Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Elli McDoodle: Have Pen, Will Travel by Ruth McNally Barshaw

Ellie's parents have to go to a funeral, which means Ellie's stuck with her aunt, uncle, three cousins AND her baby brother for a whole week!  Not only that, but they're going camping.  But not REAL camping, like Ellie's family does.  They'll be staying in a cabin, all crammed together.  How will Ellie ever survive?

I got this because I thought it was a graphic novel, but it's not actually.  It's an illustrated novel, like Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  It was really cute though.  Ellie has a LOT of opinions, so thank goodness she has a notebook to write to and draw in.  Of course, as anyone who has ever read Harriet the Spy could tell you, secret notebooks are bound to get stolen and read by the wrong people, which will get you into trouble.  Ellie's cousin Eric, who she draws as a monster in her notebook, finds it, and reads it, and is angry.  Her aunt sees it too, and reads all the unflattering things Ellie has said about her aunt, uncle and cousins.  This leads to a turning point for Ellie.

Ellie looks down on her cousins, aunt and uncle.  They sleep in a cabin when they go camping.  Her family really camps, in a tent.  They play regular tag.  Ellie's family plays much more creative and imaginative games.  She has her reasons for feeling out of place, but even when the family makes an effort, Ellie can only see how it's different and not as good as her family.  I felt like Ellie really captured a middle school kids feelings about being out of her element and away from her family.

Great read for middle school.

Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge

Paige has just moved to New York from Virginia. She's shy and quiet, and lives too much in her own head.  Paige wants to be an artist, but doesn't consider herself one.  She knows if she wants to be an artist, she has to do something about it, so she buys herself a sketchbook and follows her grandma's rules of how to be an artist.  As she begins to draw, she begins to understand herself better and starts to become the Paige she knows she really is.  

I liked this a lot, although it reminded me some of Plain Janes.  In both, a group of friends sneaks around town art bombing local sites to bring happiness and whimsy to the people.  In both cases, Paige and Jane find themselves through these activities.

What I really liked about Page by Paige is that Paige actively tries to work on things she knows she's not good at, and that was really cool.  She makes of list of things she wants to work on, like asking for help when she needs it, opening up to people, standing up for herself, and being less self-absorbed, and then she actually makes an effort to change those things.  And she does!  It isn't easy for her to do, but she works on it because she thinks it's important.

Drawing in her sketchbook helps Paige a lot.  She's able to work out her confusion and frustration, and works up to showing her sketchbook to people.  First her friends, and then finally her parents.  Since Paige's sketchbook is so personal, sharing it is like sharing part of herself.  It takes a lot of courage for her to final show it to her mom, who Paige doesn't get along with her well.  As Paige comes into herself more, her parents feel farther away from her.  Looking at her sketchbook helps them to better understand where Paige is.

In summary, this was a really nice "quiet girl coming in to her own" story.  Some sexual humor, so I'd recommend for high school.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: In Honor by Jessi Kirby

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on In Honor by Jessi Kirby

Honor receives her brother’s last letter from Iraq three days after learning that he died, and opens it the day his fellow Marines lay the flag over his casket. Its contents are a complete shock: concert tickets to see Kyra Kelly, her favorite pop star and Finn's celebrity crush. In his letter, he jokingly charged Honor with the task of telling Kyra Kelly that he was in love with her. 

Grief-stricken and determined to grant Finn's last request, she rushes to leave immediately. But she only gets as far as the driveway before running into Rusty, Finn's best friend since third grade and his polar opposite. She hasn't seen him in ages, thanks to a falling out between the two guys, but Rusty is much the same as Honor remembers him: arrogant, stubborn. . . and ruggedly good looking. Neither one is what the other would ever look for in a road trip partner, but the two of them set off together, on a voyage that makes sense only because it doesn’t. Along the way, they find small and sometimes surprising ways to ease their shared loss and honor Finn--but when shocking truths are revealed at the end of the road, will either of them be able to cope with the consequences? 

In Honor comes out May 8, 2012.

Monday, August 29, 2011


So there I was, doing some catchup reading of Bookshelves of Doom, when I read, much to my horror, of the death of Ariana Franklin.  In January!  I don't know how I missed this, but it's very sad.  Ariana Franklin's real name was Diana Norman, and she wrote a series that I absolutely loved: The Mistress of the Art of Death.  I reviewed A Murderous Procession last year.  They're wonderfully written, rich books, full of beautiful language and incredible historical detail.  And I could never figure out who did it, no matter how hard I tried.  She always got me!  She's left us with some truly wonderful books.  I highly recommend them.

Hunger Games Movie

It's finally that time, where the world starts gearing up to inundate you with media on a new movie series that will try and take the place of Harry Potter. Every time another book gets slogged through the the process of being recreated into a movie I try and give it the benefit of the doubt. There have been good ones: Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The Help, and I'm sure there are others that I'm not thinking of at this moment.

But let's be honest, a lot of times they go terribly wrong. Terribly terribly wrong. So here's the first teaser trailer of The Hunger Games. And regardless of the fact that there are some amazing actors in this, I have to admit that I'm not holding my breath for it to be awesome. Perhaps with lowered expectations I will find myself pleasantly surprised?

What do you think?

Get More: 2011 VMA, Music

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Zebrafish by Peter H. Reynolds and FableVision

A rockstar wannabe, sensitive artist, panda activist, and two gamers, have come together to start a band. Too bad only one of them actually knows how to play a real instrument. But as they get to know each other, their friendship takes a different spin and they decide to take all of their various talents and work for a larger cause.

When I first picked this up I thought it was going to be a trite little story about a couple of kids starting a band. And in some ways it was, but as you continue to read there are different themes coming into play. Activism, death, grief, sickness, and also taking control of elements that you can affect. Powerful stuff for a middle school student to come across.

A kid could get as much or as little as they wanted out of it, but at the end I think you left with an unalienable belief that there is potential in everyone to be a part of something more. Which makes sense considering that Peter Reynolds wrote this with an agenda. A good agenda, but an ulterior plan nonetheless - let kids know they can make a difference. Generally I feel like books that are supposed to encourage kids come off a bit preachy and are generally poorly written, but this was well done. The message wasn't subtle but it also wasn't bashing you over the head. I'm guessing it's because Peter Reynolds writes a lot of books with a feel-good message, that and he founded FableVision which is dedicated to "helping all learners discover their true potential." Good deal.

Solid - if a bit overdone - storyline, nice characters, well-played message.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Amulet: The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi

After the loss of her father in a horrible accident, Emily, her brother Navin, and her mother, move into the decrepit family house. But after the first name her mother is kidnapped by a strange tentacled creature and taken through a mysterious door. Emily and Navin follow, meet strange robots, are stalked by an evil elf with an agenda, and Emily must deal with a powerful omniscient power around her neck.

This is the first of four volumes, the fourth comes out Thursday, and there's a lot of exposition and yet there was a lot of action and plot development. The prologue is twelve pages long and absolutely heart-wrenching, and gives you a solid platform for Emily's personality. Kazu Kibuishi does a magnificent job of packing a lot of emotion in each frame, which is partially why this works for me. It's not just going for action, it's not trying to keep just enough of your attention so you'll maybe pick up the sequel. It's creating a story that is highly intriguing and grabs you and keeps your attention with different twists in the plot, highly evolved characters, and emotionally gripping artwork. Nice.

There's really nothing that I didn't love about this book, and I feel comfortable recommending it because my students love this book. It is never left on the shelf and my students enjoy rereading it. I hope you do too.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

Mara was in an accident with three of her friends, and she's the only one who survived, with hardly a scratch on her.  Mara can't remember what happened, or why she would have been in that old building in the first place.  To give Mara a fresh start, her family has moved from Rhode Island to Florida.  As Mara begins to remember the accident, she starts to fear that she's the reason her friends are dead.  Mara gets involved with a boy named Noah, who could help her make sense of everything.

I didn't expect to like this.  The blurb on the back gave me an immediate "eh" reaction.  "Oh another supernaturally romance.  Whatever."  And when it started out and Noah was acting like a gigantic asshole and yet Mara was drawn to him, like you are in a supernatural romance, I felt like all my assumptions were confirmed.  But then it got kind of good. 

The real reason I enjoyed this was Mara herself.  I kind of loved her.  She was incredibly snarky and funny and I loved it.  Even when she's scared and frustrated and thinks quite possibly she's going crazy, she had a sense of humor that I really liked and appreciated.  This made me even more annoyed though when she started falling for Noah, who was acting like a total jerk.  You're so much better than that Mara!  But then we did actually get to know more about Noah and that made it a bit better, although still, he didn't have to act like an asshole.

Spoiler ahead.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Man in the Moon by William Joyce

Once upon a time, there was a young boy, MiM, who flew around in a beautiful spherical space ship with his parents. He lived a charmed life, playing with his caretaker Nightlight and learning about the stars. But evil chased MiM, Pitch King of Nightmares had heard that MiM had never had a nightmare and he swore that he would destroy everything that MiM loved so that MiM would become Prince of Nightmares.

MiM overcame his losses, and grew up to care for the children of Earth. MiM wanted to bring joy to the children, and fight Pitch's influence, so he gathered allies on earth to help him: a toymaker, a rabbit who loved candied eggs, a fairy that left prizes under pillows, a gentle storyteller, and a little sleepy man who knew all about dreams. Together they vow to watch over the guard the hopes and dreams of children, they are the first Guardians of Childhood.

You might remember that we saw William Joyce speak at the ALA conference. He talked quite a bit about the development of this book, it is the first book he's written in about fifteen years, and spoke in-depth about how he had cultivated the mythology of Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and others, for his children and how it made this book quite personal. Added to this was the fact that Mr. Joyce was developing the premise for this book during illness of his daughter and her subsequent death, gives this book an added depth and beauty. Though let's be honest if you didn't know this heartbreaking back story, you would still find the book visually stunning. It is beautiful. Detailed, saturated colors, and just lovely.

There are at least two more books in the series coming out in the next year covering Nicholas St. North and E. Aster Bunny. And as this book did a lot of exposition I'm excited to see more storytelling. Get this book, and every subsequent book. Don't ask questions, just go forth and purchase.

The Man in the Moon comes out Sept. 6.

Empire State: A Love Story (Or Not) by Jason Shiga

Jimmy has lived in Oakland, California his whole life and has no interest in leaving.  Then Jimmy's best friend, Sara, moves to New York.  After much angst, Jimmy decides to go to New York himself and tell her his true feelings for her.  His grand gesture and romantic plans don't quite pay off.

This was delightfully sarcastic and snarky, with nerd jokes that I very much enjoyed.  It's bittersweet, and doesn't have a happy ending.  If you're a bit of a cynic and like nerdy pop culture references and mockery of hipsters, you'll love this.

I liked how there were pages at a time with no words at all, and the pictures did all the talking that was needed.  The style of illustration is very simple and cartoon like, with little detailing.  Despite this, Shiga's characters have no trouble making it clear what emotions are being felt.

Something I love about graphic novels like this is although it's not long at all, and there's no background information or exposition, with just a few panels of illustrations I feel like I know the characters very well.  I understand Jimmy perfectly, and how being in a rut makes him feel safe and secure.  When he finally decides to do something, he does it in the grand style of a romantic movie, which, of course, doesn't really work out very well in the real world.  The last page capture Jimmy's feelings perfectly.  Love it.

Pregnant Pause by Han Nolan

Eleanor Crowe got pregnant at 16.  Her missionary parents gave her two choices: move to California and live with her sister, or come to Kenya with them.  Ellie takes option number three; marrying her baby's father, Lam, and working at his family's summer camp for overweight kids.  Lam's parents want Ellie to give the baby to them to raise.  Ellie's family wants her to give the baby to her older sister to raise.  Ellie has no idea what she wants to do.

What I liked about this was that Ellie wasn't made into a saint.  She didn't Learn a Valuable Lesson.  She didn't Become a Better Person.  At least not right away.  For most of the book she was exactly who she was.  Fairly self-destructive, doing things because someone had told her not to.  Pretty much screwing herself over just to show she could show 'em all how wrong they were.  She married Lam because her parents didn't want her to.  She wanted to keep the baby only because no one thought she should.  It's not a good lesson for kids certainly, but it sure was realistic, and I think anyone who read this would see that she was being self destructive and was only hurting herself.

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen.

Many readers know the tale of Robin Hood, but they will be swept away by this new version full of action, secrets, and romance. Posing as one of Robin Hood’s thieves to avoid the wrath of the evil Thief Taker Lord Gisbourne, Scarlet has kept her identity secret from all of Nottinghamshire. Only the Hood and his band know the truth: the agile thief posing as a whip of a boy is actually a fearless young woman with a secret past. Helping the people of Nottingham outwit the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham could cost Scarlet her life as Gisbourne closes in. It’s only her fierce loyalty to Robin—whose quick smiles and sharp temper have the rare power to unsettle her—that keeps Scarlet going and makes this fight worth dying for. (Summary by Goodreads)

Why do I want to read it? I grew up loving The Outlaws of Sherwood Forest by Robin McKinley, and love a new spin on the Robin Hood mythology. Also how can not be excited for a book that deals with a little known outlaw that happens to be a girl with an unrequited love? Excellent.

Scarlet comes out Feb. 14, 2012.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Ghost Projekt by Joe Harris

Will Haley, an American weapons inspector and Anya Romanova, a Russian detective are called in to examine an abandon Siberian research facility where something, possibly a weapon of mass destruction, has been stolen.  After the weapon disappears, people who once worked on the project during the Cold War start turning up dead.  There's nothing to show how they died, aside from a strange red rash.  Will and Anya must figure out what's going on as fast as they can, and what was really happening behind the Dosvidanya Projekt.

This was a bit dark, and definitely for an older, more mature audience.  The weapon that is unleashed goes around killing lots of people, which are graphically depicted.  There's also disturbing images because of what happened to a little girl named Natalia.  I found that more upsetting then the people dying.

This is the first in the series, and it mostly felt like a set-up for the rest of the series.  It gets the story moving, but not a whole lot happens in terms of plot, and I'm still not totally clear what exactly Natalia is, and how it seems she can both kill and heal people.  I'm interested to see where this goes though.

I would recommend this for grade 11 and up.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Tower of Treasure by Scott Chantler

The first book in the Three Thieves series, Dessa's mother was killed and a stranger took her twin brother away when she was just a small child.  Now 14, Dessa is an acrobat in a traveling circus, still hoping one day to find her brother.  In the city of Kingsbridge, after a bungled treasure heist from the Queens own treasury with her friends Topper, a goblin like creature and Fisk a one-headed Ettin (they usually have two), Dessa comes face-to-face with the man who took her brother.  Unfortunately for her, the man is the Queen's chamberlain.  Dessa will do whatever it takes to learn the truth and find her brother.

This was lots of fun.  Dessa is strong, spunky and smart.  She's fiercely determined to find out what happened to her brother, even though she knows she's going up against tough odds.  She's got her two friends to help her, although they often cause more trouble than help.  There wasn't a ton of character development or back-story yet, which was fine because this is for middle school kids and it wasn't that long.  I'm sure as the series goes on we'll learn more about Dessa's past and more about her friends as the search for the chamberlain, who has disappeared at the end of the book, and try to find Dessa's brother.

I would definitely recommend this one for a middle school graphic novel collection.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey

The women of Wren's family have a kind of magic.  Wren's mother won't even acknowledge that they have it, so neither Wren nor her little sister understand their power.  When Wren's boyfriend Danny died in a car accident, all Wren can think about is getting him back, and she uses her power to raise him from the dead.  But it isn't quite the same Danny.  He's no longer dead, but he isn't really alive either, and he's confused and doesn't understand what's happened to him.  Wren is in way over her head now, and doesn't know where to turn for help.

I didn't even think about Danny being a zombie until I read the author's note at the end were she talked about how her zombie wasn't the brain eating variety by rather the kind one might create with Haitian voodoo magic.  And I was like, "Oh yeah, he was undead.  I guess he was sort of a zombie."  But since Danny wasn't stumbling around trying to eat people, I hadn't even thought of it like that.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Wisdom's Kiss Giveaway

We are on giveaway fire!  Our next fabulous giveaway is an ARC Catherine Gilbert Murdock's new book Wisdom's Kiss, which will be coming out in September.

Princess Wisdom, known as Dizzy, longs for a life of adventure far beyond the staid old kingdom of Montagne.

Tips, a soldier, longs to keep his true life secret from his family.
Fortitude, an orphaned maid, longs only for Tips.

These three passionate souls might just attain their dreams while preserving Montagne from certain destruction, if only they can tolerate each other long enough to come up with a plan. Tough to save the world when you can't even be in the same room together.

Magic, cunning, and one very special cat join forces in this hilarious, extraordinary tale by the author of Dairy Queen and Princess Ben. An incredibly creative tale told with diaries, memoirs, encyclopedia entries, letters, biographies, even a stage play, all woven together into a grand adventure.

This giveaway is now closed.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Help: Movie Review

Last night, a gaggle of fellow librarians (and one non-librarian roommate) and I went off to see The Help, which is of course based on Kathryn Stockett's novel of the same name.  We had all read (or in Jamie, Anna and my case, listened to it on a particular very long car ride to Washington, D.C.) the book and were interested to see how it would be translated into a movie.

I will say that overall I was quite happy.  I thought the essence of the book was there on the screen.  The Help is a long book, so of course the movie got distilled down to the main plot: Skeeter trying to get the maids of Jackson to give her interviews so she can write her book.  We saw some of the side plots, like Skeeter's relationship with Stuart, and Hilly's bathroom initiative, but they weren't as fleshed out.

The casting was excellent.  When I first heard Emma Stone was going to play Skeeter, my initial reaction was, "Oh no!  All wrong!"  But it turns out I really liked her in the role, and all the other characters were well cast too, especially Minny and Aibileen.  Aibileen was played by Viola Davis and Minny was played by Octavia Spencer and they were both just perfect.  Spencer especially I just loved as Minny.  She gave her all her spunk and humor from the book and she was hysterical.

The reaction from the audience last night was very positive as well, and I haven't been to a whole lot of movies where you can really tell how the audience was feeling.  For whatever reason, there was a very vocal audience last night.  Especially in terms of gasping.  There was a whole lot of audible gasping going on!  I started laughing every time it happened.  Clearly some people had NOT read the books.  There was also plenty of heartfelt laughter and a good bit of sniffling.

Spoilers ahead for those you haven't read the book and/or seen the movie.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

The year is 2044, the world is suffering from poverty, crippling unemployment, on-going energy-crisis, catastrophic global warming, starvation and homelessness. The only escape is the alternate online 'reality' of OASIS.

After the death of creator James Halliday, OASIS isn't just a virtual utopia, it's also a hardcore game where the hidden Easter Egg means not only controlling stock of Gregarious Simulation Systems (Halliday's company) but also $240,000,000,000. Everyone makes an attempt at winning, but after five years no one has made any headway on the cryptic clue... Until seventeen year old, poor, Halliday-obsessed, anti-social Wade discovers the first key to winning it all.

Let the games begin.

I'm going to flat out say that my little summary of this book is quite trite. There is much more to this book than what I've described. Not necessarily depth, but detail. Lots and lots of detail. Ernest Cline is obviously writing from a huge nerd's perspective.* Thank God. The ridiculous amount of information in this book is absolutely perfect. I cannot tell you how sad it would have been if someone else would have written this book, unless it was written by a bigger nerd than Mr. Cline and I'm not sure if there is one.

*Sidenote: I would just like to mention that I mean nerd in the most complimentary terms. I consider myself one, and would probably ask Ernest Cline to marry me if he weren't already married with children.

This book while Wade's story seems like a love story written for the 80s - War Games, Voltron, Four Square, Ms. Pac-Man - They're all represented and the games, movies, television shows, just get more obscure and wonderful from then on. It made me laugh when Wade gets teased by his friend Aech for his love of Legend and Ladyhawke. Awesome. It's not all about 80s pop culture references, it gives a completely reasonable explanation of computer software and gaming gear even for a person who never owned a gaming console until 2007 like me.

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on Ruse: The Victorian Guide to Murder by Mark Waid and Jackson Guice.

Renowned as the Victorian world's greatest detective, Simon Archard is the most intelligent of men. But when he crosses paths with the mysterious and enchanting Emma Bishop, has the smartest man in the world met his equal? Brought to readers by superstar writer Mark Waid (Amazing Spider-Man) and red-hot artist Mirco Pierfederici (Tron: Original Movie Adaptation), this is the new comic series that'll leave you breathless. (Summary by Goodreads)

I'm quite excited about this, I just finished the first volume and it was AMAZING! Beautiful artwork, fantastic characters, awesome plot. I thought the fantasy attributes were a little strange in the original, but from what I hear those will be gone in this revival of the series. Yay! I also have to admit that I L-O-V-E mystery graphic novels.

Ruse: The Victorian Guide to Murder comes out Oct. 5.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ruse: Enter the Detective by Mark Waid,

Simon Archard is Partington's premier detective, with a photographic memory, extremely focused mind, and cold personality he is able to solve any mystery. Emma Bishop is his linguistically and more socially adept assistant. What starts off as an investigation into drug trafficking, is evolving into a complicated case where the supernatural is involved.

Straight off the bat I would like to proclaim that Ruse is one of the most visually stunning graphic novels I've ever read. It was beautiful, the details and colors were startling. The characters were fantastic and have more to them than they first appear. The obvious comparison of Archard to Holmes is a bit overdone, but the similarities are there. I actually find it close to the character that Benedict Cumberbatch plays in the BBC miniseries Sherlock. Except for when Archard seems to let his cold facade slip and show he cares for Emma (not sexy emotions, or at least not at this point) or that he feels great emotions for his last partner Lightbourne.

So great story, great characters, great artwork; here's my one niggle about the whole thing. I guess this is supposed to take place in the Crossgen Universe which I have never read, and there's a possibility that Archard is a sigil bearer meaning that he is a protector of good. Emma is supposed to be his sigil guide - I'm not 100% sure of the titles here so correct me if I'm wrong - and therefore has magical powers to aide her. I found the whole fantasy aspect a bit unnecessary. This would have been a great historical mystery without the added fantastical elements. I get why it was done, and it wasn't bad, just seemed a bit over the top.

Unfortunately only two volumes of Ruse were published, there were three more volumes to follow but never got published. Fortunately it seems that the series has been revived with a few tweaks here and there. As in no more magic. Yay!

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Elsewhere Chronicles: The Shadow Door by Art Bannister and Nykko

Old man Gabe's house has a reputation of being haunted. Max, Noah, and Theo have always wanted to explore the inside, and they get their chance when they meet Rebecca - Gabe's granddaughter. As they explore, things become stranger. They are attacked by shadow phantoms and Rebecca is sucked into a vortex and Max goes in after her. Now Max and Rebecca are stuck in another dimension, and Noah and Theo are working to fix the machine that sent them there. Unfortunately the police are looking for the kids and the Master of Shadows is preparing to destroy Max and Rebecca.

This was a fast-paced story, as in once the action started it slapped you around until the book abruptly stopped. It was fascinating and seems to have the potential to be pretty epic. There's a good possibility that some intense themes are going to play a part of the storyline. Also it looks like the alternate dimension is going to have some great history. It looks like there is going to be quite a huge ensemble of characters, and they look to be pretty well done. Obviously this is a series and there are so many questions left unanswered. So I am pretty excited about reading the next couple of volumes.

Some things that weren't perfect, but might improve with time. The balance of plots, between the alternate dimension and the 'real world' wasn't great. It seemed all of action and excitement was happening with Max and Rebecca, and the rest was all filler until we could get back to them. Also there was almost too much going on in the first volume. Lots of characters, serious themes, cultures, and plot devices were all smooshed into forty-six pages. Lots going on. Hoping it eases up a bit in the next one.

Anyways, well done. Going to check out the next couple!

Fables Recreation?

In case you haven't heard the murmurings, one of our favorite graphic novels Fables has been made into a television show. Except it's been twisted, and I'm not sure if I like it. This version has a cop discover that he is the last of the line of Grimm which means that he can see fairytale creatures for what they are and must keep the world safe from their antics. I mean one of the great things about the Fables series is the fact that the fairy tales are all trying to be under the radar. The drama comes from them dealing with the issues that have developed from their actual experiences. On a practical note from what I see the visual effects are adequate.

Grimm will be on starting in the fall on Fridays at 9pm.

The Collected Alison Dare: Little Miss Adventures by J Torres & J. Bone

Alison's mom is a famous archaeologist.  Alison's dad is a librarian, but also the famous Blue Scarab who fights crime.  Alison likes action and adventure too, and with the help of her two friends Dot and Wendy they always seem to be up to something.  

I think this could have been good, but don't get the "collected" volume.  It seems like the collected volume is parts of several different stories, which made each story very short and very unsatisfying.  After poking around the interwebs, it seems that there are more full length Alison Dare stories, and I'll have to check those out.  I like the idea of a spunky little girl having adventures with her friends, but there were so many holes in this particular collection it wasn't that enjoyable.  It seemed to assume I knew a lot more about Alison Dare then I actually did.

Alison seems very Nancy Drew-like.  She's the brave blond with two friends, one who's tall and skinny and obsessed with her looks and fashion and the plump one with glasses who's all smart.  Hardly unique characters, but has the potential for a lot of fun, if they were more well-rounded stories.  I'll have to do some more reading of this series and see if I can work out what's going on.

The art is black and white ink with fairly standard comic-style panels. 

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

In the town of Near, there are three abiding philosophies: the Near Witch is a legend that has shaped the culture of the town, the lonely wind is to be ignored when it calls to you, and strangers are not to be tolerated. These are the thoughts that go through Lexi's mind when she looks out her window one night and sees a young man standing near the moor. He is almost translucent and yet more real than anything she's ever encountered. But what seems a gentle curiosity turns into an overwhelming need to understand not just the stranger but also the moor itself as the children of Near begin to disappear and the wind begins to whisper, "Witch."

I really enjoyed this book. It was so fantastically done! Let me start off with saying that this story reminded me a lot of Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales. The fact that there's a quest, the romance involved, and the history and fairy tales within the fairytale. (I know this isn't an academic study on Andersen's fairy tales, but it seems to be a theme that some of them have.)

Loved the lore of the Near Witch and how that affected the community and their interactions with each other and outsiders. I also really found the characters to be quite delightful. They're all so different, none are stereotypes or one-dimensional.

I'm going to end it there. This was a wonderful story, nothing was contrived or shallow. There were more twists than I expected and it was overall an absolute delight.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


This is adorable. is a "social network" for historical figures.  So clever!  Go librarians!

Love Among the Volumes.   So getting married in libraries seems to be a thing.  Awesome.

You know, it makes me feel better that awesome writers weren't always awesome

As I'm sure you know, Borders is closing all stores.  Here's an insider's look at what went wrong.

So, if Catching Fire isn't coming out until 2013, why is there such a rush to get the first one out?

When we shield our kids from scary stories, who are we really trying to protect?

Did Hermione get the Hollywood treatment?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff

Daphne lives in a constant stasis of not sensing anything. She is cut off from feeling, and it is only her brother Obie who she feels a connection to. Obie is kind. And is able to leave the their current state of unfeeling and go into the world. Daphne is the daughter of Lucifer and Lilith, you know, the devil and the first demon? But because technically her parents are also an angel and one of the first humans, Daphne is different from her succubi sisters. She longs to feel the sun, taste food, and feel emotions, but has now way to do this.

Not until Obie disappears. When demons try and reside on Earth they are hunted down by Azrael. An angel solely focused on destroying evil regardless of the means. Daphne fears the worse. She sneaks off to Earth to try and find him, and follows the only lead she has: Truman, a broken human boy that Obie was trying to save. Daphne is quickly losing time, it seems that Azrael has let loose the terror known as Dark Dreadful. As Daphne tries to cope with losing her sisters, keeping Tru alive, she must also deal with her brother's secrets and how being on Earth will change her forever.

Now I was a bit nervous about reading this. Arianna had read the Replacement and not enjoyed it, and let's be honest I believe everything that Arianna tells me. But after talking to the publisher at ALA I decided to give it a go. She assured me it was more accessible than The Replacement and I'd been hearing some great hype about it on the Internet. (I also might have been influenced by the fact that I thought the cover was pretty).

So now to the verdict: I rather enjoyed this. It was a clever twist on the whole angel genre and the descriptions of events and emotions were rather wonderful. I would even go as far as to say that this was quite awesome. The tone of the book, the issues it deals with, and the narrative all tie in really well. Daphne has never really experienced a lot of emotions, she lives in a world where nothing changes, and it's all reflected in the stark descriptions of her perspective. Truman on the other hand feels too much, he is deeply depressed, on his way to alcoholism, and attempted suicide once after the death of his mother. His narrative is almost manic until he meets Daphne and we see how he changes because of how his world view changes.

I would love to tell you more of the things that I really enjoyed, but the fact is that the things I loved are some of the great plot twists that you don't really see coming. They're well done and add interesting depth to the story. Go forth and read this. It is excellent.

The Space Between comes out Nov. 15.

You Against Me by Jenny Downham

Mikey's sister Karyn won't leave the house after a boy assaults her.  Ellie knows her brother would never intentionally hurt anyone.  All Mikey wants to do is hurt Tom for hurting his sister.  All Ellie wants to do is protect Tom like Tom always protected her.  Tom pleads not guilty for assault and is out on bail while Karyn refuses to go back to school or speak to her friends.  Mikey's plan was to use Ellie to get information on Tom, but as the two start to know each other better, Ellie begins to doubt that what she's doing is right.

This book clearly deals with a very serious issue, date rape, but it went about it from an unusual angle.  Rather than focusing exclusively on the victim or the perpetrator, it looks at how such an act effects their families.  Mikey struggles with the powerlessness he feels, while Ellie struggles with the conflicting feelings of protecting her brother or telling the whole truth.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Gear School by Adam Gallardo, Nuria Peris, and Sergio Sandoval

Thirteen year old Teresa has entered an elite military school. It is here where the best gather to learn and train to defend Earth against alien invaders in Gears, small air crafts. It is only when there is an actual attack on the school that Teresa can show her quality.

So this was a short book, as in it took me fifteen minutes to read. FIFTEEN MINUTES! Ridiculous short. There was still a lot going on: introduction of the futuristic world, people, current events, you know the usual. It flew by so quickly that I didn't really quite grasp it the first go around. But lets be honest there's not much to pick up on. Private school, young girl must prove she's different from others, save world.

It seems that this was a pretty solid take on the whole private school genre that has been sweeping young adult lit.

Sidenote: have you noticed how almost all the books coming out right now in young adult literature is either set in a small town or a private school? Some diversity would be appreciated.

Again, solid approach. Could be expounded upon, but it's a series so what can we expect? It's not Fables. Here's on little critique. I had a hard time figuring out how old everyone is. Are they all under the age of 18? Teresa does not have the body of any thirteen year olds that I know of, which is exacerbated by the cat suit. Which all the students wear. Not a good look for some of those guys. It's a bit clingy where I would rather it not be. Anyways, I wouldn't call this great but I am intrigued enough to check out the second volume which comes out Sept. 29. So we'll see.


Do people already know about Bookperk?  I have only just learned about it, and it has some pretty good book deals so I thought I'd pass it on.  They offer book sales with fun little extras, like buying a copy of Harry Potter Film Wizardry and then getting to free tickets to the Harry Potter exhibition in New York, or great deals on sets of books.  The one I was most interested in was the Septimus Heap bundle, where you can get the first three books (Magyk, Flyte, Physik) for less than $20.  And free shipping!  Huzzah!  Check it out!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Hooked by Catherine Greenman

 "Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on Hooked by Catherine Greenman.

Thea Galehouse has always known how to take care of herself. With a flighty club-owner mom and a standoffish, recovering-alcoholic dad, Thea has made her own way in her hometown of New York, attending the prestigious and competitive Stuyvesant High School. But one chat with Will, a handsome and witty senior, and she's a goner—completely hooked on him and unable to concentrate on anything else.

Always worried that she loves Will more than he loves her, Thea is pleasantly surprised when their romance weathers his move to college and Will goes out of his way to involve her in his life. But then, Thea misses a period. And that starts Thea and Will on a wild ride that neither of them could have possibly prepared for. When they decide to keep the baby, their concerned parents chip in what they can to keep Will in school and give both teenagers a comfortable place to raise their child. But when a freak accident leaves Thea shaken and threatens to upend their little family altogether, Thea is forced to turn to the last place she would have chosen for comfort: her stiff, uncompromising father.

This smart, touching first novel brims with realistic, beautifully drawn characters, and reminds us that love is never as easy or predictable as we might like it to be. 
It seems like there a lot of YA books coming out right now that are about teen pregnancy.  I am interested in doing some comparison.

Hooked came out August 9. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Way We Fall Giveaway

For our next giveaway we have an ARC of The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe, which comes out January 24.  This giveaway will close on August 17.

When a deadly virus begins to sweep through sixteen-year-old Kaelyn's community, the government quarantines her island-no one can leave, and no one can come back.

Those still healthy must fight for dwindling supplies, or lose all chance of survival. As everything familiar comes crashing down, Kaelyn joins forces with a former rival and discovers a new love in the midst of heartbreak. When the virus starts to rob her of friends and family, she clings to the belief that there must be a way to save the people she holds dearest.  

Because how will she go on if there isn't?

Megan Crewe crafts a powerful and gripping exploration of self-preservation, first love, and hope.  Poignant and dizzying, this heart-wrenching story of one girl's bravery and unbeatable spirit will leave readers fervently awaiting the next book in this standout new series.

This giveaway is now closed.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Le Cirque des Reves, the Circus of Dreams, is like no other.  A truly magical experience awaits all who enter.  But it's no ordinary circus.  The circus is in fact the arena for two magicians, Celia and Marco.  Celia and Marco have been trained since childhood, learning magic in two very different ways.  Now they compete against each other.  Neither player is aware that in order for someone to win, the other player must die.

I enjoyed this very much, even though at some points I had trouble following it.  The magical world was incredibly complex.  I'd probably have to read it more than once to really catch everything.  Celia and Marco have learned magic in completely different ways, and I'm not sure I fully understood either of them.  Marco's style seemed carefully planned, and Celia's was much more intuitive.  They were both way more complex and nuanced than that, but I don't really know how to explain it because I don't think I really understood it!  I wanted to understand though, and it certainly kept me engaged as I tried to work everything out.

The book also doesn't go completely in sequence.  It goes back and forth between Celia and Marco's story, which goes from 1873-1902, and is interspersed with the story of Bailey, which begins in 1897.  It isn't clear at first why we're learning about Bailey.  He's just a kid who goes to the circus when it comes to town and really loves it.  It isn't revealed until much, much later how he's connected to everything.  The out-of-sequence telling of the story adds to the confusion, but also to the mystery of the story and to the circus itself.  There were lots of "Ohhh, now I get it" moments as another piece of information was given that cleared up something I'd read five chapters ago.

While this is not YA, it's definitely in the adult genre, I can see it appealing to a young adult audience as well.  The descriptions of the circus are magical and exciting, there's a great fantasy aspect, and the appeal of doomed love.

The Night Circus comes out September 13.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King.

Lucky Linderman didn't ask for his life. He didn't ask his grandfather not to come home from the Vietnam War. He didn't ask for a father who never got over it. He didn't ask for a mother who keeps pretending their dysfunctional family is fine. And he didn't ask to be the target of Nader McMillan's relentless bullying, which has finally gone too far.

But Lucky has a secret--one that helps him wade through the daily mundane torture of his life. In his dreams, Lucky escapes to the war-ridden jungles of Laos--the prison his grandfather couldn't escape--where Lucky can be a real man, an adventurer, and a hero. It's dangerous and wild, and it's a place where his life just might be worth living. But how long can Lucky keep hiding in his dreams before reality forces its way inside?

Michael L. Printz Honor recipient A.S. King's smart, funny and boldly original writing shines in this powerful novel about learning to cope with the shrapnel life throws at you and taking a stand against it.
(Summary from Amazon)

I met A.S. King at the YALSA Coffee Klatch during the ALA Conference. She was so funny and delightful. I haven't read her other books, but I intend to rectify that after having met her. And let's be honest, this looks awesome. It sounds emotionally deep without the preachy tropes that can put you off of a book.

Everybody Sees the Ants comes out Oct. 3.
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