Monday, October 31, 2011

Great Graphic Novels for Girls Update

We've updated again and are now at Graphic Novels 4 Girls. New address, new layout, even more awesome.

Hey all.  Anna and I have been working on updating our Great Graphic Novel for Girls web site, which is dedicated to graphic novels with female protagonists.  The site originally focused on Young Adult graphic novels, but we are happy to announce that it now includes both elementary and middle grade graphic novels for girls.  We hope you'll check it out, and we're always looking for more titles, so if you know of one, please let us know!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher

Logan lives in a small town where everyone knows everyone else.  At the beginning of senior year, a new girl walks into class.  Her name is Sage, and she's completely different then anyone Logan has ever met.  Sage and Logan become close, but Sage keeps pulling away.  Finally, Sage tells Logan her secret: the gender she was assigned at birth was male.

I have incredibly mixed feelings about this book.  I will try to talk them out.

There aren't very many YA books with transgender characters.  Luna by Julie Anne Peters, Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger (I haven't read this one), I am J by Cris Beam, are there others?  There very well might be, but I can't think of any others.  I think it's admirable that Brian Katcher wanted to tell the story of someone whose story doesn't often get told.  The thing about Luna and Almost Perfect is that it isn't really the transgender individuals' story.  It isn't Luna's story in Luna, and it isn't Sage's story in Almost Perfect.

Sage wasn't much of a character.  She was a total manic pixie dream girl.  There was Logan, sad and depressed, still hung up on his ex-girlfriend who cheated him, convinced he'll never love again.  In whirls Sage, and she's like no other girl he's ever known.  She's totally different from anyone, ever, and she shows him how to love again.  But Sage is hiding a secret (in this case it's that she was assigned the male gendered at birth, not that she has a terminal disease as so often is the case) and Logan makes a terrible mistake and ends up losing her in the end but learns a Very Valuable Lesson.

Dumpling Days by Grace Lin

The third in the Pacy Lin series, this time Pacy's family is going to Taiwan for her grandmother's 60th birthday party. While Year of the Dog and Year of the Rat dealt with friendship and finding out who she wants to be. This time Pacy must figure out what she is - when she's at home in America she doesn't feel like she fits in because she looks Taiwanese and when she's in Taiwan she's discovering that her insides are all American. Where's the balance? Where does she belong? On top of these racial issues, she must also deal with night markets, chicken feet, and competition in art class.

I got this book from the lovely people at Little, Brown and Co. for a book group I do at my elementary schools. I hadn't read any of Grace Lin's books, but I've since listened to The Year of the Dog and finished Dumpling Days. They're pretty fantastic: funny, nuanced, and a lot more depth in themes than what you would expect in a middle grade book.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Impostor's Daughter by Laurie Sandell

Laurie grew up with a larger than life father, a man who she worshiped and feared. His charisma and personality drew people to him even as he took advantage of them, and this was mostly true of his family. Shaped by her father's seeming past, Laurie grew to be a restless wanderer with a difficulty with relationships. While she couldn't seem to trust others romantically she was able to draw out trust in the celebrities that she interviewed, and as she slowly found her place in her job she discovered that her personal life was falling apart. Not until she was able to face her personal demons and find out the truth behind her father was Laurie able to truly grow as a person and be comfortable in her own skin.

This was a bit surreal. As someone that was raised by a nice Midwestern Scandinavian family, it seems like total fiction that someone's father would con not only strangers and employers but also his family members and personal friends. Taking not only their money but also their trust and twisting it until you don't know quite where you stand with any of your relationships.

The experiences that Laurie goes through, the fact that she lived in Israel and was an exotic dancer in Japan, make it seem all that more imaginative. But these incredible experiences lead her to journalism and refining her abilities to tell a story whether it's hers or a celebrities'. She has gifts that developed from her father, and a drive to cultivate them in order to find herself. After Laurie starts delving into her past, she realizes that she must confront her father's past to find some sort of peace. It's fascinating to see what happens once she realizes the depth of psychological despair she's going through that has developed from her relationship with her father.

An intense memoir.

Laurie Sandell has written the memoir of the Madoff family which is coming out Oct. 31st. Looks like she's gotten quite good at writing the memories of families that live with con-men.

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey

Jessica is starting her senior year of high school, and while her goal isn't to be Miss Popular she would like to get out from underneath the thumb of social ineptitude. She has seemingly insurmountable obstacles: her parents are weird cultural anthropologists and she can't seem to shake the math nerd stigma. Then comes along Lucius Vladescu - gorgeous, European, vampire prince, and intent on making Jessica realize that she's the vampire princess of a Romanian clan she's never met and destined to be his wife. It seems that life couldn't get more complicated until you throw in high school bullies with conniving intelligence, Lucius's fight with his darker side, a sweet normal boy who just doesn't seem as interesting anymore, and Jessica's own denial about who she is. Senior year is going to push Jessica right into the lime-light.

You would think that this would be right up my alley. Vampires, high school, Europe.... nope. Not even close. I got really uninterested right around page 87. My disbelief overcame me and started asking nasty questions like (spoilers ahead):

Friday, October 28, 2011

Kill Shakespeare: Vol. 1 by Conor McCreery and Anthony Del Col

In the same vein as Fables, Shakespeare's characters are real but have a world of their own. They are gathered in an alternative world where they co-exist and grapple with one another for political dominance and social freedom.

Except for Hamlet. He has been brought through space and time by the Weird Sisters and Richard the Third to better the land and resurrect Hamlet's dead father. All he has to do is kill the mystical William Shakespeare and take his quill. King Richard will the be able to better the land and the people. But as Hamlet is being led through the forest, we see that the plot thickens and everyone has their own agenda. We also see that Richard III is not the benevolent monarch his pretends to be. Hamlet is soon led by Falstaff to the underground movement that wishes to protect Shakespeare and feel that he is a god. Led by beautiful Juliet, they hope to overthrow Richard III and have a merciful ruler. Hamlet no longer knows who he should trust, the man that says he can bring back his father or the young woman whose ideals are sweeping a nation?

Was She Pretty? by Leanne Shapton

Everyone has an ex in there life. You either have one or are one. After Leanne Shapton kept finding pictures of her boyfriend's ex around his apartment, she started to wonder about people's exes. What were they lacking? What happened to them? What imprint did they leave on their significant other? After interviewing friends and acquaintances, she developed this book of vignettes about exes and how they affect us.

These were short little anecdotes, ranging from one sentence to a storyline spanning several pages. There were never more than three sentences per page and a sketched picture always accompanied each paragraph. It's weirdly touching and psychological without giving a lot of details or going into a lot of depth. You see glimpses of back-stories, personality conflicts, and the backlash of relationships.

Gripping, deep, and minimal. Wonderful.

Lily Renee, Escape Artist by Trina Robbins

Lily Renee grew up a privileged child in Vienna, Austria.  After Austria was annexed by Germany in 1938, everything changed for Lily and her family because they were Jewish.  No longer able to go to her school or play with her friends, things go from bad to worse until Lily is sent away first to England and then to New York.  Later, reunited with her parents, Lily eventually began work drawing comic books.

I enjoyed this, and I liked that we got to here a real story about a Jewish child who was part of the Kindertransport.  The Kindertransport was a program that got children, mostly Jewish children, out of Nazi-occupied countries and to England.  Almost 10,000 were able to escape this way.  Nine months before World War II began the program was ended.  I could be wrong, but I don't remember reading a lot about this in middle grade or YA books, fiction or non-fiction.  It's a really interesting piece of history and it was great to hear about it. 

Lily got out on the very tail end of the Kindertransport, she was on one of the last trains that were allowed to leave.  Although she was staying in England at the home of her pen-pal, she was not treated well.  Lily didn't get to go to school, but stayed home and worked for her friend's mother.  Lily had never had to do household chores in her life and wasn't good at them.  She was given only one meal a day.  Eventually she ran away and for a time worked as a mother's helper, companion, even as a nurse, before discovering her parents had made it out of Nazi-occupied Austria and were waiting for her in New York.

It was in New York that Lily applied for and got a job working for Fiction House.  The book ends after she gets the job, pretty much, so we don't get to learn about her later life. Maybe because it's a middle grade book, the thought was not to take the story into her grown-up life?  There's a little summary at the end, but not much.  Or maybe it was just because the most "interesting" part of her life was the escape from Austria.

I'm a big fan of Trina Robbins, and I always love hearing about women in comics, so I definitely recommend this.  Suggest it to your kids who like to read historical fiction, even though it's a biography, it reads like historical fiction.

Lily Renee, Escape Artist comes out November 1.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder

"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 Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder. 

Dry, sarcastic, sixteen-year-old Cam Cooper has spent the last seven years in and out hospitals. The last thing she wants to do in the short life she has left is move 1,500 miles away to Promise, Maine - a place known for the miraculous events that occur there. But it's undeniable that strange things happen in Promise: everlasting sunsets; purple dandelions; flamingoes in the frigid Atlantic; an elusive boy named Asher; and finally, a mysterious envelope containing a list of things for Cam to do before she dies. As Cam checks each item off the list, she finally learns to believe - in love, in herself, and even in miracles.

The Probability of Miracles
comes out December 8.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Future of Us Giveaway

Oh it's an exciting one!  Win an ARC of The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler!

It's 1996, and less than half of all American high school students have ever used the Internet.

Emma just got her first computer and an America Online CD-ROM.

Josh is her best friend. They power up and log on--and discover themselves on Facebook, fifteen years in the future.

Everybody wonders what their Destiny will be. Josh and Emma are about to find out.

The Future of Us comes out November 21.

This giveaway is closed.


Fake books from fiction we wish we could read.  Number 13 is my favorite.  From Flavorwire.

The love story of Raina Telgemeier and Dave Roman.  Adorableness.  From The New York Times.

Thirteen Observations made by Lemony Snicket while watching Occupy Wall Street from a Discreet Distance.

YA Op-Ed Mad Lib.  From The Rejectionist.

Occupy Wall Street's library continues to grow. From SLJ.

Fifty years of The Phantom Tollbooth.  I'm so excited for the annotated Phantom Tollbooth to come out!  From The New Yorker.

Woody Harrelson talks about playing Haymitch in The Hunger Games.  From the Los Angeles Times.

Putting down the iPad so my kids can see me read.  From The New York Times.

Your Formula for a Kick-Ass Young Adult Heroine.  From

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Last Gleaming by Joss Whedon

In volume 8 of season 8, Buffy and company are doing what they do best: kicking some supernatural butt.  An organization know as Twilight (hehe) is trying to destroy the Seed, which will unleash all the monster of Hell into the world.  It's already started, as Buffy and her fellow slayers have their hands full fighting off crazy alien monsters.  Things get even more confusing for Buffy now that Angel is back, but whose side is he on?

Oh Buffy.  Our love for you will never die.  All the wonderful snark and fabulousness of Buffy lives on through the graphic novel series.  I haven't read all of them, so I had to do some filling in the blanks and had several moments of total confusion.  "Wait, why can people fly?"  "Xander's with who?"  I'd definitely recommend reading them in order, but if you're familiar with the series, you'll probably be able to work things out.

Personally, I don't find the art anything special, although I love the portraits that are done between the chapters.  They're beautiful and look exactly like the characters from the TV show.  During the regular parts of the book, I sometimes wouldn't know who someone was suppose to be until their name was used.

There's an extra story at the end that involves Riley, that's suppose to take place before season eight.

If you love Buffy but haven't started reading the graphic novels yet, you need to get on it.  Like, now.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

Emma logs on to the Internet for the first time and finds herself on a web site called Facebook.  She realizes she's reading about herself and her friends 15 years in the future.  The only person Emma tells is her next-door neighbor Josh.  Emma is convinced she isn't happy in the future and begins to make changes that change her future.  Josh doesn't think messing with the future is a good idea, especially since every time Emma changes something, it doesn't just change her own future, it affects everyone else's future as well.

This was certainly an interesting concept, and written by two authors whose previous work I've enjoyed.  It took me a little while to get into this though.  When Emma first gets on Facebook, and she and Josh are looking at themselves in the future, I was wondering where it was going to go.  "OK, so they can see what they're doing in the future.  So what?  Are they going to try to contact themselves or something?  Make a time machine?"  As Emma became determine to change things, it got a lot more interesting.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Legend by Marie Lu

Day is a criminal, and he works alone.  He's grown up in the slums of the Republic.  June is from the elite Republic class, and is a military prodigy just starting her career.  Day's brother is dying of the plague.  June's brother has just been murdered, and Day is accused.  June is now hunting Day, and Day is hunting for a cure for his brother.  June has never had any reason to doubt the Republic, and Day has never had any reason to trust the military, but after what these two discover, everything changes.

OMG, I totally loved this.  I was taken by surprise, because I wasn't really expecting to.  I got the ARC over the summer at ALA, but didn't really know anything about it.  It sounded like fairly typical dystopia: it's the future and things suck.  Poor boy and rich girl's world collide and the government is doing something evil.  You know how it goes.

Could not put it down.  I went into total Harry Potter mode, snapping at people who tried to interrupt me while I was reading.  "Can't you see I'm reading?  I cannot be disturbed!"  I was reading as fast as I could because I wanted to know what happened, but also didn't want to finish it because then I'll have to wait until the next one comes out!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

You Are My Only by Beth Kephart

Sophie isn't allowed to leave the house. If she does, her mother gets really mad. Sophie has never been to school and has never had any friends her age. Her mom teaches her from books she gets at the library. Sophie and her mother are constantly moving, trying to get away from the "no good," even though Sophie doesn't understand what they're running from. One day, Sophie looks out the window and sees a boy playing catch with his dog. Sophie decides to talk to him. This begins a chain of events that changes everything.

The story was told from two perspectives. The first was in the present day, with Sophie, and the second was from a woman named Emmy in 1990. Emmy left her baby alone for a minute when she went inside to get a blanket. When came out, her baby was gone. Emmy desperately searches for her child. Her husband, who we understand is abusive, blames her and wants nothing to do with her, even going as far as to accuse her of doing something to the child. Emmy has a breakdown and is sent to a psychiatric hospital, where all she can think about is getting out and finding her baby.

Waiting on Wednesday: Death Watch by Ari Berk

"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 Death Watch by Ari Berk. 

They say the dead should rest in peace. Not all the dead agree.
One night, Silas Umber's father Amos doesn’t come home from work. Devastated, Silas learns that his father was no mere mortician but an Undertaker, charged with bringing The Peace to the dead trapped in the Shadowlands, the states of limbo binding spirits to earth. With Amos gone, Silas and his mother have no choice but to return to Lichport, the crumbling seaside town where Silas was born, and move in with Amos’s brother, Charles. 

Even as Silas eagerly explores his father’s town and its many abandoned streets and overgrown cemeteries, he grows increasingly wary of his uncle. There is something not quite right going on in Charles Umber’s ornate, museum-like house—something, Silas is sure, that is connected to his father’s disappearance. When Silas’s search leads him to his father’s old office, he comes across a powerful artifact: the Death Watch, a four hundred year old Hadean clock that allows the owner to see the dead. 

Death Watch in hand, Silas begins to unearth Lichport’s secret history—and discovers that he has taken on his father’s mantle as Lichport’s Undertaker. Now, Silas must embark on a dangerous path into the Shadowlands to embrace his destiny and discover the truth about his father—no matter the cost.

Death Watch comes out November 15.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Boston Book Festival: Steampunk

The first session Anna and I went to was Steampunk!  Yes, the exclamation point is part of the title.  It was with Kelly Link and Gavin Grant, editors of the Steampunk! anthology, Holly Black and Allison DeBlasio, who is Mrs. Grymm of Dr. Grymm Laboratories.  It was moderated by Maya Escobar, Teen Librarian at the Cambridge Public Library.  I was particular interested in this session because I was curious as to what the editors of the anthology had to say about steampunk.  The anthology was so all over the place, I wanted to know if there had been any criteria for the writers.

Kelly explained that they wanted to throw the term "steampunk" out to the authors and see who they would interpret it.  So that explains that.  They chose what authors they wanted to write for them and they said, "write a steampunk short story."  It was totally up to the writer to define steampunk.  Kelly said that, "no one is sure how to define steampunk," and that it was still a question without a defined answer.  She said characteristics of it were strongly character driven narratives, and that they provoke a sense of wonder.  They can be romance, mystery, horror, anything at all.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Yet another chance for me to use the word "kerfuffle"

So.  The National Book Awards.  Wow.  Way to royally screw things up.  In case you're just joining us, five books were released as nominees for the "Young People's Literature" category.  When first released, the list consisted of the following books: Shine by Lauren Myracle, My Name Is Not Easy by Debby Dhal Edwardson, Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai, Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy and Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt. 

Then it turned out that it wasn't supposed to be Shine by Lauren Myracle at all, but Chime by Franny Billingsley.  Awkward.  Also, it leads me to my first question: how the hell did they make that mistake?  Supposedly it was a mishearing over a telephone call, but, like, wouldn't you also say the author's name too when giving a list of books that you were nominating for an award?  Apparently you should.  And then no one caught this mistake for days.  Embarrassing, but people make mistakes, etc. 

So the National Book Awards decided that they would go with six nominations, since it was their fault and Lauren Myracle had already been notified that her book had been nominated.  Totally reasonable, we all understand.  Except then they changed their minds.  Lauren Myracle was asked to withdraw her book (See!  It's OK!  They didn't remove her!  She asked to be withdrawn) which she did.  Because Lauren Myracle is classy unlike some other people/organizations we could mention.

So suck it National Book Awards people.  Why the frack did you have to pull that?  "Preserve the integrity of the award and the judges’ work" my ass.  You made a mistake, you owned up to it, you were doing just fine and then you had to go pull a total dick move and now all the book people are mad at you.  And since you're in the book business, that's a bad thing.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

BBF - Second and third panel

That time of year is upon us, when Boston devotes itself to a day celebrating books. You might remember that Arianna, Jamie and I went last year and saw some pretty decent panels. There was a larger group of us that met up at random points during the day, Arianna and I went to all the same panels. I am hoping that Alana will post something about Mo Willems as she said he was amazing. Ari, will post about our first panel we went to and I'm going to chat about the young adult panel and the graphic novel panel we went to.

YA Fiction: On the Edge
I would first like to state that my main motivator for going to the young adult panel, as I hadn't heard of any of the panelists, was the fact that Amy Pattee was hosting it. Amy was my professor of two of my courses while in library school. I love her. Not quite a creepy love, but bordering. Anyway, the topic of the panel was what made young adult fiction edgy which I think they meant as potentially controversial.

Ellen Levine spoke first, poor lady was sick with laryngitis and had a croaky voice. Her new book In Trouble is a companion to Catch a Tiger by the Toe, it deals with family and friends and is pre-Roe v. Wade in which the character of Jamie has an abortion. It has been labelled a 'political' book, and she had to shop it around to more than a dozen publisher before someone took a chance on it. She realized that she had stumbled upon self-imposed censorship in publication. In media right now it doesn't matter if a girl is raped, brutalized, or it's consensual the fetus must be seen carried to term. Currently one in three women will have an abortion, and yet this statistic isn't reflected in any medium - young adult or adult. She also talked about the label of being political and how that assumes that the writer has an agenda and labeling them as political silences the them. She feels that if a writer is truly passionate about writing then the plot is organic and what develops is absolutely necessary. She ended with a fantastic quote by Philip Pullman:
No one has the right to live without being shocked. No one has the right to spend their life without being offended. Nobody has to read this book. Nobody has to pick it up. Nobody has to open it. And if you open it and read it, you don’t have to like it. And if you read it and you dislike it, you don’t have to remain silent about it. You can write to me, you can complain about it, you can write to the publisher, you can write to the papers, you can write your own book. You can do all those things, but there your rights stop. No one has the right to stop me writing this book. No one has the right to stop it being published, or bought, or sold or read. That’s all I have to say on that subject.

Daniel Nayeri is an editor at Houghton Mifflin, writer, extremely fast talker, and hilarious! He has a new book of four short stories called Straw House, Wood House, Brick House, Blow! It developed out of his own childhood experience of moving here when he was eight and teaching himself to read. He feels that more reluctant readers would be enthusiastic about reading if they could find the right genre for them. His book samples from different genres: Western, science fiction, detective mystery, and romantic comedy. I think what was supposed to make this 'edgy' was the fact the book makes the assumption that boys aren't reluctant readers, they just haven't found the right book for them. I wish I could tell you more because he was so funny and riveting but he talked to freaking fast!

Danica Novgorodoff has just finished a graphic novel called Refresh, Refresh. It's about three seventeen year old boys from Portland. Their fathers are Marines currently serving in Iraq, the boys are forced to grow up too fast as they try to fill the shoes that their fathers left them. They want to please their fathers even after they've abandoned them. The graphic novel is based off of a screenplay which was developed off of short story by Ben Percy. This looks like a powerful story, the artwork wasn't my favorite but it fits. She brought up an interesting point that it wasn't the violence of her book that made it edgy but rather the words. Crazy huh?

Amy then asked a couple of awesome questions, which all of the panelists responded to.

Where does edginess develop from?
They all agreed that it wasn't in the writing stage but rather marketing.

What issues make a book 'controversial'?
-Native Americans (If the book isn't written by a Native American)
-Violence (though I would argue that visual violence like in graphic novels makes it worse)

Generally experiences that we don't want young adults to have. We don't want children to have real experiences and we like to assume that they aren't behaving badly. It's hard to write about an issue that is controversial at the time, and the publishers because they're so close to the education of kids look for role-models not controversy. Thank God for bake sales.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Marzi: a memior by Marzena Sowa

Marzi was born in Poland in 1979.  For the first ten years of her life, Marzi grows up under Communist rule.  Waiting in long lines for food is the norm, and Marzi doesn't really understand why things are the way they are.  She can tell the adults are unhappy, but no one will bother to explain what's really going on.

This was excellent.  The story is told through a series of vignettes.  Marzi recalls many different events from her childhood, and they all blend together to give us an excellent picture of what life was like.  The confusion of a child is perfectly captured, as Marzi struggles to understand what is going on in her country and what her parents are talking about.  Marzi is draw with huge eyes, which reflects her innocent understanding of everything that's happening.

Aside from what's happening politically, we see Marzi's difficult relationship with her mother, and what was expected of children in Poland during the 80s.  It was so interesting for me, because Marzi is only a few years older than I am.  As I was reading about her standing on lines for food with her parents, wishing for color television, working on farms with her grandparents and chewing window putty because she couldn't get gum, I was thinking about my childhood in the 80s in the United States and how incredibly different it was.

Marzi notes that no one really talks about the fall of Communism in Poland, because it was done quietly.  There was no dramatic breaking down of a wall.  But it was the first.  I love how the stories are seen through a child's eyes, but the voice is of older Marzi looking back and remembering.  So there was a mixture of innocence and wisdom.

Since I had an ARC, it wasn't finished being inked, so only the first few pages were in color. Having the illustrations in black, white and gray certainly gave the stories a certain feel.  I'd like to read it again when it comes out in full color.  Will it make things feel less desperate and lonely?  It was kind of effective like that actually.

I didn't want the story to end.  At the end, Marzi is only 10, and Poland still has a long way to go to being completely free.  Tell us more!

Marzi will be available October 25.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


How fabulous is it that Occupy Wall Street and other Occupation cities have libraries?  Love it.

Barnes and Nobel pulls 100 DC graphic novels after DC makes an "exclusive" deal with Kindle Fire.  From PW.

You guys...there's a Men of the Stacks 2012 calendar featuring male librarians.

Do libraries really destroy books?  Well, I don't think "destroy" is exactly the right word.  But...yeah...we get rid of books.  Can you imagine what a library would be like that never weeded their collection? From WBUR.

GeekGirl Con was this past weekend.  It sounds great.  Maybe next year it won't be the same weekend as Yom Kippur and I'll be able to go!  From PW.

Pottermore has pushed back the release of its digital books and pulled a popular game because of high user use they couldn't deal with.  Kind of would have thought they'd be better prepared.  From The Guardian.

Bitterblue is coming out in May!  So excited!  I think the cover looks great.  From PW.

A personal look at Maurice Sendak.  From The Guardian.

According to TechCrunch, in less than 15 year print books will be basically extinct, even in the developing world, and replaced with e-readers and e-books.  I'm skeptical.  So is Jonathan Liu at Wired.  He raises the question, "How will people who can't afford e-readers read books?"  Are things really going to change so dramatically that everyone will be able to afford one?  Even in places that don't currently have electricity?  

New books from Gail Carriger!  Heart.  I can't wait to read her YA series.  It's not coming out until 2013 though.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George

"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 Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George. 

Tuesdays at Castle Glower are Princess Celie's favorite days. That's because on Tuesdays the castle adds a new room, a turret, or sometimes even an entire wing. No one ever knows what the castle will do next, and no one-other than Celie, that is-takes the time to map out the new additions. But when King and Queen Glower are ambushed and their fate is unknown, it's up to Celie, with her secret knowledge of the castle's never-ending twists and turns, to protect their home and save their kingdom. This delightful book from a fan- and bookseller-favorite kicks off a brand-new series sure to become a modern classic.
Tuesdays at the Castle will be available October 25.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Need a Sci Fi or Fantasy Recommendation?

NPR's got you covered. This gives you a the Top 100 books as chosen by 60,000 participants, and cut down by a panel of nerdy experts. They've left out young adult and horror, but I'm kind of OK with it. If it's too much to read through, they also have a handy chart. (For the full view)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Ashfall by Mike Mullin

One weekend, Alex decides to stay home while his mom, dad and sister travel to Warren, Illinois to visit his aunt and uncle.  That afternoon, everything changes.  A giant volcano erupts in Yellowstone National Park, and the consequences stretch across the entire United States.  Heavy ash falls, blotting out the sun and causing dramatic temperature changes.  Alex is determined to journey to Warren and reunite with his family.  On an old pair of his father's cross country skies, Alex starts out into a world that has totally changed.

This reminded me a lot of Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer.   In both cases, a serious natural disaster occurs that changes everything, and then the rest of the book is about how every day becomes a struggle just to survive.  Personally I liked Life As We Knew It better.  For most of Ashfall, Alex is traveling, trying to get to his family.  He encounters various problems on the road, many of them being the basic how to find food and water and travel without exhausting himself.  Life As We Knew It really got in to how the family lived their day to day life.  What they had to do every single day to survive and plan and hope that things would get better.  There were no big adventures, which is why I can see, actually, some people enjoying Ashfall more.  There's more adventure.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Unforsaken by Sophie Littlefield

Hailey is one of the Banished. The women are healers and the men are seers. Hailey, her aunt Prairie and her adopted brother Chub are in hiding. Not from the other Banished, although they’d like avoid them too, but from researchers who want to use their powers as healers. If Hailey or any other healer touches someone who has died, they can bring him or her back to life, but the person’s soul will be gone. They will be like a zombie. There are men who want to sell these zombies to foreign military forces. Hailey and her boyfriend Kaz burned down the last laboratory, and they thought the man who knew how the zombies were created was burned with it. But the lab has been rebuilt, and now Prairie and Chub have been taken. It will be up to Hailey and Kaz to free them.

Unforsaken is a companion to Banished. I’m not totally sure what makes this a companion and not a sequel. It seems to have picked up shortly after the end of the last book, and involves all of the same characters. I guess you don’t have to have read the first one to understand the second, but it still seems to be more of a sequel.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Americus by MK Reed, art by Jonathan Hill

Neil and Danny are growing up in a small American town.  Their favorite books are a fantasy series called The Adventures of Apathea Ravenchilde.  Unfortunately, Danny's mother hates the series, and forbids Danny to read it, saying that reading about witches is blasphemous.  When he's caught reading the newest book, Danny gets set off to military school, and now Danny's mother is trying to get the town library to ban the whole series.

When I first heard about this book, I was intrigued but cautious.  I wanted to know how it was going to be handled.  Was it all just going to be a gigantic stereotype with crazy religious fanatics trying to ban fantasy books because they might lead the children astray?  And yeah, it pretty much was.  But as I read it, I was thinking, "Well, it's certainly the extreme, but that doesn't make it untrue."  Because sadly, in some places, this totally happens to the kind of extremes portrayed in the book.  Harry Potter, anyone (which I assume is what Apathea Ravenchilde is suppose to parallel)?  There were absolutely groups that tried to get Harry Potter banned because learning about witchcraft was satanic and it was going to turn the children into worshipers of Satan.  It's sad and unfortunate, but it's true.  So yes, an extreme picture of someone who is religious and intolerant of other people is shown, but I don't think it was an untrue point to make.


YA comes of age.  From PW.

Defining the Printz award.  From SLJ.

This looks great: Tales for Little Rebels.  From Brain Pickings.

Q & A with Philippa Gregory about her new YA series.  From USA Today.

Sigh.  Meg Rosoff event  gets cancelled over her "blasphemous" book There is No Dog, and a Russian priest is calling for schools to ban books by Vladimir Nabokov and Gabriel García Márquez because they "justify pedophilia." From The Telegraph and The Guardian.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr

"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 How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr.

Jill MacSweeny just wishes everything could go back to normal. But ever since her dad died, she's been isolating herself from her boyfriend, her best friends--everyone who wants to support her. And when her mom decides to adopt a baby, it feels like she's somehow trying to replace a lost family member with a new one.

Mandy Kalinowski understands what it's like to grow up unwanted--to be raised by a mother who never intended to have a child. So when Mandy becomes pregnant, one thing she's sure of is that she wants a better life for her baby. It's harder to be sure of herself. Will she ever find someone to care for her, too?

As their worlds change around them, Jill and Mandy must learn to both let go and hold on, and that nothing is as easy--or as difficult--as it seems.

How to Save a Life comes out October 18.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Chaos Walking to Be a Movie

Patrick Ness' amazing awesome Chaos Walking series is going to be a movie.  Since it will produced by the same people who are doing The Hunger Games, The Hunger Games movie will help me to determine if I'm upset about this our not.

I mean, of course they were going to turn it into a movie.  It's a popular YA dystopia series.  It's just that I loved this series so much.  So, so, so much.  Like, seriously loved.  Like was sobbing the last forty pages of the third book.  Not because I was sad it was ending (although I was), but because I just connected with the characters that much.  What happened to them really mattered.

What I'm saying is, don't mess this up, Lionsgate, or I will find you.  It'll be personal.

Monday, October 3, 2011

My Grandparents are Secret Agents by Scott Christian Sava

Alyssa and Nicholas' grandparents are taking care of them for the weekend while their parents go to New York.  They're expecting to have fun with the grandparents, but they had no idea how exciting things were going to get!  It turns out that their charming old grandma and grandpa are actually secret agents, and Alyssa and Nicholas end up tagging along with them when an emergency case comes up.

This was cute and quick.  It was very simple and drawn with bold, bright colors.  Grandma and Grandpa are trying to stop the evil Purple Haze, who's trying to make it the 1960s again by stealing different components to make a time machine.  Alyssa and Nicholas take the news that their grandparents are fighting crime very well, and off they all go on their adventure!  Their grandparents provide the children with a robot dog to look after and protect them, and the robot dog ends up saving the day.

There wasn't a whole lot to it, but it was certainly fun and I think would be a great read for elementary students.  And we get to learn about how things aren't always what they appear, and that your old grandma might actually be a kick-ass crime fighter!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories

I feel like the title pretty much sums it up.

I had a major problem with this anthology: most of the stories weren't Steampunk.  This, of course, requires that I define Steampunk as a genre, which is harder then it should be.  When I think of Steampunk, the sense of place is very strong.  What makes a book Steampunk, rather then science fiction, is that it takes place in a place where there shouldn't be advanced technology.  I often link Steampunk with alternate history (although alternate history is not always Steampunk) because by going back in time to a period where there wasn't this sort of technology and then placing it in, gives it a very strong sense of place.  I have difficult accepting something as Steampunk when we're on a planet after Earth has been destroyed, because they would have already had advanced technology.  I have a hard time accepting something can be Steampunk when it's set in the modern day.

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