blo Teens Read and Write: September 2010

Thursday, September 30, 2010


Banned Books Week continues to inspire passionate discussion and debate within the book blogging community! 

On our post 
where we talk about Natalie's post on Mindful Musings regarding Dr. Scroggins wanting to ban 

 Carol T (buddyt) had one of our most thought-provoking comments.
"While I agree totally that banning books is the action of a cretin, I worry that by giving so much time and blog posts to Scroggins we are only doing what he wants! Namely giving him publicity and inadvertantly helping him spread his childish views.
Carol T"

That's definintely something to think about! 

We responded:
"We understand your point - it kind of brings up the adage that "any publicity, even bad publicity is good publicity"- but we hope that the information gets to people who don't believe in banning books and inspires them to speak out and/or support banned books. 

We hear a lot of people say they didn't realize a book they know, and perhaps was a favorite, was banned, and can't understand why it was banned. Making people aware (who may not be) and who don't believe in banning books, might cause them to take some positive action. It's important to get the information out there and then let people make their own decisions - kind of like getting the books printed and letting people decide for themselves what they want to read!"

Thanks, Carol! We love our Followers/Commentors - they're so smart!

And again, when it comes to YA we passionately encourage parents to take an interest (research and even read!) what books are available to your kids and what they're reading! It's a way for parents and kids to bond and promotes discussion!

Now, it's your turn - 
Are we helping Scroggins promote banning books by giving him publicity? 

NOTE: Since putting together this post we've found out from Natalie that the banned books have a waiting list at the local libraries and Missouri State University students made it on the news when they took up the cause  - check out the video below.

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by Kim Culbertson
pub: Sept 1, 2010
Teen Fiction

After living in twelve places in eight years with her drifting mother, fourteen-year-old Calle Smith finds herself in Andreas Bay, California, at the start of ninth grade. Fearful of putting down roots anywhere, but armed with her song journal, she moves to her own sound track through a world that bounces her between the school drama crowd, a mysterious loner, and an unlikely boy who will become her first love. But it's the troubling truth she uncovers about her father that forces Calle to face the toughest choice of her young life.

We all know realistic contemporary YA isn't my first choice of genre, so when I enjoy one, that's saying something.
Writing: Beautiful, smooth and - dare I say? - lyrical. Each chapter starts with a bit from Calle's song journal mentioning songs and how they relate to defining moments in her past, and, as we find out, how they connect with something that happens in the chapter.  

Characters:  Calle's strength comes through but she's also vulnerable. There's teen angst but the drama isn't overdone and Calle never comes across as whiny. She's realistic in thought and feeling, honest and easy to relate to. Her desire to fit in, find stability, her ache to know about her father and the truth of her family's past is heartbreaking. I liked that while she really wanted to fit in, she wasn't willing to lose herself to do it. The characters are rich, complex and real - her quirky friends, the hot-and-cold (and troubled) love interest, her annoying mother, and "dead-beat" dad.  

Plot/Pacing: Not fast or slow, the plot moves at a steady pace. We're given hints that there is more to everyone's story, and the reveals are interesting and surprising, adding new dimensions to characters and relationships. Family secrets and lies, people hiding who they really are, and Calle caught in the middle trying to find her place in the world, all make for a book I didn't want to put down. The ending ties things up nicely. 

Caveats/Concerns: None really. Real people, interesting story, nothing inappropriate - good for any age.

Cover: I like it and think it really works in expressing the story.

Bottomline: I've never gone through what Calle has but because of her authentic teen voice I could still relate to her on many levels. This isn't a blow-your-socks-off kind of story. It eases you in like a favorite lullaby, then wraps you into the cozy blanket of endearing characters and engrossing story that develops like a flower blooming in your hands. Hmmm...contemporary teen fiction and I liked it. Who knew?

Author On The Web

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Friday, September 24, 2010

SUPERNATURAL Premieres Tonight!

We're HUGE Sam and Dean/SUPERNATURAL fans and Hallelujah it premieres tonight

Friday Sept 24,  9:00-10:00 p.m.             SUPERNATURAL (Season Premiere)

Returning for its sixth season, this haunting series follows Sam and Dean Winchester, two brothers bound by tragedy and blood to their dangerous, other-worldly mission. This past season, Dean and Sam faced their toughest foe yet: the Devil himself. As the Apocalypse raged on around them, the brothers, aided only by a dwindling band of fellow hunters and rebel angel Castiel, sought a way to stop Lucifer and save the planet. Ultimately, they discovered a way to force Lucifer back into Hell and end the Apocalypse-but at tremendous cost: Sam's life.
Season 6 will be a season of mystery and shadow. Heaven and Hell have been left in complete disarray since the apocalyptic events of Season 5. And now, monsters, angels and demons roam across a lawless and chaotic landscape. And so Dean Winchester, who has retired from hunting and sworn never to return, finds himself being pulled back into his old life -- pulled back by none other than Sam Winchester, who has escaped from Hell. The two reunite to beat back the rising tide of creatures and demon-spawn, but they quickly realize that neither are who they used to be, their relationship isn't what it used to be, and that nothing is what it seems.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

THE REPLACEMENT by Brenna Yovanoff

by Brenna Yovanoff
pub: Sept 21 - Razorbill/Penquin
Teen Fiction

Mackie Doyle seems like everyone else in the perfect little town of Gentry, but he is living with a fatal secret - he is a Replacement, left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. Now the creatures under the hill want him back, and Mackie must decide where he really belongs and what he really wants. 

A month ago, Mackie might have told them to buzz off. But now, with a budding relationship with tough, wounded, beautiful Tate, Mackie has too much to lose. Will love finally make him worthy of the human world?

Released this week, THE REPLACEMENT delivers a unique take on faery/changeling lore and is one of my new favorites!

Writing: Vivid world-building - the eerie town full of hidden secrets, fear, paranoia, anxiety. The underworlds of Mayhem and Misery creeped me out! Excellent description that put me right in the middle of the action, and gave me goosebumps (I recommend leaving the lights on while reading). 

Characters: Mackie, the tortured protagonist, feels like an outcast, unworthy, fearing death at any moment and not sure he doesn't deserve it. He fights to find his place in the world, and always do the right thing. Strong, caring, self-sacrificing. I found him charming and adorable. I loved the family dynamic. His parents are sometimes awkward but love Mackie and do their best to protect him despite his "handicap." Mackie's older sister is fiercely protective and loyal. 

His best friend, Roswell, and his buddies, the Corbett twins, totally rock! The ultimate BFFs, they had Mackie's back in the even most dire of circumstances - no questions asked - and often so funny I laughed out loud. I loved these guys! The love interest, Tate, was likable too just not as outstanding a character. 

And there're wacky supernatural bad guys (or girls) who don't realize they're bad because they heap spoonfuls of CRAZY into their coffee every morning! 

Plot/Pacing: The fast pace had me asking questions from page one. Yovanoff keeps you guessing then slowly lays out answers your main characters obviously already know. At the same time, you're unraveling mysteries that Mackie and his buddies are trying to figure out in order to save innocent lives. I was hooked!

The exciting climax riveted. Since I had so many surprises, I wasn't sure where it was going -  Happy ending? Bittersweet? Downright depressing and horrific? It could have gone in any direction. 

Caveats/Concerns: Be aware of some underage drinking and language but nothing over the top. A few parts are gruesome but no vomit-worthy gore. In regards to sexuality - there's one scene that alludes to some groping and one make-out scene where the girl starts to undress but then they're interrupted before anything happens. This isn't a romance. 

Cover: Are you kidding? I'm in love! And it's even better in person.

Bottomline: THE REPLACEMENT had me on the edge of my seat. I rooted for Mackie, wanted to high-five his friends and family for their love and support, and scary monsters creeped me out. I laughed, I cried, I cringed in horror. The story covers themes of finding yourself, love and loyalty of family/friends, compassion, acceptance.  

So beg, borrow or steal buy this one! Especially for urban fantasy lovers, this one's worth it! And, seriously, I'm framing that cover. 

Brenna Yovanoff on On the Web:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday – 9/22/10

by Johnathan Maberry
October 5, 2010

In the zombie-infested, post-apocalyptic America where Benny Imura lives, every teenager must find a job by the time they turn fifteen or get their rations cut in half. Benny doesn't want to apprentice as a zombie hunter with his boring older brother Tom, but he has no choice. He expects a tedious job whacking zoms for cash, but what he gets is a vocation that will teach him what it means to be human.

What are you waiting for?

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010


There's been lots of buzz leading up to Banned Book Week (Sept 27-Oct 3) and our lovely affiliate Natalie @ Mindful Musings has been keeping up on all of it! She's had several posts: 

The Truth Can Change Everything: Speak Out about Speak

Speak Loudly: Follow-up Article 

(You should read Dr. Scroggins controversial article where he talks about banning books.)

Natalie has put together BLOGGERS SPEAK OUT! Here's the scoop:

Bloggers Speak Out is a movement sparked by the recent article, "Filthy Books Demeaning to Republic Education" by Dr. Wesley Scroggins that was published in the Springfield, MO News-Leader on September 18th. In this article, Scroggins vehemently advocates the censorship of books in schools, and specifically requests that the following books be removed from the Republic school system: Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler, and Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut. To show our support of these authors and to fight against book banning and censorship, we have decided to take action and speak out.

At Teens Read and Write we support Natalie and if you'd like to join the BLOGGERS SPEAK OUT movement, contact her through email.

The books Scroggins wants to ban

SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson

 We passionately believe that ourselves and others should be free to choose to read any book we choose. We also think that when it comes to YA, parents should be interested, involved and aware of what their kids are reading. REad and talk about books together!

We were at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena, CA last night for the Smart Chicks Kick It Book Tour (more about that in another post) and found a whole wall display of banned books - check out the photos!

Wall of Shame!
We love Harry!
That's Matt Bomer from TV's White Collar!
Seriously? Dr. Seuss , the Dictionary and The Giving Tree?
One of our favorite picture books. Banned because the bear 's name had some connection to Marxism or Communism - or something equally ridiculous
Natalie has a great giveaway to win one of the three books already mentioned so go over and enter!

We're giving away one of our favorite banned books, Sherman Alexie's ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN. 

Jake wrote a review a while back and we've included it below. And at the bottom of the post check out the giveaway rules and fill out the form.

Do you have a favorite banned book?
Do you have one your planning to read?

You can no longer complain about your life at all!

As the cover implies this is an The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Arnold Spirit, Jr. or just Junior. He was born with water on the brain which is when you have an excess amount of spinal fluid in your skull. He also had 42 teeth (that's 10 more than normal).

These problems and the surgeries that followed gave him serious physical problems: an underdeveloped body (skinny), an over-sized head (to hold all the teeth), hands, and feet, as well as poor eyesight (one eye is farsighted and one is nearsighted), frequent seizures, and he not only stutters but also has a lisp. Piece of cake, right?

He lives on the Spokane Indian Reservation (rez)  in Wellpinit WA, where he is beaten - physically and mentally - and the only thing keeping him alive is his best friend Rowdy, the toughest kid in school.

On his first day of high school geometry class, Junior realizes that the book he is using was used by his mother - the book's over 30 years old. Frustrated, sad that his hopes and dreams are being destroyed, he throws his text book and accidentally hits his teacher Mr. P.

During his suspension, Mr. P visits and begs Junior to leave the rez before it's too late, before his spirit is broken and any chance of a better life is lost. Junior transfers to the all white school 22 miles away.

This kid has to deal with so much crap that anytime that I hear another kid complain about how their life sucks, I shake my head and think "Oh, if you only knew."

Junior and his family, and the entire reservation for that matter are all dirt poor, can barely afford food and sometimes don't eat anything for days. His mother is an ex-alcoholic and his father is currently an alcoholic. His sister spends all her time in their basement. When they can't afford gas for their car (because of the poverty or  his dad drank the money away) Junior walks the 22 miles to and from school or if he's lucky, he might hitch a ride.

  Rowdy used to spend his days at Junior's house because his own father is an abusive alcoholic but when Junior announces he's moving to the white school, Rowdy hits him and won't talk to him again. Rowdy even joins in one of beatings Junior gets. Junior is now an outcast on the rez as well as the white school.

The white school's tough but Junior sticks with it, finding friends and mentors who help him through the good and bad times. One thing I liked about this book is that no one was all good or all bad. The characters are complex. Junior finds friends with not only the geeks but the jocks and popular kids and ends up shining on the basketball team.

Throughout the ups and downs (mostly downs), Junior keeps a positive attitude, only stumbling once or twice during really hard times. The fact that all of these things are going on and he is still able to get up every morning knowing that he probably won't eat breakfast, will probably walk to school, and will ,for the most part, be ignored by everyone at the white school is astonishing and inspirational.

It's a gritty look at real life on the rez. Poverty, alcoholism and death are everywhere. Junior has gone to 42 funerals by the time he's 13. (I've been to 3). And while this story could be depressing, it's anything but.

  Everyone should read this book. It's a fast read (read it in 1 1/2 days) but it sticks with you like few novels do. It's sad and laugh out loud funny, and the pages are peppered with great cartoon drawings. Junior calls life a "series of broken dams and floods" and his drawings are "tiny little life boats."

 It's awesome and inspiring, and you will walk away with a belief that whatever problems you have can be overcome with courage and perseverance... and ultimately you can triumph over adversity.

Alyssa heard Alexie speak (and he still has the lisp, explaining that it's not because of a speech impediment, "I'm just brain damaged") and she was so impressed by his honesty and humor that she bought the book. I'm glad she did. 

So I found this kind of by accident. It isn't something I would have picked up on my own, but it will remain one of my all time favorites. I recommend this book as a must read!

Sherman Alexie WEBSITE
Open to where ever Book Depository Ships
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Deadline Oct 3, 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010

MOCKINGJAY by Suzanne Collins - Review

by Suzanne Collins
Teen Fiction
pub: Aug 24, 2010/Scholastic Press
390 pages

"My name is Katniss Everdeen. Why am I not dead? I should be dead." 

Katniss Everdeen, girl on fire, has survived, even though her home has been destroyed. Gale has escaped. Katniss's family is safe. Peeta has been captured by the Capitol. District 13 really does exist. There are rebels. There are new leaders. A revolution is unfolding. 

It is by design that Katniss was rescued from the arena in the cruel and haunting Quarter Quell, and it is by design that she has long been part of the revolution without knowing it. District 13 has come out of the shadows and is plotting to overthrow the Capitol. Everyone, it seems, has had a hand in the carefully laid plans -- except Katniss. 

The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss's willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem. To do this, she must put aside her feelings of anger and distrust. She must become the rebels' Mockingjay -- no matter what the personal cost.

REVIEW (No Spoilers)

I re-read HUNGER GAMES and CATCHING FIRE, so I could read the trilogy back-to-back. The first two - once again - left me sad and depressed. Great stories, loved the characters but other than staying alive, Katniss doesn't catch much of break. With MOCKINGJAY, I was hoping she would. That wasn't the case. 

Collins' writing is again excellent - drama, excitement - I felt like I was right there with the characters. But as to where the story went, I was disappointed. 

Once again Katniss is manipulated by others. Sure she has one big moment in the end, but after that, she has to do what she's told...again. Honestly, in so many ways Katniss' situation ends up the same as the other books. Another battle (okay, this one's bigger), she's betrayed, loses people she loves, can't really find peace and true happiness. I was hoping for something different. 

This plot ran a bit slower than the first two because Katniss was recovering and then had to get her mojo on to be the face of the revolution, but it kept me riveted. And it soon becomes another fast-paced thrill ride with clever plot twists and turns. I happily whipped through pages but then started to see where things were headed and went...Oh, no. 

Character-wise - Katniss took some time to recover but then was back to her old self. I thought Gale went a bit off the reservation but really liked what Collins did with Peeta's situation - creative and devious. The rest of the secondary characters continued to be one of my favorite parts of the story. And the reality of District 13? - surprising, intriguing, brilliant.

As for the romance resolution - that completely tanked for me. Honestly, I wasn't invested in either Peeta or Gale - mainly because Katniss never seemed to be madly in love with either one. I liked them both so I would have been fine with either choice.  

My big complaint is that she didn't PICK one. Because of something that happens, Katniss just can't be around one of them anymore - it's an emotional thing. So one guy gets taken out of the running, and she's left with the other guy. She doesn't decide she loves Peeta or Gale, she just takes the leftover. I thought that was a total cop out. Especially with the fans big "Peeta vs. Gale" debate. Make her pick someone!

Griping? Me? Okay, so I'm a bit whiny because I didn't get the ending I wanted. Hey, guys, I checked the Dystopian Novel Handbook and no where does it say that our beloved main character can't enjoy a little of the good-life. Especially at the end of the trilogy! 

Yeah, guess I'm a bit invested in the characters. 
Why? Because it's that good!

MOCKINGJAY ends a fantastic YA dystopian series. What did you think?
 Haven't read it? Crawl out from under your rock and get to it!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Blogger Hop and Follow Friday! 9/17/10

It's time for The Blogger Hop and Follow Friday again. The Blogger Hop is hosted by Crazy-for-Books and Follow Friday is hosted byParajunkee's View. Their memes give bloggers and readers a chance to network, support each other and find new blogs to read and enjoy!

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THE HAUNTED by Jessica Verday

by Jessica Verday
pub: Aug 31, 2010/Simon Pulse
476 pages/Teen Fiction

An impossible truth. An impossible love.

After a summer spent reclaiming her sanity and trying to forget the boy she fell in love with—the boy who must not exist, cannot exist, because she knows that he is dead—Abbey returns to Sleepy Hollow, ready to leave the ghosts of her past behind. She throws herself into her schoolwork, her perfume-making, and her friendship with Ben, her cute and funny lab partner, who just might be her ticket to getting over Caspian once and for all.

But Abbey can never get over Caspian, and Caspian has no choice but to return to her side, for Caspian is a Shade, and Abbey is his destiny. They are tied not only to each other, but also to the town of Sleepy Hollow, and to the famous legend that binds their fates—a legend whose dark truths they are only beginning to guess....

Ah, the book to answer all our unanswered questions of The Hollow...ha, not quite.

Abbey is back from her "breakdown" and we spend most of the book with her coping with her b.f.f.'s death, the fact that she's in love with a ghost, and the fact that said ghost and her are unable to touch. Serious bummer. But fear not, Caspian and Abbey's relationship is wrought with more sexual tension and is more steamy than in The Hollow -- fun stuff! At times the romance headed into the 'cheesy' realm but it was still a good time.

There's a lot more character development in this book. I was able to connect and enjoy Abbey's character in this latest Hollow installment. Caspian is somehow adorable and sweet yet mysterious and sexy at the same time. 

AND -- quite possibly the best part -- we learn who Kristen's mysterious "D." is! Exciting, no? But alas, you'll be frothing at the mouth because just because we know who he is doesn't mean we...well, actually know who he is. He's more mysterious than Caspian!

I have to say, the book was slooooooow -  quite a bit of doing the mundane with Abbey. For instance, at one point we go through the process of putting on a detail. Others don't mind this, but if you're like me, I'm warning you, it can bog down the pace. I was also lost as to where the book was going until about page 300. And even then, it was drawn out. 

Now the last few chapters? Whew! Things really picked up. The originality, the creativity, the mystery and intrigue - it all shined. 

And then it the middle of what I thought was the climax. I was really confused. I think I stared at the last page for a good ten seconds before I thought "Oh, blonde moment," and started checking if I had missed something or pages had been ripped out.

So, while a little confused by the ending, I really enjoy the originality of this series and look forward to the next installment. I'm too invested now!

The Cover:  Awesome! It's not as cool as The Hollow's, but it ranks top notch. The colors are amazing and be sure to check out the texture of the bottle. It's soooo cool.

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