blo Teens Read and Write: December 2011

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Best Holiday-Break Movie Picks

With only a few days left on the holiday break (and if you decide to take a pause from catching up on your reading) we thought we'd give you a list of the movies you don't want to miss before school and/or work rear their ugly heads!

(it's a tie!)

WARHORSE packs an emotional punch. We laughed, cried (tears of joy and sorrow), sighed, held our breath, cringed, had to close our eyes, cheered - you name it. Bring plenty of tissue and be prepared to be emotionally drained by the end. FYI: we think it's way too intense for younger children. We could barely handle it!

SHERLOCK HOLMES, GAME OF SHADOWS took everything we loved about the first movie and added more! More action, more drama, more humor, more Holmes/Watson interaction, more great characters (Sherlock has a brother - the magnificent Stephen Fry), and an awesome ending! 


MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL wasn't even on our "must see" list so we were surprised at how much we enjoyed it. Thrills, super stunts, humor, excitement, drama. Action junkies can't go wrong!


Not for the faint of heart, but if you love suspense thrillers (and the book) GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO is a terrific edge-of-your-seat ride. Just don't expect Daniel Craig to be James Bond-esque. It's Lisbeth (Rooney Mara) that wears the kick-butt pants in this duo. 


THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN captivates the whole clan!


HUGO was not quite what we were expecting but definitely interesting, unique and has a great message. But be prepared, Jude Law is barely in it at all, despite what you might think from the marketing campaign.  

What movies have you enjoyed over the holiday season?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Blog Tour and Contest: Kathryn Miller Haines: THE GIRL IS MURDER

We're lucky to have the author of THE GIRL IS MURDER, Kathryn Miller Haines, joining us today to share a Blast Into Her Past with her favorite books from age 5, 11, 15 and 20. 
At age five I was all about Dr. Seuss. The first book I learned to read, frankly because I memorized it after forcing my mom to read it to me so many times, was Green Eggs and Ham. Seuss’s whimsical drawings and catchy rhymes just hit a sweet spot in my little brain. Boy was I amazed to find out later on that he was a political cartoonist during World War II. 

When I was eleven, I had two things I loved: books about dancers and mysteries. I read Just Like Jenny by Sandy Asher a thousand times (two best friends into ballet, one is better than the other) and bought every book Lois Duncan had out at the time. Probably my favorite book from this period, though, doesn’t fit into either category: it was Katherine Patterson’s Bridge to Terabithia. To this day that book makes me cry.

When I was fifteen, I started becoming obsessed with the lurid. I still liked mysteries, but I wanted more adult reads like V.C. Andrews’ smut-filled family sagas. Ditto Sidney Sheldon, and Stephen King. My older sister was into these as well, so my copies came from her. They were fat mass market paperbacks that smelled like her coconut scented sun-tan lotion. My favorite book from back then was probably Stephen King’s It. It was just such a huge, ambitious book and the notion of a monster that tapped into everyone’s worst fears and made them reality was terrifying to me.

By the time I was twenty my taste in books had greatly improved. Since I was an English in major in college I was reading a lot of historic lit (I was in an 18th century novel survey class that demanded I read a 400 page novel a week). I didn’t do a lot of reading for fun – everything seemed to be for school then. But my eyes were opened to a lot of fiction I’d never been exposed to.

In addition to the top sellers for 1787, I took a Jewish lit class and read my first graphic novel (Maus) and discovered wonderful writers like Philip Roth, Bernard Malamud, and Franz Kafka. I think the big important book for me though was Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. Billed as the first non-fiction novel, I read the true crime book for “fun” that summer and was absolutely blown away. I think that’s when I really knew I wanted to be a crime writer.


Great picks! And we still adore Dr. Seuss. You can read our review of THE GIRL IS MURDER and sign up below to win a copy! Thanks to Teen Book Scene Scene for hosting The Girl Is Murder Blog Tour.

by Kathryn Miller Haines
July 2011
Iris Anderson is only 15, but she's quickly mastering the art of deception in this YA novel for fans of Veronica Mars. It's the Fall of 1942 and Iris's world is rapidly changing. Her Pop is back from the war with a missing leg, limiting his ability to do the physically grueling part of his detective work. Iris is dying to help, especially when she discovers that one of Pop's cases involves a boy at her school. Now, instead of sitting at home watching Deanna Durbin movies, Iris is sneaking out of the house, double crossing her friends, and dancing at the Savoy till all hours of the night. There's certainly never a dull moment in the private eye business. 

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- Deadline 12/30/11

Thursday, December 22, 2011

It's Official! Alyssa's Book Coming Soon!

Okay, so we haven't made any preparatory statements and we'll explain more later but...
The bottom line is we've been very busy due to something exciting. 

Alyssa's book. Yeah. It's coming. Jan 7!

Here's the cover! 

 The summary/blurb...

For seventeen-year-old Aurora Lahey, survival is a lifestyle.

Aurora has the crappiest superpower on the planet. And it’s just unleashed a hit squad from hell. Demons are on the hunt, salivating to carve her carcass into confetti. 
The Hex Boys—mysterious, hunky, and notorious for their trails of destruction—have the answers Aurora needs to survive. But their overload of deadly secrets and suspicious motives makes trusting them a potentially fatal move.

The battle to save her family, herself, and stop demonic domination may cost Aurora everything worth living for, and force her to reveal her own dark secrets. But no worries. She needs the Hex Boys to pull this off, and, chances are, teaming up with these guys will get her killed anyway.

We even have a trailer!

It will be available in paperback and ebook 1/7/12 but we've got to have some contests coming soon! 

DEMONS AT DEADNIGHT is now on Goodreads so be sure to check it out!

Alyssa's the "A" in A&E, and we've got more coming on the "E" side of things. You can get info now if you like by checking out the newly revamped site of AEKIRK.COM

Yes, we know we should have said something sooner but Alyssa's annoying perfectionist persona had to wait until everything was ready to go. 

We'll talk more later (we're heading out to see Sherlock Holmes) and in the meantime...

We'd love to hear what you think of everything!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Teen Fiction Review: THE GIRL IS MURDER by Kathryn Miller Haines

by Kathryn Miller Haines
July 2011
Iris Anderson is only 15, but she's quickly mastering the art of deception in this YA novel for fans of Veronica Mars. It's the Fall of 1942 and Iris's world is rapidly changing. Her Pop is back from the war with a missing leg, limiting his ability to do the physically grueling part of his detective work. Iris is dying to help, especially when she discovers that one of Pop's cases involves a boy at her school. Now, instead of sitting at home watching Deanna Durbin movies, Iris is sneaking out of the house, double crossing her friends, and dancing at the Savoy till all hours of the night. There's certainly never a dull moment in the private eye business. 
Thanks to Teen Book Scene Scene for hosting the tour for The Girl is Murder. Check out the complete tour HERE.

A bit of noir is a refreshing change. The world of the 1940's was engaging, with Iris, our spunky teen trying  to fit in at a new school and solve a who-dun-it. She's just moved from the expensive section of town to   New York's lower socio-economic spectrum. 

The time-frame is different, but many will be able to relate to Iris. She doesn't always make the best choices, but her heart is in the right place, which counts for something. And her flaws make her human. 

Iris lies and manipulates. Not a smart decision but her actions are geared toward helping others and finding out what happened to the missing boy who happens to be from her new school. She's helping her down-on-his-luck detective father find out the truth behind his disappearance. Time to get sleuthing! 

The writing was well done and the plot flowed smoothly. We are allowed to watch Iris make her mistakes and, thankfully, learn from them which provides character development. 

The reveal of the mystery in the end while making sense, was a bit of a let down. After all the build-up, it didn't quite live up to the drama, but it was realistic. 

The historical aspects of THE GIRL IS MURDER are unique. I haven't read much in this time period. I liked the slang and seeing life in the 40s. The overall flavor of that decade was pleasantly different, and the plot kept a steady pace.   

THIS GIRL IS MURDER is a fun, quick read. The characters and the journey to uncover the mystery are engaging. I think historical lovers will find it a treat. It captured the feeling of the era and gave an original perspective in the YA mystery genre. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - 5 Hot YA Releases (12/14/2012)

   WoW is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine and showcases upcoming releases we're dying to read!

by SA Bodeen
August 2012
Robie, 16, lives with her family on the Midway atoll, a group of islands in the middle of the Pacific. Her parents are scientists; it’s an isolated life. Robie enjoys visiting her aunt in Hawaii – she gets back and forth on a cargo plane that brings supplies to Midway.

During a visit, her aunt is called to the mainland for a work emergency, leaving Robie to get home on her own. On her flight back to Midway the cargo plane hits nasty weather, and goes down. It’s just Robie, the pilot, and Max, a co-pilot she’s never met till this flight, on board. Robie is pulled aboard a raft by Max, who is injured and slipping in and out of consciousness. They have a bag of candy and very little water between them. When they finally reach an island that seems abandoned, Robie hopes they’ll be found quickly. But she’s not sure she was even on the flight manifest. Her parents must be looking for her…aren’t they?

by Christie Daugherty
Jan 2012
Sometimes school is murder.
Allie Sheridan's world is falling apart. She hates her school. Her brother has run away from home. And she's just been arrested.
This time her parents have finally had enough. They cut her off from her friends and send her away to a boarding school for problem teenagers.
But Cimmeria Academy is no ordinary school. Its rules are strangely archaic. It allows no computers or phones. Its students are an odd mixture of the gifted, the tough and the privileged. And then there's the secretive Night School, whose activities other students are forbidden even to watch.

When Allie is attacked one night the incident sets off a chain of events leading to the violent death of a girl at the summer ball. As the school begins to seem like a very dangerous place, Allie must learn who she can trust. And what's really going on at Cimmeria Academy.

by Andrew Fukuda
May 2012
Seventeen-year-old Gene struggles to survive in a society where humans have been eaten to near extinction by the general population. When Gene is chosen to participate in the government-sponsored hunt for the remaining humans, he must learn the art of the hunt but also elude his fellow hunters whose suspicions about his true human nature are growing.

by Melanie McCullough
Dec 31, 2012
Life's hard. People make it harder. They tether you to them. Make it difficult to breathe, and damn-near impossible to leave...

Seventeen year-old Abby Rhoades knows this all too well. Born to a mother who could never love her and who vacillates between a sloppy drunk and a suicidal maniac, Abby's never had it easy. But Abby can swim. And Abby has a plan--win the state championship, earn a free ride to Penn State, and leave her small town and suffocating mother behind.

But then the body of Tom Ford, her mother's latest boyfriend and a man Abby adored, washes up along the shore of the Susquehanna River. His injuries suggest murder and suspicion quickly falls on Abby then on her best friend Garrett Scott, both of whom saw Tom the night he died.

They both know what happened that night, but neither one is talking. There's too much at stake and the truth could tear them apart.
by Michael Grant
Feb 2012
 Set in the near future, a conspiracy is afoot to create a perfect and perfectly controlled world. The Armstrong Fancy Gift Corporation is a front for the conjoined Armstrong twins, Charles and Benjamin, and the plot to create their own version of utopia.

A shadowy guerilla group known as BZRK form a nascent resistance movement. Both sides develop sophisticated nanotechnology to achieve their goals:

-The Armstrong twins develop the nanobot, a stealth device that latches onto the brains of unsuspecting citizens

-BZRK's DNA-derived biots are deployed to search out and destroy the insidious bots. If biots are destroyed, the brain cells of their DNA-donor also die. Hence the name BZRK.
What are you waiting for? 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cover Reveal: EMBRACE by Jessica Shirvington

We're so excited to be part of the cover reveal for EMBRACE by Jessica Shirvington and here it is!

So pretty! Love the smoky look with wings and on the title font! 
Wondering what it's about?
It starts with a whisper.
“It’s time for you to know who you are…”
Strange dreams leave her with very real injuries and there’s a dark tattoo weaving its way up her arms. The guy she thought she could fall in love with just told her he’s only half-human—oh, and same goes for her. And she keeps hearing a distant fluttering of wings.
Violet Eden is having a very bad 17th birthday.
But if angels seek vengeance and humans are the warriors, you could do a lot worse than betting on Violet Eden…

Embrace Cover Shoot from Sourcebooks Inc on Vimeo.

Jessica lives in Sydney with her husband of nine years, FOXTEL presenter and former Olympic sprinter Matt Shirvington, and their two daughters. She has previously founded and run a coffee distribution company, Stella Imports, in London, and before that was involved in the management of restaurants Fuel Bistro and MG Garage in Sydney.
Today, Jessica is a full time mum and author.

For more information:

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: 9 Hot Upcoming YA Releases! 12/7/11

WoW is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine and showcases upcoming releases we're dying to read!

release: April 2012
For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon. 
But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks. 
Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself- and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.
A literary version of The Bachelor!

release: July 2012
There’s something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia… 
Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family has fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walks by. But this is nothing compared to what she’s just read in the newspaper— 
The Dead are rising in Philadelphia. 
And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor…from her brother. 
Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she’ll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including their maddeningly stubborn yet handsome inventor, Daniel, the situation becomes dire. And now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.
Just one question. If her family has fallen on hard times, and she's chasing around zombies, what's she doing in that gorgeous dress?

release: Feb 2012
Michaela and her sister aren't normal. Neither are the others on their team. Not many people have been conditioned for their future occupation since before they were born. But after years of experiments, training, and mistreatment, none of them hesitate at the chance to escape.

However, the outside world isn't what they were expecting and, for the first time in her life, Michaela must step out of her sister's shadow to save the others from the worst fate imaginable.
Not sure what their team is trained for, but we're intrigued enough to want to find out!

release: April 2012
Set against the backdrop of a Coney Island summer comes The Vicious Deep, the story of sixteen year old Tristan Hart whose life is turned upside down when the mermaids make an unscheduled return to land in search of their new king.

When a sudden storm pulls Tristan from lifeguard duty into a deadly riptide, he discovers what he really is—a prince of the Sea Court. Turns out, his girlfriend hopping and talents as a swimmer aren’t caused by his teenage prime hormones after all.

In this modern Arthurian tale with a twist, when all a guy wants to do is get The Girl and enjoy the freak show that is a Coney Island summer, Tristan has to fight for his life, the lives of his friends, and his humanity, if he still wants it, as he’s caught in a race for a throne that is as ancient as the gods.
A male lead in a mermaid tale? But there's a girl on the cover. Interesting.

release: May 2012
What if there were teens whose lives literally depended on being bad influences? This is life for sons and daughters of fallen angels in Sweet Evil.
Anna, a tender-hearted southern girl, was born with the sixth sense to see and feel emotions of other people. She’s aware of a struggle within herself, an inexplicable pull toward danger, but it isn’t until she turns sixteen and meets the alluring Kaidan Rowe that she discovers her terrifying heritage, and her will-power is put to the test. He’s the boy your daddy warned you about. If only someone had warned Anna.
A cross-country trip forces Anna and Kai to face the reality that hope and love are not options for their kind. When it's time for Anna to confront her demons, will she choose to embrace her halo or her horns?
What will Anna choose?

release: April 2012
Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?
Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae's most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?
Historical romance and high court drama!

release: April 2012
Waking up in a coffin hungry for blood is only the beginning for sixteen-year-old Ava Blue. When Chance Caldon, the hottie who dug her up, tells her that she’s half vampire, Ava’s world really turns upside down.

Half vamp? Ava can’t believe it...she doesn't even know what that means! Not until Aldric, a thousand-year-old vampire, shows up and tells her it’s true--and that he’s the one who turned her. Then Ava truly begins to believe what she is. Now, she has to deal with a sudden and powerful bloodlust, the desire to see Aldric dead, and her growing crush for Chance. Ava knows she's a monster now, she can feel it; and her life is over.

But redemption isn’t lost. Aldric is giving her a chance to regain her humanity. The price? Kill a hundred vampires, or remain a bloodsucker forever.

So Ava sets out to get her life back. But killing vampires begins a battle that could destroy everything she is working toward. In the end, Ava's decisions will forever change her life and the lives of those she loves.
For readers thirsty for vampire blood!

release: June 2012

Two hundred years from now, blood has become the most valuable commodity on the planet - especially the blood of aboriginal peoples, for it contains antibodies that protect them from the plague that is ravaging the rest of the world.

Sixteen-year-old Cassandra Mercredi might be immune to the plague, but that doesn't mean she's safe. Government forces are searching for those of aboriginal heritage to harvest their blood. When a search threatens Cass and her family, they flee to the Island, a mysterious and idyllic territory protected by the Band, a group of guerilla warriors, and by an enigmatic energy barrier that keeps outsiders out and the spirit world in. And though the village healer has taken Cass under her wing, and the tribal leader's son into his heart, the spirit world is angry, and it has chosen Cass to be its voice and instrument...
Don't see a lot of aboriginal heroines. A unique dystopian!

release: May 2012
In the Tudor age, ambition, power and charismatic allure are essential and Catherine Howard has plenty of all three. Not to mention her loyal best friend, Kitty Tylney, to help cover her tracks. Kitty, the abandoned youngest daughter of minor aristocracy, owes everything to Cat – where she is, what she is, even who she is. Friend, flirt, and self-proclaimed Queen of Misrule, Cat reigns supreme in a loyal court of girls under the none-too-watchful eye of the Dowager Duchess of Norfolk.

When Cat worms her way into the heart of Henry VIII and becomes Queen of England, Kitty is thrown into the intoxicating Tudor Court. It’s a world of glittering jewels and elegant costumes, of gossip and deception. As the Queen’s right-hand-woman, Kitty goes from the girl nobody noticed to being caught between two men – the object of her affection and the object of her desire.

But the atmosphere of the court turns from dazzling to deadly, and Kitty is forced to learn the difference between trust and loyalty, love and lust, secrets and treason. And to accept the consequences when some lessons are learned too late.
Who doesn't love Henry VIII and Tudor court executions...ah, we mean excitement!

What are you waiting for? 

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