Friday, January 27, 2012

Miranda Reads, Too!: Alumni Edition with Simone Elkeles

Hi Readers,

Today, Miranda is back at Carly Reads with a review for Carly Reads: Alumni Edition of Simone Elkeles’ “Chain Reaction.” Read and enjoy!

Hey readers!

When I’m not reading a current TBF author, I’m usually reading a TBF Alumni. It gives me a chance to see what they’ve been writing these days. Simone Elkeles, our 2010 alum, released her latest novel, “Chain Reaction”, the third book in the Perfect Chemistry series. 

Luis Fuentes has always been sheltered from the gang violence that nearly destroyed his brothers’ lives. But that didn’t stop him from taking risks — whether he’s scaling a mountain in the Rockies or dreaming of a future as an astronaut, Luis can’t stop looking for the next thrill. Nikki Cruz lives her life by three rules — boys lie to get their way, don’t trust a boy who says “I love you,” and never date a boy from the south side of Fairfield. Her parents may be from Mexico, but as a doctor’s daughter, she has more in common with her north-side neighbors than the Latino Blood at her school. Then she meets Luis at Alex’s wedding, and suddenly, she’s tempted to break all her rules. Getting Nikki to take a chance on a south-sider is Luis’s biggest challenge, until he finds himself targeted by Chuy Soto, the new head of the Latino Blood. When Chuy reveals a disturbing secret about Luis’s family, the youngest Fuentes finds himself questioning everything he’s ever believed to be true. Will his feelings for Nikki be enough to stop Luis from entering a dark and violent world and permanently living on the edge?

Simone Elkeles is known for her incredible romance novels. Her first book was “How to Ruin a Summer Vacation.” The Perfect Chemistry series is one of her best works. In the first book, “Perfect Chemistry,” readers get to meet the oldest brother in the Fuentes family, Alexander. She continues the series by introducing the second brother, Carlos, and later on Luis, the youngest. These brothers are equally handsome, charming, have a bad boy demeanor and a soft heart. They are stuck in a rough Mexican gang but that doesn’t stop them from reaching for a brighter future.

When I first met Simone Elkeles, she was energetic and funny. Surprisingly, she said that she hated writing so much that she refused to write an essay to get into college. She admitted that those cheap and cheesy romance novels got her started to write. I admire her choice to choose to give writing a second chance. Her decision really paid off in the end. She is now a New York Times bestseller.

Lesson of the day: give things a second chance. It may be worth it in the end.


Thanks for another great post, Miranda!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Good Morning Readers!

Laurie Halse Anderson and TBF go WAY back. All the way back, in fact, to the very beginning. Laurie was one of our first 11 authors featured at TBF, and she’s made several reappearances at the festival. She’s also attended a TBF Read-a-Thon and always spreads the TBF love. Laurie was kind enough to take time out of her VERY busy schedule to answer a few questions for me, and today, I’m going to share her answers with you!

Carly Reads: Your young adult realistic fiction deals with a number of tough issues, including eating disorders, suicide, rape, and teenage pregnancy. What role do you think books can play in helping teens deal with these issues and other struggles?
Laurie Halse Anderson: Teenagers are young enough that the harsher realities of the world can shock and hurt them, and old enough that they want to understand those realities. Even kids who haven't been through the struggles of the characters in my novels want to understand what the characters are experiencing. Readers who have dealt with tough realities want solace and hope. Books give us information, insight, and empathy. They also save lives. I've had countless letter and emails from readers who, after reading one of my books, found the courage to speak up and get help.

CR: You also write historical fiction for younger audiences, how does writing for this age group differ from writing for young adults? Do you prefer writing for one group over the other?
LHA: In the early stages of a writing project, I don't think about the audience at all. I focus on character's voice and listening to her story. It will take two or three drafts for me to get the structure and imagery of the story in place. Then I begin revising; that's when I consider my audience. For my YA novels, I make sure that the pace of the novel moves smoothly, that there is humor and the wide range of emotions that teens are swamped with every day. For my younger readers, I make sure that scenes are described well so that they can clearly picture where the characters are and what is going on around them. This is especially important in a historical novel because the world of 250 years ago was quite different than our world today. I really enjoy writing for both age groups!

CR: Have you always known that you wanted to be a writer? Was your journey to getting published like, and what advice do you have for aspiring writers?
LHA: I never thought about being an author when I was a kid. I was a reader, first and foremost. After several years of being a journalist, I decided to try my hand at writing books for children. It seemed to be a more positive way to make a contribution to the world than writing another story about city budgets or Santa visiting the mall. I was a fairly awful writer when I started and have hundreds of rejection letters to prove it. After a few depressing years, I embraced the concept of revision and my books started - gradually - to become less bad. My first published books were picture books. Then I wrote “Speak” and my life changed completely.

CR: What five books are on your list of “Books I Can’t Live Without”?
LHA: 1. The Oxford Unabridged Dictionary 2. The Watsons Go To Birmingham – 1963 3. Blueberries for Sal 4. The Collected Works of William Shakespeare 5. Weetzie Bat

CR: What author are you most looking forward to meeting/seeing at the Seventh Annual Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival?
LHA: One of the many wonderful things about the Teen Book Festival is that is has become another home on the road for our wandering bands of motley YA authors. It has become part of our community. So I am looking forward to seeing old friends, like Terry Trueman, and to hanging out with new friends, like Brandon Mull.

Laurie, thank you so much for answering these questions for me! I’m looking forward to seeing you again in May!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Meet Miranda

Hi Readers,

As you know, I try to feature guest bloggers at least a few times a year. Today, Miranda, an avid TBF fan, is contributing to the blog. So everyone, meet Miranda!

Hey, guys, I’m Miranda, a guest blogger for Carly. Like Carly, TBF is an event that I get all hyped up about. It’s like my birthday; I look forward to it every year. It’s that great! My first time going to TBF was in 2009 and I loved it! I was so excited to go back in 2010. Now, this is the seventh year of TBF and I’m so pumped. Here’s why:

Ten Reason Why TBF Rocks

1. It’s a teen book festival. Not an adult or a kid book festival, it’s a teen book festival.

2. It’s a free admission event.

3. Different young adult authors from around the country come right here to Rochester!

4. You get to meet your favorite or soon-to-be favorite authors.

5. You get to know more about the authors and their books through our author panel and author sessions.

6. You can chat with the authors and gush to your favorites about how much you love their books and how amazing they are. (They really do love hearing from their fans.)

7. You finally have the chance to get ask the authors all of the questions that you’ve been dying to know the answer to.

8. You can buy the authors’ books (provided by our sponsor, Barnes and Noble, thank you guys!) and get them personally signed by the author themselves.

9. You can also buy TBF merchandise so you can remember this great day.

10. It’s a fun event! Getting together with your friends, reading books, and chatting with other teens. Have fun picking on Terry Trueman (Haha, just kidding! We love you, Terry! J).

Remember the date for TBF in 2012 is Saturday, May 19 from 9am-5pm. It will be great, trust me. Be sure to come back and visit the blog to get the inside scoop about books and authors from TBF!


Well said, Miranda! Thanks so much!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Carly Reads: Alumni Edition with Lisa McMann

Hi Readers,

Lisa McMann graced TBF with her presence in 2010 as part of the High School Humiliation Panel. Along with Robin Brande and A.S. King, she had us rolling on the floor with laughter, while also assuring us that one day, high school will end and you’ll be able to laugh about your experience … or turn it into a really great YA novel.

The community of Cryer’s Cross, Montana (population 212) is distraught when high school freshman Tiffany disappears without a trace. Already off-balance due to her OCD, 16-year-old Kendall is freaked out seeing Tiffany’s empty desk in the one-room school house, but somehow life goes on... until Kendall's boyfriend Nico also disappears, and also without a trace. Now the town is in a panic. Alone in her depression and with her OCD at an all-time high, Kendall notices something that connects Nico and Tiffany: they both sat at the same desk. She knows it's crazy, but Kendall finds herself drawn to the desk, dreaming of Nico and wondering if maybe she, too, will disappear...and whether that would be so bad. Then she begins receiving graffiti messages on the desk from someone who can only be Nico. Can he possibly be alive somewhere? Where is he? And how can Kendall help him? The only person who believes her is Jacian, the new guy she finds irritating...and attractive. As Kendall and Jacian grow closer, Kendall digs deeper into Nico's mysterious disappearance only to stumble upon some ugly—and deadly—local history. Kendall is about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried.

You can always count on Lisa for a high-quality suspense novel, and “Cryer’s Cross” is no expection. A spine-tingling ghost story, “Cryer’s Cross” will have you flipping pages as fast as you can and guessing throughout. I love a good ghost story, and a good ghost story is what you get with “Cryer’s Cross.” Like all good mystery novels, the end is unexpected, but fits the story perfectly. If you’re looking for a quick and satisfying read, look no further than “Cryer’s Cross.”

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Lovestruck by "Lovestruck Summer"

Hi Readers,

Over the course of the past year, Melissa Walker has emerged as one of my favorite YA authors. It’s rare to find an author that you KNOW you can count on to write a really great book that you’ll enjoy no matter what, but Melissa is definitely one of those authors.

The latest proof? Melissa’s “Lovestruck Summer.” I’m not a huge music fan – I like music, I listen to the radio in my car, but I rarely use my iPod and my music taste is definitely mainstream. It’s rare, therefore, that I connect to a book about a music lover. Because of this, I was a bit wary of “Lovestruck Summer,” a novel about Quinn, a music enthusiast who scores a summer internship with her favorite indie label in Austin. But I liked it. A lot. Because even though she may be a rabid music fan, a little judgmental, and a lot clueless, I liked Quinn.

“Lovestruck Summer” isn’t just a frilly story about a summer of live music, partying with sorority girls, and a dreamy DJ. It’s a story about a girl who learns important lessons about first impressions, healthy relationships, and true friendships.

My only complaint about “Lovestruck Summer” is that now that I’ve read it, I’ve read all of Melissa’s published novels. I’m in serious Walker withdrawal, and anxiously awaiting May when her newest novel “Unbreak My Heart” is released.  

Monday, January 16, 2012

Seeking Talented Teens!

Hi Readers,

I wanted to drop you all a quick reminder that the deadline for the TBF t-shirt and/or cover design contest is approaching. Are you a teen with talent? Do you know a teen with talent? The TBF Planning Committee is looking for teens to design the program cover for TBF 2012 and a t-shirt for TBF 2013. Find the details here, and start brainstorming!

Good luck!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Carly Reads: Alumni Edition with Sarah Ockler

Hello Readers,

Sarah Ockler joined the TBF family after her attendance in 2010, when she participated in the New Author Panel. I adored her first two novels, “Twenty Boy Summer” and “Fixing Delilah,” so I was anxiously awaiting the release of “Bittersweet” and devoured it in a matter of hours.

Once upon a time, Hudson knew exactly what her future looked like. Then a betrayal changed her life, and knocked her dreams to the ground. Now she’s a girl who doesn’t believe in second chances… a girl who stays under the radar by baking cupcakes at her mom’s diner and obsessing over what might have been.

So when things start looking up and she has another shot at her dreams, Hudson is equal parts hopeful and terrified. Of course, this is also the moment a cute, sweet guy walks into her life…and starts serving up some seriously mixed signals. She’s got a lot on her plate, and for a girl who’s been burned before, risking it all is easier said than done.

It’s time for Hudson to ask herself what she really wants, and how much she’s willing to sacrifice to get it. Because in a place where opportunities are fleeting, she knows this chance may very well be her last…

Let’s kick off this review by stating a simple fact: this book is about cupcakes and ice skating. Cupcakes and ice skating are my two favorite things in the WHOLE WORLD. (Except, of course, books. And TBF.) Therefore, when I started this book, I was pretty sure that there was a 100% guarantee that I would enjoy it. And I was 100% right.

To say that “Bittersweet” is ONLY about cupcakes and ice skating is to grossly misrepresent it, though. At its core, “Bittersweet” is about a girl who’s trying to figure out where she fits in the world and how to get there. There is a little bit of Hudson in all of us. I think that we can all identify a time when it felt like our world had dissolved and there was no clear way to put it back together. Hudson’s journey isn’t easy, but it’s full of mouth watering descriptions of cupcakes, cute hockey boys, and kick butt triple-triples, which sure makes it fun for the reader.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Jenny Han and the Interview

Hello Readers,

Jenny Han is one of our TBF returners – she attended in 2009 as part of our New Author Panel. I love all her books, but especially her Summer series. I’m so glad that she agreed to be interviewed for the TBF blog, and I’m so excited to share her interview with you. So without further ado …

Carly Reads: This summer, the conclusion of your “Summer” trilogy was published? Was this a bittersweet occurrence? I know that even though you left them all in a good place, your readers will miss Belly, Conrad, and Jeremiah, do you feel the same way? Jenny Han: Definitely bittersweet. I was tearing up as I wrote the end. I've spent several years with these characters, and it was sad to let them go – but I do feel like they are in a good place. In my head, the story is never really over, the characters live on and on.

CR: In addition to your “Summer” series, you’ve also written a middle grade book, “Shug,” and a children’s book, “Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream.” How does writing for teens differ from writing for younger readers? JH: It actually didn't feel so very different. I worked equally hard on all the books-- in fact, “Clara Lee” took me the longest to write because I felt every word had to be just right because it's such a little book. Sort of in the same way a poem isn't easier to write just because it's short.

CR: Are you working on any new projects (new books!) that you can tell us about? JH: Yes! I am working on a new series with my BFF Siobhan Vivian. It's called “Burn for Burn,” and it's about three high school girls who take revenge on the people that have wronged them. It takes place on a Martha's Vineyard-type island... so of course we have to do lots of in person research! :)

CR: What was your favorite book when you were a teenager? JH: A tie between “The Prince of Tides” and “Gone With the Wind.” I loved sweeping Southern love stories.

CR: What author are you most looking forward to meeting/seeing at the Seventh Annual Greater Rochester Teen Book Festival? JH: So many of the authors attending are already friends of mine – and it's always so good to see friends! Most of all, I am looking forward to meeting all the teens.

Thank you so much for taking the time to allow me to interview you, Jenny! I’m looking forward to seeing you again in May.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Carly Reads Returns Tomorrow

After an extended absence, Carly Reads will return tomorrow!

Upcoming in the next few weeks ...
- Author interviews
- Book reviews
- Guest reviews
- Giveaways