Feature Book of the Week # 4 False Prince by Jennifer Nielson

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

False Prince
by Jennifer Nielson

THE FALSE PRINCE is the thrilling first book in a brand-new trilogy filled with danger and deceit and hidden identities that will have readers rushing breathlessly to the end.

In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king's long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner's motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword's point -- he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage's rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner's sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.

An extraordinary adventure filled with danger and action, lies and deadly truths that will have readers clinging to the edge of their seats.

A Guest Post by Jennifer Nielson

Fight the Good Fight

When I sign copies of THE FALSE PRINCE for fans, my signature line usually says, “Fight the good fight.” A few months ago, I signed a book that way for a fifth grader and then asked her, “Do you know what that means?”

She eyed the boy next to her in line. “You want us to fight?”

The boy looked nervous. I think he swallowed his gum.

“Ack! No! I want you to read, not bleed!” (Okay, I didn’t actually say that, but I thought it.)

She had missed the meaning of the phrase entirely. So this is how I explained it to her. And also to the boy next in line, since he still seemed worried about getting jabbed.

There are things in life worth caring about. Good things worth defending, and yes, worth fighting for. Not a fight with fists – there’s already too much of that in the world – but instead, a fight with ideas, with passion, and with your heart and soul. And if that thing is important enough, then it becomes a good fight.

Maybe for you, that thing is the idea that you can succeed in life, even if others think you won’t. Maybe it’s a fight against unfairness, against cheating, or the fight to protect others who can’t defend themselves. Maybe it’s something you want to change in the world. Yes, even if it’s just changing your own small corner of the world.

The good fight means you have a reason to say, “For this idea, I will not back down, or give in, or give up. For this idea, I will never stop fighting to win.”

In THE FALSE PRINCE, Sage is fighting the good fight. To defend a servant girl. To protect the country from treason. And to survive a twisted contest where he must either impersonate the missing prince, or be killed.

Your good fight may not be on that level of danger (In fact, I hope it’s not!), but you can still put everything you have into succeeding. Stay strong. Stay caring. Fight the good fight.

About the Author

For as far back as Jennifer can remember, she has shared her brain with imaginary characters. She figures it’s okay if she talks to them as she’s working on her stories, as long as they don’t start talking back.

Jennifer began writing in elementary school. Her first attempt at a full-length story was in 6th grade when she wrote about a girl who becomes trapped in her daydreams and that world becomes real. Not a bad idea, you say? Wrong. It was pretty awful, but Jennifer liked it at the time. She even called a locksmith to do research on how to pick locks. When he found out she was only 11, he ended the call and the story got set aside, unfinished.

But she began other stories, writing in spiral notebooks or plucking out keys on an electric typewriter (yep, she’s that old). Stories of a boy who tries to sell his annoying sister, of a celebrity who gets stuck in a small town (think Disney’s Cars, only with humans), and several other stories that all eventually wound up in a box in the back of her closet. She also drew cartoons and made up poems about the people in them. Jennifer has taken steps to ensure the cartoons never see the light of day again.
Jennifer has always loved reading and for most of her childhood, kept a tall stack of books at the side of her bed. She loved the Hardy Boys and Encyclopedia Brown series’, but her favorite childhood book was The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken. Her favorite book in junior high was The Outsiders. That book’s author, S.E. Hinton, published The Outsiders at the age of 17. Jennifer set a goal to be published sooner.

Jennifer didn’t make her goal, not even close. She got heavily involved in local theater and in school speech and debate competitions. The theater entertained the characters in her head, and the speech and debate filled her desire to never stop talking.

Jennifer completed her first book in her early 20’s. She told a neighbor she planned to be published one day. The neighbor smiled back like Jennifer had a greater chance of landing on the moon one day. That was understandable. The first book was pretty bad.

So was her second. And third. The fourth wasn’t terrible, but by then Jennifer had decided she was writing in the wrong genre. The characters in her head had changed from adult romantic suspense to young adult and children’s fantasy characters. Jennifer had to change her writing too.
Jennifer’s debut book was ELLIOT AND THE GOBLIN WAR (Sourcebooks, Oct 2010). That series became known as The Underworld Chronicles. The next series she released was The Ascendance trilogy, beginning with THE FALSE PRINCE (Scholastic, Apr 2012). She will also write the sixth book of the Infinity Ring. (bio info retrieved f rom author's website)

Feature Book of the Week #3: Cinder by Marissa Meyers

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

by Marissa Meyers

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl.

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

A Guest Post by Marissa Meyers

I'm so thrilled that Cinder was chosen as one of your battle books this year. I don't think we had Battle of the Books when I was in school - or if we did, my school didn't participate - but I like to think I would have rocked that battle if we had. I do clearly recall the excitement of receiving the Scholastic catalogues each season, the singular joy of discovering a book that I absolutely adored and wanted to share with all my friends, and that surprising moment when I would realize that a book I was reading "for school" turned out to be kind of awesome.

See, I've always been an avid reader, a lover of books. My mom claims that one of my first words was "story" (along with "cookie," because I had priorities). I have fond memories of filling my arms with books at my local library, and staying up way past my bedtime to read them. And I remember that shocking realization I had when I was still pretty young, that behind every book was a real person who had the job of writing that story. The knowledge that one could tell stories for a living was new and brilliant and I knew very early on that this was what I wanted to do with my life.

So to think that my life has come full circle now - that students may be discovering my books through their teachers or libraries or Scholastic catalogues, through their Battle of the Books list - is mind-boggling and a little bit magical.

I very much hope you'll enjoy getting to know Cinder and the world of the Lunar Chronicles, and that you'll totally rock this year's Battle of the Books! Good luck!

 About the Author
One of my first spoken words was “story” (right along with “bath” and “cookie”), my favorite toy as an infant was a soft, squishable book, and I’ve wanted to be a writer since I first realized such a job existed.

When I was fourteen my best friend introduced me to anime and fanfiction—over the years I would complete over forty Sailor Moon fanfics under the penname Alicia Blade. Those so inclined can still find my first stories at fanfiction.net. Writing fanfic turned out to be awesome fun and brought me in contact with an amazing group of fanfiction readers and writers. As Alicia Blade, I also had a novelette, “The Phantom of Linkshire Manor,” published in the gothic romance anthology Bound in Skin (CatsCurious Press, 2007).

When I was sixteen I worked at The Old Spaghetti Factory in Tacoma, Washington, affectionately termed “The Spag.” (Random factoid: This is also the restaurant where my parents met some 25 years before.) I attended Pacific Lutheran University where I sorted mail that came to the dorm, carted tables and chairs around campus, and took writing classes, eventually earning a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and Children’s Literature. Knowing I wanted a career in books, I would also go on to receive a Master’s degree in Publishing from Pace University. After graduation, I worked as an editor in Seattle for a while before becoming a freelance typesetter and proofreader.

Then, day of days, someone thought it would be a good idea to give me a book deal, so I became a full-time writer. CINDER is my first novel, though I have an adorable collection of unfinished ones lying around too.

I now live with my husband and our three cats (Calexandria Josephine, Stormus Enormous, and Blackland Rockwell III), who go in and out, in and out, about eight hundred times a day. My favorite non-bookish things include Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, re-watching episodes of Firefly, and playing all manners of dress-up. (bio from author website)

Time to Registar

Friday, September 13, 2013

I have to hurry and get my registration form in before it's too late!

Happy Friday Everyone!  
Today is the day to download your registration forms. You can find the registration form here or on the right hand column.

Don't be a Mad Hatter 
get your form in and reserve your place at this year's 

Feature Book of the Week #2 See You at Harry's by Jo Knowles

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Feature Book of the Week

See Your At Harry's

Jo Knowles

Twelve-year-old Fern feels invisible. It seems as though everyone in her family has better things to do than pay attention to her: Mom (when she’s not meditating) helps Dad run the family restaurant; Sarah is taking a gap year after high school; and Holden pretends that Mom and Dad and everyone else doesn’t know he’s gay, even as he fends off bullies at school. Then there’s Charlie: three years old, a "surprise" baby, the center of everyone’s world. He’s devoted to Fern, but he’s annoying, too, always getting his way, always dirty, always commanding attention. If it wasn’t for Ran, Fern’s calm and positive best friend, there’d be nowhere to turn. Ran’s mantra, "All will be well," is soothing in a way that nothing else seems to be. And when Ran says it, Fern can almost believe it’s true. But then tragedy strikes- and Fern feels not only more alone than ever, but also responsible for the accident that has wrenched her family apart. All will not be well. Or at least all will never be the same.

A Guest Post from  Jo Knowles

Many years ago, my agent suggested I write a book that reflected my childhood experience growing up in the restaurant business. It would be a humorous book, with silly stories about the trouble my sister, brother and I got into while my parents were too busy running the business. I began collecting memories from family members, and waiting for a story to take shape. Then, my brother died unexpectedly, and the idea of writing our story was simply too hard. When my brother died, a woman gave me the poem by Merrit Malloy that Fern receives in the book. I must have read that poem, and in particular the last line, "When all that's left of me is love, give me away" a hundred times. In one way it comforted me, and in another, it reminded me that I would never see my brother again. And that was unbearable.  It took me years to accept my brother's death, and to understand how to fill that void with love instead of constant sadness. But as I finally began to heal, I also wondered how I could "give him away," and what that meant. Eventually, of course, it became obvious. I would share our story after all. I imagined writing a book about our childhood as a gift to my brother, in which I could rewrite our past and make it kinder and more gentle. But, as with all stories, I quickly realized the characters forming on the page weren’t us, and fate had other plans for them. Ironically, by writing this story about strangers I came to love, I was able to understand my own family story perhaps even more clearly. By writing about someone else's loss, I was better able to come to terms and accept my own. And I think that was the gift my brother would have wanted most of all.

About the Author

I grew up in a very old, drafty farmhouse in a small New Hampshire town. My family had lots of animals while I was growing up: Dogs, cats, chickens, two ponies and three horses. My favorite pet was my pony, Smoky. He was already quite old when we adopted him, but he was a good sport about going to 4-H shows with me. I won a blue ribbon in my first ever show—the immensely challenging “Walk/Trot.” That show was a thrilling experience for both of us! Smoky lived to be over 30 years old. He was a good friend, even if he was stubborn and would only trot when heading back toward the barn.

I also grew up with lots of books. My mom and my sister were ALWAYS reading. I didn’t become “a reader” until high school, so I loved when my sister read to me. Even now, when I read certain books to my son that my sister read to me, it’s my sister’s voice I hear in my head.

My parents tried out lots of businesses when I was growing up. The first one I remember was called “Kellers’ Restaurant.” It was a family restaurant, but it was an ICE CREAM factory. Oh, we were popular children in the beginning.

Later my parents sold Kellers’ and bought a huge old Victorian home and converted it into a much fancier restaurant called The Hathaway House. The carriage house was converted to a bar and my brother, sister and I used to get into LOTS of trouble there. Our favorite hangout was the loft, where we’d lean through the wooden railing and try to throw popcorn into people’s drinks down below.

My favorite celebrity customer was Miss America. She brought my sister and me to her dressing room and showed us her “shoe” suitcase. We were very impressed. Another big celeb who ate there was John Travolta. This was a few years before Grease came out. Oh, if we’d only known!

I wrote some pretty amusing stories about The Hathaway House and other adventures when I was young. I think I always loved writing stories and poems about my family and pets. But it wasn’t until high school that I started to read. I have Robert Cormier’s The Chocolate War to thank for that. I’m convinced that is the book that turned me into an avid reader, and eventually a writer. There is something about the raw truth of that book that showed me how powerful words can be.

In college I took a children’s literature course, got hooked, and went to grad school to learn more. There, I took a course on writing for children. I loved it so much, I decided to write my first YA novel for my graduate thesis. That semester I was lucky enough to meet Robert Cormier, my hero. I told him how his book had turned me into “a reader.” He gave me his address and said to send him my novel when I finished. That message helped me finish my book. I sent it. He wrote back and told me I had talent, and that he hoped one day my book would be published with a blurb from him on the back. I have that letter framed in my office.

In February 2006, I sold my first novel, Lessons From A Dead Girl, to Candlewick Press. My dream of becoming a published author finally came true.

Now, I live in Vermont with my husband and son. I’m a freelance writer, and I work on my fiction whenever I can find the time. And I read. I try to read at least one novel a week. If you want to be a writer, I suggest you try to read a book a week, too. Reading makes us better writers. I’m a firm believer in that. (Bio obtained from author website)

AWBB Comment Challenge Contest

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Once again the Area Wide Book Battle will be sponsoring a Comment Challenge; however, there are a few changes from years past.

the challenge will run from 9/4/13-1/7/14

all comment should be meaningful and at least a sentence in length.

make sure that you include in your comment the name of your school, so we know who to credit for your comment.

Things you can comment on could include:

The title of the book
Specific characters and why you liked or disliked them
The plot, conflict, mood of the book
The setting
The theme

Also you could make a comment about the author's post.

Remember this year your comments are about quality, not quantity

So get commenting

Feature Book of The Week #1: The Lost River of Grass by Ginny Rorby

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Feature Book of the Week

The Lost River of Grass

Lost in a River of Grass is in the tradition of survival stories like Hatchet or On My Side of the Mountain, where the young protagonist finds herself as she struggles to survive in an unforgiving wilderness. In this case, the setting is the Everglades, and Sarah, the 13-year-old narrator, sneaks away from an overnight school field trip for what was supposed to be a quick airboat ride with Andy, a boy who lives in the preserve. Naturally, disaster strikes and theyre forced to walk out of the Everglades (theyve got a knife, a small amount of Gatorade and some suspicious Spam). The author also skillfully layers in a story about overcoming prejudice. Sarah is black and Andy is the son of a Confederate-flag waving self-described redneck.

Guest Post by Ginny Rorby

LOST IN THE RIVER OF GRASS is a story about a simple oversight by two kids out for a morning airboat ride that results in a challenge few survive.  It is based almost entirely on the true story of my husband’s ill-fated trip to the Everglades, and was originally published in its non-fiction form in Fort Lauderdale’s Gulf Coast magazine many years ago. I made no chronological changes to the real events as they took place, though I did add a few from my own experiences in the Everglades, and elsewhere—like the palmetto bugs, and Andy’s scary hour with a poisonous snake around his ankle which happened to my father.

Though I never heard my husband’s ex-girlfriend’s side of the story, I wanted to make Sarah the one who comes out of the experience having discovered how truly brave, resourceful and powerful she is. Andy knows a lot about the Everglades, and is able to draw on his knowledge and experience to keep them at least headed in the right direction. However, Sarah’s the one who must rise above her fears. She’s the one who has the great adventure.

My favorite scene is the python eating the alligator. Back in the 1960s, when my husband and his girlfriend walked out, there weren’t any pythons in the Everglades. Those massive snakes are the only things out there that really scare me, and I wanted that scene to be Sarah’s turning point. She’s scared out of her wits by little snakes and big alligators from the time they get into the water, then she is confronted by a snake larger enough and powerful enough to consume an alligator. At that point, she has to completely lose it, or come to grips with their situation, and start taking some responsibility for their survival. 

I grew up in Florida and spent every waking hour outside looking for critters to capture and make pets out of. The lake in front of our house had a number of large alligators, and teemed with snakes, lizards, frogs, turtles, and birds. I have an undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of Miami, and was in the Everglades a lot during those years. Between my early interest in animals and my studies at UM, the only additional research I had to do for this book was learning how to dig a scratch well—something my husband knew nothing about when he walked out. I now live in northern California, so I made one more trip into the Everglades a couple of years before publication, where I personally ran into that nest of red ants.

Thematically, the story is about the power of the natural world to heal and strengthen us. For me, the Everglades is as much a main character in the book as Sarah, Andy and Teapot.

About the Author

I was raised in Winter Park, Florida, where we lived on a lake. It was a Purple gallinule that started my interest in wildlife and eventually my love of all animals with the exception of palmetto bugs—big roaches. Our Purple gallinule, named Big Foot, came back for five years in a row, padding in and out of our kitchen at will for handouts.

After high school and a failed attempt at being a bank teller, I moved to Miami and went to work as a flight attendant for National Airlines. In 1980, Pan American Airways bought that company and I worked for PAA for another 9 years. About midway through my flying career I came to my senses and realized that if I was ever going to do anything else, I needed an education. At age 33, I enrolled in the University of Miami to pursue an undergraduate degree in biology, specializing in ornithology—the study of birds. It was an accidental encounter with an abandoned dog that launched my “writing career.” After finishing my 8 years of undergraduate studies, I went to graduate school and received an MFA in Creative Writing from Florida International University. My goal then became to move someplace where I would never be hot again. I now live on the chilly coast of northern California with my thirty-year-old parrot and way too many cats. I share my three-acre, forested space, as graciously as I can, with skunks, possums, raccoons, an occasional black bear and a mountain lion. A single (and I hope it stays that way) Little Brown bat has lived in the rafters of bathroom for the last seven years sleeping (thankfully) directly above the sink. 

I wouldn’t want to hurt my parrot’s feelings, but I think my favorite pet of all time was an albino Red Rat snake named Rosie. If I could come back as an animal I would like to return as a Turkey vulture. Some one else kills your food for you and the rest of the time you get to ride thermals of warm air with your friends. Birds, flying, and friends, what more could one ask for?

I want to thank Ginny Rorby for providing us with such a wonderful insight into her book. If you would like more information about Ginny and her other YA books check out her website.

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