Tuesday, August 31, 2010
"New to town, Beatrice is expecting her new best friend to be one of the girls she meets on the first day. But instead, the alphabet conspires to seat her next to Jonah, aka Ghost Boy, a quiet loner who hasn't made a new friend since third grade. Something about him, though, gets to Bea, and soon they form an unexpected friendship. It's not romance, exactly - but it's definitely love. Still, Bea can't quite dispel Jonah's gloom and doom - and as she finds out his family history, she understands why. Can Bea help Jonah? Or is he destined to vanish?"
Characters: It's very difficult to place the characters in this book. As soon as I thought I had a kind of label set up, it would slip away from me. That kind of experience is a rarity while reading YA. The relationship between Jonah and Bea left me scratching my head. Platonic? Romantic? That line is hard to define. But it isn't hard to define that their soul mates. The progression of their friendship was wonderful to see. I loved reading about all the little side characters that truly make a beautiful quirky story (ie Stargirl) what it is. Standiford spent a lot of time on Bea's parents too, and I'm very glad she did. 4 and a half flowers.
Writing: This book was more and less quirky than I had anticipated. I loved the sequences when Bea was listening to the radio show. I knew I was going to like the book immediately while reading the first chapter. Bea's narrative voice is vivid and peculiar. 5 flowers.
Plot: Complicated, fascinating and made me wonder how rooted we are in reality. 4 flowers.
End: Realistic and powerful. When I closed the book, I felt like I had experienced an out of body feeling that left me in limbo. It took me a few days to get out of it. 5 flowers.
Dust Jacket Description: I would've liked description about Jonah's brother. 3 flowers.
Cover: Average. I would've preferred something more relevant and quirky. 3 flowers.
Overall: Powerful, quirky and beautiful. I can't wait to read more Standiford. 4 and a half flowers.
"Everyone is treating Kevin as a hero. He was in the right place and the right time and he saved a girl from being murdered. Only Kevin knows though, why he was able to save her. Things get even more complicated when Kevin is seen removing two patriotic "Support the Troops" ribbons from his car bumper. Now the town that lauded him as a hero turns on him, calling him unpatriotic. Kevin, who hadn't thought much about it up to then, becomes politically engaged, suddenly questioning what exactly supporting the troops or even saying the pledge of allegiance every day means."
Characters: When I went to the Teen Author Carnival, Barry Lyga said that Kevin had been his most difficult character to write because, as opposed to the rest of his protagonists, he wasn't a super genius. He had to figure important things out, but at a convincing pace, because he was just an average guy. Kevin was an interesting character to read about. His average joe personality made him a more compelling when the book got down to his political showdown with his charismatic rival. I don't think I would've enjoyed the book as much if he had been amazingly intelligent. The point of the book hit home instead of seeming elitist thanks to this detail. One thing I have noticed in several Goodreads reviews is how people say Lyga's novels are anti feminism because his protagonist is always idolizing them. Yes, not all girls fit into the Manic Pixie Dream Girl cliche, but as teens we often become infatuated with an idealistic shade of the person we supposedly have a crush on. I feel that Lyga shows this well in all of his books that I've read. Kevin may be borderline creepy with his crush, but the point wasn't to support that kind of behavior. The point was to show far we can go for obsession. 4 and a half flowers.
Writing: I devoured this book in one day, to my surprise. After reading two of Lyga's books, I can say I adore his narrative voice. 5 flowers.
Plot: I went into this book assuming it would mostly consist of debates over heroism with a little bit of political analysis mixed in. I was delightfully wrong. I love politics, and this book confirmed my beliefs and made me think more about the world. At points I would internally cheer on Kevin and his me against the town ideology. 4 and a half flowers.
End: Loved it! So glad Lyga ended on this note. 5 flowers.
Dust Jacket Description: Don't let this description mislead you. This book is more politically oriented than it says. 3 flowers.
Cover: Too boring. 3 flowers.
Overall: This appeased by inner political junkie. But if you're not into politics, you still might want to give this a try. I'd definitely recommend it for librarians and anyone who believes in choice. Well written with just enough characterization mixed in. 4 and a half flowers.
Friday, August 27, 2010
"Punk rock is in Emily Black's blood. Her mother, Louisa, hit the road to follow the incendiary music scene when Emily was four months old and never came back. Now Emily's all grown up with a punk band of her own, determined to find the tune that will bring her mother home. Because if Louisa really is following the music, shouldn't it lead her right back to Emily?"
Characters: Emily was a badass, no question. And if you've been reading my blog for long enough, you know there is not a protagonist I love more than a female badass. Her coping mechanism for dealing with her mother abandoning her-becoming Louisa no matter the cost-felt very bizarre but also raw. I loved seeing the relationship between her and her best friend as well as the parental relationship with her father. Seeing Emily progress from an indie rock cliche personified to a rock goddess in the making was a long, complicated but satisfying journey. Louisa's personal struggle with her own hatred of herself made me want to hug and yell at her simultaneously. As for side characters, I really loved Emily's band mates and the people Louisa came across on her road trip. I felt Kuehnert identified the realism of each character, either with or without diverging every detail. 4 flowers.
Writing: I was actually surprised by the style of this book. It illustrated the majority of the struggles that occurred within Emily's life. It appeared to be more of a biography than a fiction book. It took me quite a while to get through this book, not because of the page length but because of the weight of the story. The amount of description about Emily's life started to annoy me at parts, but overall the style of the book fit the tone of the story. 4 flowers.
Plot: This book is mostly about Emily's two steps forward and one step back career path and Louisa realizing that she does deserve to be happy and little else. But I enjoyed it. 4 flowers.
End: I see why emotionally it had to end there, but I would've preferred a slightly different ending. I felt unsatisfied after I closed the novel. 4 flowers.
Dust Jacket Description: I actually like this one, but it misleads you into thinking the book is exclusively Emily's POV. 3 flowers.
Cover: A fun cover that is rock star without having to blatantly put a guitar on the cover. 4 flowers.
Overall: If you want a YA biography style book about music and aren't worried about a slow pace, go for this one. 4 flowers.
But no lack of golden highlights is going to stop Annisa from making the best of Sand Dune High, especially once she checks out their competition-level cheerleading squad—one that actually appears on ESPN. Yet after a disastrous first day where Annisa accidentally breaks the most popular girl in school's nose, ticks off Daniel's girlfriend for even existing, and discovers the cheerleaders all hate her, she starts having second thoughts.
It's almost enough to make a girl run out for a box of Herbal Essences Amazon Gold.
Nevertheless, the cheerleader in Annisa just won't let her quit. She may be a little different, but Sand Dune High had better watch out—this non-blonde is here to stay.
" Micheal, Tommy, Mixer, and Bones aren't just from the wrong side of the tracks--they're from the wrong side of everything. Except for Mr. Haberman, thMicheal, Tommy, Mixer, and Bones aren't just from the wrong side of the tracks--they're from the wrong side of everything. Except for Mr. Haberman, their remedial English teacher, no one at their high school takes them seriously. Haberman calls them "gentlemen," but everyone else ignores them--or, in Bones's case, is dead afraid of them. When one of their close-knit group goes missing, the clues all seem to point in one direction: to Mr. Haberman."
Characters: I got a sense of Micheal's social group immediately. His voice was very powerful and clear, despite the short amount of chapters. I instantly liked the gritty writing style. I found myself very fascinated by Mr. Haberman delightfully confusing character. Great immediate characterization. 4 and a half flowers.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
So the last day of book camp. Here I go.
Last Book Talk was great, mostly consisting of non fiction. At the end, a few of the campers got to do their own book talks, including me and one of my friends. I hope this is a feature we can do next year because it certainly was a lot of fun. 5 flowers.
We had Alison Williams next. She showed us how to do illustrations. We created a Pixie Man superhero and a snail super villain. I think the younger kids really enjoyed it. Personally, I preferred Diana discussing her experiences with the industry, but we all need a bit of drawing fun once or twice in book camp week. I'm not a drawer, but it does give me a bout of confidence when I see how simplistic everything starts. Not my style, but fun for the younger illustrators! 4 flowers.
After lunch and Read, Write, Research, we had Kathy Kacer, who is kind of a big deal here. Her presentation on how her family's experiences with WWII largely influenced her writing was inspiring. I was fascinated by how largely her writing stuck to her family's stories. It was interesting seeing what another writer's process was like. It was definitely a huge hit with the other campers, too. Four and a half flowers.
Overall: One of my friends at camp is a huge fan of Kathy Kacer. Lisa, the camp coordinator, let her come up to the stand and thank her for coming on behalf of the camp.
This action alone pretty much explains why I love book camp so much. The staff gives us freedom and seems genuinely interested in what we have to say. They don't belittle us, they encourage us to write. The workshops are relevant. The volunteers are helpful. The librarians are enthusiastic, even the elderly woman who does attendance is a joy to be around. Every one is passionate and just awesome. There's no pretense of babysitting to this camp that I've felt with every other camp I've been involved in. You can feel the community brewing in everyone, including the older campers.
I hope to be a part of book camp for a long time. I hope others have these sorts of opportunities in their area or they can make them happen.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Here is more about book camp!
Today once again started with Book Talk, with only Anya this time. I think I've fangirled enough over my librarians, so I'll just say it was once again awesome and I felt refreshed after hearing the recommendations. Anya showed a very cool choose your own adventure book that I plan to take out at the library sometime soon. 5 flowers.
After Book Talk, we had Diana Tamblyn come in to tell us about comics. She showed us a presentation about the creation of a comic and then answered a few questions. Her workshop was probably the least collaborative of all of the workshops at camp but learning about the comic process was fascinating. Also hearing that she used to do marketing for Marvel comics was pretty cool! My publisher geek came out full throttle. Not to mention that she gave us some cool swag, which is always a major plus. 4 flowers.
After Diana's workshop we went to the local comic store. We got even more cool swag and then waited for everyone to finish up their purchases. Quick and sweet. 4 flowers.
Then we had lunch and had a workshop with an old camper! Becca is not a published author but her workshop last year was really informative. This year she did some literary trivia that was really fun. Honestly I did prefer her workshop last year because it was more relevant. Nonetheless the Jeopardy style was still lovely. 4 flowers.
Overall: Not relevant to my interests as a writer but great for the illustrators of the group and was really enjoyable. 3 and a half flowers.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Since my birthday was on Thursday, I've decided to celebrate with a giveaway! These are all books that I've gotten from BEA.
This is how it'll work:
Winner 1 gets first choice of three books as well as an Entice by Carrie Jones poster and other additional swag.
Winner 2 gets second choice of two books as well as Gifted bookmarks and other additional swag.
Winner 3 gets last choice of one book as well as a Forget Me Nots postcard and other additional swag.
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Here is more BOOK CAMP GOODNESS.
The day started again with Book Talk. This is when my slow mind finally caught up to the fact that Anya was reviewing YA non fiction books and Linda was reviewing YA fiction books. Both showed some really cool things. My very fuzzy brain started to perk up at the sound of their voices and their recommendations. Seriously, if it wasn't for Book Talk, the rest of my days at book camp would've been a blur of yawning and staring into space. After Book Talk we said goodbye to Linda because she was going to a cottage for a vacation and that was the last day we would see her. We all got her to sign our t shirts. We get our camp shirts signed by every workshop host every year but I have never seen any of the campers run that fast to get their shirts signed. After my enthusiastic fangirling (because although I do know my librarians well I still get to fangirl over how much I love them and want to cuddle them.) I got ready for the next workshop. 5 flowers.
Our main workshop for Wednesday was hosted by Barbara Haworth-Attard. I was really excited for this workshop because Maggie constantly talks about her on her blog and at camp. She certainly didn't disappoint. She talked about showing not telling in writing and using embarrassing events in an amusing and real way in stories. She got all of the kids involved and made the workshop lots of fun and very engrossing. One of my favourite exercises that she did was get one of the younger children to come up in the center of the room and pretend to be a troll. We had to ask questions about his background and personal preferences. She was great at making the workshop imaginative and entertaining. My favourite workshop of the entire week. 5 flowers.
After Barbara we had a man who helped us write a campfire song. It was quite adorable having all of our verses. I write songs pretty often so this exercise was very easy and rather cute. He played the song to the tune of Hit the Road Jack. The workshop was directed more towards the younger children, and I would've preferred there had been an option for the older teens that afternoon. Regardless, still fun and amusing. 3 and a half flowers.
Overall: The middle of the week is always my favourite part of camp. It's when we all get into the groove of things. Wednesday was no exception. 4 and a half flowers.
I'm so sorry I haven't been able to post these workshop reviews earlier. I have been very busy this week and have finally been able to go on the computer for long enough to write a post. Here is my overall review of Tuesday at book camp.
Tuesday started out with some Sharing Time. Sharing time is usually an under utilized half an hour where campers are supposed to share writing projects or cool stuff. I talked about my blog and these reviews while some of my friends read out some excerpts of stories. Most of them being quite silly, but we're teens so it's allowed. I've been really impressed by how we've used the sharing time this year. Hopefully my spotlight hogging friends (I kid, I love you guys. If you're reading this.) will encourage others to share more often next year!
After sharing we had Book Talk, with Anya as an addition to the team. Anya is the librarian who runs the Teen Annex committee in the library that I am a part of and she is kind of amazing. Although I was sleepy from only getting six and a half hours of sleep, seeing Anya cheered me right back up. As always, they gave great suggestions and were full of enthusiasm. Did I mention that I want to cuddle my librarians? ANYWAYS. 5 flowers.
After Book Talk we had the supermagical Maggie L Wood who is very sparkly. She is currently writing a book about Renaissance Angel, so she did her workshop all about historical research. She discussed certain things that we would have to research if we wanted to find out what life was like at a point in history. She then talked about her own research for Renaissance Angel. Her description of her book made me salivate with book lust. Sadly, I might not be able to read it for several years. On the actual workshop, while I adore Maggie I will say that this workshop was probably my least favourite of the three I've seen her give at book camp. She told us early on that she wasn't going to talk about HOW to research because we all knew how to use the internet and the library, which is fair. But I would've loved to hear more about unusual resources, especially in our community specifically. She did talk about some very cool things about the Renaissance though and kept us entertained with her own facts and a healthy amount of audience participation. A great workshop but not my favourite of Maggie's. 4 flowers.
The rest of the day was slow because the puppeteer who was supposed to come for the second workshop didn't show up. Fortunately, the lovely Lisa was able to improvise. We had Walter Sayers come do a workshop at camp two years in a row, and he does this cool thing known as Waldoodle. A Waldoodle is basically a scribble that you turn into a fantasy creature. It's a really cute exercise, and I didn't mind doing it again. 4 and a half flowers.
Everyone went to a puppet show done by some of our children librarians which I didn't attend because I was volunteering for a teen program and had to sign out early. I know some of the campers went to the show, but a lot of the older teens didn't. One thing I've always loved about book camp is the amount of freedom we have. We are allowed to wander around the library for one to two hours at a time, if a program is geared towards younger children the counselors will usually let you stay in the library if you are writing or doing something relevant, and just generally we are treated like we can be responsible and intelligent. This is so refreshing in comparison to other camps that I've gone to. 5 flowers for treating teen campers the way they should be treated!
Overall: A slow day, but Lisa did a decent job in making sure everything still ran smoothly. Still very fun and enjoyable. 4 flowers.
Friday, August 13, 2010
This next guest post is from Audry. Audry is one of my very close twitter friends. She's a great writer and we have some great discussions on the subject. Here's her blog post!
Smart Heroines for Smart Teens
Audry here. I go by AudryT on Twitter, and I’m a book-nerd editor
friend of Emma’s, doing a guest blog for her because she’s adorable
and it’s fun. :-)
I thought the best kind of blog I could do for Emma would be a great
big list of books that are about smart teenage girls. There are
plenty of books about brave girls, and books about girl empowerment,
but I wanted to make one specifically about celebrating all the really
bright, clever, and sophisticated teen characters out there in
Booklandia. These girls do more than just run from monsters or let
guys quote poetry to them – these are the girls who push against the
boundaries of their lives mentally and philosophically, who are
willing to tackle subjects often thought to be too complex/advanced
for them just because of their age. These are exceptional teenagers
in exceptional circumstances.
I’ve decided to pass on including the classics; those will be
recommended to you by teachers, parents, peers, etc. repeatedly
throughout your life. Instead I went for books written in the last 20
years – and especially, books in the last five. Many of them are
well-known in reader circles; others might have slipped past your
radar, so this blog will be your first introduction to them. I
recommend looking any titles that are unfamiliar to you up on
goodreads.com. There are some very good reviewers there, and the site
tends to have summaries for everything, including books that aren’t
even on shelves yet.
If you have anything to add to the list, please leave a comment! Make
sure to include both the title and the author’s name.
Books in the YA category:
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
The Freak Observer by Blythe Woolston
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Fire by Kristin Cashore
Sally Lockhart Series by Philip Pullman
Geektastic, edited by Holly Black
Summers At Castle Auburn by Sharon Shinn
Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly
Accidents of Nature by Harriet McBryde Johnson
The Nature of Jade by Deb Caletti
Wildthorn by Jane Eagland
Paper Daughter by Jeanette Ingold
The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt
A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
Novels by Cynthia Voigt (my favorite is Jackaroo)
Novels by Melissa Marr
Novels by Patricia C. Wrede
Sailor Girl by Sheree-Lee Olson
Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith
The Darkangel by Meredith Ann Pierce
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Leviathan by Scott Westerfield
Same Difference by Siobhan Vivian
Cybele's Secret by Juliet Marillier
A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
Annals of the Western Shore series by Ursula K. LeGuin
Novels by Donna Jo Napoli, such as Sirena or Daughter of Venice
Places I Never Meant to Be, edited by Judy Blume
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi
Bowery Girl by Kim Taylor
Sabriel by Garth Nix
Airs Beneath the Moon by Toby Bishop
Not classified as YA, but with young characters thrust into
sophisticated or challenging circumstances:
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld
The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani
Fortune's Rocks by Anita Shreve
The Sharing Knife by Lois McMaster Bujold
Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
Graphic Novels with smart teenage girls:
The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind: Perfect Collection by Hayao Miyazaki
Bizenghast by M. Alice LeGrow
Fool's Gold by Amy Reeder Hadley
The PLAIN Janes by Cecil Castellucci
Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch
Isn't this list great? I adore Audry. What do you think?