Friday, December 30, 2011

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

Many readers know the tale of Robin Hood, but they will be swept away by this new version full of action, secrets, and romance. Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in. It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for.

Publisher: Walker Children's
Number of Pages: 304
Type: Hardcover

Reviewed by Dee Dee, age 12

Storybound by Marissa Burt

Una Fairchild, a shy twelve-year-old misfit, feels invisible most of the time. But when a mysterious book transports her to the Land of Story, she only wishes she could blend in. 

In an otherworld where characters from books enroll at Perrault Academy with the hope of being cast into a Tale of their own, Una finds herself juggling classes like Villainy and Outdoor Experiential Questing and navigating the challenges of life with her snooty new roommate, all while dodging the notice of Story’s rulers. 

Una must unravel the realm’s secret Backstory in order to discover who has written her in and why. Her quest lands her smack dab in an ongoing battle between good and evil as she unearths the real reason she’s always been STORYBOUND.

Publisher: HarperCollins
Number of Pages: 320
Type: Hardcover

Reviewed by Lily, age 10
Storybound is an exceptionally good and original book.  In the land of Story, kids go to school to learn how to be the perfect character in a book, whether it be a hero or a villain.  It is funny, exciting, nerve-wrecking, scary, and breath-taking adventuresome! The author engages the reader from the very beginning and you will feel immersed in the fantasy world of Story.  I liked the characters a lot, especially Una the main character who evolves from being a lonely 12 year old girl to a potential savior of Story.  There are several other enjoyable characters, some are strange and others are a little creepy.  The book will appeal to readers who enjoyed Inkheart or a Wrinkle in Time.  I recommend this book for both boys and girls, ages 9-12.
Thank you to HarperCollins Children's Books for this terrific book!

This book is in stores April 2012!
Buy Hardcover

Happy reading!
Lily, age 10

The Orphan of Awkward Falls by Keith Graves

When thirteen-year-old Josephine moves to Awkward Falls she can't help but snoop around the dilapidated mansion next door. Inevitably, she is captured by the house s strange inhabitants: an ancient automaton who serves as a butler, a cat patched together with a few odd parts, and most surprising of all, a boy named Thaddeus Hibble. Meanwhile, Fetid Stenchley the most feared patient in the Asylum for the Dangerously Insane is on the loose after making a dramatic escape, and there is only one thing on his mind...revenge. Unfortunately for Josephine and Thaddeus, he s headed their way. Can these unlikely friends stop Stenchley before it s too late? With a penchant for spooky details, surprising twists, and haunting illustrations, Keith Graves delivers a suspenseful and engaging first novel.

Publisher: Chronicle Books
Number of Pages: 256
Type: Hardcover

Reviewed by Lily, age 10

Lights on the Nile by Donna Jo Napoli

Kepi is a young girl in ancient Egypt, content to stay home with her family, helping her father, who was wounded in the construction of a pyramid for the cruel pharaoh Khufu. But that was before she and her pet baboon, Babu, were kidnapped and held captive on a boat bound for the capital city, Ineb Hedj. And when Kepi and Babu are separated, she knows she has only one choice: to make her way to the capital on her own, rescue Babu, and find a way to appeal to the pharaoh. Khufu is rich and powerful, but Kepi has her own powers, deep inside her—ones she herself doesn’t even know about yet.
Donna Jo Napoli, acclaimed author of Zel and Beast, revisits the fabled origin of fairies in this strikingly orig-inal and affecting novel of friendship.

Publisher: HarperCollins
Number of Pages: 256
Type: Hardcover
Reviewed by Lily, age 10

Lights on the Nile is an excellent book on a time period that isn't covered in a lot of children's books.  The author makes the reader feel that she/he is traveling down the Nile, with her  descriptions of the Egyptian temples, gods, and animals.   The adventuresome story involves an ordinary girl who takes an extraordinary journey.  Kepi, a young girl living around 2530 BC, life changes when she and her pet baby baboon, Babu, are kidnapped and hidden in a large basket on a boat. Where is she being taken and what will become of them? Babu is destined to be sold to priests at one of the great city temples.  Kepi's journey to rescue Babu is exciting and suspenseful for the reader.  I recommend the book for both boys and girls ages 9-12.  The cover on my copy of the book does not appear to appeal to boys but I think the story will appeal to them.
Thank you  Harper Collins Children's publishers for a really good book.

This book is out in stores now!

Happy reading!
Lily, age 10

The Book of Wonders by Jasmine Richards

Magic, Djinn, Ogres, and Sorcerers. Thirteen-year-old Zardi loves to hear stories about fantastical beings, long banned from the kingdom of Arribitha. But anyone caught whispering of their powers will feel the rage of the sultan—a terrifying usurper who, even with his eyes closed, can see all. 
When her own beloved sister is captured by the evil ruler, Zardi knows that she must go to any lengths to rescue her. Along with her best friend, Ridhan—a silver-haired, violet-eyed boy of mysterious origins—and an unlikely crew of sailors led by the infamous Captain Sinbad, Zardi ventures forth into strange and wondrous territory with a seemingly impossible mission: to bring magic back to Arribitha and defeat the sultan once and for all.

Publisher: HarperCollins 
Number of Pages: 416
Type: Hardcover

Reviewed by Lily, age 10
The Book of Wonders is a really, really good book.  Do not judge the book by the cover which looks pretty boring because it is a really good book.
The  story is exciting and suspenseful.  The book has great characters, including Zardi who is the main character.  She is a strong and an adventuresome girl on an adventure in a fantastical new world in an effort to rescue her sister from almost-certain death.    The story is cleverly woven and requires the reader to travel through time and space as well as decipher some of the "mysteries" of the plot.
I highly recommend this book for boys and girls ages 8-12.
Thank you to Harper Collins Children's publishers for this excellent book.

This book is in stores January 2012!
Buy Hardcover

Happy reading! 
Lily, age 10

Lost in the Wild by Ryan Jacobson

You are the main character in this choose-your-path book, and you're on a camping trip with your family. But when your sister and you get caught in a thunderstorm, the relaxing vacation becomes an endless struggle. Your only goal: survive! Do you have what it takes to save your sister and yourself from unknown dangers? Or will your choices lead to a tragic ending? Put yourself in this adventure, and find out!

Publisher: Adventure Publications
Number of Pages: 152
Type: Paperback

Reviewed by Lily, age 10

The Popularity Papers: Research for the Social Improvement and General Betterment of Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang" by Amy Ignatow

Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang are best friends with one goal: to crack the code of popularity. Lydia’s the bold one: aspiring theater star, stick-fighting enthusiast, human guinea pig. Julie’s the shy one: observer and artist, accidental field hockey star, faithful recorder. In this notebook they write down their observations and carry out experiments to try to determine what makes the popular girls tick. But somehow, when Lydia and Julie try to imitate the popular girls, their efforts don’t translate into instant popularity. Lydia ends up with a bald spot, their parents won’t stop yelling, and Julie finds herself the number-one crush of Roland Asbjørnsen. Worse, they seem to be drifting farther and farther from their goal—and each other. 
Amy Ignatow’s hilarious debut novel introduces the intrepid fifth-graders Julie and Lydia, whose quest to understand popularity may not succeed in the ways they want, but will succeed in keeping readers in stitches.

Publisher: Amulet Books
Number of Pages: 208
Type: Hardcover

Reviewed by Lily, age 10

Thursday, December 15, 2011

StarCrossed & Liar's Moon by Elizabeth C. Bunce

"A complexly woven, magical world complete with castles, forbidden magic, mystery, suspense, and of course, a strong and feisty heroine. Readers will be on the edge of their seats in this original and tense world." ~Romantic Times (four stars)

(StarCrossed and Liar's Moon! Oh, aren't they pretty??) 

"An adolescent thief threads a treacherous labyrinth of politics and sorcery in this fine series opener. Digger knows the rules—Stay Alive, Don't Get Caught, Don't Get Involved—but they're tricky to follow when a job gone sour lands her with a dead partner, brutal Greenmen on her trail and a cushy hideout as an aristocratic lady's maid. Blackmailed into spying on her kindly employers, she's soon juggling a dizzying tangle of plots, betrayals and lies, desperate to preserve the most dangerous secret of all...her own. The narrative plunges immediately into action with a daunting barrage of arcane names, places and concepts, but determined readers are rewarded with an enthralling yarn of magical intrigue, all in Digger's irresistible voice—clever, cynical, cocky, with an undercurrent of aching loneliness. Given that everyone in one faction is warm, generous and wise and their opponents uniformly vicious, spiteful and cruel, it's not hard to guess which way Digger will jump; it's downright impossible not to follow wherever her quick tongue, nimble fingers and itchy feet will carry her next." 
~Kirkus Reviews

A few months ago The Bookcase had the pleasure of hosting one of Elizabeth Bunce's events on her tour for Liar's Moon, which was out in November. We had so much fun talking with her one on one and learning more about her book and the thoughts behind the creation of Digger's world! She signed books for the store and read from Liar's Moon! We also got loads of ARCs and we still have a copy left to give you! (thanks, Scholastic!)

StarCrossed is a smart historical fantasy aimed towards teenage girls. It has gotten raving reviews! Read Liar's Moon, the sequel, so that Bunce can write the third installment! I just loved getting into Digger's world and, like Bunce eluded to when she was at The Bookcase, Digger is a confident, curious young woman who can really kick butt. And for those of you who like history, Bunce does a great job of weaving an accurate historical feel in with her fantasy!

Scroll down to read her interview with us! 

You said you wrote for a long time before you realized you wanted to pursue a career as an author, so was A Curse Dark as Gold your first finished novel, or were there books before that?

ECB: Curse was the second complete novel I had written. Before that I had finished one novel, which was a retelling of a Greek myth, and written hundreds of pages of partial novels. All those unfinished projects were valuable, though--I learned the basics of crafting scenes, writing dialogue, establishing setting and mood, and I honed my voice. But it took two ideas I was really passionate about to carry me through to The End on those first two finished books.

How long did it take you to complete StarCrossed?

ECB: That is a tough, tough question. StarCrossed is probably the one novel I can't put a timeframe on, because the process was so frequently interrupted by other things! In one sense, it took more than 20 years, because it's set in the world of my earliest efforts at novel writing. In another sense, it took about ten years, because that was when I first had the idea for Digger's specific story. It was originally envisioned as an adult novella, with the same premise and many of the same characters. But for whatever reason, it never went anywhere. When I knew for certain I was meant to be a YA author, I resurrected the story and realized that it had far more mileage if Digger and her lady companion were younger. I scrapped everything I had written previously, and started anew in 2005, right after submitting Curse to my publisher. But I soon had to put it aside again, to work on revisions for that book. I finally started again in earnest in late 2007 (after everything for Curse was finally done), and had the finished draft to my editor about a year later.

What about writing historical fiction do you like most?

That's an easy question! I love learning fascinating true facts from our own world's real history, and letting them spark amazing story ideas. StarCrossed is set in a completely made-up world, but a lot of the things Digger encounters are based in real historical fact--from the very mundane, like sleeves that tie on, instead of being sewn to the rest of your dress--to the more significant, such as the Inquisition and the persecution of minority religious groups. Although I never lose sight of the larger ramifications of the social issues I explore, I'm probably most fascinated by the small details--like the fact that period artillery (the cannons Digger goes in search of) were named after birds! It's those details that lend such richness to a world, and also give you the best opportunities for great fictional moments.
What is your writing routine like?

I take a lot of time off. That's probably a bad place to start this answer, but I guess the best way to put it is that I write in very intense blocks of several months at a time, and then must take equal amounts of downtime to recharge, research, etc. When I'm working (at the moment I'm on a brief hiatus so I can handle all the bits involved in having a new book come out), I write for 6-9 hours a day, sometimes seven days a week... much of that time spent in my pyjamas. I am enormously fortunate to have a very supportive husband who buys all our groceries and patiently waits for me to get around to the laundry! I can say, though, that there is never a time when my thoughts are not occupied by story ideas, character sketches, or scraps of dialogue.

Do you have an all-time favorite book? Anything that young adult girls would enjoy? 

My very favorite book in all the world is Peter S. Beagle's marvelous ghost story, Tamsin. It wasn't published as young adult, but the main character is thirteen, so I recommend it to my readers all the time. For other recommendations, I'm going to point you to my website, where I have many of my favorite reads sorted into helpful categories:   And right now on my blog ( I'm featuring a weekly series of Read-Alikes for the second Digger novel, Liar's Moon, which comes out in November. Lots of fun titles there, as well.

How did you go about getting StarCrossed published?

My publisher for A Curse Dark as Gold had what's known as an "option clause," which means I agreed to submit my next book to them first. My agent sent them a proposal, which is a package of information to help the publisher decide whether to buy a manuscript. The proposal contained a "partial" (a partial manuscript, or the first three chapters), a synopsis, and a series pitch (a few short lines about other Digger books I was thinking about). After gathering sales data for Curse, they made an offer for two books about Digger, StarCrossed and Liar's Moon! I then had to finish writing StarCrossed, and figure out what Liar's Moon was going to be about.

Lastly, did you have a favorite character to write in StarCrossed?

I am fond of all my characters, but the one who came most naturally was Meri, Digger's friend and companion. There was always more to Meri than anyone suspected (except maybe Meri!), and it was fun bringing that out of her.  Another character who was so much fun I just had to bring him back for the sequel was Eptin Cwalo, the smuggler. He's sly and cunning, and his efforts to convince Digger to marry one of his sons make a nice recurrent bit of levity in otherwise dark moments. 

(Thanks to Elizabeth Bunce for taking the time to answer our burning questions!)

Now....who wants to win a signed galley of Liar's Moon?!?!?!

-Click Here to fill out the form to enter
-Contest ends January 15th
-This is not an international giveaway (sorry, I don't have the expenses!) But if you have a U.S. address that would work!
-Thanks for entering and spread the word!

Happy reading!

Youth Board Coordinator & Young Adult Specialist

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Win a Manuscript Critique from Outstanding Literary Authors & Agents!

You have a chance to win a critique of your young adult or middle grade manuscript by agents who represent authors like Meg Cabot. Below is more information from Book Wish, the website holding this wonderful contest! Don't wait, start your essay now!

Win a literary agent or acclaimed author's feedback on your unpublished manuscript for young adult or middle grade readers.  This rare opportunity is being offered to the six winners of an essay contest recently announced by the literacy charity Book Wish Foundation.  See for full details.

You could win a manuscript critique from:
  • Laura Langlie, literary agent for Meg Cabot
  • Nancy Gallt, literary agent for Jeanne DuPrau
  • Brenda Bowen, literary agent and editor of Karen Hesse's Newbery Medal winner Out of the Dust
  • Ann M. Martin, winner of the Newbery Honor for A Corner of the Universe
  • Francisco X. Stork, winner of the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award for The Last Summer of the Death Warriors
  • Cynthia Voigt, winner of the Newbery Medal for Dicey's Song and the Newbery Honor for A Solitary Blue

All that separates you from this prize is a 500-word essay about a short story in Book Wish Foundation's new anthology, What You Wish For.  Essays are due Feb. 1, 2012 and winners will be announced around Mar. 1, 2012.  If you win, you will have six months to submit the first 50 pages of your manuscript for critique (which means you can enter the contest even if you haven't finished, or started, your manuscript).  You can even enter multiple times, with essays about more than one of the contest stories, for a chance to win up to six critiques.

If you dream of being a published author, this is an opportunity you should not miss.  To enter, follow the instructions at

Good luck and best wishes,

Logan Kleinwaks
President, Book Wish Foundation

What You Wish For (ISBN 9780399254543, Putnam Juvenile, Sep. 15, 2011) is a collection of short stories and poems about wishes from 18 all-star writers: Meg Cabot, Jeanne DuPrau, Cornelia Funke, Nikki Giovanni, John Green, Karen Hesse, Ann M. Martin, Alexander McCall Smith, Marilyn Nelson, Naomi Shihab Nye, Joyce Carol Oates, Nate Powell, Sofia Quintero, Gary Soto, R.L. Stine, Francisco X. Stork, Cynthia Voigt, Jane Yolen.  With a Foreword by Mia Farrow.  Book Wish Foundation is donating 100% of its proceeds from the book to the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, to fund the development of libraries in Darfuri refugee camps in eastern Chad.


Sounds like an opportunity aspiring authors can't pass up! For those who are entering, good luck!

Youth Board Coordinator & Young Adult Specialist