Encouraging all readers, even reluctant ones, to LOVE books!
Be a Better Booktalker

Sharing Poetry With Teens (2014)

Played: 12 | Download | Duration: 00:08:20

Here are the books I mentioned in this episode:

Slam edited by Cecily Von Ziegesar
Poetry Speaks Who I Am edited by Elise Paschen
Sister Slam and the Poetic Motormouth Road Trip by Linda Oatman High
And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard

Episode Delay

Hello, readers and listeners.

Due to circumstances beyond my control, today's regularly-scheduled episode won't be ready for another few days.  My apologies and ... stay tuned!

Booktalk: Uninvited by Sophie Jordan

Played: 16 | Download | Duration: 00:02:13

Uninvited by Sophie Jordan starts with a dystopian premise — imagine if the government could punish you for a crime you COULD commit in the future — and then sets that story in the present rather than the future.  Both the modern-day setting and the plausibility of the premise will make this story hard for readers to forget.  This would also make a good subject for a book discussion, as readers can explore the shades of gray in the idea of guilt and innocence of various characters.

[NOTE: My first episode of the month is usually an "in depth" episode, but this month I had to switch the order around.  So stay tuned for a longer episode next week!]


Davina Hamilton’s life was just about perfect.  She was a great student, a talented musician, and her boyfriend Zac was so handsome that all the girls in school envied her.  She was a senior at an exclusive private school, and she’d already been accepted to go to Juilliard next year.  

But then one day she gets a test result that changes everything.  She tests positive for HTS, Homicidal Tendency Syndrome, also known as the “kill gene.”  Even though she hasn’t killed anyone yet, she could in the future.  And for that reason, the government has decided that she is dangerous.  

One by one, she starts to lose all of those things that made her life perfect.   She’s thrown out of her private school.  Her friends turn against her.  Her relationship with her boyfriend ends badly … and publicly.  Juilliard decides that she’s NOT the right kind of student after all and rejects her application.  Now everything’s changed — not just for the next few weeks or months, but for the rest of her life.

Davina will have to go to a different school, where she and the other students who tested positive will spend all day in a locked room that’s far away from all the other students.  A room called the Cage.  She doesn’t think that her life could get worse than having to spend all day locked in a room with other potential killers.  She has no idea that being singled out for a crime she hasn’t even committed is only the beginning.

Booktalk: Furious Jones and the Assassin's Secret by Tim Kehoe

Played: 18 | Download | Duration: 00:01:30

Furious Jones and the Assassin's Secret represents a couple of firsts for me.  It's the first time I'm booktalking a title that hasn't come out yet (but it's going to be published in April!)  It's also the first time I'm booktalking a title by an author who's also an inventor (check out Tim Kehoe's website to learn more about him, his books, and his inventions).

But let me tell you about why I picked this book out of a pile of advanced reader copies.  It's because it had a boy protagonist, a cool cover, and an exciting story.  This would be a good choice to share with any older children and younger teens who are looking for a page-turning thriller.


Furious Jones is about to become an orphan.  

His mother is already dead; she was shot three times while standing on the sidewalk in a little town called Galena.  Nobody knows who did it or why.  That was seven months ago.

Tonight his father is going to be killed.  Shot three times, just like his mother.  And just like that, Furious Jones will be an orphan.

Furious Jones is a 12-year-old boy.  He doesn’t have a lot of money, or friends, or power.  But he is determined to find out who killed his parents and why.  His first step will be finding some people he can trust, and his second step will be going to the town of Galena to find out why his mother went there, and what really happened to her.  But he needs to do this very carefully, because his parents’ killers are still out there … and he’s just one of the people whose life is in danger.

Stay Tuned to Cinefantastique For Discussions of Divergent and More!

I'm going to be appearing on the next episodes of the Cinefantastique podcast.  Yes, that's right, EPISODES!  First will be the "Spotlight" episode, in which we'll be discussing the soon-to-be-blockbuster movie Divergent based on the blockbuster book.

Will the movie be as good as the book?  I certainly hope so!

Then in the "Dossier Fantastique" episode that will be released later in the week, we'll be discussing new movies like Muppets Most Wanted ...

old movies like The Creeping Terror ...

and everything in between!

Stay tuned to the Cinefantastique Podcast to catch both of these episodes.  I'll provide direct links here as soon as they're ready.

ETA: The first episode is ready now!  Divergent: Spotlight Podcast
ETA: The second episode is up! 
Muppets Most Wanted & The Creeping Terror: Dossier Fantastique

Booktalk: Missing Abby by Lee Weatherly

Played: 13 | Download | Duration: 00:01:58

First things first — isn't the cover of this book simply awesome???  Okay, now on to the rest of the story ...

I'm a fan of Missing Abby because it's a mystery, and mysteries always draw in readers.  But it's also a story about friendship, and leaving friends behind, and trying to reinvent yourself into someone cooler than you used to be.  And those are the kinds of issues that speak deeply to readers in general, but especially to teenagers who feel the push-and-pull of friendships more passionately than older or younger audiences. 

To learn more about the wide array of books by Lee Weatherly (aka L.A. Weatherly), check out her website!


Emma and Abby used to be best friends.  They’d been inseparable since they were three years old.  They used to spend all their time together, sharing ideas and inventing fantastic stories.  But their friendship ended two years ago, when Emma made some important changes.  She changed her school, she changed her life, and she changed her friends.  She hoped that by getting away from Abby, she wouldn’t be called a freak anymore.  She wouldn’t be humiliated and tormented by bullies anymore.  It was hard at first, ignoring Abby and always pretending to be busy when she called, but eventually Abby took the hint.  Now Emma has new friends, and none of them know what a loser she used to be.  

But everything changes when Abby disappears, and by coincidence, Emma is the last person to see her.  Now Emma’s new friends are going to see Abby on the news.  They’ll learn that she was a Goth, with black clothes, black eyeliner, and black fingernails.  They’ll learn that Abby was into playing Dungeons and Dragons.  And what will they think about Emma then?
And more importantly – where is Abby?  Was she kidnapped or did she run away?  Is she alive or dead?  And will Emma be able to work with Abby’s new friends to find her before it’s too late?

Booktalk: Panic by Lauren Oliver

Played: 20 | Download | Duration: 00:01:28

YA novels about teenagers competing against each other are all the rage right now.  Many of them are set in dystopian worlds, like The Hunger Games, The Selection, or The Testing.  But Panic brings the spirit of competition closer to home, as the teens in this story live in the same world that we do.  Visit Lauren Oliver's website to learn more about her books for teens, kids, and adults.


It’s the end of the school year, and there’s only one chance of escaping this dead-end town in the middle of nowhere and creating a new future for yourself.  And that’s only if you play, and WIN the game called Panic.

Every summer, the graduating seniors in the town of Carp have been competing in this game where the winner takes all the money that students have put into the Panic fund.  Whoever wins this year will get sixty-seven thousand dollars … and that’s MORE than enough money to move out of this town forever.  It’s enough to start a new life, make new friends, and forget all about what you had to do to get that money.

Panic is a competition.  The organizers come up with new challenges every year, and the players compete in these challenges in secret all around the town.  Some of these challenges are illegal, and ALL of them are dangerous.  Over the years, people have been injured or even killed because of this game.  And this year will be no exception.

Using Technology to Share Books and Booktalks

Played: 26 | Download | Duration: 00:12:15

Looking for new ways to share the books you love?  Here are the topics and resources I mentioned in this episode:

Infopeople Podcasts
Text Messages: Recommendations for Adolescent Readers
Circulating Ideas
PW Comics World: More to Come
Booktalks Quick and Simple

That "Booktalking" Prezi About Dystopian Fiction
Book Trailers For Readers
Youth Services Librarianship Wikispaces (Booktalking)
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate (*sob*)

Tumblr Stuff
All Book Lovers Are Welcome Here
YA Highway
The Lighter Side of PTB
Epic Reads
Glendale Public Library Teens
Laurie Halse Anderson
Teens' Top Ten
Tor Teen
CMC Library Teen Zone
Scholastic Book Club
First Second Books
Diversity in YA
Teenage Bookland
School Library Journal
Like in the Sky (Rainbow Rowell)
Holly Black's Tumblr
Humans of New York
Old New York
Doctor Who Official
New York Comic Con
DIVERGENT Official Movie Site
All's well that ends. (aka "nothesheriffsecretpolice")  (aka just one of the blogs devoted to the Welcome to Night Vale podcast)

Booktalk: Izzy, Willy Nilly by Cynthia Voigt

Played: 19 | Download | Duration: 00:01:44

If you're looking for great realistic fiction with well-drawn characters, then Cynthia Voigt is definitely a safe bet.  And you probably won't have to look far, because her books have been a staple of children's and young adult collections for years.  She's written many memorable books, but Izzy, Willy Nilly is one of my all-time personal favorites!


Izzy was a popular, pretty, fifteen-year-old girl.  She was on the cheerleading squad, and she had a lot of friends.  On Wednesday, Marco Griggs asked her out to a party that Saturday night.  Izzy thought he was nice – not great, but nice – and she said she’d go out with him.  He was a senior, after all.  Saturday night they went to the party, and Izzy had a good time.  She didn’t realize just how much Marco had been drinking until he went to drive her home.  He was so drunk that he couldn’t control the car, and they crashed into a tree.  That night, Izzy was brought to the hospital.  By the following Wednesday, Izzy was on her way to recovery, but half of her right leg was gone forever.  In just one week, her whole life had changed.
Now she has to start her life all over again, as something she doesn’t want to be: an amputee, a freak, a cripple.  The kind of person people don’t know how to talk to, or even look at.  Izzy thought that only her life would change after the accident.  What she didn’t realize is that everyone else’s lives would change, too.

A Kickstarter Campaign For All the Podcast Fans in the House

The guys behind the Comedy Film Nerds podcast want to create a documentary about podcasting — both the podcasters and their fans.

There are just a few days left of their campaign, and they could use a boost to meet their goal!

Ear Buds: The Podcasting Documentary

Booktalk: Picture This by Lynda Barry

Played: 21 | Download | Duration: 00:01:40

When I was growing up, I used to enjoy reading Lynda Barry's Marlys comic strip in The Village Voice.  Then years later as a librarian I encountered several books of hers that were tangentially related to those old comic strips but harder to categorize — What it Is and Picture This

When I share Picture This with classes, I mark off several pages showing different artistic styles and techniques with sticky notes before I start, and then as I talk about the book I hold up those pages for the class to see.  I think what I like the most about this book is that it's inspiring without being intimidating, so that even those of us who can't draw much more than stick figures can still use it for good advice.


Picture This by Lynda Barry is a book by an artist who's been drawing cartoons for years.  It's a book about the creative process, and it's also a very UNUSUAL book, so I'm going to show you some of the pages so you can see just how unusual it is.  Picture This is a book about drawing, and painting, and cartooning.  Parts of this book are told as a story, about a girl who wants to be an artist and a near-sighted monkey who is going to inspire her.  It's about making art in different ways, like drawing or painting or making cut-paper mosaics.  Or creating pictures using dots.  Or scribbling.  Or using brushes to paint.  Or making collages out of old photographs.  Or experimenting with how to create portraits.  Or creating a story with characters who seem so real that it's almost like they created themselves.  Or re-using different kinds of paper to create new kinds of art.  

If you’re an artist, if you think you might like to be an artist, or you've always wondered how we draw, WHAT we draw, and WHY we draw, then Picture This is definitely worth checking out.

Booktalk: Splintered by A.G. Howard

Played: 17 | Download | Duration: 00:02:09

I've been a fan of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland for years.  I've read the original edition, I own The Annotated Alice, and I've enjoyed several modern-day spinoffs including the alarmingly stupendous American McGee's Alice videogame.  And while I was reading Splintered, it quickly became one of my favorite variations on this story.  If you're a fan of this book, you can visit A.G. Howard's website to learn more about it, as well as the sequel Unhinged that just came out in January!


The women in Alyssa’s family had two things in common.  The first thing was that their names were all alike.  There was Alyssa, her mother Alison, her grandmother Alicia … all going back to her great-great-great grandmother Alice.  Who, when she was a little girl, told Lewis Carroll a story that he turned into a book called Alice in Wonderland.  The other thing all of these women had in common was that all of them had a history of mental illness.  In fact, Alyssa’s mother is locked up in an asylum where Alyssa and her father visit her every week.

Well, it’s one thing to have crazy people in your family.  But it’s another thing to think that you’re going crazy, too.  Ever since she was in fifth grade, Alyssa has been hearing voices.  She’s also been having nightmares about fighting for her life and losing her head in Wonderland.  But she’s afraid to tell anyone about the voices or the nightmares.  Because then they might lock her up in an asylum, just like her mother.

And then, during one of their weekly visits, Alyssa’s mother tells her that the women in their family are cursed.  She also tells Alyssa that the only way to break the curse is to go to England, find the rabbit hole that Alice used so many years ago, and return to Wonderland.  

Alyssa is going to discover that not only is Wonderland real, but that it’s a dark and dangerous place.  She’s also going to learn that the women in her family weren’t so crazy after all.

Discussing Vampire Academy on Cinefantastique

This weekend I went to see Vampire Academy, and ... well, were you a fan of the original book by Richelle Mead?  Then you might want to see it.  Not a fan or never read the book?  Then maybe not so much.

I went on the Cinefantastique podcast to discuss this film (along with The Lego Movie and several other releases).  The episode is up right now:

The Lego Movie, Vampire Academy, & After the Dark

And please make sure to visit Cinefantastique next month, when I'll be joining the guys to discuss Divergent!

Tearjerker Books for Teens

Played: 27 | Download | Duration: 00:06:23

As I promised, here's a recommended list of sad books for teens (and if you get too sad, don't forget to look at last month's episode about humor books for teens to find something to cheer you up!)  Here is the list of books I discussed in this episode:

You Know Where to Find Me by Rachel Cohn
Say Goodnight, Gracie by Julie Reece Deaver
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Looking For Alaska by John Green
Hold Still by Nina LaCour
So Much to Tell You by John Marsden
Cut by Patricia McCormick
WE3 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely
Missing May by Cynthia Rylant
Love You Hate You Miss You by Elizabeth Scott
Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy by Sonya Sones
Good-Bye Chunky Rice by Craig Thompson
Emako Blue by Brenda Woods