August 2007


TJ is a fourteen-year-old girl who’s having some difficulties fitting in at her new school and adjusting to her new life in the city. TJ’s a farm girl, but financial difficulties forced her family to sell the farm and move to a suburb where all the houses are identical. TJ, however, discovers that her typical suburban house, however, is home to something not so typical: a family of Littles. Six-inch- high people who live in the walls. She thinks they’re mice at first–but then she meets Elizabeth, a girl a couple of years older than TJ who’s running away from her family. Elizabeth and TJ have a lot in common-but Elizabeth is small enough to worry about being hunted by TJ’s pet cat!….

Read the Rest 

KILLER SPIRIT, the second book in THE SQUAD series, is coming out the same day as the first, so, fortunately, there won’t be a wait for readers–and you’ll want to read both books as soon as they come out!

Like book one, KILLER SPIRIT is a book about secret agent cheerleaders, and, again, it kept me reading at every free moment (and a few moments that  my math teacher didn’t consider as free as I did) until I was done! In this book, unlikely cheerleader Toby Klein is on another Squad mission, as well as getting ready for homecoming–where she actually has a shot, much to her dismay, at being elected the first sophomore Homecoming queen ever.

Toby, being Toby, is more worried about that than the fact that her life is in danger almost daily due to a squad mission that’s even riskier than it seemed at first. Bombs and evil law firms, Toby can handle. Homecoming? Guys?  Inter-cheer-squad politics? Not so easy.

This second adventure in the series does not disappoint! In fact, I even liked it better than book one.  There are great characters, awesome action, cool spy gear (bulletproof push-up bras, anyone?), and, could it be, even a hint of romance in Toby’s life?

Sure to please readers, KILLER SPIRIT might just be my favorite of Jennifer Lynn Barnes’ books, and I absolutely loved TATTOO, so that’s saying something! I can’t wait for book number three!

Four 1/2 Stars

I don’t know that I would have picked up THE SQUAD, a book about a cheerleading squad who are also secret agents, had I not already loved what I’ve read by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (TATTOO and GOLDEN). However, that said, I’m glad I did read this fun book!

Toby Klein is so not a cheerleading type of girl. Toby wears combat boots. Toby has a black belt and beats up football players. In her opinion, cheerleaders are a bunch of morons jumping around in short skirts.

So Toby’s as surprised as anyone when she’s picked to join the varsity cheer squad, aka the God Squad. Of course, then she finds out that she actually fits the profile a lot better than people think. Because Bayport’s cheerleaders aren’t just cheerleaders–they’re secret agent cheerleaders.

Yes, you read that right. Secret agent cheerleaders. Behind the glitter and the highlights, there is a crack team of undercover cheerleaders, working for the CIA. And Toby, being a black belt as well as an accomplished hacker, might actually be a pretty good secret agent. She’s not so sure about the cheerleading part, but Toby Klein has never been one to back down from a challenge, and she’s not about to start now.

THE SQUAD is a quick, very fun read that will leave readers waiting impatiently for the series’ next installment, THE SQUAD: KILLER SPIRIT (updated: coming out the same day as book one, so no impatient waiting!). Jennifer Lynn Barnes once again shows herself to be a talented author in this book, though I didn’t really love Toby at first. I was still quite engaged into the story, but it was more about the fast-paced, action-packed plot than Toby or any of the other characters. The characters grew more real as the book went on, but they didn’t seem very interesting (or likeable) at first.

THE SQUAD is a fun-filled, funny, light read perfect for relaxing after a stressful day at school (now that many of us are now back to the routine of sitting in classrooms all day). This is one that readers will love–even those of us who are, like Toby, so not cheerleader types.

Four Stars

Actual reviews & interviews coming soon. For now, though, check out these links! Also don’t forget to add upcoming books you’re excited about here. It only takes a minute and it helps people to find out about them easily!

According to Film Ick, the proposed Buffy spin-off Ripper (starring Giles) is finally happening! It’s not exactly book-related, but it is exciting, even if there are other characters I’d rather see more of.

Check out this conversation/interview between the two authors of Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List!

The Book Inscription Project is really awesome.

Also not book-related, but interesting: The 10 Most Buzzed About Shows For Fall.  And maybe kind of book-related, because Gossip Girl is one of them.

I have found a couple of similar things to this, but one is not frequently updated and the other is very basic (no links or information, just titles and dates for books). So I’ve decided to create a page for upcoming YA book releases, divided by genre so as to make shopping easier! Even better, it’s a wikispace–meaning anyone can edit it! I’ve made it public like this so that authors can add their books. You can find the page at http://tbrupcomingyabooks.wikispaces.com/. It’s a work in progress–I’ll be adding books, but I hope you all will be, too! Hopefully you’ll find this helpful.

So I told you about Red already, but now I have some more excitement to share: blurbs. I think I may have actually squealed when I read these! Check it out:

“This book is amazing. Honest, hysterical, heartbreaking, uplifting-these essays come straight from the true teenage soul. Read this book!”
— Paul Feig, creator of the TV series FREAKS AND GEEKS

“It’s high time people stopped writing, talking, and worrying about teenage girls and just let those girls speak for themselves. This book, with its wonderfully free, captivating style, gives voice to many talented young essayists, who-either because of their suffering, their great wit, their sensitivity, their triumph, or some combination of all those things-richly deserve to be heard. My suspicion (my hope!) is to hear from them again and again, far into the future.”
— Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the New York Times bestseller EAT, PRAY, LOVE

“Each of these stories is a treasure, and readers will be grateful that these young women are willing to share them. I couldn’t say which is my favorite. It’s like comparing children: One stuns you with her wit and then another breaks your heart with her sensitivity.”
— Jeannette Walls, author of the New York Times bestseller THE GLASS CASTLE

Edited to add one more, from the absolutely brilliant Francine Prose (her book, AFTER, is one of my all-time favorites so this is especially exciting!):

“The honesty and beauty of the hilarious, heartbreaking, and often harrowing stories collected in RED are enough to give you hope for the young women who wrote these marvelous pieces, and for literature, and for us all.”
– Francine Prose, bestselling essayist, novelist, and author of READING LIKE A WRITER

Here are a couple of interesting links I’ve come across:

Jen Robinson talks about John Marsden’s Tomorrow Series as part of the One Shot World Tour: Best Read With Vegemite (second link goes to post roundup at the YA YA YAs). Lots of great posts there! Anyway, I adore that series, but posting about all of them is a big job, so I’m glad to be able to link to someone else who’s done it–thanks, Jen! Now, everyone else who hasn’t read the series, what are you waiting for??

These are some interesting…book sculptures, I guess you’d call them?  Well anyway lots of cool pictures. Link via Semicolon.

Also, Stardust. There is a book by Neil Gaiman and also a newly released movie. I saw the movie on Friday, and it was amazing. A new favorite of mine. So now I want to read the book, but I’m a little afraid to. I don’t know why, but once I read a book or see a movie, I don’t like to do the other thing because it may change my opinion of the first. Is that weird? Has anyone read STARDUST? Should I read it?

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