Tag Archives: Teen Read

The Human Experience: Stick Review & Giveaway Winners

Review by Nōn Wels: Check out his writing/political/philosophy blog, A Thousand Screaming Rabbits.

I’m drawn to stories about family-life. Stories so lush with genuine character that I start to use the framework of the story to emphasize, or explain, or dramatize aspects of my life, my story. I live within the story, however fabricated. As readers, we love this. We live for it.

At the end of the day, we yearn for the relatable, the real, the story that will speak directly to us. Whether that’s within the world of fantasy or science fiction or romance or contemporary fiction, it doesn’t matter. They all—the lot of them—in one way or another, and on varying levels, hold some invariable truth that is uniquely relatable and salient to us as humans—readers, bibliophiles, book junkies.

Andrew Smith’s books take this concept to an entirely new level. Not only do they provide the reader with characters to love and to relate to, they also inspire us to think differently about the world.

In Stick, Smith’s most recent novel, the world he creates is very much our own. It’s recognizable. And the characters themselves, they are people we know, or apt representations of people we know of.

Stick, the main protagonist of the story, is disfigured. His ear is a mess of mangled cartilage and dulled hearing. And he lives with it. It’s part of who he is. Bosten, Stick’s older brother, is the more raucous of the two. And he loves his brother, and would do anything for him. Emily is Stick’s best friend, the two of them sharing an important bond. The rest of the story is replete with both the highs and the lows: characters that support and provide care for the protagonists and characters that hinder and harm.

It’s these latter kind that inspires Bosten to leave home. And it’s his absence that inspires Stick to find him. Over the course of the story, the brothers take part in their own unique journey—to escape the pain caused by parents that either relish in or pay no mind to said pain, and experience something that will build character out of the goodness and joy and revelation.

We know this world. It’s here, it’s there. It’s us and it’s those people there. It’s a world in which people exist as unique individuals, journeying to find out what it means to overcome, what it means to glean, what it means to live.

Readers, Stick is the type of book we live for. It is the human experience. In these words and these characters, we learn and we relate and we love.

Bosten and Stick know this. They lived it.

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And the winners of the Andrew Smith Giveaway are:

Doppelganger – Stick

AnnieMooreBooks.com – Ghost Medicine

Charles DeMoss, Charlesthereader.blogspot.com – In The Path of Falling Objects

Winners were chosen randomly using Rafflecopter. Please email your mailing addresses to ReadSchmead at Yahoo dot com. If I do not hear from you by December 15th then a new winner will be chosen. Thank you so very much for all of the love and support.

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Measuring Up to Other Dystopian Worlds: Divergent Review

Review by Nōn Wels: Check out his writing/political/philosophy blog, A Thousand Screaming Rabbits.

In reading Veronica Roth’s Divergent, two other book series came to mind. One, Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series. And the other, the massively popular Hunger Games trilogy from Suzanne Collins. While I don’t think Divergent packs the same amount of punch like that of Uglies or Hunger Games, I do believe it has just enough exciting elements for an enjoyable read.

Akin to the different houses at Rowling’s “Hogwarts,” Roth’s world is separated into factions. Five factions, in this case. Each of which dedicate their lives to a particular culture and ideal. Candor values honesty. Abnegation values selflessness. Dauntless values bravery. Amity values peacefulness. Erudite values intelligence.

And like all the other kids turning 16, Beatrice (or “Tris,” as she calls herself) has to decide which faction is for her. She does, but the result is something she wasn’t at all prepared for.  What follows is an enjoyable and often exciting dystopian tale that has the right idea about how we live. Ms. Roth, it seems, understands that things are not always so black and white; that the narrow-minded can, in fact, be quite dangerous; that it’s important to recognize individuality as it pertains to the cultures or “factions” we live within; and that each culture holds inherent value we as individuals need to recognize—for ourselves and our factions.

Unfortunately, even with the above mentioned, I was mildly disappointed in the story’s originality. It just seemed, as I was reading, that I had read it before—in Uglies and Hunger Games, for instance. I wanted something more. Something that I didn’t see coming. Something that was going to surprise me.

All in all, it was fairly enjoyable. And, being the dystopian junkie that I am, I will continue reading the series. But with some trepidation.

Age Group: 12 and up
Genre: Young Adult / Science Fiction
Themes: Science Fiction, dystopian, identity, discrimination
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books, imprint of HarperCollins Children’s Books

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Giveaways are Crazy – Andrew Smith

Thank you to all that participated in the last Giveaway Schmiveaway!  Now it is time for the new one!!!

This Giveaway is a doozy:  Win a signed Andrew Smith book!!

This contest allows for three winners who will be picked randomly.  Enter into the contest by being a subscriber and get an additional entry by posting a comment (or comments) from now until December 10th!!!  The more comments the more entries!

Check out Non’s review of Ghost Medicine and soon there will be a review of Stick.  If you haven’t read anything by Andrew Smith then you are seriously missing out on some amazing storytelling.  Now is the time give him a try.

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Hunger Games Trailer

I kind of love the trailer.  All right, I don’t kind of, I really do.  I am not skeptical about this movie.  I am very hopeful and I can’t wait to see it.  If I am disappointed when I actually get to see it then c’est la vie.  For now I am going to be super excited :

See the Hunger Games Trailer

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The Why Chromosome and Books

Post by Non T. Wels

I, along with Jessica of Read Schmead, went to the ‘Why Chromosome’ event that was held at Mrs. Nelson’s Toy & Bookshop and put together by Bridge to Books, a cool non-profit organization run by Alethea, whose blog is Read Now Sleep Later, and Alyson, whose blog is Kid Lit Frenzy. The event (full title: The Why Chromosome: Why Boys Do Love Books) was delightful. Despite my meager standing amongst the crowd of prolific bloggers and literacy heroines, I felt right at home, welcome, part of the troupe. I mean, I am a simple bibliophile. I don’t manage a book-related blog, like this one or like the blogs from Tessa or Kristen (although I do occasionally contribute to Read Schmead). I don’t teach kids the wonders of reading books, like Alyson and others. And I don’t write books, like the group of “boys” who spoke at the event.

These boys, or authors, were Jonathan Auxier (Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes), John Stephens (The Emerald Atlas), G. Neri (Ghetto Cowboy), Greg Van Eekhout (Kid vs. Squid and The Boy at the End of the World), Allen Zadoff (Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can’t Have) and Andrew Smith (Stick); all of which seemed to be just as gleeful about this event as us book bloggers, educators and, to be inclusive of my own standing, simple book junkies.

The impetus for the event was—and is—the culture of reading as it pertains to young boys. And the intent of the event itself was to be a rousing defense of boys and their evident (to us) love of reading. It was decidedly successful. Boys do love to read. They do. The hole in my blanket from the lamp I pulled under there to finish those last few chapters of the Choose Your Own Adventure series is a testament to that.

Here is a great group shot of the authors with some of us bibliophiles - Photo Courtesy of From The Bookshelf of TB, http://www.ftbotbblog.blogspot.com

Here’s some video from the event:

Jessica cut off the beginning of this next video.  The question was asked, “What kind of literary character do you most associate with?”

For more information on boys and their love for reading (as a pairing; she doesn’t blog necessarily about boys solely. That would be weird) take a gander at Kristen Pelfrey’s blog Kristen Pelfrey Writes. She does it right.

And, of course, the authors are doing it right. Support them by reading their blogs, commenting, and buying their books! Jonathan Auxier
John Stephens
G. Neri
Greg Van Eekhout
Allen Zadoff
Andrew Smith

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Don’t forget about the Giveaway Schmiveaway –  SIGNED copy of Oliver Jeffers’ book, The Way Back Home!!!

Enter to win by subscribing to Read Schmead and by posting comments. Every current and new subscriber is entered into the contest automatically. If you happen to leave comments on posts then those will count as additional entries. Winners will be picked randomly.

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You Want Character? Read Andrew Smith. A Review of Ghost Medicine

Review by Nōn Wels: Check out his writing/political/philosophy blog, A Thousand Screaming Rabbits.

I read recently that Andrew Smith simply doesn’t “write the same thing twice.” After reading The Marbury Lens, and following that up with Ghost Medicine, he couldn’t be more spot-on. The Marbury Lens is a different book than Ghost Medicine in regards to its tone, pace and plot. And that’s a good thing.

But like all Andrew Smith books (or, rather, the Andrew Smith books that I’ve read, which are the two aforementioned), character drives the story. Rich, relevant character development that inspires, nay, compels the reader to recognize and consequently discover ways in which they relate to the character(s). This is, for me, Smith’s greatest strength as a writer. He not only knows how to write/develop the characters in meaningful, profound and unique ways, but he also creates characters that one can glean from, be impassioned by, and find tidbits of themselves in.

In Ghost Medicine, Troy, Tom and Gabe find out what it means to come-of-age in simultaneously the most subtle and harshest of ways. Troy, the lead protagonist, is seventeen. He works alongside Tom as a ranch hand, both employed by Gabe’s father. Throughout the story, the three of them, both individually and as a whole, are faced with obstacles of varying degrees and contexts. In their struggle to fight through it all, they develop as individuals and as friends, in regards to their philosophy, emotional cognizance and mental fortitude. Specifically, as a reader, it is the way in which they react to the obstacle and how they fare on the other end, positively or negatively. This is one of the great values I glean from Smith’s books.

Overall, I really quite enjoyed the book. It is a methodically-paced, coming-of-age, morality tale. The tone is perfect. The use of the landscape within the narrative is quite lovely, and reminded me, at times, of The Return of the Native, one of Thomas Hardy’s bests. Alternatively, the way Smith jumps back in time by use of snippets in Troy’s memory, reminded me of the powerful, yet devastating, Trick is to Keep Breathing, by Janice Galloway.

Thank you, Andrew Smith, for another wonderful read. You kicked my ass, once again. For that, I want to express my gratitude. I look forward to reading both In The Path of Falling Objects and Stick.

Check out Nōn’s review of The Marbury Lens!

Also, if you are interested in purchasing any of the books mentioned in this post then click on their names.  The link will take you to Indiebound.org where you can pick an awesome independent bookstore to shop from that is in your area!  Support brick and mortar bookstores!!

Age Group: 13 and up (Contains some violence)
Genre: Young Adult / Contemporary Fiction
Themes: Family, Friendship, Loss
Publisher: Square Fish (imprint of Macmillan)

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Hilary Duff and Brian Selznick Events!

October is one great month for author events!  A Whale of a Tale Bookshoppe is working overtime to host a ton of incredible authors this month!  I just finished working at the Rick Riordan event, which was amazing (blog post to come later).  Next we have Hilary Duff and Brian Selznick!

On October 15th at 1pm Hilary Duff will be signing her young adult novels, Elixir and Devoted, at A Whale of a Tale Bookshoppe in Irvine, California.


Here’s a quick synopsis of her new book, Devoted:

Since Sage was kidnapped, Clea has no way of knowing if he is alive or dead. And even though she has only just discovered they were soulmates, she feels like a part of her is lost forever. What’s worse, she can’t even turn to her best friend Ben—because every time she looks at him, all she sees is his betrayal. But waiting for something to happen is not an option, so Clea is ready for action. Suffering through dreams of seeing Sage with another woman, she makes an uneasy alliance with Sage’s enemies and sets out to be reunited with Sage…in this life or the next.

Don’t miss Brian Selznick’s talk and book signing on October 20th at 7pm.  I love The Invention of Hugo Cabret and just started reading his newest book, Wonderstruck.

There is no one better to tell you a little more about Wonderstruck than Selznick himself so watch this video (Caution: you will definitely want to read this when you finish the video)

Brian Selznick will be at Norman P. Murray Community Center in Mission Viejo – 24932 Veterans Way.  Be there or be square.

NOTE:  If you can’t make it to the events then we can still get you a signed copy!  Pre-order your copy today by calling A Whale of a Tale Bookshoppe, 949-854-8288!!!

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