Feature Book of the Week #10 Starters by Lissa Price

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Feature Book of the Week
Lissa Price

Callie lost her parents when the Spore Wars wiped out everyone between the ages of twenty and sixty. She and her little brother, Tyler, go on the run, living as squatters with their friend Michael and fighting off renegades who would kill them for a cookie. Callie's only hope is Prime Destinations, a disturbing place in Beverly Hills run by a mysterious figure known as the Old Man.

He hires teens to rent their bodies to Enders—seniors who want to be young again. Callie, desperate for the money that will keep her, Tyler, and Michael alive, agrees to be a donor. But the neurochip they place in Callie's head malfunctions and she wakes up in the life of her renter, living in her mansion, driving her cars, and going out with a senator's grandson. It feels almost like a fairy tale, until Callie discovers that her renter intends to do more than party—and that Prime Destinations' plans are more evil than Callie could ever have imagined.

A Guest Post From Lissa Price

Hi Battlers! I’m truly honored that Starters is one of the books you’re covering this year. Readers always like hearing about how I got the idea for the series. But first, let me recap the basis for the stories. The unusual world of Starters where only seniors and teens and younger exist came about because of the Spore Wars where the unvaccinated did not survive the fatal disease. There was only a limited supply of the vaccine so it went to the very young and the very old, leaving the “Middles” unprotected. When the spores were shot out of missiles from the enemy, almost all of the parents inhaled them and died.

That left the world of young people, mostly teens called Starters, and seniors, called Enders.

A few years ago I was trying to get a flu shot from a store called Costco. This is a large, big-box membership store that is housed in a big empty warehouse. No carpet, no dividing walls, just this huge, cold gray space. They have a pharmacy there and when they do flu shots, they shut down several registers and create lines there. I was prepared to get the shot, waiting, a little nervous, when they announced that there wasn’t enough vaccine for everyone. Some batches had been spoiled at the laboratory so our government had set up a triage system: only the very young and the very old could get the vaccine.

I had been waiting a while, so I was not happy. My mind started to rationalize why this shouldn’t be. I thought – wait, if this was a killer disease, and only the most vulnerable people are going to get the vaccine, then all you’d have left would be the weakest members of society. How would they be able to carry on?

And then I thought – that’s a great idea for a book. So I left without my flu shot but with something else – something much more important. I thought about the idea for a long time asking myself what this story should be about? What are ways for conflict? How do the elderly and the young not get along? I thought of how, unless you’re related, most seniors don’t want to be around young people – they’re too noisy and dangerous, riding skateboards and scooters, knocking the elderly over. And how would the elderly take advantage of them? They can vote while the teens cannot. They’d enact the no-work law so the teens could not take jobs away from them at places like McDonalds.  Because some of the seniors would be wealthy after years of investing, but others would need an income because they lived longer than they’d imagined. And of course, the biggest reason they’d exploit the teens is they would want to have their healthy bodies – at least temporarily.

So that’s how I looked at the world around me and invented the world of Starters.  When student writers ask where do you get your ideas, I just say: Costco.

Visit me at www.lissaprice.com or follow me on Twitter @Lissa_Price 

About the Author 

Lissa Price’s debut novel STARTERS is an international bestseller published in over thirty countries, with praise from Kami Garcia and Harlan Ellison. Dean Koontz called this YA futuristic thriller “a smart, swift, inventive, altogether gripping story.” STARTERS appeared on many best of lists and won top awards in the Netherlands, Germany and France. Kirkus called  the sequel, ENDERS, “delightfully disturbing,” and La Fenice Book said: “Enders is one of the most original dystopian stories that has been published.”

Starters is a YALSA Quick Pick, a Best YA Thriller, a Granite Book Award Winner and more. It made several state reading lists in both the Middle Grade and Teen categories, as well as the International Reading Association’s list. Chosen by Barnes & Noble as one of only four debuts on the Best Teen Books of the Year, and debuted as #2 on the SCIBA Indie Bookseller’s List. With high praise from Booklist, Kirkus, Dean Koontz, Kami Garcia, Harlan Ellison, and the LA Times. Now in the 8th printing.

Feature Book of the Week # 9 Jump Into the Sky by Shelley Pearsall

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Feature Book of the Week

Jump Into the Sky 
Shelley Pearsall

Levi Battle's been left behind all his life. His mother could sing like a bird and she flew away like one, too. His father left him with his grandmother so he could work as a traveling salesman—until Levi's grandmother left this world entirely. Now Levi's staying with his Aunt Odella while his father is serving in the U.S. Army. But it's 1945, and the war is nearly over, and Aunt Odella decides it's time for Levi to do some leaving of his own. Before he can blink, Levi finds himself on a train from Chicago to Fayettville, North Carolina, where his father is currently stationed—last they knew.

So begins an eye-opening, life-changing journey for Levi. First lesson: there are different rules for African Americans in the South than there are in Chicago. And breaking them can have serious consequences. But with the help of some kind strangers, and despite the hindrances of some unkind ones, Levi makes his way across the United States—searching for his father and finding out about himself, his country, and what it truly means to belong.

A Guest Post from Author Shelley Pearsall

Hello St. Louis Readers,

Thank you for reading Jump into the Sky for your Book Battle!   I’m often asked where I get the ideas for my books – surprisingly, I discovered the idea for this book during lunch at a middle school a few years ago. 

The school had invited several guests to speak on the topic of freedom and I happened to be seated with one of the guests at lunch.  He was a thin, soft-spoken, African-American man in his 80’s, and I discovered he had been one of the “red tails” – courageous black fighter pilots in World War II.

I was amazed by the man’s story, but even more interested in something else he told me – that his unit wasn’t the only black unit that secretly fought in World War II.  There were others, including a unit of black paratroopers, called the “Triple Nickles,” that served on a secret mission in the United States at the end of the war.  Even today, very few people know about them, he said.

Not only had I never heard of the Triple Nickles and their top-secret mission…I didn’t even know what a paratrooper was.  (Not a spoiler alert: they parachute out of airplanes).  Researching this story took me to Union Station in Chicago…the Special Operations museum in Fayetteville, North Carolina...Charleston, South Carolina to meet sweet grass basket makers…on a steam train ride in Ohio…and many other places. 

Okay, I’ll confess: I did not jump out of an airplane for my “research.”  But I sat inside a real World War II C-47 airplane (on the ground) in the jump seats used by paratroopers, if that counts…
I love unraveling the surprising secrets of the past, and you’ll see that this story has a lot of surprises.  I hope you enjoy meeting the unique cast of characters: Levi, Peaches and Cal, Aunt Odella, Mawmaw Sands, Killer and Tiger Ted – and many more.   By the way, St. Louis and the Mississippi River appear in the story, too.
And remember – always keep your eyes and ears open, because you never know who you might meet at lunch…

Read on!

Shelley Pearsall

About the Author

A native Ohioan, Shelley Pearsall has enjoyed writing since childhood. More than a quarter million copies of her books have been sold nationwide, and her work has received regional and national recognition. Her first historical novel, Trouble Don't Last, was the recipient of the prestigious Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction in 2003 and her first contemporary novel, All of the Above, was a 2007 ALA Notable book.

Before writing Trouble Don't Last, Shelley Pearsall was a public school teacher and a museum historian. In her spare time, she wrote historical scripts and short stories for Cleveland-area museums. She was the recipient of an Ohio Arts Council Fellowship in Writing in 1999 and was named the 2005 Children's Writer-in-Residence for the James Thurber House.

Shelley Pearsall's work and writing often has been influenced by her love of the past. She has taken part in a Revolutionary War shipwreck archaeology project, worked in an 18th century shoemaker shop in Colonial Williamsburg, and performed Great Lakes stories on a steamship--just to name a few of the unique historical jobs she has held over the years.

She graduated from the College of Wooster (B.A.) in 1989 and holds a master's degree in education from John Carroll University. Although she no longer works as a classroom teacher, Shelley enjoys visiting schools as a guest author!

Shelley Pearsall lives in Silver Lake, Ohio with her husband Mike, stepson Ethan, and rescued barn cat Marbles.

Feature of the Week #8 The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Feature Book of the Week
The Screaming Staircase
Jonathan Stroud

A sinister Problem has occurred in London: all nature of ghosts, haunts, spirits, and specters are appearing throughout the city, and they aren't exactly friendly. Only young people have the psychic abilities required to see-and eradicate-these supernatural foes. Many different Psychic Detection Agencies have cropped up to handle the dangerous work, and they are in fierce competition for business.

In The Screaming Staircase, the plucky and talented Lucy Carlyle teams up with Anthony Lockwood, the charismatic leader of Lockwood & Co, a small agency that runs independent of any adult supervision. After an assignment leads to both a grisly discovery and a disastrous end, Lucy, Anthony, and their sarcastic colleague, George, are forced to take part in the perilous investigation of Combe Carey Hall, one of the most haunted houses in England. Will Lockwood & Co. survive the Hall's legendary Screaming Staircase and Red Room to see another day? 

Reading Makes You Fly

Two snapshots of my childhood. In the first, a small boy, six years old, is curled in an armchair on a Sunday afternoon. Sunshine drifts through the window, along with the sounds of neighbours mowing their lawns. Occasionally the boy’s dangling foot moves, twitching like the tail of a cat. Otherwise he is motionless. He’s reading a book – a proper full-length one, without pictures. It’s the first time he’s ever achieved this feat, and he’s mesmerised by his own new skill. He won’t get up until the story is done.

                  The second snapshot. The same small boy, a couple of years down the line. He’s in hospital now, has been for a month. Pneumonia, which the doctors are finding hard to shift. He can’t walk far, so he mostly stays in bed. But he’s a great traveller nonetheless. Piles of books and comics lie around him – tales of adventure, magic and exotic lands. He sits and he reads, and leaves his illness far behind. Books save him. They carry him away.

                  Reading is power. It allows you to escape your limitations – physical (as in my case), or social, or whatever they may be. It gives you the ability to master the world. Without reading, you’re stuck in the here and now. With it, possibilities are everywhere around you: each newspaper, novel, comic or magazine becomes a door to be walked through, a new universe to explore.

                  There’s no greater gift to give a child.

                  But reading for pleasure’s a weird thing. It’s not exactly work, but you do need discipline to master it. It’s not play either, though it gives you endless delight. It’s an occupation that can’t really be taught or enforced: kids have to discover the magic for themselves. Still, adults can – and must – encourage them. The best thing is to lead by example. Be seen reading. Read to the kid. Visit libraries. Above all, leave lots of books and comics lying around – and allow them time and space to take advantage. No one forced me to sit in that armchair and read my first novel (it was Enid Blyton’s Five on a Treasure Island, by the way). I just thought I’d give it a go. And the impulse changed my life. I’ve never forgotten it.

                  So how do you sum up the joy of reading for those who don’t know? There’s an old photograph by the French artist, Yves Klein. It’s called ‘Leap into the Void’. (Google it – it’s great.) A man in a suit jumps from the roof of a building, over a quiet street. Is he going to fall? Or is he – maybe, just maybe – about to defy gravity and soar off into the heavens? The next split second will tell. Meanwhile a bloke on a bike is passing below, entirely unaware that something miraculous is happening above.

Reading is like that. It’s a glorious leap into the void. It’s a feat of extraordinary agility, which goes unnoticed by everyone around you. When you open any book for the first time, you’re preparing to jump. When you begin to read, you’re stepping off the edge. At that moment everything’s possible. You can go anywhere, learn anything, become anyone…

                  Reading makes you fly.


I was born in Bedford, England, on 27th October 1970. When I was six my family moved to St Albans, near London, which is where I grew up. From very early on I enjoyed scribbling stories and drawing, and for a long time the two sides were equally balanced: pictures interested me as much as words. Between the ages of seven and nine I was often ill, and spent long periods in hospital and at home in bed. During this time I escaped from boredom and frustration by reading furiously: books littered my bedroom floor like bones in a lion's cave. I tended to enjoy stories of magical adventure more than ones about real life – I think this was because they provided a more complete escape. Around this time I fell in love with fantasy.

Throughout my school years I experimented with different kinds of writing, often illustrated.  I tried comics, gamebooks, board games, and later poems and plays. Without being entirely aware of it, I was searching for the kind of writing that suited me best. Meanwhile, I was getting more and more interested in other people's writing. Finally I went to York University, to read English Literature.

Like many English graduates, I left university without a clue what to do. But I got an editorial job at Walker Books, in London, and began to learn about children's books. For several years I worked as an editor: helping authors with their ideas and their texts, consulting with designers and artists about the visual side, helping to create books of many kinds. I worked on encyclopaedias, history books, game books and even a children's Bible. This taught me a lot of things about structure, pace and style; meanwhile, in my free time, I was busy writing also. I did several puzzle books for Walker, and began working on a novel too. When Buried Fire was published in 1999, I knew that I had found what I truly wanted to do, but it took until 2001 before I finally took the plunge, gave up being an editor and tried to write full time.

The same year I married Gina, and we have a daughter called Isabelle and a son called Arthur. Most days I go up to my study, and shut myself away from the world while I write. But I also enjoy doing as many events and author visits as possible: it's essential that a writer reminds himself of who he's writing for . . .

For more information about Jonathan Stroud and his book check out his website.

Feature Book of the Week #7 The Summer I Learned to Fly by Dana Reinhardt

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


The Summer I Learned to Fly
Dana Reinhardt

Drew's a bit of a loner. She has a pet rat, her dead dad's Book of Lists, an encyclopedic knowledge of cheese from working at her mom's cheese shop, and a crush on Nick, the surf bum who works behind the counter. It's the summer before eighth grade and Drew's days seem like business as usual, until one night after closing time, when she meets a strange boy in the alley named Emmett Crane. Who he is, why he's there, where the cut on his cheek came from, and his bottomless knowledge of rats are all mysteries Drew will untangle as they are drawn closer together, and Drew enters into the first true friendship, and adventure, of her life.

Author Post from Dana Reinhardt

How appropriate that I sit down to write this guest post as all across the country kids, including my own, are heading back to school. The summer is dwindling, though where I live in San Francisco summer weather is finally arriving. (This is a topic for a different post entirely, but it is
unreasonably cold in San Francisco all summer long. Just crazy cold.) The Summer I Learned to Fly is my love letter to real summer. To long, lazy structure-free days that provide space for exploring new things. In Drew Robin Solo’s case, it’s the summer before 8th grade she spends her
time discovering secret coves, a secret friend and the secrets her mother has been keeping from her.

I grew up in Los Angeles, which is a far cry from the idyllic coastal town Drew inhabits, but my mother owned a cheese store identical to the one that Drew’s mother owns in the book. Like Drew, I worked there in the summertime, and like Drew I felt at home there in a way I didn’t at school
or among kids my own age. It was my escape from the puzzling world of middle school.
Though one of my jobs at the store was to leave the day old food in the alley, and though it did always disappear, I never found out who took it. That is to say, I didn’t find my Emmett there. Real friendship would come later for me. It would take me awhile to find the people among whom I
could be my true self.

I think of The Summer I Learned to Fly as an old fashioned coming of age story. Please: don’t be put off by the term old fashioned. I mean it in the very best sense. Maybe classic is a better word? Anyway, it’s my stab and the kind of story I really loved when I was a young reader. The kind
that’s about the moment we first begin to discover who we are, what matters to us, and for what, or whom, we’d risk everything. Hope you enjoy it!

About the Author

Dana Reinhardt grew up in a family of storytellers. Her older brothers would tell her elaborate lies that she almost always believed. Her father would take her for long walks
in the neighborhood whenever something life changing was occurring, either privately or in the world at large, and he would talk her through the events in a thoughtful and elegant way.

She spent summers with her grandparents, and at night her grandmother would put her to bed with stories about the boyfriends of her youth.

And her mother shoved books into her hands, books she often didn’t want to read because her mother had given them to her, and that is how children tend to be about the books their mothers love, but inevitably, she would read them, and more often than not, she would love them every bit as much as her mother insisted she would.

When Dana sits down to write, the stories of her family comeback to her, and she tries to keep all aspects of their storytelling in mind. She tries to be a good liar, because she believes that telling elaborate lies and telling them well is the cornerstone of
writing. She believes that good young adult novels should have events that shake the protagonists to their cores, should involve a romantic entanglement or two, and ultimately, should be the kinds of books that you can’t put down even if your mother is
the person who thrust them upon you.

Dana lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two daughters, who so far love the books that she has given to them, but they are only two and five. For more information about Dana Reinhardt, visit her Website.

Biography retrieved from Random House.com 
Design by Use Your Imagination Designs All images from the Keeper Of Time kit by Studio Gypsy