Featured Book of the Week Divergent by Veronica Roth

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue--Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

About the Author

Veronica Roth was born in a Chicago suburb, and studied creative writing at Northwestern University. She and her husband currently live in the city that inspired the setting of the Divergent Trilogy (Bio retrieved from Amazon.com).

Unfortunately, Ms. Roth's schedule was too busy to allow her to participate in the Feature Book of the week post.

Feature Book of the Week Shelter by Harlan Coben

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Mickey Bolitar's year can't get much worse. After witnessing his father's death and sending his mom to rehab, he's forced to live with his estranged uncle Myron and switch high schools.

A new school comes with new friends and new enemies, and lucky for Mickey, it also comes with a great new girlfriend, Ashley. For a while, it seems like Mickey's train-wreck of a life is finally improving - until Ashley vanishes without a trace. Unwilling to let another person walk out of his life, Mickey follows Ashley's trail into a seedy underworld that reveals that this seemingly sweet, shy girl isn't who she claimed to be. And neither was Mickey's father. Soon, Mickey learns about a conspiracy so shocking that it makes high school drama seem like a luxury - and leaves him questioning everything about the life he thought he knew.

First introduced to readers in Harlan Coben's latest adult novel, Live Wire, Mickey Bolitar is as quick-witted and clever as his uncle Myron, and eager to go to any length to save the people he cares about. With this new series, Coben introduces an entirely new generation of fans to the masterful plotting and wry humor that have made him an award-winning, internationally bestselling, and beloved author.


"You all rock. I don't want you to spend your time reading a long introduction -- I want you to spend your time reading SHELTER (and the upcoming sequel SECONDS AWAY).



With 50 million books in print worldwide, Harlan Coben’s last five consecutive novels, STAY CLOSE, LIVE WIRE, CAUGHT, LONG LOST and HOLD TIGHT all debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list and lists around the world. His first Young Adult novel SHELTER was just released in paperback, and the second in the Mickey Bolitar series, SECONDS AWAY, will be out September 18th. His books are published in 41 languages around the globe and have been number one bestsellers in over a dozen countries.
Winner of the Edgar AwardShamus Award and Anthony Award – the first author to win all three – international bestselling author Harlan Coben’s critically-acclaimed novels have been called “ingenious” (New York Times), “poignant and insightful” (Los Angeles Times), “consistently entertaining” (Houston Chronicle), “superb” (Chicago Tribune) and “must reading” (Philadelphia Inquirer).
Harlan’s novel TELL NO ONE has been turned into the commercial and critical smash hit French film of the same name, starring Francois Cluzet and Kristin Scott Thomas. The movie was the top box office foreign-language film of the year in USA, won the Lumiere (French Golden Globe) for best picture and was nominated for nine Cesars (French Oscar) and won four, including best actor, best director and best music. To see the trailer, click here and for stills and to see Harlan appearing in the film, visit our gallery page. The movie is now available in DVD and Blu-Ray. An American/Hollywood remake is in the works.
In his first books, Coben immersed himself in the exploits of sports agent Myron Bolitar. Critics loved the series, saying, “You race to turn pages…both suspenseful and often surprisingly funny” (People). After seven books Coben wanted to try something different. “I came up with a great idea that simply would not work for Myron,” says Coben. The result was the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller TELL NO ONE, which became the most decorated thriller of 2001 – nominated for an Edgar, an Anthony, a Macavity, a Nero, and a Barry; winner of the Audie Award for Best Audio Mystery/Suspense Book (read by Steven Weber); and a #1 hardcover book on the Book Sense 76 list. Coben followed the success of TELL NO ONE with the blockbuster New York Times bestsellers GONE FOR GOOD (2002), NO SECOND CHANCE (2003), and JUST ONE LOOK (2004) and THE INNOCENT (2005). Bookspan, recognizing Coben’s broad international appeal, named NO SECOND CHANCE its first ever International Book of the Month in 2003 – the Main Selection in 15 different countries.
Coben was the first writer in more than a decade to be invited to write fiction for the NEW YORK TIMES op-ed page. His Father’s Day short story, THE KEY TO MY FATHER, appeared June 15, 2003.  His essays and columns have appeared in many top publications including the New York Times, Parade Magazine and Bloomberg Views.
Since his critically-acclaimed Myron Bolitar series debuted in 1995, Harlan Coben has won the Mystery Writers of America’s Edgar Allan Poe Award and was nominated for the Edgar two other times. Harlan also won the Anthony Award at the World Mystery Conference, was nominated for another Anthony Award, won the Shamus Award by the Private Eye Writers of America, was nominated for another Shamus, and was twice nominated for the Dilys Award by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association.
In the United Kingdom, his novel ONE FALSE MOVE earned him the prestigious “Fresh Talent Award”, given annually by Great Britain’s largest bookstore chain, W. H. Smith, and GONE FOR GOOD won the W. H. SMITH “Thumping Good Read” Award. In France, TELL NO ONE (NE LE DIS A PERSONE) won Le Grand Prix des Lectrices de Elle for fiction. His novels have been PEOPLE magazine Page-Turners of the Week and a Publishers Weekly Best of the Year pick.
Harlan was born in Newark, New Jersey. After graduating from Amherst College a political science major, Harlan worked in the travel industry. He now lives in New Jersey with his wife, Anne Armstrong-Coben MD, a pediatrician, and their four children. (author bio and picture retrieved from author's website)

Thanks to Mr. Coben for taking time out of his busy schedule to participate in this years Feature Book of the Week.

Feature Book of the Week Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Midwesterner Gary D. Schmidt won Newbery Honor awards for Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boys and The Wednesday Wars, two coming-of-age novels about unlikely friends finding a bond. Okay For Now, his latest novel, explores another seemingly improbable alliance, this one between new outsider in town Doug Swieteck and Lil Spicer, the savvy spitfire daughter of his deli owner boss. With her challenging assistance, Doug discovers new sides of himself. Along the way, he also readjusts his relationship with his abusive father, his school peers, and his older brother, a newly returned war victim of Vietnam.

Author Post by Gary Schmidt
Dear Folks,

Thanks for reading Okay for Now.  This book began in the public library of Flint, Michigan--Flint being America's most violent--because there are no jobs there, and where there are no jobs there is despair, and where there is despair there can be violence.  But in the middle of that is this noble and wonderful library, where writers come to meet kids.  And I was there one day and stumbled upon a glass case.  In that glass case was a huge book:  John James Audubon's Birds of America.  It is the world's most beautiful book--you can look it up online and see why.  The book in this glass case was not a first edition--which would have been worth about, oh, fourteen million dollars.  But it was a later edition that was beautiful, and very valuable.  And I asked them why they didn't sell it to raise money for an underfunded library.  They said that they knew that things would someday get better in Flint, and they wanted this book to be there for the next generation.

These librarians should be in Congress.  That's nobility.

So, that got me thinking.  Audubons are regularly destroyed when people take each page out and sell it independently.  (There are only 118 copies of the first edition left in the world because of this.)  Suppose there was a kid who came upon this book in his library, and several pages had been removed to sell.  Suppose he wanted to get them back, because he's a sort of beat up kid and he wants just one thing in his life that is perfect.  Then suppose he decides, really decides to go after the pages--but he has no resources to do this.  And that's how the book began--a kid trying to make one thing in his life perfect, because nothing else is.

Doug is created after a real kid I knew in middle school, who was sort of lost and always in trouble--the kind of kiddo you do not want to be around because he's always getting in trouble, and dragging anyone near him into trouble too.  I've wondered about him since--where he is, what he's doing, how he remembers middle school.  This book is one story about him--made up, of course--and maybe one story about a whole lot of kids who are sort of beat up and hoping to find one thing in their lives that is whole. 

This is a companion book to The Wednesday Wars--so if you've read that novel, you'll have met Doug already.  Holling makes a brief cameo as well, but then Doug moves away to Marysville, and away from the world of Camillo Junior High.  Here's hoping that you'll enjoy this new venture into the eighth-grade year of Doug Swieteck, as he tries to find nine pages of an original Audubon, as the country tries to set a man on the moon, and as we gt another play!

Gary Schmidt


Gary Schmidt is a professor of English at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He received both a Newbery Honor and a Printz Honor for Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy and a Newbery Honor for The Wednesday Wars. He lives with his family on a 150-year-old farm in Alto, Michigan, where he splits wood, plants gardens, writes, and feeds the wild cats that drop by. You can learn more about Gary from his website.

Feature Book of the Week Belly Up by Stuart Gibbs

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


12 year old Theodore "Teddy" Roosevelt Fitzroy has got a murder on his hands and trouble on his tail. Henry, the hippopatamus at the brand-new nationally known FunJungle, has gone belly up. Even though it's claimed he died of natural causes, Teddy smells something fishy and it sure ain't the polar bear's lunch. Dealing with the zoo's top brass proves to be nothing but a waste of time. They want to see any trace of Henry's death disappear like yesterday's paper. So Teddy sets out to find the truth. With the help of Summer McCraken, a fiesty girl with secrets of her own, the two narrow down their prime suspects. Is it Martin Del Gato, FunJungle's head of operations who hates kids and hates animals even more? Or J.J McCraken, the owner of FunJungle and and hates animals even more? Or J.J McCraken, the owner of FunJungle and Summer's father, who has more concern for the dough he's raking in than the animals in the zoo? As their investigation goes on, Teddy gets squeezed on all sides to quit asking questions or Henry won't be the only animal in the zoo to turn up dead. The deeper Teddy and Summer get, they had better make sure they want to know what they want to know because when it comes to hippo homicide, the truth can't be kept in a cage!


I worked at a zoo when I was in college, and I had a wonderful time there.  Afterward, I became a screenwriter.  The while time I was writing movies, I always thought that the behind-the-scenes world at a zoo would make for a great story.  So I eventually wrote and sold a movie script set at a zoo.  But it never got made.  So then I sold a TV show set at a zoo.  But that didn't get made either.  (This kind of thing happens a lot in Hollywood.  You can actually make a good living writing things that never get made.)  Then, one day, an agent asked me if I had any interest writing a middle grade novel.  I leapt at the chance -- because I realized that I had finally found the perfect place to tell my zoo story.

Now the question was, what story should I tell?  It occurred to me that the murder of an animal was a great crime for a kid to solve -- in part because the police really wouldn't investigate it themselves.  (After all, the police generally solve the murders of humans, not animals.)  So I created Teddy Fitzroy, a kid lucky enough to live at an incredible zoo and knowledgable enough about animals to suspect foul play when one dies.  Now, I only needed victim.

I read a lot of mysteries while figuring out how to write this one, and I realized something in the process: The more suspects you have, the better the mystery.  So then I had to figure out, why would a lot of people want a specific animal dead?  After all, animals are generally quite nice.  They usually don't make enemies.

Hippos, however, aren't that nice at all.  Don't get me wrong.  I love hippos -- but I wouldn't want to be in the water with one.  Hippos are dangerous, unpredictable -- and tremendously unsanitary.  And yet, in lots of children's books and movies, they're depicted as surprisingly cute and cuddly.  (See: Fantasia, Madagascar, the George and Martha series -- or any book by Sandra Boynton.)  Thus, it seemed plausible that some adults who didn't really know what they were doing might think that real hippos were cute and cuddly -- and then make the mistake of making one the mascot of their theme park.  And once they realized their mascot was, in fact, dangerous, unpredictable and tremendously unsanitary, a lot of them might want it dead.

So that's why I bumped off a hippo.

I hope you enjoy my book.

Stuart Gibbs


Vital statistics for Stuart Gibbs:
Birthdate: June 11  (Please do not feel obligated to send presents)
Birthplace: Philadelphia, PA
Place that he really spent most of his childhood: San Antonio, TX
Place that he lives now: Los Angeles, CA
Interesting thing he did before becoming a writer: Worked at a zoo
Large, semi-aquatic rodents he was at one point one of the world’s foremost experts on:Capybaras
Reason he was one of the world’s foremost experts on capybaras: No one else was studying them
Movies he has written that have actually been made: See Spot RunRepli-KateShowdown
Animated movies he worked on: AnastasiaOpen Season 3Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers (yes, another Three Musketeers project)
TV networks that have hired him to develop TV shows for them: ABC, Fox, Disney, Nickelodeon
Did any of those TV shows get on the air? No
Hobbies: Hiking, cycling, skiing, canyoneering, traveling
Does he have any hobbies that don’t involve being outside? Not really
Wait, what’s canyoneering? It’s kind of like hiking, except you do it in a canyon and occasionally, you have to rappel down a waterfall.
Wow, sounds cool. It is.  It’s really cool.
Favorite place to travel to: Anywhere in Africa to go on safari
Wife: Suzanne
Children: Dashiell and Violet
Next books: “Spy School” will be in stores on March 6, 2012.  And “Traitor’s Chase,” the sequel to “The Last Musketeer,” will be available on June 26, 2012.
Author info retrieved from author website

I would like to thank Mr Gibbs for agreeing to participate in the Feature Book of the Week. Hope everyone is enjoying Belly Up.
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