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July 2005 Newsletter July 2005
This Month on

Staying Cool

HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE by J.K. Rowling: Our Review Talks to Melissa de la Cruz, Author of The Au Pairs Series Talks to Holly Black, Author of VALIANT Talks to Elisa Carbone, Author of LAST DANCE ON HOLLADAY STREET


Series Feature: The Gatekeepers by Anthony Horowitz

Cool New Books for July

The 2005 Alex Awards

Best of the Best

Attention Teen Book Club Members

This Month's Reviews
Poll: When you love a book....
Question of the Month
Word of Mouth: Tell Us What You're Reading and You Could Win a Book
Links You'll Love
Word of Mouth
Question of the Month
Over 1,620 reading guides

Staying Cool

The temperatures have been hot hot hot all around the country this summer. How to keep cool? Read. The only exertion is flipping the pages. And if you flip fast enough because you are enjoying what you are reading, you can create a breeze! Ahhhh, can you feel yourself cooling off already?

Last weekend both of my sons read HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE. One was finished by Sunday; the other by Monday. The speed with which they read this book, after eagerly anticipating its release, is inspiring this month's poll question. We ask whether you savor a book when you love it, or race through it. Let us know. Also, this month's question asks what book you never wanted to see end because you enjoyed it so much.

I love when books are made into movies. I always try to have the book read first, and then love seeing how the story unfolds on the screen. In the next few weeks Lifetime Television will be airing two movies that you may enjoy. The first is based on THE DIVE FROM CLAUSEN'S PIER by Ann Packer. This will air Monday, July 25th. It's the story of a young woman whose fiance is tragically injured in a beach accident and what happens to their relationship in the aftermath. Then BEACH GIRLS, based on the book by Luanne Rice, airs in a special five-week event starting on Sunday, July 31st. It's the story of girls who were inseparable at the beach when they were in their teens, and what happens to them as adults as they reunite after one of them has died. Luanne has spent time on the set of Beach Girls. Read her blog to see her comments on this experience.

This month we have a little bit of everything for you in our reviews and features. I confess to rather uproarious laughter as I read the new Sophie Kinsella book, THE UNDOMESTIC GODDESS. Often I just want to laugh when I read instead of taking things sooooo seriously. For the record, my older son reads Kinsella as he says it gives him insight into how girls think. This does make me laugh even more. But think how much truth is spoken in fiction!

If you have not yet explored the new series from Anthony Horowitz, time is wasting. For those of you who love his Alex Rider series, this new series, The Gatekeepers, is a must read.

Love lists of great reading? Well, this month we have them. We have posted both the Alex Awards, the titles that the Young Adult librarians selected as the best adult books for teens, and the Best of the Best (BOB) titles from the last ten years that also were selected by Young Adult librarians. May we suggest you share this info with the folks at your school who make up those summer reading lists that you all seem to loathe? Clearly there are some exciting reading choices on these lists!

Happy reading...and enjoy your summer.

Carol Fitzgerald (


J.K. Rowling has promised that each of Harry Potter's years at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry will be darker and more difficult than the one before. She has kept her promise in this sixth installment, which is the darkest and most complex of the books yet. But just in case you have any doubt, Harry is proving well up to the tasks at hand --- and his magical world seems more vivid and real than ever.

Click here to read our review of HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE. Talks to Melissa de la Cruz, Author of The Au Pairs Series

SKINNY-DIPPING is the second installment in Melissa de la Cruz's Au Pairs series, about three girls from different classes and parts of the world who spend their summers together in the Hamptons. contributing writer Amy Alessio spoke with de la Cruz about the wonderful friendship her young protagonists share and the feedback she receives from readers concerning this subject. She also explains how she became interested in writing for teens, discusses the inspiration for some of the characters in her novels, and gives readers a sneak peak at her new series, which combines fantasy with the high-fashion world.

by Melissa de la Cruz (Fiction)
Your favorite bikini-clad au pairs --- Mara, Eliza and Jacqui --- are back for another season of skinny-dipping in Georgica Pond, tanning on Main Beach, and (of course) babysitting for the Perry kids. The girls think they're ready for another summer of outrageous fun, but a lot of things have changed since last year. Reviewed by Amy Alessio and excerpted.

Read our interview with Melissa de la Cruz, an excerpt and a review of SKINNY-DIPPING here. Talks to Holly Black, Author of VALIANT

2002 marked the release of Holly Black's suburban fantasy novel, TITHE: A Modern Faerie Tale. Three years later, Black returns to the dark and dangerous world of Faerie in VALIANT: A Modern Tale of Faerie. In this interview, conducted by contributing writer Carlie Webber, Black explains the universal appeal of her books and describes a typical day in her event-filled life. She also discusses MTV's plans to adapt her current novel into a film and lets readers know about her future projects, which includes a sequel to TITHE.

VALIANT: A Modern Tale of Faerie by Holly Black (Fantasy)
When seventeen-year-old Valerie Russell runs away from home, she's trying to escape a life that has completely betrayed her. Sporting a new identity, she takes up with a gang of squatters who lives in the city's labyrinthine subway system --- and finds herself caught up in an urban world of faerie mayhem. Reviewed by Carlie Webber and excerpted.

Click here to read our interview with Holly Black and a review of VALIANT. Talks to Elisa Carbone, Author of LAST DANCE ON HOLLADAY STREET contributing writer Sarah A. Wood interviewed Elisa Carbone, author of LAST DANCE ON HOLLADAY STREET. Carbone talks about the important messages she would like readers to take away from her book, which depicts the sex trade and the various personal and economic pressures that women faced in the late 1800s. She also explains why she enjoys writing historical fiction for a young audience and previews her next novel, which will be released in 2006 to coincide with the 400-year anniversary of the founding of the first permanent English colony in the New World.

LAST DANCE ON HOLLADAY STREET by Elisa Carbone (Historical Fiction)
The year is 1878. Thirteen-year-old Eva doesn't have a family and feels like an orphan --- but she's not. Sadie Lewis, the woman who gave her up at birth, is living in Denver. And Eva, armed with an address, is determined to find her. But this mission holds more surprises than she ever could have anticipated. Reviewed by Sarah A. Wood.

Read our interview with Elisa Carbone and a review of LAST DANCE ON HOLLADAY STREET here.


THE UNDOMESTIC GODDESS by Sophie Kinsella (Fiction)
High-powered attorney Samantha Sweeting has made a mistake that will cost her law firm's client millions of dollars. Stunned by the news and visualizing everything she's worked for crashing down around her, she runs away. A series of misunderstandings finds Samantha accepting a housekeeping position, a job for which she has absolutely no qualifications. Can this "undomestic goddess" master the domestic arts? Will her old life ever catch up with her? And if it does, will she want it back? Reviewed by Joni Rendon and excerpted.

Click here to read our review of THE UNDOMESTIC GODDESS.

Series Feature: The Gatekeepers by Anthony Horowitz

RAVEN'S GATE: Book One of The Gatekeepers
by Anthony Horowitz (Horror/Fantasy)
From the author of the bestselling Alex Rider novels comes THE GATEKEEPERS, a gripping new series that pits good against evil and past against present in a battle that will determine the course of future civilization. In RAVEN'S GATE, the first riveting book in the series, a troubled young boy finds himself at the heart of a strange and sinister plot hatched by the bizarre inhabitants of a remote English village. Will he uncover the truth in time to put an end to their evil plans and save himself as well? Reviewed by Joni Rendon and excerpted.


To read more about THE GATEKEEPERS click here.


Cool New Books for July

July's roundup of Cool New Books includes ARE WE THERE YET? by David Levithan, the story of two brothers whose relationship is put to the test while on a tour of Italy; SLEEPING FRESHMEN NEVER LIE, David Lubar's hilarious account of a boy's freshman year in high school; COLLATERAL DAMAGE, an original novel based on the hit TV series "Alias"; and MIDNIGHT GAMES, the second installment in R.L. Stine's spine-tingling Fear Street Nights trilogy.

Read our Cool New Books Feature here.


The 2005 Alex Awards

During National Library Week, which took place April 10-16, 2005, the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) --- a division of the American Library Association (ALA) --- announced this year's winners of the Alex Awards.

The Alex Awards were created to recognize that many teens enjoy and often prefer books written for adults, and to assist librarians in recommending adult books that appeal to teens. The award is named in honor of the late Margaret Alexander Edwards. Nicknamed "Alex," this young adult specialist at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Maryland firmly believed that adult books are as beneficial toward enhancing and enriching the minds of young adults as designated "teen books" are.

Read about the 2005 Alex Awards here.
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Best of the Best

The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), has selected the best books for young adults from the past decade. Prior to ALA's Annual Conference in Chicago, which took place June 23-29, 2005, participants chose 100 titles from YALSA's annual Best Books for Young Adults, Alex and Michael L. Printz awards lists.

The books that were chosen the "100 Best of the Best for the 21st century" have lasted, or should last, through the years, remaining the "Best of the Best" books for young adults.


To read more about the "Best of the Best" books for young adults, click here.

Attention Teen Book Club Members

Are you in a Teen Book Club? If so, Readers Circle wants to know more about your group. For sharing this info, here are the very cool prizes that they are giving away:

ONE Grand Prize Winner will receive:

a full set of Readers Circle Books 
a pizza party
a photo of his/her book club on our site.
and a Readers Circle book of their choice for every member of their book club!

Note: TWO runners-up will receive a full set of Readers Circle books.

Click here to learn more about the contest.

This Month's Reviews

ARE WE THERE YET? by David Levithan (Fiction)
An impressionistic blend of novel, travelogue and poetry, David Levithan's newest book focuses on two brothers --- one hardworking and serious, the other dreamy and mellow --- who are tricked by their parents into vacationing together in Italy. Will Elijah and Danny be able to put aside their differences and remember the affection they once had for each other? Reviewed by Sarah A. Wood and excerpted.

SANDPIPER by Ellen Wittlinger (Fiction)
Critically acclaimed author Ellen Wittlinger tackles the difficult subjects of sex and self-worth in this novel about a bright young woman who learns the hard way what it means to really love someone. Reviewed by Norah Piehl and excerpted.

PRETTY THINGS by Sarra Manning (Fiction)
Brie, Charlie, Walker and Daisy are four London teens trapped in a love rectangle. All are involved in a local summer theater production of "The Taming of the Shrew," but little do they know that their lives will become equally as dramatic as a Shakespearean play. Reviewed by Kristi Olson and excerpted.

MY SISTER'S KEEPER by Jodi Picoult (Fiction)
Winner of the 2005 Alex Award
New York Times bestselling author Jodi Picoult is widely acclaimed for her keen insights into the hearts and minds of real people. Now she tells the emotionally riveting story of a family torn apart by conflicting needs and a passionate love that triumphs over human weakness. Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum and excerpted.

SHADOW DIVERS: The True Adventure of Two Americans Who Risked Everything to Solve One of the Last Mysteries of World War II by Robert Kurson (History/Adventure)
Winner of the 2005 Alex Award
In 1991, two recreational scuba divers discovered a sunken German U-boat sixty miles off the New Jersey coast. No historian, expert, or government had a clue as to which U-boat the men had found. In fact, the official records all agreed that there simply could not be a sunken U-boat and crew at that location. Over the next six years, an elite team of divers embarked on a quest to solve the mystery. Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub and excerpted.

TRUTH & BEAUTY: A Friendship by Ann Patchett (Memoir)
Winner of the 2005 Alex Award
In her frank and tender first work of nonfiction, Ann Patchett tells of the warm and beautiful friendship she had with fellow writer Lucy Grealy, a remarkable woman who in her all-too brief life faced childhood cancer, years of chemotherapy and radiation, and endless reconstructive surgeries. Reviewed by Heather Grimshaw and excerpted.

MIDNIGHT GAMES: Book Two of Fear Street Nights by R.L. Stine (Horror/Suspense)
In this fast-paced sequel to MOONLIGHT SECRETS, the Night People have yet to uncover those responsible for the strange events occurring in Shadyside. But they better hurry --- because people are turning up dead, and the new kid in town is the prime suspect. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

THE COLOR OF FIRE by Ann Rinaldi (Historical Fiction)
It is 1741 and America, as a colony of Britain, is at war with Spain. An enslaved girl watches as the town erupts into mass hysteria when the whites in New York City convince themselves that the black slaves are planning an uprising. Her best friend is implicated in the plot, and the king's men promise to let him go if he names names. Reviewed by Alexis Burling.

ACROSS THE WALL: A Tale of the Abhorsen and Other Stories by Garth Nix (Short Stories/Fantasy)
Existing fans and newcomers alike will become quickly absorbed in Garth Nix's latest title as he proves his versatility as a storyteller. A wide and interesting array of subjects and settings provides fantasy readers with a great read. Reviewed by Joy Held.

MY BROTHER'S KEEPER by Patricia McCormick (Fiction)
During the roughest year of his life, in which he worries about everything --- from having to take a sex-ed class at school to trying out for the baseball team --- Toby Malone needs his family now more than ever. Unfortunately, his mom, dad and brother all have their share of problems too. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

TIGER, TIGER by Lynne Reid Banks (Historical Fiction)
In this attention-grabbing story from the author of THE INDIAN IN THE CUPBOARD, Aurelia comes to realize the injustices of her society when her pet tiger and secret love are forced into the Colosseum's arena for a fight to the death. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

JUST LIKE THAT by Marsha Qualey (Fiction)
Marsha Qualey avoids clichés in this unusual novel about a tragedy's unexpected consequences for an intelligent and complicated young woman's understanding of family, friends, and self. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

UNDERWORLD by Catherine MacPhail (Fiction)
A school trip goes disastrously wrong when five troubled high school students who all dislike one another are trapped in an underground cave. The teens now must find a way out while confronting their worst fears --- and each other. Reviewed by Sarah Sawtelle.

NASTYbook by Barry Yourgrau (Anthology)
A boy is sent to a doctor to learn to stop picking his nose. A hot teen movie star gets transformed into a gerbil. A pirate captain becomes violently seasick. These are just some of the scenarios in Barry Yourgrau's NASTYbook, a collection of gruesome and grotesque stories intended to disgust and delight young readers. Reviewed by Sarah A. Wood.

SINGER by Jean Thesman (Fantasy)
Gwenore, the daughter of an evil witch named Rhiamon, is rescued and sent on a dangerous journey that will reveal the secret of her true self and her strength against her mother's dark forces. Reviewed by Sarah Sawtelle.

Read this month's reviews here.
Poll: When you love a book....

If you are reading a book you love, what do you do?

-Race through it so you can see what happens
-Read fast knowing you will re-read it to get more detail the second time
-Read as slowly as possible to savor each page
-Read the same way you normally do

Click here to participate in the poll.
Question of the Month

What's a book you have never wanted to see end because it was so good?

Post your reply to our Question here.
Word of Mouth: Tell Us What You're Reading and You Could Win a Book

This contest period, one teen reader will be randomly chosen to win a copy of SLEEPING FRESHMEN NEVER LIE by David Lubar. (Click on the link below for the official rules) To automatically enter to win, e-mail us your recommendations and book ratings.


Post your Word of Mouth comments here.

Have a great month...and make some time each day to read something you enjoy!

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