Monday, June 27, 2011

Guest Blog with Gary Ghislain, Author of How I Stole Johnny Depp's Alien Girlfriend

I am pleased to welcome the author Gary Ghislain today. Take it away Gary:

Ah, Paris… I had quite a few good reasons to set my story there:

1. I was born in Paris, in the 16th district, the 30th of June, just in time for the summer. I go there very often, nearly once per month. France is so small. You take a train in the French Riviera in the morning, you watch the beautiful French landscape whoosh by for 5 hours while eating croissants, and pouf, you land in Paris just in time for aperitif and lunch.

2. It’s the capital of love. It’s just like this. London is for business. New York is for Art. Paris is for the kiss. It’s nearly impossible to go to Paris and not fall in love. It’s like a local curse. It must be something in the water (or the red wine). It’s our easy-going lifestyle. Our five hours lunch breaks. The music everywhere. Our romantic little caf├ęs. The surrounding beauty of the cityscape. The French lovers kissing in the parks. Or is it just that the Parisian favorite sport is flirting? I don’t know. If I was an E.T. willing to zap Earthlings and destroy the world, I would certainly start with L.A. or New York. But if I was an Alien looking for the perfect partner to French kiss and zoom back to my home planet, I’d start with Paris.

3. This one is probably the most important factor in choosing Paris for my story: Johnny Depp lives there since 1998. Can you imagine? A spacegirl lands in Paris AND she’s looking for Johnny. How lucky is that!?

4. Paris is full of mysterious locations and scary little places. You could easily hide an alien sub-civilization there without anyone noticing. Take the little chapel in Le Marais where I located the Zookian door, the stargate Zelda uses to go back and forth from Vahalal, her home planet. There are plenty of places like that in Paris. There were so many secret societies that no longer exist. So many strange buildings devoted to their cults. They left behind all those surreal sites that fit perfectly in my zany science fiction stories.

5. I love Paris. I adore it. I even like Parisians, even thought everyone else in France sort of hate them. It’s a pity with the pollution, the stress and the largely over priced cup of coffee. But… nothing is perfect! And love is blind and probably makes you immune to toxic fumes.

Thank you so much for stopping by! How I Stole Johnny Depp's Aliend Girlfriend is now available in bookstores everywhere.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Ruby Red Trailer and Giveaway!!

So here's the awesome trailer for Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier:

And here's even more about the book:

Gwyneth Shepherd's sophisticated, beautiful cousin Charlotte has been prepared her entire life for traveling through time. But unexpectedly, it is Gwyneth, who in the middle of class takes a sudden spin to a different era!

Gwyneth must now unearth the mystery of why her mother would lie about her birth date to ward off suspicion about her ability, brush up on her history, and work with Gideon--the time traveler from a similarly gifted family that passes the gene through its male line, and whose presence becomes, in time, less insufferable and more essential. Together, Gwyneth and Gideon journey through time to discover who, in the 18th century and in contemporary London, they can trust.

I can't wait to read this one, I've heard nothing but good things about it. If you'd like to win your own copy, just leave a comment below with your e-mail address. I will choose winner on the 12th, so hurry and enter now.

In other news, I'm leaving for Disneyworld in the morning. It's an annual trip, but my sister and I are going with some friends this year and their 7-year-old boy. I'm very excited to see Disney through his eyes. I'll also be spending a day at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!!!! I cannot wait!! I will still try to post from Orlando, but it'll depend on Internet access.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday--Legend by Marie Lu

Release Date: November 29, 2011 from Putnam Juvenile


What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.

This sounds fantastic and we all know I love a good dystopia. I never seem to get tired of the genre, so bring it on!

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Implosion of Aggie Winchester by Lara Zielin

Release Date: August 4, 2011 from Putnam Juvenile

From Author


Sixteen-year-old Aggie Winchester couldn't care less about who's elected prom queen-even if it's her pregnant Goth-girl best friend, Sylvia Ness. Aggie's got bigger things to worry about, like whether or not her ex-boyfriend wants to get back together and whether her mom will survive cancer.

But like it or not, Aggie soon finds herself in the middle of an unfolding prom scandal, largely because her mom, who is the school's principal, is rumored to have burned prom ballots so Sylvia won't be elected queen. Aggie's own investigation makes her wonder if the election could be dirty on both sides.

I was lucky enough to read Lara Zielin's first book, Donut Days, before it hit shelves. It was a wonderful, sweet read that left me feeling light and happy. So, I was thrilled to get a chance to read this book early, too.

Aggie's story couldn't be more different from that of Emma (star of Donut Days). This was a completely different book in every way, but I loved it just as much and maybe even a little bit more. Aggie is lost, surly, and an outsider of the highest order. Her and her friend move through the school striking fear in the hearts of their fellow classmates. Aggie's best friend, Sylvia, is her life. When Sylvia gets pregnant, though, things start to change between them and Aggie's world is rocked. At the same time, she's dealing with her mother's diagnosis of cancer and the fact that her mother and her are constantly at odds.

This is a much edgier book than Donut Days, and probably a little more realistic. At it's heart, though, it is still the story of a girl trying to find herself and her own way in the world. It's wonderfully written and full of great characterization and dialogue. I really loved it and I grew to love Aggie as I read. I saw a lot of myself in Aggie and I couldn't help but root for her to find her way.

Check it out and check out Donut Days while you're at it. Two different books, with the same amount of heart.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tornado Alley!

No new review tonight. Today was a bit of a trying day. We had tornado warnings all over the state basically. I live in a suburb of Kansas City and our tornado sirens were running for at least and hour and a half today. Very scary stuff!

I work in an elementary school, so we were all ducking and covering the whole time. I felt bad for the kids who were scared once they knew it wasn't a drill. We were getting reports of possible tornadoes all around our district, but we lucked out. Some areas were not so lucky. Another small town, Sedalia, which isn't too terribly far from here was hit, but luckily no one was injured.

Honestly, I don't know how much more Missouri can take. I feel so badly for the folks down in Joplin. I don't know how you even begin to pick up the pieces. We here in KC got our own taste of the tornado terror today, and it wasn't even a fraction of what they experienced in Joplin.

For now, I'm happy to be home and to know that all of mine and theirs are good. That's all we can hope for this spring.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Graveminder by Melissa Marr

Release Date: Available Now from William Morrow

Source: Personal Kindle Copy


The New York Times bestselling author of the Wicked Lovely series delivers her first novel for adults, a story about the living, the dead, and a curse that binds them.
Rebekkah Barrow never forgot the tender attention her grandmother, Maylene, bestowed upon the dead of Claysville, the town where Bek spent her adolescence. There wasn't a funeral that Maylene didn't attend, and at each Rebekkah watched as Maylene performed the same unusual ritual: three sips from a small silver flask followed by the words "Sleep well, and stay where I put you."

Now Maylene is dead and Bek must go back to the place--and the man--she left a decade ago. But what she soon discovers is that Maylene was murdered and that there was good reason for her odd traditions. It turns out that in placid Claysville, the worlds of the living and the dead are dangerously connected. Beneath the town lies a shadowy, lawless land ruled by the enigmatic Charles, aka Mr. D--a place from which the dead will return if their graves are not properly minded. Only the Graveminder, a Barrow woman, and the current Undertaker, Byron, can set things to right once the dead begin to walk.

I love Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely series, so it was a no-brainer when it came to buying her first adult release. This was a good way for Marr to enter into the adult market, but I have to say, I didn't like it quite as much as her YA books. It was a good book and I enjoyed it, but what I enjoyed was how the voice was so reminiscent of her YA series. I could totally tell I was reading a Melissa Marr book from page one and I liked that about the book.

It's a completely different look at the zombie novel. It has a lot more humanity than your average zombie novel. It's a really original idea and a realm of paranormal that hasn't been done yet. These are all things I did love about Graveminder.

Now, what didn't I love? It started off really strong. I read at least half of it in one sitting, but them it seemed to flatten out a little in the middle. It did pick up in the end, but by then, the ending felt a little rushed.

Overall, though, I did enjoy it. I mean, it's Melissa Marr. I'm always going to show up for anything Marr has to offer. I just wanted a little more, but I know she'll totally bring it next time.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

Release Date: Available Now from Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Source: Checked out from school library.


The movement of the train rocked me like a lullaby. I closed my eyes to the dusty countryside and imagined the sign I’d seen only in Gideon’s stories: Manifest—A Town with a rich past and a bright future.

Abilene Tucker feels abandoned. Her father has put her on a train, sending her off to live with an old friend for the summer while he works a railroad job. Armed only with a few possessions and her list of universals, Abilene jumps off the train in Manifest, Kansas, aiming to learn about the boy her father once was.
Having heard stories about Manifest, Abilene is disappointed to find that it’s just a dried-up, worn-out old town. But her disappointment quickly turns to excitement when she discovers a hidden cigar box full of mementos, including some old letters that mention a spy known as the Rattler. These mysterious letters send Abilene and her new friends, Lettie and Ruthanne, on an honest-to-goodness spy hunt, even though they are warned to “Leave Well Enough Alone.”

Abilene throws all caution aside when she heads down the mysterious Path to Perdition to pay a debt to the reclusive Miss Sadie, a diviner who only tells stories from the past. It seems that Manifest’s history is full of colorful and shadowy characters—and long-held secrets. The more Abilene hears, the more determined she is to learn just what role her father played in that history. And as Manifest’s secrets are laid bare one by one, Abilene begins to weave her own story into the fabric of the town.

Powerful in its simplicity and rich in historical detail, Clare Vanderpool’s debut is a gripping story of loss and redemption.

I'm trying to be better about reading the award books, so I can share them with my students, so when this book was announced as the Newbery winner, I immediately checked it out. First of all, I have to admit, I love stories that take place during the Great Depression. My grandparents are in their late 80's, so I grew up hearing about their lives during the depression. They had two vastly different experiences during that time, so I feel like I've grown up with both sides of the story. Every time I read a book that takes place in the '30's, I feel like I'm sitting with my grandparents and listening to them reminisce.

This was an amazing book. I really can't praise it highly enough. I can see why it was chosen this year, and the Newbery title is well-deserved. It's hard to believe this is Vanderpool's first book, because the storytelling is incredible, the characters are so real, and the history is flawless. I'm a big fan of the writer Fannie Flagg, who wrote Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe,and this book really had the same feel to me. It's just an honest story about life in a small town where everyone knows everyone's secrets, and yet they really don't know one another at all.

If you want a great story with a huge helping of heart, then check this one out. I can't wait to see what Vanderpool comes up with next, but I'd be perfectly content if she just returned to Manifest again and again.