Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Sunday, September 26, 2010
THE TAKER by JM Steele
Carly Biel’s future is right on track: she’s a great student (mostly A’s and B’s); her boyfriend, Brad, is captain of the lacrosse team; and she’s a shoe-in for Princeton (her dad’s an alum – love that legacy status!). She’s never been great at standardized tests (so nerve-racking!), but she always figured she’d do well enough on the SAT to get by. Guess what? She tanks. Really tanks. Now she only has one more opportunity to take the test, and she’s sure she can’t pull her scores up by much. That’s why, when she gets a mysterious note from “The Taker,” she can’t resist. Now she’s hired someone to take the test for her – but what if she gets caught? And what if she doesn’t?
THE SWAN MAIDEN by Heather Tomlinson
In the quiet hour before dawn, anything can happen. Doucette can dream of being a creature of flight and magic, of wearing a swan skin like her older sisters. But she must run the castle household while her sisters learn to weave spells. Her dream of flying is exactly that . . . until the day she discovers her own hidden birthright. Sudden, soaring freedom—it is a wish come true. Yet, not even magic can protect against every danger, especially when the heart is involved. As she struggles to find her own way in the world, Doucette risks losing the one person she loves most of all.
THE GOODBYE SEASON by Marian Hale
Mercy Kaplan doesn’t want to be like her mother, saddled with crying kids and failing crops for the rest of her life. Mercy longs to be on her own—until her wish comes true in the worst possible way. It is 1918 and a deadly flu epidemic ravages the country, leaving her utterly alone and penniless.
Mercy soon finds a job with Mrs. Wilder. But there’s something unsettling about the woman, whose brother died under mysterious circumstances. And then there’s Daniel, who could sweep a girl off her feet if she isn’t careful.
The Chronicles of Prydain 1: THE BOOK OF THREE by Lloyd Alexander
Taran, The Assistant Pig-Keeper, longs to be a hero.
He begins his journey with a strange assortment of companions on a dangerous mission to save his beloved land, Prydain. Packed with action, humor, romance, and gallantry, Taran's adventures chronicle his beloved Prydain and his battle with the forces of evil.
OH BABY! by Randi Reisfeld and HB Gilmour
Before heading off for college, sixteen-year-old small town girls Abby and Jamie are headed for the big cities! Shy, innocent Abby will be a nanny for a posh New York City family, while smart, no-nonsense Jamie works her nanny gig in sunny, celeb-studded L.A. Talk about culture shock. And, between the eye-popping parties, hot boys, high-maintenance kids, and a heaping of drama, the girls can barely squeeze in time for e-mail catch-ups. But their wild summers on opposite coasts will teach Abby and Jamie things they never knew about love, lust, truth, lies, themselves . . . and each other.
LISTENING TO CRICKETS by David Gifaldi
With ears like a bat and webbed toes, it seems as if ten-yearold Jake could fly right out of reality into the freedom of his dreams. No more worries about asthma, special reading class, or his parents’ fighting—just sky. But Jake can’t simply fly away. There’s his little sister, Cassie, to tell stories to when the night sounds become frightening, amazing facts to learn from his best friend Luke, and a safe place—Dragon’s Nest—to build in the backyard.
This beautifully written middle grade novel tells the courageous story of Jake—a night watchman—a protector in the truest sense of the word who finds hope in crickets, friends, teachers, and dreams.
DRAWING LESSONS by Tracy Mack
Aurora is an artist, like her father. Through years of drawing lessons, he taught her about light and color, perspective and form. The great thing about art, Rory thinks, is you can bring back something you’ve lost and keep it forever. But when her father leaves the family, it’s Rory who is lost. In this exquisitely told story, a young girl must find her own way of creating, her own way of connecting, and her own way of being.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
I wanted to write a post about SPEAK on Sunday when Twitter exploded with messages about a man named Wesley Scroggins and his wanting to ban SPEAK. (If you haven't heard about this, you can read about it here and check the hastag #SpeakLoudly on twitter). But I wanted to reread it before I wrote the post, since I read it more than a year ago.
The first thing I saw in my platinum edition of SPEAK is a letter from the fabulous author, Laurie Halse Anderson. I love the line about revisiting the “agonies of adolescence” because that is so true. I love young adult fiction, but was not a happy teen. School was torture because I was constantly picked on.
As I flipped to the next page, I got to the message Laurie Halse Anderson wrote in my book at ALA a few months ago. Can anyone guess what she wrote? “Speak up!”
This book really touched me… for a number of reasons. A number of my friends are rape survivors. One friend was attacked by a stranger who grabbed her as she walked down the street in broad daylight. Another girl who was attacked by a friend of hers. It happened a few times before she realized that she could say “no”. A third friend was attacked while she was too inebriated to fight back. And another friend, my best friend at the time, was raped by the guy she was seeing. And believe it or not, I have many other friends who have been in similar situations and one who was sexually abused for ten years by her father and uncle.
Perhaps you don’t know the statistics. According to RAINN 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men are attacked. Every 2 minutes a woman is raped in the US. 73% of women know their attackers and 60% of assaults are not reported to the police. And 44% of these women are under the age of 18. I think most of you would agree with me that those are scary statistics. We live in a free country… where it’s a high probability of being raped… The rates have risen from a few years back, and I hope it’s because more women are speaking up. And I hope every one of them understand that it is never anyone’s fault but the rapist.
Because this kind of thing happens to so many of us, it’s a very important topic to talk about, which is another reason SPEAK is an important book to read. I really identified with Melinda for a number of reasons. I think a lot of girls would. A lot of teens (and adults) feel alone. They feel they can’t talk about something that needs to be brought to light. Whether or not that something is rape.
My best friend was raped while we were in college. She reacted much like Melinda. She cut herself off from everyone. I didn’t hear from her for months. She didn’t tell her mom or anyone for a long time after. It makes me mad that someone could make her feel that way. She was always outgoing and open. Eventually, she found her voice and spoke up.
I was very pleased to see that SPEAK is being taught in high school. Even if you don’t like the story or the writing, the message needs to be heard. SPEAK tells women and girls that they are not alone. I believe Melinda can help girls find their voice and tell their stories. And for those who have not been sexually assaulted, it might help you understand a friend who has. Also, while Melinda may turn out to be a positive role model for girls, I think guys would definitely benefit from this book. I don’t know that men understand how hurtful and devastating this can be for women. It completely changes us, as anything that traumatic would.
On Sunday night I was telling a friend of mine (who is not in the YA book blog community) about this ridiculousness. She asked if Scroggins wanted to ban rape, too. It seems clear to me Mr. Scroggins didn't actually read the texts himself. It still baffles me that people are trying to ban books in 2010. Trying to stomp on our constitutional rights after all this time. And it baffles me even more that someone is trying to ban SPEAK by calling it “soft porn”. Along with SPEAK, Scroggins wanted to ban SLAUGHTERHOUSE FIVE and TWENTY BOY SUMMER. I ran out and bought TWENTY BOY SUMMER, since wanting to ban a book is as good as a recommendation. If it might be banned, it's probably worth reading. =P
So… speak up! And fight to keep books from being banned.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Her father was supposed to be locked up until Meredith turned eighteen. She thought she had time to grow up, get out, and start a new life. But Meredith is only fifteen, and today her father is coming home from prison.
Today her time has run out.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Friday, September 10, 2010
Thursday, September 9, 2010
Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
The Goblin King has kept a watchful eye on Toby: His minions secretly guiding and protecting the child... Legions of goblins work behind the scenes to ensure that Toby has whatever his heart desires... Preparing him for the day when he will return to the Labyrinth and take his rightful place beside Jareth as the heir to the Goblin Kingdom... That day has come......but no one has told Toby.
Monday, September 6, 2010
Synopsis:Love is a wonderful thing. Unless you don't get a choice in the matters of your own heart.
Jocelyn has loved Max since the day she met him. Even when he scares her enough to leave, she can't resist going back. No matter how many times she tries to break free from him, she ends up in his arms and bed again. Not this time. Jocelyn needs to be free and Max isn't going to stop her from walking away -- no matter how hard he tries.
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Aine: First off, Dianne, can you tell us about your book, We Hear the Dead?
Dianne: We Hear the Dead is a fictional retelling of the story of Maggie Fox, one of two girls credited with starting the spiritualist movement in the 19th century. Maggie was a fun-loving and mischievous girl who became caught up in the 1800’s equivalent of a “viral video.” The clever prank that she and her sister Kate pulled on family and neighbors snowballed into a phenomenon, a social pastime, and even a religion. Pretending to be spirit mediums lifted Maggie and her family out of poverty, but she was never fully comfortable with the deception. When she fell in love with a famous Arctic explorer from a higher social class, Maggie was forced into a crisis of conscience, deciding between the man she loved and her family duties.
Aine: I absolutely loved We Hear the Dead. There were so many good scenes. Which scene was your favorite to write?
Dianne: I loved writing the romantic scenes between Maggie and her beau, Elisha Kane. As part of my research, I read many of the actual love letters between these historical people. They were both very playful and enjoyed using clever words to needle each other. Elisha called Maggie a fraud, and Maggie punctured holes in Elisha’s (rather large) ego. While I was writing, I became totally caught up in weaving the real words exchanged between these lovers 150 years ago into their conversations on the page.
Aine: Were there any events that happened in Maggie’s life that you wanted to include, but had to cut for length or storyline purposes? Can you tell us about one of them?
Dianne: One event that had to be cut involved a narrow escape from exposure. A sister-in-law of their sister-in-law (if you follow that) overheard Maggie and Kate discussing the manner in which they really produced the ghostly knocking sounds. This woman spilled the beans to a gentleman named C. Chauncy Burr who was trying to discredit the Fox sisters. Burr went around the state denouncing the girls and demonstrating how they faked the knocking sounds. Maggie and Kate’s older sister Leah salvaged the situation through good marketing! Leah reduced the prices for the séances and made sure clients were happy, while Burr insulted believers and made more enemies than friends.
Aine: I know you originally self published a few years ago. How much editing/rewriting happened between High Spirits and We Hear the Dead?
Dianne: 30,000 words worth of editing happened! I cut that much out of the original version. Events lost along the way included the Burr episode, various small things that happened to Kate, and a long story about Elisha Kane’s Arctic adventures.
Aine: How is the We Hear the Dead screenplay coming along? Any movie news you can share?
Dianne: I am working on another draft of the screenplay this fall – it’s the 8th draft by my count. This draft will mostly stick to the previous version, but add one layer of depth over top of what I already have. I am really excited about the proposed changes, because I think it will give the whole movie a better sense of purpose. The producer, Amy Green of One Eye Open Studio, plans to roll out the screenplay to financial backers this fall. She would like to see filming start in late 2011!
Aine: What do your students (or past students) think about having a teacher who is also a published author? Have any of them read We Hear the Dead and if so what kind of feedback have you gotten?
Dianne: My students (and their parents) have been some of my best supporters. I know the students were excited to see the book on the shelves of stores last spring, and I can’t wait to see their reaction when they spot it in the Scholastic TAB Book Club flyer this September! We Hear the Dead is geared toward older readers, but some of my fifth graders have read the book anyway. One of last year’s students even read the original (longer) version and wrote a wonderful review of it on our classroom blog! I can also credit my students with naming the book. When Sourcebooks decided to change my original title (High Spirits), it was one of my students who suggested “We Can Hear the Dead.”
Aine: What can you tell us about the book you’re working on?
Dianne: I have two projects I’m working on right now. I’m working on the first draft of a historical mystery surrounding two caged graves in a lonely mountain town in Pennsylvania. The graves really do exist, and the story behind the cages is shrouded in mystery. I also have a manuscript set in the Victorian age about a girl orphaned under mysterious circumstances who confounds a group of scientists investigating psychics. This story is also based on true events, and I am working on revisions to plot structure and pacing.
Aine: How much of your summer vacation did you spend writing? And do you prefer to write your first drafts long hand or on the computer?
Dianne: I spent ALL of my summer vacation writing -- first the screenplay, and then the caged graves manuscript, with periodic revisions on the other piece as I collected feedback. I write completely on the computer. The only time you’ll catch me working long hand is during a faculty meeting, when I’m pretending to take notes.
Aine: Any chance we’ll see more from you about the Fox sisters? I, personally, have my fingers crossed for a Kate story.
Dianne: Well, there are eight drafts of a screenplay about the Fox sisters! LOL! I’ll never say never regarding a follow-up novel, but Kate is a tricky subject. Unlike Maggie, she never confessed to fraud, nor did she commit her inner thoughts and personal dilemmas to paper. I can historically justify what I wrote about Maggie based on her letters, but Kate … is an enigma.
Aine: How did you celebrate the release of We Hear the Dead?
Dianne: Coincidentally, the same day We Hear the Dead was released, my husband and I were scheduled to attend a Sweetheart’s Ball at the local Rotary Club. It was originally a Valentine’s Day event that was postponed to May because of a blizzard. So, on my release day, I had my hair done, dressed up in a fancy gown, and had a night on the town with my husband.
Aine: And some random questions, because those are sometimes the most fun… What book are you most looking forward to that is released this fall?
Dianne: In the YA genre, I am looking forward to Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. In adult fiction, I’ve preordered a copy of a novel called Cryoburn, by one of my favorite science fiction authors, Lois McMaster Bujold.
Aine: What is your favorite sweet treat?
Dianne: Cheesecake – or my husband’s homemade vanilla ice cream.
Aine: What toppings do you like on your pizza?
Dianne: Black olives, spinach, and feta cheese.
Aine: What is the one place you want to visit most in the world?
Dianne: I’d like to visit Greece someday and possibly take a cruise around the Greek islands. I’m especially interested in visiting Minoan ruins.
Aine: And… what does the K in Dianne K Salerni stand for?
Dianne: The K stands for Katherine, my middle name. I get some ribbing because I have a Facebook account under Dianne Marenco Salerni – so high school and college friends can locate me by my maiden name. But then people want to know if I think Marenco starts with a K! I probably ought to fix that.