Tag Archive | authors

Rocketing through the TBR2012 Challenge (reflective) – February update

mock pulp magazine cover Amazing Wonder Stories BooksYALove from 2012 created at webomator

With February being the shortest month, I had fewer TBR2012 Challenge titles on BooksYALove than in January (as listed here), but I am moving on through my to-be-reviewed stack at a fairly decent pace.

Check out a few recent titles that you might have missed:

Down the Mysterly River  – Bill Willingham
Something Red  – Douglas Nicholas
The Treachery of Beautiful Things  – Ruth Frances Long

Graphic Novel:
Peanut  – Ayun Halliday, art by Paul Hoppe

Dangerous Boy  – Mandy Hubbard
Spookygirl: Paranormal Investigator  – Jill Baguchinsky

Altered –  Jennifer Rush
A Girl Named Digit  – Annabel Monaghan
Safekeeping  – Karen Hesse

So far in 2013, I’ve recommended 22 of my old-year titles for y’all  (and no spoilers) – hurry to your library or bookstore to get some today.

Cheers to authors from Down Under! (fiction) – Australia Day

Australia Day is tomorrow, so let’s look at some great BooksYALove by authors from Down Under.

book cover of Takeshita Demons by Cristy Burne published by Frances Lincoln Childrens Books

Cristy Burne writes adventurous tales about Miku who encounters many creatures from Japanese folklore, like Takeshita Demons (my review) who followed her family to London and  The Filth-Licker (review here) that her classmates meet up with at camp.

Not sure if Sherryl Clark herself has heard the dead, but her character Sasha in Dying to Tell Me  (my review) certainly can! Visions of blood and death in sleepy little Manna Creek at the edge of the Outback…

A being condemned to inhabit another body as camouflage, over and over; she calls herself Mercy  (my review) in the first book of the series by Rebecca Lim. Book 2, Exile, is in my overflowing to-be-read pile and promises a few more clues about who Mercy might be and why she’s existing this way.

book cover of Butterflies by Susanne Gervay published by Kane Miller

Only males may become Dragoneye lords, but one young woman knows she has the power to mind-link with dragons in Alison Goodman’s Eon  (my review) and must save her world in Eona  (my review), both now available in paperback.

Susanne Gervay interviewed many teen burn patients as she wrote Butterflies (my review), which follows Katherine through surgery, school worries, and her choices for the future.

She expected snow, festivals and historic shrines, but there was no way to predict that Hannah’s Winter (my review) in Japan would include ancient evil spirits and a donut-throwing ghost! Kierin Meehan packs plenty of mystery and historical tidbits into this intriguing story.

book cover of I Lost My Mobile at the Mall by Wendy Harmer published by Kane Miller

Elly has such bad luck! I Lost My Mobile at the Mall, she cries to her parents, who tell her that she’s not getting another cell phone from them. Wendy Harmer ably turns her comic touch to this too-common young adult crisis (my review).

The Reformed Vampire Support Group  by Catherine Jinks got to the bestseller list, but I snuck it onto BooksYALove anyway. Be sure you meet this Sydney self-help group that finally has to venture out of its decades-old comfort zone to help someone else (my review).

Mary Arrigan follows a family from Ireland’s Potato Famine to the goldfields of Australia in historical fiction of a time period that we usually don’t see. Surely the dream of Etsy’s Gold  (my review) can come true if they work hard enough?

book cover of The Visconti House by Elsbeth Edgar published by Candlewick

A gentle story of love, loss, and friendship starts and ends in the mural-painted rooms of The Visconti House  in a quiet Australian country town – my review of Elsbeth Edgar’s debut novel here.

Stolen: a Letter to my Captor, by Lucy Christopher, might be the scariest book on this list, as it tells of a carefully plotted kidnapping that lands Gemma far, far in the Outback in terrible danger (my review).

Check out these stellar books from Aussie authors today at your local library or independent bookstore!


These are among the 6,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com. All review copies and cover images courtesy of their respective publishers.

Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman, by Marc Tyler Nobleman (book review)

book cover of Bill the Boy Wonder Secret CoCreator of Batman by Marc Tyler Nobleman published by CharlesbridgeGotham City,
Bruce Wayne,
The Dark Knight.

These words make us think immediately of Batman. Fans of the DC Comics series or the 1960s television show might even name Bob Kane as the character’s creator.

But Batman had two fathers – and now his co-creator’s story is finally being fully told through Marc Tyler Nobleman’s careful research. Using the “Golden Age of Comics” style, illustrator Ty Templeton presents the pivotal events in the superhero’s journey into print.

Whether you’re a fan of comics in general or Batman in particular, you owe it to yourself to get this book to learn the true story behind the legend. Available now at your local library or independent bookstore.

Book info: Bill the Boy Wonder: the Secret Co-Creator of Batman / Marc Tyler Nobleman; illustrated by Ty Templeton. Charlesbridge, 2012.  [author’s blog]     [illustrator’s blog]     [book website]  [publisher site]    [book trailer] Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

My Book Talk:Bill Finger was so good at crafting secret identities that he co-created Batman, one of the greatest super-heroes in comics, while remaining in the shadows himself.

He changed his name from Milton to the less-Jewish-sounding Bill to avoid the widespread anti-Semitism in 1930s New York City. Although he wanted to be a writer, he took any job available during the Depression. Then he met cartoonist Bob Kane who asked Bill to write adventure stories that he could illustrate, just after the epic debut of Superman.

Challenged by their editor to create a new superhero, Bob sketched all weekend, but needed Bill’s inventive mind to make the character come to life. Taking Bob’s drawing of a red-clad Bat-man with large wings, Bill told him to change the small mask into a face-covering cowl with slitted eyeholes and pointed bat-ears, make the rigid batwings into a swirling cape, and clothe their hero in all-black. This new superhero made DC Comics into a very successful company.

Bob took all the credit for Batman – in those times, it was common for a comic to use several illustrators and inkers to complete the drawings with just the main cartoonist being named. But even as the success of Batman grew, Bob refused to give Bill credit for being the series’ writer.

Bill’s strong storytelling skills gave Batman all the details that we recognize today – a human without superpowers, orphaned during a terrible crime, a vigilante detective protecting his city from master villains like the Joker and Catwoman. Bob called Bill a “boy wonder” because he kept coming up with ideas for the series; when Bill decided that the Dark Knight needed someone to talk to, another boy wonder came into being, Batman’s sidekick Robin.

It was widely known in the comics community that Bill wrote all the Batman comics stories, but it took decades before he was publicly recognized for his work in creating Batman’s character. Today, the Bill Finger Award for Excellence in Comic Book Writing honors the best story creators in the business.

Fittingly, the main events of Bill’s life and Batman’s origins are told in graphic novel format in this book, followed several pages of detailed information about Batman’s history and Bill’s family – a fascinating mystery finally brought to light in classic comic book style. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com)

Listen up! (audio) – SYNC your reading with 2 free audiobooks weekly through August

teen girl with earbuds listening to SYNC free YA audiobooks

Audiobooks!  All summer!   FREE!

Yes, the SYNC program is back for summer 2012, providing two great audiobooks for you to download – free! – each week (Thursday-Wednesday).

One is a recent YA title, the other is a classic, both in full-audio recording by outstanding readers. Each title is downloaded separately and is available only during that week’s download window.

The SYNC audiobooks use Overdrive (free download through the Audiobooksync page here) which many US public libraries also use for audiobook check-out. Once you’ve downloaded a SYNC title, it’s yours – no due dates or expiration.

Here’s the rest of the summer’s lineup. Click on a link to read more about the book and its reading cast, and mark your calendar to download it during its scheduled week:

June 21 – June 27, 2012
Irises  by Francisco X. Stork, Read by Carrington MacDuffie (Listening Library)
Sense and Sensibility  by Jane Austen, Read by Wanda McCaddon (Tantor Media)

June 28 – July 4, 2012
The Amulet of Samarkand  by Jonathan Stroud, Read by Simon Jones (Listening Library)
Tales from the Arabian Nights  by Andrew Lang, Read by Toby Stephens (Naxos AudioBooks)

July 5 – July 11, 2012
Anna Dressed in Blood  by Kendare Blake, Read by August Ross (AudioGO)
The Woman in White  by Wilkie Collins, Read by Ian Holm (AudioGO)

July 12 – July 18, 2012
Guys Read: Funny Business  by Jon Scieszka [Ed.] et al., Read by Michael Boatman, Kate DiCamillo, John Keating, Jon Scieszka, Bronson Pinchot (Harper Audio)
The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and Other Stories  by Mark Twain, Read by Norman Dietz (Recorded Books)

July 19 – July 25, 2012
Cleopatra’s Moon  by Vicky Alvear Shecter, Read by Kirsten Potter (Oasis Audio)
Antony and Cleopatra  by William Shakespeare, Read by a Full Cast (AudioGO)

July 26 – August 1, 2012
Pinned  by Alfred C. Martino, Read by Mark Shanahan (Listen & Live Audio)
TBA (Brilliance Audio)

August 2 – August 8, 2012
Daughter of Smoke and Bone  by Laini Taylor, Read by Khristine Hvam (Hachette Audio)
A Tale of Two Cities  by Charles Dickens, Read by Simon Prebble (Blackstone Audio)

August 9 – August 15, 2012
Skulduggery Pleasant  by Derek Landy, Read by Rupert Degas (Harper Audio)
Dead Men Kill  by L. Ron Hubbard, Read by Jennifer Aspen and a Full Cast (Galaxy Press)

August 16 – August 22, 2012
The Whale Rider  by Witi Ihimaera, Read by Jay Laga’aia (Bolinda Audio)
The Call of the Wild  by Jack London, Read by William Roberts (Naxos AudioBooks)

Please note that several of this summer’s SYNC selections are available to listeners outside of the USA; check this list for details.

Thanks to these audiobook publishers, you can fill your mind with stories all summer, so mark your calendar to get the SYNC downloads you want.
Which title is tops on your personal listening list?

Advice to Graduates & all of us (reflective) – in which Neil Gaiman is quoted, because he said it best

Dear friends who are graduating (and everyone else, too),
I hope you’ve already seen this video of author Neil Gaiman addressing the University of the Arts Class of 2012 at their graduation.

I hope you’ve listened to it more than once, especially if you’re finishing school (at any level) and are about to go out into the big wide world of work and responsibility and joy and distress and the chance to make a difference.

“Make. Good. Art,” says Gaiman. Even if you don’t have an artistic bone in your body, those words are meant for you: whatever it is that you are passionate about, do it well, and keep on doing it – through good times or bad, whether it’s your vocation or avocation.

It may be your “day job” which fulfills you (like Maggie in Paper Daughter) or something after hours (like Haven in Illuminate).

It may be the first thing you try which makes the biggest impact in the lives of others (like Lex in Croak) or maybe the tenth (like Mercy).

It may be something that you’ve studied and trained for which turns out to be your best gift to those around you (like Sage in The False Prince) or perhaps not (like Ismae in Grave Mercy).

I hope you’ll listen to this talk again when you need a reminder of what you can do to make the world better – just one person, doing whatever it is that you love to do best, finding satisfaction in the doing, not just the result (like Mitch in Payback Time).

Listen well – Make good art, in whatever manner your talent for increasing the world’s happiness leads you.
Whether you’re a new graduate or older and worldly-wise, remember that every sunrise brings you a new chance to begin to make good art.

Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls, by Julie Schumacher (book review) – literature, swimming pool, awkwardness

book cover of The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls by Julie Schumacher published by Delacorte

Summer in the suburbs.
If you can get away, you’re gone…
these four girls are stuck in the sweltering, sticky heat
and in a book club together – with their mothers!

Mother-daughter book clubs can be a great opportunity for discussions, intellectual sharing, and true personal growth. But not this one, with its highly incompatible members, brought together solely by the AP English reading list and the moms recognizing one another from yoga class.

Lots of zany antics (usually instigated by CeeCee) between their encounter with each book (interesting insights there). The 19th century works are in the public domain, so you can read them online free; you can find print copies of all the books that Jill, Wallis, CeeCee, Adrienne and their moms discuss at your local library or independent bookstore of course.

“The Yellow Wallpaper”, by Charlotte Gilman. Free download at Project Gutenberg.
Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley. Read online free at Project Gutenberg.
The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin. Author’s website with some excerpts.
The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros. Author interview on its 25th anniversary.
The Awakening, by Kate Chopin. Read online free at UNC Library of Southern Literature.

Book info: The Unbearable Book Club for Unsinkable Girls / Julie Schumacher. Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2012.  [author’s website]   [publisher website]

My Book Talk:  One slip on the stairs, and her summer plans for adventure turn into a knee brace, rehab exercises, and required reading for senior English class. Adrienne couldn’t know that summer would also include midnight escapes, unlicensed drivers, epic chaos, and a dead body in the town swimming pool!

Isn’t it bad enough that Adrienne has to miss her long-planned canoe trek with best friend Liz this summer? Now her mom has gotten them into a mother-daughter book club in their dead-end boring suburb. Honestly, just because the moms take yoga class together doesn’t guarantee a compatible group for literature discussions…

Popular and pretty CeeCee is high school society-plus (her trip to France cancelled because she totaled another car), Jill works at the swimming pool snack stand, and Wallis is… Wallis – in their grade, but younger, recently moved to West New Hope with her mom (who is writing a scholarly philosophy book). The girls groan about having to write an essay over their summer reading. Such a strange bunch of characters in this book club, especially when you factor in the mothers, including Wallis’s mom, whom no one has ever met and who never comes to the mother-daughter book club meetings.

Meeting at Jill’s house to discuss “The Yellow Wallpaper” short story, the group chooses four books from the Advanced Placement reading list: Frankenstein, The Left Hand of Darkness, The House on Mango Street, and The Awakening. The girls see each other often at the pool (where else is there to go in their town in the summer?) and finally decide that “The Unbearable Book Club” describes this weird summer thing with the moms exactly.

CeeCee decides that Adrienne needs to get out of the house more, so she shows up at midnight for a road trip, and that’s just the beginning of the craziness. The summer heat rises, Adrienne’s mom has few answers for her questions about the father she’s never known, Wallis repeatedly appears for book club without her mother, then zips back to the woods where they live.

Is Adrienne going to let CeeCee run her summer?
Will Adrienne’s knee ever heal?
Does Wallis really have a mother?
What’s it like to play mini-golf at midnight in the rain?

Each chapter is headed by a literary term with Adrienne’s witty definition, as the girls’ discussions of each book underscore the tensions and dreams in their own lives. (One of 5,000 books recommended on www.abookandahug.com) Review copy and cover image courtesy of the publisher.

Children’s Book Week – for everyone (reflective)

Happy Children’s Book Week!  Read-to-me kiddos and independent readers, little ones to teens – this week is for you!

There are so many great books – and great book blogs  – out there that readers can find great suggestions for what to read next, be it something brand-new or a classic. Give www.abookandahug.com a try – take a short quiz to find out what Reading SuperHero you are or browse books for babies, kids, tweens, and teens by keyword, genre, and more. (Full disclosure – I contribute many recommendations to abookandahug, but receive no compensation for them).

book cover The Order of the Odd-Fish by James Kennedy published by Random House
courtesy of Random House

Even young readers can be reviewers as the hilarious family conversations about books captured on the Bookie Woogie blog show. Just “some kids and their dad, talkin’ about books” their reviews even include the kids’ art about the book they’ve read together. Enjoy their impressions of the wacky and inventive middle-grades book The Order of Odd Fish, by James Kennedy (Random House, 2008) here:  http://bookiewoogie.blogspot.com/2012/04/review-117-order-of-odd-fish.html.

Coincidentally (or perhaps not), I found an interview with Odd-Fish author James Kennedy on another blog last week, following his lengthy visit with the middle school and high school students of Springfield Township, Pennsylvania. He was excited to read what students had written, view their fan art based on his books, and talk with them about writing. 

Whether you’re lucky enough to meet authors in person, enjoy a class visit through Skype, follow them on Twitter/their blog/their website, or just learn a bit about them through the blurb on their book covers, you’ll find that knowing more about your favorite authors can enhance your reading experience.

Which authors have you met “in real life” and who would you like to meet next?
Happy reading!

The Big Picture (reflective)

Have you ever WORDLED? I used their free app to create the nifty word cloud here, using my initial blogpost about MotherReader and Lee Wind‘s annual Comment Challenge for kidlit bloggers, 2012 edition.

What fun it’s been to “meet” illustrators, authors, and book bloggers through the Challenge! Getting out of my “writing silo” where I see only my computer screen and the books that I’m recommending so that I interact more with the diverse and supportive kidlit community online – priceless!

Since BooksYALove is a fairly new blog, I’m grateful for new visitors (and new followers – yay!) who will help spread the word about the wonderful YA books from debut authors and smaller imprints that I’m discovering.

After all, I’m writing these recommendations (no spoilers ever! I promise) for YA readers… right book for the right reader!

YA saves! YA books cover every subject & emotion

I wasn’t gonna post today, but yesterday’s Wall Street Journal article about YA books “Darkness Too Visible” has me and lots of other folks pretty steamed up.

Check the Twitter conversation #YASaves for reaction from authors, readers, and librarians; we gotta wonder about the article author’s qualifications as a book reviewer… (search her name and tell us what you think)

Did she ask any independent bookstore folks about what books they would recommend to the worried mom in paragraph one? How about her child’s school librarian? Or their public librarian?

Maureen Johnson (whose 13 Little Blue Envelopes and The Last Little Blue Envelope are bestsellers and won’t get the full BooksYALove treatment – so just go read them!) has a new favorite picture, by Anastasiy Gorbunov, which illustrates exactly how books lead to new interests and visions and experiences. (The caption translates as “Reading isn’t dangerous. Not reading is.”)

Dr. Teri Lesesne, “the goddess of YA literature” and major expert in the field, was explosively ticked-off by the article, as her LiveJournal today shows. The points that she notes there are exactly why YA books are so important, and why I’m trying to get the word out about the great titles that you’ll miss if you don’t dig past the big display stacks at the big-box bookstores or the “you’ll like this one” lists at the big online retailers.

Too bad that the mom in the WSJ article didn’t have someone to help her find that great book for her 13 year-old daughter… like Smile and Dancing Through the Snow and Sequins, Secrets and Silver Linings… sigh…

At least the #YASaves hashtag is trending high right now (#3) so the conversation continues! C’mon over to Twitter and join in.