Monday, November 24, 2014

Up and Coming: We Should Hang Out Sometime by Josh Sundquist

We Should Hang Out Sometime by Josh Sundquist

Release Date: December 23, 2014

Josh Sundquist has not had much luck with girls. He has decided to consider the situation as if it were a science problem, and therefore something that might be solved. If he gathers all the evidence and looks at each embarrassing, awkward date perhaps he'll be able to find a solution to his romantic woes. But, when he revisits them and talks to the ladies involved to get their perspectives, he's very surprised at the results of this investigation.

Josh Sundquist's name had come up in High School TAB because of his previous book, Just Don't Fall where he tells the story of his journey from one-legged cancer survivor to paraolympian. The high school reviewer had mentioned how funny and easy to read that book was and so I had was looking forward to checking this one out as well.

Josh talks to crowds for a living as a motivational speaker and it's clear in We Should Hang Out Sometime that he's a great storyteller. He has had a lot of terrible dates and he's pretty sure that they're mostly because no girl would ever take him seriously as a leading man in the romcom of their lives. Some of these stories are laugh out loud funny. But what makes this more than just a guy's look at how girls never gave him the time of day, is Josh checking in with the almost-girlfriends of his youth. He quickly finds out that his memories are very different from theirs. This makes for a great reminder for readers (especially in high school) that although it might seem like you are so awkward and ridiculous that everyone is rolling their eyes at you, the reality is that they probably think the exact same way about themselves.

Read More:

Teens Read Week Reposting: Struts and Frets (with Author Interview Bonus!)

Up and Coming: Lucky Fools by Coert Voorhees

Teen Wolf Week: Top 5 Not Your Sidekick Books for Stile

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Ms. Marvel (vol. 1) by: G. Willow Wilson ; artist, Adrian Alphona

Ms. Marvel (vol. 1) by: G. Willow Wilson ; artist, Adrian Alphona

Kamala Khan is a high schooler who spends a lot of her afternoons hanging out with her friends at the local convenience store where one of them works. Her parents don't want her to go out to high school parties, so she spends a lot of time online reading about the Avengers.

But she's a little jealous and so one day she sneaks out to a party. Then the city's attacked by blue mist and Kamala suddenly finds herself with Captain. Marvel's powers... wait, what? That's right, this isn't your every day high school story, this is an ORIGIN STORY!

Kamala is our new Ms. Marvel and she is awesome! She's a Muslim-American from New Jersey who is just trying to figure her life out. Now she's got some super abilities to add into the mix. In this first volume she attempts to deal with the lowlifes that her friend Bruno's older brother has gotten mixed up with. But, has she bitten off more than she can chew? How can she figure out how to get a handle on her powers with no one to teach her all while she's trying very hard to keep them a secret from her family (and the rest of the world)??

Grab this gorgeous graphic novel and get in early on Kamala's adventures! 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Bottled Up Secret by Brian McNamara

Bottled Up Secret by Brian McNamara

Brendan is a popular member of the drama club, with lots of friends both at his Catholic School and outside of it. But, he's realizing that none of these friends really know the whole truth about him. Brian's gay and he's not exactly sure how his conservative family is going to take the news.

But, when he does get up the nerve to tell them, Brendan's friends are accepting and so finally there's one part of his life where Brendan can be entirely himself. That is, until he catches the eye of a cute soccer player. Marc has only ever liked girls before and his feelings for Brendan totally take him by surprise. He's not ready to deal with the idea of labeling himself as gay, so he wants to keep any relationship he might have with Brendan a secret.

For Brendan, who has been trying to live his life as open as he can, that's asking a lot. Is a relationship with Marc worth taking on a new secret? How can he keep this from the friends who he just asked to accept him?

This is a book with not a lot of easy answers. Brendan is about to embark on a whole new life when he leaves for college in the fall, but he's still struggling to make the life he's going to leave behind into something real. He's going to Catholic school in a conservative town and even though things are a lot easier than they would have been in the past, it's still doesn't feel all that rosy. McNamara brings us a very realistic romance that has a lot of obstacles in its way.

More to read:

Up and Coming: When Love Comes to Town by Tom Lennon

Up and Coming: Fan Art by Sarah Tregay

Up and Coming: One Man Guy by Michael Barakiva

Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan

Flashback Friday: Let's Go Back to The Nineties

Tom Ryan Week: Way to Go

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming

You’d think if you know how a particular story ends, there would be no reason to read the book.  Right?  What would be the point if you already know what happens to everyone in the story? 

In the case of The Family Romanov: Murder,Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia, you’d be wrong.  Yes, we know what ultimately happens to Russia’s last imperial family--Tsar Nicholas II, the richest, most powerful monarch in the world; the severe, reclusive, deeply religious Empress Alexandra; their four daughters, Olga, Tatiana, Marie, and Anastasia; and son and heir to the throne, Alexei. We know what ultimately happens in Russia. The title of the book spells it all out.

But it’s the unfolding of the story in the masterful hands of Candace Fleming that brings history alive in a way that will keep you furiously turning pages to find out what you already know will happen.

Using numerous primary resources, including diaries, letters and photographs, Fleming paints an intimate, revealing portrait of a ruling family impervious to the calamitous changes unfolding around them.  They live in unfathomable, extravagant splendor, while the vast majority of the Russian people live in deplorable poverty, often without enough food to survive.  Nicholas and Alexandra are remarkably resistant to acknowledging or even seeing the increasing social unrest and upheaval surrounding them.  The children live in a bubble, immature in their isolation and divorced from so many of life’s realities.

If you wrote this story as fiction, people would say it’s too unbelievable.  But you know what they say about truth—how it can be stranger than fiction, etc.  If you enjoy excellent, well-researched, beautifully written historical fiction, read this book.  If you enjoy a riveting tale of politics, fanatics, and international intrigue, read this book.  If you enjoy deeply insightful stories about families and their relationships, read this book.  There is no question that The Family Romanov will end up on many “best of 2014” lists.  Get a head start on everyone and read it now. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Notes from Y'ALLFEST: My True Love Gave To Me Edition

Last weekend, TATAL correspondents Nico and Kady went to Y’ALLFEST, the biggest YA Festival in the country. They’ll be bringing you the low-down on what they learned:

The My True Love Gave to Me panel featured many of the authors whose short stories are included in the collection: Laini Taylor, Rainbow Rowell, Stephanie Perkins, David Levithan, Gayle Forman and Matt de la Peña. They were asked questions by the moderator, E. Lockhart. 

Here are some highlights:
They were asked to talk about the fact that the stories in the collection are all romance stories and whether that was a change from what they normally write. 
- Rainbow Rowell discussed the fact that "romance" is also a genre with conventions and rules (such as writing a certain number of books a year and devoting a certain number of pages to one point of view or another), so you can be romantic in your writing without necessarily thinking of it as "romance." 
- Stephanie Perkins said that she gravitates towards things other people deride. Everyone knows that "romance" is a little bit of a dirty word in literature, but that's because it's a genre that's associated with women readers. She's happy to wear the label. Her books revolve around the love stories.
- Gayle Forman said that she thinks of Stephanie Perkins books as 'coming of age' books. They are about character transformations with a gooey romantic center. She also said that even though romance and fantasy are looked down on, even the most serious books and movies benefit from a love story. 
Matt de la Peña talked about how happy he was to be part of the collection. He loves writing romantic stories, but he has felt like they are not what he's supposed to be digging in to. He felt like he's sold as someone who writes about working class boys and therefore even if his readers actually like the romantic storyline that can never be on the cover or part of the blurb.

Stephanie Perkins was asked about how the idea for the collection came to her. She remembered that a year ago at Y'ALLFEST she was having breakfast with Myra McEntire. They are good friends who came together because they both have dealt with serious depression. Last year they had both recently been dealing with this and were finally in high spirits, drinking crème brûlée lattes and talking about how much they liked decorating for the holidays and watching cheesy holiday movies.  They talked about how weird it was that there isn't a lot of holiday romance for teens when there is basically a whole genre for adults. Outside of Dash and Lily's Book of Dares  and Let it Snow, they couldn't think of any. From there the idea spiraled and it was under contract in under a month and published in under a year! She was amazed to find that even though taking on this project tripled her work load it actually helped her fall back in love with writing. She remarked that it's amazing what you can do with friends on your side.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Notes from Y'allFest: James Dashner Keynote Edition

Last weekend, TATAL correspondents Nico and Kady went to Y'ALLFEST, the biggest YA Festival in the country. They'll be bringing you the low-down on what they learned:

Things we learned about James Dashner from his keynote opening:

-He was not an overnight success: he worked as an accountant for seven years and wrote when he wasn't working every day.
- The Maze Runner had to be rewritten a bunch of times before he sold it.
- When he's beginning a new book, he writes an outline for one day, then writes a first draft all in one go, where he doesn't let himself look back at all.
- He hates going back and revising.
- He did not see the full version of The Maze Runner Movie until the premiere. When it was finished he shook and cried and couldn't believe how much he loved it.
- He's starting to write another prequel to The Maze Runner that will look at Thomas and Theresa's earlier lives. You should look for that on your shelves in 2016.
-Eye of Minds is shopping for directors right now!
- He says, if you want to be a writer, practice a lot. Write everyday. Go to events where you can interact and learn from authors. Writing takes practice, you wouldn't sit down at the piano and expect to be awesome right away, so why would you do that with writing? The important thing to do is ignore the voice in your head that's telling you that your writing is terrible.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Girls Like Us by Gail Giles

Girls Like Us by Gail Giles

Quincy and Biddy would not have chosen to be roommates. Their special ed program decided that the two of them would make a good team after high school and so that was that. Biddy is in charge of helping the older lady who lives next door while Quincy cooks for all three of them and picks up shifts at the local grocery store.

The world is not kind to these two girls. Quincy had her childhood interrupted when the boyfriend of her mom hit her in the head with a brick. Biddy has been taken advantage of by most of the people she's met in her life and now she's pretty much scared of everyone. These two girls have been looked at as something lesser by the World and now are struggling to figure out what they are really worth.

This is not an easy book to read, Quincy and Biddy's world is one where people are not to be trusted and the worst is the most likely thing to happen. But this is also a story of choosing your own family and finding people worth knowing. Also these girls have very strong voices that slowly reveal their secrets. Girls Like Us is quietly gripping. These girls are ones your won't want to miss out on meeting.