Feature Book of the Week #2 The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

Monday, August 25, 2014

Feature Book of the Week
The Testing 
Joelle Charbonneau

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Isn’t that what they say? But how close is too close when they may be one in the same?

The Seven Stages War left much of the planet a charred wasteland. The future belongs to the next generation’s chosen few who must rebuild it. But to enter this elite group, candidates must first pass The Testing—their one chance at a college education and a rewarding career.

Cia Vale is honored to be chosen as a Testing candidate; eager to prove her worthiness as a University student and future leader of the United Commonwealth. But on the eve of her departure, her father’s advice hints at a darker side to her upcoming studies--trust no one.

But surely she can trust Tomas, her handsome childhood friend who offers an alliance? Tomas, who seems to care more about her with the passing of every grueling (and deadly) day of the Testing. To survive, Cia must choose: love without truth or life without trust.

A Guest Post from Joelle Charbonneau

I am so honored to be included in this year’s Battle of the Books!  Thank you all for reading about Cia and her Testing adventures. 

Growing up, I was a huge reader.   I was very well known at my library as the girl who read everything and read it fast.  They always wondered how I had enough hours in the day to read all the books I checked out.  What they didn’t know is that I had a flashlight in the drawer next to my bed so I had extra hours at night to read while everyone else in my house was long asleep.  Who needed sleep when the characters I was reading about needed me in order to move onto the next chapter of their journey?

Feeling like I was an important part of the story was one of the reasons I loved reading while I was growing up and now that I’m an author I realize that I was more important to those stories than I knew.  Readers are special and every time they open a book they make the story special.  Even when everyone reads the same book, no two readers actually read the same story.  Every reader brings to the story their own experiences.  They bring their hopes and their dreams and their disappointments whenever they flip the pages.  They make the story their own.

You make the story your own.   It doesn’t matter what the author meant or intended or thought about when they wrote the story.  Once it’s in your hands, the story belongs to you and your imagination.

I really wish I could see what you see when you read about Cia and Tomas and Will and all the others that live in the world of The United Commonwealth.  I hope you like The Testing, but more important, I hope you enjoy your part in bringing each story to life in this year’s Battle of the Books.  You rock!

More About Joelle Charbonneau 

Joelle has performed in opera and musical theater productions across Chicagoland. She now teaches private voice lessons and is the author of the New York Times best selling THE TESTING trilogy (THE TESTING, INDEPENDENT STUDY and GRADUATION DAY) as well as two mystery series: The Rebecca Robbins mysteries (Minotaur Books) and the Glee Club mysteries (Berkley). Her YA books have appeared on the Indie Next List, on the YALSA Top 10 books for 2014 as well as the YALSA Quick Picks for reluctant readers. Paramount optioned THE TESTING as the project is currently in development. 

For more information about The Testing and Joelle Charbonneau visit her website

Feature Book of the Week #1 The Night She Disappeared by April Henry

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Feature Book of the Week
The Night she Disappeared
April Henry

Gabie drives a Mini Cooper. She also works part time as a delivery girl at Pete’s Pizza. One night, Kayla—another delivery girl—goes missing. To her horror, Gabie learns that the supposed kidnapper had asked if the girl in the Mini Cooper was working that night. Gabie can’t move beyond the fact that Kayla’s fate was really meant for her, and she becomes obsessed with finding Kayla. She teams up with Drew, who also works at Pete’s. Together, they set out to prove that Kayla isn’t dead—and to find her before she is.

A Guest Post from April Henry 

Thirty years ago, a teenager went out to deliver pizzas in a town about 45 minutes away from where I live.

Just like in The Night She Disappeared, her car was found with the keys in the ignition, her purse on the seat, and the pizza boxes on the ground. And just like in my book, it came out that the caller had asked if a different girl was working that night on delivery. I always wondered what it felt like that to be that other girl, knowing that the person had called for you. Would you feel marked? Guilty?

When I was in high school, I worked for two years at Pietro’s Pizza as a cashier. So I was able to take some of my own memories – playing Frisbee in the back parking lot with the pizza skins, calling the sausage “Alpo,” the weird joy of working a very busy rush – and put those into the book.

In many ways, the book is like a collage. For one, it is told from multiple points of view. I knew I wanted the two girl’s voices – Gabie, the girl who is taken and Kayla, the girl who was supposed to be. Drew came about because I wanted to bring in a guy’s voice. While those are the three main point-of-view characters, there are others, like the people who find the missing girl’s car, or the diver who looks for her body in the river. 

Another way in which the book is like a collage is that there’s more than just narrative – there are fortune cookie messages, a missing poster pizza order forms, a pamphlet for parents of missing kids, an autopsy report, etc. I love the way the graphic designer, April Ward, brought them to life in the book.

One of the pieces is a note Kayla writes in blood. When I was originally shown the art, the word “I” had the crossbars on the top and bottom. My thought was that if I was writing a note in blood I wouldn’t waste blood on those crossbars. I offered to prick my finger and write the note for real in my own blood. The publisher’s response was a somewhat horrified “no.” I guess they’re not used to how far I’m willing to go for research.  Instead, they just found another font.

AprilBloody note.jpg

About the Author
I grew up in a small Oregon town, and I still remember my mom teaching me with alphabet flash cards. White with a picture of an object on one side and a letter on the other, those cards glowed with magic.

When I was 12, I sent Roald Dahl, the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a short story about a frog named Herman who loved peanut butter. The day he received it, Dahl had lunch with the editor of an international children's magazine and read her the story. She contacted me and asked to publish it.

But as I got older, even though I read all the time, I didn't even dream of being a writer. It would have been like thinking I could fly by flapping my arms really, really hard. Then I got a hospital job with lots of down time and started thinking maybe I could try to write a book about the life and death that surrounded me every day.

That first book I wrote attracted no interest from agents. My second book got me an agent (and we're still together many years and many books later) and nice rejection letters from editors. My third book didn't even get nice rejection letters from editors. My fourth book sold in two days. It was a four-year overnight success.

Since then, I've written nearly a dozen mysteries and thrillers for teens and adults. The first in the Triple Threat Club series, co-written with Lis Wiehl, was on the New York Times bestseller list for four weeks. It was followed by Hand of Fate and Heart of Ice.

My first young adult novel, Shock Point was an ALA Quick Pick, a Top 10 Books for Teens nominee, a New York Library's Books for the Teen Age book, named to the Texas Tayshas list, and a finalist for Philadelphia's Young Readers Choice Award. It was followed by two more teen thrillers: Torched and Girl, Stolen. Girl, Stolen was an ALA Quick Pick and an ALA Best Books for Young Adults.
My books have been short-listed for the Agatha Award, the Anthony Award, and the Oregon Book Award, and chosen twice for Booksense by the independent booksellers of America. They have been translated into Japanese, Spanish, Dutch, German, Polish, and French.

Check out April Henry's website for more about this mystery writer.
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