Sunday, November 27, 2016

BOOK REVIEW & INTERVIEW: The Program by Suzanne Young


BLURB: 
Sloane knows better than to cry in front of anyone. With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.

Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in. And The Program is coming for them.


REVIEW BY: Angel, 14 years


MAY CONTAIN SPOILER:


A heart-wrenching adventure. 


This book took me on an emotional roller-coaster with tons of spectacular characters.


This novel will make you beg for more. In this book Suicide is a disease, an epidemic. Where the Program is watching your every move. No one can cry or grieve, if you do well that means your sick. Your own parents will turn you in.


I absolutely adored this book with every twist and turn.


My favorite character is James because he is mysterious yet, always there for his friends.


My favorite part was reading about Sloane's past because it gave me the good sort of chills.


I give this book 5 stars and 13 and up.




Angel interviewed Suzanne Young at the Texas Book Fest. The interview is located below.


Question #1: What was your inspiration?


"The program started off as a contemporary story about a girl who attempted suicide and then returned to school the next day and everyone knew that and it was kinda the idea that strangers being able to comment on your mental health. So, I started that story but it felt too close, too personal so I kinda spun it out into an epidemic. I looked up suicide clusters and things like that. The movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind with the way they would erase memories, that kinda help feed into of the therapy and so I look it up and they do actually PTSD therapies that you know target memories and tried to make people disassociate with them and so that was kinda the inspiration for that. It had some real world inspiration and then to you know it made the story bigger, I felt like it was easier to read it almost because it wasn't so tight and close on one person, you know? "


Question #2: What was the hardest character to write?


"Ummm...let’s see. I have different reasons...I think Rogers because he was so gross!

He just grossed me out and I hated writing him and because of that he was like my least favorite to write."

Question #3: When did you start writing?

"I was always a writer. I started writing in 6th grade and would write murder mysteries starring all of my friends. I would killed them off one by one in a very Scream like style you know like horror. Then I went to school for creative writing and then I became an English teacher and then I sold my first book in 2008 and so it was a while."


Question #4: How long does it take you to write a book?


"It depends on the book so...on some I write really quickly like All In Pieces I think I wrote it in 2 weeks, the first draft. This one (The Program) took about 3 to 4 months and then the most recent one was about 5 to 6 months. So it kinda depends, if it’s a sequel it takes me longer i think they are super hard to write. I have really hard time with sequels."


Question #5: What are some of your favorite books?


"Books I read...I love anything Sarah Rees Brennan like the The Demon’s Lexicon is one of my favorite books. I love Libbra Bray and The Great And Terrible Beauty...Yeah I love that. I like Nova Ren Suma The Walls Around Us and then I like classics too because I’m an English teacher so I love Frankenstein, and I like Wuthering Heights, and 1984. "


Question #6: Did the Program turn out how you wanted it too?


" I think it did…You know It ended several different ways, like I was never sure about the ending so I kept changing it. There was one ending where they were together and they walked into the river...her and James.  I was like no! We can’t do that,…That was a little too much and another one where she crushed the pill right there on Realm’s doorstep and that was the end. It was just the one book, it was never suppose to be a series just the one book. It was when I wrote the Epilogue that I realized I could write more books about this and so I went back and she didn’t crush the pill and you know I wrote the rest of the series.



Question #7: Do you believe that the Program is good for teens? Or does it cause more suicide?


"Well, what happens in The Treatment not like a huge spoiler, they start to see that it’s actually the fear that The Program is instilling in people that was continuing and growing the epidemic so if they would have handled it when it first happened you know it would have past. You know suicide and epidemics do pass, they are real but instead they almost fed into it and then they created fear and made everyone hid their feelings and by hiding their feelings and not talking about it, that’s what made it worst. But, it was originally started with good intentions you know…They didn’t mean it to be evil…But for the parents like they just wanted help. Yeah, so I didn't intend it to be a big bad guy but yeah it definitely ended up being what continued the epidemic."

Question #8: What part of the book was the hardest to write?


" You know...I hated what happened to Miller…my students would joke about it and you know one day,  girls would said “ I’m Team James,” “I’m Team Realm” and then one of the guys goes “ You know what I’m Team Miller!”  So that was hard but I think... weirdly it was a scene in part two where she’s (Sloane) just taken the black pill where they said you know “ Say goodbye to James” and she walks out into the hallway for some reason that scene always got me. The idea that he was going to be erased forever that was just something that always hurt."

Question #9: What character is your favorite? Why?

"I love James.... I think he was super fun to write, he was a blast. I like Realm a lot too, how complicated he was. There was one version of this where her and Realm ended up together. You know...but he wasn’t always part of it. Like he was just going to be the nice guy she met. In the rest of the series the girl that comes in the next book called, Dallas, I like her quite a bit but yeah probably James because he was fun."

Question #10: Did you leave out anything you wanted in the book?

"Ummm… no. I mean it’s a pretty long book so I think I told a lot of it, I would say. Sometimes I would say some things I needed to scale back a bit you know, but at the same time those are the parts the most of the people identify with. Especially at the end of part one where she’s in her room and they are coming to take her, that’s pretty dark moment. And sometimes I think “aww, I shouldn’t have went there” but at the same time you know I think that’s what helps drives the story."

Question #11: What would you do if the Program took away your memory?

"I don’t know there is anything you can do...you know...So I think you know from their perspective (...obviously we know the truth) but from their perspective I can understand why the returners are scared of their memories now. It’s kinda like someone took them away and told them what ever they took was for a reason and things were awful, you were obviously suicidal and things were really tough for you. And so I think I would believe that and maybe try avoid my old life but of course now after you finished the book you know you realize that wasn’t the best Idea... but yeah I would probably would have laid low.  But, you know I would have missed out on cool things."

Question #12: Would you rather be in the Program or die?

"The Program. Yeah..and I think that was the thing for the parents involved you know I think they would do anything to…to keep their children alive and so it seemed what they were doing was cruel and I can understand from the kids perspective, they didn’t know what was going to happen to them and it seemed so weird. It seemed like they were being rewritten and in a way they were but you know ultimately they still could live and change their lives you know. So I understood why they thought that way because they didn’t know, it was an unknown factor. Yeah… I would go to The Program and I WOULD BEAT IT!!!"

Question #13: Are you a rebel or goody two-shoes?

" Ummm...I’m a little bit of both. I think you know since I’m a teacher I don’t really follow the rules necessarily, like when I want to do things I think there is like a better way but I conscientious of not inflicting pain on other people or hurt people's feelings. So I think that part of me is very good. I also have a hard time following rules."

Question #14: Are you Team Realms or Team James?

"JAMES! I just love him, I just think he is just great. And you know I feel really bad for Realm. You get to hear his backstory in The Treatment and it’s even sadder and makes you feel even worst for him. But then there is James and you're like “Sorry Realm.” Yeah he will at least have one friend. HAHAHAHA!!!"

Question #15: Are you Team Sloane or Team Lacy?

"You know now that I think of it I should have added more to Lacey’s story because I don’t think she had enough but I love Sloane and I think she’s pretty cool and I really like how her character in the beginning doesn’t seem very strong cause her and James completely rely on each other but when he gets sick she steps up and she cares for him as best as she can and so I think she’s stronger than she thinks she is and that’s why I like her."

Question #16: Why does Sloane's mother trust the Program so much?

"I think they were so devastated when Brady died that after that it’s like they would believe anything, like any propaganda. And that’s the thing The Program being you know...to them they are getting flyers about it and it’s on commercials about it and they are seeing that everyone else that goes into The Program survives and so to her she just doesn’t want to lose her daughter. And she can’t even cry in front of her mom, she’s so worried that her mom will be the one to send her in…which ends up being the case....but really she was grieving and in that regard like she wasn’t aloud to feel her grief as well. All of them were in this absolute loop of grief. Rather than getting any kind of help they were being told that The Program was what could fix it and that’s not even true but that’s what they were being told. So, I think for her if she wasn’t…if she hadn’t lost her son I don't think she would have sent her but because she had lost him she just wasn’t going to go through it again. So grief.Yeah… and she, you know, I talk about her in The Treatment too, like what’s gonna happen with their relationship and James’s dad relationship with them so it's kinda like I added something. In the prequel series you know I talk about how The Program became to be, like how did we even get to this place. And one of the main things were that people were unable to handle their grief and so they were turning to different things to handle their grief and eventually The Program came and they thought “hey, that could work.”

Question #17: Would you take the pill to get your memories back? Why or why not?

"I think I probably would?I probably would but it’s so dangerous and it just depends...I don’t know, that’s a tough one.I would probably take it...And hope for the best!"

Question #18: Any interesting facts about yourself?

"Ummmm…oh gosh about me?? I don't know what kind of facts. Let’s see when I...I grew up in New York, in Central New York and I live in Arizona now and the day I graduated from college in December it was like -13 and so I packed up my car with my dog in the front seat and I drove 25,000 miles to Arizona. Didn't know anybody, didn’t know anything about it and I moved there and I been there ever since.
Except for a short time I lived in Oregon where all my books are set.And it rains there a lot and that’s why I think you know it help contribute to the writing because it was raining all the time. Sooo…yeah."

Question #19: Any advice to young writers?

"To keep writing because I wrote so many books I think I almost taught myself a lot of different you know techniques and I think it was my 5th book that was my 1st book I sold, The Program was I think my 15th or 16th book that I wrote. So each book I write hopefully gets better and so to keep writing and nowadays like with publishing they are ways to get your work out there but if it’s something you really believe in I would say like each trying to polish and get it published but always find someone to be your cheerleader.
That was the one thing I really needed. I needed a reader, you know my sister in law ended up reading part of my first book she said “this is really good, you should publish it,” and I never thought to publish it and so I started looking into how to publish. But her being there to like encourage me that’s the only reason I finished my book because other wise I would have given up after awhile when it got hard.  Hahahaha"

A big thank you to Suzanne Young, her publicist, and the Texas Book Fest.

Here is a picture of Suzanne, Angel, and Arianna:


Saturday, November 26, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: Acne,Asthma, & Other Signs You Might Be Half Dragon by Rena Rocford


BLURB:

Allyson fights acne, not trolls. As an inhaler-carrying member of the asthma society, she just wants to meet the father who turned her mother into a paranoid, move-across-the-nation freak. Now she’s trying to fit in at yet another school, but for the first time in her life, she has a best friend, Beth. When Allyson accidentally spits fire at kidnappers in the mall, she realizes why her father isn’t in the picture: she’s half dragon. Her acne? Emerging scales. Her asthma? The side effects of her dragon’s fire breath. Instead of freaking out, unflappable Beth reveals her own troll heritage and explains how things work with the supernatural creatures hiding within the modern world of smartphones and skyscrapers.

When trolls kidnap a unicorn, Beth gets blamed. Allyson is determined to prove Beth’s innocence and keep her friend off the unicorn chopping block. When they start looking for the kidnappers, they get a call from the last person they expect: Allyson’s father. He tries to warn them off, but he’s been put under a spell by the kidnappers to keep the victims from escaping. Nothing short of death can stop him. Now Allyson must choose between killing the father she’s always dreamed of, or letting her best friend die for a crime she didn’t commit.


REVIEW BY: Michaela, 12 years, 5 months

MAY CONTAIN SPOILER:

I loved this book! It was amazing!

I got pulled right in. The author wrote the character perfectly. It was like a movie because of all the descriptive scenes.

My favorite character is Beth because even though she is half-troll she cares about others. I felt bad because she was always getting pushed around.

My favorite part is when Allyson met John because it was so cute and romantic. 

This book is great for anyone who likes magical creatures.

I give this book 5 stars and recommend it for ages 12 and up.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

BOOK REVIEW & INTERVIEW: Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein


BLURB:

Kyle Keeley is the class clown, popular with most kids, (if not the teachers), and an ardent fan of all games: board games, word games, and particularly video games. His hero, Luigi Lemoncello, the most notorious and creative game maker in the world, just so happens to be the genius behind the building of the new town library.

Lucky Kyle wins a coveted spot to be one of the first 12 kids in the library for an overnight of fun, food, and lots and lots of games. But when morning comes, the doors remain locked. Kyle and the other winners must solve every clue and every secret puzzle to find the hidden escape route. And the stakes are very high.

In this cross between Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and A Night in the Museum, Agatha Award winner Chris Grabenstein uses rib-tickling humor to create the perfect tale for his quirky characters. Old fans and new readers will become enthralled with the crafty twists and turns of this ultimate library experience.
 


REVIEW BY: Michaela , 12 years,  5 months

MAY CONTAIN SPOILER:

This book was great. Mr. Grabenstein has a way with words. This story drew me in and this is probably my favorite book by Grabenstein.

I don't think I have a favorite character because they are all awesome and complexly developed. If I had to choose I think my favorite would be Mr. Lemoncello because he is super fun and wacky.

My favorite part is when Mr. Lemoncello came to the school in his cool car because everyone was excited. I got excited with them. Overall, this book was amazing.

I give this book 5 stars and recommend it for ages 9 and up.


Michaela had the privilege of interview Chris Grabenstein at the Texas Book Fest. The interview is located below.

Question #1: What is your favorite book?

" My favorite book is Bud not Buddy by Christopher Curtis and Holes."

Question #2: What is your favorite book you've written?

" I would have to say Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library because more kids have read that book than any other. It's been nominated for 40 state book awards and won 20 of them. It has been on the New York Times bestseller list for 100 weeks and Nickelodeon is making it into a movie. Plus, most kids who don't like to read have read this book which is a big a accomplishment."

Question #3: Where do you write most often?

" Well, I am very lucky to have a two bedroom apartment in New York City. In one of the bedrooms I have an office. It has bulletin boards on the walls with pictures and notes I might need for my story. That is my special place but I can write just about anywhere since I travel a lot."

Question #4: What is your favorite character you've written?

"Mr. Lemoncello because he is pretty wacky he includes book tittle and/or scenes. plus, he is really funny."

Question #5: How long does it normally take you to write a book?

"I write the first draft which is never perfect. Then I write for about 2 or 3 more months. Then I work with the editor for about 3 months until I am satisfied. So about a total of 9 months."

Question #6: What do you like to do in your free time?

"I like to go running. I like to walk my dog. I also love movies. However, I am always thinking about writing. "

A big thank you to Chris Grabenstein, his publicist, and the Texas Book Fest.

Here are a few pictures of Chris and Michaela:


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

BOOK REVIEW & INTERVIEW: All in Pieces by Suzanne Young



BLURB:

Anger-management issues.”

That’s how they classified Savannah Sutton after she stuck a pencil in her ex-boyfriend’s hand because he mocked her little brother, Evan, for being disabled. That’s why they sent her to Brooks Academy—an alternative high school that’s used as a temporary detention center.

The days at Brooks are miserable, but at home, life is far more bleak. Savvy’s struggling to take care of her brother since her mom left years ago, and her alcoholic dad can’t be bothered. Life with Evan is a constant challenge, but he’s also the most important person in the world to Savvy.

Then there’s Cameron, a new student at Brooks with issues of his own; a guy from a perfect family that Savvy thought only existed on TV. Cameron seems determined to break through every one of the walls Savvy’s built around herself, except if she lets herself trust him, it could make everything she’s worked so hard for fall apart in an instant.

And with her aunt seeking custody of her brother and her ex-boyfriend seeking revenge, Savvy’s fighting to hold all the pieces together. But she’s not sure how much tighter she can be pulled before she breaks completely.


REVIEW BY: Arianna, 13 years, 11 months

MAY CONTAIN SPOILER:

This is one of my new favorite stories.

It is heart wrenching and full of raw emotions. It made me cry and laugh yet made me want to read more.

My favorite person in this book is Savannah because she takes care of everyone first and she loves her little brother enough to let him go. She realizes that she is not what is best for him at the moment even if she doesn't want to. This shows just how much she puts other above herself.

My favorite part is when they are in a cornfield and almost get jumped. They run all the way to a gas station and a girl chasing them throws a shoe at their car window. This scene filled me with lots of laughter.

I think anyone and everyone can enjoy this touching and emotional story.

I give this book 5 stars and recommend it for ages 14 and up.


I had the privilege of interviewing Suzanne Young at the Texas Book Fest. The interview is located below.

Question #1: What was your inspiration for "All in Pieces"?

" The scenes in this book are exaggerated but these are things I dealt with growing up and personal experiences."

Question #2: What was your favorite character in your book?

" Retha was my favorite character because when I wrote her I got to pretend like I was tough and it was fun."

Question #3: What was the hardest character to write?

" Patrick was the hardest character to write because I always like to give my characters one redeeming quality but, he had none. He was just a dark and overall horrible person."

Question #4: What was the hardest part of the book to write?

" The hardest part to write was when Savannah said goodbye to her brother because it was a very depressing scene. Every time I read it, I cry. "

Question #5: Have you ever taken care of a person with special needs?

" No, I have never had that amount of responsibility and it is an extraordinary ability to be able to do that."

Question #6: Where you a wild or good child?

" I came from a low income family and everyone expected us to be trouble makers but we were not. We never intentionally made trouble it just seemed to find us."

Question #7: What do you think is the most important thing readers should take away?

" All of these experiences can beat someone down like it did to Savannah but, you have to keep getting back up. She learned to be a normal teen and find love. These experiences helped her in the end."

A big thank you to Suzanne Young, her publicist, and the Texas Book Fest.

Here are a few pictures of Suzanne, Angel, and Arianna:



Friday, November 11, 2016

BOOK REVIEW & INTERVIEW: The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande


BLURB:

When her parents make the dangerous and illegal trek across the Mexican border in pursuit of the American dream, Reyna and her siblings are forced to live with their stern grandmother, as they wait for their parents to build the foundation of a new life. 

But when things don’t go quite as planned, Reyna finds herself preparing for her own journey to “El Otro Lado” to live with the man who has haunted her imagination for years: her long-absent father. Both funny and heartbreaking, The Distance Between Us beautifully captures the struggle that Reyna and her siblings endured while trying to assimilate to a different culture, language, and family life in El Otro Lado (The Other Side).


REVIEW BY: Arianna, 13 years, 11 months

MAY CONTAIN SPOILER:

I absolutely loved this story! This true story filled me with anger, laughter, sadness, and determination.


It tells the story of a young girl and her siblings living in Mexico and immigrating to the U.S.A. They experience things no one should even have to. Yet, they survive and become stronger.

My favorite person is Reyna Grande because this book tells the story of a naive child growing up to be a capable and strong woman.

My favorite part is when Diane helps Reyna realize her potential as a writer. She is a friend and companion to Reyna during a difficult time.

I think those who enjoy emotional coming of age stories and the unexpected obstacles immigrant's face.

I give this book 5 stars and recommend it for ages 11 and up.


I had the privilege of interviewing Reyna Grande at the Texas Book Fest. The interview is located below.

Question #1: What was your inspiration for "The Distance Between Us" ?

  " I wanted people to learn more about what it is like to be a child immigrant and what they experience."

Question #2: What was your favorite person in the book?

" My older sister Mago because she took care of me while my parents where gone and we had a special bond."

Question #3: What was the hardest person to write about?

" It was my father because of his difficulties throughout life and he was dying when I was writing this book."

Question #4: What was your favorite part to write about ?

" It was probably my older sister and I because we had a special childhood bond. This book aloud us to reconnect with each other."

Question #5: What is your favorite part of being a reading rock star author?

" Interacting with young readers is special because I don't always get to."

Question #6: What was the hardest challenge you've had to face and how did it make you stronger?

"Emotionally- it was writing this book because I had to relive everything.
Physically- It was running across the U.S border.

I feel that after doing these thing I can overcome all obstacles in life."

Question #7: What was the biggest cultural difference you noticed?

"In Mexico all the children are outside and playing but here the children are put under house arrest and don't go outside. Everyone is a stranger and you don't have that sense of community or family." 

Here are pictures from my interview with Ms. Grande:

  




A big thank you to Reyna Grande and her publicist for allowing me to interview her.

BOOK REVIEW: Numbers by David A. Poulsen

 

BLURB:

Andy Crockett doesn’t fit in at his new school — not with the goths, not with the jocks, and certainly not with the brains. Not even, really, with The Six, a group of misfits who hang out with each other mostly because they can’t stand hanging out with anyone else.

But maybe Andy’s luck is changing … and all because he is in Mr. Reztlaff’s grade ten social class — Mr. Retzlaff, the coolest teacher; in fact, the coolest thing about Parkerville Comprehensive. Social is awesome from day one. It’s the class that looks at World War II, Hitler, and the Holocaust. It’s the class Andy wants to ace — and make Mr. Retzlaff proud.

But eventually Andy also begins to understand that acing the class might just have a greater cost than he’s willing to pay. And when it turns out that Mr. Retzlaff might not be so cool after all, Andy is facing the most difficult decision of his life.
 


REVIEW BY: Angel, 13 almost 14!


MAY CONTAIN SPOILER:


This novel was a good way to look at the world differently. This book gave me an open mind about several historical events. I have never really thought about others perspective about Jews and The Holocaust. I now see everyone has a different view.


This book was about a boy named Andy Crockett and he has an amazing teacher that can teach him every thing.


However, when Mr. R teaches about the Holocaust he starts acting weird and trying to convince the kids that this event isn't real. Andy soon learns that his teacher despises Jews.


All of Andy's friends will do anything for their new teacher even if it means burning down an old house Jews used to live in. Andy doesn't understand what is wrong with Jews and is having second thoughts about his teacher.


My favorite part is when Andy signs the petition to bring Mr. R back by writing the numbers on a Jewish lady's arm. Andy knows this is the right thing to do.

My favorite character is Patti Bailer because of her intelligence. She knows right from wrong and sticks up for herself and others.

This book was great! I learned a lot.

I give it 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 and up.