Finding Audrey – Booktalk


Title: Finding Audrey

Author: Sophie Kinsellafinding audrey

Finding Audrey is Sophie Kinsella’s first YA novel.

Something happened to Audrey. We’re never sure exactly what, but it was bullying, it was bad, and it led to a breakdown and a stay in a mental hospital. All that happens before the book opens. We join the story several months later. Audrey is homeschooled, she sees a therapist for her anxiety and panic attacks, and she’s surrounded by her loving, confused family. There’s little Felix, who finds joy in everything from ketchup to Star Wars; older brother Frank, who is obsessed with computer games; and Audrey’s mum and dad, who lurch from one parenting fad to the next. And then there’s Linus, Frank’s friend and gaming partner, whose arrival gently upsets Audrey’s daily routine.

It’s a serious situation, but it’s handled deftly, with Sophie Kinsella’s signature wit and warmth.

Undertow – Booktalk


Title: Undertow

Author: Michael Buckleyundertow

Three years ago, Lyric Walker’s life changed forever when she witnessed the Alpha, or First Men, walk out of the ocean and onto the beaches of Coney Island. Now, Coney Island is a military zone, the Alpha live in containment camps on the beach, and an uneasy truce is barely holding up.

When the school year starts, six of the Alpha youth are integrated into Lyric’s high school amid violent protests from the locals. Lyric is unwillingly recruited to help their prince, Fathom, adjust to life as an American teenager. The thing is, Lyric has secrets of her own, and she’s afraid the unwanted attention will expose them.

Turns out, though, that while the world sees the Alpha as an invading army, Lyric discovers that they may be humanity’s only hope of survival because there is something much more terrifying than the Alpha out there, and it’s on its way…

Undertow by Michael Buckley is the first in a trilogy.

–Lisa, Teen Librarian


Fallout : Lois Lane – Booktalk


Title: Fallout: Lois Lane

Author: Gwenda Bond

Lois Lane

Headline: Teen Reporter Busts Cyber-bullying Ring at Local High School, details to follow.

Lois Lane is an army brat. Her family has recently moved to Metropolis and is looking to stay for a while this time. Lois is determined to fit in and not get into trouble, but keeping a low profile is just not in her nature – not when she sees kids being victimized.

In an effort to make new friends, Lois joins The Daily Scoop, a teen subsidiary of the regular newspaper, The Daily Planet. Soon she and her new buddies are investigating The Warheads, an online gaming group that is based in the school and getting creepier by the minute.

And, the only person she feels safe discussing all this with is her online buddy, Smallville Guy.

As Entertainment Weekly said, “Lois Lane meets Veronica Mars and it’s all kinds of awesome.”

–Lisa, Teen Librarian

The Notorious Pagan Jones – Booktalk


Title: The Notorious Pagan Jones

Author: Nina Berry


Pagan was a child star who’s grown into a beautiful Hollywood starlet. But a few years ago, Pagan’s mother committed suicide and Pagan started drinking to cope. One horrible night, she crashes her car while driving drunk and kills her father and little sister. Pagan has spent the last year in reform school until she’s offered a shot at redemption – she’s offered a job as a last-minute replacement on a movie shooting in Europe. But what Pagan doesn’t know is that she’s a pawn in a much bigger scheme. Pagan’s no fool, though. She’s clever and resourceful. It’s the summer of 1961 in Berlin. Pagan knows something is going on, and she’s determined to find out.

You’ll find action, adventure, history, and romance all wrapped up in The Notorious Pagan Jones by Nina Berry.

–Lisa, Teen Librarian



Last weekend I had a lot of fun (and a little stress, let’s be honest) being part of a presentation at the annual conference for NELA (New England Library Association). Four of us talked in general about the process of booktalking and then took turns presenting one-minute booktalks.

People in the audience asked if we had our booktalks online somewhere, and I figured maybe I should take another stab at this blog. I mean, I type up my booktalks for myself, so I might as well put them up here, too.

Booktalks are different from reviews. They’re not evaluations, they’re sales tools. You’re trying to sell these books to your audience, whether one-on-one in the stacks, in a classroom, while doing outreach, or at a library program. They’re meant to be heard, not read, so they’re written differently. I use repetition a lot, and the style is much more conversational. Occasionally I’ll do comparisons to other books/movies/TV, but that gets old quickly so use it sparingly.

I don’t talk about how much I love a book because presumably I’m not going to be booktalking/recommending a book I didn’t like. I will admit to booktalking books I haven’t finished reading, but I’ve read enough of the book and about the book to have a really good handle on it and be confident talking about it.

I work hard on polishing booktalks for an official presentation. The nice thing is that the echoes are still floating around in my head when I’m doing random readers advisory in the stacks, so there are always residual benefits to putting together booktalks.

–Lisa, Teen Librarian


The Shadowy Horses – Review


Title: The Shadowy Horses

Author: Susanna Kearsley

The mystery of the Ninth Legion of the Roman army has inspired several novels and a couple of films, too (Centurion, The Eagle). Stationed in Britain in the second century AD, the legion – more than 3,000 strong – marched north into Scotland and completely vanished, presumably wiped out by the Picts whom they were sent to defeat.  Some scholars believe that really was their fate; others believe the legion left Britain for other parts of the Roman Empire.  Regardless, it’s fun to speculate about what happened.

In The Shadowy Horses, archeologist Verity Grey has been hired onto a dig in Scotland. Her boss has spent his life chasing after the Ninth, and the academic community regards him as anything from an eccentric to a complete laughingstock. This time, though, he’s sure he’s found their remains. Why? Because a young local boy has “seen” a Roman soldier walking in the fields.

When I was a teen, I absolutely adored romantic suspense novels by Mary Stewart, Daphne DuMaurier, and Barbara Michaels. I’m happy to report that The Shadowy Horses provided the same wonderful reading experience.  Verity is a witty, capable heroine, and there’s no wishy-washy hand-wringing or angsting going on here. The setting is vividly rendered, and of course, there’s the delicious romantic tension.

The Shadowy Horses was written 15 years ago (how did I miss it back then?), but it is being rereleased along with several other romantic suspense novels by Susanna Kearsley. I’ll definitely be looking for the others.

–Lisa, Teen Librarian

A Confusion of Princes – Review


Title: A Confusion of Princes

Author: Garth Nix

Khemri is a prince of the realm, and he’s destined to be the next emperor – or so he thinks. Being a prince turns out to be not quite as exciting as it sounds, because there are millions of princes out there. All of them are enhanced with Bitek, Mektek, and Psitek, and all of them are vying to become the next emperor. As soon as Khemri comes of age, he is tossed out of the little oasis of calm where he’s been coddled and looked after all his life.  Now it’s on to the real world, where it’s kill or be killed – again and again.

A Confusion of Princes is pretty hardcore science fiction. We jump in to the story midstream, never really learning how this world came to be and how all the technologies work. Having said that, if you’re willing to go with the flow, it’s an excellent ride. There’s lots of action, a bit of a coming-of-age story as Khemri sheds his views of privilege and entitlement (sometimes quite painfully), and the world Garth Nix has created is pretty darn amazing.

–Lisa, Teen Librarian