Archive | September, 2011

Carrier of the Mark Blog Tour: The School

30 Sep

On October 4th, Leigh Fallon’s Carrier of the Mark will hit bookshelves across the country. Fallon’s debut novel is the first book discovered on inkpop, a writing community created by HarperCollins Publishers, to be chosen for publication. Carrier of the Mark tells the story of Megan Rosenberg, a young woman who moves to Ireland from America with her dad. She feels at home in her new school, makes new friends and is drawn to a handsome, mysterious young man named Adam DeRís. But as Megan soon discovers, her feelings for Adam are more than just attraction; they are tied to fate. Supernatural powers, Celtic legend, mystery, romance – you’ll find it all here.

We’re excited to be the first stop on the second blog tour for Leigh Fallon’s debut novel Carrier of the Mark. Each stop features a guest post from Leigh offering a special look at an important place in the book, starting with the school. So welcome, Leigh, to Love YA Lit!

    Kinsale Community School was my inspiration for the school at the center of Carrier of the Mark. It’s a modern school, a one level building surrounded by residential houses. The road leads right down to the Bandon Estuary where the Equestrian center is, and further down, the DeRises house.

    It’s a mixed school, and the only secondary school in the town. Kids get bussed in from all the small surrounding country towns to attend, so you get an amazing mix of people. They all wear uniforms, just like I described in the book.

    The school is surrounded by playing pitches, but not ones that most in the US would recognize. The main sports played in Ireland are Gaelic football, hurling, rugby, and soccer. Hurling is huge in the schools in West Cork. It’s played with a hurl, a club made of ash and a ball made of leather called a sliotar (pronounced shlit-er) looks a bit like a baseball. Hurling is the second fastest game in the world, ice hockey beats it by a smidge. It’s an amazing game to watch, lightning fast, and very dangerous. A lot of Kinsale school kids play it.

    The inside of the school and class descriptions were inspired by my own school experiences. I went to a Convent school in Dublin called Sancta Maria College. My school had a whole historical vibe to it. It was once a TB hospital, which made it uber creepy knowing that people had died there. *shudder* It still had the look of an old hospital with high ceilings, huge windows and great big glass doors the led out onto verandas. There was an even older section of the school that was a converted stable and kitchen; it had a giant old working aga (blogger’s note: aga = a stored-heat stove and cooker) that always had this huge kettle simmering on it. We all wore wine uniforms and the school was very strict on uniform policy. Even the teachers wore those old black cloaks!

    But my school did have the modern side to it too and I transferred my knowledge of my own school days into the characters in Carrier of the Mark, though I left out much of the deviance we put our long-suffering teachers through.

    Schools in Ireland don’t have lunch halls serving food. Just like in Carrier of the Mark, everyone brings their own food (generally horribly soggy sandwiches) and at lunch time students disperse to their various meeting points to moan about their horrible food and gossip about what’s going on in everyone’s lives.

    Oh and little interesting fact. The head mistress of the school in Carrier of the Mark is a nun called Sr. Basil. The head nun of my school, back when I attended was called Sr. Basil too. And she was exactly the same as in the book. No nonsense, no small talk, and utterly fair. She was strict, but I always liked her.

Leigh Fallon was born in South Africa, raised in Dublin, Ireland, and moved to Cork in her twenties. While living in beautiful Kinsale, her novel, Carrier of the Mark, was conceived. She promptly abandoned her “riveting” career in corporate treasury and discovered inkpop, a website for budding writers of teen fiction. Within weeks, her manuscript hit the coveted top-five spot and was reviewed by an editor at HarperCollins. A few emails and some hysterical screaming later, she signed her first deal. Leigh and her family now share their time between Ireland and the United States.

Be sure to stop by the next stop in the blog tour, Alison Can Read, on Monday, October 3, where Leigh Fallon will introduce you to another important location in Carrier of the Mark.

Banned Books Week Giveaway!

26 Sep

It’s Banned Books Week and our little robot friend got an upgrade this year – extra arms! One could definitely use extra arms to read all the outstanding titles that were challenged and in some cases banned this past year across our country. This year’s titles include some of my all time favorite books – The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, and Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. I read these books as an adult and they all increased my desire to read and learn and grow and connect. I wonder if I had been exposed to these books as a teen, if I would have been a more avid reader in high school and college (the big gap in my history of reading for pleasure). For a great reading list, check out this bibliography of books challenged, restricted, removed or banned between May 2010 and May 2011 as reported in the Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom.

This week I am finally reading Lessons from a Dead Girl by Jo Knowles which made last year’s list after it was withdrawn from classroom use and approved curriculum in Montgomery County, Ky. High School, having been deemed unsuitable for discussion in coed high school classes. The book was sadly in good company, as it was withdrawn along with Unwind by Neal Shusterman, Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson, and Deadline by Chris Crutcher. The teacher whose curriculum and livelihood were attacked during this process wrote a detailed post about the experience last year on her blog, For the Love of YA.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Jo Knowles at a local book festival this past spring and she talked about her experience with the banning of Lessons from a Dead Girl. While she wasn’t surprised that it was challenged, as it deals with some serious subject matter, she was offended when she heard the reasons for the banning. The superintendent, who had not read the book, referred to the homosexual content as “inappropriate”. Knowles also talked about the value of realistic YA fiction in high schools, and how upsetting it is to her that YA titles are being cut out of the curriculum more and more. She told me how important YA fiction was to her as a young reader: “As a teenager it was the young adult books that I read that really helped shape me and make me more open minded and a much more compassionate person. And it helped me feel like I wasn’t alone, reading about other people who are experiencing things that I was experiencing.”

In celebration of Banned Books Week and as a particpant in the Banned Books Week Hop, I’m giving away a signed paperback copy of Lessons from a Dead Girl. All you need to do is comment below between now and October 1st*, sharing your thoughts on book challenges or your favorite book that has been challenged or banned in recent years. A winner will be chosen at random October 2nd and announced here. International entries are welcome this time around! Want to enter to win more great books? Check out all of the participating blogs below! Happy Banned Books Week!

*I am getting married (yay!) October 1st and will not be checking the blog that day. Any comments submitted Saturday, will be considered eligible even if they do not show up on the blog until the following day.


The Radleys: Review and Blog Tour

21 Sep

Nora and I are slowly making our way through this year’s Alex Award winners – adult books deemed to have special appeal for teen readers. So far this year’s crop have been some of our favorite reads (Girl in Translation, The Reapers Are the Angels, and Room) – and Matt Haig’s The Radleys turned out to be another favorite.

The Radleys are a seemingly normal, nuclear family living in the suburbs of York, England. Dad’s a doctor, mom’s a housewife with a book club and a painting hobby, and the kids are just trying to make it at school. But Helen and Peter have secrets – from each other, from the kids, from their friends and neighbors – and suppressed urges that threaten their way of life and their marriage. The Radleys are vampires, but the teens, Rowan and Clara, know nothing of this. Their parents are abstainers, trying to live as close to a normal human life as possible and wanting nothing more than that for their children. So when Rowan develops a rash from the harmful effects of the sun, his doctor dad tells him that he has a skin condition. When Clara decides to go vegan, to try to make the animals like her more, she gets ill and doctor dad brainstorms legitimate human vegan health concerns to convince her to go back to eating meat. Helen and Peter’s nurture over nature plan to shelter their children from the truth really backfires when at a late night party, a boy from school attempts to sexually assault Clara, causing her animal instincts to take over in a most bloody and murderous way. This horrific incident is how the Radley children learn of their “true nature”. And when non-abstaining vampire Uncle Will arrives at the Radley home, he brings even more trouble.

What’s great about The Radleys is how easily I could slip back and forth between thinking that their troubles are unique to vampires and that their problems are normal parts of the human experience. Often, it’s a nice even mix of the two. Uncle Will is a fascinating character, and by far the most intriguing of the Radley lot. While he’s clearly an evil blood-sucking fiend, he’s at least seemingly self-assured in contrast to Helen and Peter, the ennui-laden abstainer parents, who seem to be suffering from an existential crisis or two. But Will has his own issues and we learn throughout the novel how he’s more similar to his brother Peter than one might initially assume.

The third-person omniscient narration works well, allowing access to the inner-workings of various characters. The narrative style makes the story read a bit like a film treatment, but I actually appreciated that style and feel. Haig’s writing is witty and often surprising – filled with pop culture references and words of wisdom from the Abstainer’s Handbook (second edition), a self-help manual for abstaining vampires. The chapters are short and sweet, which makes for a fast read, and I always looked forward to picking this one up again (on the occasion that I had to put it down).

It seemed to me initially that The Radleys made the Alex Award winners list mostly because “teens love vampire books.” Maybe I was right, but I actually found myself seeing more connections between this and books about suburban family life (Little Children by Tom Perrotta) and suspense (The ABC Murders by Agatha Christie) than to other vampire tales. I do wonder how teen readers respond to this book – there is possibly a bit more parent-love than most teens want to read about. Regardless, this is a fun read that I would gladly share with friends and suggest to select teen readers.

Em’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Author: Matt Haig
Publisher: Simon & Schuster (Sept. 20, 2011 paperback) (Hardcover released in 2010)
Note: Review copy sent from publisher for honest review.

We’re happy to be taking part in The Radleys Blog Tour celebrating the paperback release of the 2010 Alex Award Winning novel by Matt Haig.

At the end of the week, one person who commented on all of the participating blogs this week will win a signed hardcover and paperback copy of The Radleys and some blood-red hot chocolate. The winner will be announced Monday on Helen and Rowan’s twitter accounts (yes, the Radleys are on twitter) and on Novel Novice, who is starting off the next leg of the blog tour. So be sure to visit our friends around the blogosphere this week! And comment below!

Monday September 19

Tuesday September 20

Wednesday, September 21

    That’s us! You’re already here!

Thursday, September 22

Friday, September 23

To see future stops on the three-week blog tour, visit: The Radleys Blog Tour page. Also, check out The Radleys web page where you can read an excerpt, watch the trailer, learn more about the author, check out sections from the Abstainer’s Handbook, and take a quiz to see how likely it is that you are a Radley (I’m only 47%).

Everyone Has Read That Book But Me (sometimes I feel so alone)

20 Sep

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at the fabulous The Broke and the Bookish, featuring weekly top ten lists on a variety of bookish topics. This Tuesday’s topic is Top Ten Books I Feel As Though Everyone Has Read But Me. And here are my ten!


Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty: I hear nothing but absolute gushing praise for these books. I found Second Helpings and Charmed Thirds at a library book sale and went ahead and bought Sloppy Firsts. Now all I need is time!

Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater: This is another series that all my blog buddies LOVE and I hear from other library youth services librarians in my system that the quality writing makes this series a stand-out in the paranormal YA collection. Paranormal isn’t generally my thing, but I’m planning to give this a try someday (and like the Jessica Darling series, I have the start of the series on my shelves already).

The Forest of Hands and Teeth series by Carrie Ryan: Nora raves about this series and it sounds like a nice blend of creepy and weird. Of the series that I have yet to try out, this one is at the top of my must read list. I may bring this one on my honeymoon with me. So romantic, right?!


anything by Sarah Dessen: Oh Sarah, I’ve tried to read you, but maybe the moment wasn’t just right or the book wasn’t the perfect match. I’m convinced that someday I’ll make it through a whole book. I feel all alone in my little Dessen-less world.

anything by Libba Bray: Where to start? That’s really the question here. Should I go new and fresh with Beauty Queens, or jump back and start with Going Bovine or A Great and Terrible Beauty. Choices are hard.


Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta: This is yet another book that I have absolutely no excuse for not reading. There are rave reviews all over the blogosphere, it’s a Printz Award Winner, and it has definitely been in my possession more than once. I may just have to make this one happen.

Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols: Romantic fiction isn’t really my thing, but this book has been suggested to me by enough trusted blogger friends that I plan to give it a try someday.

Forever by Judy Blume: So yes, I read selections from this book as a pre-teen (my friend Gayle knew all the page numbers for the steamy parts), but I never read the whole book. I wish I had read this as a teen, but hey, it’s never too late, right?

A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly: I was impressed by Donnelly’s Revolution and this Printz Honor Book sounds amazing. The fact that it takes place in Upstate NY is an extra bonus.

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness: I’m not sure how I have made it so long without reading the follow up to The Knife of Never Letting Go, especially with the crazy cliffhanger Ness gives us at the end of the first book. I have also heard that book two is the best of the trilogy, so if it’s better than book one, I should be reading it right now! Will probably listen to this one, as I loved the audio recording for TKoNLG.

These are all books that I want to read. Where do you think I should start? And what book has everyone read but you?

Be sure to stop by The Broke and The Bookish to see what other bloggers and readers included in their Top Ten lists this week!

Buffy is back!

14 Sep

And I don’t mean Ringer, though I did watch it and, well, it was nice to see SMG onscreen again.

If you thought Buffy the Vampire Slayer ended back in 2003 when the Sunnydale Hellmouth officially closed for business, you are missing out on some wild wild times in the Season 8 comics. And today, the first issue (or episode, as my friends and I call them) of the Season 9 series was released with stunning covers by (left to right) Jo Chen, Georges Jeanty (who is also a penciller for the series), and Steve Morris. I pre-ordered the Steve Morris edition and so am waiting patiently for it to arrive in my mailbox. These really are the good mailbox days.

For those who want to avoid any spoilers for Season 8, avoid eye contact below. For those who want to know what to look forward to, check out the official product description from Dark Horse:

Season 8 ended with a bang when Buffy cut the world off from the hell dimensions and all supernatural influence. Great, right? Except Buffy has left her best friend, Willow, powerless, and ended the long line of vampire slayers, leaving her hated by the hundreds of girls who recently stood behind her. Newly relocated to San Francisco, Buffy can count on a fresh start, and focus on what she’s good at–slaying.

After a summer marathon Buffy rewatch* and rereading the Season 8 comics, I have to say that I’m most interested to see where the writers take Willow and how the friendship between her and Buffy develops. At the end of Season 8, Willow is left powerless, after Buffy rids the world of magic. How will she deal? How will this affect her relationship with Buffy? And how will she get her power back (because we all know that will happen at some point, right)?

    Title: Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 #1 – Freefall Part 1
    Writer: Joss Whedon, Andrew Chambliss
    Penciller: Georges Jeanty
    Inker: Dexter Vines
    Cover Artists: Jo Chen, Georges Jeanty, & Steve Morris
    Publisher: Dark Horse
    Publication Date: September 14, 2011 (today! yay!)

*a special thanks to Nikki Stafford of Nik at Night and all her guest bloggers during the Great Buffy Rewatch (still going strong) whose blog makes me feel all smarty-pants while I watch TV and to my good buddies Mary Ellen and Dan who are the only people I know who will play the Buffy The Vampire Slayer Board Game that many times while watching that many episodes (y’all are special).

Book Blogger Appreciation Week: Meet Tiger of All-Consuming Books!

13 Sep

Book Blogger Appreciation Week was started by Amy Riley of My Friend Amy in an effort to recognize the hard work and contribution of book bloggers to the promotion and preservation of a literate culture actively engaged in discussing books, authors, and a lifestyle of reading. Connecting with, meeting, and collaborating with other book bloggers is an important and fun aspect of book blogging. This past year we have had the opportunity to meet and collaborate with so many fabulous bloggers. And today, we’re excited to meet yet another!

Welcome Tiger of All-Consuming Books to Love YA Lit! All-Consuming Books is an eclectic book blog focusing on urban fantasy and YA. Tiger is a 25-year-old Christian from Northern Alabama (you wouldn’t guess from all that snow) with degrees in English and Creative Writing. She is a book reviewer, a freelance writer, an assistant coach for Dixie Youth baseball, and an all around family girl.

What do you like the most about blogging?
My first instinct is to say “talking to other bloggers”, because we all have such a fun time talking together about our favorite stuff, but really I think I have the most fun promoting authors. There’s just such an rush that comes from knowing that I’m getting to publically support a favorite author and their wonderful work.

What are your favorite YA titles released this past year?
I have three picks for 2011: “Enclave” by Ann Aguirre, “Divergent” by Veronica Roth, and “Hourglass” by Myra McEntire. The first two books are pulse-pounding dystopians that think outside the box, while the last one is a very creative timeslip romance. I love seeing inventiveness in YA!

What YA titles portray Christian teens in a way that feels most real or familiar to you and your experience?
Ooh, good question. I think in most cases, I have to turn to actual Christian YA to find the best examples, because a lot of regular YA has the Christian kids be weird goody-goodies or has them be the villains. I really liked the honest portrayal of Christian teens in “Salvaged” by Stefne Miller because it was a book that dealt with major loss and emotional scars, while still presenting loveable characters and a hopeful message.

What are you looking forward to in blogging for the next year?
New releases from my favorite authors! I mentally (and sometimes audibly) squeal with delight when I think of the new offerings coming out from my favorite authors Ilona Andrews, Veronica Roth, Rachel Vincent, Ann Aguirre, and Jeaniene Frost.

What blogs do you appreciate the most?
I’m very devoted to For What It’s Worth, run by my friend Karen because we are blogger BFFs. If she says to check something out, I immediately do so. I also love Addicted 2 Novels, run by my by friend Lena, because she’s always got the scoop on the hottest new YA titles.

Thanks for stopping by, Tiger! Make sure to check out All-Consuming Books and the blogs, books, and authors mentioned above!

Very Exciting…!

7 Sep

I’m a week late in posting my anticipated September reads (sorry about that). This would not be so bad except that September turns out to be a month filled with exciting releases and very little free time to read them in. We may be a little slower in our posting this month, but for very good reasons! Nora has just started a new job as a high school librarian and I’m in the last month of planning for my wedding/honeymoon (bachelorette party thrown by Nora this weekend!). While we may be busy, there’s always time for reading, and luckily we have all of these fabulous releases to look forward to:

The Shattering by Karen Healey
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Sept. 5
Three people with one thing in common – the “suicides”/murders of their brothers – team up to try to figure out the truth. I love a little creepy mystery. Confession: I haven’t read Guardian of the Dead yet. I know.

Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick
EgmontUSA, Sept. 6
This sounds like one that both Nora and I will love. An electromagnetic pulse destroys all electronic devices, kills billions, and turns most young people into zombies (The Changed). The protagonist, Alex, teams up with a young man and a young girl, forming a make-your-own family in their struggle for survival and safety.

All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin
Farrar, Straus and Girouz (BYR), Sept. 6
Seriously, the dripping chocolate heart on the cover was all that was needed to make me want to read this book. That it takes place in a future where several things that I love – chocolate, caffeine (well, coffee and tea for me), and books are either illegal or scarce – made me want to read it even more. There’s a mafia focus to this one too – the main character is the daughter of a notorious former (he’s dead) crime boss. I haven’t read YA featuring the mafia (at least that I can remember) and am curious if I’ll like that aspect – so far so good though.

Every You, Every Me by David Levithan and Jonathan Farmer
Knopf Books for Young Readers, Sept 13
David Levithan teams up with photographer Jonathan Farmer to tell a psychological tale of a teen, tormented by the role he played in his friend’s death, who starts finding mysterious photographs – some featuring him, some featuring his dead friend. This has potential to rely to heavily on the gimmick, but I trust Levithan can pull it off.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Season 9 #1, Freefall Part One by Joss Whedon, Andrew Chambliss, Georges Jeanty, and Dexter Vines
Dark Horse, Sept. 14
After a summer of Buffy rewatch and rereading Season 8 comics, I am dying for Season 9 to start up. After the wild ride that was Season 8 (and every other season for that matter), I’m curious to see where the BtVS Season 9 team will take us. I haven’t committed yet to reading the Angel and Faith comics (first issue released Aug. 31 from Dark Horse), but it’s likely I’ll dive in at some point. (cover note: I’m a pretty loyal Jo Chen BtVS cover art fan, but I’m feeling this Steve Morris cover!)

As I Wake by Elizabeth Scott
Dutton Juvenile, Sept. 15
A young girl named Ava comes home from the hospital and all seems peachy in her world, but is she really who everyone says she is? When memories do surface, they seem to be of a much different world. Amnesia/who-am-I-exactly tales never get old…right? I’m trusting that Elizabeth Scott can make this feel new and unique.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Candlewick, Sept. 27
The story behind the story, the story itself, and the brilliance that is Patrick Ness, make this a must read for me. Based on an idea by the late Siobhan Dowd, A Monster Calls tells the story of a young boy who is surprised when a monster shows up in his backyard one night, not because it’s a monster but because he was expecting a different monster, the monster from his nightmares.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Sept. 27
Karou is an art student who was raised by demonic creatures and who aides them by running errands (i.e. collecting teeth). On one such errand, she runs into an angel who is trying to put a stop to the teeth trade. They should be enemies, but they fall in love. And this sounds like a story I would never read, but I will this time because it also sounds unique and mesmerizing and I have heard nothing but wonderful things about Laini Taylor’s writing.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Sept. 27
This is the second in my September list of books to read about girls waking up with limited memory (see As I Wake above). Basically Mara Dyer wakes up in the hospital after a horrible accident which killed her friends but somehow left her unharmed. There’s some mystery, some romance, and some alligators involved (or are they crocodiles? never can keep those straight).

The Centaur’s Daughter by Ellen Jensen Abbott
Marshall Cavendish Children’s Books, Sept. 2011
I have heard very little about this book, the follow up to Watersmeet, but am looking forward to seeing what happens next in Abisina’s world and spending time with these characters again.

And straying from the YA…

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Random House Audio, Sept. 13
This is my most anticipated audiobook of the Fall, in part because it sounds like an interesting and entertaining read, but mostly because the fabulous Jim Dale serves as the audiobook reader. This is adult fiction, but may have some crossover potential – will let you know!

What are you looking forward to this month?