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Late May 2011
May 31, 2011

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Beach Bags and Summer Reading...

With summer just around the corner, we know you'll want to make a list of great reads for your vacation time --- not school time --- reading. And we have books that we think will fit the bill perfectly.

First up is WHAT HAPPENED TO GOODBYE, about a nomadic girl who, for the first time, discovers a desire to stay in one place and just be herself --- whoever that is. Click here to listen to Sarah Dessen talk about her latest novel. Jordana and I got to hear Sarah speak last week at a breakfast that we attended, and we both left wanting to read this NOW!

THE DARK CITY by Catherine Fisher has been getting lots of attention, in part because it's the first installment of a four-book series that will be releasing in consecutive months this summer. The final book of the quartet releases in August, so you will not have to wait years for the series to wrap up! Click here to listen to Catherine discuss this highly anticipated fantasy series.

Also in stores now is BEAUTY QUEENS by Libba Bray, which finds teen beauties awakened to savage brutality after being stranded on an island; DIVERGENT, the first in a series of dystopian thrillers from first-time author Veronica Roth; and WHERE SHE WENT, a sequel to Gayle Forman's much talked-about debut, IF I STAY.

We know you’re ready for our fifth annual Beach Bag of Books contest, which includes 16 awesome summer reads, not to mention the perfect beachy summer swag! Click here to see the full list of books and goodies that you can win!

We have another contest that I want to spread the word on --- it’s for RACING IN THE RAIN, a new book adapted from Garth Stein's THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN for young adult readers. It's narrated by a wickedly funny and perceptive dog. Once you finish reading it, we think you will never look at a dog again without wondering what he or she is thinking! Curious? Then be sure to head over to our special site where you can win a copy of the book for you and your family to enjoy. And once you've read it, we want to hear what you think of it. The contest ends THIS FRIDAY, June 3rd at noon ET, so be sure to enter now!

For those of you who are hankering for some paranormal reading, we have a contest up and running that should hit the spot. We’re giving away 15 copies of BITE CLUB, the latest installment in Rachel Caine's Morganville Vampires series. Read our review, an excerpt and our interview with the author before entering the giveaway. The deadline for entries is Thursday, June 9th at noon ET.

You can still win one of 100 copies of STRINGS ATTACHED by Judy Blundell, about down-and-out teenage chorus girl Kit Corrigan. Kit is soon offered keys to a perfect, rent-free apartment, but in exchange for what? I had the pleasure of meeting Judy in January. She shared stories of how she worked to keep the voice and language in keeping with the times in the '50s as she was writing, and it made STRINGS ATTACHED a very enjoyable book. I really felt swept up in the story. Read a review, an excerpt and our interview, and enter the contest by Wednesday, June 8th at noon ET.

Congratulations to the winners of two contests that just wrapped up: DAUGHTERS OF THE SEA #2: MAY by Kathryn Lasky and NUMBERS #2: THE CHAOS by Rachel Ward. We hope you enjoy the books!

We continue to shine our Special Feature spotlight on GEEK FANTASY NOVEL by E. Archer. Ralph knows that wishes can be dangerous. They can land you in fantasy worlds full of killer bunny rabbits, evil aunts and bothersome bacteria. Too bad this gamer isn't prepared for the game he's about to find. Be sure to check out our review, an excerpt and our interview.

Finally, we're curious about whether or not your school has assigned you summer reading. Also, do you make up personal summer reading lists for yourself? Head on over to our poll and let us know. For our new question, we want to know the names of the top five books you plan on reading over the summer that you couldn't find time to read during the school year. And don't forget to enter our Word of Mouth contest, where you can win a copy of PASSION, the highly anticipated third installment in Lauren Kate's Fallen series, which releases on June 14th.

Happy reading!

Carol Fitzgerald (


Now in Stores: WHAT HAPPENED TO GOODBYE by Sarah Dessen

WHAT HAPPENED TO GOODBYE by Sarah Dessen (Fiction)
Since her parents' bitter divorce, Mclean and her father have been on the move. Estranged from her mother, Mclean has followed her dad in leaving the unhappy past behind. And each new place gives her a chance to try out a new persona. But now, for the first time, Mclean discovers a desire to stay in one place and just be herself --- whoever that is. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

Click here to read a review of WHAT HAPPENED TO GOODBYE.


Now in Stores: THE DARK CITY by Catherine Fisher

THE DARK CITY: Relic Master, Book One by Catherine Fisher (Fantasy)
Catherine Fisher’s new series is being released in four consecutive months this summer. The first installment, THE DARK CITY, is set in a world crumbling into disorder and darkness. The Order once guarded ancient relics with mysterious powers, but these relics --- and the Order itself --- are now outlawed by the Watch. A Relic Master and his apprentice set out on a journey to uncover a relic powerful enough to save their world. Reviewed by Sarah A. Wood.

-Click here to see Catherine Fisher talk about the Relic Master series.

Click here to read a review of THE DARK CITY.'s Fifth Annual Beach Bag of Books Contest

It's time to think about Summer Reading --- and we're not talking about the list of books you'll be receiving for Required Summer Reading from school. What we're talking about are the kinds of books that you're glad you now have time to kick back with and enjoy. The way we see it, it wouldn't be summer without sun, surf, and great reading. You supply the beach chair, and we'll provide the fantastic fiction in our Fifth Annual Beach Bag of Books Contest.

From May 17th thru July 18th, you can enter to win a " Beach Bag of Books." Five winners each will receive a beach bag that includes 16 books: BEASTLY MOVIE TIE-IN EDITION by Alex Flinn, BEAUTY QUEENS by Libba Bray, CLARITY by Kim Harrington, DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth, HEREAFTER by Tara Hudson, I'M NOT HER by Janet Gurtler, THE IRON QUEEN by Julie Kagawa, LOST VOICES by Sarah Porter, A NEED SO BEAUTIFUL by Suzanne Young, NIGHTSPELL by Leah Cypess, PROM AND PREJUDICE by Elizabeth Eulberg, RUBY RED by Kerstin Gier, SHIVER by Maggie Stiefvater, STARCROSSED by Josephine Angelini, SUPERNATURALLY by Kiersten White and TEN THINGS WE DID (AND PROBABLY SHOULDN’T HAVE) by Sarah Mlynowski.

Along with the books, winners will find their striped canvas beach bag stocked with an assortment of summer goodies: a blue polka-dot beach towel, a Mega Fling Toss Game, a deck of invisible cards, an inflatable beach ball, Coppertone Sport Sunblock, H2O+ Mineral Spa Shower Gel, Crystal Light Drink Mix, a metallic sports bottle to keep your drink cool, and a terrific cap that turns any can into a bottle to prevent sand and bees from finding their way into your drink.

-Click here to read more about our featured titles.

Click here to read all the contest details.'s Grab Bag of Books Contest

Every month in our Grab Bag of Books contest, five readers are awarded a signature tote bag filled with some of the hottest books --- and may even include a sneak peek at titles that haven't been released yet!

This contest period's winners will each receive a copy of DIE FOR ME by Amy Plum, DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth, HEREAFTER by Tara Hudson, ILLUSIONS by Aprilynne Pike, SOMETHING DEADLY THIS WAY COMES by Kim Harrison and STARCROSSED by Josephine Angelini. The deadline for entries is Monday, June 20th at noon ET.

-Click here for the winners of our past giveaways.

Click here to read all the contest details.


Now in Stores: BEAUTY QUEENS by Libba Bray

BEAUTY QUEENS by Libba Bray (Fiction)
You’ve seen “Lost,” you’ve read LORD OF THE FLIES, you’ve at least heard of “Gilligan’s Island.” And there may be a ton of other plane-crashed-on-a-desert-island books and movies with their stock characters --- a doctor, maybe, and a girly girl who can’t handle being shipwrecked. But you’ve never read BEAUTY QUEENS, and now you must. Reviewed by Sarah Hannah Gómez.

-Click here to read an excerpt from BEAUTY QUEENS.

Click here to read a review of BEAUTY QUEENS.


Now in Stores: DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth

DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth (Dystopian Thriller)
Sixteen-year-old Beatrice Prior faces the biggest decision of her life when she must choose which of the five factions to join that make up their society. She has to decide whether to follow in her parents’ footsteps or turn her back on her family and dare to be courageous. But unbeknownst to most, a mutiny is brewing beneath the surface, and their well-ordered society is about to implode. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

-Click here to browse inside DIVERGENT.
-Click here to see Veronica Roth talk about DIVERGENT.

Click here to read a review of DIVERGENT.


Now in Stores: WHERE SHE WENT by Gayle Forman

WHERE SHE WENT by Gayle Forman (Fiction)
It's been three years since the devastating accident --- three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever. Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. But when Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

Click here to read a review of WHERE SHE WENT.


Special Contest: Win a Chat with New York Times Bestselling Author Garth Stein to Celebrate the Release of RACING IN THE RAIN

"The race is long. It is better to drive within oneself and finish the race behind the other than it is to drive too hard and crash."

Wise words, especially out of the mouth of a dog. But Enzo is special --- he has a lot to say about life...and racing cars, of course. When THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN --- Garth Stein's novel about Enzo and his owners --- was published in 2008, readers immediately fell in love with this wise dog.

Now, THE ART OF RACING IN THE RAIN has been adapted into a new version for younger audiences so that the whole family can read about Enzo together. RACING IN THE RAIN: My Life as a Dog tells the story of Enzo as he watches his family get torn apart and then put the pieces back together again.

Consider this site your “Enzo pit stop” with information about the books as well as a Special RACING IN THE RAIN Contest, where your family can win a chat with Garth Stein, signed books, and “I Heart Enzo” T-shirts and “Go Enzo” baseball caps from the Enzo Store. We are betting you will love this book as much as we did!

Click here to see our special site for RACING IN THE RAIN.


Special Feature and Contest: BITE CLUB by Rachel Caine

Everyone knows there are vampires in Morganville, and for the most part, people are happy to leave them alone. But someone wants to stir the pot, getting the vamps all riled up with an Internet brawl that pits vamps against vamps --- and humans.

To celebrate the release of BITE CLUB, is giving 15 readers the chance to win a copy of Rachel Caine's latest addition to her Morganville Vampires series. The deadline for entries is Thursday, June 9th at noon ET.

BITE CLUB: The Morganville Vampires, Book 10 by Rachel Caine (Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance)
After discovering that vampires populate her town, college student Claire Danvers knows that the undead just want to live their lives. But someone else wants them to get ready to rumble. There’s a new extreme sport getting picked up on the Internet: bare-knuckle fights pitting captured vampires against each other --- or humans. Tracking the remote signal leads Claire --- accompanied by her friends and frenemies --- to discover that what started as an online brawl will soon threaten everyone in Morganville...

-Click here to read a review of BITE CLUB.
-Click here to read an excerpt from BITE CLUB.
-Click here to read our interview with Rachel Caine.
-Click here to read Rachel Caine’s bio.

Click here to read all the contest details.

Special Feature and Contest: STRINGS ATTACHED by Judy Blundell
Broadway isn't easy on teenage chorus girl Kit Corrigan. After leaving her Rhode Island home, she needs a helping hand. Preferably one with cash in it. When help comes, it's from Nate, the father of her hothead ex-boyfriend, who offers her the keys to a perfect, rent-free apartment. But in exchange for what?

To celebrate the release of STRINGS ATTACHED, is giving 100 readers the chance to win a copy of Judy Blundell's latest historical novel. The deadline for entries is Wednesday, June 8th at noon ET.

STRINGS ATTACHED by Judy Blundell (Historical Fiction)
When Kit Corrigan arrives in New York City, she doesn't have much. She's fled from her family in Providence, Rhode Island, and she's broken off her tempestuous relationship with a boy named Billy, who's enlisted in the army. The city doesn't exactly welcome her with open arms. She gets a bit part as a chorus girl in a Broadway show, but she knows that's not going to last very long. She needs help --- and then it comes, from an unexpected source.

-Click here to read more about STRINGS ATTACHED.
-Click here to read a review of STRINGS ATTACHED.
-Click here to read an excerpt from STRINGS ATTACHED.
-Click here to read our interview with Judy Blundell.
-Click here to read Judy Blundell's bio.

Click here to read all the contest details.


Special Feature: GEEK FANTASY NOVEL by E. Archer

E. Archer is a self-confessed geek. So it only seems fitting that he would write a book called GEEK FANTASY NOVEL. In this tale, which plays with the conventions of fantasy, a science geek is granted the power of wishing; what he doesn’t realize yet is that wishes are bad…very bad.’s Sarah Rachel Egelman talks with E. Archer about his own love of fantasy, gaming and self-referential literature. He also reveals his ideal reader, his inspirations, and what he really thinks about the morality of wishes.

GEEK FANTASY NOVEL by E. Archer (Fantasy)
Be careful what you wish for. Really. Because wishes are bad. Very bad. They can get you trapped in fantasy worlds full of killer bunny rabbits, evil aunts, and bothersome bacteria, for example. Or at least that's Ralph's experience. He's been asked to spend the summer with his strange British relatives at their old manor house in order to set up their Wi-Fi network. But there's much more to it than that, of course. It's just that nobody told Ralph. He's a gamer, sure. But this game is much stranger --- and funnier --- than anything to be found on his xbox.

-Click here to read a review of GEEK FANTASY NOVEL.
-Click here to read an excerpt from GEEK FANTASY NOVEL.
-Click here to read E. Archer's bio.

Click here to read our interview with E. Archer.


This Month's Reviews

SKELETON CREEK #4: THE RAVEN by Patrick Carman (Mystery/Suspense)
Strange things happen in Skeleton Creek --- and when they do, Ryan writes them down and Sarah captures them on video. They've solved old mysteries. They've followed clues all over the country and underground. They've investigated secret societies. They've found their answers. Or so they thought. Because there's still a shadowy figure standing in their path who doesn't want Ryan and Sarah digging up any more of the past. Reviewed by Sally M. Tibbetts.

PLAGUE: A Gone Novel by Michael Grant (Dystopian Thriller)
Eight months have passed since the beginning of the FAYZ, where all people over the age of 14 disappeared and kids had to learn to survive on their own. But fresh, even scarier terrors surface every day. A deadly flu-like virus has attacked, forcing the inflicted to literally cough out their lungs, and Lana, the healer, doesn’t seem to have any effect. But maybe even worse, the evil Darkness is resurfacing, and he never plays nice. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

-Click here to browse inside PLAGUE.

RED GLOVE: The Curse Workers, Book 2 by Holly Black (Urban Fantasy)
Being a transformation curse worker should have made Cassel’s life easier. Instead his older brother is murdered, and both the Feds and the mob have taken a special interest in the case --- and Cassel. There’s also a girl madly in love with him, but Cassel can’t trust that it’s real. Reviewed by Benjamin Boche.

MORPHEUS ROAD: THE BLACK by D.J. MacHale (Supernatural Fantasy)
In this second book of the Morpheus Road trilogy, Cooper Foley finally gets to tell his side of the story. Being dead isn’t all that bad. But once he becomes entangled with the supernatural being Damon and his quest for world domination, Cooper realizes the afterlife is more dangerous than he thought. Reviewed by Benjamin Boche.

THE MAGNOLIA LEAGUE by Katie Crouch (Paranormal Mystery)
After her mother dies, Alex Lee must leave her home on a Mendocino commune to live in her grandmother's Georgia mansion. Her culture shock is compounded by the supernatural shenanigans of the debutante society she’s expected to join. Alex's story has it all: magic, atmosphere, romance, and laugh-out-loud, fish-out-of-water situations. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

JAKE RANSOM AND THE HOWLING SPHINX by James Rollins (Thriller/Action & Adventure)
Jake Ransom survives a near-death experience during Tae Kwon Do practice, and then is rescued from a botched burglary and a kidnapping attempt. But when the middle-grade student and his older sister visit the American Museum of Natural History in New York, they’re plunged into a strange and dangerous world. Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt.

THE LUCKY KIND by Alyssa B. Sheinmel (Fiction)
Nick Brandt is in a good place in life. He’s enjoying his junior year in a private high school in New York, and newly reveling in the realization that he’s just won the girl of his dreams. But while he knows he’s lucky, it’s dawned on him recently that things are not always as perfect as they seem. Secrets have cropped up, and they usually have a way of coming back to haunt you. Reviewed by Melanie Smith.

JOURNEY TO THE END OF THE WORLD by Henning Mankell (Fiction)
Now that he's getting older, Joel Gustafson has a lot to consider. He turns 15 next month and can't stop thinking about the new liberties that come with it. Maybe his father will finally agree to leave their small Swedish town and the two of them will become sailors. Joel's life does take a turn, but it’s nothing like he anticipated. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

WRAPPED by Jennifer Bradbury (Historical Mystery)
Agnes Wilkins is standing in front of an Egyptian mummy, about to make the first cut into the wrappings. But reality for a 17-year-old debutante in 1815 London does not allow for camels --- or even dust. Agnes can only see the mummy when she’s wearing a new silk gown at Lord Showalter's estate. This is the start of Agnes's debut season, but it's also the start of something else, because the mummy Agnes unwraps isn't just a mummy. Reviewed by Amy Alessio.

TEETH: Vampire Tales edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling (Horror/Urban Fantasy Anthology)
Fascinated by vampires? Then feast on 19 tantalizing, bite-sized tales exploring the intersections between the living, dead and undead. The vampires in these stories range from romantic to chilling to gleeful --- and touch on nearly every emotion in between. The one thing they have in common is their desire for blood! Reviewed by Sally M. Tibbetts.

Graphic Novel Reviews:

STEPHEN KING’S THE DARK TOWER: THE GUNSLINGER, Volume 1: THE JOURNEY BEGINS written by Stephen King, Peter David and Robin Furth; illustrated by Richard Isanove and Sean Phillips
THE JOURNEY BEGINS continues hero Roland Deschain’s quest for the Dark Tower, an iconic and mysterious place where different realities converge, and which seems to be the only way that Deschain can reclaim what he’s lost during his impossibly tragic life as a Gunslinger. Across a desolate Old West landscape, peppered with weird machines, mutants and talking animals, the adventure resumes. Reviewed by Collin David.

SPIDER-MAN: GRIM HUNT written by Fred Van Lente and J.M. Dematteis; illustrated by Michael Lark, Joe Kelly and Phil Jimenez
Firmly tangled in the complex continuity of Spider-Man’s last 30 years, GRIM HUNT resurrects one of Spider-Man’s greatest foes over two decades after his death, while also exploring Spidey’s much larger, unusually spiritual role in the universe through the bevy of unusual spider-related characters who surround him. Reviewed by Collin David.

UNWRITTEN, Volume 1: TOMMY TAYLOR AND THE BOGUS IDENTITY written by Mike Carey and illustrated by Peter Gross
Tom Taylor’s father created the Tommy Taylor fantasy series, boy-wizard novels with popularity on par with Harry Potter. When an enormous scandal reveals that he might really be a boy-wizard made flesh, Tom comes into contact with a very mysterious, very deadly group that's secretly kept tabs on him all his life. Now, to protect his own life and discover the truth behind his origins, Tom will travel the world. Reviewed by Nathan Wilson.

UNWRITTEN, Volume 2: INSIDE MAN written by Mike Carey and illustrated by Peter Gross
In this volume, Tom Taylor arrives at Donostia prison in Southern France and falls into the orbit of another story: The Song of Roland. Unfortunately for Tom, it's a story that ends with a massacre. Tom discovers the true meaning of "out of the frying pan" after his escape from Donostia jail takes him to Stuttgart in 1940, a ghost city inhabited by the master liar of the Third Reich, Josef Goebbels, and a tortured soul who's crying out for rescue --- or death... Reviewed by Nathan Wilson.

MADMAN ATOMICA! written and illustrated by Mike Allred
The second absurdly colossal collection of Madman comics by Mike Allred is a beautiful one, collecting all of Frank Einstein’s adventures with a heroic team of mutants called The Atomics. MADMAN ATOMICA! is delivered with a charming retro sensibility and captures the very best of Mike Allred’s ongoing creative peak. Reviewed by Collin David.

Manga Review:

KAMISAMA KISS, Volumes 1-2 written and illustrated by Julietta Suzuki
Nanami is so poor that her fellow high school students call her Broke-nami. Her dad, the gambler, ditches her and their apartment in order to avoid paying up, and now she’s alone and homeless. But Nanami manages her life okay. Soon, she’s a god! Reviewed by Danica Davidson.

Adult Books You Won’t Want to Miss:

EXPOSURE by Therese Fowler (Fiction)
Amelia Wilkes’s father does not allow her to date, though that doesn’t stop the high school senior from carrying on a secret romance with her classmate, Anthony Winter. But the couple’s passion is exposed sooner than expected when Amelia’s father finds naked pictures of Anthony on his daughter’s computer. Just hours later, Anthony is arrested. As events spiral out of control and the scandalous story makes national news, Amelia and Anthony must risk everything to clear their names. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

THE STORY OF BEAUTIFUL GIRL by Rachel Simon (Fiction)
It is 1968. Lynnie, a young white woman with a developmental disability, and Homan, an African American deaf man, are locked away in an institution. They escape and find refuge --- along with their newborn girl --- in the farmhouse of Martha, a retired schoolteacher and widow. When the authorities catch up to them that same night, Homan escapes into the darkness, and Lynnie is caught. But before she is forced back into the institution, she whispers two words to Martha: "Hide her." Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

THE CAPTAIN: The Journey of Derek Jeter by Ian O'Connor (Biography)
Ian O’Connor draws on extensive reporting and unique access to Derek Jeter that has spanned some 15 years to reveal how a biracial kid from Michigan became a beloved sports figure in New York and the enduring symbol of the steroid-free athlete. He takes us behind the scenes of a legendary baseball life and career, from Jeter’s early struggles in the minor leagues, to his heady days as a Yankee superstar. Reviewed by Ron Kaplan.

THE WILDER LIFE: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure (Memoir)
Wendy McClure is determined to immerse herself in the world of LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE author Laura Ingalls Wilder. She retraces the pioneer journey of the Ingalls family --- and whether she's churning butter or sitting in a replica log cabin, McClure comes to understand how Wilder's life and work have shaped our ideas about girlhood and the American West. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

AMERICA PACIFICA by Anna North (Dystopian Fiction)
Darcy lives in a future we can't even imagine, taking place after another ice age has destroyed North America. America Pacifica is a desolate island in the Pacific Ocean where Darcy and her mother eke out a miserable existence, made bearable only by their closeness…until Darcy's mother vanishes. Darcy's yearning to find her brings a breathless urgency to this page-turner. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

Poll and Question of the Month: Summer Reading Lists

Does your school have a required summer reading list?

I'm not sure.

Aside from the books assigned for school, do you make up personal summer reading lists for yourself?

No, but this is a good idea.

-Click here to take the poll.


Summer vacation is a great time to catch up on books you didn't have time to read during the school year. Name up to five books on your "summer catch-up" reading list.

-Click here to answer the question.

Word of Mouth: Tell Us What You're Reading --- and You Could Win a Book!
Tell us what books you are reading and loving --- and even those you don't.

This contest period, one teen reader will be randomly chosen to win a copy of PASSION: A Fallen Novel by Lauren Kate. Tell us what you are reading here and rate the titles 1-5 by noon ET on Friday, June 24th to ensure that you are in the running to win this book.

Click here for more details about Word of Mouth.