Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Interview with the Mascot

Hello Readers,

It’s a double dose of Terry Trueman on the blog!  Today … my interview with Terry.

Carly Reads: You keep coming back year after year, what is it that you love so much about the Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival?
Terry Trueman: TBF is a special gig. I know a lot of authors who have particular places where they are always welcome and treated great, even singled out a bit, which I always feel at TBF, plus Stephanie stalks me, what am I gonna do? Would you want someone with a last name like her pissed at you? :)

CR: Do you play the Whack-an-Author game on the TBF website?  If so, what’s your high score?
TT: I don't play Whack-an-Author, in fact, I don't play any games on video or etc. I hate to lose so much it's sickening – to kill myself over not being able to whack myself on the head better than anyone else, would seem … I dunno, kind of pathetic I think.

CR: Do you have a favorite among the books you’ve written?
TT: I love all my children, but my new one a sequel to “Stuck in Neutral” and its companion “Cruise Control,” working title “Jump Start” hopefully coming out in 2012, is pretty special and I LOVE it. You'll hear a bit of it at this year’s TBF if you come to one of my sessions.

CR: What are your five favorite books?
TT: R U kidding? If I name my own, which obviously are my five faves, I'll have to leave one out and that book will be heartbroken. If I list books by other authors, I can only make five friends happy and thus have a few hundred others po'd at me. It's a NO WIN. I will admit that “The Art of Racing in the Rain” and “Love That Dog” are books I admire written by authors I loathe for writing so beautifully.

CR: What author are you most looking forward to meeting and/or seeing at the Sixth Annual TBF?
TT: To be honest I haven't seen who's coming this year. I always enjoy meeting authors for the first time and seeing old pals, so picking any one would be impossible. I know I always get a huge kick out of hanging around with . . . myself . . . So there is that!! :)

Thanks, Terry! As always, we can’t wait to see at TBF come May.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Cruising with Terry

Hey Readers!

Those of you who have been to TBF in previous years know that Terry Trueman is a TBF favorite.  Before we had an opening panel, there was a keynote address to kick off the festival, and Terry gave the keynote address at the 1st and 2nd TBF.  He’s attended every festival thus far, is the face of “Whack and Author” on the TBF website, and at TBF 2009 he was named “TBF Mascot.”

Therefore, I thought it was only appropriate that I dedicate a post to Terry and my favorite of his books.  I’ve already reviewed “Stuck in Neutral.” (In fact, it was my first review on Carly Reads!)  As a quick recap, “Stuck in Neutral” tells the story of Shawn, a bright teenage boy trapped in his body by severe cerebral palsy and convinced that his father is trying to kill him.  “Stuck in Neutral” has a companion novel, “Cruise Control.”  “Cruise Control” is told from the point of view of Paul, Shawn’s brother.  “Cruise Control,” like “Stuck in Neutral” is a short but emotionally loaded read.  While it is, like I said, a companion to “Stuck in Neutral,” it can easily be read on its own.

And in exciting preview news, when Terry visited Nazareth as part of Teen Reads Week in the fall, he read an excerpt from his newest book, which is a sequel to “Stuck in Neutral.”  I’m hoping there will be another preview at TBF 2011 …

Monday, March 28, 2011

It's All About "You"

Dear Reader,

Today, you turned on your computer, opening your Internet browser, typed this blog address into the search box, and landed on the homepage of this blog.  You scanned the headlines, and then began to read this post. 

Whoa. Second person. It’s a strange tense to read.  But Charles Benoit’s novel “You” is written entirely in second person.  It’s something that can be tough to get used to, especially at the beginning, but the storyline of the novel is definitely worth braving the unusual tense. 

“You” is really about choices.  It’s about how the choices that the narrator, Kyle, makes influence his life. Kyle is not an overachiever.  In fact, he’s what many may call an underachiever or a screw-up.  He’s smarter than he lets on, and he doesn’t work nearly as hard as he could.  But he’s a relatable narrator nonetheless.  Readers will connect to Kyle and the choices that he’s facing in his life.  “You” also has a certain suspense to it.  It begins with a bang, and that bang will keep readers guessing throughout the rest of the book.  “You” is a powerful book.  Benoit gives readers a powerful message about the importance of making choices and he does so in a memorable manner.

So, brave the second person tense, make the right choice, and give “You” a try.   

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Colleen Falls for "Miki Falls"

Hello Readers!

No, I didn’t disappear off the face of the earth, I merely disappeared to San Francisco where I spent four days touring the city like a crazy woman.  I saw elephant seals at Año Nuevo State Park, visited the Vera Bradley store in downtown San Francisco, saw the aquatic animals at the California Academy of Sciences, shopped at the Chronicle Books store, and took every form of public transportation that travels around the city, including an old-fashioned cable car. I then spent the next week an half trying to recover from the lack of sleep and get back into the swing of school and classes.  (Let me tell you readers, this whole “college” thing is TOTALLY cutting into my free reading time …)

But now I’m back! And there are only 47 days left until TBF 2011.  (Yes, 47! That’s left than 50! Ahhhhh!) That means that it’s time to kick into high gear here on Carly Reads.  So check back every day, because I’ve got lots to post before the big day arrives!

For today? A review of Mark Crilley’s “Miki Falls (Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter)” by Colleen!

High school senior Miki Yoshido is determined to make her last year count. She meets Hiro Sakurai, a new student at school whose stand-offish demeanor (and good looks) immediately catches her interest. Despite Hiro’s discouragement, Miki is determined to get to know him. When Miki finds out about Hiro’s secret life as a Deliverer, a quasi-celestial being whose job is to keep watch over the survival of love on Earth. Despite their growing feelings for each other, Hiro knows that he is breaking the rules of his very existence by being with Miki, and he breaks off their relationship. The two are thrown back together when Hiro’s superiors come after the couple, determined to break them apart and punish Hiro for his transgressions. Determined to stay together, Hiro and Miki run away together on perilous quest for survival.

I went through a whole anime/manga phase in middle/high school (my friends and I were literally obsessed). I’m not such a hard-core fan anymore, but I do still enjoy a good manga read every now and then. I had seen “Miki Falls” on the shelves at the library before, and had been interested in reading the series. When I found out that author/illustrator would be coming to the TBF this year, I had my “excuse” to finally read the series! And I must say, I really did enjoy it. The story was surprisingly original and the artwork was quite good. I’m always in awe (and in envy) of people who can write and illustrate so well…  The series was definitely a fun read – and with its well-balanced combination of romance, comedy and action, it carries a wide reader appeal. If Mr. Crilley comes out with a sequel, I will definitely be reading it… and rumor has it that they might be considering making the series into a film… oh the possibilities!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Colleen!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Carrie Blooms

Hello Readers,

Today is the last day of guest blog posts by Dr. Laura’s students.  Last, but most certainly not least, is Carrie’s review of “Bloom” by Elizabeth Scott.

Hi Teen Book Fest Readers!  My name is Carrie and I have my Bachelor’s degree in Social Studies and Special Education (Grades 7-12) from Nazareth College.   Now I am a graduate student at Nazareth studying Literacy Education.  I am an avid reader and love YA literature.

Some of my favorite YA books include “The A-List” series by Zoey Dean and all of Terry Truman's novels.  I am a sucker for all romance novels :-) I am really looking forward to meeting Terry Truman and Elizabeth Scott at this year’s TBF!  As a literacy student, I am always looking for new and exciting ways to incorporate YA lit into my classroom.  Because of my background in Social Studies, I see the importance of integrating historical YA novels in my future classroom. 
I believe YA books can give a stronger and deeper meaning of history than just a textbook alone.  But, I did not review a historical novel… I got suckered into a romance novel.

I recently read Elizabeth Scott's “Bloom,” and boy was I blown away. This is NOT your average high school romance (and I could not put it down).

Most romance books are always about the unpopular girl who wants the perfect blonde-haired, blue-eyed jock.  Usually, that girl comes from a great family that supports her and she is usually smart. Everything in the book just seems to be too perfect, and it has the perfect ending. It never seems like reality.  It is just the typical high school fairy tale. Well, “Bloom” is not that story.

Lauren already has the perfect boyfriend, Dave.  He is the hottest guy in school and all the other girls melt whenever they see him. Everyone envies Lauren's relationship.   Dave seems perfect. He will hold her hand in public, and he always kisses her every time he sees her.  He comes from a great family, who love Lauren. They try to include her in family dinner and reunions.  He is a star athlete. He is very smart and well-liked in school.  And he is head over heels in love with Lauren. He thinks she is perfect. He is even planning his college choices with Lauren in mind. (Cue the awwwww.)   He thinks that they can last forever. There is only one issue; Lauren does not, but she is too scared to leave Dave, because he is perfect.    

This all changes when a blast from the past named Evan comes back into Lauren's life.  Lauren will have to decide if she wants to leave her perfect boyfriend for someone she has not seen in years, or stay in a relationship that she is unhappy with.

Lauren also struggles with opening up her life to those around her.  Lauren's mother left when she was really young and she and her father do not communicate (he's a workaholic). Lauren also does not have that many friends, and her closest friends has issues of their own.  As a reader, it's easy to see yourself in the characters of “Bloom.”  Lauren is not the perfect character and “Bloom” is not the perfect love story. Nothing is perfect in this story. But this creates a perfect young adult novel, one of the best I have read in a while!  So go read it now!!!

Thanks Carly for letting me "guest" blog and I can't wait to see you all and all the authors at the Teen Book Fest! 

Thank you, Carrie, for taking the time to share your review with us! And thank you, readers, for being loyal followers of Carly Reads!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Meghan Reviews Melissa

Hello Bookworms!

Today I have a review written by one of Dr. Laura’s students, Meghan, of “Girlfriend Material,” by Melissa Kantor.  I gave rave reviews to Melissa Kantor’s “The Breakup Bible” and “The Darlings,” so I’m just as excited as you are to read Meghan’s thoughts on “Girlfriend Material.” 

So without any more delay, meet Meghan …

Hey guys!  My name is Meghan and I just wanted to thank Carly for letting me be a guest blogger on her TBF blog. :-) Just a bit about me … This past May, I graduated from Nazareth College of Rochester with a Bachelor’s Degree in History and a certification in Social Studies and Special Education (Grades 7-12).  I currently am working on my Masters Degree in Literacy Education (Grade 5-12) at my alma mater. 

Due to my background in Social Studies, I tend to gravitate to YA books that are historical or multicultural in nature.  I am a huge fan of Deborah Ellis, the author of the award winning novel, “The Breadwinner.”  In addition, I recently had the opportunity of reading Nujood Ali’s memoir entitled “I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced” and grew in love with her.  What an excellent book… I highly suggest reading it.

I’m really looking forward to utilizing these two particular pieces of YA literature in my future social studies classes to teach students how their counterparts live in other parts of the world.  I think each of these texts provide plenty of teaching opportunities!

I also have come to love Terry Trueman, one of the TBF authors this year and I can’t wait to meet him. I have read both “Stuck in Neutral” and its companion novel “Cruise Control” and think that his texts provide valuable lessons about truly accepting others. 

Enough about me … onto my review on “Girlfriend Material” by TBF author Melissa Kantor.  I have read most of Kantor’s work and I really enjoy it.  I always wanted to read this particular book... I just never had the chance to until this past week.  If you read it, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. :-)

Kate, the main character, is a sixteen-year-old girl that has never had a boyfriend and wants to spend the summer with her friends in Salt Lake City.   Instead, Kate is forced to go with her mother, Jane, to Cape Cod, Massachusetts. They plan to stay with one of Jane’s old college roommates for the entire summer, as Jane works through some personal issues.

Things look horrible from the beginning for Kate. The summer sure starts off rough.  Jane’s roommate’s daughter, Sarah, wants nothing to do with Kate and she doesn’t have anyone to play tennis with.  She is just all-around bored-out-of-her-mind.   Kate is convinced that her summer is ruined, until she meets Adam.

“Girlfriend Material” is a really cute summer read!  It was very easy to picture exactly what Melissa Kantor wanted to paint in the reader’s mind because of her detailed descriptions. 

Kate was so easy to relate to.  I can remember being 16 and having no clue how to act around boys. It was as if I was reading about myself.  Adam was so sweet and seemed like he would make a great boyfriend.  I just kept turning the pages, hoping everything would work out in the end.

I really, really, really enjoyed this book!  It reminded me that everything happens for a reason. 

Wow, Meghan, thank so much for the review.  Now I’m really anxious to read “Girlfriend Material”!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Heather on "Blue Bloods"

Hey Readers!

Welcome back to Carly Reads for day two of guest reviews by Dr. Laura’s students

Today, Heather reviews “Blue Bloods” by Melissa de la Cruz!

My name is Heather and I am a graduate student studying Literacy (5th-12th grade). I am hoping to get the literacy extension in birth through sixth grade so I can be dual certified. This is my second semester here at Naz and I absolutely love it. I love reading in my spare time, and I am a fan of authors like Terry Truman, Joyce Carol Oates, Edgar Alan Poe, and now Melissa De La Cruz.  In my spare time, when I am not reading, I am a Varsity Cheerleading coach and a Graduate Assistant for the Homework Help Program here at Naz. 

Before reading “Blue Bloods,” I could not help but think that this would be another vampire love story.  You know, the vampire novel in which the vampire and human fall in love and try to figure out a way to make things work.  However, “Blue Bloods” is not like your typical vampire series! Melissa De La Cruz does NOT present her readers with the typical human falls in love with vampire love story. Instead, Cruz presents a realistic, mysterious story in which vampires are trying to live “normal” elite lives in Manhattan.

“Blue Bloods” is set in Manhattan and follows the lives of a few teens that attend Duchesne, a prestigious private school.  These teens are different, not just because they are rich, powerful, and among the elite in Manhattan, but because they are vampires.  The "main character" Schuyler Van Alen is a misfit at Duchesne. Schuyler is different, not just because she does not dress like the other girls in the school, but because she is part vampire.  Schuyler does not realize that she is a vampire until she is fifteen when she beings noticing blue veins on her arms, and begins craving raw meat (YUCK!).  There is a scene in the book where readers witness Schuyler eating the raw meat with blood streaming down her face.  At this point I got a little queasy and wanted to tell her to stop! However, I kept reading because I was wrapped into the book and couldn’t wait to see what Schuyler would do next.

Once Schuyler finds out she is a blue blood, she realizes that the death of one of her classmates, who was also a blue blood, was not an accident, especially since vampires are unable to die.  Who or what is the cause of her classmate’s death and other young vampires? Readers spend the book, along with Schuyler trying to uncover this mystery while putting her own life on the line.  Readers read parts of a diary, written from one of the female members of the Mayflower.  The way it is presented, it feels as if we, the “hooked” readers, are reading it while Schuyler is having a flashback or while she is reading the diary herself.  It’s as if readers are uncovering parts of the mystery through this diary, while learning the history of the blue bloods.

I loved this book and I cannot wait to read the other books in the series.  Melissa de la Cruz effortlessly combines the elements of horror and suspense with a splash of love (but then again what is a good story without a little bit of romance?). Cruz’s writing captivates and draws readers in. Once I began reading, I could NOT put it down. I definitely recommend this book to all readers! What are you waiting for?! Go read it. :-)

Thanks for your review, Heather.  Looking forward to seeing you again at TBF 2011!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Melissa and Seth

Hey Readers!

Dr. Laura is one of stupendous members of the awesome TBF planning committee.  She’s a professor in the Education Department at Nazareth and this semester she’s teaching a class in young adult literature.  Dr. Laura’s students are reading lots of the TBF books, and she and I decided that it would be fun to invite her students to be guest bloggers here at Carly Reads.  Therefore, for the next four days, I will be posting book review written by Dr. Laura’s students: Melissa, Heather, Meghan, and Carrie. 

Melissa is up first … enjoy!

My name is Melissa, and my favorite YA book is “The Breadwinner” by Deborah Ellis.  I am most looking forward to meeting Ellen Hopkins at TBF 2011, as I have read “Crank” and “Tricks” and really enjoyed both books.  I am currently a graduate student at Nazareth College and am studying to be a literacy specialist.  I am also certified to teach English for grades 7-12.  Hopefully, I will be able to use many YA novels in my future classroom, especially those written by TBF authors. 

“Seth Baumgartner’s Love Manifesto” by Eric Luper is an amazing book!  The novel begins with the main character, Seth, having the worst possible day of his life.  First, his girlfriend dumps him at Applebee’s, then he sees his father with another woman (NOT his mother), and he gets fired from his (fourth) job.  All three of these horrible things happen to Seth within one afternoon!  The rest of the novel deals with the ways Seth tries to cope with all of these events during the rest of the summer.  While news of his breakup and his lost job travels fast among his family and friends, Seth is determined to keep his father’s alleged affair a secret from everyone, including his best friend. 

In order to deal with his father’s secret, and since he has no one to talk to, Seth decides to start a podcast.  Since he would be uploading his podcasts online under the title “The Love Manifesto,” Seth feels free to discuss his feelings and problems anonymously with his digital audience.  But, in this digital world, how long can Seth’s identity remain a secret?  I’ll leave that to you as a reader to figure out. 

Throughout the book, Seth tries to track his father’s behavior and find out the identity of the mysterious woman that he saw with his father.  While he is preoccupied with this task, Seth also tries to cope with his breakup and focus on his new job at the golf course.  To make matters worse, Seth and his father are supposed to compete in the annual father-son golf tournament at the country club.  As he prepares for the tournament, Seth wonders if he should confront his father about the affair and the mystery woman.  I don’t want to spoil the ending of the book, but it does have a twist (which some readers may guess even before Seth finds out). 

This book is perfect for anyone who has been in love and/or has been through a breakup.  Seth continuously tries to determine what love really means throughout the book, and the reader is able to work through this dilemma with him.  Seth’s thoughts about life and love were one of my favorite features of this novel.  I especially like how Luper includes transcripts of Seth’s podcasts in between some of the chapters, so the reader knows what Seth is saying to his digital audience.  Also, Luper includes the songs and sound effects that Seth plays during the podcasts, which really give the reader the feeling that he or she is actually listening to the podcast on iTunes.  Overall, this is an enjoyable read, and I highly recommend it!

Thanks for the review, Melissa!  Readers, have you read “Seth Baumgartner’s Love Manifesto” yet?  If so, what are your thoughts?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Spy Girls

Hello Readers,

Do you have certain books that you associate with specific times in your life?  A book that, when you open it, brings back a flood of memories about the first time you read it?  For me, “I’d Tell You I Love You, but Then I’d Have to Kill You” by Ally Carter is one of those books.  “I’d Tell You I Love You, but Then I’d Have to Kill You” will forever make me think of laying on a chaise lounge on my deck, reading the book in a pair of sunglasses during the summer that I was sixteen.  Needless to say, “I’d Tell You I Love, but Then I’d Have to Kill You,” is one of my faves.

Cammie Morgan attends the Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women, a spy school in disguise as an elite prep school.  Cammie can speak fourteen languages and kill a man seven different ways, but when she meets a normal guy, she has to learn how to have a relationship with someone who can never know the truth about her.

“I’d Tell You I Love You, but Then I’d Have to Kill You” is a sweet story with a strong female protagonist (and you all know how much I love those), and best of all, it’s first in a series.  So far, there are four published Gallagher Girls novels, so once you finish the first one ,you can move right on to the next. 

Have you read any (or all!) of the Gallagher Girls books?  If so, which is your favorite?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Interview With An Illustrator

What’s up, Readers?

I’ll tell you what’s up here at Carly Reads … an interview with James Barry!

Carly Reads: According to your website, you illustrate a variety of mediums (comics like “The Warrior” series, textbooks, posters).  How does your creative process differ depending on what medium you are illustrating?
James Barry: I really enjoy working on comics because of the creative process involved in storytelling. When illustrating comics, multiple drawings are used to tell the story, and I get to consider the dramatic aspects like pacing and character, as well as the artistic elements like panel design and setting. The words are integrated into the drawing as opposed to a poster or textbook, where the art is separate and supports the writing.  Drawing a comic is a lot like directing a movie.

CR: Do you have a favorite character from “The Warriors” series? Is there one character or scene that was harder to draw than the rest?
JB: So far, I would say Ravenpaw is my favorite character because I identified with a lot of his personality traits. He was also the hardest to draw because I had to ink in all that black fur!  Scenes with cars are sometimes difficult to illustrate because I want the automobiles to seem threatening, like "monsters" to the cats

CR: What is the process of illustrating a book in “The Warriors” series like?
JB: When I receive the script, I start sketching out a rough draft of each page on cheap paper – these are called thumbnail drawings. I send scans to my editor who looks over the drawings and gives any suggestions to make the story more clear Since each page is only a rough sketch, it is easy to make changes at this stage. Once everything is agreed upon, I print out the revised thumbnails at 150% the final print size. Illustrators almost always make drawings larger than the final print because it is easier to add little details as well as cover mistakes. Using a pencil, I trace these thumbnails onto another sheet paper and start refining the drawing.  Inking the comic takes the most time. Some artists ink digitally but I still do this stage by hand. I use a dip pen and bottled ink to go over the pencil drawing, adding depth and more details. It can seem daunting, making each un-erasable line, but with practice it can be a lot of fun. When finished inking, the pencil lines are erased and the page is scanned into the computer where tones or color are added. The digital files are sent to my editor where the word balloons are placed, based on the design in my thumbnail drawings.

CR: What was the last book that you read for pleasure?
JB: I am currently reading "American Gods" by Neil Gaiman.

CR: What author are you most looking forward to meeting and/or seeing at the Sixth Annual Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival?
JB: I look forward to meeting Melissa de la Cruz and reading some of her novels. They sound quite exciting!

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer these interview questions for us, James. We’re looking forward to meeting you in May at TBF 2011!