I’m BACK!!

The ALA Anaheim Conference was wonderful! Mailed home 6 boxes of Galleys aka ARC’s (Advanced Reading Copies), which should be arriving any day. Found some new and exciting reads, as well as a few surprises.

Have to catch up with conference related e-mails, notes, business cards, etc., but in my few moments of leisure I am reading “Trafficked” by Kim Purcell. It’s pretty intense, and will write about it when I’m done.

TTYL!

PS – Here I am at the Exhibits with the AWE mascot @ ALA.

I’m @ ALA in Anaheim!

There will be a few days lapse before I write another review, as I’m at the American Library Association’s (ALA) Annual Conference in Anaheim, California and will have zero time to read.

The Vendor Exhibits open Friday evening, where I hope to begin the search of finding great ARC’s (Advanced Reading Copies) of some of the latest and greatest reads – including continuations of some of the books I just finished reading.

I’m sitting here going over the list of Vendors in the Program, plotting out which YA publishers I want to visit. When the doors open, and the mad rush of thousands of librarians all trying to get somewhere fast begins, I plan to be prepared. I’m on a mission.

Not for me are the free pens, pencils, tote bags, keychains, bookmarks, posters, fuzzy creatures, pads, stickers, candy, stuffed animals, games, dancing cats, sweet talking Vendors, talking robot, free food and drinks, games, poetry readings, free audiobooks, demos, raffles, water bottles, author signings, cake and more. I’m on a mission. I want ARC’s. Maybe I’ll allow myself to be distracted with all these other freebies once I’ve scooped up every interesting ARC I can find, but not until then.

“I want ARC’s” will be my mantra from Friday-Monday (when the Exhibits close) as I use my free time after sessions to prowl the Exhibits. The ALA Conference is a great time to catch up with old friends from AASL (American Association of School Librarians), REFORMA (The National Association to Promote Library & Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking), YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association), and other ALA divisions to which I belong. It’s also a time to make new friends, meet authors, attend great sessions, and learn new things going on in the library world. BUT, it’s also about the ARC’s.

May the best ARC’s have been all packed up and shipped home to me when I leave Tuesday. Let the games begin…

“Fugitives” Alexander Gordon Smith

“Escape from Furnace,” Book 4. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2010. Hardcover. 270 pp.

Have you read the other three books in the “Escape from Furnace” series? If you haven’t, you’d best get reading as “Fugitives” takes the story to a whole new level and you’re going to feel totally lost unless you catch up quickly.

Alex, Zee and Simon have made it out of Furnace Penitentiary and are on the run, but find they’ve escaped into a City of Terror instead of the freedom for which they’d long hoped. Alfred Furnace’s plan to have his newly created Blacksuit Army take over the world seems to be working, as he’s unleashed deadly berserkers and other creatures onto the unarmed population to kill all who stand in their way, while “turning” others into more of the same types of creatures fueled by a new type of nectar that makes them indestructible.

After one especially hard battle, Alex is bitten and injected with this new nectar. Horrified, he finds his body changing into a mutant Blacksuit with more power and strength than he’d had before as an ordinary Blacksuit. Determined to use his newfound strength to find and kill Furnace, Alex sets out to carry his plan into motion. Unfortunately, Furnace has other plans.

Just like the other books in the series, “Fugitives” will keep middle and high school readers, especially boys, glued to their seats as murder, mayhem, devastation, death, destruction, horror, action and adventure (get the idea?) litter its pages. So, get your seat belts fastened because it’ll be one wild ride after another when the last book in the series “Execution” is released in November. Furnace is waiting for you…..

“In Too Deep” Amanda Grace

Flux, 2012. Paperback. 228 pp.

Sam had known her next door neighbor and best friend Nick for 10 years, but never told him she loved him. She’d suffered through his on again-off again relationship with his ex, always hoping he’d notice her waiting in the background. He didn’t, so Sam decided to make him jealous.

A week before they graduated from their boring little high school in their boring little town, Sam spiced things up by pretending interest in Carter, the school’s golden boy and all around athlete, at his home party. After drunkenly approaching Carter in his bedroom, managing to fall down, bruise her eye, and rip her top all at the same time, Carter rejected her. As Sam stumbled out of Carter’s room, a passing student misinterpreted her tears and condition, spreading the rumor she’d been raped by Carter.

The next day, Sam’s wildest dreams came true when Nick admitted to having feelings for her. At school the next day strangers came up to her offering their support, and Sam was perplexed by the attention. However, when the rumor reached her ears, she was afraid to tell the truth because she didn’t want to lose Nick and felt Carter deserved it for what he’d said to her and how he’d acted towards other girls.

A long series of consequences followed, which usually arise whenever a rumor is left to grow unchecked and its hearers believe and spread it without having all the facts. Despite knowing the direction in which the rumor had taken, Sam was still unwilling to tell the truth as the rumor took on a life of its own. Soon, both Sam and Carter’s lives were negatively intertwined more than she had ever planned and, as time went on and despite her best intentions to tell Nick and others the truth, it became too difficult.

Through Sam and Carter’s eyes, Amanda Grace allowed readers to see what a rumor does to all those involved as it spreads. Hopefully, high school readers will realize the power of a rumor before they undertake to be the ones to give it life and breath.

“The Power of Six” Pittacus Lore

“The Lorien Legacies,” Book 2. Penguin Group, 2011. Hardcover. 380 pp.

The first book in the series, “I am Number Four,” introduces us to John Smith, an alien sent to Earth from his planet Lorien. Written by Pittacus Lore, Lorien’s ruling Elder, we learn John is one of Eight Garde who have hidden powers, or legacies, and their planet’s future depends on their survival. However Mogadorians, their alien enemies, have followed them to Earth to stalk and kill them one by one. John is Number Four, and just managed to escape them, after getting help from Number Six and his human friend Sam, in a major battle.

In “The Power of Six,” readers are re-introduced to Numbers Four and Six, as well as Sam, as they try to figure out their next steps. We are also introduced to Number Seven, who has been hiding in a convent in Spain with her Cepan (teacher) for years. When she discovers her legacies, she is determined to leave the convent to do the work for which she had been sent to Earth. Unfortunately, over the intervening years, her Cepan has buried their past, believes they belong in the convent, and refuses to train her for the battles that will arise in their futures.

Told in the varying voices of Numbers Four and Seven, “The Power of Six” gives insight into the present and past lives of Numbers Four, Six and Seven. We take part in their heart stopping adventures and battles as they barely manage to stay one step ahead of the Mogadorians, who seem to be daily increasing in number, as they seek out each other knowing there is power in their unity. The cliffhanger ending, and introductions to Numbers Nine and Ten, left me eagerly anticipating Book 3 “The Rise of Nine,” which will be released this August. With luck, I’ll be able to snag an ARC (Advance Reading Copy) of it at the upcoming ALA conference I’ll be attending in Anaheim.

I know it will only be a matter of time until “The Power of Six” becomes a movie as did its predecessor. I know millions of middle and high school fans will be cheering for it along with me.

“Unforsaken” Sophie Littlefield

“Banished” Book 2. Delacorte Press. 2011. Hardcover. 277 pp.

In this sequel to “Banished,” Hailey, Prairie and little Chub managed to escape Bryce and his gang and began new lives for themselves in Chicago with new identities. Hailey tried to fit in with the boy crazy girls in her area, but felt like part of herself was missing because of Kaz, the handsome son of Anna, Prairie’s friend. He had been left behind in their escape, but Hailey clung to the memory of their final moments together. Unable to resist their attraction for each other, they kept up their relationship with secret phone calls. Unfortunately, Prentiss, Bryce’s boss, found a way to trace their calls and, within a few short moments, Hailey’s life crumbled.

Both Prairie and Chub were kidnapped and taken to Trashtown, and Hailey barely managed to escape the trap. With no one to turn to, she and Kaz decided to figure out their next moves. They found an unlikely ally in Rattler, her crazy “will do anything for a pure bloodline of Banished” father. In love with Prairie for years, he had planned to have her raise a crop of pure bred Banished to carry on the work of Healers and Seers. Infuriated, Rattler planned to make sure no one messed with what belongs to him.

Kidnappings, murders, betrayals, zombie attacks, as well as thrilling action and adventures are stuffed into 277 pages. Littlefield leaves no stone unturned, even adding a few “aha!” moments to keep her readers guessing as to what would happen next to Hailey, Kaz, Chub, Prairie and Rattler.

Fans of “Banished,” and new fans in grades 9-12, will enjoy reading “Unforsaken.”

“Banished” Sophie Littlefield

“Banished” Book 1. Delacorte Press, 2010. Hardcover. 293 pp.

I had read this book a couple of years ago but, like many books for which I hadn’t written a summary, I forgot what it was about. With the recent release of its sequel, I headed to the rereading chair to pay the price of my forgetfulness.

Hailey is an outcast at school and home. She’d never known her parents and was raised by her uncaring, sickly, drug dealing, drunken, 4-pack-a-day smoker grandmother. Her only source of love comes from their 4 year old autistic foster child her grandmother took in and abandoned. At school, she is shunned and ranks as low as one could possibly get on the high school social ladder. She is puzzled by the ostracism at school, but accepts it as her due for living in Trashtown, the bad part of town.

Her life changes on the day a student gets injured in gym class. Unable to stop herself, Hailey finds herself healing the young girl by just touching her injury. Fearful of her power, and ignorant of its causes, Hailey is enlightened when her long lost Aunt Prairie comes to town. Prairie is also a Healer, and explains their inherited gift. For years, she’d worked in a lab to learn more about her gift and has just learned she and Hailey are in danger from the Head Scientist, Bryce, who intends to imprison them to raise up an army of zombies he plans to sell to the highest bidder.

As killers invade Hailey’s home to fulfill Bryce’s wishes, the girls almost lose out on their bid for freedom but manage to escape. While on the run, readers are kept on the edge of their seats as Hailey and Prairie claw their way out of tight spot after tight spot in their bids to save themselves from ruthless murderers. The cliffhanger ending made me very glad that the sequel was sitting just a few feet away from me. Students in grades 9-12 will want to join me in enjoying “Banished.”