Best Book I Have Not Read

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‘Smart Chicks’ YA Author Tour Ready to Roll August 14, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:31 am

‘Smart Chicks’ YA Author Tour Ready to Roll.

It’s quite the big deal: 18 authors, 12 days, 11 cities. Kicking off on September 13 in Austin, Tex., and wrapping up on September 25 in Brampton, Ontario, the Smart Chicks Kick It Tour is entirely organized and funded by the participating paranormal romance writers. The grassroots tour was masterminded by Melissa Marr (Wicked Lovely series) with the help of Kelley Armstrong (Women of the Otherworld series), both of whom will appear at every event, as will a third headliner, Alyson Noël (the Immortals series). Aside from this trio, the author lineup will change at each venue, with six to nine Chicks in attendance. Here’s how it all came together.

Marr, one of the driving forces behind the group tour, will appear at every event.

The seeds of the tour—so titled to emphasize the strong, capable heroines in the authors’ fiction—were planted in June 2009, when Marr was slated to take part in several group author events for her publisher, HarperCollins. “In addition to that, on my own I had set up group signings during the RT Booklovers Convention in April and during BEA in May,” Marr says. “And my friend Kelley Armstrong and I were also signing together during RWA. So the idea of group touring was on my mind.”

During that BEA, Marr mentioned the idea of doing a multi-author tour to Holly Black, who Marr recalls “indicated that she thought it sounded like fun.” From there, Marr broached the subject with Armstrong, who says, “I jumped right in. Melissa and I then came up with a wish list of who, besides Holly, we wanted to be with us on the tour and where we wanted to go. Our wish list was so long that we didn’t get nearly down to the bottom of it before we had a full lineup.”
The criteria for making that list were quite simple. “We included authors whose books Kelley and I have enjoyed because of their strong female protags, and then we read books by some debut and up-and-coming authors,” Marr says. We then started sending out invitations, and in short order had even more authors than we expected. Almost everyone said yes.”

Kelley Armstrong also helped organize the tour, which is entirely funded by the participating authors.

Bookseller response to the tour was equally enthusiastic, leading Marr and Armstrong to expand the tour from the originally planned six or eight cities to 11 (there will be two events in Houston). The authors publicized the tour on Facebook, and Marr sent an e-mail to booksellers she knows. “I wrote, ‘I know you do good events and I’m wondering if you’re interested.’ They all said ‘yes!’ Then booksellers I didn’t already know reached out, and readers requested we visit their cities, so we added a few more stops.”

The organizers then sent out a questionnaire to the authors to help them decide who would attend which events and eventually devised the schedule, taking into account authors’ preferences and some stores’ specific requests for authors. “In some instances, we scheduled authors to appear at events near their hometowns, since they prefer less travel,” says Armstrong. “But some authors told us to send them anywhereexcept close to where they live.”

The authors hired Media Masters Publicity to help with the tour’s rather daunting logistics. Karen Wadsworth, a partner in the firm, eagerly tackled the organizational challenge. “Making sure the 12 hosting booksellers and 18 participating Chicks stay informed and organized is priority number one for us,” she says. “Spreadsheets, detailed itineraries, and open lines of communication have been key.”

Melissa Marr with fans at a Miami appearance.

As the launch of the tour approaches, Wadsworth notes, “We are now immersed in the details, like making sure the Chicks, who are coming from all corners of the country as well as overseas, are wherethey are supposed to be whenthey are supposed to be there.” To promote the tour, Media Masters is sending participating bookstores posters, t-shirts, and swag baskets to give away, and has been contacting local press and librarians to help spread the word. “This has been a terrific experience,” says Wadsworth. “We can’t wait to tackle Smart Chicks Kick It Tour 2.0!”

Also upbeat about the tour is Suzanne Dupree, young adult program coordinator for Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego. The bookstore is hosting nine authors (Mary Pearson, Rachel Caine, Rachel Vincent, Margie Stohl, Kami Garcia, and Carrie Ryan, in addition to the headliners) at a September 21 event at Encinitas County Library. “This is the first time we’ve had this many authors at one venue,” she says. “Our store provides the books for publishers’ booths at Comic-Con, and we’ve been joking that this is our mini Comic-Con.”
The bookseller, who began organizing the event in March and expects some 300 fans to attend, has ordered copies of nearly 60 different novels for the signing. “A lot of these authors are big favorites of our staff, and we’re thrilled to be a part of the tour,” she remarks. “I think these authors are the smartest chicks in the world to do this on their own—it’s a great idea.”

Armstrong signing books at Joseph-Beth in Cincinnati, one of the stores that will host the tour this fall.

Barbara Hudson, PR and events coordinator for Joseph-Beth in Cincinnati, will host six Chicks on September 24. She anticipates between 150 and 300 attendees, and has ordered a significant number of books for the event. “I tend to go heavier with the buying when there are multiple authors, since people are often being introduced to new authors they decide they’d like to read,” she says. “These are big-name authors, and with this group it’s going to be electric. Hearing their conversation will be the biggest and best part of the evening.”

Indeed, the authors hope that the tour events will engender lively conversations among them and their audiences. At each venue, the participants will briefly introduce themselves and their books, and then a Q&A session will take place before the authors sign books. “We will encourage people to ask us broader questions about writing and books in general rather than about specific books or series, so that all of us can answer and take part in the conversation,” Armstrong says. “When readers come up to us during the signing, we’ll be happy to answer questions about individual books.”
Marr understandably has high expectations for the Smart Chicks Kick It Tour. “It is an excuse to spend time with some great women, to visit booksellers and librarians, to chat with readers, and in all, have fun,” she says. And she hopes that fans, too, will enjoy the events. “Ideally, we’ll all walk away thinking, smiling, and glad we spent some time together. It’s no different than time with friends or family: it should nourish our spirits in some way.”
In addition to the authors mentioned above, tour participants are Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Jessica Verday, Kimberly Derting, Melissa de la Cruz, Jennifer Barnes, Jackson Pearce, and Jeri Smith-Ready.

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver June 28, 2010

Filed under: book reviews,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 3:41 pm

The first time I laid eyes on before i fall by Lauren Oliver was at NCTE last November. I was given a spiffy swag postcard for a free digital download. The cover is captivating, memorable, and had me intrigued.

When I got around to downloading the book (I wasn’t in a huge hurry; my jury is still out on digital books), the offer had expired.

Imagine my delight when I was returning some books to my public library, when I looked behind the librarian and spotted an advance review copy of the book that someone had deposited in the night drop several weeks before.

My delight over spotting only grew more as the librarian agreed to let me take it home to read.

Imagine having to live the day you die over. Again. And again. At the moment Sam realizes she is dying, she awakens to start the day all over. Each “death/awakening” leads her to make different choices. She ranges from rash-trying to seduce her high school teacher, to touching-spending the whole day with her younger sister.
This page-turner will lead readers to think about how the choices that are made affect others and how even small actions, can influence others. That’s a message that middle school and high school readers can’t hear enough in my opinion.

Samantha is brutally honest about how she came about being one of the most popular girls in her high school. The things she and her friends have done over the years to secure their spot in the high school food chain is not pretty.  Despite my first opinion of Sam-a pretty unlikable character, I found myself rooting for her and wanting the outcome to be different. I found it to be quite the tear-jerker as I raced through the book.

I keep looking at the cover to see if there are images in those eyes if you look close enough?

A great read. I look forward to reading her next book when it comes out in February 2011. The author was delightful while she signed autographs at ALA this past weekend.


Mortal Instrument series: City of Bones, City of ASHES, City of Glass January 6, 2010

Filed under: book reviews,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 6:23 pm
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The Mortal Instruments series

by Cassandra Clare

City of Bones

City of Ashes

City of Glass

Margaret McElderry Books, 2007, 2008, 2009

541 pages

I first had City of Bones recommended to me at Teachers College this summer by TC staff developer Mary Ehrenworth. I had seen it on the bookstore shelf before that, but had passed over it due to the heavily inked male torso that makes up much of the cover (not a fan of tattoos).

Even though I was initially put off by the cover, I picked it up when I was in New York this summer. The other book she had been recommending was Hunger Games and I certainly loved that book, so I figure we had to have a similar taste in books.

I immediately started reading City of Bones while I was there, which was not good thing when it came to finishing my assigned reading each evening. Adding to the happy reading experience for me was the New York City setting. I was able to recognize parts of the book in the city. I still would have enjoyed the book without having had a New York City experience, but it would have impacted my reading some.  It made the setting feel more like an old friend, rather than some of the settings in books where I have never been (say LA or London).

The Mortal Instruments will find fans among those who enjoy Percy Jackson books as well as those who enjoy Twilight books. Main character Clary witnesses teenagers Jace, Isabella, and Alex kill another teen, but no one can see the body, or killers, besides her. Clary goes on to find out that the teens are Shadowhunters, humans with powers to track and kill demons. Soon enough, her own mother is kidnapped by demons, and it is the Shadowhunters who come to her aid.

The “human” characters of Clary, her best friend Simon, and surrogate father, Luke are compelling characters, as are Jace, Isabella, and Alec, the “Shadowhunter” characters. A great fantasy story set in “modern-day” New York City, you’ll be happy that all three in the trilogy are already out for your reading pleasure!


Hush, Hush-a great gift for your teen reader December 12, 2009

Filed under: book reviews,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 10:25 am
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Hush, Hush

by Becca Fitzpatrick

Simon & Schuster, 2009

400 pages

Young Adult

Check out that cover. Can you help but be intrigued by what appears to be an extremely well-built angel falling from the sky? Besides being intrigued by the cover, I had seen a little bit about this book when it first came out in October. Then it, and the author, seemed to be receiving a great deal of attention/publicity at NCTE. The publisher had a special invitation to a cupcake “party” and author signing at NCTE that was attracting additional interest. My curiosity was piqued. I picked it up and started reading it immediately. I stayed up late and was hard pressed to put it down to sleep. The next day at the Middle School Mosaic: Being the Book to Being the Change session I had the opportunity to sit at a table next to the author for one of the roundtable discussions. The woman sitting on the other side of me had stayed up late and was within pages of finishing. She loved the book! The author, Becca Fitzpatrick was kind and charming. She had wanted to be a spy when she went to college. As a birthday present, her husband had been torn between getting her Japanese cooking classes or an online writing class. That was 6 years ago, which is when Hush, Hush was born. I think her readers will agree with her that we are glad she didn’t get the Japanese cooking lessons.  While there are similarities to Twilight that critics and readers will notice, but author Becca Fitzpatrick states that her ideas are her own and she wrote for the entertainment of her sixteen year old self. She was drawn to YA by Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak.

Hush, Hush is the story of Nora Grey, a young high school girl who wasn’t very interested in boys, despite pressure from her best friend Vee. Enter bad boy Patch, the new dark and mysterious student at her high school. Soon her encounters with danger are oddly paired with the appearance of Patch. I don’t have a background in fallen angels or nephilium, but just as I had no background in vampire lore, I was able to completely lose myself in the book. Mind candy. Sometimes you can’t beat it. I enjoyed the smart girl, bad boy love story that was fraught with suspense and tension (not just the sexual kind!).

A great holiday gift for those looking to push the Twilight reader out of the rereading rut and into another book. You can listen to the first chapter on the author’s website.  Also check out the fan site

The sequel is planned for fall 2010. Just in time for the next year’s holiday gift.


Book Reviews Young Adult Tear Jerkers: Thirteen R3asons Why by Jay Asher; if I stay by Gayle Forman December 2, 2009

Filed under: book reviews,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 6:32 pm
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Thirteen R3asons Why by Jay Asher is an amazing book.

The cover-brilliant.

The content-devastating.

The intertwined stories of Hannah Baker and Clay Jenkins narrate the events of the book. Her voice tells the stories of what led her to take her own life. His tells what happens as he listens to the 13 tapes/stories that all led to her decision.

Clay’s story begins with the arrival of a box of audio cassette tapes. After figuring out how to listen to them, he learns the tapes are from his crush, Hannah Baker, who has just recently killed herself.

Gossip, rumors, backstabbing, sexual harassment, friendship, being let down by peers and adults-it’s all there-and more…

The cover is what originally grabbed my attention when I first saw the book a couple years ago. The inside flap let me know enough that I knew it was not a happy book. Still, I kept coming back to it in my TBR pile. Once I started, WOW!, I could not put it down.

if I stay by gayle forman is also an amazing book. The author had me on the first paragraph:

“Everyone thinks it was because of the snow. And in a way, I suppose that’s true.” (p. 3)

Mia, an extremely gifted high school cellist, is agonizing about leaving to go to Julliard. She is, in some ways, an anomaly. Her parents were young rockers when she was born. Mia’s boyfriend is also a member of a rock band that travels to the bigger cities to perform. Yet she dreams in classical music.

Beethoven’s Cello Sonata no. 3 plays on from the wreckage of the car. The jacket flap describes the book as, “heartachingly beautiful book about the power of love, the true meaning of family, and the choices we all make.” Just reading those words is enough to bring back the tears.

Reviews that had made me want to read these books:

Presenting Lenore

My Friend Amy

Jen Robinson


What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell July 2, 2009

Filed under: book reviews,KidLit,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 8:18 am
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What I sawWhen I put this book down at the end of the 48 hour Challenge, I wasn’t sure I was going to pick it back up to finish.  After hearing and reading so many things about it, the book was not quite what I had expected and the first third didn’t quite hold my attention like I wanted it to.  Evie’s desire to grow up, her step-father’s (Joe) and mother’s relationship, the mystery of Peter Coleridge and how or what he knew about Joe , were interesting, but not riveting to me.

I loved the cover with the girl’s red lipstick standing out so brightly from the rest of the cover. I loved the title. I loved that it had won a National Book Award. I didn’t like that I didn’t immediately love it as much as I thought I would.

With that said, I wasn’t prepared for it to be historical fiction. I really wasn’t prepared for it to be a mystery. I had read reviews at The Reading Zone that made me want the book, but a lot of time had passed between when I read the reviews and when I purchased the book. The cover and the title had stuck in my head, but not the gist of the book. I think if I had approached it like reading a mystery or a detective novel, the desire to find “clues” throughout the back story would have kept me very engrossed.
I picked it up yesterday again on a whim. I didn’t want to start the next book on my list, The Thirteenth Tale, because I want to save it for my travel to New York City next week. I didn’t want to start a new book because I am still trying to do some prep reading/reviewing before attending the Reading Institute next week. So, there it was, not even half finished and sitting on my shelf. Unfinished books get under my skin like a splinter. It really bothers me to not finish a book so I decided I was going to “get through it” this week. 

From the second I opened What I Saw and How I Lied up to where I had left off (and no, I didn’t back up a few pages and reread like I would have encouraged a student to do) and started reading, I could NOT put it down! The drama, the intrigue, the “who was guilty of what?”, “who (or who didn’t) lie” kept me up late finishing the book.

As the book unfolds, Evie not only begins to grow up, but finds out about hard issue such as racism and realizes that the eyes with which she has always viewed her mother and step-father might have not revealed all there is to know. Deception, redemption, it’s all in there! 

A great young adult read that I think “grown-ups” will like just as much, if not more. Check out What I Saw and How I Lied. 


Paper Towns by John Green June 20, 2009

Filed under: book reviews,KidLit,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 4:43 pm
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papertownsThis is my first John Green book, even though it is his third published book. Like Franki at A Year of Reading, I didn’t have much time to read YA as I did the elementary and intermediate fiction. I have always enjoyed YA, but since it is for older kids, I wanted to be reading things I could recommend to students. Since I changed jobs last summer, I now have middle/high school students I can talk YA books with so I am making an effort to read quite a bunch this summer. I have a few middle school teaching colleagues that have raved about John Green books, I’d read some “reviews that made me want to read the book”, and he’s a graduate of close-by Kenyon College. 

I loved the book (although there were a few parts that I didn’t feel read as smoothly as the majority of the book, which surprised me some. I also could have done without some of the teenage boy commentary, but reminded myself that they are the target audience, not me. The characters of Quentin, Ben, Lacey, Radar and Margo Roth Spiegelman are greatly developed. Although I wouldn’t have necessarily wanted to be friends with all of them, I could imagine them running around  my high school or a modern high school. For people in my age bracket, think 16 Candles or Breakfast Club kind of relationships and characters. I love that what I thought was going to be a strictly realistic fiction book has a great mystery flair throughout! I will be adding his other books to my pile for summer.  

John Green’s website with his brother can be found at I know I’m going to need more time to explore it than I’ve had!


Author Blogs April 28, 2009

Filed under: blogs,book reviews,books,read alouds,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 4:47 pm
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While poking around on the internet after finishing Graceling by Kristen Cashore, I found her blog This Is My Secret (great title!)

My favorite entry (so far) starts with a quote from Sherman Alexie

“A lot of people have no idea that right now Y.A. is the Garden of Eden of literature.”

I think there are many of us in the world of KidLit/Blogland who definitely agree with that statement! 
Kristen Cashore has a list of her recommended YA books for all age readers and there are some great other titles in the comment section. Check it out!


Graceling by Kristen Cashore a great YA fantasy addition

Filed under: book reviews,books,school,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 4:34 pm
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I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time saying no to a former student who comes waving a book at me, insisting, “You’ve got to read this! It’s a great book!” If that wasn’t enough, he then persists in finding me a couple days later asking, “Have you finished it yet?”, astonishment on his face when I have to tell him, “Not yet.” Several more days go past and he’s back finding me again to ask, “You are done now aren’t you?” 

“I was half-way through Scat when you gave it to me.”
“I don’t have as much time to read as I would like.”
“It’s great and I love it, but there’s a lot going on right now.”

Well thanks to my son’s unfortunate ear infection last week, I was able to find that sixth grade yesterday to return his book. Whew!
Graceling is a wonderful first novel by Kristen Cashore!. The main character Katsa is a gutsy, determined and fierce female fighter who has been able to kill men with her bare hands since she was child. The title of the book references special people like Katsa who are born with “graces”, or special talents, and two differently colored eyes. In Katsa’s case, she has one blue and one green, while Po, another important character has one gold and one silver. 

Some Gracelings have pretty ordinary powers, and some Graces are not quite what they first appear to be. In both Katsa’s and Po’s case, their original Grace does not end up being what saves many a life by the end of the book. The action is suspenseful and the notion of a “Grace” is unique enough to really keep the reader guessing.  

I was surprised to find a small romance part to the book, just because it came recommended from a young male student. I decided those parts probably went rightgracelingover his head. 

There has been a lot of great buzz around Graceling and I had planned on reading it over the summer. Not only do I need to thank my former students for asking me to read the book, but now I have to thank him for making me have to wait until October to read Cashore’s second book, Fire. I did get to surprise him with the news of its upcoming publication, which is always fun for me! 

It was such a nice change to have a student following up with me about my reading instead of the other way around. It did help me see that a little encouragement can go a long way when it comes to getting someone to read. I wonder who I should go peddle this book to next? 

Anyone have an ARC of Fire that they’d like me to read and review? Send it my way!


Love This Trend: Publishers Weekly Reports… April 23, 2009

Filed under: book reviews,books,young adult — bestbookihavenotread @ 11:53 am
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I wanted to share this article from Publishers Weekly. Three of these titles are ones I have been recommending to adults over and over. Without fail, they have all DEVOURED the books. Now to try to get them to stick to looking in the Young Adult section not just when they are stuck for something to read, but as one more avenue for great literature!

Adult Readers in the Kids’ Section 
April 22, 2009

There’s a really good trend happening in our store right now. Adults are reading kids’ books. Not picture books, but novels written for young adults.  Slowly the awkwardness, the need to almost apologize for buying a kids’ book for themselves is dissipating.  Instead, it’s something the adults seem to be reveling in.  And really, isn’t it about time that adults realized the young adult section was chock full of riches, new and old, to read and enjoy?

There are several books this past year that seem to have spurred this trend. The first is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak — while not a new title, it continues to be an excellent seller for us to adults. At last count, five adult book groups have read The Book Thief. Several women have called me immediately upon finishing to say how much they just loved the book. There is still an occasional adult reader who resists even holding a kids’ book in their hands, as if something horrible will happen if they read the back cover.  I’ve actually had to place it in a customer’s hand with a declaration. “You will love this book. Just read it. Trust me.”

Elizabeth had the best handselling moment I’ve seen, ever.  Two women had overheard me talking about The Book Thief and they were resistant to buy the copy I placed before them. They looked to Elizabeth for a second opinion, and all she did was arch her eyebrows with eyes bright and alert and that said it all. They bought two.  

Grown women are marching straight up the counter and asking for “that book.” Admittedly, they are a little sheepish about buying the Twilight books by Stephenie Meyer. But I don’t think it’s because it’s written for young adults. It’s because they love it so much. They can’t wait to read more about Edward and Jacob, who they are more than happy to talk about, at great length with other women in the store. One thing I particularly enjoy about these Twilightwomen is they tend to buy the whole series at one time. Sure, they tell daughters to wait, space out their purchases, save some money, and maybe even borrow from a friend. There’s none of that with the adults. No borrowing, no waiting for the book at the library, no, they need it, they need it now and they’re going to pay for their immediate gratification. And I love them for it.

Another book that has adults happily clutching it is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  A real page-turner of a dystopian adventure set in a future society that deals with larger themes that adults are really sinking their teeth into.  This is a challenging book to book talk, as on the surface it deals with kids killing kids at the behest of the government. Adults look askance when I say that, but then I put the book in their hands and say, “Read it. It’s so much more than that.” Again, adults are proving to be less patient than kids. I had a woman who was actually whining about the release date of the sequel. “I’ve got to wait until September?!”

Lastly, there is an anecdote I must share. One of my favorite customers comes in every Monday to get her books for the week. Jill is the most vital, active, and vibrant 78-year-old I’ve ever met. She is a well-rounded reader with eclectic tastes. Last week she was struggling to choose a book when she went to the young adult section. There she saw I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. She had read the book when she was 19 and remembered loving it. Well, she took it with her last weekend and was still beaming when she came in Monday to tell me about reading it again. She sat in the sun in an Adirondack chair with Beethoven on in the background and a glass of Merlot nearby. She read the book she first loved 60 years ago. “It was just marvelous. Marvelous.”
Posted by Josie Leavitt on April 22, 2009