Tag Archives: Len Vlahos

TGIF: A Monday Retrospective

13 Feb

It was a tough week. I won’t go into all the details. Suffice it to say, I was looking forward to Friday night. And not for the reason you think. Yes, it was the end of difficult week, but it was the night that Leah Thomas and Len Vlahos were going to be at Powells in Beaverton!

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It was a small but devoted group of fans who assembled. For us, it was nice because it was less formal. I got to reconnect with Leah and chat with Len, both of whom were William C. Morris Award finalists in different years.

They talked a lot about how they came up with the ideas for their current novels:

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Publisher’s Summary: Fifteen-year-old Jackie Stone’s father is dying.

When Jackie discovers that her father has been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor, her whole world starts to crumble. She can’t imagine how she’ll live without him . . .

Then, in a desperate act to secure his family’s future, Jackie’s father does the unthinkable–he puts his life up for auction on eBay. Jackie can do nothing but watch and wait as an odd assortment of bidders, some with nefarious intentions, drive the price up higher. The fate of her entire family hangs in the balance.

But no one can predict how the auction will finally end, or any of the very public fallout that ensues. Life as Jackie knows it is about to change forever . . .

In this brilliantly written tragicomedy told through multiple points of view–including Jackie’s dad’s tumor–acclaimed author Len Vlahos deftly explores what it really means to live.

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Publisher’s Summary:Ollie and Moritz might never meet, but their friendship knows no bounds. Their letters carry on as Ollie embarks on his first road trip away from the woods–no easy feat for a boy allergic to electricity–and Moritz decides which new school would best suit an eyeless boy who prefers to be alone.

Along the way they meet other teens like them, other products of strange science who lead seemingly normal lives in ways Ollie and Moritz never imagined possible: A boy who jokes about his atypical skeleton; an aspiring actress who hides a strange deformity; a track star whose abnormal heart propels her to victory. Suddenly the future feels wide open for two former hermits. But even as Ollie and Moritz dare to enjoy life, they can’t escape their past, which threatens to destroy any progress they’ve made. Can these boys ever find their place in a world that might never understand them?

Both have some odd things happening in their book ( a brain tumor as one of multiple narrators in Len’s book and the Blunderkids in Leah’s). I bought both books and got them personalized. I got an arc of Nowhere Near You at ALA and had already read it. I will send the autographed arc to my twin sister. I’m planning on reading Life in a Fishbowl this week during independent reading time at school.

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It was a really fun evening and a great way to end a long week.

YALSA’s 2015 Morris/Nonfiction Reading Challenge Check-In #5

11 Jan

This will be my last check-in on this thread. I have finished the Morris list and can’t comment on the nonfiction list because some of the titles are up for the CYBILS YA Nonfiction award.

It has been interesting reading the Morris list, knowing that I will be on the committee picking next year’s finalists!

So, with no further ado, here is the 2015 Morris list, in my order of preference:

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A sentimental favorite going in, The Story of Owen: Dragonslayer of Trondheim by E. K. Johnston never really left the top spot. I love the world Johnston created and the idea of a bard for a dragonslayer. The ending was unexpected.

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Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero came close to taking Owen’s spot because her voice was so believable.

 

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The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton ties with Len Vlahos’ The Scar Boys. 

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he Carnival at Bray  by Jessie Ann Foley was my least favorite of the five books mostly because of its slow build up to the last quarter of the book. That said, I highly recommend all these books of you are looking for a great YA novel.

2015 Morris Award Finalists

4 Dec

2015 Morris Award Finalists

The Carnival at Bray written by Jessie Ann Foley, published by Elephant Rock Books.

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In 1993, the grunge movement is at its height and Maggie Lynch is living comfortably in Chicago, near Nanny Ei and Uncle Kevin, her musical guru. After her impulsive mother marries and moves the family to a tiny Irish village, Maggie struggles to adjust to the changing world around her.

I just put this on hold today. this title is new to me.

 

The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim written by E.K. Johnston, published by Carolrhoda Lab™, an imprint of Carolrhoda Books, a division of Lerner Publishing Group.

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Owen is training to be a dragon slayer, a crucial job in a world where dragons bring death and destruction. With help from their friends and family, Owen and his bard Siobhan seek the source of a growing dragon threat.

 

Gabi, a Girl in Pieces written by Isabel Quintero, published by Cinco Puntos Press.

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Aspiring poet Gabi Hernandez is having a complicated senior year: One of her best friends is pregnant, and the other just came out. Even as her mother worries that she will become a “bad” girl, Gabi adds romance and the quest for college to her already full plate.

I’ve had this out from the library for a while, but have yet to read it, though it has just moved to the top of the pile.

 

The Scar Boys written by Len Vlahos, published by Egmont Publishing.

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In a college admission essay, Harry Jones reveals the physical and psychological scars of his childhood and the solace and self-confidence he found in friendship and punk music.

 

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender written by Leslye Walton, published by Candlewick Press.

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Born with a pair of wings, sixteen-year-old Ava Lavender inherits a rich family history and a legacy of heartbreak. After a young man becomes convinced she is an angel, can Ava survive his obsession intact?

I’ve had this out from the library for a while, but have yet to read it, though it has also just moved to the top of the pile.

The Scar Boys: What I wanted Wonder to be

30 Jun

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Let me start by saying I liked Auggie Pullman, protagonist of Wonder  by R. J. Palacio. It was a touching book and Auggie is sweet and likable. I didn’t love the book like so many people did. I felt it was a little too idealistic. You should still read it, if you haven’t already

The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos, has the edge I wanted  Wonder to have. Harry Jones is likable, though a little less so than Auggie. He’s older than Auggie, but has a facial deformity due to a traumatic event in his childhood. Like Auggie, Harry also has one friend, Johnny, that helps him navigate the world of friendships. But unlike Auggie, Harry knows there will be no easy path or happy ending; he will always be an outsider.

Harry and Johnny form a bad, The Scar Boys, and it takes them through middle and high school. They are actually good and, in the summer after their senior year in high school, The Scar Boys go on a road trip. It ends badly, as you might expect, so I’m not really giving a lot away by telling you that it does. What The Scar Boys  does, that Wonder  didn’t for me, was really show the hurt and damage Harry’s disfigurement has on his psyche. Harry is a flawed hero. It is an emotionally raw book, without being heavy and dark.

If you liked  Wonder,  I highly recommend you give The Scar Boys  a read.

Randy Ribay

YA author, teacher, nerd

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