Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Looking Forward to "Forever"

Happy Holidays, Readers!

I hope that you’ve all had a wonderful holiday season thus far.  Today I present you with a late Christmas and Hanukah present (or early New Year’s present, depending on how you want to think of it) … a sneak peek at Melissa Kantor’s newest book, “The Darlings Are Forever.”

I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of “The Darlings Are Forever” (thank you Stephanie!) and when I, in turn, lent it to another awesome TBF planning committee member, I described it to her as “reminiscent of ‘The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.’”  There are no traveling pants.  In fact, there are no traveling items of any sort, but that idea of growing up, and more importantly, growing up with great friends, is omnipresent in “Darlings.” 

Jane, Victoria, and Natalya have been friends for years.  As the novel opens, the girls are optimistic about their upcoming freshmen year – even though they’ll be at different schools for the first time.  The year, though, is not without its challenges.  Jane is crushing on her (much) older drama director.  Victoria is struggling with life in the public eye as her father’s political campaign takes off.  Natalya is making friends with the coolest girls at her new school – but unsure of whether it’s really her that they like.

“The Darlings Are Forever” is an all-around great book.  It’s about growing up, and change, and first relationships, but most importantly, it’s about friends.  Put “The Darlings Are Forever” at the top of your To Read list – you won’t regret it!

P.S. You can read the first chapter of “The Darlings Are Forever” right here!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Get To Know Julie Halpern Soon ... Really Soon ... Now!

Hello Readers!
Finals week is upon me, and so this post will be brief, but wonderful.  Brief, because I should be studying, and wonderful because I have an interview with Julie Halpern to share with you!  So without further ado …

Carly Reads: I read that “Get Well Soon” is based on your own teenage experiences.  Would you say that you’re Anna? Did you base the other characters off people that you knew as a teenager?
Julie Halpern: I think Anna is a combination of high school me, current me, and someone that is not me at all.  Pretty much all of the characters in “Get Well Soon” were based on real people that I met while I was hospitalized.

CR: Have you kept in touch with people that you met while at the hospital? Do they know that you have written this book based on your experience?
JH: I kept in touch with some of them for a little bit of time after I was out, but as you will see in the sequel (which I am writing right now), life is very different being out of a mental hospital than in.  None of the people I was hospitalized with know I wrote a book about them.  I don't think.  I'm afraid they'd be upset, although I fictionalized every one of them.

CR: Are you currently working on any projects (aka new books) that you can tell us about?
JH: So there's the sequel to “Get Well Soon,” which should be out in a couple years, but this May I have a book out called “Don’t Stop Now.”  It's about a pair of frustratingly platonic best friends, Lillian and Josh, who go on a road trip together to find their friend who faked her own kidnapping.

CR: What was your favorite book as a teenager?
JH: I wasn't a huge independent reader of books.  I read mostly comics, like Calvin and Hobbes, or horror ones like Tales from the Crypt.  But I did love Roald Dahl and really got into his short story collections in high school.

CR: What author are you most looking forward to meeting and/or seeing at the Sixth Annual Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival?
JH: I'm pretty excited to meet all of them!  I'm even trying to read one book by each author before I go.  Since “Runner” is hugely popular at the school library where I work, I'm going to have to say I'm most looking forward to meeting Carl Deuker.

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions, Julie! We can’t wait to meet you at TBF in May!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Turkey Day with Carl Deuker

Happy Thanksgiving, Readers!

There is a method to my madness with this post.  Okay, so what do you do after dinner on Thanksgiving? The correct answer is watch football.  I have never watched football after Thanksgiving dinner, but I’ve heard that it’s what other people do.  (People who actually like sports, that is.)  I do not like sports.  But I like Carl Deuker and I liked his book “Payback Time” (check out my review here), which was about football, so I’m posting his interview tonight, on a traditional football night. (Or so I’m told.)

So without further ado … my interview with Carl!

Carly Reads:  Most of your books are sports-centered or sports-themed.  Have you loved sports your entire life? What is your favorite sport?
Carl Deuker:  I've been a sports-lover for as long as I can remember. As a child, I lived and died with the San Francisco Giants.  Every morning during baseball season, I would get up early and go out to retrieve the SF Chronicle from the front lawn.  Instead of bringing the newspaper in, I would instead check to see if the Giants had won or lost.  If they'd won, I brought the paper in, read the articles and poured over the box score.  If they'd lost, I wrapped the newspaper back up and left it on the lawn.  As far as favorites sports go . . . to watch in person - basketball and volleyball; to read about or listen to on the radio -baseball; to watch on TV - football; to play - golf.

CR:  What I liked most about “Payback Time” is that, even though it centers on football, you do not need to understand football, or even like football, to enjoy the book.  Is this something that you strive for when you write your novels?
CD:  Thank you for the nice compliment.  My goal is to write a sports book with a little bit more.  As a child, I hated sports books that seemed to promise sports on the cover, would begin with a game and end with a game, but had no sports in between.  So I make sure that I deliver a decent amount of sports between the covers, but my main interest lies with the story behind the sports story.

CR:  What is your writing process like? Do you have a favorite place to write? Or favorite time of the day to write?
CD:  I write in loops.  I'll write out thirty pages, go back to page one and rewrite, then write to fifty or sixty pages, go back and rewrite, etc.  Getting the voice right is the hardest part, so the early parts are worked to death.  Most of the time by the end I'm hearing the voice better, so the final pages go quicker.  I keep telling myself that, anyway, as a I struggle with the beginning.  I write using a laptop.  Sofa is nice . . . any place comfortable.

CR:  What was the last book that you read for pleasure?
CD:  I'm on a long book kick. Right now I'm reading War and Peace(!).  Before that I read Bleak House, Vanity Fair, Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Les Miserables.  War and Peace will definitely end the long book run as I'm finding it a tough go.  Bleak House, on the other hand, was a pleasant surprise.

CR:  What author are you most looking forward to meeting and/or seeing at the Sixth Annual Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival?
CD:  I'm looking forward to meeting whoever the fates through me together with.  It's always a pleasure to listen to other people describe what they do and how they do it.  The methods vary so widely it's sometimes hard to believe we are all practicing the same craft.

Carl, thanks so much for taking the time to answer these questions for us! We’ve enjoyed reading your answers and we can’t wait to meet you in May!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Girl Who Will Break Your Heart

Ummm … Hi Readers!

I think I’ll just pretend that it hasn’t been 22 days since I last posted.  I basically have no excuse beyond extreme busyness and exhaustion due to an amount of homework that should be declared illegal.  And I’m only taking 12 credits this semester!

Hopefully the fact that I have three author interviews in my email inbox just waiting to be posted will make up for my absence.  (Please?)  But, the author interviews will have to wait because today I have a book review for you. 

Selene Castrovilla’s “The Girl Next Door” is a heartbreaker.  I’ll tell you that outright.  Selene tells you that outright, with the first few lines of the book, spoken by the protagonist, Sam: “Jesse’s dying.  The doctors are 96% sure of it. They even have a time-line. 
Seven months. They give him seven months, tops. I try to hold on to hope, but 4% is a weak reed to cling to while you’re thrashing to keep your head above water.”

Sam and Jesse have been best friends since their stroller days.  They grew up in the same apartment building in New York City, played in the sandbox together, went to school together.  Jesse is popular, an all-achieving athlete.  Sam is his quieter, more awkward sidekick. During their senior year of high school, though, their lives change drastically when Jesse is diagnosed with terminal cancer. 

Do not read “The Girl Next Door” in public, because you WILL cry.  There’s no escaping it.  I went into “The Girl Next Door” with the resolution that I would NOT allow myself to care about Jesse and Sam – I knew that reading the book would hurt too much if I allowed myself to connect with them.  But Selene foiled my plans.  Her characters jump off the page and drag you (kicking and screaming, in my case) into their world.  You hurt when they hurt, you cry when they cry.  Selene Castrovilla is a master of characterization.

“The Girl Next Door” is “A Walk to Remember” and everything that Lurlene McDaniel ever wrote, but it’s also more.  It’s a devastating story of illness and loss, but it’s also a journey.  Your heart will break, and your eyes will be red, and your tissue supply will be greatly reduced, but “The Girl Next Door” is worth it. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

And The Winner Is ...

Hey Readers,

Well, the day that you’ve all been waiting for has arrived! Today is the big announcement! I know you’ve all been wondering, “Who won that copy of ‘Eighth Grade Bites’?”  Readers, the wait is over.  Congratulations to …


Hayley, I’ll be emailing you to find out where I should mail the book. 

Thanks for entering, everyone! Be on the lookout for more contests throughout the year.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Win Cupcakes ... Sort Of

Okay readers, here’s the deal.  TBF 2011 author Eric Luper is giving away ARCs of his newest book “Jeremy Bender vs. the Cupcake Cadets” on his blog.  “Jeremy Bender” isn’t due out until May 2001 (the same month as TBF!), so winning an ARC would be a huge coup, right?

Well, readers, it’s super easy to enter.  Go to Eric’s blog for all the details, but do so soon (this weekend!) because he’ll be announcing winners on 11/1 at 1:11 p.m.

Good luck!

P.S. Remember to enter for a chance to win a copy of “Eighth Grade Bites”! Click on the picture of the book cover on the sidebar and it will take you to the entry form.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Win "Eighth Grade Bites!"

Hello Readers!
This is a first for Carly Reads - a giveaway!  Win a copy of “Eighth Grade Bites,” the first book in the Vladimir Tod series by Heather Brewer. 
The contest will end on November 1st.  Follow this link and fill out the form. A winner will be picked randomly, and I’ll announce it on the blog. Good luck, everyone!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Illustrations by James

Hello Readers, 
James Barry, the illustrator of “The Warriors” manga series (based on “The Warriors” books by Erin Hunter), is one of our TBF returners. He attended the 2nd Anuual Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival, back when the festival was held at Fairport High School. 
Firstly, let me start off by saying that I am incredible impressed by anyone with artistic ability. I can barely manage stick figures, although, if I may say so, I am an excellent at tracing. I am especially impressed by James’ illustrations. At the second TBF, he signed my program and even drew one of the cats from “The Warriors” series. I am in awe of his ability to whip off an illustration 100 times better than anything I could ever do in a matter of minutes. 
I visited James’ website looking for more information about his artistic career and discovered than there are many more of James’ illustrations posted on his website. Here's  a preview of what you’ll find on his site: 
Original cover illustration for “The Lost Warrior.”  Copyright 2007 Harper Collins and TOKYOPOP.  Illustration by James L. Barry.

Visit James’ website to see more of his drawings, illustrations, and comics!  

Support TBF!

Hello Readers, 
It’s the beginning of October, which means that my second favorite day of the year is less than a month away! What’s my second favorite day of the year, you ask? The Read-a-Thon, of course! (Obviously, my favorite day of the year is TBF itself.) 
This year’s Read-a-Thon will be held on October 23 from 1-5 p.m. at the Pittsford Barnes & Noble. 
In case not all of you are familiar with the Read-a-Thon, allow me provide you with brief explanation. Imagine curling up in a chair in the Pittsford Barnes & Noble with a book, surrounded by tons of other teens and adults that all love YA lit as much as you do, and reading for four hours straight. Sound like a fantasy? At the Read-a-Thon, it becomes a reality! 
The Read-a-Thon serves as TBF’s largest fundraising event. It began as a collection of smaller Read-a-Thons held at individual schools across the county. (I still remember my first Read-a-Thon, held in my high school’s library. I came straight from taking the PSAT exams. Ugh.) Now, the Read-a-Thon is an area-wide event, bringing together teens and adults with a mutual love for YA fiction and TBF. 
This year, each reader who participates in the Read-a-Thon is asked to bring a donation of at least $15 to support the Teen Book Festival. Donations can be collected via sponsorships. So, just as you would go to family and friends asking them to sponsor you for a charity walk, ask your family and friends to sponsor you for the Read-a-Thon. 
Like last year, there is an added incentive for readers in this year’s Read-a-Thon. The teen who collects the most money in pledges will win two tickets to this year’s author dinner, held the evening before TBF 2011. The adult who collects the most money in pledges will win a $25 TBF gift certificate, good for all sorts of TBF merchandise on the day of the festival. 
Barnes & Noble will also hold an in-store bookfair the day of the Read-a-Thon, so if you bring this voucher to the clerk, part of the profit from your purchase will be donated to the Teen Book Festival. 
Another great reason to participate in this year’s Read-a-Thon? Laurie Halse Anderson will be visiting the Pittsford Barnes & Noble for a reading and book signing during the Read-a-Thon! 
Pre-registration IS required for this year’s Read-a-Thon. So, if you’re interested in participating (and I hope you all are!), get in contact with the TBF committee through this page right here
If you’re not able to make it the Read-a-Thon, there’s another great way to support TBF. From October 24 until October 28, you can support TBF by buying books online from Barnes & Noble’s website. You need to enter a special code in order for TBF to get a portion of the proceeds and you can find that code right here
Teen Book Festival happens every year because of donations from generous groups and individuals and events like the Read-a-Thon and the Barnes & Noble Bookfair. So share the love for TBF! Attend the Read-a-Thon, buy a book in-store on October 23, or shop online from October 24-28. 


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Can't Wait for Vera?

Hi Readers,

Are you as excited as I am for the release of A.S. King's "Please Ignore Vera Dietz?"  Enter this super fun contest on Amy's blog!  Order a fictional pizza, and if you guess the correct toppings, you could win a signed copy of "Please Ignore Vera Dietz."  Spread the word to increase your chances of winning the bonus prize, a Vera-themed mini pizza box filled with goodies.

Enter here, at Amy's blog.

Good luck, readers!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Waiting for "Vera"

Hello Readers,

I’m sorry I’ve made you wait so long!  (I’m sure you’ve all been dutifully checking back every hour since September 6th, right?)  But have no fear, because I think, once you’ve finished this post, that you’ll agree that it was definitely worth the wait for a sneak peek at A.S. King’s newest novel, “Please Ignore Vera Dietz.”

In “Please Ignore Vera Dietz,” Vera is a 18-year-old girl who’s been dumped by her best friend, Charlie.  Now she’s spitting mad at him (and who can blame her?), but Charlie throws a wrench in her plan to hate him forever when he dies under suspicious circumstances and leaves the whole town convinced that he’s committed a horrendous crime.  Now Vera is confused … can she still hate Charlie, even though he’s dead? And should she reveal what she knows about the night that he died and clear his name?

While most of the novel is told from Vera’s point of view, there are chapters mixed in that are told from the POV of Vera’s dad, who’s doing his best to raise Vera on his own, since her mother left them, and the town pagoda.  Ummm, yeah, I said pagoda. One of these things:

(Now you have to read the book.  You must be curious about a sage, wisdom-wielding pagoda, right?)

There are so many levels to “Please Ignore Vera Dietz,” which is one of the things that I liked most about it.  While I felt most connected to the storyline about Vera and Charlie’s dissolved friendship (I was dumped by my best childhood friend in high school, and I haven’t gotten over it yet), there is a whole other story in “Vera,” when you consider the role that Charlie’s and Vera’s parents play. 

I hesitate to say more about “Vera Dietz,” because I don’t want to give too much away. So, what I’ll leave you with is this: get yourself on the waiting list for “Please Ignore Vera Dietz.” Go to your library and place a paper hold, start begging your parents for an early Christmas present, preorder it from wherever you buy your books, because you don’t want to have to wait any longer than necessary to read this book.  “Please Ignore Vera Dietz” is, easily, one of the best books I’ve read this fall and I know that you’ll agree with me once you’ve read it.  “Vera” is due out on October 12.  You can guess where I’ll be …

Monday, September 6, 2010

Avast! And Read This!

Ahoy Readers! 
How be ye landlubbers today? Swab the decks or walk the plank! 
Okay, that’s the extent of my pirate vocabulary. Apparently I should have paid better attention to that Pippi Longstocking movie I watched while babysitting the other day … 
Either way, wondering why we’re talking about pirates today? It’s because A.S. King, one of our awesome TBF 2010 authors returning for TBF 2011, is upset about pirates. 
But Amy is not upset about “Yo-Ho-Ho-And-A-Bottle-Of-Rum” pirates; she’s upset about Internet pirates. Internet pirates who are stealing her books! She writes about these Internet pirates on her always-entertaining blog. Read this entry first, and then read this one. There is no way that I will be able to say anything about Internet pirates as eloquently and entertainingly as Amy has, but I did want to draw your attention to the issue, readers. 
We all love to read and we all love our favorite authors, so let’s remember that “free” ebook downloads online might sound cool, but they’re not. They mean that we’re robbing our favorite authors of well-deserved royalty payments and that we’re disrespecting our favorite authors. When you download for free, you’re saying, “I want to read your book, but I don’t really care if you’re not getting paid.” And we all want our favorite authors to get paid. Because if they don’t, they may not be able to afford the time or resources needed to write. 
This was kind of a downer post, but it’s important stuff! And I promise that the next post will be way more exciting because … up next? An advance review of the highly-anticipated “Please Ignore Vera Dietz” by A.S. King. Keep checking back!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Win "Radiance" Through Free Book Fridays!

Hey Readers! 
So as I’m sure most of you know, Alyson Noel, author of the wildly popular “Immortals” series, was one of our awesome TBF 2010 authors. I wanted to do a quick post today to let you know that you have the opportunity to win an autographed copy of Alyson’s newest book “Radiance” by going to Free Book Friday Teens. Not familiar with Free Book Friday? Allow me to explain. According to Free Book Friday’s website: 
“Each week, we feature a new young adult author with an exclusive author interview podcast or written Q&A and host a drawing to win free signed copies of his/her book. All you have to do to enter to win each week is sign up using the entry form on the left sidebar. Winners are chosen at random and posted on the site every Friday morning. Hence the name, ‘Free Book Friday!’” 
Ummm hello???? How did I not know about this? It was such an exciting find that I had to pass it on to you, readers! Enjoy! 

Friday, August 27, 2010

Get Your Hands on "Get Well Soon"

Hello Readers! 
I’m sooooo tired! I’ve been packing since 7 a.m. this morning and only just finished (at 11 p.m.)! Let this be a lesson to you, readers. When you pack for college, don’t wait until one day before you leave … 
But, at last, I am done and so … I have a book review for you! 
In “Get Well Soon” by Julie Halpern, 16-year-old Anna is depressed. So depressed, in fact, that her parents commit her to a mental hospital for 21 days. “Get Well Soon” is very character driven, rather than plot driven. It’s greatest strength lies in the character development and the relationships between Anna and the other teens at the hospital. 
“Get Well Soon” is based on Julie Halpern’s own experiences as a teenager. Included at the end of the story is an interview with Julie, in which she discusses the parallels between “Get Well Soon” and her own life. It was the fact that “Get Well Soon” was based on Julie’s own life that initially drew me to the book. I always wonder, when I read YA fiction, whether the author has based any of it on their own adolescence, so I was excited to come across a book largely based on the writer’s life. 
I’d also like to mention that Julie maintains a hilarious blog. Read it here, and be sure to read this post (my favorite so far)! 
I suppose that it’s a little bit to early for a countdown, but I’m going to tell you anyway … 259 days until Teen Book Festival 2011!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hungry For More "Hunger"

Hey Bookworms! 
Be super, super excited because … I have another sneak peek book review for you today! The wonderful Stephanie Squicciarini, fearless leader of the Teen Book Festival, was able to get me an ARC copy of Jackie Morse Kessler’s YA debut, the novel “Hunger.” 
The jacket flap description of “Hunger” reads: Lisabeth Lewis has a black steed, a set of scales, and a new job: she’s been appointed Famine. How will an anorexic seventeen-year-old girl from the suburbs fare as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? Traveling the world on her steed gives Lisa freedom from her troubles at home—her constant battle with hunger, and her struggle to hide it from the people who care about her. But being Famine forces her to go places where hunger is a painful part of everyday life, and to face the horrifying effects of her phenomenal power. Can Lisa find a way to harness that power—and the courage to fight her own inner demons? 
I assumed, from the description, that “Hunger” would be some sort of post-apocalyptic novel, in a way akin to “The Hunger Games” series. But I was wrong. I didn’t actually realize that Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are a biblical reference. (Thank you, Wikipedia, for clearing that up for me.) According to Wikipedia: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are described in the last book of the New Testament of the Bible. The chapter tells of a scroll in God's right hand that is sealed with seven seals. Jesus Christ opens the first four of the seven seals, which summons forth the four beasts that ride on white, red, black, and pale-green horses symbolizing conquest (or pestilence), war, famine, and death, respectively. The Christian apocalyptic vision is that the four horsemen are to set a divine apocalypse upon the world as harbingers of the Last Judgment. 
So, as you may have already guessed, “Hunger” was unlike anything I have ever read. And that was a good thing. Lisabeth Lewis is seventeen years old, anorexic, and in denial about her condition. She’s no longer speaking to her best friend, she’s fighting with her boyfriend, and after attempting suicide, she is visited by Death who appoints her Famine. While that may sound like hardcore fantasy, “Hunger” is, in actuality, more of a reflection on the devastating effects of an eating disorder. I would rank “Hunger” as being of the same caliber as Laurie Halse Anderson’s “Wintergirls,” which is the best account of anorexia that I have ever read. 
“Hunger” is due out on October 18. It’s a relatively short book (180 pages), and it moves fast. I devoured it in only a few hours. It’s the sort of book that you’ll wish was longer, but only because it’s one that you’re sad to part with. 

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Hey Readers!
You may have noticed that Carly Reads has a new look - again.  (At least I hope you've noticed! It's a pretty drastic change!)  I still wasn't happy with the look of the blog after the last make over, so I went for a make-over-do-over.  Thoughts???? (I LOVE it!)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Case for "Payback Time"

Hey Readers!
I know it’s been too long since I last posted! (That’s been my song all summer, huh?) But I think that what I have for you today will make up for it … I have the first sneak peek book review of Teen Book Festival 2011! 
I received an ARC copy of Carl Deuker’s newest novel “Payback Time.” Now, I’m just going to lay it all out on the line here and honestly tell you that I hate sports. HATE sports. I don’t play them, I don’t watch them, and I don’t find them interesting. So when I saw the cover of “Payback Time,” I groaned inwardly. 
However, I was pleasantly surprised by “Payback Time.” The main character of “Payback Time” is Mitch, an overweight, aspiring journalist who is not happy to be reassigned from the news section to the sports section of his school newspaper. Although Mitch likes sports (but hates gym class), he doesn’t see sports as news breaking. Once football season starts, though, Mitch changes his mind. Angel is a new student and star player, but the coach rarely plays him, electing instead to have him sit on the bench as the team struggles through games. As Mitch begins to investigate this odd decision, he learns that digging around in someone else’s live can unearth more than one may think. 
One of the reasons that I enjoyed “Payback Time” is that is wasn’t totally sports-centered. I will admit to skimming through the details of the football games. (I am football illiterate and gave up when it became clear that I was NOT going to figure out what was going on …) Although football is central to the book, the focus is more on the mystery surrounding Angel and on Mitch’s career aspirations. There is also a side story about Mitch’s attempt to lose weight and about his crush on the school newspaper’s sports photographer. 
“Payback Time” is set to be released on September 6. I give it the sport-haters seal of approval; so even if see the cover and think “Eh, not for me,” give it a try! I don’t think you’ll regret it! 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Why "The Breakup Bible" is a Crack Up

Hey Readers! 
Whoa, it’s been WAY too long since I last posted, so I apologize. I’ve been crazy busy working three (three!) jobs, one of which is at the public library. This brings me to my next point. I work at the public library in circulation (checking in books that people are returning and checking out books that patrons are borrowing), so I get a good idea of what books are popular by how often I see them go in and out. And guess what readers? Our TBF authors are popular! I’ve seen so many TBF books circulate this summer – it’s wonderful! I posted on Twitter the other night (are you following me yet?) that I saw Kay Cassidy’s “The Cinderella Society” circulate three times in one night! 
Today I’m going to review Melissa Kantor’s novel “The Breakup Bible.” I will admit to choosing this book reluctantly, I had been hoping to read another of Melissa’s books, but it was sold out at Barnes & Noble so I “settled” for “The Breakup Bible.” But let me tell you readers, I’m so glad I did, because I really enjoyed “The Breakup Bible.” 
I was dubious at first – “The Breakup Bible” is about a high school junior named Jennifer who’s been dating Max, a popular senior. When Max breaks up with her (and she’s forced to see him on a daily basis, as they both edit the school newspaper), Jennifer is devastated. “Ho hum,” I thought, reading the description. But this book is far from “ho hum.” It was, in fact, in many places hilarious. 
My favorite character in “The Breakup Bible” was actually Jennifer’s younger brother, a 13-year-old boy who seems to think he’s the next Eminem. As the older sister of a 13-year-old brother, I loved his character. Melissa hit the nail on the head with the characterization – he acts, and talks, just like most 13-year-old boys I know. And the relationship between Jennifer and her brother is spot-on. 
“The Breakup Bible” also has a side story about racism and racial tension in a suburban school district that I found especially interesting, having grown up in an area similar to that in which Jennifer lives. 
I highly recommend “The Breakup Bible.” It’s a good summer read, in that it moves quickly and will have you smiling, but there is also some serious topics discussed, so it will provide the reader with a bit of a mental challenge. (Oh come on, school’s out for summer – you can afford to do a LITTLE thinking!) 
If you’ve read it, or if you read it, let me know what you thought (think)! 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Heavenly Holiday Read

Hi Bookworms! 
I hope that you’ve all had a great holiday weekend. I’m elated because I got the chance to do nothing but swim and read all weekend long. That means that I have a few new book reviews for you! But I’m going to space them out … you know what they say about too much of a good thing. (At least, I hope you know. Because I always forget, which means that I can’t tell you.) Anyway, today I’ll review “Angels on Sunset Boulevard” by Melissa de la Cruz. 
I know that Melissa de la Cruz is most well-known for her “Blue Bloods” series, which is about vampires. But we all know how I feel about vampires, and even with my recent ventures into the vampire literature world, I thought I’d try something different of de la Cruz’s. 
“Angels on Sunset Boulevard” centers around a facebook-type website called TAP, the wild parties that TAP hosts, and a strange ritual that only a select few TAP members are invited to participate. Nick is a wealthy high schooler from Los Angeles who’s thirteen-year-old stepsister disappeared after attending a party hosted by TAP. Nick enlists Taj, the girlfriend of America’s hottest rock star, who has he himself vanished in the middle of a concert, to help him find out where his sister is and what exactly TAP has to hide. However, Taj knows more about TAP and its secrets than she lets on. 
The book is very plot driven and you won’t want to venture too far away from the story for very long. It hooks you in and keeps you wondering about what it is that TAP and Taj are hiding. I’d peg it as an older YA read, as heavy drug use, drinking, and sexual content are a prevalent theme. 
Any suggestions of what I should read next, bookworms? Let me know! 

Friday, July 2, 2010

James Kennedy and ALA (aka "I Smell Trouble")

Hey Readers! 
This is an impromptu post that is semi-Teen Book Festival related. I don’t know how many of you know this, but the American Library Association (ALA) conference was held this past week and our very own Stephanie Squicciarini gave a presentation entitled “How to Run a Teen Book Festival.” Terry Trueman, Ellen Hopkins, and James Kennedy were there to present with her. 
James just posted on HIS blog about his experience at the conference and it is most certainly something worth reading. (Especially the part about his ummmmmmm confrontation(?) with Laurie Halse Anderson.) As usual, he had me practically rolling on the floor with laughter … 
So readers, check it out! (Follow the link on the word "blog.") You definitely won’t regret it!
Have a GREAT holiday weekend! 

Monday, June 28, 2010

Vivacious Violet

Hello Readers! 
I am on a roll with my TBF 2011 reading! I’m bound and determined NOT to have a repeat of last year (where I was trying to finish 6 books less than a week before the festival!), so I’m getting started early. 
I got a great deal on several TBF books on Barnes& this past weekend. I got books by Heather Brewer and Melissa Kantor for $1.99 each! I love a good bargain (and a good book). I can’t wait for them to arrive. There are few things more exciting in life than a package from Barnes&Noble. 
Anyway, today I am not here to boast about my mad shopping skills (nerdy again, right?), but to review “Violet on the Runway” by Melissa Walker. 
Violet Greenfield is tall, skinny, and completely lacking in confidence. She attends public high school in her North Carolina town, hangs out with her best friends, Julie and Roger, and works part-time at the local movie theatre. But all that changes when Angela Blythe, an agent for Tryst Models in NYC, recruits her for a life in the limelight. Violet, who has always felt that she never found the one thing that she was “great” at, jumps at the opportunity. She sets off for New York City, is thrust into the spotlight, and learns that getting what you want is not always easy. 
Violet is a believable and likeable character. In the sneak peek excerpt of “Violet By Design” (the next book in the “Violet” series), Violet says, “I realize the whole hotel opens in the middle around a giant, curving staircase like in “Gone With the Wind” – which, okay, is my secret favorite movie. My public favorite movie is “The Royal Tenenbaums,” which, while a great film with infinitely more cool cred, is no “Gone With the Wind.” It’s lines like this that convince the reader that Violet would make an awesome best friend. 
Fans of “Ugly Betty,” “Project Runway” and “Models of the Runway,” and “America’s Next Top Model” can’t go wrong with “Violet on the Runway.” 
(And a fun fact, Melissa Walker has worked in the fashion industry. Check out her bio online or in the back of one of the “Violet” books for more info!) 

Saturday, June 26, 2010

David Levithan in Entertainment Weekly

Hello Readers! 
This is not a TBF 2011-related post, but I think it will be an interesting one nonetheless. You should all try to get a hold of a copy of the magazine Entertainment Weekly for the week of July 2. In the “Books” section (my favorite section of the magazine!), there is a really fascinating article about how, if “To Kill a Mockingbird” were published today, it may have been marketed as a YA read. 
TBF alum David Levithan (TBF 2007, 2009), author of “Boy Meets Boy,” “Will Grayson Will Grayson,” and more, and editor of “The Hunger Games” series for Scholasitc, is quoted. It’s a very interesting article. I was hoping that I would be able to find it online and attach a link to the post, but it doesn’t appear to be online. 
You can pick up Entertainment Weekly at your local grocery store, or try your library! It’s definitely worth searching for it - any TBF lover will appreciate the article. 
If you happen to get a hold of the article, leave me a comment and let me know what you thought of it! 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin

Hi Bookworms!
I know I promised you this review a few weeks ago, but I just finished “The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin” by Josh Berk last night. I have to admit, it took me longer to get through it than I thought it would, mostly because I took a break in the middle to read “The Passage.” (Which, by the way, was REALLY good. It’s not by a TBF author, BUT Jennifer Smith, a former TBF author, is mentioned in the acknowledgments, as she served as a first reader for the book.) 
“The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin” is about Will Halpin, a (self-proclaimed) fat, deaf kid who transfers from his local Deaf school to be mainstreamed at the public high school. Shortly after his arrival, one of the most popular kids at school dies while on a field trip to the local mine. When an initial police investigation reveals that the student was most likely pushed, Will and his new (and only) friend, Smiley, set out to solve the mystery. 
Will and Smiley are both likeable characters who immediately endear themselves to the reader. Because Will is deaf and Smiley’s knowledge of American Sign Language is limited, they converse primarily through IM conversations and text messages. These conversations are simply hilarious. 
Also interesting, especially to me, since I'm a communication sciences and disorders major (which means that I study disorders that impede “normal” communication), was the book’s discussion of deafness. The little “d” deaf versus big “D” Deaf debate is touched upon, as is, very briefly, the controversy surrounding cochlear implants. The differences between American Sign Language and Standard English grammar are also explained, although briefly. 
All in all, for anyone looking for a quick, fun murder mystery or for anyone interested in deafness or Deaf culture, “Hamburger Halpin” is a good bet. (There’s a pun hidden in that last sentence. You’ll get it if you read the book … there’s something else to motivate you!) 
Let me know, readers, have you read “The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin?” What did you think? 

Friday, June 18, 2010

Makeover Complete!

The makeover of Carly Reads is complete! Poke around and check out what's new ... and thanks for not complaining about the funky formatting issues I've been having for the past few days.  I think the final result is well worth it. ;-)

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Carly Reads is undergoing a major blog makeover!  Please excuse our dust ...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

What? Carly read another vampire book?

Hello Readers!

Okay so you’re not going to believe it. In my last book review (of “Hex Hall”), I talked about how “Twilight” has made me hate vampires in all forms, but “Hex Hall” made me realize that perhaps I shouldn’t be too quick to judge all fictional vampires. I just finished Beth Fantaskey’s “Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side.” In “Jessica’s Guide,” Jessica is a senior in high school in rural Pennsylvania. One day, a mysterious, Eastern European stranger shows up at her farmhouse and informs her that she’s his betrothed – and a vampire princess. That’s right. “Jessica’s Guide” is ALL about vampires. And you know what, readers? I really liked it. 

Jessica is a strong, independent character and that (as you’ve all probably figured out my now) is how I like my female protagonists to be. Especially in romance stories. When Lucius, Jessica’s betrothed, first shows up at her farmhouse, she’s convinced that he’s a raving lunatic. It takes quite a bit of convincing before logical, math-loving Jessica believes Lucius’ tale. 

I’m going to venture to say that fans of “Twilight,” as well as non-fans, will appreciate “Jessica’s Guide.” It’s vampires and romance, but Jessica’s definitely not Bella, and Lucius is not Edward. An added plus? Lucius’ letters to Vasile, his uncle who remains in Romania, about American high school and American customs will make you LOL. (Yes, I did just say that. It was really nerdy, I know.)

So, readers, get yourself a copy of “Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side.” I don’t think you’ll regret it!

Are you reading any TBF 2011 books? Let me know which ones!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

YA Tribe

Hey Readers!

A bunch of our totally awesome TBF 2010 authors (Amy Kathleen Ryan, Alisa Libby, Jennifer Smith, James Kennedy, and Martin Wilson) are posting on a blog created by Amy Kathleen Ryan called YA Tribe. Here’s what Amy says about YA Tribe:

“I came home from the 2010 Rochester Teen Book Festival feeling like I already missed the amazing writers and readers that I met. There's nothing more interesting or exciting than talking about great books, so I wanted to create a forum for the discussion to continue. I invite guest bloggers from all walks, including teen readers, writers, and librarians. We'll also do lots of book reviews, but all our reviews are of books we LOVE. If we don't love it, we don't review it.”

Basically, YA Tribe is my new favorite blog. (You can’t pick your own blog to be your favorite, that’s conceited.) So you should all check it out! ASAP! 

(There’s currently a really funny “movie” by Amy Kathleen Ryan about Amazon Reader Reviews …)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

How Hex Hall Renewed My Faith in Vampires

Hey Readers!
I’ve made it this year’s blog resolution to post more book reviews, so here comes another one! I just read Rachel Hawkins' “Hex Hall.” I’m usually NOT a fantasy person. I loved Harry Potter, but hated “Lord of the Rings,” etc. I’m just not into it. However, I REALLY liked “Hex Hall!” It was the perfect book for Memorial Day weekend – it was fun, moved quickly, and had a good mystery to it. I usually try not to compare between authors that are both coming to TBF in the same year, but I’m describing “Hex Hall” as “If I Tell You I Love You Then I’d Have to Kill You” (which is one of my favorites) meets Harry Potter.
“Hex Hall” has a totally awesome female protagonist (Sophie) who goes to private school (okay, reform school) for witches, warlocks, shapeshifters, fairies, and a lone vampire. I don’t like vampires. At all. I hate “Twilight” with a passion. However, “Hex Hall” has a vampire that has made me reconsider my hatred for all things vampire related. And that, my readers, is significant.
So, if only to find out why I no longer hate ALL vampires, get your hands on a copy of “Hex Hall” ASAP. Once you read it (or if you’re ahead of me and you’ve already read it!), leave me a comment and let me know what you thought!

Friday, May 28, 2010

After TBF 2010 and "After the Moment"

Hi Readers!

I’m BAAAAAACK! Did you miss me? I took a hiatus to recover from the excitement of TBF 2010, but now, it’s time to start posting about TBF 2011! (Save the date – May 14, 2011.) 

I just finished Garret Freymann-Weyr’s “After the Moment” and I couldn’t wait to blog about it because I absolutely LOVED it. I almost don’t know what to say about it. You know when you finish a really great book and you want to tell the entire world to read it, but then when someone asks you what it was about, you don’t know how to answer? (Gee, I hope this happens to other people, because it happens to me all the time.) Anyway, that’s how I feel. Like it was so good, that no matter what I say, I won’t be doing it justice.

So … I found a video of Garret Freymann-Weyr talking about “After the Moment” and I think I’ll let her do that talking.

One of the things that I loved most about this book was the way it was written. “After the Moment” is one of those books that has good characters, a good plot, and, most importantly, is beautifully written in lyrical prose. I would put Garret Freymann-Weyr among the ranks of Deb Caletti, Jennifer Smith, and John Green – three authors that I think are brilliant writers in addition to creating good stories. 

So, readers, hurry out to the closest bookstore and library and pick up a copy of “After the Moment” – you won’t regret it! And just in case you’re wondering, the authors DON’T pay me to say that. In fact, I don’t get paid at all. ;)

I’m reading “The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin” now, so that will probably be the next thing I post on. 

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Vivian's Pictures

Hey Readers!

This is probably the last post about TBF 2010! :( 

Actually, I say that now, but I will probably think of more things to post in the next week or so …

Anyway, CarlyReads will be going through a makeover over the next few weeks as I update it for TBF 2011. Be sure to keep checking back for the revamp.

I wanted to give you guys the link to Vivian Vande Velde’s website where she’s posted some great pictures that she took over the weekend. Click here!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

TBF 2010!

Wow, Readers! 
I can't believe that TBF 2010 is already over ... wasn't it great, though? Here are some pictures I took throughout the day. I'm sure I missed some awesome moments, but I tried to capture as many as I could. Be sure to leave comments with your favorite festival memories!

The Golden Flyer meets Snoopy as they await the authors.

A marching bands leads the limos carrying the TBF 2010 authors to the Shults Center.

The marching band (and the authors!) grows closer to the Shults Center.

One of the limos arrives in front of the Shults Center.

Stephanie, fearless leader of TBF, greets Coe Booth.

Marissa Doyle and Matt de la Pena are greeted by Snoopy upon arrival.

Lisa McMann high fives her fans as she walks the red carpet.

Terry Trueman, Lindsay Cibos, and Simone Elkeles arrive at the Shults Center for TBF 2010.

Simone Elkeles greets Snoopy as Martin Wilson emerges from the limo.

Holly Black and Mari Mancusi walk the red carpet.

Sarah Ockler waves to her adoring fans as Alisa Libby and James Kennedy follow.

Vivian Vande Velde arrives.

Robin Brande smiles as she prepares to walk the red carpet.

Ben Mikaelsen arrives at the Shults Center and walks the red carpet.

The "Walk of Fame."

The crowd awaits the start of the opening panel. 

Terry Trueman makes Jennifer Smith laugh during the opening panel.

The authors prepare for the lightening round of questions that made up the opening panel.

Terry Trueman signs autographs.

Fans stand in line for autographs at the end of the day.

Terry Trueman and Zeke, the stand-in mascot of TBF 2010.

Vivian Vande Velde signs autographs.

Did you know the "J.K." stands for "James Kennedy?"

Shoppers purchase books at the Barnes & Noble table set up in the gym.

A volunteer sells candy to a festival-goer at the TBF merchandise table.

So, readers, it was a great year! I can’t wait until the next one … and I’ll be posting all summer long about TBF 2011 so keep checking back.