Monday, August 31, 2009

MC Spotlight #31: Shadow of the Dragon by Sherry Garland

YA Fresh MC Spotlight #31! 

And that ends the August YA Fresh Multicultural Spotlight!! *whew*
I hope you enjoyed the month long entries and enjoyed reading about these
 fantastic stories. Thanks, Everyone, and happy reading!

Shadow of the Dragon

Sixteen-year-old Danny Vo is caught between two cultures-the American world of his Houston high school and his Vietnamese home life. Life gets even more complicated when Danny’s cousin Sang Le comes to live with them after spending years in a reeducation camp in Vietnam. Failing school and unable to get a job, Sang Le joins a Vietnamese gang. Danny must also contend with another dangerous gang-the white supremacist skinheads that his new girlfriend’s brother belongs to.

“Excellent characterizations and a complex, believable plot are blended into a moving story of the immigrant experience.”—Booklist

SHERRY GARLAND is the author of many award-winning novels and picture books, including Indio and The Last Rainmaker. She lives in central Texas.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

MC Spotlight #30: The Hoopster by Alan Lawrence Sitomer

YA Fresh MC Spotlight #30! We are almost done!

The Hoopster

Andre Anderson is an African American teenager with a bright future. He loves to play basketball. He loves to hang out with his friends. He loves to laugh. Andre has skills, brains, and heart. He also has a dream. Then he is viciously attacked. Now everything he ever believed about the world has been called into question. Even his deadly jump shot. How can a man get up when he has been unjustly beaten down? Andre is about to find out. Andre is The Hoopster.
Visit the book's website here.

Alan Lawrence Sitomer is California's 2007 Teacher of the Year. In addition to being an inner-city high school English teacher and professor in the Graduate School of Education at Loyola Marymount University, Mr. Sitomer is a nationally renowned speaker specializing in engaging reluctant readers who received the 2004 award for Classroom Excellence from the Southern California Teachers of English and the 2003 Teacher of the Year honor from California Literacy. In April 2007, Alan was named Educator of the Year by Loyola Marymount University and in February 2008 The Insight Education Group named Alan Lawrence Sitomer the Innovative Educator of the Year.

Mr. Sitomer has also authored four young adult novels published by Disney, which include THE HOOPSTER, HIP-HOP HIGH SCHOOL, HOMEBOYZ and THE SECRET STORY OF SONIA RODRIGUEZ. American Library Association named HOMEBOYZ as a Top Ten Book of the Year 2008, receiving the prestigious ALA Quick Pick Recognition for young adult novel which best engages reluctant readers. THE SECRET STORY OF SONIA RODRIGUEZ has also been nominated for the same award.

Alan is the author of HIP-HOP POETRY AND THE CLASSICS, a text being used in classrooms across the United States to illuminate classic poetry through hip-hop in order to engage disengaged students in both poetry and academics. Additionally, Mr. Sitomer has just written a teacher's methodology book for Scholastic titled TEACHING TEENS AND REAPING RESULTS IN A WI-FI, HIP-HOP, WHERE-HAS-ALL-THE-SANITY-GONE WORLD. Visit the author's website,

Saturday, August 29, 2009

MC Spotlight #29: The Tequila Worm by Viola Canales

YA Fresh MC Spotlight #29!

The Tequila Worm

Sofia comes from a family of storytellers. Here are her tales of growing up in the barrio, full of the magic and mystery of family traditions: making Easter cascarones, celebrating el Dia de los Muertos, preparing for quincea–era, rejoicing in the Christmas nacimiento, and curing homesickness by eating the tequila worm. When Sofia is singled out to receive a scholarship to an elite boarding school, she longs to explore life beyond the barrio, even though it means leaving her family to navigate a strange world of rich, privileged kids. It's a different mundo, but one where Sofia's traditions take on new meaning and illuminate her path.
Read an excerpt here.

Viola Canales is the author of Orange Candy Slices and Other Secret Tales (Arte Publico Press). She lives in Stanford, California.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Splish Splash!

We’re nearing the end of a hot, dusty summer in the southwest, and as I look at the thirsty lawns and shrubs around me, mind has turned not only to wishing it would rain, but thoughts of cool, summer fun. With ideas like:

A ride on a lazy river:

A splash in a waterfall:

A swim in an resort pool:

None of which I've done this summer--but why not dream big?

Finally, take a look at what the officials in Los Angeles did last year for World Water Day. The world’s longest water slide! How fun would that have been?

So tell us, what’s your favorite way to stay summer cool--real OR imaginary?

MC Spotlight #28: Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before by David Yoo

YA Fresh MC Spotlight #28!

Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before

If Albert Kim has learned one thing in his tragic adolescence, it's that God (probably a sadistic teenaged alien) does not want him to succeed at Bern High. By the end of sophomore year, Al is so tired of humiliation that he's chosen to just forget girls and high school society in general, and enjoy the Zen-like detachment that comes from being an intentional loser.

Then he meets Mia Stone, and all the repressed hormones come flooding back. Mia, his co-worker at the Bern Inn, is adorable, popular, and most intimidatingly, the ex- long-term girlfriend of Ivy-bound, muscle-bound king of BHS and world class jerk, Ryan Stackhouse. But -- chalk it up to the magic of Al's inner beauty -- by the end of a summer vacuuming hotel rooms and goofing off together, he and Mia are officially "something."

Albert barely has time to ponder this miracle before the bomb drops: Ryan has been diagnosed with cancer, and he needs Mia's support, i.e. constant companionship. True, he's lost weight and he's getting radiation, but that doesn't make him any less of a jerk. And to Albert, it couldn't be more apparent that Ryan is using his cancer to steal Mia back. With the whole town rallying behind Ryan like he's a fallen hero, and Mia emotionally confused and worried for Ryan, Al's bid for love is not a popular campaign. In fact, it's exactly like driving the wrong way on a five-lane highway.

In this desperately funny novel, David Yoo tells an authentic story of first love, and thereincaptures the agony, the mania, the kicking and screaming that define teenage existence.
Read the raves here!

David Yoo is a graduate from Skidmore College with an MA from the University of Colorado-Boulder. His first novel, Girls For Breakfast (Delacorte) was a Booksense Pick, an NYPL Books For the Teen Age selection, and a Reading Rants Top Ten Books for Teens choice. He lives in Massachusetts, where he regularly plays adult soccer and Sega Genesis and teaches fiction at the Gotham Writers' Workshop. Visit the author's website,

Thursday, August 27, 2009

MC Spotlight #27: If A Tree Falls At Lunch Period by Gennifer Choldenko

YA Fresh MC Spotlight #27!

If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period

Kirsten's parents are barely speaking to each other, and her best friend has fallen under the spell of the school's queen bee, Brianna. It seems like only Kirsten's younger science-geek sister is on her side. Walker's goal is to survive at the new white private school his mom has sent him to because she thinks he's going to screw up like his cousin. But he's a good kid. So is his friend Matteo, though no one knows why he’ll do absolutely anything that hot blond Brianna asks of him. But all of this feels almost trivial when Kirsten and Walker discover a secret that shakes them both to the core.

The Washington Post - Choldenko…has a spiky wit, an empathetic eye for kids' foibles and fears, an ear for their distinctive voices and an impressive range…While it treats issues of race, class and marital discord fearlessly, it's also one of the funniest they'll read this year.
Read an excerpt here.

GENNIFER CHOLDENKO is the author of Al Capone Does My Shirts and Notes from a Liar and Her Dog as well as several picture books. She lives in the San Francisco Bay area. Visit the author's website,

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

MC Spotlight #26: Amor and Summer Secrets by Diana Rodriguez Wallach

Here we are with YA Fresh MC Spotlight #26!

Amor and Summer Secrets

All She Never Wanted.

For fifteen-year-old Mariana Ruiz, it's not so much an unexpected vacation as a literal "guilt trip"-her father's way of atoning for ignoring his Puerto Rican roots. But freedom from her parents is little compensation for being forced to spend two months with complete strangers rather than with her best friends in Philadelphia.

Once on "vacation," her worst fears come true. The heat is merciless, the food is spicy, and her great aunt and uncle's mountain house teems with relatives, only one of whom-her distant cousin Lilly-speaks English. Bored, and hoping to make up for missing her best friend's star-studded Sweet 16, Mariana offers to help in the planning of Lilly's Quinceañera. Soon, despite herself, Mariana clicks with new friends who open doors to romance and long-hidden secrets. Suddenly the summer she dreaded is ending way too quickly. It might turn out that the last place she ever wanted to go is the one place she truly finds herself.

Funny, touching, and smart, Amor and Summer Secrets is a story about friendship, family, rivalry, secrets, and how much you can change over the course of one loco summer.
Read an excerpt here!

Born to a Puerto Rican father and a Polish mother, Diana Rodriguez Wallach has experienced the cultures her characters inhabit. She holds a journalism degree from Boston University, and has worked as a reported and as an advocate for inner city public schools. She currently resides in Philadelphia with her husband. Visit the author's website,

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

MC Spotlight #25: New Boy by Julian Houston

YA Fresh MC Spotlight #25!

New Boy

Fifteen-year-old Rob Garrett wants nothing more than to escape the segregated South and prove himself. But in late 1950s Virginia, opportunity doesn’t come easily to an African American. So Rob’s parents take the unusual step of enrolling their son in a Connecticut boarding school, where he will have the best education available. He will also be the first student of color in the school’s history. No matter—Rob Garrett is on his way.

But times are changing. While Rob is experiencing the privilege and isolation of private school, a movement is rising back home. Men and women are organizing, demanding an end to segregation, and in Rob’s hometown, his friends are on the verge of taking action. There is even talk about sitting in at a lunch counter that refuses to serve black people. How can Rob hope to make a difference when he’s a world away?
Read an excerpt here.

Julian Houston was born in Richmond, Virginia, and educated in the public schools of that city before attending the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut. He attended Boston University and was a community organizer in Harlem during the civil rights movement. He is now an associate justice of the Superior Court of Massachusetts. Julian Houston lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, with his wife and family.

Monday, August 24, 2009

MC Spotlight #24: Skunk Girl by Sheba Karim

Now for YA Fresh MC Spotlight #24!

Skunk Girl

If Nina Khan were to rate herself on the unofficial Pakistani prestige point system – the one she’s sure all the aunties and uncles use to determine the most attractive marriage prospects for their children – her scoring might go something like this:

+2 points for getting excellent grades
–3 points for failing to live up to expectations set by genius older sister
+4 points for dutifully obeying parents and never, ever going to parties, no matter how antisocial that makes her seem to everyone at Deer Hook High
–1 point for harboring secret jealousy of her best friends, who are allowed to date like normal teenagers
+2 points for never drinking an alcoholic beverage
–10 points for obsessing about Asher Richelli, who talks to Nina like she’s not a freak at all, even though he knows that she has a disturbing line of hair running down her back
In this wryly funny debut novel, the smart, sassy, and utterly lovable Nina Khan tackles friends, family, and love, and learns that it’s possible to embrace two very different cultures – even if things can get a little bit, well, hairy.
Read an excerpt here!

Sheba Karim was born and raised in Catskill, NY. She is a graduate of the New York University School of Law and the Iowa Writers Workshop. Her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in 580 Split, Asia Literary Review, Barn Owl Review, DesiLit, EGO, Kartika Review, and Shenandoah. One of her short stories was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her young adult novel, Skunk Girl, was published in 2009. She is the recipient of a 2009-2010 Fulbright-Nehru research grant to work on her next novel in India. Visit the author's website,

Sunday, August 23, 2009

MC Spotlight #23: The Shadow Speaker by Nnedi Okorafor-mbachu

YA Fresh MC Spotlight #23!

The Shadow Speaker

Niger, West Africa, 2070:
After a nuclear fallout in the early twenty-first century, the earth's civilization has been completely transformed. Magic, mysticism, and mind-blowing technology now rule the world. In West Africa, fourteen-year old Ejii struggles to master her own magical powers. When her world is completely upended after she witnesses her father's death, Ejii faces a unique opportunity to explore her power and realize her destiny. But is she ready for the responsibility that comes along with that?

Embarking on a journey across the Sahara, Ejii befriends new allies and battles dangerous foes. It soon becomes clear that her people need to be protected from a terrible force seeking to annihilate them. And Ejii may just be their last hope for survival.

Fast-paced and full of tender friendships and thrilling action, this futuristic adventure heralds a bright new talent in young adult science fiction.
Read an excerpt here.

Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu’s short stories have been published in anthologies and magazines, including Dark Matter II, Strange Horizons, and Writers of the Future, Volume XVIII. Nnedi lives with her daughter, Anyaugo, and family in Illinois. Visit the author's website,

Saturday, August 22, 2009

MC Spotlight #22: Romiette and Julio by Sharon M. Draper

YA Fresh MC Spotlight #22!

Romiette and Julio

When Romiette Cappelle and her best friend, Destiny, decide to order The Scientific Soul Mate System from the back of Heavy Hunks magazine, they're not sure what they're getting into. But Destiny, a self-proclaimed psychic, assures Romi that for $44.99 plus shipping and handling, it's the only way they're ever going to find out who their soul mates really are. If nothing else, maybe Romi will get some insight into that recurring dream she's been having about fire and water.
But they never expect that the scented candle and tube of dream ointment will live up to their promises and merge Romiette's destiny with that of Julio Montague, a boy she's just met in the "cosmos" of an Internet chat room. It turns out they go to the same high school, not to mention having almost the same names as Shakespeare's famous lovers! Sweet-scented dreams of Julio have almost overtaken Romi's nightmares...

...when suddenly they return, but this time in real life. It seems the Devildogs, a local gang, violently oppose the relationship of Romiette and Julio. Soon they find themselves haunted by the purple-clad shadows of the gang, and the fire and water of Romiette's dream merge in ways more terrifying — and ultimately more affirming — than even Destiny could have foreseen.

Romiette, an African-American girl, and Julio, a Hispanic boy, discover that they attend the same high school after falling in love on the Internet, but are harrassed by a gang whose members object to their interracial dating.

Read a brief excerpt here!

Sharon Mills Draper, born in Cleveland, Ohio, has been writing and teaching for over twenty years. She has always encouraged in her students a love of learning through literature and a respect for excellence in writing.

Her literary recognition began when, as a challenge from one of her students, she entered and won first prize in the 1991 Ebony magazine Literary Contest, for which she was awarded $5,000 and the publication of her short story "One Small Torch." That story is now chapter one of Forged by Fire. She is also the author of the Ziggy and the Black Dinosaurs series of books for middle readers. Her first novel for Atheneum, Tears of a Tiger, was the recipient of the first Coretta Scott King Genesis Award, and her second novel, Forged by Fire, won the Coretta Scott King Award for 1997. Visit the author's website,

Friday, August 21, 2009

Comfort Reads!

We all know about comfort foods (and don’t get me started on scalloped potatoes and warm chocolate pudding). But recently I came upon a copy of Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking, and the mere sight of it sent some of those same warm, wonderful comfort feelings rushing through me (without, I might add, the fat and calories).

I remembered how I got my copy from the Scholastic Book Club at school, and how I’d moved it to the top of the pile, so excited to read it. And how I’d lost myself in it from page one. That time, and again and again over the next few years, when I'd turn to Pippi when bored or a little sad.

I’m pretty sure there were some sequels, but they didn’t “do” for me what the original did, and so why mess with success?

Two more favorites from that time--also from the Scholastic Book Club--that rarely left my night table: Baby Island by Carol Ryrie Brink and The Cabin Faced West by Jean Fritz.

Years later, I was so excited to share these books with my daughter, and to my delight, she loved them, too.

Do you have books from your childhood that you turned to again and again? Books that to this day can make you smile? Dish 'em out (again calorie-free) in our comments!

MC Spotlight #21: Graffiti Girl by Kelly Parra

Hmmm, this looks familiar...haha...YA Fresh MC Spotlight #21!

Graffiti Girl

Graffiti art. It's bold. It's thrilling. And it can get a girl into serious trouble....
Raised by her single mom (who's always dating the wrong kind of man) in a struggling California neighborhood, Angel Rodriguez is a headstrong, independent young woman who channels her hopes and dreams for the future into her painting. But when her entry for a community mural doesn't rate, she's heartbroken. Even with winning artist Nathan Ramos -- a senior track star and Angel's secret crush -- taking a sudden interest in Angel and her art, she's angry and hurt. She's determined to find her own place in the art world, her own way.

That's when Miguel Badalin -- from the notorious graffiti crew Reyes Del Norte -- opens her eyes to an underground world of graf tags and turf wars. She's blown away by this bad boy's fantastic work and finds herself drawn to his dangerous charm. Soon she's running with Miguel's crew, pushing her skills to the limit and beginning to emerge as the artist she always dreamed she could be. But Nathan and Miguel are bitter enemies with a shared past, and choosing between them and their wildly different approaches to life and art means that Angel must decide what matters most before the artist inside of her can truly break free.
Read an excerpt here.

Kelly Parra debuted into young adult fiction in 2007 with her Latina novel Graffiti Girl, which garnered attention as a double nominee for the Romance Writers of America RITA award, a Latinidad YA top pick, as well as chosen for the California High School Reading Collection and National Book Foundation "BookUpNYC" program. Her latest novel Invisible Touch has hailed fresh praise from bestselling author Laurie Faria Stolarz, and given the Gold Award of Excellence from TeensReadToo. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and co-author of the popular young adult blog, YA Fresh. Visit the author's website @

Thursday, August 20, 2009

MC Spotlight #20: First Part Last by Angela Johnson

YA Fresh MC Spotlight #20!

The First Part Last

Bobby's a classic urban teenager. He's restless. He's impulsive. But the thing that makes him different is this: He's going to be a father. His girlfriend, Nia, is pregnant, and their lives are about to change forever. Instead of spending time with friends, they'll be spending time with doctors, and next, diapers. They have options: keeping the baby, adoption. They want to do the right thing.

If only it was clear what the right thing was.

Read a sample chapter here!

Angela Johnson is the author of the Coretta Scott King Honor picture book When I Am Old with You; as well as A Sweet Smell of Roses, illustrated by Eric Velasquez; Just Like Josh Gibson, illustrated by Beth Peck; and I Dream of Trains, which was also illustrated by Loren Long. She has won three Coretta Scott King Awards, one each for her novels Heaven, Toning the Sweep, and The First Part Last. In recognition of her outstanding talent, Angela was named a 2003 MacArthur Fellow. She lives in Kent, Ohio.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

MC Spotlight #19: The Fold by An Na

And here we have YA Fresh MC Spotlight #19!

The Fold

Joyce never used to care that much about how she looked, but that was before she met JFK—John Ford Kang, the most gorgeous guy in school. And it doesn't help that she's constantly being compared to her beautiful older sister, Helen. Then her rich plastic-surgery-addict aunt offers Joyce a gift to "fix" a part of herself she'd never realized needed fixing—her eyes. Joyce has heard of the fold surgery—a common procedure meant to make Asian women's eyes seem "prettier" and more "American"—but she's not sure she wants to go through with it. Her friend Gina can't believe she isn't thrilled. After all, the plastic surgeon has shown Joyce that her new eyes will make her look just like Helen—but is that necessarily a good thing?

Printz Award—winning author An Na has created a surprisingly funny and thought-provoking look at notions of beauty, who sets the standards and how they affect us all. Joyce's decision is sure to spark heated discussions about the beauty myths readers confront in their own lives.
Read a little backstory on the novel.

An Na was born in Korea and grew up in San Diego, California. A former middle school English and history teacher, she is currently at work on her third novel. She lives in Vermont. Visit the author's website,

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

MC Spotlight #18: Gateway by Sharon Shinn

YA Fresh MC Spotlight #18....(coming in October 2009)


As a Chinese adoptee in St. Louis, teenage Daiyu often feels out of place. When an elderly Asian jewelry seller at a street fair shows her a black jade ring—and tells her that "black jade" translates to "Daiyu"—she buys it as a talisman of her heritage. But it's more than that; it's magic. It takes Daiyu through a gateway into a version of St. Louis much like 19th century China. Almost immediately she is recruited as a spy, which means hours of training in manners and niceties and sleight of hand. It also means stealing time to be with handsome Kalen, who is in on the plan. There's only one problem. Once her task is done, she must go back to St. Louis and leave him behind forever...

Sharon Shinn is a journalist who works for a trade magazine. Her first novel, The Shapechanger's Wife, was selected by Locus as the best first fantasy novel of 1995. She has won the William C. Crawford Award for Outstanding New Fantasy Writer, and was twice nominated for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. A graduate of Northwestern University, she has lived in the Midwest most of her life. Visit the author's website,

Monday, August 17, 2009

What's Fresh with Megan Kelley Hall's The Lost Sister

Hello Megan, it is always great to chat with you! Please tell us about your latest novel The Lost Sister.

Megan: THE LOST SISTER is the continuation of SISTERS OF MISERY. It ties up a lot of the questions that were unanswered in SISTERS and has a whole new group of mysteries that need to be answered. Maddie grows more of a backbone and comes into her own. People get what they deserve (watch your back, Kate Endicott).

Here's the back cover copy and publishing info:

THE LOST SISTER takes a chilling look at what happens when hazing pushes someone too far...

Sisters are born, not chosen...

Maddie Crane is grappling with the disappearance of Cordelia LeClaire, and trying to escape the grasp of The Sisters of Misery—an insidious clique of the school’s most powerful girls, whose pranks have set off a chain of horrific events, and who have Maddie in their sights…

Beware the sister betrayed...

Now in a prestigious boarding school far away from her mysterious hometown of Hawthorne, Massachusetts , Maddie feels free from danger. But when an unmarked envelope arrives at her dorm containing a single ominous tarot card, Maddie realizes with terror that some secrets won’t stay buried. Knowing she must return to Hawthorne—a town still scarred by the evil of the Salem witch trials—Maddie prepares to face the fears of her past...and the wrath of the sister she wronged.

THE LOST SISTER by Megan Kelley Hall
Publisher: Kensington Books
Date: August 2009
ISBN: 978-0758226808

Praise from reviewers/readers:

A character driven tale containing a deep Gothic feel and haunting foreboding atmosphere that hooks fans of all ages....With strong ties to the late seventeenth century Salem Witch Trials, THE LOST SISTER is a super thriller. -- Harriet Klausner

An exciting tale of romance, terror, and dark gothic twists.
--Carrie Jones, author of NEED

Hall will have your heart racing and you will not be able to put this book down. With historical allusions to the New England witch trials and a touch of the paranormal, THE LOST SISTER is a thriller in a league of its own.
-- TeensReadtoo / Awarded THE LOST SISTER the Hall of Fame Gold Star Award for Excellence

Hall's ability to construct a story that utilized elements of mysticism and witchcraft accompanied with local history made for an intriguing read.If you are looking for a good whodunit with a dash of the supernatural that includes compelling characters that you'll want to revisit in the future then The Lost Sister is definitely for you.

Blown away... The suspense, mystery, intrigue, and drama steadilybuild up throughout the novel, making it impossible to put the bookdown. I would recommend it to almostall book lovers. It has made me hungry for more of Ms. Hall's work! - Mrs. Magoo Reads

Sounds awesome! Could you share a bit about the main character of your book and what makes her unique?

Megan" Maddie was created to be an "every girl." She's not perfect. She doesn't always do what the reader wants her to do. She doesn't stand up for things and people when she should. But I feel that in THE LOST SISTER, she's grown and has come into her own a little bit. This is what she's taken away from having Cordelia in her life. Cordelia is free and independent spirit and although she's somewhat flawed herself, she is the mirror that forces the inhabitants of Hawthorne to take a good look at themselves and their actions. Cordelia has her own issues and problems that she's trying to overcome, but at the same time she inspires Maddie and is a catalyst. for many of the events that take place in Hawthorne (both the supernatural and the mundane.)

How did the idea for this novel come about?

Megan: The Lost Sister picks up where Sisters of Misery left off. It shows what happens when someone is pushed too far and when hazing pranks go wrong. It’s a continuation of Sisters of Misery, in that it’s a modern-day retelling of the Salem Witch hunts. It has a sort of fairytale-esque Gothic appeal and it will keep you up at night due the spooky, supernatural events that take place.

What do you hope readers will gain from reading this novel?

Megan: Right now bullying is a huge problem for teens. Almost 6,000,000 kids, nearly 30% of all children, are either bullied or are doing the bullying in this country. Now, for the first time, the American Academy of Pediatrics is stepping in with recommendations and tips to help all involved. The issue of bullying is at the heart of THE LOST SISTER.

With incidents like the hazing at Miss Porter’s school in New York and a recent study out of the University of Maine, stating that almost 50 percent of college students said that they experienced some form of hazing in high school, girls bullying and hazing each other is an unfortunate reality. By writing this series, I was hoping to shed some light on this growing problem and to let girls know that if they have experienced any form of bullying or hazing, they are not alone, and they do NOT have to take it anymore.

Thanks for sharing, Megan! Would you like to close with a novel you highly recommend and why?

Megan: Other than The Lost Sister and Sisters of Misery? Ha ha, just kidding. I'd recommend Graffiti Girl and Invisible Touch by an amazing author Kelly Parra. I also encourage readers of all ages to check out the books by the other members of the Girlfriend's Cyber Circuit. And of course, I always recommend my all-time favorite book, THE SECRET HISTORY by Donna Tartt, just because she set the bar so high for a debut novel with that literary thriller. It's the type of book you can read again and again.

You are so nice. Thank you, Megan!! Best of luck with The Lost Sister!

Megan Kelley Hall, 34, freelance writer and literary publicist living in Swampscott, Massachusetts, is currently represented by Elisabeth Weed of Weed Literary in NYC with her first YA novel, SISTERS OF MISERY, to be published by Kensington Books in August 2008. Hall will also have an essay about her recent open heart surgery in former CNN anchor Daryn Kagan's anthology, WHAT'S POSSIBLE! (Meredith Books, 2008).

Hall regularly writes articles for a variety of local and national magazines and publications, including Elle, Glamour, Boston Magazine, Parenting, American Baby, Working Mother, The Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Better Homes and,, Ladies Home, New England Bride, MetroSports, Parents and Kids, The AKC Gazette and various online publications. Hall's writing has been included in an anthology of pregnancy stories entitled, THEY LIED: True Tales of Pregnancy.

She studied creative writing at Skidmore College under the Pulitzer-Prize winning author Steven Millhauser. Hall is also writing a non-fiction memoir about her recent open heart surgery, as well as her life as a cancer survivor, her partial vision loss and the premature birth of her very healthy and happy four year old daughter Piper Elizabeth. The memoir is tentatively entitled, BLINDED BY LOOKING AT THE BRIGHT SIDE. Hall was also the editorial consultant for The Official TV Guide Collectors Guide. Visit her website,

MC Spotlight #17: How To Salsa in a Sari by Dona Sarkar

YA Fresh MC Spotlight #17!

How To Salsa In A Sari (Kimani Tru)

First, Issa Mazumder's nerdy boyfriend dumps her for popular Latina princess Cat Morena—as if Cat even likes him. She just hates Issa. And for good reason: Issa finds out that her mother not only has been dating Cat's dad, but is going to marry him. That means they're moving into Cat's huge house. And not only is Issa's stepsister-to-be a total beyotch, she has no respect for Issa's Indian and African-American heritage. But Issa gets some tough advice: if she wants Cat Morena to welcome her traditions, Issa had better learn how to salsa in a sari.
Read an excerpt here!

"My inspiration is and always has been my loving family, my fabulous critique partners, my supportive friends all over the world, and of course my devoted husband and best friend Manav, who is my greatest enthusiast and critic.

Manav and I currently live in Kirkland, Washington where we are regularly bossed over by a very demanding gray tabby named Ash. I still have my 'real' job at Microsoft but make sure to write at least one page every day." 

Dona Sarkar is the author of How To Salsa in a Sari and Shrink To Fit. Visit her website,

Sunday, August 16, 2009

MC Spotlight #16: Rogelia's House of Magic by Jamie Martinez Wood

It is YA Fresh MC Spotlight #16....

Rogelia's House of Magic

In Rogelia's House of Magic, three different fourteen-year-old girls find friendship and special powers as they are trained in the ways of the curandera by a wise old woman.

When Rogelia becomes a maid at Marina Peralta’s home, it’s obvious to Marina and her friend Fern that they have a real mystic on their hands. Soon Rogelia agrees to teach the girls the magic of their ancestors, much like she taught her granddaughters, Xochitl and Graciela. Even though Marina and Fern are thrilled to have this chance to understand and use their powers, Xochitl isn’t happy about sharing such a sacred thing with anyone but her sister, who perished in a car accident. Besides, magic has let Xochitl down before—why wouldn’t it now?

But as the girls will eventually discover, at Rogelia’s House of Magic, anything is possible.

Check out an excerpt here.

Jamie Martinez Wood is the author of The Teen Spell Book: Magick for Young Witches, The Enchanted Diary: A Teen’s Guide to Magick and Life, The Wiccan Cookbook, and The Wiccan Herbal. She lives in California with her husband and children. You can visit her at

Saturday, August 15, 2009

MC Spotlight #15: First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover by Mitali Perkins

YA Fresh MC Spotlight #15!

First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover

In time for election year, meet America's first daughter!

Adopted from Pakistan when she was three, Sameera "Sparrow" Righton is not your typical all-American girl. None of this used to matter, but that was before her father decided to run for president of the United States. Now some of her father's campaign staffers think that maybe a dark-skinned, adopted daughter could hurt his chances. They begin to pressure Sameera to change her name to Sammy and to be more "American." Sameera is torn between molding herself into the perfect daughter and being true to herself. Who will win out? Sparrow? Or Sammy?

Mitali Perkins is the author of several books for young people, including SECRET KEEPER (Random House), MONSOON SUMMER (Random House), RICKSHAW GIRL (Charlesbridge), and the FIRST DAUGHTER books (Dutton). Born in Kolkata, India, and raised in the States, Mitali chats about books between cultures on her virtual fire escape @

Friday, August 14, 2009

Fun with the Children's Book Writers!

Every year, the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators holds their summer conference at the Hyatt Regency in Century City, and for the third time in five years, I was lucky enough to attend.

It was an amazing conference, with highlights including a mind-boggling speeches by
Sherman Alexie and
Richard Peck
, listening to Frank Portman sing his classic, “Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend” in a break-out session, and the Blue Moon Party out by the pool where we danced the night away...

Here are a couple workshop photos:

Simon & Shuster editor Anica Rissi and my Random House editor, Krista Marino, in their informative session, “Two Editors Look at the Teen Movement.” (Their conclusion being that while there’s always a market for quality material, fantasy-edged stories are what teens are currently reaching for.)

And take note that Krista is holding Rosemary Clement-Moore’s September ’09 release, The Splendor Falls, which by all accounts is going to FLY off of shelves.

And Holly Black, giving a session on critique partners, in which I spoke up to rave about how successful and fun it is for me to work with Kelly:

Now, moving on to the Blue Moon Party, here’s a link to a wave hello video from a group of Los Angeles Young Adult Authors meeting up beforehand. Look hard and you might see...Michael Reisman, Cherry Cheva, me, Marlene Perez, Dan Yaccarino, Lisa Yee, Ben Esch, Betty Birney, Paddy Lock, Debra Garfinkel, Paula Yoo...and others!

Here’s our YA FRESH friend, Cindy Pon, dressed as a video game character (and she told me the name, but it must have danced out of my brain because I can no longer remember):

And here I am with debut author (and fabulous Facebook Scrabble player) Christy Raedeke whose Flux books release in 2010 and 2011.

And last but not least, this is author Sydney Salter , me, Jon Fine, Director of Author & Public Relations of (who enthralled me with information of what I can do to improve my rankings!), and YA Fresh friends, Janie Emaus and Paddy Lock.

A great time was had by all...but someone please explain to me why I came home with jet-lag even though I only traveled about 45 minutes by car?

MC Spotlight #14: The Black Canary by Jane Louise Curry

YA Fresh MC Spotlight #14 is...

The Black Canary

Twelve-year-old biracial James has grown up in a musical family. Not only are both of his parents musicians, but his four grandparents are as well. Everyone assumes that James will pursue music, yet he would rather become a newspaper reporter...or an astronomer...or a cook...anything that will let him leave music behind and be his own self.

Everything changes when, on a family visit to London, James discovers a portal that leads to London in the year 1600, then finds himself unable to return to the point in time he had left behind. James is forced to join the Children of the Chapel Royal, a group that performs for the queen of England, and the musical talents he denied are now put to the test and pushed to their limits. In this alternate world James comes to realize that he cannot survive and get back to the twenty-first century without recognizing, understanding, and making the most of his musical gifts.

Jane Louise Curry brings Elizabethan London to life in this remarkable story about music, family, and finding one's place in the world.

Check out an excerpt here.

Jane Louise Curry has written more than thirty books for children, her most recent novel being The Egyptian Box. Ms. Curry lives in Lose Angeles, California, and spends a part of each year in London, England. For more information go to and

Thursday, August 13, 2009

MC Spotlight #13: What the Moon Saw by Laura Resau

YA Fresh MC Spotlight #13! We are definitely moving along!

What the Moon Saw

Clara Luna's name means "clear moon" in Spanish. But lately, her head has felt anything but clear. One day a letter comes from Mexico, written in Spanish: Dear Clara, We invite you to our house for the summer. We will wait for you on the day of the full moon, in June, at the Oaxaca airport. Love, your grandparents.

Fourteen-year-old Clara has never met her father's parents. She knows he snuck over the border from Mexico as a teenager, but beyond that, she knows almost nothing about his childhood. When she agrees to go, she's stunned by her grandparents' life: they live in simple shacks in the mountains of southern Mexico, where most people speak not only Spanish, but an indigenous language, Mixteco.

The village of Yucuyoo holds other surprises, too-- like the spirit waterfall, which is heard but never seen. And Pedro, an intriguing young goatherder who wants to help Clara find the waterfall. Hearing her grandmother’s adventurous tales of growing up as a healer awakens Clara to the magic in Yucuyoo, and in her own soul. What The Moon Saw is an enchanting story of discovering your true self in the most unexpected place.
Read an excerpt here.

Laura Resau is the award-winning author of the young adult novels What the Moon Saw and Red Glass (Delacorte Press). She lived in the Mixtec region of Oaxaca, Mexico, for two years as an English teacher and anthropologist. She now lives with her husband, baby, and dog in Fort Collins, Colorado, where she writes and teaches English as a Second Language. Laura is donating a portion of her royalties to indigenous rights organizations in Latin America. Visit the author's website,

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

MC Spotlight #12: The Kayla Chronicles by Sherri Winston

YA Fresh MC Spotlight #12 is...

The Kayla Chronicles

Kayla Dean, junior feminist and future journalist, is about the break the story of a lifetime. She is auditioning for the Lady Lions dance team to prove they discriminate against the not-so-well endowed. But when she makes the team, her best friend and fellow feminist, Rosalie, is not happy.

Now a Lady Lion, Kayla is transformed from bushy-haired fashion victim to glammed-up dance diva. But does looking good and having fun mean turning her back on the cause? Can you be a strong woman and still wear really cute shoes? Soon Kayla is forced to challenge her views, coming to terms with who she is and what girl power really means.

Narrated with sharp language and just the right amount of attitude, The Kayla Chronicles is the story of a girl's struggle for self-identity despite pressure from family, friends and her own conscience. Kayla's story is snappy, fun and inspiring, sure to appeal to anyone who's every questioned who they really are.

Sherri Winston believes her "internal age" hovers somewhere between 10 and 15. A fact that works well for her as a writer for young readers. The author of The Kayla Chronicles, Sherri lives in Georgia with her two young daughters and is a former lifestyle columnist for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Visit the author on myspace.