blo Teens Read and Write: 2009

Thursday, December 31, 2009



Have a Happy New Year from all of us at Teens Read and Write!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


We took a few days off and saw some movies. First on board… Avatar!

First things first…WOW! I have never seen anything like this before. I was skeptical that it wouldn’t live up to the 10 year hype but it definitely gave you the goods.

Our story begins when a our protagonist Jake Sully (great name by the way), a pa
raplegic ex-marine, is awoken from a 5 year nap in cryo-stasis on his way to Pandora, a planet covered in dense jungle and inhabited by a humanoid-ish race of 10 foot tall blue hunters called the Na’vi. Since the air is poisonous to breath and negotiators are needed, Jake is given an Avatar to control.

Avatars are remote controlled bodies that are identical to the local Na’vi population. While Jake can’t walk in his human body, in his Avatar he is footloose and fancy free. The scene where he is in his Avatar for the first time and
can walk, run, jump and play basketball is great. His childlike joy is infectious.

A major mining corporation wants the rock that is under the massive tree that the Na’vi live in. Jake is supposed to either help negotiate them out of there or find a weakness that the corporation and their ex-military thugs can exploit. At first Jake is on board with the plan but after getting separated from his group on his first mission, Jake (in his Avatar body) is taken in by the tribe and taught the ways of the Na’v
i. Eventually comes to appreciate their ways and also falls in love.

I have not seen special effects like this in my life. I saw this in 2D because a friend of ours had seen it in both 2D and 3D. He suggested we see it first in 2D because while some things are poppin
g out of the screen a lot of other things are blurred…and you will want to look at everything else. He was right.

It was jaw dropping. The world that is created is gorgeous, creative, fantastic and phenomenal. At one point in the movie I was so immersed in the world that I had forgotten that I was in the m
ovie theater, and that was in the 2D.

Honestly, at first the Na’vi people look very similar - you’re so focused on them being big and blue - but as you watch and get more into the storyline, you begin to see the subtle physical and personality differences that make them unique individuals. It was fasc
inating. The vegetation and wildlife are equally engrossing and beautiful.

The story was fantastic! Classic yet so different that it felt brand new. You WILL get connected to all of the chara
cters and make audible noises when something bad happens to them. I will say that the main villain felt very cliché, one dimensional, almost a caricature of a bad movie villain from the 70’s or 80’s. But all the other characters had incredible depth and believability.

Things you should know:

- Avatar is long. 3-hour kind of long.
Make sure you go to the bathroom beforehand and stay light on the beverages - you don’t want to miss anything because of a bathroom break!

- Avatar is not for very young children. The first half? Yes, all ages could see it but the second half has some violence that I wouldn’t recommend for younger kids. You come to care abou
t the people and the planet and the bad guys come in with weapons blazing and no mercy. Characters you love die, and even Alyssa got very upset when a horse-like creature was burned alive and a panther-like animal was gutted.

- Avatar is emotionally and physically exhausting. It could have something to with the length but I think is also has to do with how involved you become within the story. You ride this rollercoaster of feelings and we were all very tired afterward.

When I walked out I was having trouble finding the words to describe what I had seen, which for me is a cosmic anomaly that happens once every 400 years. Without further ado, I’ll simply say…

See this movie. And see it on the big screen. Avatar is one of the few movies that lives up to all the hype! Grab a ticket and GO!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

From all of us at Teens Read and Write, have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Sword of the Stranger

WE FINALLY GOT NETFLIX! (After bugging my mom for-EVER.)

And so for the maiden voyage we picked Sword of the Stranger! An amazing story of a boy and his dog...and his unbeatable samurai bodyguard.

Sword of the Stranger begins with a boy named Kotaro who is on the run from the Royal Army of China's Ming Dynasty. His faithful dog Tobimaru is by his side.

Early in their journey they meet a nameless samurai with whom Kotaro is less than warm but No-Name, as Kotaro calls him, is deemed
a worthy companion by Tobimaru (dogs always know best!)

When Tobimaru is poisoned protecting No-Name, Kotaro is forced to hire him as his bodyguard to save his beloved dog and best friend.

Sword of the Stranger is now one of my favorite movies. Perhaps it slows a bit in the middle but
that is easily overlooked because of the fabulous voice acting, the awesome animation, and the compelling storyline.

You care deeply about the characters and what happens to them, and it will have you naming your next pet Tobimaru. The fight sequences are realistic with a sliver of the ridiculous that makes everything feel less serious and more exciting.

BE WARNED SQUEAMISH MOVIE GOERS! (Written in red to accentuate some of the over-the-top bloodiness in some of the fight scenes.) While not oozing buckets of gore it does have a few parts that had Alyssa going "Ewww!" She's such a wuss.

If you have the means to see Sword of the Stranger I highly recommend you do so. Great characters, great plot, great fights... An over
all winner!

Secrets Girls Keep Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations to Lea Johnson @ YA Book Queen!

She is the winner of our Secrets Girls Keep Giveaway! This was just a quickie giveaway for a great non-fiction book.

Congrats Lea, hope you enjoy!

Shut Up I'm Reading 200 Follower Contest

Jessica at Shut Up I'm Reading (gotta love the name) has made it to 200 followers so, of course that means contest time. Here's what she's got going...

There will be 3 winners. The "Grand Prize Winner" will get to pick two books out of the stack. The "Second Place Winner" gets the next turn, and will be able to pick one book of of the remaining choices. The "Third Place Winner" will get to pick one book of of the remaining choices as well.

If I get 50 more followers before the contest ends, I will add another book and another winner.
The contest is international.

The choices? Well, they are:
The Mark by Jen Nadol
(ARC), The Dark Divine by Bree Despain (ARC), Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter by R.J. Anderson (Hardcover), Girl In The Arena by Lisa Haines (Hardcover), Candle Man Book 1: The Society of Unrelenting Vigilance by Glenn Dakin (ARC)

The contest will end February 14th.

Be sure to enter here. Good luck!

Hearts at Stake Giveaway

It's the last day to enter SciFi Guy's giveaway for Hearts at Stake by Alyxandra Harvey.

Looks like a fun new series. Read her interview and enter here!

My Story: Blogs by Four Military Teens

Michelle D. Sherman, Ph.D and DeAnne M. Sherman
Pub: Sept -09


My Story: Blogs by Four Military Teens is a series of blogs by four military teens that highlights their feelings and experiences before, during, and after parental deployment. It provides support and education for all military teens and pre-teens by honoring their unique joys and sacrifices, addressing their fears and hopes, and exploring how parental deployment affects their lives.

Although the four youth in
My Story are fictional, the stories are real—the blogs are a compilation of real life experiences of military kids we have been honored to meet and learn from. The blogs in My Story address issues such as:
  • Pride in parent’s military service
  • Sadness, anger and confusion regarding deployments
  • The excitement of homecoming
  • Challenges of reconnecting after deployment
  • Finding a "new normal"
  • Teen depression
  • Dealing with parent’s emotional and physical challenges (e.g., PTSD, substance abuse, injury)
  • Divorce
  • Resilience and post traumatic growth
While I don't have a parent or close relative in the military, I found this book very interesting. It highlights each teen giving personal and emotional insights into how having a parent in the military affects not only their lives and the lives of the whole family. Because the writing is based on real teenage experiences, it comes across as very honest and relatable to young adults.

I'm blessed to have both of my parents home for the holidays but I realize many kids don't have that luxury. I appreciate all that our armed forces do for our country, but didn't really think how their children sacrifice as well. Their parents can suddenly be gone for months and even years.

Teens who are going through this experience can use My Story to relate to others and understand that they are not alone. Parents and loved ones of teens who are affected by having a mom or dad in the military can use this book to get a greater insight into what the kids may be going through, but not always expressing.

It's a thought provoking book!

Holiday Wish Quiz

I was doing my usual checking out of the blogosphere...

Went to Mindful Musings.

Read the 22nd line of Beautiful Creatures (I've got to start that one) and then saw that Staysi from Lost in Ink is a new affiliate. Very happy about that so went over to say Hi.

Lost In ink Button

She had this fun quiz to take that she found over at Caitlin's blog, All Things Print.
Caitlin found it over at Book Chick City.

I decided to take the quiz. Here is my result and I left a link below so you can do it too!

Your Holiday Wish is Being with Family and Friends

The holidays are near and dear to your heart. You don't need much to make you happy this time of year. As long as you're able to be near the people you love most, you are content. It's really that simple.

You want nothing more than a full house of people celebrating the season. It doesn't matter if it's your house or not, just as long as everyone is there.
And if someone doesn't happen to be around during the holidays, you think about him or her often. You get very sentimental this time of year.

This wasn't a surprising conclusion. I'm a confirmed homebody who loves to hang out with my family (even those annoying brothers of mine), preferably in my pj's, talking, laughing, relaxing, playing games and just being together! And eating great food, of course! It's a fun quiz and I thought you'd like to take the quiz and find out...

Hope all your wishes come true!

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Movie Cast Monday

I'm so thankful to Natalie from Mindful Musings on this one. Movie Mondays? I'm all over that.
For this Monday, I'm choosing Graceling by Kristin Cashore. And just go ahead and chuckle over the character's names, I know I did.

Katsa, the main character, is supposed to be beautiful, but deadly - her natural talent is killing. I think Ashley Green (Alice in Twilight) would be perfect for the part.

Prince Po was cunning, sweet and, when he needed to be, deadly. Ian Somerholder (Damon in Vampire Diaries) can do alluring and
confident with a soft side.

Prince Raffin, Katsa's cousin and best friend, is a healer in every sense of the wo
rd. He's caring, nurturing, smart, ambitious, and, of course, handsome. I think Zac Efron would be a good fit.

Princess Bitterblue (Snort out a laugh, it's alright) is Prince Po's cousin. She's frail and young, but strong and seen more than tragedy than most adults. Lara Robinson is adorable and could pull off being a princess.

King Leck. A charismatic mastermind. Nathan Fillion (Mal in Firefly and currently Rick Castle in TV's Castle) would be perfect to play the wonderful king. Why? Because everyone loves King Leck and everyone loves Nathan Fillion. Perfect match

Alright guys, what do you think? Are my picks spot
on? Or do you think I'm way off -- like I live on Pluto off?

Secret Santas!

We all signed up for the Secret Santa with Kate over at the Neverending Shelf. While Gregory hasn't received his yet, Jake and I just picked up our wonderful gifts!

Alyssa's S
ecret Santa:

I received Lament by Maggie Stiefvater!

You may remember my review. I'm usually not a huge faery fan which is why I was surprised how much enjoyed Lament.

Because I was
skeptical I picked it up from the library. Great way to save money but always sad when I have to give a beloved book back.

But sad no more because the fabulous Misty over at Book Rat generously provided me a copy. And I feel so international because it came all the way from England!

Misty is participating in the 12 Blogs of Christmas. Go check out her giveaway for a chance to win some of my favorite books! Thanks Misty!

UPDATE:: Misty just told me I have TWO more books coming! She's so generous! Can't wait! I will not peek, I will not peek, I will not peek...

Now for Jake's...

Jake's Secret Santa:

I am a huge...HUGE... Jim Butcher fan. I've read and re-read his Dresden Files books and am anxiously awaiting the next in the series. I don't have all the books in the series and I didn't have one of my favorites - Proven Guilty - until now!

The lo
vely and generous Steph from Steph the Bookworm was kind enough to send it to me since she is my Secret Santa!

But that's not all! I've been wanting to read Butcher's YA fantasy novels but haven't gotten to them yet. So Steph helped me out there too by sending my Furies of Calderon, the first book in the series!

A great big Thank You to Steph for her thoughtfulness. I'm really going to enjoy
these! And by the way, she is also having a Six Book Giveaway that you'll want to check out!

Hey Writers! Query Tracker has New Tools!

Here's something for any fellow writers out there.

I had the pleasure of meeting writer Suzette Saxton through Query Tracker when I won that writing contest last month. She was the one who contacted me about my win and we've been sending a few emails back and forth. What a great lady!

She just told me about some new social networking additions that Query Tracker is unrolling on their site. She just put up a blog post on these fabulous new networking tools.

Writing can be such a solitary endeavor, but by adding the social networking aspects, Query Tracker has opened a whole new way for writers to connect with and help other writers!

" - Not just for queries any more.

We all know that online networking is essential for writers to succeed in this modern age. So what do writers do? We haunt Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. I found myself wishing for a central listing site of WRITERS, a simple way to connect with all their sites from one single page."

If you're a writer or are interested in writing, Query Tracker is a fabulous way to find out about agents and track your querying activities.. and now a way to socially network. You can sign up for free!

So, any fellow writers, head over to the post. They lay out the new tools and how to use them. Have fun!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bloody Bookaholic Affiliate & Contest

We've got a new affiliate and she's having a fabulous contest!

The lovely and talented Taschima from the fantastic blog Bloody Bookaholic is our new affiliate and we couldn't be happier! N
ow we have two since we're already affiliated with the beautiful and generous Natalie @ Mindful Musings. Wow! Talk about keeping great company!

We just got the word about becoming affiliated
with Tashima and coincidentally she's having a killer Holiday Blowout Contest to celebrate the season and having over 500 followers... well, now over 600! She's having multiple winners of lots of books and gift cards. You don't want to miss this! Head on over and enter because it ends 12/25.

Good Luck!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Secrets Girls Keep Review & Giveaway

Secrets Girls Keep
by Carrie Sliver-Stock
Nov 2009
268 pages

This book is for every girl with a secret, which pretty much means every one. Our secrets help us, hurt us, and sometimes even haunt us beyond high school. Secrets like:

I hate the way I look.
My boyfriend yells at me.
I'm cheating my way through chemistry.
I lost my virginity and regret it.
I went to a party and didn't tell my parents.
My mom drinks too much.

By revealing the personal stories, struggles, and secrets of other teen girls, Carrie Silver-Stock shows how to deal with everyday stresses by being self-reliant, not silent, and how to get real about what matters.

I'm going a little different today by reviewing a non-fiction book. We always say no to requests to review non-fiction books but we made an exception for
Secrets Girls Keep because we thought it might be something beneficial for our followers.

I have a great home/family life and we talk about everything but this was still an interesting and informative read, full of great advice about lots of things girls deal with.

Here's a list of the Chapter Titles:
  • 7 Tips Every Girl Needs to Deal with Any Problem
  • Beauty is a Beast
  • Boys, Boys, Boys
  • Best of Friends or Worst of Enemies
  • Funky Family Stuff
  • Dealing with School, Now and Beyond
  • Are You Cyber Savvy?
  • Dealing with the Tough Stuff
  • What's Your Secret?
I also liked the way the book is laid out. That may sound shallow but when your target audience is teenage girls, you want if to be appealing to the eye or they aren't going to want to read. It is a readable format and organized in a way that is inviting to look at. There are short little blurbs tucked in on the sides and various quizzes to take throughout.

One of my favorite additions is having quotes from teenage girls talking about a personal experience that is relevant to the chapter subject. This gives the book a personal touch and a sense of real life that other girls can relate to.

Silver-Stock's voice is positive, fun and informative without sounding preachy or like she's giving a lecture. She comes across as a trusted friend giving out helpful advice.

I enjoyed this book and think is could be a positive influence for girls in general but also for someone who is having problems and could use some good advice. Hey, it's tough out there for teenage girls and every bit of good advice helps.

The official fan site is here, and Silver-Stock has a social networking site that "
provides support, advice, and tips on the issues teen girls struggle with most."


So here is a spontaneous giveaway for our followers. If you'd like it for someone you know or for yourself, just fill out the form. And, sure it's international!
I'll leave the giveaway open until Dec. 20 (11:59 PST)

To Enter:
1) You need to fill out the form below.
2) Comment on this post.

No extra points since it's just a quickie and honestly, I'm just trying to get it into the hands of someone who could really use it.

FYI: Our next MegaGiveaway will be announced next week so keep a look out!

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