boom was born with a really loud voice – even as an infant, he shattered windows out of the hospital when he cried. Now as a student at Stillville Elementary, Daniel has met a group of kids who also have some “special” talents. They soon learn of an evil plot by Kid-Rid Industries that threatens all the kids in the world. They learn that they are really a unique group of super heroes and take action against Old Fogey and his men.

My students will love Daniel Boom aka Loud Boy!

Check out the author's website here - and the illustrator here

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Adam Selzer. ANDREW NORTH BLOWS UP THE WORLD


I jumped on this book as soon as I heard about it. Adam Selzer is one of my favorite discoveries of the last few years. He’s absolutely hysterical! You MUST read HOW TO GET SUSPENDED AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE. Right now – no kidding! He’s so funny and not just in a funny/ha ha way, more like in witty/clever way. His plots are so unique. Or actually, perhaps the plots aren't at first. But he takes them, puts them in a blender and then they become unique & laugh out loud funny. I can't articulate what I mean- just trust me- you'll love his books.

Anyway, Andrew North believes his father and brother are spies. He figures that if he learns enough from his brother and proves himself worthy, then he too will be asked to go pro in the family business. When Andrew realizes that the janitor at school, Mr. Gomulka, is a supervillain, he relishes his chance to prove himself as a superspy. But, he must complete the mission on the same night as the music program where he is singing a solo. It could be tricky!

I loved, loved this! In fact, I think it would make a great series. Andrew is a neat little guy that I’d love to hear more about. He totally needs more spy missions! What I like most about this book is how the author is totally in sync with little boys’ minds where imagination is king. My own son has the most fascinating, active imagination. Andrew feels real authentic. And so does his relationship with his older brother.

I can’t wait to booktalk this with my 3rd – 5th graders. I’m anxious to see how they enjoy it (boys and girls).

More about Adam Selzer here. He's really quite a character!

His previous books & my reviews:



I PUT A SPELL ON YOU


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
PIRATES OF THE RETAIL WASTELAND (sequel to HOW TO GET SUSPENDED...)
 
 

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

THE LIGHTNING THIEF TRAILER!!

Woohoo! Here is the latest trailer for THE LIGHTNING THIEF due out February 12th!!
I CANNOT WAIT!