Wednesday, December 30, 2009

BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA: Magic born of tragedy-book review of a classic

I don't know how I missed this book as a kid. I heard of it, but thought it was some sort of war story. I couldn't have been more wrong.

 I ran across it in a school and set it aside for months before getting around to reading it.I was in for a surprising journey. This is a poignant, beautifully rendered tale of love, friendship and loss. Bridge to Terabithia is the story of Jess Aarons, a fifth grader in rural Virginia who becomes friends with his new neighbor, Leslie Burke, a girl from the city and a child of liberal, progressive writers.

Jess is a sensitive, artistic boy, the rather neglected child in a family of four sisters. Mom favors the girls and dad is busy working. Jess' world changes when he meets Leslie, a girl of vivid imagination and fantasy. Leslie is ostracized by the other students, but she and Jess forge a close friendship. At Leslie's direction, she and Jess create an imaginary kingdom in the the woods near their home. They call it Terabithia and designate themselves the Queen and King. Terabithia is accessible only by a rope swing over a creek. Jess and Leslie go there everyday after school to share their fears, hopes and dreams.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Nice Twist on Twilight: EVERNIGHT: A book review

I happen to run across this book in Barnes and Noble and it sounded like a enjoyable little read on the way to work, so I bought it. Was I ever surprised. I love this book!

Evernight is a 327 page YA book written by Claudia Gray. It is somewhat Twilightesque, but it takes a fresh twist on the Vampire tale. I was pleasantly surprised.

From the beginning, I thought I had the story figured out. Ms. Gray turned my suppositions on their head. More than once I found myself saying: "Nice. I didn't see that coming!" Or, "I wasn't expecting that-cool!"  I can't really tell you much without giving away some suprising plot twists that make the book such a fun, unexpected and enjoyable read. I'll only be able to give you the blurb from the back of the book:

Saturday, December 26, 2009

As We Enter a New Year, Consider This....

As the old year comes to a close and a new year takes its place, remember this:

Life is short. Forgive quickly, Kiss slowly, Love truly, Laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that made you smile.

Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we're here, we should dance!


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Can a Young Adult romance be enticing without paranormal elements? You bet it can! A book review: Perfect Chemistry

The Young Adult book market is rife with stories that incorporate paranormal elements. Such books are often exciting, suspenseful and capture the imagination of their readers. The trend in the market being what it is, can a teen book without supernatural elements stand a chance of intriguing an audience? I think it can. One such book is Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles.

There are no boys turning into fantastical creatures in this book, but that doesn't make it any less of a great read. Perfect Chemistry is a 357 page YA novel that's romantic and edgy. The differences between Brittany Ellis and Alex Fuentes may not be otherworldly, but crossing the great divide between culture, race and class provide more than enough conflict and drama.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

YA Panel: NY Chapter of The Society of Children's Book Writer's and Illustrators (SCBWI)

On Tuesday, I attended a young adult panel presented by the NY chapter of SCBWI. The presenters consisted of two editors: Krista Marino, Senior Editor with Delacorte and Lexa Hillyer, Editor with Razorbill.

Ms. Marino addressed the issue of voice. The authorial voice is the author's fingerprint. It follows them from book to book. If you read a Stephen King book or a Meg Cabot book, you will find a commonality of tone that is evident in all their writing.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Barry Lyga: Boy Toy author connects to a reader

I received the nicest e-mail from Barry Lyga thanking me for the review of his book and touching on some of the issues that occur when an author writes material that is difficult for some people to digest.

 If you've read my November 27th post, I touched on the subject of authors and their readership. An author can't be expected to respond to everyone, but when they take the time to do so when possible, it certainly is thoughtful and appreciated. This is one author who clearly reads his messages!

Thanks Barry. May you live long, prosper and write many more good books. Check him out folks.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sex Abuse Alert and Book Review: Boy Toy

If you have read my introductory post as well as my All about Me profile, you'll recall I stated that in addition to discussing literary matters, I will be touching on my insights as an educator and therapist.  These concern life issues that are important and beneficial for all to understand.

Professionally, I have worked with youngsters in various capacities: the school system, the legal system and the mental health/social service systems. A couple of incidents, both recent and not so recent in addition to a novel I just completed reading, has served as the catalyst for the post today. Let me begin with the book review.

Boy Toy by Barry Lyga is a 409 page young adult novel that delineates the tale of Josh Mendel, a 12 year old boy who is manipulated into a sexual relationship with his teacher. The story goes back and forth from the present to the past and follows Josh as an 18 year old high school senior who still struggles with the aftermath of the affair, years later. The book depicts the sexual activity fairly graphically, but it is not gratuitously so. It is real and organic to the story and yes--it's disturbing to read as you consider that the boy is only 12 years old and suffering emotional damage from premature sexual activity.

There have been a number of highly publicized incidents involving minors and school staff. People may be prone to dismiss such occurrences because the perpetrator is a pretty female and they take a "boy's will be boy's" attitude. This book exemplifies the real damage that occurs to the child's psyche as a result of such abuse. I highly recommend reading it.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Book Release this week. Opportunity for free copy!

Julie Hadden, the first runner up on season 4 of The Biggest Loser has written an inspirational weight loss book. It is being released this week and is worth checking out.

You even have the opportunity to get a free copy. Check out literary agent, Rachelle Gardner's site  for the details.

I , for one, am always looking for a way to keep the extra pounds at bay.