Monday, April 30, 2012

Update: Chopsticks

You guys!  Do you know what I just found out?  And by "found out" I mean "was tipped off too?"  And man, it makes this book about 600 times cooler than I thought it was!  However, it will involve a lot of spoilers, so just be forewarned.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Unterzakhn by Leela Corman

Fanya and Esther are twins, Jewish, and growing up in the early 1900s.  Their mother believes that they will take over her dress shop, but both girls are pulled by very different interests in very different direction.  Fanya begins assisting a woman who performs illegal abortions and helps birth babies, and Esther begins assisting at a brothel.  As the girls grow older, they fall further in to these chosen professions, and their decisions pull them apart.

I read this in one sitting because I didn't want to stop.  I needed to know what happened.  It was a story about family and a story about how the choices we make affect us, and it was a story about how little the perceptions of society have changed.


Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Great article from about a particular pose women are seen in again and again, from book covers to movie posters.

Open Content: School Libraries a "Natural Fit" to Lead Adoption.  From SLJ.

At last!  It's what we've all been waiting for!  The Harry Potter encyclopedia is allegedly in progress!  From The Guardian.

The story behind The Hunger Games logo.  From NY Daily News 

A letter from 1972 from Maurice Sendak's editor to a librarian who burned a copy of In The Night Kitchen.  From Letters of Note.

What Does "Young Adult" Mean?  From The Atlantic Wire.

A little while back, Jim C. Hines had a fabulous post on his blog where he tried posing like women on the cover of fantasy books.  He has now done the same thing for men.

Waiting on Wednesday: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Barduga

"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 o

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee. 

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart.
(Summary by Goodreads) 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Spirit's Princess by Esther Friesner

In third century Japan, Himiko is the only daughter of the chief of her tribe.  Himiko is destine for greatness and has a strong connection with the spirit world.  Her father, however, wants his daughter married and having children.  Himiko struggles with being the perfect daughter and following her heart.

This book went on forever and then some.  It took me a long time to get though because I kept getting bored.  I think there could have been some serious editing done and the story wouldn't have lost anything essential.

Himiko goes back and forth between her two personalities like six times.  First she's all outspoken, then she falls out of the tree and becomes a good girl.  Then she overcomes that and finds some of herself again, only to get lost and return to being an obedient child.  Then she gets some of her own back but then she gets in to a fight with her beloved brother Aki and stops talking or doing anything.  So much back and forth.  And the thing was, we didn't get a lot of new information out of each one.  The important stuff was that Himiko had a bad leg, and at one point got lost and found another clan of people, and that she's destine to be a shaman.  That's it.  I did not need years and years to go by and have each of her back and forth personality changes documented.  I didn't need so many fights with her father, so many moments with her brother.

Nothing much happened.  The major conflict of the book was that Himiko was destined to be a shaman, something her father had strictly forbidden.  Himiko trains secretly, and when will she confront him and all will be revealed?  What will happen?  That doesn't happen until almost the end of the book, and then Himiko runs away and when she tries to go home she finds her clan has been conquered.  Then the book ends.

I feel like nothing ever came together.  I understand that this is a series, but did the entire first book have to be back story and setup for the next one?  That's what it felt like.  I don't have any interest in finding out what happens next.  I'm afraid it will just be more of the same.

The most enjoyable part for me was the note at the end of the book that told about the stories of the real Himiko that the book was based on.  I thought that was very interesting.

Spirit's Princess comes out April 24, 2012.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Zero by Tom Leveen

Zero is an artist, or at least she thought she was until her dream college revoked her scholarship.  Without the money to attend, and since she isn't speaking to her best and only friend, Zero is now stuck with an empty summer, full of her parent's fighting.  To escape, Zero seeks out the punk rock clubs and becomes friends with a group of guys in the band Gothic Rainbow, in particular the drummer, Mike.  Slowly Zero begins to find the courage and confidence to seek out her dream of art.

It was clear right away that Zero didn't think much of herself.  I mean, she's letting everyone call her Zero.  It's not hard to see how she got a low opinion of herself, however.  Art is her one love, but she didn't have a teacher in high school that could help her strengthen her skills.  The rejection from college hit her hard, and now she thinks she sucks at the one thing that made her happy.  Zero is a bit of an outcast, her one close friend being Jenn, who she's now cut herself off from.  Her home situation isn't great.  Her father is an alcoholic who's drinking a good portion of the family's income (which is why Zero can't afford college).

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Renee Hobbs seeks change in law to allow teachers to copy DVDs for classroom use.  From The Digital Shift.

There's now a children's choice award for best STEM picture book from School Library journal.

At long last, Pottermore is finally, finally open to everyone.

I just think this is awesome.  From PW.

The Huffington Post theorizes what books in 2012 will take the place of The Hunger Games.

And speaking of The Hunger Games, Gary Ross will not return to direct Catching Fire.  The new director will have his work cut out for him. Or perhaps one these female directors?  From The Hollywood Reporter, The Los Angeles Times and The Mary Sue.

I am unimpressed with The Atlantic's "The Greatest Girl Characters of Young Adult Literature."  First of all, half of what's on the list isn't YA, and second, the writer of this article clearly hasn't been doing a lot of recent reading of YA, aside from The Hunger Games.

An interview with Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith.  From

Guys read Judy Blume too.  From Jezebel. 

This makes me sad: "Lois Lane, Girl Reporter: The Awesome Comic that Never Was and Probably Never Will Be."  Stupid big comic book industry.  From The Mary Sue.

Noelle's Hunger Games comics are adorable.

And finally, haven't you wondered what it would be like if Mean Girls collided with The Hunger Games Your question is now answered.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Bitterblue has been queen since she was ten years old, the year Katsa killed King Leck.  Now 18, Bitterblue has begun sneaking out at night to explore her own kingdom.  She realizes that Monsea has not made as much progress recovering from Leck's reign then she'd thought.  There's still many secrets surrounding Leck and what happened during that time, and no one who remembers is willing to tell Bitterblue.  In fact, people who try to talk about Leck are being killed.  Bitterblue must uncover a seemingly never-ending mountain of secrets if she wants her kingdom to ever heal.

Whoa.  You guys.  It was so good.  SO GOOD!  I am kind of blown away.  It all came together so well.  All the different aspects of this fabulous world that has been created.

After I finished reading Bitterblue, I immediately wanted to reread Graceling and Fire.  I hadn't read either book recently enough to pick up on hundreds of little things that might have clued me in to what was going on throughout Bitterblue.  I love it so much when you can tell how much care an author took into creating a world, when everything comes together just right and you can suddenly say, "OMG!  I see what's going on!  That's incredible!"

I loved getting to see characters we've already been introduced to through someone else's eyes.  Graceling was from Katsa's perspective, and now we get to see Katsa and Poe and Giddon and Raffin through Bitterblue's eyes.  I especially enjoyed Bitterblue's reaction to Katsa and Poe seeing each other for the first time in a while.  It involved tackling and wrestling and kissing.  And eye rolling from the spectators.

I really don't want to talk too much about the book, because I don't want to give anything away.  I loved the experience of reading this book and don't want to ruin it for anyone else.  I will say that some pretty upsetting and traumatizing things are revealed over the course of the book.  Leck's reign was even more horrifying then you'd ever imagined.  It's no wonder the kingdom hasn't really recovered.

An aspect I respect very much about Kristin Cashore's books is how she creates romantic relationships.  I know that a lot of people clutched their purls and got their undergarments in a twist when Poe and Katsa didn't get married, or when Fire chose not to have children, even though she really wanted children.  For a lot of people, a happy ending equals a man and women getting married and having children and if that doesn't happen something is wrong.  I love that Kristin Cashore doesn't feel like she needs to follow that.  I love that she creates realistic, passionate, loving relationships that don't have traditional endings.  I love that she was able to show that Katsa loved Poe, but that that wasn't enough for to be willing to give up her own freedom.  No, it's not because she hates men (duh, she clearly loves Poe) but Poe's love isn't enough for her.  She wants to have a life as well.  How awesome is that?  So awesome.

I also appreciate how Kristin Cashore's female characters are complex human beings.  So often a woman gets to be one of two things: kickass bitch who will accept the love of no man (and if she does she isn't kickass any more), or a quiet good-girl domestic type.  There's this idea that if a women is going to be powerful, she cannot have any emotions.  She has to rid herself of any traditional "womanly" attributes and essentially act like a man.  Only through acting like a man (having little emotion) can she be truly powerful.  But a woman can still be a woman and be strong.  Bitterblue is the queen of a kingdom, leading her people toward a better future.  But that doesn't stop her from being scared, or falling in love, or feeling overwhelmed and confused, or needing other people to help her, or crying.  She is all those things.  She is a strong, powerful woman, who also sometimes needs help and support.  And sometimes things suck and she needs to cry.  But none of that stops her from doing her job, and doing it well and pushing through the crap that keeps getting handed to her.  Sometimes she wants to give up.  But she doesn't.  I never felt that Bitterblue was weak, or needed a man to come in a fix things for her, not even when she was crying on the floor.

Do you realize how few books there are that does that?  Like, really do that?  And Kristin Cashore has done it in all three of her books so well.

So in conclusion.  Dear Kristin Cashore, I love you.  Please write more books that take place in this world?  I would love to know more about Hava.  I felt like that might have been left deliberately open, so maybe someday there will be more to come?  I can only hope.

Bitterblue comes out May 1, 2012.  Read it.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Selection by Kiera Cass

"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 o

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself- and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

The Selection comes out April 24, 2012

Friday, April 13, 2012

It's Our Prom (So Deal With It) by Julie Anne Peters

At Azure's school, prom is for the jocks and cheerleaders, so when Azure's principal offers her the chance to create and alternative prom for the whole school, she can hardly wait.  Azure has plenty of ideas, but making them actually happen is proving a lot harder than she'd thought.  And what's the point of prom if you don't have the perfect prom date?  For Azure that would be her best friend Radhika.  The problem is Azure's other best friend, Luke, is in love with Radhika too.

There were some things I liked.  I think the book made the point it's important to create a space that everyone can be in and feel comfortable.  However, it is also important that when creating change you don't go to the opposite extreme and end up isolating a different group of people.  Azure was so enthusiastic about creating an alternative prom that appealed to her, she didn't give much thought about making sure it appealed to everyone.  Drag show!  Tattoos!  A car show!(?)  For someone who claimed she didn't judge people, Azure was super judgey.  I found her annoying and overbearing.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


If you see any YA books lying around to day, it's because people are rocking the drop for Teen Lit Day.  From I Heart Daily.

Six popular children's books that teach horrible lessons.  From

The list of the top ten most frequently challenged books for 2011 is out.  ttyl is at number one.  Number two is Kim Dong Hwa's Color of Earth series.  I wonder where that came from.  They came out in 2009.  From PW.

Self-publishing continues to grow.  Especially for kids.  From The New York Times.

Katniss is now a Barbie doll.  I'm sure she'd be thrilled.  From EW.

Is Katniss really one of the most "radical female characters to appear in American movies" of all time?  From The New York Times.

E-books trump print - except when it comes to reading for kids.  From The Digital Shift.

How Winnie-the-Pooh came to be.  From The Telegraph.

Potted Potter will be making it's off-Broadway debut.  I feel strongly if any unauthorized Harry Potter parody is going to make the big times, it should be A Very Potter Musical.  From The New York Times.

The 2012 Eisner Award nominees are in.

Librarians grapple with 'Hunger Games' mania. From SLJ.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Supergirl Mixtapes by Meghan Brothers

"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 Supergirl Mixtapes by Meghan Brothers.

 After years of boredom in her rural South Carolina town, Maria is thrilled when her father finally allows her to visit her estranged artist mother in New York City. She’s ready for adventure, and she soon finds herself immersed in a world of rock music and busy streets, where new people and ideas lie around every concrete corner. This is the freedom she’s always longed for—and she pushes for as much as she can get, skipping school to roam the streets, visit fancy museums, and flirt with the cute clerk at a downtown record store.

But just like her beloved New York City, Maria’s life has a darker side. Behind her mother’s carefree existence are shadowy secrets, and Maria must decide just where—and with whom—her loyalty lies.

Supergirl Mixtapes comes out April 24, 2012.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Purity by Jackson Pearce

Shelby made her mother three promises before she died: listen to her father, love as much as possible and to live without restraint.  Shelby has lived by the Promises for years, but now she's run in to trouble.  Her father wants her to help with and participate in the Princess Ball, a father-daughter dance that includes a vow to live a pure life - no drinking, no drugs, and no sex before marriage.  Shelby doesn't want to make the vow, but she can't go against Promise 1.  Shelby decides the only solution is to have sex before the ball, thereby negating the vow.  She's in a race against time to lose her virginity.

So this was...predictable.  Yes, that's how I would sum up this book.  Super predicable.  By the time I was on page 20 it was plenty clear exactly where this book was going and what was going to have happened by the end.

Shelby has two close friends, Ruby, her fun-loving adventurous crazy friend and Jonas, her organized, serious, male friend.  Together they help Shelby live life to the fullest by jumping of bridges and so forth.  Shelby has practically no relationship with her father.  They are awkward and uncomfortable together, and never have any kind of conversation.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling, of The Office fame, writes a series of essays on things such as karaoke etiquette, the day she stopped eating cupcakes, and franchises she'd like to reboot.

This was lots of fun.  I had several, genuine, laugh-out-loud moments, and chuckled through the rest of it.  I didn't find everything funny, but I would totally recommend it to someone with a, "This is really cute.  Take it to read on your airplane trip or to the beach.  You'll get a good laugh."

I think Mindy Kaling is totally someone I'd want to hang out with.  However, we would not be able to talk about comedy.  She finds people like Will Ferrelle and Sarah Silverman to be geniuses.  I cannot even watch them.  Then she'd get mad at me because she does not like to be criticized and then we'd be in a fight.

Mindy (I've decided we're not on a first name bases) writes about all sorts of things, but basically she takes us through her life, with some detours.  She writes about her happy, normal childhood with her parents.  She writes about college.  She writes about moving to New York and being unemployed.  She interrupts herself from the main story line to talk about how the term "hooking up" is confusing and wonders why men put their shoes on so slowly.

She mentions her weight a lot.  At one point she mentions that she's a size 8, but from the way she'd been talking about herself before you'd have thought she weighed 500 pounds.  I understand that in the Hollywood world, a size 8 probably might as well be 500 pounds, but I got tired or hearing her talk about weight and diets and so on.  That's really my only complaint though.

That and her terrible taste in comedians.  A fun read.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Future of School Libraries

This week there's been a bit of back and forth between two respected individuals in the school library field.  Linda W. Braun, a project management and consulting coordinator for LEO, a library consulting firm, as well as an adjunct professor at Simmons (who taught the school library technology class I took, it was excellent) and Buff Hamilton, The Unquiet Library who is a school librarian in Canton, Georgia. 

Linda wrote an article for School Library Journal called, “Next Year’s Model: Sarah Ludwig left the library, became a tech coordinator, and forged a path to the future”which talks about the work Sarah is doing in her new role as academic technology coordinator and how in many cases it's similar to the work librarians do.  Buffy Hamilton took issue with this and wrote a response "Do I Really Have to Leave the Role of School Librarian to Do the Work of a School Librarians?" which questions the idea that one has to leave the role of librarian to do the work of a librarian.

I found both articles interesting and agreed with points both Linda and Buffy made.  I agree with Buffy that one does not have to lose the title "librarian" to do much of the work that Sarah is doing in her school.  However, I do agree, as Linda points out, that much of the work Sarah is doing could be the future of school librarianship. 

There's a lot of discussion in the comment section Buffy's article, as well as on Twitter (@lbraun200, @buffyjhamilton).  Both articles are definitely worth a read.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Dark Frost

"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 Dark Frost by Jennifer Estep.

 I’ve seen so many freaky things since I started attending Mythos Academy last fall. I know I’m supposed to be a fearless warrior, but most of the time, I feel like I’m just waiting for the next Bad, Bad Thing to happen. Like someone trying to kill me—again.

Everyone at Mythos Academy knows me as Gwen Frost, the Gypsy girl who uses her psychometry magic to find lost objects—and who just may be dating Logan Quinn, the hottest guy in school. But I’m also the girl the Reapers of Chaos want dead in the worst way. The Reapers are the baddest of the bad, the people who murdered my mom. So why do they have it in for me?

It turns out my mom hid a powerful artifact called the Helheim Dagger before she died. Now, the Reapers will do anything to get it back. They think I know where the dagger is hidden, but this is one thing I can’t use my magic to find. All I do know is that the Reapers are coming for me—and I’m in for the fight of my life.
(Summary by Good Reads)

I've been remiss, and haven't reviewed the first two books in this series. I have to say that I LOVED them. Super funny and action-y, Gwen is an incredible protagonist and this isn't a typical boarding school supernatural romance series. I can't wait for it to come out.

Dark Frost is the third in the Mythos Academy series, it comes out May 29th.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


The Fault in Our Stars has already been picked up to be a movie.  From

Okay for Now wins SLJ Battle of the Kids Books. 

Amusing Hunger Games PSAs.  From College Humor.

The Hunger Games is inspiring kids to take archery.  From Jezebel.

Awww!  I want someone to ask me out in a cleverly literary way!  From Mandee the Dreamer

We can expect to see lots more YA books turned in to movies with the success of The Hunger Games.  From LA Times.

So apparently Margaret Wise Brown doesn't really like children.  That's why she wanted them to go to sleep.  From Salon.

Damn!  I should have waited for the Wonder Woman Chuck Taylors!  From The Beat

Cool!  Womanthology will be an ongoing series.  From The Beat.

Women in Comics on Pinterest by Heidi MacDonald.

Mister Death's Blue-Eyed Girls by Mary Downing Hahn

It's the last day of school in 1956, and Nora and her friends are looking forward to summer.  Then the unthinkable happens.  In Nora's quite little suburban town where nothing ever happens, two girls have been shot and killed.  In the park.  In daylight.  And they were girls Nora knew.  The entire town breaks apart and the blame falls on one of the girls' ex-boyfriend, who swears he's innocent.

This was really heavy.  It's based on a true event that Mary Downing Hahn lived through in June of 1955.  While Mister Death's Blue-Eyed Girls is fictional, it pulls heavily from Hahn's own memories of that time, which she has never forgotten.  She talks a bit about the actual event at the end of the book and how she wanted to write about it for a long time.

The evening before the shooting there was a party and all the high school kids are together having a great time.  The next day two girls, Cheryl and Bobbi Jo, have been shot and killed in the park.  Cheryl's ex-boyfriend Buddy is accused of the crime.  Everyone in town is sure he did it.  Nora is not so sure, however.  It difficult for her to voice this though, because everyone else is so certain.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Giveaway: Purity by Jackson Pearce

A fabulous giveaway for you, our fabulous readers!

Before her mother died, Shelby promised three things: to listen to her father, to love as much as possible, and to live without restraint. Those Promises become harder to keep when Shelby's father joins the planning committee for the Princess Ball, an annual dance that ends with a ceremonial vow to live pure lives -- in other words, no "bad behavior," no breaking the rules, and definitely no sex.

Torn between Promises One and Three, Shelby makes a decision -- to exploit a loophole and lose her virginity before taking the vow. But somewhere between failed hookup attempts and helping her dad plan the ball, Shelby starts to understand what her mother really meant, what her father really needs, and who really has the right to her purity.

Purity comes out April 24, 2012.

Giveaway ends April 9th. 

This giveaway is now closed.
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