Monday, October 5, 2015

Middle School Monday: Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova

Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova

Penelope and Jamie did not have a meet-cute. In fact, when they met, Penelope kind of pushed Jamie in the hallway because a crowd of people were looking at her and she panicked.

Now Penelope can't find a way to apologize and her science teacher wants Jamie to tutor her. On top of that Penelope is part of the art club whose arch-rivals are the students in the science club, which guess what? Jamie is part of. 

There doesn't seem any chance that the two of them can find  a  way to be friends. Except they both wish it were different.

This is a super cute book with a little romance and a LOT of humor. It captures the drama of middle school pretty perfectly while still being super fun! If you are someone who hugs books, you might find yourself hugging this one.

More to read:

Middle School Monday: Drama by Raina Telgemeier

Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm

Middle School Monday: Eighth Grade is Making Me Sick: Ginny Davis's Year in Stuff by Jennifer L. Holm

Middle School Monday: Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

Friday Lit Spotlight: Great Graphics with Girls



Friday, October 2, 2015

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Mare is the oldest daughter of a family of red blooded workers. Her three older brothers have already been sent to the front lines and it's only a matter of time before she follows them. That's the same fate awaiting her best friend, Kilorn and Mare would do anything to keep him from that fate.

In order to do that, Mare ends up in a job to earn money for an escape plan. But when that job gets her in trouble, Mare finds herself in the Royal spotlight. In order to keep her family and Kilorn safe she has to become an entirely different person, a silver blooded princess. She's supposed to do exactly what they say and be exactly who they say she should be. But there are some people in the castle who don't want that, instead they want her to use her new position to fight against the ruling forces. Though that sounds dangerous, Mare can't resist the pull of the resistors, especially when she loses someone she was protecting to the cause.

There are so many people with ulterior motives in Mare's world. When she's told beware of trusting people, because anyone might betray you, they are not kidding. If you like your futuristic fantasy to be a tight political adventure, this book is for you. It's a new series with a kick butt narrator who is out to fight for what she believes in, even if that means leaving blood on the ground.... especially if that blood is silver.

More to Read:

The Jewel by Amy Ewing

Teen Wolf Week: Top 5 Ladies Coming Into Their Powers for Lydia

Teen Review: Half Bad by Sally Green

Out of My Comfort Zone: White Cat by Holly Black

The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Jewel by Amy Ewing

The Jewel by Amy Ewing

For four years Violet has been told how "special" she is. She has been given all the food she could want and a great education. She's been allowed to learn the cello and she's made some great friends, all because she is destined for a higher purpose.

A genetic mutation of her blood (and that of her classmates) means that Violet is able to do a little bit of magic. She can change the shape and color of things, even make something grow. All of this means that she is the perfect candidate to grow a designer baby for the royal families of her country. In fact, she's so talented that she is in the highest group of her class to be bid on for the job.

Sound exciting? It doesn't really to Violet either. But, she has no choice. The punishment for avoiding the blood test would have been death for her and serious additional consequences for her family too. But, that doesn't mean she's resigned to her fate. Instead, she's constantly looking for a way out. But there is a clock counting down and she can't be sure who to trust. Her lady in waiting and the boy who she has a crush on all could be working against her.

This is a very tight moving fist chapter of a new series. Will Violet be able to find a way out? You'll be obsessively checking for the next volume to find out!

More to read:

Champion by Marie Lu

Teen Review: Cinder by All TAB Author Marissa Meyer

Monday, September 28, 2015

X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz with Kekla Magoon

X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz with Kekla Magoon

Malcolm Little grows up in Lansing, MI feeling that ever since his dad died anything can be taken from him at a moment's notice. This is only confirmed when he and his siblings are separated by the state and sent to different foster homes. Malcolm wants to take control of his own fate.

X: A Novel , looks at how Malcolm Little leaves his old life behind and becomes Detroit Red for awhile. He's a teenager who is determined to grab all of the world that he can. That includes lindyhopping in Roxbury MA and watching Billie Holiday sing in Harlem. But, it also includes a life of crime that he knows his dad never would have wanted for him.

Probably you know the name Malcolm X. But,you might not know much about who this man was before he was on the national stage. This is an account of his early life written by his daughter and it shines a light on his teenage years. She and Kekla Magoon have imagined what his life would be like based on the stories he told and the documents and facts left behind. If you like the names in your textbooks to become actual people with problems and dreams, you'll want to check out X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz with Kekla Magoon.

More to read:

I Second That: "How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon"

Up and Coming: How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon

Middle School Monday: Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Flashback Fridays: The Turbulent 1960s

Lies We Tell Ourselves Week: Five YA Books on Integration

Middle School Monday: Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine

Friday, September 25, 2015

Author Interview: Katie McGarry Talks to Us About Riding Motorcycles and Writing Chemistry!

We are so excited to bring you an interview with one of our favorite YA authors! Thank you Katie McGarry for joining us!

Can you tell us a little bit about your most recent book, Nowhere But Here?
In Nowhere But Here, seventeen year old Emily spends the summer with her biological father who is part of a motorcycle club. While Emily is there, Oz is asked by Emily’s father to watch over her when a rival club is a threat to Emily’s safety.

While spending the summer together, Oz and Emily learn secrets about their parent’s past and through that they learn more about themselves and each other.

This book deals a lot with motorcycles and it’s clear you know your stuff. Did you ride motorcycles before writing this book? What are some of the weirdest things you’ve had to learn about because your characters are involved with them?

No, I have never driven a motorcycle, but I have ridden on the back of one.  :)

I hung out with a local motorcycle club in order to write Nowhere But Here. The club definitely knows how to throw a party and there was more than once that my cheeks turned bright red, but what I absolutely loved about the MC was how they cared for each other like family.

Your characters have some of the most incredible chemistry in YA! With Emmy and Oz, Haley and West, Rachel and Isaiah, and Echo and Noah, the energy between your characters could power a large country. How do you create such incredible sparks between your characters again and again?

For me, extremely amazing chemistry is powered by love and trust. Each of the characters you named above all found love and trust in each other. Without love and trust, they could kiss and that kiss would be great, but the love and trust is what makes it sizzle.

We love that many of your books give us callbacks to characters in previous novels. Can we look forward to seeing anyone we meet in
Nowhere But Here again?
Yes! The second book in the Thunder Road series is Walk the Edge (release date March 2016). This story focuses on Razor. Razor was a secondary character in Nowhere But Here. Emily, Oz, Chevy, Violet, Eli, Cyrus and more of the fabulous characters from Nowhere But Here return in Walk the Edge!

Your books have tons of family members, friends and schoolmates. Do you ever pull from

people you know as inspiration?
 I don’t use specific people I know for inspiration, but I do draw inspiration from my experiences and emotions. I have some of the best friends and family in the universe and it is because of them I have such faith, love and hope for the world. I write dark, gritty stories because there was a time when my life was complicated, but I learned that no matter how dark the circumstances, there is always hope.

Do you have any tricks for getting into your narrators’ heads? Like listening to music they’d like or anything like that?

 I am a HUGE music fan. In fact, there is a playlist at the end of all my books. A song that helped create the theme for Nowhere But Here is “Ride the Wind” by Poison. For Oz, I listened to music by Imagine Dragons and “Story of My Life” by One Direction made me think of Emily.

Who has been the most fun character to write?

Razor from Walk the Edge!

What books would fans of your books also enjoy?

 Simone Elkeles, Trish Doller, Miranda Kenneally, and Colette Ballard.

What have been your favorite parts of being a YA author so far?

Hearing from my readers is my favorite part of being a YA author. I write the books I needed when I was younger and I love hearing that my stories have touched the people who have read them.

Do you have a favorite place to write?

I love to write on my front porch.

What advice would you give a young writer?

I would suggest that they keep writing and never give up. The publishing industry can seem very huge, but I’m living proof that dreams do come true. Setbacks and failures are part of the road, but never give up!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Katie McGarry Week: Dare You To

This week we're dedicating our posts to author Katie McGarry! This Friday we'll have an interview with her and we're too excited to talk about anything else!

Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Release Date: May 28, 2013

Ryan's life looks pretty perfect from the outside. He's a senior with a pitching arm that's getting the attention of scouts. He does well in school and his parents are upstanding and involved members of the community. He's a golden boy and exactly the type of person who Beth can't stand.

Beth has had the kind of childhood that makes it easy for her to believe that the world is against her. She's had to be the grown up for so long that she has no idea what it would be like to just be a "normal" teen. When her uncle reappears in her life and she's dropped in to suburban life it makes her skin crawl. Beth doesn't want to be rescued, she just wants to be left alone.

Ryan may have noticed Beth because of a dare from his friends to get her number, but now he can't stop thinking about her. Beth knows that Ryan is a terrible idea, he's a cocky and self assured jock and she doesn't have room in her life for more bad ideas. But when she and Ryan start to get closer and she finds out that there's a real person with problems and worries beneath his Abercrombie exterior, can she keep shutting him out?

Last summer we met Echo and Noah in Katie McGarry's Pushing the Limits (see our full review here). This is the first of two companion novels Ms. McGarry is writing. It's got the same super emotional romance vibe that the first one have and it's just as compulsively readable. What I really liked about it though is that it flips the bad boy meets good girl trope on its head. Ryan's the one with the crush and he's the one who has to convince the girl that a romance is a good idea.

These are two characters that take a while to unravel. You'll be turning the pages trying to figure out what makes them tick. Dig into Dare You To and you'll find with a romance that has real world complications and is that much more rewarding to read.

Katie McGarry Week: Pushing the Limits

This week we're dedicating our posts to author Katie McGarry! This Friday we'll have an interview with her and we're too excited to talk about anything else!
Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

If the first thing when you think of after you hear the word "summer" is "romance" we have got the perfect book for you today.

Echo Emerson was used to normal, she'd had normal for a long time. A brother, parents who loved her, a popular boyfriend and lots of good friends. She lost those pieces one by one, first her parents divorced, then her brother was killed in action and finally one last trauma took everything that was even close to normal away. Now her classmates view her as the school freak and she can't help but agree with them.

One of the few people farther down on the social ladder than Echo is Noah Hutchins. All the kids at school see is a burn out foster-kid with a dangerous attitude. They don't know Noah's reasons for being angry and they certainly don't know how far he'd go to protect his brothers who he's been separated from in the foster-care system.  But Noah doesn't care what the other students think and if he didn't need every single piece of evidence that he's become a responsible person that he can get, he'd never have agreed to be tutored by Echo.

They both need something from each other. Echo desperately wants her controlling father to get off her case, and that means making sure her college applications are as spotless as possible. And here's what looks good on applications: tutoring. Noah has only one goal, make his file look good enough for a judge to grant him custody of his brothers. But the two of them together are combustible.

Dating Noah is not going to make Echo's life go back to the way it was. He's nothing like Luke, her football player ex boyfriend, who is suddenly interested in her again. But after what she's been through is there really a way for Echo to go back, or does she need to find a new normal?

This is an intense romance, for fans of Simone Elkeles or Jennifer Echols. Both characters have a ton of emotional baggage, but they still find ways to support each other. The reader gets way more involved in the evolution of Noah and Echo's relationship than in the stories of love-at-first-sight. This is love against both of their better judgements. Like Elkeles and Echols, McGarry certainly knows her way around a make-out scene. If you pick this one up, your summer is about to get a lot warmer.

More like this:

Such a Rush

Top 5 Books about Life after High School