Tuesday, April 20, 2010

High Point of TLA (for me anyway!)

Last week was the annual Texas Library Association Conference--and I FINALLY got to meet three of my favorite authors: Ellen Hopkins, Sonja Sones and Lisa Schroeder. The were on a panel together, discussing their personal writing styles and the processes they go through to write their books. It was awesome to listen in an three such incredible writers sharing like that. I wish I would have been video taping the audience when Ellen held up the ARC for FALLOUT--we couldn't believe we were going to get our hands on it! Anyway, I took a few photos that I thought I'd post:

Lisa Schroeder and I

A signed copy of FALLOUT for Emily

The ARC for FALLOUT (which isn't hitting bookstores for 5 months!!!)

Ellen Hopkins and I

Ellen, Sonja, and Lisa

Sunday, April 11, 2010

DRUMS GIRLS AND DANGEROUS PIE, by Jordan Sonnenblick Posted by Mrs. Schauer

by Jordan Sonnenblick
AR: Yes
Interest Level: Upper Middle Grades and Higher

This book has been on my shelf for as long as I've been in my library (four years) and it has been read by countless teen-aged boys--Bubba, Derek, Wessels, and other kids that have to REALLY like a book to give it a thumbs-up, have praised this one. When I have a reluctant reader walk in, and a guy who's read this one is in the library, they ALWAYS recommend it. (OK, to be fair, it's typically a toss up between this one and Vizzini's BE MORE CHILL, but what great company!) I've been meaning to read this one for a long time--for some reason, I just never have. I had to make a trip to Beaumont on Thursday, so I downloaded the audio and listened to it on the ride home. Wow. I know I say that word a lot in my reviews...but seriously....WOW. It is not at all what I expected, and it totally raised my opinion of the kids who rave about it. I have to be honest and say I expected there to be foul language, sex, drugs, or some other kind of "hook" that reluctant readers are normally drawn to. It had none of them. What it DOES have, though, is heart. This is a book that achieves the elusive goal of evoking strong emotion in the reader. I would find myself laughing out loud, while feeling intense sadness at the same time.

It's written in the voice of Steven, a sarcastic, incredibly intelligent, angst-filled teenage boy. Steven fills the reader in on all aspects of life his life. His parents are normal enough--for a teacher and an accountant. His little brother Jeffrey has the face of an angel, but in Stevens words, can be quite demonic at times. Sonnenblick's story starts out breezily--his characters are funny and believeable, and he is hilarious.

The story takes a sharp, unexpected turn early on, though--when a fall in the kitchen results in a bloody nose for Jeffrey. What starts out as a childhood mishap leads to a diagnosis of cancer for Jeffrey--and thus begins the journey that is this book.

I will not give away details--but this is a definite must read for teenage boys--it grabs the reader from the start, and the characters come alive immediately. I am sorry I took so long to read...err....listen to this one, but am so gald I finally did!

EVERLOST, by Neal Shusterman Posted by Mrs. Schauer

EVERLOST, by Neal Shusterman
AR: Yes
Interest Level: Upper Middle Grades and Higher
This book, the first in the SKINJACKER trilogy, has found a definite following in my library, so I decided to give the audio book a listen on a recent trip. I was hooked from the very beginning, as I was drawn into the stories of Nick, Allie, and Leif, and their experiences in Everlost. Everlost is the place where the souls of children and teens go when they are "derailed" on their journey to the light. It is a place filled with danger--like the fact that the "living" land is like quicksand, and to stand on it too long means running the risk of being sucked to the center of the earth. The longer a soul is there, the more they forget about themselves and their earthly existence. There are many, many "Afterlights", which is the name given to the souls that occupy Everlost. There are rumors of a gruesome monster named "The McGill" who does terrible things to the Afterlights he captures. There's a leader named Mary Hightower who has taken on the job of caring for all of the Afterlights. I won't give away the resolution to this one--but it is a shocking one. Readers who love books that spark the imagination will fall in love with this masterfully written tale. I rarely like fantasy, but this one held my attention the entire time.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

FAR FROM YOU, by Lisa Schroeder Posted by Mrs. Schauer

FAR FROM YOU, by Lisa Schroeder
AR: Yes
Interest Level: Upper Grades

Most of you know that I have been on a Lisa Schroeder kick since she reached out to my daughter Hailee, which I blogged about in my I Heart You, You Haunt Me post. I have have read three of her books now, and I do believe that this one is my favorite.
This is Alice's story, and it follows her through the process of grieving her mother's death, accepting her father's new wife and baby, and facing the realities and decisions of young-adulthood. Written in prose, there are so many beautiful words in this book. It is a fast read--but a powerful one.
I will be forever indebted to Lisa for the compassion she showed my baby girl during her time of loss. Hailee is still grieving--and she's grieving hard--but she's healing with the help of her faith in God, her friends, and people like Lisa who have reached out to her. As I told her in an email, when that package came in the mail, the YA lover in me was awed that she would take the time to do something like that, but the mama in me was at a loss for words. (And THAT, for anyone and everyone who knows me, is a rare occurance!)
At this moment, I can honestly say that Lisa Schroeder's books are the most requested books in my library. Kids who NEVER, and mean NEVER read on purpose, just because they want to, are asking for more from her. I hope this is one author that will be around for a long, long time. Her books are a salve for the souls and emotions of people who are dealing with loss and grief.
From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU LISA SCHROEDER!!
OH! And I get to meet her next week!!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

THE UNWRITTEN RULE by Elizabeth Scott Posted by Mrs. Schauer


by Elizabeth Scott

AR: Not Yet (but soon, or so they tell me!)

Interest Level: Upper Grades

I have read four of Elizabeth's books, and holy smokes, does this lady have some kind of range! My first experience with her books was LOVE YOU HATE YOU MISS YOU, which is the story of a girl dealing with the death of her best friend. It was a heart-wrenching read, but the characters were so believable that the pages seemed to turn on their own. After finishing it, I wanted to read more by Scott, so I gave SOMETHING MAYBE a try. I listened to the audio of it on a road trip and I’m sure I had people in passing cars wondering if I was either drunk or crazy, because I laughed my way through most of it—what a delightful read! (err, listen) I was on an "Elizabeth Scott roll," so I selected another one...and it stopped me dead in my tracks. The experience of reading LIVING DEAD GIRL was like slamming myself full force into a brick wall—repeatedly. I had to wait a month after reading the book before I was able to formulate the blog entry for it. It isn’t a very long book, and the plot-line makes for an extremely fast read. Emotionally, though, it was one of the toughest books I've ever gotten through. Now, I’ve just finished THE UNWRITTEN RULE and I have to say, it's in a class all by itself, just like her other books are.

At first glance, the inside flap summary and cover (love the game of "footsie!") make this seem as if it could be any other teen angst story. You know, girl crushes on boy, boy kind of crushes back, misunderstandings ensue, boy dates girl's best friend, girl secretly pines for boy....blah blah.

WOW...are first impressions wrong! I don't want to divulge too much of the story because I want readers to experience the book for themselves. In Brianna, Sarah and Ryan, the author has created totally relatable characters that unfold for the reader in layers. To me, the way the characters are developed, is what makes this book more than "just another teen angst novel." The girl you want to hate because of her shallowness and catty behavior, you simply
can't, because her character has been developed in a way that makes you totally understand why she behaves the way she does. The girl you want to smack upside the head for being a doormat....again, you can't, because you totally get why she tolerates years of treatment that most people would walk away from after just a few days.

THE UNWRITTEN RULE is a story about friendship and first love...but it's not all tied up neatly with a bow, which is the thing I liked the most about it.

I can’t wait to see what Elizabeth brings to her readers next! (Next on my list? BLOOM.)