Gayle Forman’s newest novel, If I Stay, made my heart ache. Forman weaves 24 hours of linear time skillfully with the fluid memories of 17 year old Mia’s whole life as Mia’s body lies in a coma after her whole family has been tragically, suddenly killed in a car accident.  Mia’s last waking memory is listening to the car radio before everything is shattered.  At first, as she walks around the accident scene, seeing her father and mother’s bodies on the road, she is stunned. She looks for her little brother, Teddy, but instead finds herself in the ditch.  She has to ask herself, “amRead More →

Greg Mortenson was the keynote speaker at February’s IRA convention in Phoenix and we were pleased to supply all 3 versions of Three Cups of Tea (original version, Young Reader’s Edition, and Listen to the Wind) at the conference.  With a damaged copy of the adult version leftover on my desk I decided it was time to learn what the hub-bub was all about, so I read it last weekend. And I am very glad I did. The book opens in 1993 after Mortenson’s failed attempt to summit K2 in northern Pakistan (what struck me about his “failure” was that he really gave up hisRead More →

Mark Walden’s debut novel, H.I.V.E. (Higher Institute for Villainous Education) is a fast, fun story with similarities to Artemis Fowl, The Alex Rider adventures, Austin Powers and James Bond.  Here, talented teens attend an elite boarding school learning to be the world’s future criminal masterminds.  13 year old orphan Otto Malpense awakens on a helicopter on the way to a tropical volcanic island; he has no memory of being taken and no idea of where he’s headed.  He soon discovers that he and 200 other teens have been abducted to HIVE, a secret school to nurture those with “a special talent for the supremely villainous.” Otto, who hasRead More →

Taking a break from sports-themed fiction, Rich Wallace serves up a snappy, coming of age story in Dishes.  19 year old Danny is looking to hook up this summer, but ends up making connections he didn’t anticipate. He’s in Maine in the tourist town where is long estranged father, Jack, spends summers being the bartender at a gay bar, Dishes.  Neither Jack nor Danny are gay, but that’s about all they have in common at the start of the summer.  Danny hopes to reconnect with his dad (who was 17 when Danny was born) and maybe hook up with a local girl.  Danny’s uncertain aboutRead More →

Heather Brewer was not your typical teen growing up. She wore black, danced under full moons and devoured every book in sight. She hasn’t changed much. Today, Heather can be found writing in her funky, black Happy Bunny jammie pants, dancing under the full moon, devouring every book in sight, and attending renaissance faires in costume (and in character).  And the best part (at least for PHX) is that she’ll be here visiting local schools on April 23 & 24, 2009!   Tenth Grade Bleeds is the 3rd installment in this great series – available June 2009. It’s another sucky year at Bathory High forRead More →

Steve Watkins’ first novel intended for younger readers is Down Sand Mountain.  It’s set in the autumn of 1966 in a small Florida mining town and follows the day-to-day life of 12-year old Dewey Turner.  Dewey’s a worrier who doesn’t really fit in.  He hopes high school will bring a change in his life, but instead starts the school year all wrong by painting himself black with shoe polish the night before school starts and thus starting a series of nicknames, bullying and exclusion worse than he expected or can really deal with. He finds a friend in another social outcast, Darla Turkel, and theRead More →