Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Meghan Chase has grown up unnoticed by the people around her.  She always seemed to blend in and fade away.  Even her stepfather seems to have a hard time remembering she's there.  There's a reason.  Meghan learns that she's half faery after her little brother disappears and is replaced with a Changeling.  Meghan must journey into the Nevernever to get him back, and discovers it's really her that everyone is after.

I enjoyed this, although I thought it kind of went on longer than it had to.  I assume it was so we could be introduced to all the different realms of the faery world, but some of the travel between the worlds felt unnecessary.

I liked that there was so much traditional faery lore that went into the writing of this book.  Meghan's only friend in the human world was a boy named Robbie Goodfell, who turns out to be Puck (if you remember your Midsummer Night's Dream you'll recall that Puck's real name is Robin Goodfellow).  Puck is of course part of Oberon and Titania's court, which is the Summer Court .  There is also the Winter Court, which was Tir Na Nog.  That was kind of weird choice, as there's nothing about Tir Na Nog being in endless winter in the Niamh and Ossian story, I don't think.  Anyway, I liked the mixing of all different kind of faery mythology.

Of course there was a budding romance, between Meghan and the Winter prince, Ash.  I'm not exactly sure why they're in to each other, it was one of those love-hate relationships.  Ash also kept making remarks that he would have no problem killing her.  Maybe he's just trying to cover up his feelings, which are all in turmoil.

Toward the end of the story, Meghan is beginning to realize that she has the potential to become very powerful, which is why everyone seems to be after her.  While I don't know if I'm going to read the rest of the series, and I can definitely see why these books are popular.

I have a question though.  At one point in the story, Meghan makes a deal that in exchange for information she'll give someone her happiest memory.  After it's taken, she has no memory of her father.  Why wouldn't she have any idea that she had a father if only a single memory was taken?  Her father was in her life until she was six, she certainly would have had plenty of memories of him.

Sandra and Woo: a Webcomic by Powree and Oliver Knorzer

Sandra is a twelve year old with a pet raccoon named Woo. He happens to have the ability to speak to her and they must make sure that this remains a secret from her father, friends, and the world. While the must work together to make sure that their friendship remains a secret, they must also face their separate lives in the wild and school and their relationships with animals, boys, and friends.

This webcomic is ridiculously cute and hilarious. I'm not sure if you understand how much I liked it. Sandra is a quirky kid who not only has a talking raccoon but also a fixation on and a love of video games and fantasy. She dates a boy named Cloud, named after a Final Fantasy character, who learns sword fighting and is generally a stereotypical nice guy. Her best friend Larissa is a pretty pyromaniac with a penchant for manipulation. These three are all quirky, funny, and endearing. Hipsters in training.

Woo is full of hijinks.... which sounds corny but is really the only way I can think of describing him. Adorable, sarcastic, and hungry for anything, Woo must balance the fact that he is a pet with his feral nature.

I read through this in essentially one night and have been checking back in with it regularly. I strongly recommend it. I think you'll all like it too. The art is clean and suits the storyline perfectly, the characters and secondary characters are all memorable and engaging, and the storyline is super engaging.

Sandra and Woo updates Mondays and Thursdays.

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 Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa.

You will kill. The only question is when.

In the dark days since the insidious Red Lung virus decimated the human population, vampires have risen to rule the crumbling cities and suburbs. Uncontested Princes hold sway over diminished ranks of humans: their "pets." In exchange for their labor, loyalty and of course, their blood, these pets are registered, given food and shelter, permitted to survive.

Unregistered humans cling to fringes, scavenging for survival. Allison Sekemoto and her fellow Unregistereds are hunted, not only by vampires, but by rabids, the unholy result of Red Lung-infected vampires feeding on unwary humans. One night, Allie is attacked by a pack of rabids, saved by an unlikely hero...and turned vampire.

Uncomfortable in her undead skin, Allie falls in with a ragtag crew of humans seeking a cure, or cures: for Rabidism and for Vampirism. She's passing for human...for now. But the hunger is growing and will not be denied. Not for friendship—not even for love.
(Summary by Goodreads)

I like Julie Kagawa a lot, she writes a solid story without fluff. It seems to always be a rather straight forward plot line that's all about the characters, and she writes it brilliantly. The Immortal Rules comes out April 24, 2012.

Monday, November 28, 2011

N.E.R.D.S.: National Espionage and Rescue Defense Society by Michael Buckley

Jackson is on his way to being the most popular boy at Nathan Hale Elementary. Charming, athletic, and good looking, Jackson Jones has it made. So what if he likes to pick on the weirdos and nerds that don't fit in? Jackson is doing the world a service by keeping them in their place. That is until he discovers that he must get the motherload of braces. In a flash he is at the bottom of the barrel and he must find new pursuits, like observing (otherwise known as spying) his ex-friends, teachers, and peers and discovering all their secrets.  The only ones that seem to elude him are five losers that are always getting out of class. By pure chance Jackson hides in a locker that he sees them sneak into and finds himself in a secret lair. After finding himself and his braces upgraded he discovers that these five geeks routinely save the world and have spectacular nano-technology abilities to help them:

Mathilda Choi's asthma inhalers give her the abilities to fly and throw fire. She has exceptional fighting abilities and can use anything as a weapon. Heathcliff Hodges has huge buckteeth and can hypnotize anyone with them. Duncan Dewey loves to eat glue and can secrete a sticky substance from his pores allowing him to climb the walls and stick to anything. Julio Escala is ADD and harnesses his hyperactivity for super strength and speed. Ruby Peet is the team leader and is allergic to everything, including negative emotions and lying. They are not only united in saving the earth, nerdiness, and special abilities, but also their hatred of Jackson Jones. As everything seems to falling apart for the N.E.R.D.S. - with a new administrator and a douche bag new agent - they are put onto a new important case saving scientists and keeping Dr. Jigsaw from rearranging the continents. Will the agents be able to pull together and reevaluate their perspectives of each other and how they work to save the world? I listened to this in my car going to to and from work.

You can either read the rest of this review to discover why I didn't like this or you can stop here with the knowledge that I didn't like this. It doesn't really deserve a longer review, but I will go into detail because as a Wandering Librarian that's what I do.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Saving June by Hannah Harrington

Harper's sister June killed herself two weeks before graduation.  Her family is stunned.  June always seemed like the perfect daughter, unlike Harper, who's always been at odds with her family.  Now Harper's mother and father, who are divorced, want to split up June's ashes.  Harper decides to take the ashes to California, where June always dreamed of going.  Harper heads out on her road trip with her best friend Laney and Jake, a boy whose relationship to June is unclear.

Meh.  That's how I feel about this book.  Complete meh.  Maybe because I'd just read a book about a girl working through the death of a loved one and it was very well done.  Maybe because I'm a little tired of reading about sisters dying, usually from suicide.  Maybe because this particular story was kind of clunky.  Or perhaps, as far as stories about a road trip to bring a loved one's ashes to a promised place, A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend would totally be my pick.

I didn't connect with this story at all.  I didn't feel anything about any of the characters.  Harper's family was fairly horrible to her, which I know was the point.  Everyone was still treating Harper as the outcast and June as the perfect one, despite the fact June was the one who'd killed herself.  Despite this, I just didn't find myself caring very much about Harper.  Also, I thought it was kind of awful that Harper spread June's ashes somewhere without her parents.  Yeah, her parents were jerks, but June was there kid.

Jake was kind of a dick, but we were suppose to see him as deep because he listened to 70s rock.  Harper and Jake had a love-hate relationship I found really annoying.  Laney was a fairly flat character who randomly gets pregnant toward the end.  I have no idea why.  It didn't add anything to the story.  Don't worry, she has a miscarriage so she doesn't have to decided what to do.  And it totally annoyed me that none of the characters could even bring themselves to say the word "abortion."

The road trip was long and disjointed.  There were numerous stops along the way, and I wasn't sure what the point was.  Most of them didn't really help build the characters in any way.  Rather, we got new characters thrown at us that then never showed up again.

I didn't really feel like any of the characters got any kind of closure or where working toward moving forward by the end.  So yeah.  Meh. For whatever reason, I just didn't connect with it.  I think there are plenty of YA books that are very similar that explore the issues and emotions considerably better.

Saving June comes out November 29.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

"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 Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

 Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumors in her lungs... for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumors tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind

The Fault in Our Stars will be available January 10, 2012.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sign Language by Amy Ackley

Abby's father is dying of cancer.  Abby deals with this mostly by pretending that it isn't happening, until her father really dies.  Now Abby has to figure out how to get through her days, with little help from her mother who has fallen apart.  Abby knows her friend Spence will always be there to support her, but Abby finds she's pushing everyone away who tries to help.

The book is split into two parts, "Before and During" and "After."  The book spans about three years; the year Abby's father is dying, the year after his death, and the year after that.  It was interesting that the book covered such a span of time.  In most of the YA I've read where a character dying is the main focus of the book, it either focuses on the process of dying, or the immediate aftermath.  This looked at the entire process, from the original diagnosis, to the first year, to the year after.  

Monday, November 21, 2011

Breaking Dawn, part 1

Gather 'round children, for I have a tale to tell.

Once upon a time, there was a love like no other love that had ever been loved before.  Ever.  Alas, problems arose, for the boy, aside from looking like he was in constant pain, was an unchanging, undying vampire with mind-reading abilities.  The girl didn’t care, for she loved him so, and also had a tendency to crash in to things and needed someone to help her up.  Thus, the two decided to marry, after working out a deal that first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes sex, then comes vampifying, in that order.  So they shook hands to seal it and then the movie started.

Young Jacob Black, of the turning-in-to-wolves Blacks, is upset with his wedding invite, and therefore does what he always does when he’s angry – takes off his shirt.  Within the first ten seconds of the movie.  Jacob shrugs and says, “Things are going to get pretty boring pretty quickly, so let’s start things off right.”  He then turns into a wolf and runs away.  Poor Bella’s father, Billy Burke, who everyone loves, looks very sad and makes everyone want to snuggle him until he feels better, and Bella’s mom is still a flake.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Breaking Dawn: It's finally here!

It's that time once again, when all anyone can talk about is TwilightBreaking Dawn: Part One (sweet Moses we have to watch a part two, oi) is finally out. Of course the four of us are going to see it, we've come this far we have to see it out to the bitter end. We're starting early this year, so expect some sort of review sometime tomorrow early evening.

Who knows what to expect? For our friend Christina's sake I hope that it is the best thing ever. For my own sake I hope it's awesomely bad so I can giggle throughout. Regardless, you'll hear about it tomorrow.

 I am going to be honest and say that I can't do the movie review justice. So I'm going to make Arianna do it tomorrow. I will let you know that we thought the make up and acting has gotten better, but that doesn't mean that the movie is good. Jacob's chest is exposed within 15 seconds of the movie starting. The sex scene was built up for nothing.

Let me preface Ari's post with a little background information: in the past we've gone to the movie at night and out for drinks afterward. this was fine except we were all so tired that we didn't spend a ton of time together after the movie - something that we lamented the past three times we've gone. Not this time though, this time we had a plan. A plan that involved drinks.

We decided to meet before and have brunch, because if we were going to this movie we were going to be a little tipsy when we went. We went, had our meals, had our drinks and went to the theater. Arianna had brought us alcoholic candies to eat during the movie and we were planning to go out for drinks afterward. I would just like to state that we should have drank more prior to going to the movie...

Switched by Amanda Hocking

When Wendy was six, her mother tried to kill her.  She was convinced that Wendy wasn't really her child.  Wendy is now 17, and her mother has been in a mental institution for 11 years, and it turns out she was right.  Wendy isn't her child.  She's a changeling, and now she's expected to leave her brother and aunt and return to her "true" home.  Finn, the handsome tracker who found her, promises that Wendy will finally feel like she belongs and will learn more about her gift of Persuasion.  But things quickly become more complicated then Wendy could ever imagine.

So Wendy is a changeling.  I associate changeling with fairies, which, essentially, what the Trylle are.  Even though they're trolls.  Yes, trolls.  A troll in this world seems to be a magical creature with close ties to the Earth.  OK, fine, whatever, but it felt like "troll" was what the author went with because that hasn't been done yet.  There have been way too books where a girl realizes she's really from the fairy world, but no one has done trolls!  Even if a troll is pretty much being defined as a fairy.  Fine.  They're "trolls."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler art by Maira Kalman

Min Green and Ed Slaterton broke up.  Now Min is returning to Ed a box filled with things she collected over the course of their two months together.  And she's writing him a letter explaining exactly why they broke up.

Before I started this, I thought it was an adult book, because the concept just seemed like it was.  I was totally taken aback when I realized the characters were in high school.  But it turned out I was right.  It is an adult book, even though it revolves around teenage characters.  I think some teenagers would still like it, but definitely the appeal is going to be with an older, more mature, perhaps more jaded and cynical crowd.  Not that I think this book was jaded and cynical.  It totally wasn't at all.  What I mean is this is a portrayal of a real relationship.  No supernatural love-bond kind of thing.  And the relationship ends, as relationships often do.  That's all I mean. 


Well.  This is depressing.  Yes, there are Black people in your Hunger Games.  From Racialicious.

Best children's books of 2011. From PW.

Anne Ursu, author of Breadcrumbs, on happily ever after (or not).  From Cynsations.

I'm sure you've wondered what would be on Nancy Drew's ipod if she'd had one.  Flavorwire has filled us in.

Awww, Besty-Tacy is getting a reprint.  From The New York Times.

If you're wondering what happened to the Occupy Wall Street People's Library (which I was) after Zuccotti Park was cleared, it's not looking good. 

If you've been waiting for Pottermore, you'll probably have to wait a while longer. From USA Today.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Flyaway by Helen Landaf

Stevie's only 15, but she's has been looking after her mom for a long time.  Sure, sometimes her mom disappears for days at a time, but Stevie knows how much her mother loves her.  Then Stevie's aunt Mindy gets involved, and Stevie's mom ends up in rehab for meth addicts and Stevie has to live with Aunt Mindy.  Stevie hates it, especially with Mindy after her all the time to study and tell her where she's going.  All Stevie wants is for her mom to come back so they can live together again.  Stevie begins working at a bird rehabilitation center, where she meets Alan, a troubled boy who used to go to her high school.  Stevie has a lot going on in her life, but the hardest is learning the truth about her mother.

This was a bittersweet sort of story.  Stevie loves her mom very much despite the fact her mom has done little to deserve her daughter's love.  Stevie is constantly left alone, skipping school to wait by the telephone either for her mother to call or to answer in case a call comes for her mother.  Stevie's mother has big dreams that involve selling her own jewelry and buying a house, but nothing she does gets her, or her child, any closer to these goals.

Waiting on Wednesday: Irises by Francisco X. Stork

"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 Irises by Francisco X. Stork.

Two sisters discover what's truly worth living for in the new novel by the author of MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD.

TWO SISTERS: Kate is bound for Stanford and an M.D. -- if her family will let her go. Mary wants only to stay home and paint. When their loving but repressive father dies, they must figure out how to support themselves and their mother, who is in a permanent vegetative state, and how to get along in all their uneasy sisterhood.

THREE YOUNG MEN: Then three men sway their lives: Kate's boyfriend Simon offers to marry her, providing much-needed stability. Mary is drawn to Marcos, though she fears his violent past. And Andy tempts Kate with more than romance, recognizing her ambition because it matches his own. 

ONE AGONIZING CHOICE: Kate and Mary each find new possibilities and darknesses in their sudden freedom. But it's Mama's life that might divide them for good -- the question of *if* she lives, and what's worth living for.

Irises will be available January 1.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hunger Games Trailer

Not going to lie, I'm torn about this. Jennifer Lawrence seems like she'll rock it out, but the rest..... eh. Am I being too cynical? Has Twilight ruined me forever and made me pessimistic for all book adapted movies? Or am I just being realistic? Regardless this looks visually stunning, and obviously I'm going to see it regardless of what the critics say. What do you think?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

My Boyfriend is a Monster: I Love Him to Pieces

Dicey, the only girl on the high school baseball team and Jack Chen a D&D playing science genius, end up partners for the classic health class egg baby project.  Just as Dicey and Jack Chen are seeing the blossoming of their relationship despite their different interests, a virus sweeps through the town turning people into mindless zombies!  Dicey and Jack Chen are on the run for safety, and when Jack Chen is bitten, they are rapidly running out of time.

Adorable.  Totally.  Loved it.  Dicey is pretty fabulous.  She's an amazing baseball player and takes it very seriously.  She likes Jack Chen from the start, but she isn't about to fall all over herself to get his attention.  It doesn't occur to Jack Chen (who is always referred to by his first and last name) that someone like Dicey could ever be interested in him, and it takes him a while to figure out that she likes him and that he also likes her.

Their relationship is really cute.  Despite their different interests, they get along really well and have a lot of fun working on the project together.  By the way, did your school make you pair up for the egg baby project?  And did you do it in high school?  Eggs babies were definitely a middle school project for me (got to teach the children when they're young) and we weren't paired up with anyone.  We were all single parents.  Anyway, Dicey and Jack Chen take an interest in what they other one likes to do, but of course, isn't it always the way, right when things get going disaster strikes!

Now, luckily for Jack Chen, both his parents are scientists who were working on finding a cure for this disease, which was not suppose to jump to the town so quickly.  So when Jack Chen is bitten, Dicey knows she has to get him to his parents before he succumbs to it.  At one point, Jack Chen tries to take off without her so she won't be in danger, but Dicey is having none of that and tracks him down and sets him straight.

It seemed like the whole town got zombified pretty fast, but everyone seemed pretty up beat at the end, so maybe it wasn't as bad as it looks.  I will definitely read the following volumes.

The story is told through black and white drawings and is done with a fairly traditional comic book format of panels.

Hourglass by Myra McEntire

Emerson Cole has a little issue, one that no one thus far has been able to help her with. Her brother and sister in law want to help her and gone through dozens of 'experts' that say they will cure Emerson of her problem. Emerson sees visions of dead people, or at least that's what she thinks they are. They're people from different eras that have a tendency to pop up at inopportune times and pop out when Em touches them. When Emerson is booted from her private school because her scholarship runs out, she must move in with her brother and try to readjust to life at home. This time her brother has another guru set up to fix Emerson. A young man, Michael, who says that he understands what she deals with because he has the same ability. As he helps her come to terms and understand the ripples in time, that allow them to see into the past and in Michael's case into the future, it seems that Michael has his own agenda for getting close to Em. This along with the mysterious ghostlike Jack, leaves Emerson confused and unsure of what her next steps are. The only things she is certain of is that she is ridiculously attracted to Michael who is off-limits, her abilities to see the past is getting stronger, and she is the only hope for a man that died six months ago.

As I read the summary I just wrote I have to admit that I think it's total trash. So I'm posting the GoodReads summary as well:

For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn’t there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents’ death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She’s tried everything, but the visions keep coming back.

So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson’s willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may change her past.
Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he’s around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?

OK. I feel better now. I really liked this book. As in I kept trying to read it between my classes coming into the library good. It was completely atmospheric and the lore behind Emerson and Michael's abilities was well thought out. I liked that even though their romance seemed a bit 'fated,' it also developed realistically to a point where I could see why they cared for one another. Also the entire focus wasn't on their relationship, it was also about helping Emerson deal with her parents' deaths and how grief changed her.

In other words I thought that this was a well thought out and fully developed book, which I have to admit surprised me since Myra McEntire is a debut author. I am not an optimistic reader for debut authors. This surprised and delighted me. Well done Myra McEntire, I am quite excited for your next book Timepiece. I do have to ask why there needs to be a love triangle though, I just don't find them to be satisfying plot devices. Could you please change that?

Friday, November 11, 2011

All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin

The Balanchine family is the biggest supplier of illegal chocolate in all of the United States, but Anya Balanchine wants nothing to do with it.  Anya's father and mother are both dead because of involvement in the crime world (her father was the city's most notorious crime boss) and her older brother was brain damaged.  All Anya cares about is keeping her brother and sister safe and out of any involvement with the family business and trying not to get involved with Win, who happens to be the new assistant DA's son.  This becomes harder when poisoned chocolate starts showing up around the city and the police think Anya did it. 

I was a big fan of Gabrielle Zevin's Elsewhere.  It was a book that really made me think about things.  And it had a relationship between two people that seemed realistic and organic and made sense.  I was therefore unsurprised that I liked All These Things I've Done very much as well.

Thursday, November 10, 2011


Let's start the month off right with book censorship. The offender: good old The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian which was pulled from a school in Georgia after complaints. The best part: superintendent Shawn Tobin's proposal that “Employee[s] will confirm reading material is free of vulgar language, sexual content, racial insults or demeaning religious connotations.” So that leaves...nothing. Nothing at all. Despite his statement that " “Do I want to ban books?  Absolutely not. I’m not trying to get rid of Huckleberry Finn,”if his proposal should pass than Huckleberry Finn would be right out.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Hidden Gallery by Maryrose Wood

The Incorrigible children, Alexander, Beowulf and Cassiopeia, are staying in London while Ashton Place is repaired from that disastrous Christmas ball of Lady Constance Ashton.  Of course, their governess, Penelope Lumley, will be accompanying them.  Penelope is thrilled at the thought of all the wonderfully educational things London will offer the Incorrigibles, and the chance of seeing her dear, former headmistress of Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, Miss Mortimer.  But almost immediately after leaving Ashton Place, strange things begin to happen.  From gypsy prophesies to hidden rooms, Penelope fears the children might be in danger again.

Much like the first book, The Hidden Gallery was hysterical.  Did you like Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate EventsThe Incorrigible Children series is wonderfully Snicketesque.  That dry, matter-of-fact, tongue-in-cheek, wandering off on tangents way of storytelling.  I love it.  It is not for everyone.  I think that if you like British comedy, you'll also like books like this.  If you don't, I'm not sure.

In this second volume, the plot thickens.  Considerably.  The Incorrigible children had been raised by wolves and taken in by Lord and Lady Ashton, although we're not sure why, as Lord Ashton has no interest in them and Lady Ashton totally hate them and blames them for everything.  They are cared for by our heroine, the plucky governess Penelope.  In The Hidden Gallery, Penelope begins to piece together the Incorrigibles' confusing background.  Things become more and more confusing the more she learns.  But Penelope is a Swanburne girl and Sawnburne girls are curious, resourceful and determined and she'll get to the bottom of it sooner or later.

I love how the children are a combination of hanging onto their wolf-like characteristics (they have a tendency to drool, chase squirrels, and add "awoo" to the ends of words), but they're also learning Latin and about the Peloponnesian War and randomly come up with things that show they're considerably smarter than most of the people around them who think they're little savages.  Penelope believes in setting standards high, so who cares if they have a tendency to howl at the moon?  She sends them off to fetch their protractors and graph paper.

Also, the art is just perfect.

Spoilers!  Sort of.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sighty by Jennifer E. Smith

"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 Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith.

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. She's stuck at JFK, late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon to be step-mother that Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's in seat 18B. Hadley's in 18A.

Twists of fate and quirks of timing play out in this thoughtful novel about family connections, second chances and first loves. Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it.
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight comes out January 2, 2012.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Ruby in Her Navel by Barry Unsworth

During the Middle Ages in Italy, Thurstan Beauchamp, a Christian Yusuf, an Arab, in the palace's finance office.  Thurstan not only deals with the King's money, but also gets sent on errands that involve bribes and blackmail.  On one of these errands, Thurstan meets his childhood sweetheart, whose husband has recently died.  Thurstan believes that at last he will have everything he ever wanted, but there are dark times approaching for the kingdom of Sicily, and things are not as they appear.

Every now and then I like to read an adult book.  You know, just to prove I can.  Oh, and I can.  I just chose not to most of the time.  My mother had given me this one.  When I was almost done with it she informed me she didn't think it was that great.  To which I said, "Why are you giving me bad books to read?  Don't you know my to-read list is a million books long?"  But at that point I was almost finished.  And I guess I didn't hate it enough to give up part way through.  Although, to be honest, there was some skimming.

Despite the cover, this book is not racy.  Like, at all.  What was most interesting about the story was the time it was set in.  Sicily was quite interesting during the Middle Ages.  It had that period where many different religions were living fairly peacefully together under the king.  Keep in mind that this was a time when the Crusades were going on, so that was a pretty big deal.  Unfortunately, this period didn't last forever.  This story is being told right at the time when everything was beginning to deteriorate, and there were emerging feelings of hatred toward the Arab population.

Thurstan is a naive little twit who thought he was much cleverer than he actually was and for most of the book I just felt sorry for him, because it was pretty clear to me from fairly early on where things were going.  I wanted to cry, "You're being played for a fool!  Obviously."  But he didn't listen.  Sigh.  They never listen.  So I was hardly at the edge of my seat as there wasn't much of a mystery.  I did keep reading to see how everything would wrap up, and it got wrapped up awfully tidily.

There's a side plot with some dancers that Thurstan finds and brings to court and his relationship with one of them.  That's where the title comes from.  It seemed an odd choice.  Perhaps something that sounded kind of racy was wanted?  Even though it wasn't?

So it was fine.  The romance wasn't all that romancy, the intrigue wasn't all that intriguing, and the mystery wasn't all that mysterious.  So...yeah.  It was fine.  It was no Mistress of the Art of Death.  Or Brother Cadfael.  But nothing ever could be.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Cinderella: Ninja Warrior by Maureen McGowan

Cinderella's real mother was a powerful wizard, but after her death, Cinderella's father hid her wand.  Shortly after he remarried, he died under suspicious circumstances.  Now Cinderella is held prisoner in her own house, thanks to her wicked step-mother's black magic, which is illegal in the kingdom.  Cinderella bides her time until she can make her escape, training herself to be a ninja warrior and working on developing her magic.  Now if only she could find her mother's wand...

When I saw the title of this book, I was of course intrigued.  Then, when I learned that it was not just Cinderella being a ninja warrior, but also a choose-your-own-adventure story (you know, at some high point in the action it'll say "To do this, go to page whatever, or, to do that, go to this other page"), I was incredibly excited.  I used to love choose-your-own-adventure books.  They were so ridiculous, so fun.  Alas, I was disappointed.

This book took itself way too seriously.  Come on now.  Cinderella is training to be a ninja warrior?  And you've made it a choose-your-own-adventure book?  This is not something that anyone would ever take seriously.  I was expecting silliness and hijinks at every turn.  But no.  What I got was a fairly straight-forward Cinderella story, except ninja training and magic are closely related in this world and since Cinderella isn't allowed to study magic, she's practicing becoming and ninja in secret. 

At three points in the book, you have the opportunity to make a decision for Cinderella.  The problem was, it didn't make any difference what you chose, you always ended up at the same place in the end.  So what's the point of that?  Why bother writing different paths, which weren't even all that interesting, if she's always going to end up at the exact same point?  And the divergent paths weren't very exciting.

Actually, the book as a whole wasn't very exciting.  Even when Cinderella is competing in a magic competition, and it's suppose to be nail-bitingly exciting, I was kind of bored.  The story just did not catch my interest.  It wasn't funny, it wasn't silly, it wasn't exciting, it was just...nothing really.  Kind of blah.

This is the first book in a series of "Twisted Tales".  I can't say that I'll be looking for the other ones to come out.

Friday, November 4, 2011


Vintage covers of The Phantom Tollbooth.  The 2002 UK one is awful.  Actually, I don't like any of the ones that don't use Jules Fieffer's art.  From Flavorwire.

More Phantom Tollbooth inside information.  From SLJ.

Mo Willems' Zena Sutherland lecture, 'Why Books?'  From The Horn Book

The new movie posters for The Hunger Games!  Very dramatic.  I'm feeling better about Peeta.  Not so much with Gale.  From EW.

The Case of the Graveyard Book.  Repackaging young adult books for adults.  From PW.

OMG!  J.K. Rowling was thinking about killing off Ron!  So glad she didn't.  From The Guardian.

Thank goodness. The Occupy Wall Street coloring book is finally out.  From Time Magazine.

The worst consequences of literary teenage romances.  From Flavorwire.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Rumors from the Boys' Room: A Blogtastic! Novel by Rose Cooper

A sequel to Gossip from the Girls' Room, Sofia is back, and this time she's determined that she's only going to blog about things she knows are completely true.  Unfortunately, she's still getting most of her information from overhearing other people talking around the school.  Sofia discovers that even when she's trying to tell only the facts, the way she goes about find things out might not be the most reliable.

The perfect book for your information literacy class.  Can't you just picture it?  We all read Rumors from the Boys' Room and talk about how people go about finding out information, and that just because it's then published online in no way confirms its accuracy.  Thanks Rose Cooper.

Anyway.  So this is short and cute.  Sofia has a blog through her school, and last time (in the last book), she got in trouble for posting things that weren't true.  Sofia is still determined to be the best blogger ever (thereby increasing her popularity), just this time she won't listen to gossip.  She still hasn't quite gotten a handle on how to go about finding reliable information.  Sometimes even when she observes things, she realizes that what she thought was happening wasn't actually what was happening at all.  For example, she reported on a big fight outside of the boys' room and ended up getting a bunch of kids in trouble.  They claimed all they were doing was demonstrating wrestling moves.

While Sofia is trying to be a blogger, she's also trying to help her friend Nona catch the eye of the new foreign exchange student, Lukas.  Unfortunately, Sofia's advice is to make Nona dress more girly, which then leads Lukas to become un-interested in her.  Sofia is also trying to get the attention of her long-time crush, Andrew, plus, her mother is pregnant and driving her crazy.

Poor Sofia.  She really is trying to help!  She's just totally clueless.

Rumors from the Boys' Room is an illustrated novel, as Sofia is supposedly taking notes (and drawing pictures) in her notebook so she'll be able to blog about things later.

Definitely a fun one for middle school girls.

Wednesday, November 2, 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 Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi.

Exiled from her comfortable home in the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland—known as The Death Shop—are slim. In Reverie, she spent time with her friends roaming virtual environments called Realms. But in The Death Shop, even the very air she breathes can kill her. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He’s wild—a savage. He’s also her only hope for survival.

A hunter for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry sees Aria as sheltered and fragile—everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he also needs Aria’s help; she alone holds the key to his redemption. Opposites in nearly every way, they come together reluctantly, and embark on a journey challenged as much by their prejudices as by cannibals and wolves. Their unlikely alliance will forever change the fate of all who live UNDER THE NEVER SKY.
(Summary by Goodreads)

Under the Never Sky comes out Jan. 3, 2012.

P.S. Don't forget to enter for our giveaway of The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Last Dragon by Jane Yolen, art by Rebecca Guay

All the dragons had been dead for generations.  Nevertheless, one day, a dragon appears and begins terrorizing the town of Meddlesome.  The first victim of the dragon is the town healer, who leaves a wife and four daughters behind.  Tansy, the youngest, that has her father's gift for healing, works out what happens and warns the town.  Three boys are sent to find a hero to defeat the dragon, but they man they bring back is no hero.  It will take Tansy's plan and the whole town together to overcome the dragon.

First, this was beautifully illustrated.  Rebecca Guay's artwork is just amazing.  Everything she does has such a wonderful sense of fantasy, like you're inside a dream.  The colors are muted, adding to the dream-like feel.  I really like how she draws people's eyes.

The Last Dragon is a lovely, simple story.  Tansy is clearly a very smart girl, but girls aren't supposed to be smart, so she spends most of her time by herself.  The hero, Lancelot, that's brought back to the town, is a young man who was only interested in the money, and is terrified to realize he's supposed to fight a dragon.  Tansy, however, has been working on a plan that she shares with Lancelot so he won't lose face (which was awfully nice of her).  It takes the whole town working together, however, to make the plan come together.

Tansy and Lancelot undertake the most dangerous part of the plan, and when things don't go as they should, Lancelot gets to show that he's really brave after all.  Everything ends very happily ever after.  It's a perfect fantasy story.
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