Tuesday, June 29, 2010

You have been warned...

Currently I am in the Midwest visiting family. It's great as it means that I can hang out and recover from the whirlwind that was the ALA conference and getting up at 3:30am to get to the airport this morning (please excuse any misspelled words or just plain nonsense the rest of the post as I am extremely tired). Don't think that we're going to be falling off the radar now that we're done with the D.C.! We're continuing to wander around, whether it be a different region of the country, a different continent, or the theater down the street.

I do feel like I should give everyone a little heads up though and I feel like I speak for everyone; i.e. me, Arianna, and Jamie; in saying that we are going to be taking a little break to catch up on sleep and start in on our large stacks of advance reader copies (ARCs). So we are probably not going to be posting for a couple of days. Start looking for stuff at the stuff of next week. I personally am hoping to post a book review every other day until I am back in MA.

Keep checking back, and since we are school librarians here's a little homework: What would you like for us to start focusing on? Would you like more book reviews? Book talks? Book suggestions? Library stuff? Travel chat? What's going on wither you? Help us help you.

Graphic Novel Panel

The last session we went to before starting our longish journey home was the Graphic Novel Panel with David Small and Audrey Niffenegger. We started off with a short video for David Small's Stitches. It was panels from the graphic, with Small doing the voice-over. Small then talked about why he made Stitches, and why he chose to do it as a graphic.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Back Safe and Sound

We've made it back home. We hardly hit any traffic on the way back, so we were practically flying. And by flying I mean it only took 8.5 hours instead of 9.5. Nice. We're all pretty tired. This morning we went to the Graphic Novel Panel with David Small, author of Stitches, and Audrey Niffenegger, who has a graphic novel coming out called The Night Bookmobile. You will hear all about it once we've gotten some sleep.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Will Shortz, Enigmatologist

Today, Will Shortz, puzzle-master and NYT crossword editor, spoke to a crowd of curious librarians and crossword solvers.

He told us about what makes a crossword up to his standards, and a little about how he edits the puzzles.

The Basics:
  • Crossword puzzles in New York Times must be symmetrical. This is mostly for the aesthetic.
  • Every letter must be “checked,” meaning that every letter in an across word, must also be in a down word and vice versa.
  • Words should not have double letters.
  • A word cannot be repeated within a single puzzle.
Oh, and one thing he said seems intuitive, but apparently isn’t: PUZZLES CANNOT HAVE MADE UP WORDS.

Will believes the clues to his puzzles should really make you think. He takes immense pride in his crosswords being creative. He said that in a great crossword, the grids should be packed with lively and colorful words and phrases.

Fun Facts:
  • The youngest crossword “constructor” to be published in the NYT is 14 years young; he was published just this year.
  • Will, himself, started writing crosswords at 16.
  • Will usually writes (rewrites) about 50% of the clues of the published puzzles. For instance, a clue was submitted for the word aire: clue= "Leds river." Will changed the clue to: "suffix to zillion."
Then, of course, we played some games. One of which included Will giving us some examples of clues that had been submitted, but were incorrect in some way. We had to guess what made them inadequate crossword clues.

The librarians’ favorite:
Clue: Imply = Infer
****We all know that imply and infer are not synonyms!

Hearing Will talk was really interesting. Only at a place like ALA do you have the opportunity to get a glimpse into the mind of the man whose name you see every day on the NYT Crossword. I never thought of a crossword being about colorful language, but as Will was describing some of his favorite puzzles, it was easy to see the true artistry a “Shortz-caliber” puzzle exudes.

Day 3: The Exhibits

It was another action packed day at the exhibits! Here's who we saw:

Grace Lin, author of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, and many picture books

The Funnniest Part of the Whole Event

Every year, one of the events that draws a HUGE crowd at ALA is ... yes, you guessed it... the Book Cart Drill Team Competition. WHAT?!?!? You don't know what a book cart drill team is... well you are in luck, because I am about to enlighten you.

A book cart drill team is a group of library and/or information professionals who train tirelessly for months choreographing and rehearsing a routine using book carts.

Yes, this is a real thing.

The 2010 Contest was hosted by two of the funniest and most talented children's authors and MCs extraordinaire: Mo Williems and Jon Scieszka -- and they were HILARIOUS. My favorite part was when Mo started throwing stuffed Knuffle Bunnies into the audience. The crowd went wild.

This year's contestants were:

  • Get Down With Your Funky Shelf
This team was from Pennsylvania and performed their book cart routine to 80s hits. Their vibrant outfits and difficult book cart moves made their lead-off performance one that might have had the other contestants shaking in their boots.
  • The Texas R-angers
This baseball-themed performance was was an homage to both the sport and to reading. Even though the letters R, E, A, D (one on each book cart) never actually spelled "read" when the carts were in formation, the team's professionally made jerseys with sequins and all made up for it. Also, when the drillers began tossing packages of crackerjacks into the crowd, the audience roared!
  • The Night of the Living Librarians
For the first time ever, a team of library students (ones from Pittsburgh University) competed. Their "living dead" theme was clever and they actually had real dance moves. Very impressive.
  • The Delaware Diamonds
The 2007 BCDT champions returned to reclaim the top prize. Dressed as members of the Micky Mouse Club, the Diamonds were entertaining and back in the book cart game for sure!

Now see for yourself!

Day 3: The Speakers

David Isay
I love StoryCorps. A lot. I discovered it when one semester during grad school when I had a Friday morning class, and listened to StoryCorps on NPR as I drove in. I loved it. I love hearing regular people's stories. I love getting to hear stories from all sorts of different people, and I love the fact that the stories are archived and housed at the American Folk Life Center at the Library of Congress so people can listen to them for years to come. After that semester, I subscribed to the podcast so I could listen to it every week.

An Ode to Lane Smith

I would like to first of all say that I really like Lane Smith. When I was about seven, I first fell in love with his illustrations in The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Sciezka, and my adoration for his style continued to Hooray for Diffendoofer Day by Dr. Seuss. When Jamie and I discovered that he and Judith Viorst created a book together it was like having my birthday come early, we were able to get the ARC and get it signed by both Smith and Viorst. While I do like Ms. Viorst's books, if I'm honest I am ten times more infatuated with Lane Smith. So I trot myself up and smile and tell Lane Smith that I am a big fan, he signs, it's awkward between me and Judith because I don't tell her that I am a big fan and they are sitting next to one another, and I move on.

I later discovered that Lane Smith is going to be signing copies of his new book It's a Book, and of course I go out of my way to get one and get it signed. I waited in line for forty minutes and again had a moment with Mr. Smith, only this time it was a bit, what's the word? Weird. Mostly because I was so excited to talk to him again, and he recognized me, and I was just overcome.
So instead of saying, "Hey Mr. Smith! I'm still a big fan of yours!" It came out more: "Hello! I'm a big friend." WHAT? So I tried to cover, but it just ended up weird. But I think he got a good chuckle out of my ridiculous behavior. And that's what really matters. Kind of. Oi.

Anyway, I thought that I would let you all know that EVERYONE needs a copy of It's a Book. Not only does it have Lane Smith's incredible artwork, but it is also extremely funny. He has three characters: monkey, mouse, and the jackass. The donkey doesn't understand what a book is, and the monkey unhelpfully explains what a book is by what it is not. Hilarity ensues. I have to admit that this is the worst summary of a book that I have ever done, but I don't want you to be stopped by my own inadequacy. Do not doubt the genius of Lane Smith. Get it. It comes out Aug. 31st.

Thus far...

So when we got here, Arianna went to the first speaker session with David Isay, founder of StoryCorps. I'm sure she'll post something about this later, so I will leave it for her. Jamie and I went and got a couple of ARCs signed, a couple debut authors and one by Judith Viorst and Lane Smith. Very exciting. So far I've loaded up for the first time with books, and I'm quite excited to get some more later today. Oh, I would also just like to make a random note that I was standing next to Maggie Stiefvater earlier and she seems adorable, very unassuming and funny. Right now we're at the second speaker session, they're giving out awards and Will Shortz is the keynote. It's wonderful and a bit sad to see these awards given out: it's outstanding that these individuals are being recognized for their work but it continues to bring to mind that libraries and librarians are facing difficult times and must overcome so much. Anyways, we are patiently waiting for Will and trying to recoup from heavy bags and tired feet. Later on more ARCs, book signings, the President's Program, and book cart drill teams!

Oh, just so you all know we are planning on creating a spreadsheet of all the ARCs that we've gotten sometime in the next couple of days.

What we are doing today

So while standing in a twenty minute line for coffee, I am going to try and post what we are up to today. Yesterday was excellent, as Arianna said Toni Morrison was amazing! We will try and top it today:
  • Grace Lin
  • Candace Fleming
  • Katherine Paterson
  • Ally Condie
  • Auditorium Speaker Dave Isay
  • John Green & David Levithan
  • Julia Alvarez
  • Laura Numeroff
  • Linda Sue Park
  • PLA President’s Program Will Shortz
  • Francisco Stork
  • Libba Bray
  • ALA President’s Program Libraries Wanted: Dead or Alive
  • Book Cart Drill Team
My friend Cody is speaking today in room 145B, I am guessing that it starts at 2 or 2:30. I unfortunately can't go see him. But Cody, if you see this: good luck I am sure that you'll be awesome. We will update in a couple hours. If you're here, I hope that you have fun and may the ARCs be with you; and if you're home, you can always borrow one of mine!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Day 2: The Exhibits

Not only did we see plenty of speakers, we spent some quality time at the exhibits. We saw lots of authors, took pictures, got things signed, got some GREAT galleys. My triumph for today is that I have the ARC of the final installment of the amazingly fabulous Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness, Monsters of Men. If you haven't read this series (The Knife of Never Letting Go, and The Ask and the Answer are the first two) you should. Right now.

Who we saw:

Day 2: The Speakers

We got to see some wonderful speakers today, so here's the run-down:

Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor
The first speaker I saw today as part of the Auditorium Speaker Series was Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor. They talked about their upcoming book, Traveling with Pomegranates, a memoir that they co-wrote. Sue Monk Kidd mentioned that one of the things she's always asked about this book is if she and Ann are still speaking to each other, which she found very telling about mother-daughter relationships. She quoted a bit, from Adrienne Rich and a fabulous one from Lillian Carter: “Sometimes when I look at all my children, I say to myself, "Lillian, you should have stayed a virgin." Hee.

Rushdie Cont.

During the Q&A, someone asked what category Salman wants to be. His position, "as many places as possible." His view is that literature is becoming so global, that it is difficult to categorize a book with a single call number. Gotta go, Gail Gibbons and Karen Cushman call.

Salman Rushdie

So things have been very busy; we've seen different authors (Mo Willems, Kadir Nelson, Jerry Pinkney, Laurie Halse Anderson), gotten some awesome ARCs (YAY Clockwork Angels!), Arianna went and saw Sue Monk Kidd, and now we're listening to Salman Rushdie!

He is surprisingly funny, we appreciated that his joke, "I am losing my librarian viriginity today (he has not lectured to librarians before), I cannot think of nicer people to lose it to." He seems to like to dispell myths about famous authors: J.M. Barry and Lewis Carroll. His overarching theme is writing books about children but not necessarily for children. He wants his new book Luka and the Fire of Life, his kind of sequel to Haround and the Sea of Stories, to be an equal to its predecessor. He doesn't want them to follow the same fate as Lewis Carroll's books. Both books share the same theme - that the main characters are saving their families, and its a revisiting to the world of Haround, but Luka is not a sequential sequel but rather a stand-alone story that uses a familar universe. He reads a selection and it is filled with humor, active words, and vivid imagery.

"Children like to be scared, but they don't like to be disturbed. George Lucas has taught them that."

I am getting very distracted between listening and blogging, so I'm going to stop for a while and see if Jamie or Arianna can take over for a bit...

Friday, June 25, 2010


So we're trying to figure out what is going on when. It seems like everything is overlapping or running at the same time. We were able to get to the last hour of the open of the exhibits, and we're very excited to get back tomorrow but thoroughly exhausted as well. It's generally coming down to divide and conquer so we can all go see the speakers we want to, have authors sign books, and grab up a couple more advance reader copy books. Here are our thoughts so far:

  • Arianna is trying to figure out if she's going the the first Auditorium Speaker Session with Nancy Pearl and Mary McDonagh Murphy; it's running at 8am a full hour before the exhibits open.
  • Avi and Malinda Lo are signing books first thing at 9am
  • The second session speaker is at 10:30 - Sue Monk Kidd and Ann Kidd Taylor
  • Laurie Halse Anderson is signing books at 11am
  • Kadir Nelson and Jerry Pinkney are signing at 12pm
  • Mo Willems and Doreen Cronin are signing at 1pm
  • The third session is starting at 1:30pm, it's Salman Rushdie
  • Melissa Marr, Gail Gibbons, and Karen Cushman are signing at 2pm
  • Jon Sciezka is signing at 3pm
  • Cornelia Funke is signing at 3:30pm
  • Christopher Paul Curtis is signing at 4pm, which is unfortunate as an awesome discussion on science fiction and fantasy is happening at the same time
  • 5:30pm is the Opening General Session with Toni Morrison
And that's it for Saturday! Let's see if we can do it all, it seems like an epic list but we're up for the challenge. Check back throughout Saturday, as we're all going to be blogging throughout the day about sessions we go to and authors we meet. Hope you're all in air-conditioned bliss.

Day 1: Off to an Awesome Start

OMG, the most WONDERFUL thing has happened! But first I have to back track and set the scene before I can tell you about the WONDERFUL thing.

So where we're staying is about an 8 minute walk to the metro and then a quick ride to the convention center. Very convenient. A very nice lady at registration offered to take our picture, she was handing out fliers for a Contemporary European Fiction in Translation Program. It's on Sunday, in the Renaissance Washington West Room, if you happen to be around. So here is Anna and I all name tagged up ready to go!

We headed in to the exhibits. It's so much bigger then it was at Mid Winter! I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. I was also starting to feel that need for books. Any books. They're right there! I want them! All of them! Even though we talked about how we can't take everything, it has to fit in the car. That's for the best, because otherwise things could quickly get out of control.

We picked up a few things, but mostly just scoped things out and planned where we want to go back to later. Jamie took a moment to pose with a bear:

AND THEN, we were at Simon & Schuster. And there, For Display Only, was Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld, the sequel to Leviathan. I immediately picked it up and asked Christine, the Simon & Schuster lady who had come over to assist us, if it was going to be available. She said probably on the last day. Anna and I were disappointed, since we have to leave fairly early on Monday. Christine asked us if we'd read the first one, and we squeed for a while over how awesome it was and how much we loved it. AND THEN SHE GAVE US EACH A COPY! Yes! We both have a copy of Behemoth and it is the best thing ever! Huzzah! We were seriously on the verge of hugging Christine, but hugged each other instead. Then we snuggled our books:

The exhibits closed at 7:30, so we headed out, but we felt like we did pretty well. Now we're going to plan for tomorrow. Yes, Anna is going to let me plan ahead.

Here we are...gotta dash

We arrived safe and sound, now we have to jet to get to the opening for glorious free books. We will tell you more about it when we get back.

Travel log:
Stops: 3
9.5 hours
States: MA, CT, NY, PA, VA
Provinces: 1
Quote: "Why can't we at least go 30 miles an hour?" - Anna

John Stewart was Right!

So, we couldn't blog for the last hour because AT&T apparently doesn't service New York. Thanks, Mr. Jobs, for contracting with a company with such a great network :-)

Anyway, we are in Pennsylvania now ... Woo Hoo! ... and listening to The Help on audiobook, which we HIGHLY recommend. The readers are quite enjoyable. Anna and Arianna have named me "the help" because from the backseat I have provided some glorious meals such as a PB and J sandwich, blue- and strawberries, and granola bars.


Stops: 2
Quotes: "Bridges freeze first!" - Jamie
States: MA, CT, NY, PA
Hours: 4

On the Road

So we left on time, which we were very proud of and we are officially en route. DC, here we come!

Stops: 1
Quotes: "We are going west, like the gold miners." -Arianna
States: MA, CT

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Happy ALA Eve!

So I'm all packed and geared up for our travels tomorrow. Arianna and I will be joined by Jamie tomorrow for our 7am departure for D.C. We've got our audio-book selected, iPod playlists created, and snacks at the ready. I should also mention that this trip has a theme song (like all good trips should), check it out as it is AWESOME! How can you not be ready for hours on end talking about books, librarianship, and servicing the community with that song in your head? I dare you to try it.

Though I have managed to delay Arianna's need to pre-plan our entire trip before we've even gotten into the car, we do have a couple of things picked out that we're definitely going to:
  • The exhibit opening
  • Book cart drill team
  • Author David Small
  • The graphic novel tent
There's more, but I can't slog my way through all the papers that Arianna has to choose. Of course we are also going to be hitting up the exhibit hall pretty frequently, nothing like a good advance reader copy of a book to sit poolside with. Of course what I really covet is a copy of Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins or Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld, but I highly doubt that I'll be able to get my hands on them. It would be life-altering if I could though.

Anyways, we're prepping our long journey with non-dairy pizza and Twlight. We're going to try and get an early start tomorrow (after getting coffee) and then we'll be off like a herd of turtles! Arianna and I will be co-piloting and Jamie giving her support by napping and reading. Awesome.

Safe travels everyone! I hope you all have a most excellent time, please check back for updates on what we've done and seen.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bruiser by Neal Shusterman

Dear Mr. Shusterman,

Fantasy is my favorite genre. I love fantasy of all kinds, from high fantasy (your Lord of the Rings, your Wheel of Times) to fantasy light (your Harry Potters), to books with fantastical elements (all those books with a kid just like you EXCEPT...). I think fantasy must be fun to write, because it allows you to create your own world and rules. As with many things, with the great power comes great responsibility. Probably the most important thing when creating a fantasy book or a book with fantasy elements, is adhering to the laws of the universe you've created. As soon as you start breaking your own universe's laws, you lose your reader. Why should I suspend my disbelief when your world doesn't make sense? Just because it's a world that doesn't actually exist doesn't mean it does not have to make sense. It does. It so, so does.

So with that being said, you can probably guess what my main issue with this book was. But first! Brewster has a bad reputation. Tennyson (yes, his name is Tennyson) is not pleased when his sister, Bronte (yes, her name is Bronte) starts dating Brewster "Bruiser" Rawlins. It's a bit confusing as to how Brewster got this violent reputation, since he's never been in a fight, or physically hurt anyone. Not even bugs. When he begins to care about people, Brewster takes on their pain. Both their physical pain, and their emotional pain. Because of this, Brewster is a loner. The more people he cares about, the more pain he'll be in.

To get right to it, the major issue I had was that it's quite clear the Brewster takes the pain of the people he cares about. Brewster's little brother is devastated that their pet bull died. He cries for a couple seconds, then is totally fine while Brewster is having a break down because he has taken his brother's sadness. Bronte twists her ankle. It hurts for a couple seconds and then Brewster is the one with the limp. It's also made clear that Brewster has to be close to the people who he cares about in order to take their pain. When Bronte figures out what's going on, she storms off and walks about a block before she can feel her anger. OK. Clear rules. Brewster takes physical and emotional pain of those he cares about. He needs to be close them to do it. The more he cares, the faster he can take their pain. Got it.

But it doesn't hold. Brewster's uncle beats his little brother, which doesn't hurt the little brother of course, but Brewster. Their uncle is angry through most of the book. But he shouldn't be, should he? Because Brewster should take his anger, just like after the scene where the uncle beats the little brother and then is all remorseful and apologetic about it and Brewster can feel himself start to take his sadness, so he leaves, because he wants his uncle to feel the sadness himself. That confused me the entire book until the very end where it was thrown in that if they really, really tried, they could keep their feelings around Brewster. But they had to really, really want to. Oh really? There was nothing to suggest that. It felt like it was thrown in.

Brewster shows Bronte his black and blue chest and torn up back from all the new friends she's introduced him to that he now cares about. But he shouldn't be all black and blue, should he? His range seems to be about a block. If Bronte could feel her anger after walking a block, and Brewster supposedly loves Bronte, and the more he cares the quicker he takes stuff, then once he gets away from those people, shouldn't they take their pain back? Unless all their friends are living in the neighborhood. Which I doubt. Or when it talked about his little brother breaking his arm and Brewster taking it, wouldn't when he went to school his little brother should get the broken arm back? This just doesn't make any sense! I could go on with the examples, but this is getting long

Sloppily done.

Besides that I had other issues with the book. Tennyson and Bronte are both self-centered snobby pains and I just didn't care what happened to them. The scene where their parents decided that the first time their daughter has her boyfriend over for dinner is the time to start yelling about how they both had affairs was ridiculous. And Brewster's sections (the book was told in the alternating points of view of Tennyson, Bronte and Brewster) were written in blank verse. Well, it was suppose to be blank verse. But just because you put odd breaks in your lines and use slightly more descriptive language then with your other characters (who sounded the same) does not a poem make. I think it was suppose to make Brewster seem deep and mysterious. It just annoyed me.

But then why should I buy in when the world that was created made no sense at all?

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Vocation of a Librarian

I was watching this YouTube video, and had to consider how much have we changed in our career description? Do you like people? Do you like books? It sounds so simple, and is still generally applicable to our job. At the same time I want to scream "THAT'S NOT ALL WE DO!" at the computer monitor. We have come so far, and yet still have so much further to go. How do we communicate that with others that still think that we all use a card catalog, all female, shush others, and stamp books? Even our self-made products play into these stereotypes, hysterically yes, but still affirm the old-fashioned views that we are trying to get away from. Is this a losing battle?

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Fascinating. Now I'll never be able to read a book without looking for this. Somewhere, a dog barked. From Slate.

This sounds like the worst idea ever. Twilight cook book. From The Village Voice.

Right, because we need a Sweet Valley High series from when the twins are 27. Well, we're getting one. Do you think they still hang out at the Dairi Burger?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Book talk for Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles

Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles.

A year ago, Caleb Becker hit Maggie Armstrong with his car while drunk. Caleb has spent the last year in juvenile detention. Maggie has spent the last year in the hospital and physical therapy.

Now they’re both back for their senior year of high school. Maggie wasn’t expecting Caleb to be back so soon. She thought she’d be safely off in Spain for second semester by the time he returned. Maggie hasn’t forgiven Caleb for what happened, and for causing her to walk with a limp for the rest of her life.

But Maggie and Caleb both find going back to school hard. Everyone seems to have changed. And no one understands what they’ve been through, except each other.

Maggie goes to work for an elderly woman to earn money for Spain, and Caleb is sent to the same house as part of his community service, and they begin to grow closer. But their relationship causes problems all around them, and their lives at school and home begin to fall apart.

Maggie is afraid she’s going to lose Caleb, the only person who understands her pain and who’s truly honest with her. But there’s something about the accident that Caleb isn’t telling her.

Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Early to Death, Early to Rise by Kim Harrison

Madison Avery is dead, but still living on Earth. Through the power of the amulet she stole she's able to create a body. She's also now the dark timekeeper, in charge of the dark reapers, who take someone's soul (that is, kill them) before they have a change to ruin it by committing some kind of sin. Madison doesn't agree with what the dark reapers do, but then, she doesn't agree with what the light reapers do either. Light reapers try to get to a person before the dark reapers can, and give the marked person a guardian angel. The person will then lead a kind of charmed life. Madison wants to change things. She wants to try to talk to the people who have been marked for death and try to get them to make a better choice. Then no one has to die, or get a free pass. None of the angels or seraphs believe it can work. Madison really only has one chance to prove she can do it.

This is the second in a series, the first being Once Dead, Twice Shy, and it's not a series you want to come in in the middle of. There's a lot of back story, and Harrison doesn't spend a lot of time rehashing what happened in the previous book. If you didn't read it, it's going to be really confusing and you'll probably spend about half of Early to Death, Early to Rise trying to figure out who everyone is and what's going on and why Madison is dead, but doesn't seem dead, and so on.

I enjoyed this, and I think it would be a good series to suggest to kids who like supernatural lite - vampire romances, angel romances, etc. It's not really a romance (yet, there are suggestions), but it has a similar feel. Kids just like you but with angels! Or vampires, whatever. I liked Madison's voice, her worry and frustration rang true. The character of Ace threw me a little bit. I understand why it didn't explain in depth, but his anger was so intense and I just didn't understand where it was coming from. Man, he was a lousy person. Harrison certainly did a good job creating a character that we would feel no sympathy for and make it easier to understand the dark reaper's point of view.

While many kids might not go this deep into it, I really liked what Harrison was doing with looking at choice and fate. When you start reading the book, it seems clear that dark reapers are bad, and light reapers are good. It's all there in their title! But dark reapers aren't actually evil, per se, they're trying to save a person's soul before they can destroy it by doing something evil. The light reapers protect the person's body by giving them a guardian angel and the right to make their choice (even if it harms other people), but then the person is protected in all the bad choices they might make. How important is free will? What if other people die because of the choices one person makes? Should that person be allowed to make those choices, or should they be stopped? There are some really interesting ideas going on in these books, I hope they get to be explored more at the same time Madison is running around looking for her body and trying to get people to make good decisions.

However, bad title. Really, really bad. The first one was bad too. Let's try for a well titled book for the third, shall we? Carry on.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

ALA Conference Preview in Library Journal

Luckily, a [to remain unnamed] local public library's copy of LJ was accidentally delivered to my office and our wonderful assistant left the copy on my desk. This was utterly convenient, as we librarians are wandering off to DC in less than two weeks, and Library Journal published a "conference preview" this month.

In June's issue, you can find a list of the conference's presentations sorted by topic, which I found super easy to browse, and on page 30 and 31, there is a two-page spread of the authors and celebrities presenting at the "Auditorium Speaker Series." I found LJ's layout of conference events and activities SO much easier to navigate than ALA's conference site (no offense, ALA).

In addition, the spread includes restaurant suggestions and map of DC! Very helpful!

For anyone else heading out to DC, it wouldn't be a bad idea to take a look at LJ's spread, and for those of you who can't attend (which according to the article is many of you), this is a wonderful way to see all that will be going on at the conference, and perhaps who to contact, if a certain presentation/presenter is of specific interest to you!!!

Stay tuned for more posts from the road.

Gear up!

So with only a little over a week to go, I'm starting to plan what I need to do before packing up the Prius and heading to D.C. It's been exciting hearing who is attending, figuring out who is speaking, what the weather is going to be, and figuring out how to pack the car in order to maximize the number of advance reader copies we bring back. I know it's still a week away, but I can't contain my need to organize prior to heading off on a literary adventure of nerdery - I'm sorry, I can't help but feel that the ALA conference is just one fantastic time for bookworms to gather and geek out. Anyone else getting excited to see David Small?


A review of the new Pretty Little Liars TV series, based on the books by Sara Shepard. From YPulse. In other book-to-TV news, Lisi Harrison's The Clique books will be coming to TV as well.

Michelle Obama is adding summer reading on to her Let's Move initiative. From USA Today.

It's what we've been waiting for for three years! The Harry Potter theme park is open! And it seems like it's not really for the little kids. From The New York Times.

Book Talk for John Green's An Abundance of Katherines

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

Colin is a washed-up child prodigy who has just been dumped for the 19th time by a girl named Katherine. Colin was so sure that this time, this Katherine was the one. But now he’s heartbroken, graduated from high school and is convinced he’ll never amount to anything. Ever. Not only is he sure he’s going to die alone, but he’s also sure he’ll never be able to cross from child prodigy to genius. What does it matter if he can anagram any word or phrase in the English language? He’ll never amount to anything. Never, ever, ever.

Of course, there’s only one cure for heart break and despair. A road trip. Colin’s friend Hassan, who is awesome, shows up to drag Colin off the floor of his bedroom for an epic road trip. They road trip along until Colin notices a sign, in Tennessee, claiming that the town on Gutshot contains the grave of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. A girl named Lindsey Lee Wells escorts them to the grave, and it’s on the way there that Colin trips on a molehill, smacks himself in the head and has his eureka moment. He knows what he’ll do that will take him from prodigy to genius. He knows how he’ll leave his mark on the world. Love is graphable. Colin will create a mathematical equation that will show who will break up with whom and approximately how long the relationship will last.

Hassan and Colin work out a deal with Lindsey’s mother, Hollis. In exchange for staying at her place, Hassan and Colin will take oral histories of the workers of the Gutshot textile mill, which Hollis owns. This still leaves Colin plenty of time to work on his Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability. And hijinks ensue.

I love everything John Green has ever written, but this one is absolutely my favorite. It’s so funny, and don’t worry if math isn’t your favorite, it isn’t actually math heavy. If you are into math, there’s an appendix that goes into detail about the equation. It’s a really great book; I would recommend it to anyone.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Suburb Beyond the Stars by M.T. Anderson

The Norumbegans and the Thussar were at war for many years before deciding there was a more civilized way to settle their territory dispute: play a game. Each race chooses a human to represent them in the Game, a kind of labyrinth. The winner of the Game creates a new labyrinth for the next players. In the first of this series, The Game of Sunken Places, Brian and Gregory have been chosen to participate in the Game that Gregory's cousin, Prudence, has created. Brian was representing the Numrumbegans and Gregory was representing the Thussar and the boys worked out that they really, really wanted the Norumbegans to win. What with the Thussar being kind of really evil.

Now, Brian and Gregory are hard at work creating the next round of the Game, when an alien tries to kill Brian. Something seems to have gone wrong. The Thussar have become tired of the Game, and seem to be going for straight invasion. But sneakily. Brian and Gregory try to contact Prudence to find out what's going on, but Prudence has disappeared without a trace. The boys head back to Vermont to search for her, and find that the invasion is already well underway.

This was not quite my cup of tea. I have not actually read The Game of Sunken Places, and maybe that would have helped. There was enough explanation to get a pretty good idea of what had happened in the first book, but perhaps I would have understood the characters better. As it was, Brian seemed like an indecisive wimp and Gregory was an attention seeking, whinny, pain in the behind. My biggest issue with the book was that the writing seemed kind of...amateur. It was choppy, dragging in some places, speeding ahead in others, and the boy's dialogue was awkward and unrealistic. Reading this book and comparing it to Octavian Nothing is a considerable contrast, although they were obviously written for very different audiences.

However, this would an excellent choice for middle school boys. It has action, adventure, quests, war, aliens doing gross things, and boy heroes. It would also be a good high-low choice for a high school boy reading at a middle school level. It's quite short and zips right along, ending on a cliff hanger so clearly another book is coming.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Scott Pilgrim

So I figured I'd get on the bandwagon and see what the deal was about the Scott Pilgrim series by Bryan Lee O'Malley. Interesting artwork and plot line. It's set in Toronto which is fantastic, and it has an original main character. Scott Pilgrim is 23, unemployed, getting over a horrible breakup by dating a high school-er, lives off his friend's generosity, and is in a terrible band. Things start looking up when he meets Ramona Flowers, who he must fight for the honor of dating. Which he does, surrounded by crazy friends and a sarcastic sister.

I read the entire thing in half an hour. It was weird. I can see why it's popular, why it would make an awesome movie, but kind of a lame graphic novel. No lie. I think it's mostly because the "original main character" turned out to be kind of a loser: no job, no money, and technically cheating on his 17 year old girlfriend with Ramona Flowers who he's fighting the evil exes for. Oh did I mention that Scott has amazing fighting abilities? Which is his only redeeming quality, that he can fight. Perhaps I need to be sixteen and a boy to really appreciate this one. Or maybe I need to read more of the series to appreciate. But really I'd rather not.

Friday, June 11, 2010

My Darklyng on Slate

My Darklyng by

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Books of Elsewhere: The Shadows by Jacqueline West

You know that house down your street that everyone always knows about, refers to as "that house," and is just generally creepy? Olive has just moved into that house. Her brilliant (read dippy) mathematician parents are delighted with the architecture and the lighting of the library; Olive on the other hand is fascinated with the old clothes, glass medicine bottles, and the paintings - especially the paintings. She soon discovers that she can go into the paintings and interact with the subjects, but there's something menacing watching her. With all the information gleaned from a small scarecrow boy, a lovely young woman, and three talking cats, Olive doesn't know who she can trust or what the truth is. What she does know is that there's something coming after her, someone who doesn't welcome Olive and her parents into the house.

I really enjoyed this book. As I was reading, I kept comparing the atmosphere that West created with Neil Gaiman's Coraline. The book grabbed my attention and kept it, just when I thought the plot was going to fall into some overly done trope it took a bit of a turn and renewed my interest. That isn't to say that there weren't a few obvious plot twists, but given the overall awesomeness of the book it's easily forgiven. Needless to say, it took me about two hours to plow through the 235 pages of fast-paced adventure.

This book is coming out June 30th (though on West's website it lists the release date as June 15th), it's a series and I hope that the second follows quickly on the heels of this exciting first book.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer

Yes, of course I read it. It's free online, it just came out yesterday and I read it today in like an hour. Yes, of course there are other things I could be reading. My list is gigantic. But Stephenie Meyer called me, and I answered.

What? You have no memory of anyone named Bree in the Twilight books? Me neither. So to refresh: remember in Eclipse, at the end, when the plot finally shows up and all the newborn vampires lead by Victoria and her boy-toy Riley come to kill Bella because Victoria is still out for revenge from when Edward killed James? She was one of the newborns. She surrendered, so Carlisle didn't kill her. Then the Volturi show up and kill her. Then end.


Bree was living on the street when she was caught and made into a vampire by Riley. She's been living in a basement with 22 other vampires for three months, annoyed as anything because all the other vampires are STUPID and keep killing each other. She is different. She is sensible. Diego, also sensible and not stupid goes hunting with her one night. They discover that vampires can actually go out into the sun without burning up and realize that Riley has been lying to them. Why would he lie? Why? Diego and Bree (who by this time, like 20 pages in, heart each other) follow Riley to see what is up and discover that Riley has gone to talk to her (they don't say Victoria's name, they all fear her), and that they have been created to be soldiers in some kind of war. Then the Volturi show up, make it clear they would be delighted if the newborns take out the yellow-eyes (Cullens), and off we go to war. Diego stays behind to tell Riley about the whole OK-to-go-out-in-the-sun thing, but doesn't come back. Riley says he's gone ahead to spy, but Bree isn't so sure. She wants to find Diego and convince him to run off with her as she just realized that she doesn't have to hang around with all these other idiots.

So after the newborns go to war and all die in about half a page and Bree surrenders, not because she's afraid, but because she's realized that Diego has been dead THE WHOLE TIME (I mean, dead dead, not like vampire dead) and she just doesn't care, kill her too, she refers to one of the vampires as "the red-head." And I had no idea who she was talking about. Then I realized that she was talking about Edward. Does Edward have red hair? In all the times that Bella describes him (approx.: 1 million) I don't recall her ever saying his hair is red. Did she? But then, Bella would never describe Edward as a "red-head." She would wax poetic about how his hair is the color of flames in the setting sun, or something.

In conclusion: A quick read, and interesting. When you read the two pages of Eclipse that Bree is in she just seems like a half crazed, uncontrolled newborn, which she actually isn't. At all. If you've read Twilight you know you're going to read this one anyway so I think I'll leave it at that.
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