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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Audio Interview w/Cori McCarthy (YOU WERE HERE), Darcy Woods (THE SUMMER OF SUPERNOVAS), & K.A. Barson (CHARLOTTE CUTS IT OUT)


This past weekend I had the opportunity to conduct a panel interview with rockstar authors Cori McCarthy (Breaking Sky and You Were Here), Darcy Woods (Summer of Supernovas), and K.A. (Kelly) Barson (45 Pounds More or Less and Charlotte Cuts It Out). The panel was recorded, so, though you may not have been in Traverse City, MI last weekend, you can still enjoy the great conversation.

Left to Right: Sara, Darcy, Kelly, Cori

All three of these author's 2016 releases feature strong characters and themes of letting go, both of which make great fodder for discussion. We also discuss writing process, the difficulties of reaching readers, favorite books, the ups and downs of trends, the difficulty of writing humor and 'light' books, a cameo from author Amy Rose Capetta, and much, much more!

Left to Right: Kelly, Cori, Darcy
  Check out the interview with Cori, Darcy, and Kelly below, then enter to win a signed copy of each of their books. If you'd like to purchase a signed copy of any of their books, you can do so here. Brilliant Books doesn't charge for shipping, which is a plus! 

I owe a huge thanks to Linda Smith, the Teen Librarian at the Traverse Area District Library, who provided a mic for the interview, as well as edit and uploading the podcast to Soundcloud!



Giveaway
1 winner. US only. Ends September 7, 2016.

  

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Cover Reveals - Young Adult (82)



Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson
Goodreads
A timely and powerful story about a teen girl from a poor neighborhood striving for success, from acclaimed author Renée Watson.

Jade believes she must get out of her neighborhood if she’s ever going to succeed. Her mother says she has to take every opportunity. She has. She accepted a scholarship to a mostly-white private school and even Saturday morning test prep opportunities. But some opportunities feel more demeaning than helpful. Like an invitation to join Women to Women, a mentorship program for “at-risk” girls. Except really, it’s for black girls. From “bad” neighborhoods.

But Jade doesn’t need support. And just because her mentor is black doesn’t mean she understands Jade. And maybe there are some things Jade could show these successful women about the real world and finding ways to make a real difference.

Friendships, race, privilege, identity—this compelling and thoughtful story explores the issues young women face.

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller
Goodreads
A 17-year-old pirate captain intentionally allows herself to get captured by enemy pirates in this thrilling YA adventure.

If you want something done right . . .

When the ruthless pirate king learns of a legendary treasure map hidden on an enemy ship, his daughter, Alosa, knows there's only one pirate for the job—herself. Leaving behind her beloved ship and crew, Alosa deliberately facilitates her own kidnapping to ensure her passage on the ship, confident in her ability to overcome any obstacle. After all, who's going to suspect a seventeen-year-old girl locked in a cell? Then she meets the (surprisingly perceptive and unfairly attractive) first mate, Riden, who is charged with finding out all her secrets. Now it's down to a battle of wits and will . . . . Can Alosa find the map and escape before Riden figures out her plan?
Literally by Lucy Keating
Goodreads
A girl realizes her life is being written for her in this unique, smart love story that is Stranger Than Fiction for fans of Stephanie Perkins.

Annabelle’s life has always been Perfect with a capital P. Then bestselling young adult author Lucy Keating announces that she’s writing a new novel—and Annabelle is the heroine.

It turns out, Annabelle is a character that Lucy Keating created. And Lucy has a plan for her.

But Annabelle doesn’t want to live a life where everything she does is already plotted out. Will she find a way to write her own story—or will Lucy Keating have the last word?

Nowhere Near You by Leah Thomas
Goodreads
Following her acclaimed debut, Morris Award finalist Leah Thomas takes Ollie and Moritz’s unique friendship in exciting new directions.

In this compelling story of unusual friendship, Ollie and Moritz will once again charm readers with their humor and wit as they search for their place in the world.

Ollie and Moritz might never meet, but their friendship knows no bounds. Their letters continue as Ollie embarks on his first trip away from the woods and Moritz decides which new school would best suit an eyeless boy.

Along the way they meet other teens like them, who lead seemingly normal lives in ways Ollie and Moritz never imagined possible: A boy who jokes about his atypical skeleton; an aspiring actress who hides a strange deformity. Suddenly the future feels wide open for two former hermits. But even as Ollie and Moritz thrive in new experiences, they can’t escape their past, which threatens to destroy any progress they’ve made.

The Light That Gets Lost by Natasha Carthew
Goodreads

A small boy hiding in a cupboard witnesses something no child should ever see. He tries not to look but he still hears it. And when he comes out, there's no mistaking. His mum and dad have been killed. And though he's only small, he swears that he'll get revenge one day.

Years later, Trey enters a strange camp that is meant to save troubled teenagers. It's packed with crazies, god-botherers, devoted felons and broken kids. Trey's been in and out of trouble ever since the day the bad thing happened, but he's he not here for saving: this is where he'll find the man who did it. Revenge and healing, salvation and hell are a boiling, dangerous mix, and Trey finds himself drawn to a girl, a dream and the offer of friendship in the dark.

Love and Other Alien Experiences by Kerry Winfrey
Goodreads

My name is Mallory Sullivan.

My therapist says I have an anxiety disorder.

My brother says I’m an “optimistic recluse.”

Everybody else says I'm a freak.

And they kind of have a point, because I haven't left the house in 67 days and only attend class via the webcam on my laptop. The person I talk to the most other than my mom and brother is the completely obnoxious BeamMeUp, and all we do is argue on New Mexico’s premiere alien message board.

But after yesterday, I have something: a chance. If I can win the homecoming crown by convincing resident hot popular guy and Friday Night Lights spawn Brad Kirkpatrick to go as my date, then maybe #stayathome will never appear next to the name @Mallory_Sullivan ever again.

First, I have to leave my room.

#famous by Jilly Gagnon
Goodreads
In this modern-day love story, Girl likes Boy, Girl takes photo of Boy and posts it online, Boy becomes accidentally insta-famous. And what starts out as an innocent joke spirals into a whirlwind adventure that could change both their lives—and their hearts—forever. But are fame and love worth the price?

Told in alternating points of view, #famous captures the out-of-control thrill ride of falling for someone in front of everyone.

Wonderful Feels Like This by Sara Lovestam
Goodreads

For Steffi, going to school every day is an exercise in survival. She’s never fit in with any of the other groups at school, and she’s viciously teased by the other girls in her class. The only way she can escape is through her music—especially jazz music.

When Steffi hears her favorite jazz song playing through an open window of a retirement home on her walk home from school, she decides to go in and introduce herself.

The old man playing her favorite song is Alvar. When Alvar was a teenager in World War II-era Sweden, he dreamt of being in a real jazz band. Then and now, Alvar’s escape is music—especially jazz music.

Through their unconventional but powerful friendship, Steffi realizes that she won’t always be lonely in her small town. She can go to the music school in Stockholm. She can be a real musician. And she can be a jitterbug, just like Alvar.

But how can Steffi convince her parents to let her go to Stockholm to audition? And how is it that Steffi’s school, the retirement home, her music, and even her worst bully are somehow connected to Alvar and his story? Because as it turns out, everything is, in the end, linked . . .

A Good Idea by Cristina Moracho
Goodreads

Can the right kind of boy get away with killing the wrong kind of girl?

Fin and Betty’s close friendship survived Fin’s ninth-grade move from their coastal Maine town to Manhattan. Calls, letters, and summer visits continued to bind them together, and in the fall of their senior year, they both applied to NYU, planning to reunite for good as roommates.

Then Betty disappears. Her ex-boyfriend Calder admits to drowning her, but his confession is thrown out, and soon the entire town believes he was coerced and Betty has simply run away. Fin knows the truth, and she returns to Williston for one final summer, determined to get justice for her friend, even if it means putting her loved ones—and herself—at risk.

But Williston is a town full of secrets, where a delicate framework holds everything together, and Fin is not the only one with an agenda. How much is she willing to damage to get her revenge and learn the truth about Betty’s disappearance, which is more complicated than she ever imagined—and infinitely more devastating?

Everything Beautiful Is Not Ruined by Danielle Younge-Ullman
Goodreads
When she was a little girl, Ingrid’s entire world was her mother: Margot-Sophia, the brilliant and sophisticated opera star. So when Margot-Sophia loses her singing voice, Ingrid loses everything. The two of them move to a small, normal house in a small, normal town, where Ingrid tries to convince her mother that there must still be something worth living for.

It’s in this small, normal life that Ingrid discovers her own passion for the theater arts. But Margot-Sophia refuses to support her daughter’s dreams. They strike a deal: if Ingrid makes it through a summer of an extreme wilderness experience, then she can have her chance to pursue life as a performer.

Over the course of this summer, Ingrid is stripped of every dignity and freedom. But she also finally comes to terms with her inner demons—and finally confronts the secret tragedy that defines her.

The White Road of the Moon by Rachel Neumeier
Goodreads
Leigh Bardugo meets The Sixth Sense in this story of one girl’s perilous journey to restore a lost order.

Imagine you live with your aunt, who hates you so much she’s going to sell you into a dreadful apprenticeship. Imagine you run away before that can happen. Imagine that you can see ghosts—and talk with the dead. People like you are feared, even shunned.

Now imagine…the first people you encounter after your escape are a mysterious stranger and a ghost boy, who seem to need you desperately—though you don’t understand who they are or exactly what they want you to do. So you set off on a treacherous journey, with only a ghost dog for company. And you find that what lies before you is a task so monumental that it could change the world.
A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

Goodreads
The new novel follows Gauri, the younger sister of the titular Star-Touched Queen, on her harrowing quest for freedom.

When Gauri, the princess of Bharata, is captured by her kingdom’s rivals, she can only find help in Vikram, the cunning prince of an enemy kingdom. Unsatisfied with royal life, Vikram offers Gauri a chance to win back her kingdom in exchange for her battle prowess. They set aside their differences and team up to compete in the Tournament of Wishes, wherein the Lord of Wealth promises a wish to the victor. Every which way they turn new trials will test their wit and strength. But what Gauri and Vikram soon discover is that there’s nothing more dangerous than what they most desire.

Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza
Goodreads

Empress
Rhee, better known as Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an, is the sole surviving heir to a powerful dynasty. She’ll stop at nothing to avenge her family and claim her throne.

Fugitive
Aly has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a holo-vision show. But when he’s falsely accused of killing Rhee, he's forced to prove his innocence to save his reputation – and his life.

Madman
With planets on the brink of war, Rhee and Aly are thrown together to confront a ruthless evil that threatens the fate of the entire galaxy.

It Started with Goodbye by Christina June
Goodreads

Sixteen-year-old Tatum Elsea is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she’s stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF’s gone ghost. Tatum fills her newfound free time with community service by day and working at her covert graphic design business at night (which includes trading emails with a cute cello-playing client). When Tatum discovers she’s not the only one in the house keeping secrets, she finds she has the chance to make amends with her family and friends. Equipped with a new perspective, and assisted by her feisty step-abuela-slash-fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh and maybe even get her happy ending along the way.

A modern play on the Cinderella story arc, Christina June’s IT STARTED WITH GOODBYE shows us that sometimes going after what you want means breaking the rules.
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Do you have a favorite recent new cover? Or a favorite from this list? Let me know in the comments!






Monday, August 15, 2016

Storytime: New & Notable Picture Books (40)



This week's Storytime features an unexpected victor, a mystery on the farm, a week on the construction sight, finding home in a new place, and the joy of nature.

Poor Little Guy
Written & Illustrated by Elanna Allen
Ages 3-5, Available Now


Buy It
Goodreads
With the cheeky twist of Jon Klassen’s This Is Not My Hat and the graphic appeal of Mo Willems, Poor Little Guy will leave kids giggling…and begging for rereads!
What do you do when you're so tiny that the bigger ocean creatures think you might even taste adorable?

An itsy-bitsy, glasses-wearing fish is minding his own business when a playful (and hungry) octopus snatches him right up. Luckily, this poor little guy is not quite as innocent as he seems…and he has a BIG surprise up his sleeve!

Told with wit, a wink, and a delightfully dark sense of humor, Poor Little Guy celebrates the very smallest...and all of their giant victories. Hand this cute but mighty book to fans of Bob Shea and Dan Krall.

I love the flipped script in this picture book from Elanna Allen, which completely subverts the reader's initial expectations. I also adored the typography and illustration style - I'm looking forward to more from this author!

From Poor Little Guy by Elanna Allen. Dial Books (2016).
 

The Mystery of the Haunted Farm
Written & Illustrated by Elys Dalton
Ages 4-8, Available Now

Shop Indie Bookstores
Goodreads
Strange and spooky things are happening down on the farm, and Farmer Greg knows exactly who to call — Ghost-hunters! A specialist team of three little ghost-hunting pigs equipped with the latest gadgets seem to be the perfect guys for the job. There’s certainly something suspicious about the mysterious chicken coop up on the hill, but when the Phantom Finder 5000 fails to recognize any paranormal activity, the pigs realize that perhaps all is not quite as it seems.

If you only buy one Halloween book this year, I really hope it's this one. Not only will readers enjoy riddling out what exactly is happening at the Farm, they'll find tons to love in the hilariously detailed spreads. Pick this one up and take a peek inside - I think you'll find it needs to come home with you!



Busy Builders, Busy Week!
Written by Jean Reidy; Illustrated by Leo Timmers
Ages 3-6, Available Now
Shop Indie Bookstores
Goodreads
In this bright, bold picture book, a cast of animal characters are building a brand-new playground in a local park for their community! Each day of the week contains a different construction plan as the steam-rolling, digging, and planting gets underway.

Tuesday! Mix day!
Pipe and boards and bricks day.
Stack, spin, pour it in.
Give the fence a fix day.

Wednesday! Load day!
Take it on the road day.
Hoist, haul, pull it all.
Something being towed day!

The construction project comes together for a joyful, rhyming walking tour of a neighborhood, where young readers can learn the days of the week while watching everyone work as a team!

Great illustrations and plenty of machinery for those little ones who love construction equipment. I love that each spread is a different day of the week!


From Busy Builders, Busy Week by Jean Reidy & Leo Timmer. Bloomsbury (2016).


A Piece of Home
Written by Jeri Watts; Illustrated by Hyewon Yum
Ages 5-8, Available Now


  

Shop Indie Bookstores
Goodreads

A child-friendly story about the trials and triumphs of starting over in a new place while keeping family and traditions close.

When Hee Jun’s family moves from Korea to West Virginia, he struggles to adjust to his new home. His eyes are not big and round like his classmates’, and he can’t understand anything the teacher says, even when she speaks s-l-o-w-l-y and loudly at him. As he lies in bed at night, the sky seems smaller and darker. But little by little Hee Jun begins to learn English words and make friends on the playground. And one day he is invited to a classmate’s house, where he sees a flower he knows from his garden in Korea — mugunghwa, or rose of Sharon, as his friend tells him — and Hee Jun is happy to bring a shoot to his grandmother to plant a "piece of home" in their new garden. Lyrical prose and lovely illustrations combine in a gentle, realistic story about finding connections in an unfamiliar world.

This quiet, thoughtful picture book is a fantastic offering to spur conversations about change, displacement, and diversity. A beautiful story.


Finding Wild
Written by Megan Wagner Lloyd; Illustrated by Abigail Halpin
Ages 3-7, Available Now



Shop Indie Bookstores
There are so many places that wild can exist, if only you know where to look! Can you find it? Two kids set off on an adventure away from their urban home and discover all the beauty of the natural world. From the bark on the trees to the sudden storm that moves across the sky to fire and flowers, and snowflakes and fresh fruit. As the children make their way through the woods and back to the paved and noisy streets, they discover that wild exists not just off in some distant place, but right in their own backyard.

An absolutely stunning celebration of nature. Halpin's illustrations are incredibly beautiful. Do not miss!


From Finding Wild by Megan Wagner Lloyd & Abigail Halpin. Knopf BFYR (2016).
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Love any of the books featured this week? Let me know in the comments!