Sunday, September 26, 2010

Local Author Spotlight: Lynn Miller Lachmann

This article first appeared on the examiner on April 28, 2010.

In addition to being a published author, Capital District resident Lynn Miller Lachmann is also an assistant host of a bilingual radio show on WRPI-FM and a seventh grade teacher. She’s written and edited books for both teens and adults. Her short story collection for readers in grades 5 and up, “Once Upon a Cuento”, featured stories by contemporary Latino authors. Lachmann’s latest novel for teens, “Gringolandia”, was listed as one of ALA’s Best Books for Teens in 2010.
“Gringolandia” tells the story of a young boy and his strained relationship with his father, a former journalist wrongly imprisoned for exposing Chile’s military regime. Daniel wants a normal life after relocating to Wisconsin but finds it difficult when his Papa rejoins the family.
Lachmann has spoken at the East Greenbush Community Library and recently appeared at the Empire State Book Festival. Her next speaking engagement will be this Saturday at theHudson Children’s Book Festival. She will be part of a presentation on “Writing YA Fiction About Social Issues” (with Zetta Elliott, Sarah Darer Littman, and Neesha Meminger).
For more young adult fiction related information about the Hudson Children’s Book Festival, click here. For more information about Lachmann see her website.

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Speak--Laurie Halse Anderson

From the Vault
This review was originally written--handwritten no less--in November 1999 before the Age of Blogs. I'm not editing it at all because I don't believe in tampering with history. For other old reviews, click on the "From the Vault" tag.

In honor of the "Speak"controversy, I've found my handwritten review originally written in November of 1999. I  haven't edited it at all:

Summary: Melinda begins her freshman year in high school alone and friendless because of an incident at a party the summer before. She must learn to accept the truth of that incident and tell others the real truth before she can begin to heal.

Critique: I shouted the title in my mind as I read and watched Melinda sink further and further into depression. It was gripping and realistic. I felt like I was there, watching a friend slip away and not be able to break through to her. I felt as much relief as Melinda did when she finally does Speak.

Recommendation: yes.

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Local Author Spotlight: Peter Marino

This article first appeared on the examiner on April 1, 2010. 

Local capital district young adult fiction author Peter Marino will be appearing at the Empire State Book Festival coming up next weekend, April 9-10, 2010. Marino teaches at the Adirondack Community College in Queensbury, NY. He won the SUNY Chancellor's Award in 2006 for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activity and has had two young adult fiction books published. His third, "Alice Blunt", will be published sometime this year.
Marino’s first YA novel, "Dough Boy", was published in 2005 and tells the story of 15 year old Tristan. Tristan is an overweight teenage son of divorced parents. He's happy with his parents' divorce, they're much happier separate than together; while he's not exactly happy with his weight, he's not bothered by it. He has a good relationship with his parents and their new partners. He gets along very well with his mother's live-in boyfriend (Frank), who is also overweight, and shares the love of ice cream sundaes with him. Everything is fine in Tristan's life, until Frank's daughter comes to visit and then live with them. Kelly is not only thin and beautiful she's a health freak and completely judgmental about Frank and Tristan's weight. It's not enough for her to express concern over their sizes she also has to make them feel bad about it. Tristan weakens under her constant abuse and bullying until he finally explodes.
"Magic and Misery", Marino’s second YA novel, was published in April 2009. TJ and her gay friend Pan have been best friends forever. But when a new boy notices TJ, her friendship with Pan is seriously affected. The Albany Times Union review called this an “unpredictable and satisfying story.”
For more information see Marino’s website or meet him in person at the Empire State Book Festival.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Local Author Spotlight: Coleen Murtagh Paratore

This article first appeared on the examiner on April 26, 2010. 

Coleen Murtagh Paratore is a young adult author whose Capital District roots run deep. She was born in (and currently lives in) Troy, NY in 1958. She attended St. Joseph’s Grammar School in South Troy and Catholic Central High School in North Troy. She majored in English at the College of Saint Rose. After a brief stint in Connecticut, Paratore returned home and worked at Russell Sage before pursuing her dream as a writer. She has written 14 books for children and young adults. Her newest book, “Wish I Might: From the Life of Willa Havisham” will be released on May 1, 2010.
Willa Havisham first appeared in the popular “The Wedding Planner’s Daughter” in 2005. Willa is the daughter of a successful wedding planner who dreams of her own happy ending. Her story is continued in “The Cupid Chronicles,” “Willa by Heart,” “Forget Me Not: From the Life of Willa Havisham,” and “Wish I Might: From the Life of Willa Havisham.”
In addition to the Willa Havisham series, tween and teen girls will also be interested in “A Pearl Among Princes” about a young girl living on a remote island where Princes are sent for their “Charmed Arts” training. Gracepearl dreams of a life bigger than the island but that requires attracting the romantic attention of one of the Princes and denying her feelings for a long-time love. Girls who like their romance with a little bit of fantasy and a strong heroine should enjoy this book.
Paratore will be appearing at the Hudson Children’s Book Festival this Saturday, May 1, 2010 (alongside other Local Author Spotlight authors Eric Luper and Peter Marino). For other opportunities to meet this local Capital District author check out the appearancespage of her website.

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Local Author Spotlight: Eric Luper

This article first appeared on the examiner on January 27, 2010.

Eric Luper is a local young adult fiction author releasing his third book, Seth Baumgartner’s Love Manifesto, this summer. Luper has lived in New Jersey, Long Island, and backpacked through Europe, but has called Albany home since 1999. He attended Rutger’s college as an English/Creative Writing major and topped off his education with chiropractic school.
Luper’s first book, Big Slick, was published in 2007. Big Slick is a gambling story about a sixteen year old in over his head in the world of illegal poker clubs. Andrew steals money from his dad’s dry cleaning business so he can play in a poker game. He is lucky at poker, but not lucky enough to keep on winning.
Luper followed that up with Bug Boy, about a fifteen year old boy during the Great Depression. Jack Walsh gets his first big break working as a bug boy (an apprentice jockey) at the Saratoga Race Track. He does pretty well for himself but not without some suffering.
Seth Baumgartner’s Love Manifesto will be released in June 2010. Seth is having a horrible day—while at Applebee’s his girlfriend dumps him and his father walks in with a woman that isn’t his mom. Just when it can’t get worse, it does, and Seth is fired for the fourth time. He decides to take charge of his life with an anonymous podcast called "The Love Manifesto". Luper manages to make depressing topics into a funny teen novel. An added bonus for local teens, Seth Baumgartner’s Love Manifesto is full of capital region references. For a sneak peak review of this Advanced Reader’s Copy, click here.
Luper’s books are funny, fast-paced and good for boys as well as reluctant readers. All of these books can be purchased from your local bookstore or borrowed from your local library.

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YA Authors You Need to Read: Sara Zarr

This article first appeared on the examiner on August 11, 2010.

Sara Zarr is the acclaimed author of three novels for young adults: "Story of a Girl" (National Book Award Finalist), "Sweethearts" (Cybil Award Finalist), and "Once Was Lost" (a Kirkus Best Book of 2009). Her short fiction and essays have also appeared in Image, Hunger Mountain, and several anthologies. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband, and online at her website.
Zarr’s first book “Story of a Girl” is about a young girl caught by her father in a compromising situation—losing her virginity. This could be called the Story of Many Girls. Aside from actually being caught in the act by your father, lots of young vulnerable girls have similar first time situations--ones filled with regret that they never truly get over. This novel is so realistic it's almost painful. Interspersed throughout the book is Deanna's own writing, her own Story of a Girl, a girl desperately trying to forget her past. It's not until she learns how to forgive can she truly forget--a lesson everyone in the family needs to learn. Click here for the full review or see East Greenbush YA Librarian Chrissie Morrison’s reviewhere.
Other Books
“Sweethearts” (Goddess librarian review;  YA Librarian Chrissie Morrison’s review )
“Once Was Lost”
You can find more information about Zarr at her website and follow her on twitter.

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YA Authors You Need to Read: E. Lockhart

This article first appeared on the examiner on July 26, 2010.

E. Lockhart is a full time YA author who writes funny heartfelt books for teens. She has a doctorate in English literature and currently lives in the New York City area. All of her teen books are published under the name E. Lockhart, but she also writes other types of books with her full name Emily Lockhart.
Lockhart’s first book for teens was “The Boyfriend List” published in 2005. Fifteen-year-old Ruby has everything going for her, a group of best friends, a perfect boyfriend, interesting albeit annoying parents, and then she loses it all (except the parents) and has panic attacks instead. Trying to figure out what went wrong, Ruby starts therapy and comes up with the reason: boys. She comes up with a list of all her boyfriends, even the ones that were imagined and unofficial and crushes from afar. Ruby (Roo) is a funny typical boy-obsessed teenage girl. At times she is shallow and self-centered, and other times she really is the victim of her cruel peers. For a full review, click here.
Subsequent books
“Fly on the Wall” (East Greenbush YA Librarian Chrissie Morrison’s review here)
“The Boy Book” (Goddess Librarian review here)
“Dramarama” (Goddess Librarian review here)
“The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks”
“How To Be Bad”
“The Treasure Map of Boys”
“Real Live Boyfriends”
You can find more information about Lockhart at her website and blog and also follow her on twitter.

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YA Authors You Need to Read: David Levithan

This article first appeared on the examiner on July 29, 2010.

David Levithan was born in 1972 and works as an editorial director at Scholastic and as the founding editor of the PUSH imprint. The PUSH imprint was created to find the newest voices in teen literature. Levithan is one of those voices.
Levithan has written many books on his own, but he has a real talent for collaborating with other YA authors. One of the most popular collaborations is “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist”, a book co-written with Rachel Cohn, and later made into a movie with Michael Cera. The story opens with Nick performing with his queercore band and Norah in the audience. Nick sees his ex-girlfriend Tris, panics, and asks complete stranger Norah to be his girlfriend for the next five minutes. Norah knows Tris and for a variety of reasons agrees to Nick's strange request. Five minutes turns into something much much longer. The story is told from both points of view in alternating chapters. Cohn wrote the Norah parts and Levithan wrote the Nick parts. There were no inconsistencies with two authhors, nothing sounded false or like it was just thrown together. It's actually quite amazing that both voices were as riveting and compelling as they were. For a complete review click here or here for East Greenbush YA Librarian Chrissie Morrison's review.
Other Books
“Boy Meets Boy”
“The Realm of Possibility”
“Are We There Yet?”
“Marly’s Ghost”
“Wide Awake”
“Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List” with Rachel Cohn. (Goddess Librarian review here)
“How They Met and Other Stories”
“Likely Story”
“Love is the Higher Law”
“Will Grayson, Will Grayson” with YA Author You Need to Read John Green.
You can find more information about Levithan at his website and his facebook.

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YA Authors You Need to Read: John Green

This article first appeared on the examiner on July 22, 2010.

John Green is a New York Times Bestselling author of four books for teenagers. His first book won the Michael L. Printz award and his second book earned him a Printz Honor mention. In addition to his writing, he is incredibly popular on the Internet with his twitter and his youtube channel. When not spending time writing or tweeting, Green devotes his time to his newest project—a baby boy.
“Looking for Alaska” won the 2006 Michael L. Printz Award and was also listed as one of the American Library Association’s top ten Best Books for Young Adults. “Alaska” is a heartbreaking story of friendship between three teens at a private school. Miles, ironically nicknamed Pudge because of his complete lack of body fat, is looking for his great perhaps—his life altering experience. He finds it when he meets Chip, nicknamed the Colonel, and Alaska, a wild carefree girl with deep dark wounds that only occasionally surface. The characters are interesting, three dimensional, and dynamic and the story is realistic and well written. Green’s inaugural novel definitely deserved the high honor of the Printz award.
Subsequent Books
“An Abundance of Katherines” (review here)
“Paper Towns” (East Greenbush YA Librarian Chrissie Morrison’s review here)
“Will Grayson, Will Grayson”
You can find more information about John Green on his website or follow him throughtwitter. You can watch his vlogs with his brother Hank Green on their youtube channel.

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YA Authors You Need to Read: Sarah Dessen

This article first appeared on the examiner on July 16, 2010.

Sarah Dessen is the kind of YA author that librarians give to adult readers who aren’t familiar with YA and want to know “what it’s all about.” She represents YA very well. Her books are interesting, emotional, and well written for both teens and adults.
Dessen (which rhymes with lessen, according to an e-mail from the author received many years ago) was born in 1970 in Illinois, but grew up and has lived most of her life in North Carolina. She still lives in her hometown, a benefit for someone who routinely taps in to her memories of high school for her novels. She attended UNC and graduated with a degree in English. Three years after graduating, she published her first book “That Summer” and continued with eight more YA books. A movie with Mandy Moore, “How to Deal”, based on her first two books (“That Summer” and “Someone Like You”) was released in 2003. Her 10th book will be published in May 2011.
Dessen’s most recent book is “Along for the Ride”. The daughter of divorced parents 18 year old Auden has always been an adult. As a young child she taught herself to stay awake at night to try to prevent her parents from fighting. She threw herself into her schoolwork and studied instead of slept. She had acquaintances but no real friends, choosing to focus on her future academic career instead of having fun with kids her own age. After she graduates high school Auden makes her first spontaneous decision and decides to spend the summer with her father and his new wife and baby. While there she meets the mysterious Eli and learns how to connect with her family and make real friendships. You can find the full examiner review here and local East Greenbush YA Librarian Chrissie Morrison’s review here.
Previous Books
“Lock and Key” (East Greenbush YA Librarian Chrissie Morrison's review)
“Just Listen” (Morrison's review)
“The Truth About Forever”
“This Lullaby”
“Keeping the Moon”
“Someone Like You”
“That Summer”
You can find Dessen on her websitelivejournal, and twitter.

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