Wednesday, September 28, 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 Awake at Dawn by C.C. Hunter.

Now that she’s settled in at Shadow Falls Camp, Kylie Galen’s determined to discover the extent of her supernatural abilities. But with a ghost insisting someone Kylie loves is about die, a rogue vampire on a murdering rampage, and her sixth sense telling her someone is watching her, Kylie’s quest for answers is quickly put on hold.

To make matters worse, just when she’s about to give her heart to Derek, a half-fairy, he starts pulling away. When Lucas, a werewolf with whom Kylie shares a secret past, returns, Kylie’s feels more conflicted than ever. Her weekend with her mom should have been just the break Kylie needs, but it turns out to be her breaking point. Someone from the dark side of the supernatural world has plans for Kylie--and it'll take all her resources to get back to Shadow Falls alive...
(Summary by Goodreads)

You might remember that I read Born at Midnight a while back and really enjoyed it. So I'm pretty excited to see what happens next. Especially since I want to find out what Kylie's secret power is, if Derek is manipulating Kylie's emotions for him, and if Luke will come back (which let's be honest I'm sure he will).

Awake at Dawn comes out Oct. 11.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lunch Lady and the League of Librarians by J. Krosoczka

Something strange is going on with the librarians.  And it involves the Book Fair and the new X-Station 5000!  Luckily, Lunch Lady, her trusty sidekick Betty and the Breakfast Bunch are on the case!

Adorable.  Hysterical.  I love the Lunch Lady series.  I love the gadgets Betty makes, like the Taco-vision Night Goggles and Sonic-Boom Juice Boxes.  Lunch Lady is dedicated to fighting crime, but doesn't let that get in the way of her duties as a lunch lady.

One problem:  It sort of made me sad that even in an adorable elementary level graphic novel the librarians are evil technology haters.  Sigh.  They're planning on destroying all the X-Station 5000s so people will have to read books.  And then they'll take over the world.  Like you do.

It takes Lunch Lady to put the two together and have an awesome Book Fair where students can also play the new X-Station 5000.  Because all librarians are against gaming in the library.  So again: sigh.  I really like this series, and I don't even mind the librarians being made evil.  I just wish they'd been made evil in some way not relating to hating technology, that's all.

On the plus side, the librarian's evil weapons were releasing "beasts" from various books - the three little pigs, the black stallion, the wolves from Call of the Wild, various characters from Alice in Wonderland and so forth.  Awesome weapon.

But this is a GREAT series and I highly recommend it for your elementary grade students!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Without Tess by Marcella Pixley

Tess and Lizzie are sisters, sisters as close as can be, who share a secret world filled with selkies, flying horses, and a girl who can transform into a wolf  in the middle of the night. But when Lizzie is ready to grow up, Tess clings to their fantasies. As Tess sinks deeper and deeper into her delusions, she decides that she can’t live in the real world any longer and leaves Lizzie and her family forever. Now, years later, Lizzie is in high school and struggling to understand what happened to her sister. With the help of a school psychologist and Tess’s battered journal, Lizzie searches for a way to finally let Tess go.
- Publisher's description (I had a hard time summarizing this one for some reason)

This was sad.  Poor Lizzie.  I felt so awful for her, especially when she was little.  We spent a lot more time in the book with young Lizzie than 15 year-old Lizzie, and I think that's why I sympathized with her younger self more.  Lizzie idolized her older sister.  She wished she could be more like her - imaginative and free spirited.  Tess seemed to have a magic about her that Lizzie couldn't get.  As much as Lizzie worshiped Tess, Tess was often cruel to her.  Tess was trapped in her fantasy world and didn't see that she often ended up hurting other people, and that person was usually Lizzie.  Tess had Lizzie eat a dried, dead crab, which made her throw up, to prove to Tess that Lizzie loved her.  When Tess said she was a selkie but that Lizzie wasn't, she had Lizzie lie naked in the ocean in fall, almost freezing before she finally got up.  Tess stabbed Lizzie's hand with her earring to make a blood promise, and gave her blood poisoning, and then wouldn't let Lizzie go inside to get their mother when she started feeling sick.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Watch that Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic by Allan Wolf

Everyone knows the story of the sinking of the Titanic, but now you can hear the story in a thoroughly unique way.  In the voices of Captain Smith, the lookout, the wireless man, J. J. Astor, a Lebanese immigrant girl, the undertaker who comes to recover the bodies, and many more, characters tell their stories as the Titanic makes its first and only journey.

This was certainly an interesting read.  What I found most interesting was getting to hear about things from the perspectives of people who don't often get mentioned, like the wireless man who was sending out the messages for help, or the immigrants in third class, or the children on board.   I wished there had been more women's voices.  The only women were Margaret Brown (the "unsinkable Molly Brown", even she was never called Molly), and the Lebanese immigrant girl.  There were women working on the Titanic, I would have liked to hear their stories along with the stories of the stokers and the baker and the wireless man.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Brain Camp by Susan Kim, Laurence Klavan, and Faith Erin Hicks

Jenna and Lucas are two young teens who don't seem to fit in. Jenna's family are all geniuses and Jenna's immaturity and fixation on role-playing are troubling. Lucas has been sucked into the wrong crowd of friends and is continuously getting into trouble with the law. They are shipped off to Camp Fielding, where their families are assured that their behaviors will be 'fixed,' and return super smart. There's only one problem, Jenna and Lucas don't want to be fixed. Especially when it seems like everyone around them is turning into drones, and more than a few are going missing...

I think it's a well documented fact that I generally don't like horror. This was just enough science fiction mixed in with horror to completely entertain me. Lucas and Jenna are sassy, engaging, and funny. Their families are pretty off the wall and yet believable. And spoiler: the camp is implanting alien birds into the heads of their campers, which is killing some of them off. Watching the camp director yank a bird fetus from some kid's throat was disturbing to say the least.

Fun, hilarious, and scary-ish. Definitely a worthwhile read.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman, adapted by P. Craig Russell

Coraline has just moved into a new flat with her somewhat neglectful parents, and everything seems just terrible. The weather is bad, the other tenants are weirdos, and school is starting soon. Coraline just wants to escape, and it seems that someone has answered her wish. A door appears and Coraline enters a world that mirrors her own. But here all her wishes come true, nothing is beyond her reach. But her Other Mother and Father seem a bit off... a bit too eager to keep her and make Coraline their own. When Coraline's real parents disappear, the true nature of the Other Mother unfolds. Only with the help of a taciturn cat can Coraline free her parents and save the souls of three other children.

I don't know if I've ever discussed my love of all things Neil Gaiman. He is a genius in my eyes. I've read this book, watched the movie, and now read the graphic novel. I have to admit that I was expecting the graphic novel to underwhelm me. But to my surprise it snuck under my skin and really creeped me out. Which is what I wanted! Really all my hopes rested on how the Other Mother was portrayed. She's one of those characters that should be bone-chillingly horrifying. Cloyingly sweet until she is thwarted. My favorite scene from the book was well represented in the graphic novel. You know the one, where the Other Mother sits, eats beetles, and taps at her button eyes? Excellent.

Wednesday, September 21, 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 The Twilight of Lake Woebegotten by Harrison Geillor.

A small town... a plucky heroin, a shiny vampire, and a hunkey Native American rival with a secret. But all is not as it seems in Lake Woebegotten. Let Harrison Geillor reveal what lies beneath the seemingly placid surface. You''ll Laugh. We promise. When Bonnie Grayduck relocates from sunny Santa Cruz California to the small town of Lake Woebegotten, Minnesota, to live with her estranged father, chief of the local two-man police department, she thinks she''s leaving her troubles behind. But she soon becomes fascinated by another student - the brooding, beautiful Edwin Scullen, whose reclusive family hides a terrible secret. (Psst: they''re actually vampires. But they''re the kind who don''t eat people, so it''s okay.) Once Bonnie realizes what her new lover really is, she isn''t afraid. Instead, she sees potential. Because while Bonnie seems to her friends and family to be an ordinary, slightly clumsy, easily-distracted girl, she''s really manipulative, calculating, power hungry, and not above committing murder to get her way - or even just to amuse herself. This is a love story about monsters... but the vampire isn''t the monster. (Summary by Goodreads)

As someone who loved Twilight and then came to her senses and a native Minnesotan, this spoof tickles me. It looks hilarious and I'm totally going to read it. Edwin Scullen... *smirk* The Twilight of Lake Woebegotten comes out Oct. 18th.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Mysterious Paper Sculptures

Mysterious paper sculpturesThis warms my heart.  It seems that someone has been leaving mysterious paper sculptures in various libraries around Edinburgh, Scotland with notes thanking libraries for everything they do.  It started last March and as of this summer, more are still turning up.  Take a look, they're really beautiful (so are the notes).

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Sixth Gun: Book 1 - Cold Dead Fingers by Cullen Bunn

 During the Civil War, Confederate General Oleander Hume came into the possession of six guns.  One that strikes with the force of a cannon shell, one that spread the flames of Perdition, one that kills by spreading a flesh-rotting disease, one that can call up the spirits of the men and women it has shot down and one that grants eternal youth and the ability to heal even a fatal wound.  The sixth gun was the most powerful, and the one that Hume kept for himself, shows things that have happened and things that will come.  Hume was killed, but couldn't really die.  Now his wife, who holds the fifth gun, has brought him back and Hume will do whatever necessary to find his gun and bring destruction to the world.

The story is really about Drake Sinclair, who is also looking for the sixth gun.  He used to work for Hume, but turned down the offer to take one of the guns, which is how Missy, Hume's wife, ended up with one.  Drake is less interested in keeping the gun away from Hume then the fact that supposedly the gun will lead him to treasure.  Too bad for him that the "treasure" of Hume's is nothing anyone else wants.

The gun was being kept in possession of a preacher, who is killed by the Pinkertons who had been hired by Missy to find it.  It falls into possession of the preacher's step-daughter, Becky, who Drake finds and takes with him, of course not telling her the whole story of what's going on.

Cold Dead Fingers was certainly exciting and action packed.  It felt very traditionally comic booky, if you know what I mean.  The art was glossy and looked like a superhero comic, and it was laid out in traditional panels.  The pictures could be fairly gory, showing people getting shot and flesh-rotting diseases melting the skin off their bones.

By the end of the first volume, most of Hume's followers are dead, Hume is stuck back in his coffin, and Drake holds four of the six guns.  Becky still has the sixth one.  The fifth one is still in the possession of Missy, who ran off with her Pinkertons, and will no doubt try to raise her husband again.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Astronaut Academy: Zero Gravity by Dave Roman

Welcome to Astronaut Academy, a boarding where students learn important skills such as anti-gravity gymnastics, fire throwing, advanced heart studies and Spanish.  It's also where Hakata Soy, former space hero, has been sent by his parents.  Unfortunately, his enemies won't leave him alone!  With the help of his new friend Miyumi San, he'll try to make it through his first semester. 

This was pretty silly.  It was also very tongue and cheek in a way I enjoyed but I think most middle school students, which is who it's written for, wouldn't really understand.  I don't think that would prevent middle school students from enjoying this silly space adventure though.

The story is told by many different characters, from Hakata Soy and Miyumi San, who were the main characters, to Hakata's roommate, who on the outside seems to only care about fireball, but actually has a sensitive side, to Maribelle Mellonbelly, the richest and meanest girl at Astronaut Academy and Miyumi's nemeses, to Cybert, the Hakata look-alike robot that has been sent to Astronaut Academy to eliminate Hakata Soy.  And many, many others.

The main plot is that Hakata is sad and mopey and missing his friends, and he can't contact anyone and no one contacts him!  Little does he know that the bad guys, knows as Gotcha Birds, he previously defeated on Hoppiton (home of bunnies, that look like old-time Disney characters), are jamming his signal!  One of his old fellow heroes, missing Hakata and unable to contact him, makes a robot that looks just like Hakata to keep him company.  But then the Gotcha Birds steal it and reprogram it to sneak into Astronaut Academy and kill Hakata!

Meanwhile, Miyumi , who has enough problems of her own fending off Maribelle Mellonbelly, befriends Hakata and ultimately ends up saving his life with her incredible fireball power!  In between there is much ridiculousness, like dinosaur riding and panda bears who teach Spanish but are really secret agents.

At the end, since Hakata hasn't been able to contact his family, Miyumi invites him over to her place for the semester break where her grandfather will see if he can fix Hakata's communication device.

So cute, silly and fun to read.  It's drawn in a decidedly anime style.  Kind of anime-lite.

Freshman: Tales of 9th Grade Obsession, Revelations, and Other Nonsense by Corinne Mucha

Annie starts off her freshman year of high school convinced (thanks to her older brother) that her first year of high school will determine the rest of her life.  While she makes a new best friend, she also discovers that she’s terrible at sports, she’s in love with said new best friend’s older brother, and her attempt at being in the school play lands her the part of an ugly, whinny old women.  Things never seem to go Annie’s way as she struggles to make it through her freshman year in one piece. 

Poor Annie.  Things got off to such a crappy start for her.  Her best friend since childhood has gone Goth and won't speak to her anymore.  Luckily she still has very friend Richie to start the year with.  While some things go right, like meeting Katrina in her first period class who becomes her best friend.  Other things, like field hockey and trying to talk to her previous friend do not. 

After a disastrous field hockey season, Annie is convinced to try out for the school play, and is delighted that Katrina's older brother, Luke is also there.  Too bad for her super mean, mean girl Veronica is all over him, and then they start dating. 

While most of the action is centered around Annie, we also get to see Richie's year, and how he also makes a new friend, Zane.  Richie experiments with being in a film club and joining Zane's band (which Annie eventually ends up joining too, after the play). 

By the end, Annie is feeling much more confident after having a successful singing gig at the freshman dance, and although she isn't any closer to dating Luke, at least he broke up with Veronica!  The door is left open for more exciting adventures from sophomore year. 

Corinne Mucha's style of art is simple drawings in black, white and green with little detail.  The art did nothing for me, but the story was funny enough that I didn't mind.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Queens of All the Earth by Hannah Sternberg

Just before she's supposed to start at Cornell, Olivia falls into a catatonic state.  It seems to have to do with Olivia refusing to let go of her childhood, and once she is functioning again her older sister Miranda takes her on a trip to Barcelona to get "closure."  Along with others staying at their hostel, the sisters explore Barcelona.

Well.  This was...well.  The main reason I kept reading was because I was sure that the plot was going to show up at any minute.  But then it ended, and the plot still hadn't shown up.  This was book that was essentially about nothing at all, and didn't even have a premise that made sense to me.  It is apparently based on Forester's A Room of One's Own, but it just didn't work for me.

So Olivia, who as far as we can figure has never had a mental break before, suddenly before going to college has a totally break down and falls into a catatonic state.  Not moving.  Not speaking.  Not eating.  Totally dead to the world.   She's like that for three days before she finally comes out of it and starts drifting about, letting people feed her and things.   Her mother, who we never really meet and know little about doesn't seem to think this is a big deal and that she'd come out of it on her own (which she eventually does) but her sister seemed highly worried.  There was also a doctor at the beginning.  No one thought that perhaps hospitalization was required?  Maybe some therapy?  No.  The answer was apparently for Olivia to go on a trip to Barcelona with her sister Miranda.  For the purpose of "closure."  At this point, it wasn't clear what was up with Olivia.  It was mentioned their father had died, so I thought maybe he was from Barcelona, or lived in Barcelona, or died there, or something.  It turned out to be none of these things.  They were just going there.  Barcelona: the best place for closure, even if you have no connection to it and really should be under the supervision of a doctor.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Apothecary by Maile Meloy

In 1952, Janie's family has moved to London from Los Angeles so her TV writer parents won't have to testify against their friends at the House Un-American Activities.  Janie is less than happy to go from sunny Los Angeles to dreary London.  She becomes friends with a boy from school, Benjamin and when Benjamin's father, an apothecary, is kidnapped, they are left in charge of protecting the Pharmacopoeia and keeping it away from the Russian spies who are after it.

Although there was certainly a fantasy element to this book, it also clearly showed how much London was affected by WWII.  Janie's experience with the war, which ended when she was 7, was that there wasn't real butter and they couldn't drive everywhere.  But since the war had been going on almost her whole life, she didn't miss those things.  Moving to London was a shocking contrast.  Eight years later, the people of London were still heavily affected by the events.  There was the physical evidence of the war - bombed out buildings - along with fellow schoolmates who had family members die, and many things, like eggs, still couldn't be easy gotten.  While in the United States the time after WWII was a kind of golden age, in London the end of the war hadn't fixed anything.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Amazon may be considering a "Netflix for books."  So...a library.  A library that costs money.  "But Arianna!" you cry, "You have to drive to the library to get the book and then drive back to return it!"  Yes.  Yes you do.  But it's free.  "But Arianna!" you continue, "you don't know if the book you want is going to be there, and what if your library doesn't have the book you want?"  It's called an online catalog and interlibrary loan.  It's really quite wonderful.  You should try it.  Well played Amazon.  Way to cash in on people never wanting to leave their houses.

No, no, I can sort of see the appeal.  Sort of.  I assume it would be primarily through the Kindle?  Although, if they set up the Kindle library-lending like they said they would, that kind of defeats the purpose.  Nope.  Still WTF. 

Libraries =  free books, movies, audio books, CDs, video games, etc.  IT'S FREE PEOPLE!

100 Follower Giveaway!

Don't forget that the giveaway for four awesome sci-fi and fantasy books is still open until the 18th. These are not ARCs, but the actual finalized books (Well three of them are A Beautiful Friendship is an ARC). So fill out the form and we'll ship all four off to you if you win!

Waiting on Wednesday: Habibi by Craig Thompson

"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 Habibi by Craig Thompson.

Sprawling across an epic landscape of deserts, harems, and modern industrial clutter, Habibi tells the tale of Dodola and Zam, refugee child slaves bound to each other by chance, by circumstance, and by the love that grows between them. We follow them as their lives unfold together and apart; as they struggle to make a place for themselves in a world (not unlike our own) fueled by fear, lust, and greed; and as they discover the extraordinary depth—and frailty—of their connection.

At once contemporary and timeless, Habibi gives us a love story of astounding resonance: a parable about our relationship to the natural world, the cultural divide between the first and third worlds, the common heritage of Christianity and Islam, and, most potently, the magic of storytelling.

Craig Thompson is the author of Blankets, which I love so much.  I'm very excited to read this new one.  Luckily I don't have to wait much longer because it comes out on September 20.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Great New England Steampunk Exposition

How did I not know this is happening?  Also, why does it have to be on the weekend that I have both Weekend Duty AND the Sunday library shift?

Anyway, although I will not be able to go (sob) if you are in the Massachusetts area, you totally should.  It's this weekend, September 16-18 in Fitchburg MA.  Among the festivities will be a Victorian insult competition, a Whiskers competition and selections from a Steampunk opera.  Of course there will be lots of vendors and things like that, and a concert featuring Abney Park on Saturday evening.

I'm sad I can't go.  If you go, you should tell me how it was.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Blink & Caution by Tim Wynne-Jones

Blink was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  A street kid just looking for a meal, Blink has stumbled onto a crime scene and ends up with one of the men's phones.  Now he's in contact with the daughter of someone who's supposedly been kidnapped.  But that's not what Blink saw.  Caution is running away from her drug-selling boyfriend.  She doesn't know where she's going.  Just away.  Blink and Caution's paths cross, and now they're both wrapped up in the disappearance of a man neither of them know, and only have each other to rely on.

There has been a lot of buzz about this book as a potential Printz winner.  I can see why people would say that.  In a sea of books that all read the same, this certainly stood out.  How many books do you read where part of it is written in second person?  It was such an interesting reading experience that you, the reader, were in Blink's place, and were being talked to directly.  I think that was the most distinct thing about this book.

While I enjoyed the story itself, it wasn't exactly ground breaking.  It was fast paced and gripping and exciting to read.  I certainly wanted to know what would happen.  For all the sadness the two characters had experienced, there was a very warm, snugly ending.  So I really enjoyed Blink & Caution, but I think most of the buzz is not about the story itself, but rather the unique style the story is presented in.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Here we go... Trailer for Twilight: Breaking Dawn

I would just like to say that I am Twilight-exhausted. I'm sure it's a medical condition, and therefore I should be on bed rest and workers' comp. Honestly, could they drag this out any longer? But let's be real, the four of us already have a game plan for when and how we're going. It involves a matinee and alcohol. A great deal of alcohol....

Anyway, another teaser trailer is out. It looks very dramatic and angsty, and like it might be taking itself too seriously like the third one. What are your thoughts?

UPDATE! 9/14

Here's the full length trailer:

Thursday, September 8, 2011


10 novels that we dare you to finish.  Because they're really long.  I have read one.  Just the one.  From Flavorwire..

50 books that were banned.  I'm not sure how they picked these 50, but it's a cool site.  Click on the book covers for the reason they were banned.

One tweet brings aid to a hurricane-ravaged library.  From SLJ.

 School Library Journal has put together a list of resources to help teach students about the events of September 11,2001.

City of Spies by Susan Kim & Laurence Klavan

During the early 1940s, Evelyn has to stay in New York with an aunt she hardly knows while her father goes off on his latest honeymoon.  To distract herself, Evelyn works on her comic about the heroic Zirconium Man and his loyal sidekick Scooter (who looks an awful lot like Evelyn), who uncover Nazi plots and save the day.  Much to her surprise, she and her friend Tony stumble onto a real Nazi plot!  Will anyone believe two kids?

Evelyn's aunt Lia reminded me a bit of Auntie Mame, but way less fun.  Don't worry, Lia improves over the course of the story.  Much like Auntie Mame, she's all free and artsy and has fabulous parties.  Unlike Auntie Mame, she handles having a kid dumped on her by pretty much ignoring her and doing what she always does.

Evelyn, bored and lonely, draws her comics.  It made me a little sad that she didn't make herself the hero of the comics.  She made herself the sidekick.  In her comic, Scooter has a moment, when Zirconium Man has been captured, that Scooter cries she doesn't know what she can do, but then ends up saving the day.  Evelyn reflects this in real life too.  She realizes she doesn't have to be a sidekick or be afraid, she can save the day!  With an assist from her friend Tony.  At the end of the story, Evelyn is drawing a new comic, the story of Girl Archaeologist Evelyn Weiss and Intrepid Explorer Tony Vitucci, and in this one, they're partners.  No one is the sidekick.

This was a fun read, but it wasn't deep or anything.  It didn't go into the war, or have any kind of character development.  It was just a quick, surface level adventure story with a clever and determined main character.  Enjoyable to read, but not a lot of substance.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

100 Followers Sci-Fi Bundle Giveaway!

WAHOO! Wandering Librarians now have a little over 100 followers! Pretty crazy huh? To celebrate the fact that we are now I would say in the awkward teenage development of blog size, we are giving out a huge number of fantasy and science fiction books! Four titles will be given to one lucky person!

The giveaway will close Sept. 18th at 8PM.

The titles to be given away are:

A Beautiful Friendship by David Weber

Stephanie and her xeno-veterinarian father and plant geneticist mother are colonists on the planet Sphinx in the year 1518, post diaspora.  Stephanie isn't a huge fan of their new home, with its winters that last 15 months.  But winter is finally over, and Stephanie has made a discovery.  She has found what she calls a treecat, an intelligent, native species.  Climbs Quickly and the People had decided not to let the two-legs know of their existence.  The People communicate through their minds, and humans are mind-blind.  But Stephanie and Climbs Quickly, while they can't actually talk to each other, realize that they can sense each other's emotions.  Now Stephanie will do whatever she has to to protect the treecats from humans who might do them harm.

First things first.  The cover.  Ew.  Totally retro, and not in a good way.  It's only half a step up from the cover of the ARC I have, which is also totally retro, and not in a good way.  Perhaps because it comes from a smaller publisher?  I don't know, but I'm not finding it appealing at all.

Waiting on Wednesday: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

"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 Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi.

Juliette hasn't touched anyone in exactly 264 days. The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war- and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.

Shatter Me comes out November 15.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Interview with Cate Tiernan

This is a repost from the "School & Library Book Buzz" Enewsletter put out by Little, Brown.  It's an interview with author Cate Tiernan, author of the Immortal Beloved series.  I reviewed the second in the series, Darkness Falls and really enjoyed it.  She sounds all sorts of awesome.

Author of the Month

Michael Williams

Immortal Beloved cover

Cate Tiernan was born and raised in New Orleans. She is also the author of Penguin Speak's vastly successful Sweep series. She currently lives in Durham, North Carolina with her husband and children. Her website is

Cate in her own words...

I wrote my first book in 1989, and it was published by Henry Holt BYR in 1990. It was a middle-grade chapter book, and I blithely sailed into it though I'd never written anything longer than three pages.

My idea was: show a girl solving her own problem without relying on a male character. I'd been editing a lot of YA novels, and I kept being struck by what I felt were unhelpful, sexist situations—a girl throwing her car keys to her boyfriend so he could drive, though it was her car; a father telling a girl's boyfriend to "take care of her" when they go off to college. With the girl standing right there.

Books like that freaked me out because we were presenting them to YA readers as showing normal and acceptable behavior. We were offering them models, perhaps guiding readers as they formed their personalities and beliefs, and what we were offering was example after example of girls and young women willingly giving up their power so that a male character would feel better.

I didn't have children myself back then. I had grown up in the deep south, and I used to iron my dad's shirts and handkerchiefs. In my culture, men ran things and women made everyone's lives smoother. Though that had seemed fine, normal, as I grew up, once I was out of the south and on my own, I began to feel that, really, we women and girls had so much more potential.

My middle-grade novel, now long out of print, showed a girl who desperately wanted a pet but couldn't have one because her dad was allergic. She found a garter snake in the garage and plopped him into an aquarium, and by the end of the book her parents were impressed by her determination and responsibility in taking care of the snake, and they let her keep him.

I've written many books since then, but I'm still working with variations on that theme: don't give up your power, ladies. Find out who your authentic self is and then roll with it.

The first book of Immortal Beloved pubbed last September; the second one will come out in January of 2012 and the third in September of 2012. In it the main character realizes she's given away all her personal power and is now surrounded by people who are defining who she is and what she's comfortable with—and she's become unrecognizable even to herself. Her journey across the three books is to figure out who she is and what she believes, and every step of the journey must be made by her alone. The character, Nastasya, is 450 years old, and the flashbacks that tell her story show that until fairly recently, she had to rely on men for survival. A husband, an employer—in most of the world women couldn't own property, travel by themselves, control their own destinies. She mentions when women got the right to vote (different years for different countries), and how she often posed as a widow because more status and thus power was accorded to a married woman. It shows that she's responsible for herself, only for herself, and that to give away her power is to remove the point of living entirely.

We're in the year 2011, and women are still second-class citizens across most of the world.

My hope is that by having strong characters to model themselves on, and many examples of strong women determining their own fate, a new generation of girls will know that as the new normal, and the world will change.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick

Alex is hiking the Waucamaw Wilderness alone when it happens. An electromagnetic pulse that sweeps farther than she knows, kills off the elderly, leaves her with an eight year old orphan, and changes people. It's the last element that really concerns Alex, these changed individuals are like zombies but they haven't died. They hunt down anything that moves and then feast like animals on the carcass. With the help of Tom, a young army vet, the three try to survive in this new wilderness. Eventually they hear that there is a refugee camp in the South, but this news doesn't come without casualties. Suddenly Alex finds herself on her own, and this isn't the last surprise in store for her.

I would like to flat out say that I am not a fan of horror. As in I am quite vocal about my distaste. I don't like it, I don't want it near me, and I especially don't want it in any form that relates to zombies. Zombies freak me out hardcore. It could happen man, that shit could happen. Which is why I'm glad to know my friend Matt, who has an entire contingency plan set up in case the apocalypse should take place and zombies overrun the earth. See? My phobia is nurtured and exacerbated by my friends!

OK, now that my rant is over (for now), I would like to state that this was a pretty good book. I really really enjoyed the characters, there was so much back story to each of them. Alex was so wonderful, she has a very distinct world perspective colored by her parents' death and her own fight against cancer. There were a lot of darker themes than just the whole zombie thing, which played really well off each other.

Then there was the whole ambient tension thing going on. It was pretty... stressful. Always thinking that the zombie was just around the corner or some random group of people was going to shoot Alex. Scary.

Now I am going to make another confession. I didn't finish this book. We've covered the fact that I don't like zombies, and especially don't like the horror genre. It just got to be too much to handle. Too much stress and creepiness. I did skim the last half of it though, and let me say that there is a HUGE cliffhanger at the end. So good thing it's a series, this one comes out tomorrow. So if you love horror pick it up, if you're like me and can't stand zombies and horror I would skip it.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

Zita and her friend Joseph stumble upon a crater made by an asteroid.  At the bottom of the crater is a strange device, and when Zita pushes the button, a creature pulls Joseph through!  Now it’s up to Zita to travel to an unknown doomed planet and save her friend.

This was great and also really cute.  You can tell right away that Zita is one of those bossy little kids who always have the upper hand.  When we first meet her, she's stolen her friend Joseph's notebook and is making him run after her to get it back.  She takes great pleasure in pushing the button on the device when Joseph begs her not too.  But, when it comes down to it, Zita really cares about her friend and after the initial shock and horror, Zita jumps right in after Joseph determined to get him back.

Zita finds herself on a planet that's only days away from being destroyed by an asteroid.  As she searches for Joseph, she makes numerous strange friends along the way, like a gigantic but not very smart alien creature, a giant mouse that can't talk but communicates through pictures, and a rejected battle orb.  In the end, Zita isn't able to jump back to Earth, but instead must travel there the long way on one of her friend's spaceship.  This will give her an opportunity, I'm sure, for many more adventures.

Zita is a spunky little kid, but she also gets scared sometimes.  She's always able to overcome her fear, either through help from her friends or because she realizes that even though she's scared and doesn't want to do it, she has to if she wants to help her friend.  

I found the style of illustrations very welcoming and friendly, even though there were pages with pictures of scary monsters.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

Karou lives a double life.  She's an art student living in Prague, but she also runs errands for the chimaera Brimstone, who raised her from a baby.  Karou collects teeth for him, although she's never been told what Brimstone does with them.  Everything changes when hand prints begin appearing on the doorways that lead to Brimstone's world, and Karou meets a Akiva, a seraphim, the swore enemy of the chimaera.  Karou and Akiva should be enemies too, but for some reason, they can't bring themselves to hurt each other.

Love this.  Love.  This.  A fabulous, well written romantic fantasy.  Laini Taylor wrote Lips Touch: Three Times, which I very much enjoyed.  I just love how she describes otherworldly places.  Her magical worlds just seem more magical then others.  There was such richness to it, and the other world was explained.  I understood the history behind what was happening, I had a picture of why things were the way they were.  I really appreciate when an author takes the time to really think through the worlds they're creating, and make everything make sense.

Karou and Akiva are drawn toward each other.  Now, in a lot of romance storylines, this annoys me to no end.  BUT it totally worked in this case.  First of all, because there was actually a reason that the characters were drawn together, which was well explained, and also because both Karou and Akiva were interesting, well developed, flawed characters that I cared about.  I was reading as fast as I could so I could find out what happened to them.

Another aspect I enjoyed was that there were great supporting characters.  Karou has a friend from art school, Zuzana who I adored.  She and Karou had a real friendship, and she doesn't disappear when Karou is trying to figure out what's going on with Akiva.  Karou actually trusts and values her friendship with Zuzana enough that she tells her what's really going on, and Zuzana is there to help her.

I glad that this is going to be a series, and I'm looking forward to reading more.  Things ended on such a cliffhanger!  What's going to happen?!  When does the next one come out?!  I want to know!  Oh I hope somehow things have a happy ending, although I'm not sure how it could.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone comes out on September 27.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Another school year. Another year for many librarians with cut or no budgets at all. From the New York Times.

Something else for school and public librarians can look forward to this year: book challenges.  From USA Today.

Maggie Goes on a Diet is causing a bit of a kerfuffle in the book world.  Interesting to think about that if people weren't up in arms about, no one would have ever heard of this book.  From Salon.

Boys and Reading: Is There Any Hope?  From The New York Times.

Something is missing from YA dystopia fiction.  Philip Reeve says it's humor.  From SLJ

This is possibly the most reasonably-toned article on a book being removed from a recommended reading list that I've ever read.  From ABC News.

Fond memories of Harry Potter.  From The New York Times.

I'm really liking the redesigned covers for the Uglies series.  Way better than the generic girls face on the covers.  From SLJ.

Yay!  Snape has been voted the favorite character of Harry Potter!  From The Guardian
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...