Monthly Archives: April 2014

Read Alikes — Far Far Away

We loved the fairy-tale feel and the quirky, clever characters in Tom McNeal’s Far Far Away. Check out these read-alikes for other sure-to-please novels:

1) Anything by Neil Gaiman. Some of our favourite picks are Coraline, Anansi Boys, and The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

Coraline by Neil GaimanThe Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil GaimanAnansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

The Washington Post described Coraline (2002) as “inventive, scary, thrilling, and finally affirmative.” If you’ve seen the movie but have never read the book, give it a try. Nothing beats Gaiman’s clear writing and creepily creative plot-line. The Ocean at the End of the Lane (2013) has similar creep-factor, in a fairy tale that will resonate with adults and teens alike. It’s the story of a middle-aged man who returns to his childhood home and falls into a flood of remembrance about the strange, magical, and deeply scary things that happened to him as a child. Our third Gaiman pick, Anansi Boys, brings a modern riff to the old African myth about trickster-god Anansi. Gaiman introduces readers to Fat Charlie Nancy, whose dull life ends once he realizes his dad was a god, and to Charlie’s long-lost and dangerous brother, Spider.

Other read-alikes for Far Far Away:

Doll Bones by Holly BlackDoll Bones by Holly Black (2013)

“Zach, Poppy, and Alice have been friends forever. And for almost as long, they’ve been playing one continuous, ever-changing game of pirates and thieves, mermaids and warriors. Ruling over all is the Great Queen, a bone-china doll cursing those who displease her.

“But they are in middle school now. Zach’s father pushes him to give up make-believe, and Zach quits the game. Their friendship might be over, until Poppy declares she’s been having dreams about the Queen—and the ghost of a girl who will not rest until the bone-china doll is buried in her empty grave.

“Zach and Alice and Poppy set off on one last adventure to lay the Queen’s ghost to rest. But nothing goes according to plan, and as their adventure turns into an epic journey, creepy things begin to happen. Is the doll just a doll or something more sinister? And if there really is a ghost, will it let them go now that it has them in its clutches?” (Source:


The Prince of the Mist by Carlos Ruiz ZafonThe Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (1993, Spanish; English edition 2010)

Readers describe this book as a cross between Neil Gaiman and Stephen King: part suspense-horror-mystery, fairy tale, fantasy and ghost story.

“Nothing is more powerful than a promise,” says the book’s trailer. The Prince of Mist is the story of Max, whose father moves the family to an abandoned house on the remote seaside. The house features an overgrown garden, strange statuary, and a whispering wardrobe. A lonely lighthouse surveys the site of a shipwreck that years ago killed all aboard but one. And so Max begins to unravel the story of the legendary Prince of Mist.


NearWitchThe Near Witch by Victoria Schwab (2011)

“The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children.
If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for compan
y.  There are no strangers in the town of Near.

“These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life. But when an actual stranger-a boy who seems to fade like smoke-appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true.

“The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion.  As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know- about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy. ” (Source:

Message from Bomb author Steve Sheinkin

BombWe e-mailed Bomb author Steve Sheinkin to let him know his book is among the Top 10 in this year’s CCRSB Teen Reader’s Choice Award. We were thrilled to receive his speedy and gracious response:


“[W]ell, you might think I’m saying this just to be nice, but Nova Scotia is absolutely one of my favorite places in the world. When I was 13, I went on a month long bike trip with a bunch of other kids in Nova Scotia, and I’ve been back a couple of times since. I have young kids now, 4 and 7, and I can’t wait to bring them. So for me it’s extra cool that students there are reading Bomb, and, hopefully, enjoying it. Thanks!!”

–Steve Sheinkin, author of Bomb

Thank YOU, Steve, for such a remarkable and riveting book!

Read Alikes — The Beginning of Everything

Author Robyn Schneider describes The Beginning of Everything as a cross between John Green’s Paper Towns and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. One reviewer said this book reminded her of Rainbow Rowell’s hit novels, including TRCA Top-10 contestant Eleanor & Park. If you have others to suggest, send them along and we’ll be happy to add them.


Paper Towns by John Green (2008)

“Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life–dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge–he follows.

“After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues–and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees of the girl he thought he knew.” (Source:


The Great GatsbyThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted ‘gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,’ it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.

“The Great Gatsby is one of the great classics of twentieth-century literature.” (Source:



winger Winger by Andrew W. Smith

“Ryan Dean West is a 14-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. He’s living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he’s madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy.

“With the help of his sense of humour, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life’s complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what’s important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart.” (Source:

Read Alikes — Eleanor & Park

Readers have expressed overwhelming enthusiasm for Eleanor & Park . If you liked Rainbow Rowell’s super-real portrayal of high-school life and relationships (and more!), you’ll definitely want to read her latest book, Fangirl.

We’ve compiled a list of read-alikes — some obvious, some not-so-obvious — to fill the void left by Eleanor & Park:

Fangirl by Rainbow RowellFANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell (2013)

“Cath is a Simon Snow fan. OK, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life-and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

“Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to. Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

“For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?”  (Source:


Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler (2011)Why-We-Broke-Up-by-Daniel-Handler

I’m telling you why we broke up, Ed. I’m writing it in this letter, the whole truth of why it happened.

“Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped.” (Source:


The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Steven Chbosky  The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (1999)

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a story about what it’s like to travel that strange course through the uncharted territory of high school. The world of first dates, family dramas, and new friends. Of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Of those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.”





The Big Crunch by Pete HautmanThe Big Crunch by Pete Hautman (2011)

“Jen and Wes do not ‘meet cute.’ They do not fall in love at first sight. They do not swoon with scorching desire. They do not believe that they are instant soul mates destined to be together forever. This is not that kind of love story.

“Instead, they just hang around in each other’s orbits…until eventually they collide. And even after that happens, they’re still not sure where it will go. Especially when Jen starts to pity-date one of Wes’s friends, and Wes makes some choices that he immediately regrets.

“From National Book Award winner Pete Hautman, this is a love story for people not particularly biased toward romance. But it is romantic, in the same way that truth can be romantic and uncertainty can be the biggest certainty of all.”  (Source:


The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman AlexieThe Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (2007)

“Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author’s own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings that reflect the character’s art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he thought he was destined to live.”  (Source:


Read Alikes — The 5th Wave

If you liked the sci-fi dystopia of Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave, here are three read-alikes you might try:

EndersGame2Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card (1977)

“Intense is the word for Ender’s Game. Aliens have   attacked Earth twice and almost destroyed the human  species. To make sure humans win the next encounter, the world government has taken to breeding military geniuses — and then training them in the arts of war… The early training, not surprisingly, takes the form of ‘games’. … Ender Wiggin is a genius among geniuses; he wins all the games…. But is he smart enough to save the planet?” (Source: New York Times, from the book jacket of Ender’s Game)


I Am Number Four by Pittacus LoreI Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore (2010)

“Nine of us came here. We look like you. We talk like you. We live among you — But we are not you. We have powers you dream of having. We are the superheroes you worship in movies and comic books — But we are real. They caught Number One in Malaysia. Number Two in England. And Number Three in Kenya. They killed them all. I am Number Four. I am next.” (Source: I Am Number Four book jacket)



TheHungerGamesThe Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (2008) was the runaway winner of the 2012 CCRSB Teen Reader’s Choice Book Award. Writer John Green calls it “brilliantly plotted and perfectly paced.” Stephen King described it as “a violent, jarring, speed-rap of a novel that generates nearly constant suspense.” Many of you have already read the book or watched the movie. But if you haven’t given the Hunger Games a try, you’re in for a fast-paced treat.

Mini-documentary: Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick

Never Fall Down is the true-life story of Arn Chorn Pond: child soldier in Cambodia, musician, and survivor. This gripping video sets the scene for Patricia McCormick’s book, with explanations and descriptions from Arn Chorn Pond.

Mini-documentary about Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick, featuring Arn Chorn Pond

Mini-documentary about Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick, featuring Arn Chorn Pond




(Very Funny!) Author Interview — Robyn Schneider, The Beginning of Everything

OK. Robyn Schneider is funny. Just how funny? Check out her series of short book-teasers about The Beginning of Everything.

Amid silly talk about hedgehogs and clothing malfunctions, Schneider more seriously describes her book as a cross between John Green’s Paper Towns and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

She also says it was inspired by Fabio, who was tragically hit in the face with a bird during a roller-coaster ride in Virginia. Intrigued? Read it! Already read it? Let us know what you think.

The Beginning of Everything — author interviews (Robyn Schneider)

author Robyn Schneider and Fabio: screen capture from Schneider video

Author Interview — David Levithan (Every Day)

In this video, author David Levithan explains what his novel Every Day is about, and reads some key passages.

Book Trailers — Every Day

David Levithan’s Every Day has inspired many readers to create their own creative book trailers. Here are two that try to capture the mood and feel of the novel with music and images. If you could choose a soundtrack to Every Day, what song(s) would you choose?



Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong: Alt Endings

Have you devoured Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong yet? This fun, fast-paced graphic novel was also serialized as a web comic with (drum roll…) three hilarious alternate endings. Check them out here.

page from grahic novel Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong: Alternate endings from authors’ website