Thursday, September 20, 2018

Thursday Teen Book Review: Fresh Ink (YA anthology)

From the publisher: 

In partnership with We Need Diverse Books, thirteen of the most recognizable, diverse authors come together in this remarkable YA anthology featuring ten short stories, a graphic short story, and a one-act play from Walter Dean Myers never before in-print.

Careful--you are holding fresh ink. And not hot-off-the-press, still-drying-in-your-hands ink. Instead, you are holding twelve stories with endings that are still being written--whose next chapters are up to you.

Because these stories are meant to be read. And shared.

Thirteen of the most accomplished YA authors deliver a label-defying anthology that includes ten short stories, a graphic novel, and a one-act play. This collection will inspire you to break conventions, bend the rules, and color outside the lines. All you need is fresh ink.

My thoughts:

Such great stories here; an eclectic mix of diverse authors writing for teens of today. Some of the stories were a bit rougher than others, but overall the collection feels honest and fresh.

This is probably one of the best YA books I've read, since it truly reflects all teens today. I have a few teenagers in the house; these stories really resonate, and don't pull punches.

Recommended if you want to try some new authors--I've added a few names to my list for sure.

**NetGalley provided copy for review**

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Thursday Teen Book Review: Copyboy by Vince Vawter

From the publisher: 

In the sequel to the Newbery Honor-winning novel Paperboy, Victor Vollmer sets off to fulfill a final request of Mr. Spiro, the aging neighbor who became his friend and mentor. Now a few years older and working as a newspaper copyboy, Victor plans to spread Mr. Spiro’s ashes at the mouth of the Mississippi River as the former merchant marine wished. 

But the journey will not be a simple one. Victor will confront a strange and threatening world, and when his abilities and confidence get put to the test, he’ll lean on a fascinating girl named Philomene for help. Together they’ll venture toward the place where river meets sea, and they’ll race to evade Hurricane Betsy as it bears down. 

My thoughts: 

This is definitely one of the best books I've read this year--truly an undiscovered gem.

The story continues where Paperboy left off, and I'll admit that I went back and read that one first. Where Paperboy is a beautiful middle-grade, Paperboy is a great YA. We follow Victor as he's about to go off to college when his mentor Mr. Spiro passes away and asks Victor to spread his ashes.

The journey takes Victor to the Gulf Coast; the author reflects the culture there so well. I loved how this was a coming-of-age story that transcends the genre.

Highly recommend for all ages; a YA that's appropriate for a strong MG reader who is not quite ready for the stronger YA content.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Back to school: Tips and resources for a succesful author visit

It's back to school time! I'm always inspired by this fresh start, and by the promise of new notebooks to fill up with stories. I buy at least a dozen of these at the beginning of the year. 

This time of year is also when I get a wave of Skype (that's virtual) school visits, and in-person author visits. School visits are my favorite: I love talking to educators and readers. There's just nothing better than talking about our favorite books and writing new stories. Hurrah for school visits! 

I'm excited to be part of Tattered Cover Bookstore's Educator Night on September 5th and 6th. If you're an educator in the Denver metro area, consider signing up and joining the fun.  

I love doing school visits so much, I even do a presentation on how to plan author visits at book festivals and educator conventions. I thought I'd share some of my tips and ideas, in case you are an educator looking for a place to start: 

Quick tips for a successful author visit: 

1. Decide how big you want the event to be. Consider starting smaller, with a Skype visit, or a short assembly visit arranged by the local bookstore (if available)

2. Build your team. It’s more fun if you get the community involved—plus, that way you’re not doing all the work yourself. Create a committee, enlist fellow teachers, parents, even kids.

3. Think local for less expensive visits—and kids love it when an author lives right where they do! I can attest to that :-) Try bookstores or referrals from other schools for author names. Local book fairs and festivals are a great way to meet authors.

4. Collaborate with other schools for bigger, pricier visits. Plan far ahead to allow time for fundraising and scheduling.

5. Apply for grants or organize fundraisers. PTO, book fairs, book sales are great fundraisers to get money. For travel expenses for the author, see if someone can donate miles/points for flights and hotel stays.


Authors who Skype for free (a list compiled by author Kate Messner) 

Skype in the Classroom (through Microsoft, not necessarily book authors but any educational resource

Grants for school visits (these are just a few I found):

(You can contact any business for a grant, really, but these have existing forms)

Want me to come to your school for a visit..? Find out more here, or email me at author-at-ftbradley-dot-com. 

Any educators or authors have tips or resources to share?

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

August Is For Reading

It’s August, and Summer is still kind of lingering for me. I’ve been reading lots, going on hikes, and I even tried fishing. I caught nothing, so don’t expect me to bring dinner…

August usually means back to school here in Colorado (kids start early in my neighborhood), but I’m resisting like a rebellious twelve-year-old. I’d rather be reading and taking naps.

Speaking of reading, here are some notables to share this month:


In middle-grade, I’ve been reading lots of chapter books, and picked up the Greetings from Nowhere series by Harper Paris. 

Such a fun travel-focused chapter book series—recommended for your early reader.

A lucky find at ALA in Denver earlier this year, I finally got around to reading Copyboy by Vince Vawter. This might be one of the best books I've read this year, about a young man traveling to the Gulf Coast to spread his mentor’s ashes. A great coming-of-age story that defies age classification. Plus, it was a nice trip down memory lane, as we lived down south for a few years.
I ended up reading Paperboy first, which is another awesome read that precedes Copyboy. Go read both, you won’t regret it.

For adults, I read Paul Tremblay’s Cabin at the End of the World, which is super creepy and suspenseful horror. A great book, though I wonder if it would’ve been even better as a novella. 
Or maybe that’s the impatient reader in me talking…
I've been finding myself skipping past large passages in longer books lately, preferring shorter works, short stories and novellas. 

In any case: I recommend this book by Paul Tremblay. Horror at its best.

Where to Find Me

On the web, I wrote a post for Career Authors on the difference between MG and YA, in case you’re interested in learning more. 
And I’ll be hitting the road. going to BookBar on August 11th, for their mother-daughterbook club. If you’re in Denver, come join us!

To close, here’s a picture of Apollo, who really knows how to get the most out of a good nap... 

Monday, June 11, 2018

Hope to see you at Denver ComicCon!

I'm going to Denver ComicCon! This is my first ComicCon of any kind, so it'll will be extra fun. I'll have to keep my inner fangirl in check, because there will be two Doctor Whos there.

On a more professional note, I'll be speaking on these panels; come find me if you're there:

80s Resurgence in Books and Movies - Friday, 6/15, 11:00am, Keystone City Mile High Ballroom DCCP4

Creating Believable Monsters - Saturday, 6/16, 12:30pm, Room 405

Why You Should Have Villains of All Stripes - Saturday, 6/16, 4:30pm, Room 405

Not Just Novels - Saturday, 6/16, 5:30pm, Room 405

I promise to try to remember to take pictures...

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Reluctant Readers, nErDcampKS, and Graphic Novels

I'm about to pack up and make my way to Kansas for nErDcampKS, a get-together of authors and educators I'm really excited about. I get to meet fellow middle-grade and picture book authors, and find out what's happening in the classroom straight from the source (teachers and librarians). It's so easy to get caught up in talking to each other as writers that sometimes we forget who we're actually writing for: the kids.

I'm leading a session on reaching reluctant readers, and I always end up talking about graphic novels when I do. They're not comic books, thought they look like it, and they're a great bridge for those visual learners who may have given up on books altogether.

Wimpy Kid, Raina Telgemeier are my standby recommendation, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol, a recent graphic novel about going to camp, and being different (she's Russian). This was such a great addition to the graphic novel MG department--it really gets how it feels to be different, and how sometimes you're not sure if you're still a kid or should act like a teen. Funny, and easy to read, I highly recommend it for your summer reading list, even if you're not a reluctant reader.

How about you? Have any reluctant reader books to share for me to take to Kansas?

Monday, April 30, 2018

Congrats to the Edgar and Agatha Award Winners in #YALit and #MGLit!

I'm emerging from my winter writing cave to announce the Edgar winners and Agatha winners! For this blog (since we're YA Sleuth and all), I'll post the YA and Kid winners below:

The Edgars:

Best Juvenile

Audacity Jones Steals the Show by Kirby Larson (Scholastic — Scholastic Press)
Vanished! by James Ponti (Simon & Schuster — Aladdin)
The Assassin's Curse by Kevin Sands (Simon & Schuster — Aladdin)
First Class Murder by Robin Stevens (Simon & Schuster — Simon & Schuster BFYR)
NewsPrints by Ru Xu (Scholastic — Graphix)

Young Adult

The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom (Macmillan Children's Publishing Group — Feiwel & Friends)
Grit by Gillian French (HarperCollins Publishers — HarperTeen)
The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak (Simon & Schuster)
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds (Simon & Schuster — Atheneum Books for Young Readers)
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (HarperCollins Publishers — Balzer + Bray)


Best Children’s/Young Adult

City of Angels by Kristi Belcamino  (Polis Books)
**Sydney Mackenzie Knocks ‘Em Dead by Cindy Callaghan  (Aladdin)
The World’s Greatest Detective by Caroline Carlson  (HarperCollins)
Audacity Jones Steals the Show by Kirby Larson  (Scholastic Press)
The Harlem Charade by Natasha Tarpley  (Scholastic Press)

You can find the Edgars winners for all categories and Agatha winners (announced at Malice Domestic) at their respective websites.