October 26, 2011

Book review: Lola and the Boy Next Door

With Lola and the Boy Next Door, Stephanie Perkins has further solidified her standing as a YA author to watch...and one whose books readers will eagerly anticipate. In this companion story to Anna and the French Kiss, readers get to know Lola Nolan, her two dads, her rocker boyfriend Max, and the boy next door whom she can't seem to get out of her head.

Lola is creative and quirky, flawed and unsure. Her interior monologue, relationship with her parents and conflicting emotions about the two boys in her life convey solid realism while her clothing aspirations and sense of flair add a fantastic touch of whimsy.

Perkins has a true knack for capturing what it feels like to fall in love with "the one," the boy (or girl) with whom you're meant to be. Pairing this with snappy dialogue and heart-fluttering moments, her stories are sweet confections for romantic souls. Anna and St. Clair, the pair that started it all, serve as substantial secondary characters in Lola. It's nice to see the two of them are so comfortably situated with one another and in it for the long haul.

The third book in this series Isla and the Happily Ever After, is due out in 2012, and readers who tore their way through the first two books will impatiently await its arrival. Until then, they can satisfy their hearts with repeated visits with Anna and Lola and the boys who love them.

October 19, 2011

The teens have spoken...

During August and September, nine thousand of them voted to decide what the Teens Top Ten books would be for this past year. Yesterday, YALSA kicked off Teen Read Week by announcing the winners. Some of them were destined to be there. Others are making me scratch my head. My favorite of the bunch? Definitely Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, closely followed by Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare.

Here's the list:

1. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
2. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
3. Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick
4. I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
5. The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
6. Matched by Ally Condie
7. Angel: A Maximum Ride Novel by James Patterson
8. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
9. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
10. Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

What do you think? Is there a book they forgot to mention? I think it's an absolute crime that Anna and the French Kiss (my favorite book so far this year!) by Stephanie Perkins, Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride and White Cat by Holly Black weren't part of the conversation.

October 6, 2011

Cash for Creativity

Is the world ready for what you have to say? The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers just might think so...and they'd be willing to put their money where your mouth is.

The 2012 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards competition is now open. Since 1923, The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers has brought "teenagers with exceptional artistic and literary talent...to a national audience." They're also the largest source of scholarships for teenagers of the creative persuasion in the United States.

And it's not just about poetry or essays. The award categories include such written works as dramatic script, science fiction/fantasy, novel writing (Hello, NANOWRIMO!), journalism and more. They ALSO want your artwork, be it sculpture, jewelry, video game, photography, fashion design...the list goes on and on.

In a nutshell, if you're at all creative and in grades 7-12, this is the program for you. "Deadlines for submitting work vary by region and generally range from December 15, 2011 through January 15, 2012." So get on it, get creative, and let the world know what you have to say.