Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What Boys Really Want by Pete Hautman

National Book Award winning author Pete Hautman lets us in on the secret. Lita is the writer. Adam is the entrepreneur. They are JUST FRIENDS. So Adam would never sell copies of a self-help book before he'd even written it. And Lita would never try to break up Adam's relationship with Blair, the skankiest girl at school. They'd never sabotage their friends Emily and Dennis. Lita would never date a guy related to a girl she can't stand. They'd never steal each other's blog posts. And Adam would never end up in a fist fight with Lita's boyfriend. Nope, never. Adam and Lita might never agree on what happened, but in this hilarious story from Pete Hautman, they manage to give the world a little more insight into what boys and girls are really want.

Publisher: Scholastic
Number of Pages: 304
Type: Hardcover

Reviewed by Amanda, age 16

Amos Daragon, The Key of Braha by Bryan Perro

Amos, a boy of intelligence and ingenuity, survived his first mission as Mask Wearer, but soon after that, an encounter with a mysterious girl brings his life to an end—and sends him on his way to Braha, the City of the Dead, where souls await judgment. To get there, Amos, now a spirit himself, boards a boat, on which he meets Jerik, a decapitated criminal who must carry his head everywhere. Jerik tells Amos that Braha is overcrowded with spirits; the gods have shut the doors that lead to paradise and to hell. A key is said to unlock the doors—but its whereabouts are unknown. Only someone who dies and comes back to life can find it. Will Amos be that someone? Most importantly, even if Amos finds the key, will he ever return to the land of the living?

Publisher: Random House
Number of Pages: 192
Type: Hardcover

Reviewed by Lily, age 10

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

15 year old Tiger Lily, proud and fierce, wild and misunderstood, doesn't believe in love stories or happy endings. Then she meets the teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland, and immediately falls under his spell. As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland's inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily. Soon, she is risking everything to be with the haunted, hunted, courageous boy who loves her. When - as a punishment for her rebellious ways - she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she's always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter. With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed. But it's the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who's everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

Publisher: HarperTeen
Number of Pages: 256
Type: Hardcover

Reviewed by Peyton, age 15

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Insignia by S.J. Kincaid


More than anything, Tom Raines wants to be important, though his shadowy life is anything but that. For years, Tom’s drifted from casino to casino with his unlucky gambler of a dad, gaming for their survival. Keeping a roof over their heads depends on a careful combination of skill, luck, con artistry, and staying invisible. 

Then one day, Tom stops being invisible. Someone’s been watching his virtual-reality prowess, and he’s offered the incredible—a place at the Pentagonal Spire, an elite military academy. There, Tom’s instincts for combat will be put to the test, and if he passes, he’ll become a member of the Intrasolar Forces, helping to lead his country to victory in World War Three. Finally, he’ll be someone important: a superhuman war machine with the tech skills that every virtual-reality warrior dreams of. Life at the Spire holds everything that Tom’s always wanted—friends, the possibility of a girlfriend, and a life where his every action matters—but what will it cost him?

Publisher: Katherine Tegan Books
Number of Pages: 444
Type: Hardcover

Reviewed by Connor, age 16

Friday, February 17, 2012

Partials by Dan Wells (plus a giveaway!)

Reduced to only tens of thousands by a weaponized virus to which only a fraction of humanity is immune, the survivors in North America have huddled together on Long Island. The threat of the partials is still imminent, but, worse, no baby has been born immune to the disease in over a decade. Humanity’s time is running out. 

When sixteen-year-old Kira learns of her best friend’s pregnancy, she’s determined to find a solution. Then one rash decision forces Kira to flee her community with the unlikeliest of allies. As she tries desperately to save what is left of her race, she discovers that the survival of both humans and partials rests in her attempts to answer questions of the war’s origin that she never knew to ask. 

Combining the fast-paced action of The Hunger Games with the provocative themes of Battlestar Galactica, Partials is a pulse-pounding journey into a world where the very concept of what it means to be human is in question.

Publisher: HarperTeen
Number of Pages: 472
Type: Hardcover

Reviewed by Connor, age 16

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Fracture by Megan Miranda (plus an interview and giveaway!)

Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
Number of Pages: 264
Type: Hardcover

Fracture was a very fun read. Delaney, the main character, was a bit frustrating at times just because she liked Decker but continued to shut him down. Aside from that, I loved Fracture and thought it was a very original novel. It was a mixture of mystery, romance, and realistic fiction with fantasy elements. Each one of Delaney’s friends and family members were all very different and fun to learn about. Decker, of course, was my favorite. And I enjoyed reading the book from Delaney’s point of view. There really was a never a slow part. In fact, within the first few pages I was already hooked until the end. Megan Miranda did a wonderful job with the writing; the book flows nicely and is a relatively quick read. After very unpredictable twists and turns Delaney goes through after coming home from the hospital because of her swim under the ice, the book came to satisfying conclusion. It’s the perfect read for these chilly winter months!

This book is in stores now
Visit the author's official website, here
Buy Hardcover

Read the free tie-in story about Fracture, called Eleven Minutes, which is in Decker's point of view here

Read our interview with Megan Miranda! 

1) Was there any specific inspiration for the creation of Fracture? Had you heard of this kind of phenomenon before? Or something as equally bizarre?

I hadn’t heard of something exactly like this, per se, but I did draw on some similar ideas. Primarily, synesthesia. The idea that certain people register senses in different ways. People who see colors when they hear certain sounds, or who taste something particular when speaking a certain word. It can be genetic, but it can also happen after a stroke or other neurological change.
In addition, there have been anecdotal stories of animals that could sense or predict death (living in nursing homes), which led people to believe there was something physiological, some scent that they could pick up on.
To me, both of these ideas supported the possibility for the idea behind Fracture… is it something that happens? Not that I know of. But could it? Why not?

2) Who was your favorite character to write? 

I really enjoyed writing the scenes with both Delaney and Decker… so in that way, I think Decker was my favorite. I also really enjoyed writing Janna, because I think she’s someone I would’ve been friends with.

3) Were Delaney's friends completely made up, or based off of people you know? 

They were completely made up. But now that my family and friends are reading it, they’re picking up on traits (both mine and theirs) in some of the different characters. I think it’s only natural to pull on things you know—it helps me relate more to the characters. But there isn’t any one character that’s based on a particular person.

4) What aspect of the book was the most fun for you to write? The science/fantasy element? The love triangle? 

My favorite part of writing is developing the characters and their relationships. I loved writing the scenes of friends together (whether that be the whole group or just Delaney and Decker). I’m definitely interested in the science side, but as far as the most “fun,” it was the relationships.

5) Did you always like to write? Or see yourself writing professionally alongside your passion for science? 

I did always love to write, but I spent a lot of time after high school not writing. I saw myself doing it on the side, but somehow I lost that side of me as I got more involved in my future career (or what I thought was my career at the time). I’d pick it up again every now and then, but I never got serious about it.
But I always, always read. It wasn’t until I was home with my 2 small kids that I wondered why I wasn’t writing, since it was something I loved to do. So I started taking it seriously, treating it like my job, in the hopes that one day it would eventually become my job.

Thanks so much for having me!

Thank you Megan Miranda for answering our burning questions! It's funny that you liked writing Decker and Delaney the most--because those were my favorite scenes to read as well! 

Win Fracture! (advance copy)

-Must me 13 years or older to enter
-Must live in the U.S. (sorry international followers, I don't have the expenses!) 
-This contest ends February 5th

Your Prize!

Happy reading!
Rachel, age 16

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The (YA) Bookcase Interviews John Coy

A couple weeks ago The Bookcase was at the Children's Book Breakfast, a breakfast for librarians, teachers, and book lovers to meet authors and buy their books. We had tons of authors on the panel--and lots of good books! Among some of the outstanding authors, was John Coy. I met him at the checkout counter, (I was 'the Runner'), and he was nice enough to check out our blog and agree to an interview! 

Here is a little bit about John Coy 

John Coy has won many awards for his pictures books, and middle grade and young adult novels. In his interview he talks about Box Out and Crack Back, which are his young adult works. He's a sports enthusiast and his books appeal to athletes, sport lovers, and reluctant readers. 

4 on 4 Series
Coy's young adult novels

John Coy Interview

BC:  You've written for so many age groups, what is the best part of each of them?

JC:  The delight on the faces of young children when a picture book is read to them is a treat. Even if they have heard the story before, many of them act like it is brand new. Picture books are designed to be read by an adult to a child and it is a great gift to provide something that can result in such sharing.

The 4 for 4 middle grade series has been a lot of fun because this is the age when many students are deciding how much they like reading. To provide books that connect with their genuine interests is cool and having someone really connect strongly with a character is rewarding.

YA novels are so much fun because teens let you know when they like something. I get so many letters and emails from students who have connected strongly with CRACKBACK and BOX OUT and I appreciate every one. Teens are also great about telling their friends when they like a book, and this is a great help in getting the word out.

BC:  Have you always been an athlete? Is writing books with sports natural for you? 

JC:  Yes, I grew up running and playing and chasing balls. It’s deep in the fiber of my body and I love writing about sports. I write books that I would have liked to read, and I wish there would have been the broad range of sports books to read that there are now. We have some excellent authors who know what they’re writing about when they write about sports. We still could use more women writing about girls and sports, though.

BC:  Of all the characters you've created, which is your favorite to write?

JC: I’ll take James in STRONG TO THE HOOP. He gets into a game with the older kids and has to find out if he’s ready. The story is a nice metaphor for all kinds of things and I’ve been surprised how strongly little kids are drawn to it. I also had to do a lot of research on that book. That meant I could go play basketball every day and justify it as research.

BC:  Have you ever encountered writer's block? Or have you always had a book to write? You have so many!

JC:  This is one of the joys of writing in different forms. If I’m stuck on a novel, I can work on a picture book manuscript or the other way around. Working on different things helps expand my view and allows me to see new possibilities.

BC:  Do you see yourself venturing into other genres? Mystery, romance, fantasy, even writing for adults, etc? 

JC:  Yes, part of what I love about writing is trying new things. I wouldn’t close the door on any of these and hope to surprise myself about what I choose to work on in the future.

BC:  What is something we could find you doing besides writing?

JC:  Taking a yoga class with Ben Lee at the Midtown Y in Minneapolis or Joy Laine at Ramsey Junior High in St. Paul. Both are outstanding teachers who I learn so much from them. 
I’m off to class now.

Thanks John for your wonderful interview! We definitely hope to see more books from you in the future. Especially more young adult and middle grade! 

To learn more about John Coy and his books, visit his official website, here
Read a review of Love of the Game (one of Coy's middle grade novels) from one of our own reviewers! 

Happy reading! 
Rachel, age 16

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Bloodrose by Andrea Cremer

Calla has always welcomed war.

But now that the final battle is upon her, there's more at stake than fighting. There's saving Ren, even if it incurs Shay's wrath. There's keeping Ansel safe, even if he's been branded a traitor. There's proving herself as the pack's alpha, facing unnamable horrors, and ridding the world of the Keepers' magic once and for all. And then there's deciding what to do when the war ends. If Calla makes it out alive, that is.

Publisher: Philomel
Number of Pages: 406
Type: Hardcover