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Tag Archives: young adult

Five Minutes with James Klise

James Klise

James Klise

James Klise is a high school librarian in Chicago who published his first book, Love Drugged, last September.  Not only did he launch his book at one of our most successful store events (back in the olden days, kids, when you could touch books in a store before buying them), he was also a regular customer, stocking his school’s library from our shelves.  We were lucky enough to catch up with him at Printers Row Lit Fest last month, and he agreed to answer some questions for our blog.  If you haven’t checked out our review of Love Drugged yet, you can find it here.

[Booksellers Without Borders]: Why should anybody buy your book?

[James Klise]: LOL at this question. Why should anyone pick up my funny, suspenseful, thoughtful, provocative, award-winning novel?

I’ll give you a serious answer. Please buy my book so you can donate it to a local high school library. It’s rare to find a selection of teen novels with gay characters in bookstores, and so we rely on libraries to get them into the hands of readers. But most school libraries are strapped for cash. Speaking as a school librarian, I can tell you that donations of brand-new YA books are always welcome. Many high school teachers have classroom libraries, so these, too, may be a great place to donate your gently used books when you are finished enjoying them.

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Love Drugged by James Klise

Love DruggedHigh school can be a tricky four years to navigate under the best of circumstances.  For 15-year-old Jamie, there is an added complication: he is gay.  We’re living in 2011, when acceptance of the LGBT community is continually reaching new highs, but coming out to family and friends can still be a very difficult and terrifying step, especially for a teenager.  Jamie doesn’t want to wave flags or march in parades; he just wants to feel “normal” and make it through high school intact.

When a classmate discovers Jamie’s identity on a website for gay teens, he decides to preemptively dispel all rumors.  To protect the secret of his sexuality, Jamie begins seeing a girl named Celia Gamez, who is rich, beautiful, and popular.  Celia’s father happens to be in the business of developing new pharmaceutical drugs and lets slip one day that he is testing a new pill that can “cure” homosexuality.  Jamie thinks this is the perfect opportunity to finally become “normal” and carry his relationship with Celia to its expected result.  He steals some of the pills and secretly begins taking them before hanging out with Celia.

As you can guess, this plan doesn’t work out exactly as Jamie had imagined.  The exact downward spiral is best read firsthand, so go get yourself a copy.  I’ll wait…

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Zombies vs. Unicorns edited by Justine Larbalestier and Holly Black

Zombies vs. Unicorns

Zombies vs. Unicorns

Much as I love short story anthologies, I tend to find them lying around half-finished, simply because it is so easy to put them down at the end of a story and get sidetracked by some other shiny book.  So although I bought this book and started reading it back in September when it was first released, it was only recently that I picked it up again and realized I had a couple stories left to go.

The premise of this anthology is an argument started via blog between YA authors Justine Larbalestier and Holly Black about the relative merits of these mythological creatures.  The stories alternate between zombies and unicorns, with a few combining the two.  The editors provide introductions to each story, arguing the virtues of Team Zombie (Larbalestier) and Team Unicorn (Black).  Many big-name YA authors have contributed, including Meg Cabot, Garth Nix, Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, and Scott Westerfeld.  The bickering between the editors feels, at times, a bit contrived, but the stories deliver in fun and exciting ways.

Personally, I was firmly on Team Unicorn when I picked this book up.  In a revelation that is sure to send shock waves through the book blogosphere, I must admit: I am not a fan of zombie literature.  I know it has been very popular of late, with World War Z and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies hitting bestseller lists everywhere.  But I just do not see the appeal of shuffling, leaking, previously-dead people trying to eat your brain.  Unicorns, on the other hand, have a complex and contradictory mythology.  They have healing powers and a sense of purity about them, and yet they can also be deadly.  They have an air of mystery about them.  They glow.  And they don’t leak body fluids.

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Five Minutes with John Connolly

John Connolly

John Connolly

John Connolly is the internationally bestselling author of 14 books (15 later this year).  He is one of our favorite authors around these parts, mostly because his books are some of the best we’ve read, but also because he was kind enough to hold a signing at our store (back when we had a store in which to do that kind of thing).  He graciously agreed to answer some questions for our blog about his newest book, Hell’s Bells, released in the UK earlier this month.  (It will be out in the U.S. in October as The Infernals, but you’ll want to get your hands on it as soon as possible.)

[Booksellers Without Borders]: Why should anybody buy your book?

[John Connolly]: I have no idea why anyone picks one of my books over another.  I feel I should cling to their legs in an embarrassing show of excessive gratitude if, and when, they do.  That’s not false modesty: most authors have this weird ego/self-doubt inner battle going on.  When it comes to The Infernals/Hell’s Bells, or, indeed, The Gates, the answer is the same as for any other of my books: because I’ve done my best to ensure that you put the book down when you’ve finished it and think, gosh, that was actually kind of fun. I wouldn’t mind doing that again…

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Geektastic edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci

Geektastic

Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd

Here’s the back story to this YA anthology: Editors Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci were at Comic-Con 2007 and got to talking about how many Jedi and Klingons were present at such conventions.  They thought it would be fun to write a story about a Klingon and Jedi who wake up together after a late night partying.  Awkward “morning after” meets forbidden geek love.  Except, who would publish such a story for them?  The obvious answer was to contact other geeky YA authors and create an anthology to be this story’s home.  Contributors include Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, John Green, David Levithan, Garth Nix, and Scott Westerfeld.

If the premise of said story sounds hilarious to you, buy/borrow/steal this book today.  If you are confused or bored, it’s probably not for you.

The stories and comics in this anthology cover a wide range of geeks: Sci fi / fantasy; theater and band; role playing, video playing, and cosplaying; comics and graphic novels; and my favorite, the literature geeks.  I only fall into a few of those categories, but I understood the culture more than enough to enjoy these stories.

I was disappointed to find that a lot of geek stereotypes were upheld, including geeks being less attractive and popular than their non-geek counterparts.  Who says someone who is a geek in one area also has to be less athletic and deficient in personal hygiene?  Why is there always one token girl geek?  I won’t even get into the nomenclature of geek vs. nerd.  (I generally identify more as a nerd, but in the end it doesn’t matter.)

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Hell’s Bells by John Connolly

Hell's Bells by John ConnollyFirst a quick note: John Connolly’s latest book was released yesterday in the UK with the title Hell’s Bells.  In the US, it will be released in October under a different title: The Infernals.  Who can wait another 5 months, though?  I recommend ordering a copy from the UK today, although this should in no way interfere with your plans to buy the US edition in October.  You can thank me later.

Connolly is best known for his crime fiction series (starring PI Charlie Parker) and the previously-reviewed The Book of Lost Things.  The Samuel Johnson books, however, are more humorous and adventuresome and generally not as dark.  Read these with tongue fully in cheek!

Hell’s Bells is a sequel to The Gates, featuring a boy named Samuel Johnson and his trustworthy dachshund, Boswell.  In The Gates, the Great Malevolence and his minions tried to invade Earth, but found themselves thwarted by young Samuel, the ever-loyal Boswell, and a very minor demon called Nurd.  Hell’s Bells sees Samuel and Boswell lose the home court advantage as they are transported to Hell by a demon who has fallen out of favor after the failed invasion. Along for the ride are a group of notorious dwarfs, a couple of policemen, and an ice cream truck.  Throughout, Samuel’s ordinary life problems (divorced parents, unattainable girls, and the like) are superseded by the demons he encounters and the battles he witnesses.  His perseverance and continued good humor keep these books light, despite heavy subject matter.

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The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman

The Grimm Legacy

The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman

The Grimm Legacy begins as a tale of an ordinary life: Elizabeth Rew is adjusting to her mother’s death, her father’s remarriage, and switching to public school so her father can help pay tuition for her two new stepsisters.  She has nobody to sit with at lunch time and feels lonely and virtually invisible.  After writing her term paper on the Grimm brothers, her friendly (if eccentric) history teacher offers her an after school job, which she accepts gratefully.

Elizabeth soon learns, however, that this is no ordinary job.  She has been hired as a page at the New-York Circulating Material Repository, a sort of library for objects.  The repository stores and lends out everything from china tea sets to Marie Antoinette’s wig.  But what really surprises our fair heroine is when she learns that the basement of the repository houses the Grimm Collection – magical objects bequeathed to the repository straight out of fairy tales and folklore.

I love this premise for a young adult title, because not only does it make the mundane magical (how many high school students wish their after school job was a bit more glamorous?), it also takes the enchanted and makes it ordinary.  Though apprehensive of these items at first, by the end of the book all the young repository pages have used magical objects in their everyday lives, with varying degrees of success and many unforeseen consequences.

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From My Library…

What I loved about the lively world of a Book store, was the feeling each day to see what brilliant minds had written. Like a birthday… opening a new book felt like a gift. I am quite opinionated and you will learn more about that later. (But books I recommend looking up are worth buying in hard cover.) Here are some books from my library……

Opening TOO LOUD A SOLITUDE a novel by Bohumil Hrabal changed my life….. “Because when I read, I don’t really read; I pop a beautiful sentence into my mouth and suck it like a fruit drop, or sip it like a liqueur until the thought dissolves in me like alcohol, infusing brain and heart and coursing on through the veins the root of each blood vessel.”  Totally FAB!   Buy It!

So………..

FAB FAVES for Adults:

  • FORESKIN’S LAMENT a memoir by Shalom Auslander
  • THE BOOK OF LOST THINGS by  John Connolly

FAB FAVES for kids:

  • THE BEEJUM BOOK by Alice O. Howell
  • THE PALACE OF LAUGHTER The Wednesday Tales No.1 by Jon Berkeley

That’s all for tonight.

HARDBOUNDandGAGGED

(The former bookseller known as Colby)

 
 

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