Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Schedule

Hey bibliophiles!
While I know that some of you are returners to the TBF scene, I also know that some of you may be TBF first-timers. So for those of you who haven’t had the delight of attending our earlier Teen Book Festivals, this post is dedicated to explaining how the day flows. 
10 AM The authors arrive! At TBF, we treat our authors right. The authors arrive in style, driven from their hotel to Nazareth in a limo (or two!). A red carpet is laid down, Hollywood stars line the walkway, and the authors’ arrival is accompanied by a band or group of cheerleaders. It’s a blast – and a great photo opportunity!
11AM The opening panel begins. Teen moderators ask the authors questions submitted by real teens. Previous questions have ranged from “What one word would you use to describe yourself as a teen?” to “How do YOU eat an Oreo?” I love hearing the author’s answers and it allows their personalities to shine through. If your undecided as to who’s breakout session to attend, the opening panel can help you make the decision.
12:10 PM-3:20 PM Four breakout sessions are held during this time. Each author presents at three of these sessions so be sure to check the official schedule handed out that day and plan your lunch break accordingly! At the breakout sessions, enjoy hearing each author speak a little bit about their writing process, their teenage years, or their novels. If you’re lucky, you might even hear an author read an excerpt from an upcoming book! This year we have several special breakout session groups. A. S. King, Robin Brande, and Lisa McMann will be presenting a panel entitled “How Daily Humiliation and Mortification in High School Turned Us Into Successful YA Authors.” We’ll have another new author panel featuring Sarah Ockler, Martin Wilson, Kay Cassidy, and James Kennedy. We’ll also have a historical fiction room where Alisa Libby and Marissa Doyle will present together. 
3:30 PM During the autograph session, you’ll get the chance to meet our authors up close and personal. Our authors will be spread throughout a large room (most likely the gym of the Shults Center) and TBF attendees will get the opportunity to line up and have books, tee shirts, and autograph books signed. 
Ahhh! Just writing about the day makes me even more excited for TBF 2010. I can’t wait to meet as many of you as I can! I think I’ll wear a button that says “Hi! My name is Carly Reads” so that you know how to find me!
Only 136 more days!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Make New Friends

Hey Readers!  
I just wanted to give you a heads up that I have been friending our awesome TBF authors on facebook over the last few days. I'm friends with a good majority of them now, so check out my facebook page to find them!
Also, if you happen to be a TBF author reading this and I haven't friended you yet, then I couldn't find you on facebook. Find me! My facebook name is Carly Reads or click on the link on the sidebar. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What They Always Tell Us

Hey Readers!
Today I have another book review for you. I feel like I haven’t done a “real” one (as in NOT a mini review) in a LONG time. So, without further ado, I present to you my review of “What They Always Tell Us” by Martin Wilson.
I said in my mini reviews that readers who love Alex Sanchez, David Levithan, and Brent Hartinger would love Martin Wilson’s novel. However, what sets Martin’s book apart from those that I’ve read by Alex, David, and Brent is the relationship between Alex, the protagonist, and James, his brother. 
I’ve always been drawn to novels about brothers and sisters, maybe due to the fact that I’m very close to my own brother and sister. However, I assure you that any reader, whether they have siblings or not, will be able to relate to the relationship between Alex and James. Relationships with siblings are often complicated. My brother and sister are my best friends, however, they’re also the ones that frustrate me the most. Look back to my interview with Martin to see what Alex and James’ relationship has in common with Martin’s relationship with his brother. 
“What They Always Tell Us” is essentially a coming of age story about a young gay man. Beautifully written and interwoven with the story of two brothers finding their place in the world, this is must read for everyone. I read it in October, and I can’t wait to read it again!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Mini Reviews

My loyal readers!
I have to apologize BIG TIME for not having written in so long. The end of the semester totally killed me and it’s taken me a week to rebuild my strength ... (Okay, so I MIGHT be exaggerating, but I WAS really busy Christmas shopping!) Anyway, I’m here today to make up for it!
I’ve read 28 TBF books so far (and I’ve got many more to go …) and while I’m hoping to be able to review all of them, I’ve created a list of mini reviews in case I run out of time. In honor of the holidays, I’ve structured these mini reviews as a gift list of sorts. So if you’re looking for any last minute gifts for the readers in your life, then use this as a guide! 
“Catalyst” by Laurie Halse Anderson is perfect for the science enthusiast who will appreciate how the scientific definitions that begin in chapter parallel the chapter’s events.
Laurie Halse Anderson’s “Speak” is the best choice for the reader who’s seeking to understand the emotional ramifications of sexual abuse. “Speak” is a great choice for any friend looking to major in psychology, social work, or any of the related fields. 
“Twisted” by Laurie Halse Anderson will quench the thirst of the reader looking for a better understanding of the enormity of the pressures facing teenage boys in today’s world. This book will affect a male or female audience.
Another heavy read, Laurie Halse Anderson’s “Wintergirls” will give a mature reader a glimpse into the mind of a young woman suffering from anorexia. “Wintergirls” accurately portrays anorexia as the complex mental disorder that it is.
“Evolution, Me, & Other Freaks of Nature” by Robin Brande is a great match for the reader curious about the reconciliation of religion and science. I actually bought this book for my 11th-grade chemistry teacher, a real-life Miss Shepherd. 
Robin Brande’s “Fat Cat” is perfect for a lover of “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” “Food, Inc.,” “Supersize Me,” or the like. Foodies will also love Cat and her delectable creations. 
“How to Ruin a Summer Vacation” by Simone Elkeles is a great match for the religious studies major or the reader who dreams of finding love in a foreign country. 
“Leaving Paradise,” also by Simone Elkeles, is perfect for the reader looking for an unlikely love story with a shocking twist. 
Consider giving “Burned” by Ellen Hopkins to the horse lover in your life. Pattyn, the protagonist, is sent to live with her aunt on a horse farm. I, an appreciator of horses from afar, due to a severe allergy to fur in any form, loved these scenes. 
“Identical,” another novel in free verse by Ellen Hopkins, is about twins, so I’m inclined to suggest it FOR twins. However, I imagine that “Identical” would be even more emotionally charged and taxing for a twin, so with this suggestion comes the warning. 
“Tricks” is my favorite book by Ellen Hopkins. I suggest this for any mature reader looking for a book that will make them change every stereotype they have about prostitution and what drives it. 
Barry Lyga’s “Boy Toy” is an intense read for a mature reader. It deals with the sexual abuse of a young boy at the hands of his teacher. This is definitely an appropriate read for anyone looking to go into education, school psychology, or any related field.
“Hero-Type” by Barry Lyga is perfect for anyone interested in our constitutional rights, especially freedom of speech. This book is so jammed packed, there are three major storylines – it’s like getting three books in one! The perfect book for our current economy!
“Gamer Girl” by Mari Mancusi is a great match for that reader that’s not quite ready to jump head first into Manga, but is curious about the genre. (Ahem … me … ahem) As someone who has never had the desire to read Manga, I genuinely enjoyed this book.
Choose “Fade” and “Wake” by Lisa McMann for the reader who likes the fantasy aspects of “Twilight” but can’t stand Bella’s weak character. I’ve compared this series to Meg Cabot’s “Mediator” series, so lovers of Meg Cabot are bound to love Lisa McMann. 
Sarah Ockler’s “Twenty Boy Summer” is a book for the person who longs for summer days and vacation. A bittersweet, romantic story, “Twenty Boy Summer” will evoke memories of hot summer days and the trials and tribulations of friendship.
Amy Kathleen Ryan’s “Shadow Falls” will resonate with any rock climber or nature lover. Chock full of descriptions of the natural beauty of Wyoming, it’s not just the story, but also the setting, that’s irresistible. 
I feel the need to mention “Zen and Xander Undone” by Amy Kathleen Ryan, but all I’m telling you is that I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to read it early. Keep checking back for the full sneak peak in a few days …
Matt de la Pena’s “Mexican White Boy” is a book for the baseball lovers in your life. I’ll also admit that it’s more of a ‘boy book’ than most of the other books I’ve read to far. But both girls and guys will enjoy this story of feeling like you don’t belong.
“Far From You” by Lisa Schroeder is a book for the lovers of TBF alum Ellen Hopkins. Lisa, like Ellen, writes in free verse poetry, so readers who love Ellen’s books because of their format will love “Far From You.” Even those who aren’t fans of poetry will like this story of trying to adjust to a new blended family, though.
Jennifer E. Smith’s “The Comeback Season” is perfect for anyone who would appreciate a blending of the movies “Fever Pitch” and “A Walk to Remember.” I know, I know, those sound like two very opposite movies, but this sweet romance between baseball-crazy teenagers, one of whom is seriously ill, will rocket it’s way to the top of a reader’s “To Buy” list.
“You Are Here” by Jennifer E. Smith is one of those rare books that everyone will appreciate. The story of Emma, the lone “average” member of a brilliant family, and her neighbor’s cross-country road trip to visit the grave of Emma’s twin brother, whom she never knew existed, is a ride that every reader should take. 
Terry Trueman’s “Stuck in Neutral” and “Cruise Control” are books for the reader with a short attention span or the reader with a busy agenda. These companion novels are short, but fast-paced reads which will keep you on the end of seat and hungry for more. 
“Inside Out,” another Terry Trueman novel, is an excellent choice for anyone interested in reading something from the point of view of a young man with a mental illness. This, like Terry’s other books, will definitely grab even the most reluctant reader.
“Being Dead” by Vivan Vande Velde is the book to buy for the reader that loves Halloween, the supernatural, or ghost stories around the camp fire. A collection of short stories, all about ghosts, “Being Dead” will send shivers down your spine for the entirety of its 224 pages. 
“What They Always Tell Us” by Martin Wilson is perfect for readers who love David Levithan, Brent Hartinger, or Alex Sanchez. However, “What They Always Tell Us” is more than just a coming of age story about a young gay man; it is also a touching story of two brothers and the complexity of their relationship.
Well readers, I would say that the length of this entry should make up for my long absence. I will try my absolute hardest not to let such a long period of time pass before my next post.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Teleporting Pictures

Hi Bookworms!
This is just a quick note to say that there is a totally cool new feature on my blog. You may have noticed all of our TBF authors’ pictures lined up down the right-hand column of my blog. If you click on an author’s picture, it will take you directly to the author’s personal webpage. Awesome, right?
Got any other great ideas for my blog? Leave me a comment!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What You Always Wanted to Know About Martin Wilson

Dear Readers,
A drum roll please? I am totally psyched to present ANOTHER author interview, this one by Martin Wilson. I absolutely loved Martin’s book “What They Always Tell Us.” In fact, it’s next on my list of books to blog about. My last exam is tomorrow morning so I will be on break as of 10:30 tomorrow! (I know, I know, I shouldn’t run it in the face of you poor high schoolers and middle schoolers who will be trapped in school until later in the month – BUT I’M REALLY EXCITED!!!)
Anyway … tonight enjoy Martin’s interview and be on the lookout for my blog on “What they Always Tell Us” in the next few days.
Carly: Do you have a brother? If so, is the relationship between James and Alex anything like your relationship with your brother?
Martin: I do have a brother. He’s two years older. (I also have an older sister.) Our relationship was similar to James’s and Alex’s in many ways. My older brother was the popular one, the athletic one, the one who always had a girlfriend, whereas I was quieter, more of an outcast, and not very athletic. In high school, we didn’t get along terribly well. Compared to brothers in many other families, maybe we did get along okay. We never had fist fights or anything. But we did argue and compete a lot. We weren’t best friends or anything. Now we get along very well—we became much closer during college, and as the years go by we grow even closer. I think one can’t truly appreciate his or her siblings until one gets a bit older.  People ask me if the novel is autobiographical, and my response is that it is emotionally autobiographical. It draws on a lot of the emotions and feelings tied to my experiences with my brother. But the events in the novel are not autobiographical. Alex and James had a much more exciting life than I ever had.
C: Henry is such an endearing character and he certainly adds a lot to the story, but why did you make the initial decision to include him in “What They Always Tell Us?”
M: The first chapter of What They Always Tell Us was initially just a short story about Alex and Henry—two lonely boys who come together over a dreary fall weekend in Alabama. When I decided to use the story as the launching point for a novel, I knew Henry would have to be a presence throughout. At one point I even wanted to include Henry’s point of view, but my editor nixed that idea, and I’m glad she did. The novel is really about two brothers. Henry, though crucial, is a secondary character. That said, Henry is a very important, because he serves to bring the two brothers together in subtle ways.
C: Did you as a teenager, or do you now, run cross country like Alex?
M: No, I actually didn’t. I played tennis—both the summer circuit and for my high school. I took up running after high school. But running is more a part of my life now than tennis is. I still try and run twice a week, more when the weather permits. I get a lot of thinking done when I jog—it’s therapeutic. And I think running cross country was therapeutic for Alex in a big way.
C: Who was your favorite author, or what was your favorite book, as a teenager?
M: I have a few to single out. My grandmother, actually, was a children’s writer and illustrator in the 1930s and 1940s. One of the books she wrote and illustrated was a novel called "The Secret Three," which was based on my father’s childhood. And I read it over and over. I think that’s when I first started thinking that I wanted to become a writer, too. I saw the beauty in spinning a story out of the stuff of real life.  I loved "Harriet the Spy," as well. I always carried around a notebook and wrote down random things inside. I think every writer is some sort of “spy,” which is why this novel probably has appealed to so many people who eventually became writers.  And the last book is not a YA book, but it did launch my love affair with reading: Ken Follett’s "The Pillars of the Earth." Before this book, reading often felt like a chore—something the English teacher shoved down my throat. My dad, a big reader like my mother, pushed this book on me. I was apprehensive, mainly because it was so long. But once I dipped in I couldn’t put it down. In retrospect, it’s not a literary masterpiece by any stretch. But it is a fantastic read and I’ve been a rabid reader ever since. Any book that does that for a young person is worthy of adulation.
C: What author are you most looking forward to meeting and/or seeing at the Fifth Annual Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival?
M: All of them! But if I had to single one out, I guess I’d say Laurie Halse Anderson. "Speak" is one of my favorite novels.
Martin, thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to answer these questions for us! Readers, as always, if you have any questions for any our TBF authors, then leave me a comment or send them to me through facebook!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Just Like the Movies!

Eureka, I’ve found it! The ultimate way to distract yourself online! I know you’re all wondering what I’m talking about and I’m not in the mood to keep secrets tonight, so I’ll spill it …
YouTube + Your Favorite TBF Authors = Book Trailers
Publishing companies and loyal fans upload book trailers (just like movie trailers for upcoming films) onto YouTube and I personally could spend HOURS watching them. Below I’ve included a few of my recent favorites - enjoy!

Have YOU found any great book trailers lately? Leave me comments!