Monthly Archives: September 2011

Time Traveling…


I admit it –  I am a fan of time traveling stories. (I originally typed “I’m a huge fan of time travel,” then realized I have not ever once time traveled in my life, although I am an avid traveler from place to place in real time.) I love the BBC television series Doctor Who  – introduced to me for the first time by my adult step-son, reintroduced by him to his dad, and I am a fan of Rumiko Takahashi’s Inuyasha anime/manga series.

I am very excited to learn that author Greg Leitich Smith has a new book coming out next year that involves time travel!

This is the summary of Chronal Engine (Clarion Books/March 2012) taken from Greg’s web site:

When Max, Emma, and Kyle are sent to live with their reclusive grandfather for the summer, they’re dismayed to learn he thinks there’s a time machine in the basement.

But when Grandpa Pierson predicts the exact time of his own heart attack, and when Emma is kidnapped by what can only be a time traveler, they realize he was telling the truth about the Chronal Engine.  And if they want their sister back, they’ll have to do it themselves.

So Max and Kyle, together with their new friend Petra, pack up their grandpa’s VW and follow Emma and the kidnapper back in time, to Late Cretaceous Texas, where the sauropods and tyrannosaurs roam.  Can the trio find Emma and survive the hazards of the Age of Dinosaurs, or are they, too, destined to become part of the fossil record?

Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it?  I loved Greg’s other middle grade books, Ninjas, Piranhas, and Galileo (Little, Brown/2003) and Tofu and T. Rex (Little, Brown/2005), so I suspect I’ll love this one, too!

I do wish I were able to time travel to the future to March 2012 so I wouldn’t have to wait to read this one!  Something to look forward to, for sure!

Banned Books Week!


This week is the American Library Association’s annual event celebrating the freedom to choose what you read.  I firmly believe that people have the right to choose reading material for themselves and their young children. I do not believe that people have the right to keep others from reading whatever material they might deem inappropriate for themselves or their children. That means I do not believe in book banning! I do not believe people have the right to force libraries to remove books, keeping other people from choosing what to read. I think it’s perfectly okay for a parent to choose what their own young child reads. When my now teen daughter was very young, yes, I chose her reading material for her.  When she got older, I let her choose her own books, but also gave her suggestions. I do remember that when she was 11 or 12, she asked if she could read John Green’s Looking For Alaska (which was sitting on my bookshelf). I told her I thought she should wait a couple of years, and she said, “Okay.” I wouldn’t have kept her from reading it. She read Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak when she was 14, and I used that book as a conversation starter. I also told her that if she had any questions about any of the books she read, I was there for her. She’s currently reading Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan on my recommendation – she’s 16 years old now and I while I love sharing reading recommendations with her, she’s free to choose her own reading material. When I was in elementary school, I read Go Ask Alice by Anonymous (remember that book?) and Forever by Judy Blume numerous times. Neither book made me want to be a drug-addict runaway or have sex (in fact, I do believe the first time I read Forever, a lot of the details about sex went right over my head). I think I was morbidly curious about lives completely different from my own, and reading stories was a safe way for me to explore that.

For more about Banned Books Week:

American Library Association

ALA list of challenged books (from this year and previous years – scroll down for the PDF links)

Banned, Challenged, Censored Books and Authors lists


Office of Intellectual Freedom (ALA) – videos of Chris Crutcher and Jay Asher supporting Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week – make a video of you reading your favorite banned books and upload it here

Amnesty International – shares a list of writers who have been persecuted/imprisoned for their writings

Happy reading!

Ocean Memories


My fondest childhood memories of the ocean are of my summer visits to Kabo, Japan.  Kabo was the tiny village where my mom spent much of her childhood (although she was born in the States) on an island called O-oshima off of Honshu (the main/largest island of Japan).  My sister, two cousins, and I had the entire beach to ourselves. While my mother and my aunt stood knee deep in the water, holding parasols to keep the sun off their skin, we kids cavorted in the sea, ran up and down the sandy shore collecting fabulous shells, and climbed on the concrete blocks piled by the retaining wall (to protect against the waves).  The sun turned our skin brown as dark caramel. Sometimes we’d see flying fish leap out of the waves as we bobbed along on the waves on inflatable rings. We were unafraid of anything, except maybe the kelp that would tangle around our legs. My best memories from childhood took place on that beach, on that island.

I came across this lovely picture book recently and had to purchase it, not for my niece or any young children, but for myself:

Wave by Suzy Lee (Chronicle Books/2008) is a wordless masterpiece of a little girl’s first encounter with the ocean.

The artist captures perfectly all the curiosity, trepidation, surprise, and joy of discovering the beach and the sea.  The illustrations are mostly black and white, with the ocean painted in vibrant blues. It’s everything I remember about my early experiences with the ocean. I absolutely love this book! Wave isn’t just pretty pictures, but is a story unfolding page by page. No words are necessary. it’s times like these that I so wish I were an artist and able to captures memories and emotions with illustrations.

I’m keeping this book close at hand so I can enjoy it over and over.
Check out the artist’s website – she has created other books, too. I’m going to search out the one called The Z00 – although it’s in Korean, I’ll bet I can figure out the story anyway.

Baby Lit


My main focus for this blog is middle grade and young adult fiction, but sometimes another kind of book catches my attention.  When my daughter was an infant, I loved reading her board books – they were easy to hold while cradling her in my arms, and I didn’t worry about her ripping pages. As she got older, she loved carrying around and “reading” the board books. I have a special place in my heart for these kind of books, but I admit, i don’t look at them much anymore.

While at one of my favorite indie book stores, I saw this sitting on the counter:

Pride and Prejudice: a counting primer by Jennifer Adams (illustrated by Alison Oliver).  As a fan of Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice, I had to check it out. And after I did, I had to buy it! (I gifted it to a very good friend who is a much bigger Austen fan.)

The book counts from 1 English village through 4 marriage proposals to a fun number 10. I don’t want to give away the entire book because part of the joy was discovering each page.  The artwork is fun and inviting.

If you’re not a fan of Pride & Prejudice (gasp!), there is one other Baby Lit board book by the same duo: Romeo and Juliet! I haven’t seen this one yet, but will keep a look out for it!

Book Buzz and The Winner


I wish I had more time to read, so I could read all the books I want to, all at once.  One book I’m really looking forward to reading is Mary Pearson’s The Fox Inheritance.

The summary taken from Mary’s web site:

Once there were three. Three friends who loved each other—Jenna, Locke, and Kara. After a terrible accident destroyed their bodies, their three minds were kept alive, spinning in a digital netherworld. Even in that disembodied nightmare, they were still together. At least at first. When Jenna disappeared, Locke and Kara had to go on without her. Decades passed, and then centuries.
Two-hundred-and-sixty years later, they have been released at last. Given new, perfect bodies, Locke and Kara awaken to a world they know nothing about, where everyone they once knew and loved is long dead.
Everyone except Jenna Fox.

Sounds exciting doesn’t it? My teen daughter and I both loved the book that came before this one: The Adoration of Jenna Fox.  I hope I can read the new book very soon!

The Winner of Tuesday’s ARC drawing is…..well, first let me share the process:

1. I wrote the names of those who entered on paper and then crumpled them into balls. This sound alone makes Trixie come running.  I then put her in a sit-stay and put the pile across the room from her.

2. Once I tell her, “Okay!” she dashes over and picks one name.

3. I call her over and she (kind of) drops the slightly damp with dog drool paper into my hand.

Who is the lucky winner of the ARC of all these things i’ve done?

Congratulations Becky Levine!!! Please send me an email (click on contact info above) and give me your mailing address. The ARC will be on its way to you ASAP!
Thanks, everyone, who entered. There will be other drawings so be sure to come back!

Reading Rave and A Giveaway


I recently finished reading a book I just have to share with you!  all these things i’ve done by Gabrielle Zevin (Farrar Straus Giroux).  It’s not out until September 27th, but a friend passed along the ARC and I read it in just a few days. Keep reading to find out how you can win this ARC. I firmly believe in sharing ARCs and getting book buzz out there for new releases!

The story is set in 2083 when chocolate and caffeine are illegal.  Anya (Annie) Ballanchine is the 16-year-old orphaned daughter of an infamous (assassinated) crime boss of Ballanchine Chocolate. Her only desire is to keep her siblings safe and her dying grandmother alive, while keeping out of trouble. All of this changes when she meets and falls for the new DA’s son. Try as she might to have a “normal” life, after her ex-boyfriend is poisoned by her family’s chocolate, Annie’s involvement with her family associates become deeper, particularly when her brother starts running errands for them.

Gabrielle Zevin is the author of Elsewhere and Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac. I thoroughly enjoyed both of those books, too. I can now say without hesitation that I am a fan of this author!

all these things i’ve done seems to be the first in a series called Birthright. I didn’t want to put the book down. Already I’m impatient for the next book!

Would you like to read this one? All you have to do is comment below (for LJ feed readers click here to comment) to be entered in a drawing.  Entrants must have a US mailing address and must comment by midnight Pacific time today (Tuesday).  I’ll announce the winner on Thursday morning!

Thanks for stopping by!

Congratulations to the Winner!


Thank you to all of you who took time to stop by on Tuesday to check out the Spotlight on Jo Knowles and enter the drawing to win a signed copy of her newest novel, Pearl!  We had 65 entrants! WOOHOO!  For those of you who are used to my drawings (from my other blog), you know that I typically use Trixie, my rat terrier, to randomly pick a winner.  But, 65 was a bit much for me to write on individual pieces of paper and crumble up for Trixie.  This time I used a random number generator and counted from the first entry to the last for the day.  The winning number was 29.  Who was that, you ask?

Laura from The Reading Nook, come on down!  Congratulations on winning the first ever DEBtastic Reads! drawing.  Please email me (see my contact info above) with your mailing address and to whom you want the book signed and I’ll forward your info to Jo!  Thanks, Jo, for generously donating to this drawing!
I hope you all will come back because I have lots of things to share with you – including more drawings for signed books!

Welcome to the Spotlight – Jo Knowles!


Hello! Welcome to the inaugural post of DEBtastic Reads!  Here, I will highlight my favorite books and authors, interviews, book buzz, contests, and more. I hope you will join me and share your favorites, too!  I’d love to have you visit regularly – please feel free to subscribe (below right) and you’ll be informed by email every time I post something new (probably twice a week).

Today, I am absolutely thrilled to be able to feature one of my favorite authors and people, Jo Knowles! Keep reading because below is a chance for you to win a signed copy of Jo’s newest book!  Jo is the author of Lessons From A Dead Girl (Candlewick  Press), Jumping Off Swings (Candlewick Press), and her newest, Pearl (Henry Holt).

In Pearl, fifteen-year-old Bean spends most of her time with her best friend Henry, watching soap operas with him and his homebound mother.  After a tragedy in her family, Bean feels like she might be living her own soap opera, as lies and secrets are revealed.  Bean learns some shocking truths about her beloved grandfather and why he and Bean’s mother were always so at odds.  Then there’s Claire, Bean’s mother’s friend whom Bean doesn’t really like, and suddenly is at the house all the time.  This is a story about secrets, family, and love.  I couldn’t put it down and I shed more than a few tears.  The characters are so real, I cared deeply about all of them, particularly Bean. Jo’s writing just keeps getting better and better.

Spotlight on Jo Knowles:

What was initial spark for PEARL?

Many years ago I was working as an administrative assistant in the English and Philosophy Department at Simmons College to put myself through graduate school. One day I was sitting in the office feeling extremely lonely. It was summer, and most of the faculty were gone, which meant there wasn’t a lot of work for me to do. I remember putting a piece of pink paper into the office typewriter and writing a sentence about a girl named Pearl and how her name came to be. It was just a little scene I wrote, way back in 1995. It would be years before I wrote anything else about her. But that was the spark. Just a girl named Pearl.

Bean finds comfort in eating frozen mini-Snickers bars dipped in hot coffee.  Bean’s mother cooks in a frenzy when she’s feeling emotional.  What do you do to comfort yourself when you’re feeling stressed or upset?

I eat Snickers WHILE I cook like a madwoman. 🙂 Actually, I usually only have Snickers about once a year, because it’s the only candy from my son’s Halloween stash he doesn’t like. But I do tend to cook when I’m stressed. It helps me focus on the task at hand, rather than whatever’s worrying me. When I was in high school, I often did homework at the kitchen table while my dad cooked. I think cooking was his way of unwinding at the end of a long and stressful workday, too. I loved how my dad would read cookbooks and then, rather than follow a recipe, come up with his own version of how a dish would be better done his way. Cooking was probably as much a creative outlet for him as writing is for me.

The main character, Pearl, is called by her nickname throughout the story by her family and close friends – Bean.  What’s one of your nicknames, and where did it come from?

My sister started calling me Bean when I was in junior high, and then a few of my friends picked it up, and then even some of my teachers used it. When I graduated from high school though, my nickname died. I always knew the main character in this book would be named Pearl, but that she wouldn’t go by that name. She needed a nickname to counter all that a Pearl is. “Bean” seemed perfect. So I stole it. 🙂

Thanks for the interview, Debbi! And for this wonderful new blog! I’m honored to be a part of it. xo

Jo Knowles is the author of the young adult novels Lessons from a Dead Girl, Jumping Off Swings, Pearl, and See You At Harry’s (coming May 2012). She has a master’s degree in children’s literature. Some of her awards include the PEN New England Discovery Award, YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, YALSA Quick Picks Top Ten, International Reading Associations Young Adult Choices List, Tayshas List, and Bank Street College’s Best Books for Children (Outstanding Merit).

For more about Jo and her books, check out her site, read her blog, visit her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.

Win A Copy of PEARL!

Wouldn’t you like to own your very own signed copy of Pearl?  I’ll be holding a drawing tomorrow and announcing the winner on Thursday.  All you need to do is comment on this post (for those of you reading this on a LJ feed, click here to comment and enter) by midnight Pacific time today (Tuesday), and your name will entered in the drawing! Winner must have a US mailing address.  Good luck! And thanks for stopping by!

Contact Info


It’s almost time – time for the grand opening of DEBtastic Reads! on September 6th! I hope you’ll all come help me celebrate!  Today, I added my contact info to the blog (see header and sidebar).  I think that’s all for now. If you’d like to see something else added to the pages or sidebar, do let me know! I’m open to suggestions!

See you here on Tuesday! Have a great Labor Day weekend!