Wednesday, January 30, 2013

All about the 2013 Alex Awards

 This past Monday at the Youth Media Awards, the 2013 Alex Awards were announced. The Alex Awards are given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to teens, ages 12 through 18. The winning titles are selected from books published the previous year.

The award is sponsored by the Margaret A. Edwards Trust. Edwards pioneered young adult library services and worked for many years at the Enoch Pratt Library in Baltimore. The Alex Awards are named after Edwards, who was called “Alex” by her friends.

I've been on the Alex Awards for two years and selecting the winners is always a great joy. It also means I read 250+ adult books a year. This year's list is as eclectic as ever. “From madcap adventures to portraits of compelling characters and beautifully illustrated nonfiction titles, this year's list has a book for every teen reader,” said Rachel McDonald, chair of the 2013 Alex Awards Committee.

  • Caring is Creepy" by David Zimmerman: While trying to survive a long boring summer in rural Georgia, Lynn befriends a lonely soldier online.  When they meet face to face, tables are turned as Lynn tries to exert power in her out-of-control life.  Dangerous, amusing, role-bending, and definitely creepy!
  • Girlchild,”by Tupelo Hassman: With only a worn copy of the Girl Scout Handbook for reference, resourceful and tenacious Rory Hendrix must navigate the depressing landscape of a 1970s trailer park where she suffers abuse at the hands of a neighbor and neglect from her mother.
  • Juvenile in Justice" by Richard Ross: Richard Ross' riveting photographs give voices to incarcerated youth in juvenile detention centers across America.

  • Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore” by Robin Sloan: Clay Johnson loses his web-designer job and begins working the night shift in a bookstore with only a few customers.  This marvelous mashup blends mystery, adventure, and romance into a literary and technological tale.
  • My Friend Dahmer” by Derf Backderf: Written by a former classmate of Jeffery Dahmer, this graphic novel illustrates the teenage years of a future serial killer.
  • One Shot at Forever” by Chris Ballard: This remarkable story follows the Macon Ironmen, a team of misfits with a hippie coach, through a recordsetting baseball season.
  • Pure”by Juliana Baggott: In a world destroyed by nuclear detonations, only a privileged few have remained pure. Two teens from different sides of the Dome unite to search for answers to troubling questions about their origins.
  • The Round House” by Louise Erdrich: An attack on 13-year-old Joe's mother near their North Dakota Ojibwe reservation home leads him and his friends on a quest to solve the crime.  This coming-of-age story highlights friendship, family, tradition, and the uneasy relationship between the tribal and white communities.

  • Tell the Wolves I'm Home” by Carol Rifka Brunt: June thought she knew everything about her beloved uncle, Finn. After his death from a mysterious new illness called AIDS, his grieving boyfriend delivers Finn's favorite teapot to June's door, and she realizes nothing is what she thought it was: not her family, not her uncle, not even herself.
  • Where'd You Go, Bernadette?” by Maria Semple: Through a series of emails, letters, and FBI files, Bee follows the trail of her missing mother to the ends of the earth in this quirky, laugh-out-loud tale.

  • Have you read any of these? What was your favorite? Do you agree with the list?

    Sunday, January 27, 2013

    United States decides against building the Death Star

    Did you know that the White House has a website that allows citizens to petition the government to do something? If your petition gathers enough "signatures" the government will issue a response. Check it out here.

    In November of 2012 someone petitioned the United States to "Secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016."

    That all by itself is pretty funny. But it managed to gather 34,435 signatures and got an official response from the United States government.

    If you follow the link above and scroll down, you can see the response from the White House Office of Management and Budget.

    Starting with the title of the response, "This isn't the petition response you are looking for." the reply contains a number of clever Star Wars references.

    I think my favorite part was when they stated: "Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?"

    Nice to know our government has a sense of humor.

    Friday, January 25, 2013

    Weekend Book Give-Away: Beholding Bee

    Are you in the mood for something mysterious and magical?  Sounds like Beholding Bee by Kimberly Newton Fusco (which comes out next month) might be just the thing!

    Bee is an orphan who lives with a carnival and sleeps in the back of a tractor trailer. Every day she endures taunts for the birthmark on her face--though her beloved Pauline, the only person who has ever cared for her, tells her it is a precious diamond. When Pauline is sent to work for another carnival, Bee is lost. Then a scruffy dog shows up, as unwanted as she, and Bee realizes that she must find a home for them both. She runs off to a house with gingerbread trim that reminds her of frosting. There two mysterious women, Mrs. Swift and Mrs. Potter, take her in. They clothe her, though their clothes are strangely out of date. They feed her, though there is nothing in their house to eat. They help her go to school, though they won't enter the building themselves. And, strangely, only Bee seems able to see them. Whoever these women are, they matter. They matter to Bee. And they are helping Bee realize that she, too, matters to the world--if only she will let herself be a part of it.

    For a chance to win a preview copy of this book, tell me about a magical moment from your life.  The more details the better!

    ps... Cordelia Fitzgerald and chaseabster...I have books you won in previous weeks.  Email me at to claim them!

    Winner will be selected with Random Number Generator on Thursday January 31, 2013. Be sure to leave a name with your entry, and check back to see if you won. To win you must be a teen (6th-12th grade, or 12-18) who uses a Sno-Isle Library. 

    Friday, January 18, 2013

    Weekend Book Give-Away: Pushing the Limits

    Looking for something romantic to read?  This week's book, Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry, has gotten lots of buzz:

    No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal.But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.

    Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

    For a chance to win an ARC of this book, tell me a crush you had that might have been a bad idea (don't name any names!)

    Winner will be selected with Random Number Generator on Tuesday January 22, 2013. Be sure to leave a name with your entry, and check back to see if you won. To win you must be a teen (6th-12th grade, or 12-18) who uses a Sno-Isle Library. 

    Tuesday, January 15, 2013

    Tailer Tuesday: Eve and Adam by Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant

    It was sort of exciting to see two giants of YA thrillers join together to write Eve and Adam. Some of you may not remember the Animorphs series that made Applegate famous, but many of you I'm sure are familiar with Grant's Gone series. They deliver, and Eve and Adam is a fast-paced, page turner.

    Friday, January 11, 2013

    Weekend Book Give-Away: Falling Kingdoms

    Do you like fresh starts and/or big changes?  This week's book Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes is filled with lots of potential for its characters to see both.

    In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power--brutally transforming their subjects' lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined: Cleo: A princess raised in luxury must embark on a rough and treacherous journey into enemy territory in search of a magic long thought extinct. Jonas: Enraged at injustice, a rebel lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country impoverished--and finds himself the leader of a people's revolution centuries in the making. Lucia: A girl adopted at birth into a royal family discovers the truth about her past--and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield. Magnus: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, a firstborn son begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword... The only outcome that's certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed? 

    For a chance to win an ARC of this book, tell me what you are hoping 2013 will bring.

    Winner will be selected with Random Number Generator on Tuesday January 15, 2013. Be sure to leave a name with your entry, and check back to see if you won. To win you must be a teen (6th-12th grade, or 12-18) who uses a Sno-Isle Library.

    Friday, January 4, 2013

    Weekend Book Give-Away: Venom

    This week I am traveling to Texas to visit my dear grandma for her 90th birthday.  But secretly I wish I was going to visit someplace a little more exotic (and sunny).  But for now, I'll just have to find that in books!   If you want an exotic journey, check out this week's book Venom (Secrets of the Eternal Rose - Book One) by Fiona Paul .

    Love, lust, murder, mayhem and high society converge in one thrilling debut Cassandra Caravello has everything a girl could desire: elegant gowns, sparkling jewels, invitations to the best parties, and a handsome, wealthy fiancé--yet she longs for something more. Ever since her parents' death, Cassandra has felt trapped, alone in a city of water, where the dark and labyrinthine canals whisper of escape. When Cass stumbles upon the body of a murdered woman--with a bloody X carved across her heart--she's drawn into a dangerous world of secret societies, courtesans, and killers. Soon, she finds herself falling for Falco, a poor artist with a mischievous grin . . . and a habit of getting into trouble. Will Cassandra find the murderer before he finds her? And will she stay true to her fiancé or succumb to her uncontrollable feelings for Falco? Beauty, romance, and mystery weave together in a novel that's as seductive and stunning as the city of Venice itself.

    Venice is a pretty amazing place to visit.  For a chance to win this book, tell me what city you yearn to visit, and why.

    Winner will be selected with Random Number Generator on Thursday January 10th, 2013. Be sure to leave a name with your entry, and check back to see if you won. To win you must be a teen (6th-12th grade, or 12-18) who uses a Sno-Isle Library.

    Tuesday, January 1, 2013

    Trailer Tuesday: The Blessed by Tonya Hurley

    In my book, the award for creepiest cover goes to The Blessed by Tonya Hurley. Here's the trailer: PS: HAPPY NEW YEAR!