Thursday, October 29, 2009

Author Guest Post-Jessica Blank PLUS CONTEST!

Today I am featuring a guest post by Jessica Blank, author of the new novel Karma For Beginners.

About the Book: Fourteen-year-old Tessa has never had a normal life. Her mother, a frustrated hippie with awful taste in men, has seen to that. But when her mom pulls her out of school to live at an ashram in the Catskills, Tessa goes from being a freak among normal people to being an outcast among freaks. Freaks who worship an orange robe-wearing guru. And while her mom is buzzing with spiritual energy, and finding a little too much favor with the guru, all Tessa feels are weird vibes.

Unless she's with Colin, the gorgeous boy who fixes trucks for the ashram. The connection they share is the most spiritual thing Tessa has ever felt. But he's older-like illegally older-and Tessa's taking dangerous risks to spend time with him. Soon her life is blooming into a psychedelic web of secrets and lies and it's clear that something's about to give way. When it does, will she have anyone to hold on to? Will she even know herself?

What Jessica Has to Say: My new YA book, "Karma for Beginners" isn't exactly autobiographical, but it's definitely more so than my last YA book "Almost Home" (about a group of homeless teenagers in LA) or my playwriting (the last two documentary plays I wrote with my husband, Erik Jensen, are based on interviews we did with exonerated death row inmates and Iraqi civilian refugees). And in another life, I'm an actor, and so I'm always playing characters different from myself. So when I started working on "Karma for Beginners," I wanted to write something a little closer to my own experiences as a teenager, and also something funny! Tessa, the main character in "Karma" starts out shyer and quieter than I was---I was definitely a rebellious kid--but her introspectiveness is definitely something I remember feeling as a teenager. Her mom--also a main character in the book--is different from my mom, and the actual story isn't based on my life (Tessa's hippie single mom takes her to live on an ashram in upstate New York, where Tessa falls in love with an older guy). But my parents (still happily married) did take me to VISIT an ashram kind of like the one in the book a bunch of times, and I did have an older boyfriend my freshman year of high school, and some of the other things Tessa goes through (ahem) are similar to things I experienced as a teenager. Tessa's discovery of bands and music for the first time, her questioning of her spirituality and ideas about the world, her discovery of the power that rebellion gives her--and her experience getting in a little over her head with that rebellion--are all things that I can definitely relate to my own teenage experiences, even if they're not literally taken from my life.

When I wrote "Almost Home" (the one about homeless teenagers in LA, which Erik and I are now adapting as a movie for Jon Bon Jovi's production company) I used my imagination a LOT to get inside the kids' heads; to think through everything they'd been through and work out how that would affect everything they thought and did. I also did a lot of research. With "Karma for Beginners" I didn't have to stretch so far---though Tessa and I aren't the same, her personality and the circumstances of her life are a little closer to home, so I spent more time remembering who I was when I was 14 and 15 and thinking about how I would've responded to the situations she finds herself in. The new YA book I'm working on right now is somewhere in-between---the protagonist is more like me than the kids in "Almost Home" are, but a little less than Tessa. It's a balancing act to try to figure out when to draw on my own teenage experiences and when it's better to imagine something totally different!

Want to win a copy of Karma for Beginners? Leave a comment on this post with your e-mail, blog, etc. Contest open to U.S. addresses only. Contest will end November 8 at Midnight (Central Time)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Tween Tuesday Plus a Giveaway

I have a very cool Tween Tuesday post this week: The Encyclopedia of Immaturity Volume 2

The Encyclopedia of Immaturity has been such a hit that Klutz is following up with a second book! The Encyclopedia of Immaturity Volume 2 includes thought-provoking topics such as how to slide down a banister, what we talk about when we talk about wedgies, how to send a toiletgram, and more. It’s all new and all hopelessly goofy.

This book is hilarious! There are so many great pranks-I love it! I pointed out to my husband that I had recieved this book and he picked it up and started flipping through it and laughing-so it's not just for tweens! (He's looking at it right now saying "that's cool!")

The book has a good mix of magic tricks, jokes, pranks. There are some pages that you can cut out and use, like extreme makeovers which adds goofy teeth to the bottom of your drinking glass or my favorite-grass to cover up the dog poop so it looks like you picked it up!

The Holiday's are coming and The Encyclopedia of Immaturity would make a great gift for the prankers in your life. And my loyal readers are in luck!

THREE WINNERS will recieve:

-the new release Encyclopedia of Immaturity VOL 2

-and Encyclopedia of Immaturity VOL 1

To Enter: Leave a comment below with a way to contact you (e-mail, blog) Must have a U.S. Address to ship to and be 13 or older

Contest ends November 17 at midnight Central Time. Good luck!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

YA Movie News

Eoin Colfer's Airman is getting a movie adaptation for Disney. Anne Peacock, who was a screenwriter for The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is adapting the book, and Gil Kenan who directed City of Ember, is signed on as director. With the people signed on to this one, I have high hopes for it. Thanks to Cynopsis Kids for the news!

The Pretty Little Liars Series by Sara Shephard is a series I can't keep on my shelves at the library-and now its on its way to the small screen. According to Hollywood Reporter (via MTV), ABC Family is very close to okaying a pilot for the show, with Lucy Hale set to star. My teens would be very excited about this show, so I hope ABC Family approves it!

The Wicked series by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie was picked up by Dreamworks. The first script is being developed from the first two books in the series.

Cirque du Freak hits theaters this weekend-go see it!! And just in time for the movie's release, there's a new iPhone and iPod Touch App called iFreak-it's a free download so make sure you check it out. You can take pictures and transform them into the characters from the movie. I've got it on my phone and I'll be sharing it with my teens at work-I'm sure they'll love it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sick Day Favorites

So I've been sick with a cold all weekend which got me thinking about my childhood sick days. I didn't stay home sick very often as a child, but when I did it meant curling up on the couch with my favorite movies, chicken noodle soup, and a stack of library books.

Of course, staying home sick meant watching an Anne of Green Gables marathon. Visiting with Anne, Diana, and Gilbert on Prince Edward Island always made me feel better. Now, I would watch this movie on days I wasn't sick too. But for me, Anne was the ultimate sick day movie. I'd watch both Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea. I finally caved and watched the third movie a few years ago, but I wouldn't recommend it (if you're a true Anne fan, it might make you sicker!)

If I couldn't watch Anne, then I spent my afternoon with Little Women-the Elizabeth Taylor movie version. This one didn't top my list, since Jo and Laurie do not end up together which is endlessly frustrating and not great when you're already not feeling well.

The other big deal in my house when we were sick (or had a day off school) meant we got to watch The Price is Right-if we weren't still asleep when it came on. My sister and I loved the Showcase Showdown and would sit through the rest of the show just for that. I always liked when they had a story or theme to them and when you're nine-years-old, winning a new car seems like the coolest thing in the world. We never understood why people would give up the cars.

And since my library was always at the library, being sick meant I got to stay home with my library books. I would read books from home, books from the library, anything I had. I don't remember having a specific book I read when I was sick, I would just read.

I still watch Anne and read when I'm not feeling well. I actually started Kate DiCamillo's The Magician's Elephant today and I think it'll make a great sick day read.

When you're not feeling well, what books or movies are your comfort, feel better things?

Tween Tuesday

Tween Tuesday is a weekly feature where I blog about great tween reads. If you'd like to host your own Tween Tuesday, add the link in the Mister Linkey and share your tween reads!

The Sisters Grimm Series by Michael Buckley

-The Sisters Grimm are two sisters who find themselves living with the grandmother they thought dead when their parents disappear. Granny's town sure is interesting-she lives in Ferryport and it's home o "Everafters"-characters right out of fairy tales and magical stories.

This is a great pick for readers who love mystery, adventure, humor and fairy tales. There's seven books books out now with nine books total to be released in the series. I met Michael Buckley at ALA and he was incredibly charming and funny. I highly recommend this series. If you have readers who have enjoyed The Sisters Grimm, give them Sarah Beth Durst's Into the Wild next.

The Sisters 8 by Lauren Baratz-Logsted, Greg Logsted, and Jackie Logsted

The Sisters 8 is a family outing-mom, dad and daughter are all contributing to the writing. The series is about a set of octuplets whose parents disappear, (where are all the parents in these books? I didn't mean to pick two disappering parent series!) The girls try to figure out what happened to their parents and find a mysterious note that says each girl has a talent and a gift which they must discover to get their parents back. Each book tells about a different sister's adventure with eight books in the series.
This series would make a great read aloud and there's plenty of humor mixed in for adults.
There's a bit of mystery and the books are a lot of fun. They might look like they're for the younger tween crowd, but I've gotten rave reviews from older tweens who have enjoyed them as well.

Want to share some great tween reads? Link your post in the Mister. Linkey!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tween Tuesday

Tween Tuesday is a weekly feature where I blog about some of my favorite tween reads!

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall

The Penderwicks is a modern story that has the feel of a classic. Read this one if you want to escape back into your childhood favorites-it reminded me of Little Women and Anne of Green Gables. It's perfectly sweet and lots of fun. There's a sequel out now, and the author is planning on writing five Penderwicks books altogether, so there adventures are far from over!

Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls: Moving Day by Meg Cabot
Meg Cabot continues to impress me. I've read many of teen books, and a couple of her adult titles, and now she's won me over in the tween area as well! This one was on my children's lit list, and I knew I had to give it a read. Allie Finkle is a modern-day Ramona Quimby. She keeps a notebook of all the rules she learns-some serious, some silly, but all important to Allie. Her voice is pitch perfect to tween girls and I think many tweens will enjoy growing up with Allie by their side.

Diary of a Fairy Godmother by Esme Raji Codell
I listened to this one on CD when I first started working in the library three years ago and it's still one that find myself recommending and booktalking to tweens. It's a fun twist on fairy tales and readers who are enjoying The Sisters Grimm series should pick this one up as well. Hunky Dory goes to school for magic-to be a wicked witch actually, but she's really interested in the magic of fairy godmother's, which is looked down upon by the other witches. Many fairy tale characters make appearances or are mentioned, so keep your eyes (or ears) peeled for cameos! This one is full of humor and I found myself laughing out loud while reading it. Be sure to pick this one up if you're a fan of fairy tales and magic.
Full Disclosure: All books reviewed were recieved from the library.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Traveling to Teens: The Tear Collector by Patrick Jones

This is part of a tour for Traveling to Teens!

Rating: 2/5 Stars

Genre: Paranormal

Release Date: 9/1/2009

About the Book: Cassandra Gray is a vampire-only she doesn't feast off blood, she thrives on human tears. Cass is always there when someone needs a shoulder to cry on and she'll be the one to listen and comfort. But Cassandra isn't happy with her manipulative life-she wants more and she wants to be human, especially since she's starting to fall in love with a human boy. Can she betray her family and the life she's always know?

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: While the premise for this vampire book is unique, it failed to work for me. It's supposed to be a paranormal book, but I never really got the paranormal aspect. It read much more like any contemporary fiction novel about a girl trying to break away from her family mold. It seemed like the paranormal stuff got thrown in there at times it needed to be mentioned-and on yeah, she's a vampire.

Cassandra was a very unsympathetic narrator and I didn't care for her. I actually found her annoying and at times creepy. She was always comforting "friends" and she tries to reach out to goth girl Samantha. She doesn't even know Samantha, yet she's getting all gushy on her and encouraging her to let out her emotions because she knows she hurts. If someone I didn't know well started talking to me like that, I would be seriously weirded out!! There's also a romance plot to the book, but I didn't find it all that romantic or interesting, so I'm not sure I would even call this one a paranormal romance.

There were many times it felt like I was reading a rejected script for a bad CW show-the dialog was corny and unrealistic, the characters were stereotypes (the goth girl who bottles up her emotions, the backstabbing cheerleader, the popular beautiful girl with secret issues at home, the dumb jock boyfriends). I thought that the author kept telling me what I should feel and why I was supposed to care instead of showing me, which was pretty weird since he even mentions that in the novel that good writing shows, not tells!

Overall this one didn't work for me, although the plot picked up about halfway through. If readers enjoy unique takes on vampires, they might find something to enjoy in this one.

You can follow the rest of the tour on the Traveling to Teens site and see what other reviewers thought!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

YA Movie News

Very exciting news for Shiver fans! Movie rights to the NY Times bestselling novel have been sold. I wouldn't be surprised to see this production fast-tracked, what with the success of YA paranormal right now. I can't wait!

(Weird side note: I just noticed this week that there was a wolf hiding on the right hand side of the cover of Shiver. I've always just noticed the pretty blue before and never saw the wolf-I felt really silly when I realized that!)

This new poster for New Moon perfectly captures the angst and and over the top drama of this series for me. Check out the other new posters, including one of the wolf pack and one of the Volturi. (I think Volturi one is the only one that makes me semi-interested in the movie, expect Dakota Fanning looks too old.)

Don't forget that Whip It hits theaters this weekend. It's based on the novel Derby Girl by Shauna Cross, who also wrote the screenplay.

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant

Vampire's Assistant-The Cirque du Freak Giveaway!

If you've been following my YA movies news, you know that The Vampire's Assistant is headed to theaters October 23. I have a very awesome giveaway for all you Cirque fans!

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TWO winners will recieve:

Cirque du Freak book Set (3 titles in one book)

Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant Locker Mirror

About the Book: The Vampire's Assistant and Other Tales from the Cirque du Freak by Darren Shan New movie edition features the first three books--Cirque Du Freak, The Vampire's Assistant, and Tunnels of Blood-- bound up in one volume! Do you love to be scared? Then don't miss the terrifying adventure that begins when Darren and his best friend, Steve, get tickets to the CIRQUE DU FREAK, a wonderfully bizarre and creepy freak show. Brace yourself for thrills and chills as the boys witness a parade of grotesque creatures and face their deepest fears by entering the darkest world of the vampire. In the blood-curdling tradition of Anne Rice and Stephen King, CIRQUE DU FREAK will have you shrieking for the next horror show! Publisher: Little, Brown Young Readers
About the Movie: In theaters October 23rd Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant, based on the popular series of books by Darren Shan, is a fantasy-adventure about a teenager who unknowingly breaks a 200-year-old truce between two warring factions of vampires. Pulled into a fantastic life of misunderstood sideshow freaks and grotesque creatures of the night, one teen will vanish from the safety of a boring existence and fulfill his destiny in a place drawn from nightmares.
The Vampire's Assistant Facebook Fan Page:
CIRQUE DU FREAK has been rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned - Some Material May Be Inappropriate for Children Under 13) for sequences of intense supernatural violence and action, disturbing images, thematic elements and some language.
Check out the trailer:
So what do you need to do to win?
-First, vote in the widget for your favorite t-shirt slogan.
-Then, leave a comment letting me know which one you voted for! Please include a way to contact you if you win.
-Contest open to US addresses only, ages 13+. Contest ends on October 15, midnight central time.
Good luck!!
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