Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: The Opposite of Hallelujah by Anna Jarzad.

"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 Opposite of Hallelujah by Anna Jarzad.

Caro Mitchell considers herself an only child—and she likes it that way. After all, her much older sister, Hannah, left home eight years ago, and Caro barely remembers her. So when Caro’s parents drop the bombshell news that Hannah is returning to live with them, Caro feels as if an interloper is crashing her family. To her, Hannah’s a total stranger, someone who haunts their home with her meek and withdrawn presence, and who refuses to talk about her life and why she went away. Caro can’t understand why her parents cut her sister so much slack, and why they’re not pushing for answers.

Unable to understand Hannah, Caro resorts to telling lies about her mysterious reappearance. But when those lies alienate Caro’s new boyfriend and put her on the outs with her friends and her parents, she seeks solace from an unexpected source. And when she unearths a clue about Hannah’s past—one that could save Hannah from the dark secret that possesses her—Caro begins to see her sister in a whole new light.

The Opposite of Hallelujah comes out October 9, 2012.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Think you know Harry Potter?  Try this Lit Slit quiz and find out.  I only got one wrong, which makes me a Hogwarts professor.  I am awesome.  From Mental_Floss.

YA authors narrate David Levithan's Every Day.  From EW.

Shannon Hale on how boys should be encouraged to read books about girls.  From The Salt Lake Tribune.

Partick Ness on censorship in the Internet age.  From The Guardian.

The legacy of the Baby-Sister's Club!  From The Atlantic Wire.

Whoa.  The Hunger Games has beat Harry Potter as the top seller on Amazon.  From The New York Times.

How do we feel about the casting of Finnick?  I have no idea who this Sam Claflin is.  From E.

Kind of want this shirt.  From Mental_Floss.

I understand that there are issues with Fifty Shades of Grey, but can we not burn books please?  From the LA Times.

I wish there was more of an actual pattern for this, because I MUST HAVE THIS WONDER WOMAN SWEATER!  From Fashionably Geek.

And finally, John Green tells us why it's awesome that school is starting.  Preach it, John Green.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Batgirl: The Darkest Reflection by Gail Simone

In this reboot (am I not suppose to call it a reboot?) Barbara has made a miraculous recovery.  After being shot by the Joker in the spine, Barbara was paralyzed for two years.  But then she was able to walk again.  Now recovered, she's ready to be Batgirl once more.  Or so she thinks.  Up against a new villain named Mirror, Batgirl realizes she may not be as prepared as she needs to be.

So I was finally able to get my hands on The New 52 Batgirl.  I was on the library waiting list for months.  So I begin my process of reading the female-focused comics of The New 52.  I know I'm behind the times.  What can I say?  I have a lot to read.

I was pretty sure that new Batgirl was going to be at the very least decent because it's written by Gail Simone, who, as we all know, is awesome.  She was also the only solo female writer on the entire New 52 line.  Yeah.  DC and Marvel still have a tendency to sort of suck in that respect.  They also like to stick their heads in the sand and pretend that women aren't reading their comics, because if women aren't reading their comics, then they don't have to care about them or cater to their needs.

Back to the story itself.  So you have to be willing to take in stride Barbara's new story.  No Oracle, no Birds of Pray, she's back to being Batgirl, but has this traumatic background she has to deal with as she gets back into the crime fighting game.  It isn't easy for her to get back.  She freezes the first time Mirror points a gun at her.  As usual, Gail Simone told great stories with a good mix of humor and action.  There's enough back-story to understand what's going on, but not too much that it drags down the action.

I certainly liked the illustrations much better than when I read Birds of Prey.  There were no tits and ass shots, which I appreciated.  Actually, there was very little gratuitous boob flashing or impossible poses, which was delightful.  Yes, a villain who shows up toward the end is wearing a white cat suit with a lot of cleavage.  But it wasn't too bad and that was really it.  Thank you, multiple people who did the art, for not resorting to hypersexulization but allowing the images and words work together to tell a story.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan

Misskaella, wronged by her family and those around her took her revenge on the island by tempting the men with sea wives: women she can draw from seals.  Now the only people on Rollrock Island are men, their sea wives, and their sons.  And the wives never stop wishing for the sea.

I found this story incredibly disturbing.  It was still an engaging story, but I was very disturbed.  The legend of selkies I always found upsetting: men stealing the seal skin of a women and hiding it so the women cannot return to the sea and then taking her for a wife.  It's really pretty awful.

The setting felt Irish to me, and selkies are often connected to Irish lore.  There was nothing that explicitly put it in Ireland, or our own world for that matter, but some of the slang used, and the constant reference to the native people having red hair caused me to picture Ireland as the backdrop for this story.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Great Unexpected by Sharon Creech

Naomi and Lizzie, two orphan girls living in Blackbird Tree, are minding their own business when a boy falls out of a tree at their feet.  Once Finn shows up, things become very strange.  The mysterious Dingle Dangle man comes to town for an unknown purpose, and things begin changing, fast, and Naomi isn't sure if it's for the better.  She begins to see the strange connections between people, even people far across the sea in Ireland.

I love Sharon Creech.  I grew up reading Walk Two Moons and Chasing Redbird.  I was beside myself when I met her at ALA.  But I did not love this.  It was very...disjointed.  It was disjointed on purpose, I know, but it didn't work for me.  Things kind of came together in the end, but not as much as I would have liked.

Naomi falls quickly for Finn.  Lizzie doesn't seem to have much romantic interest in him, but that doesn't stop Naomi from feeling jealous.  One of Naomi's guardians, Nula, tells her the story of a boy named Finn who broke her heart back in Ireland and caused and rift between her and her sister, who she hasn't seen or spoken to in years.

The chapters go back and forth between Naomi, pinning for Finn, fearing dogs, and visiting unfortunate souls with Lizzie, and Mrs. Kavanagh, who has planned some kind of revenge in Blackbird Tree.  It is not clear what, but it seems to involve a murder.

Naomi, Lizzie and Nula eventually travel to Ireland and many surprising connections are made.  Everyone is linked in some kind of way.  It was all very...airy and flighty and deep thinking and pondery.  Was Finn real?  Was he really there?  I have no idea.  I was confused about that in the end.

I think it will appeal to some girls, but it's not nearly as relatable as many of her other books.  Most of Sharon Creech's books I could recommend to any kid.  This book would take a certain kind of kid.

The Great Unexpected comes out September 4, 2012.

Waiting on Wednesday: Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst

"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 Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst.

 In a desert world of sandstorms and sand-wolves, a teen girl must defy the gods to save her tribe in this mystical, atmospheric tale from the author of Drink, Slay, Love.Liyana has trained her entire life to be the vessel of a goddess. The goddess will inhabit Liyana’s body and use magic to bring rain to the desert. But Liyana’s goddess never comes. Abandoned by her angry tribe, Liyana expects to die in the desert. Until a boy walks out of the dust in search of her.

     Korbyn is a god inside his vessel, and a trickster god at that. He tells Liyana that five other gods are missing, and they set off across the desert in search of the other vessels. For the desert tribes cannot survive without the magic of their gods. But the journey is dangerous, even with a god’s help. And not everyone is willing to believe the trickster god’s tale.

     The closer she grows to Korbyn, the less Liyana wants to disappear to make way for her goddess. But she has no choice: She must die for her tribe to live. Unless a trickster god can help her to trick fate—or a human girl can muster some magic of her own.
(Summary from GoodReads)

I think this sounds really intriguing, like Sarah Beth Durst created a well-thought out complex world. And it comes out on Arianna's birthday! So good times.

Vessel comes out Sept. 11.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


24 library-centric sites.  From Mental Floss.

Random House unveils Twitter author chat series.  From PW.

Women are on the rise as top-earning authors.  From Forbes.

The recession has not been good for diversity in children's books.  From the Wisconsin State Journal.

Laura Miller argues that the reason so many more women write YA than men is because YA carries no prestige.  From Salon.

Apparently there are a number of people who still like print books, as Lauren Conrad learned when she filmed a craft video which involved cutting up books.  From The Hollywood Reporter.

A girl looking for a summary of her summer reading book (which she didn't read) gets an answer from the author.  From abc News.

Bags inspired by children's books.  From the Huffington Post.

Jacqueline Wilson on writing a sequel to E Nesbit's Five Children and It.  From The Guardian

Mo Willems tells us how to raise a reader.  I love him so.  From Scholastic.

News from Comi-Con.  From SLJ.

Librarians at Comi-Con.  From PW.

Moving right along, Chris Colfer, having written a middle grade book, will now write a YA book.  Also, it will be a movie he will star in.  From PW.

Lesser know books by authors you love.  From The Atlantic Wire.

During a time when many librarians are losing their jobs and libraries are disappearing, it's nice to read things like this: Baltimore schools receive $5 million library upgrade.  From SLJ.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Amulet: Prince of the Elves by Kazu Kibuishi

Emily survived the chaos of the Guardian Academy, but Max Griffin has stolen the Mother Stone.  With it, the Elf King forges new Amulets that will give him the power to invade and destroy the nation of Windsor.  Emily and her friends lead the soldiers of the Cielis Guard in a fight to stop him, but Max stands in their way.  And when she seeks information form the Voice of her Amulet, she discovers that the Voice is much more sinister than she ever could have imagined. (publishers description)

This is the fifth volume in Kibuishi's Amulet series.  In this volume we learn a bit about Max's background, and while I know he's suppose to be evil and all, and he's fighting against our heroes, I totally felt sympathetic for him.  He witnessed the injustices against the elves, and the tragic and unfair death of a friend caused him to take the elves' side in the war.

Emily and her brother Navin are now fighting for the Cielis Guard.  I'm not totally clear while all the pilots and leaders are kids, and the older generation is cool with taking orders from them.  I know Emily is the stonekeeper, and that carries a lot of weight, but there were other kids acting as pilots rather than adults.

Also, I was a little confused about how exactly Emily's stone was manipulating her.  It didn't really tell her to do anything, did it?

I like Kazu Kibuishi's style of art, but one issue I have is that a lot of the human characters look very similar, especially the kids.  In fairness, the ARC I had wasn't fully colored yet, so that may help, but I definitely went a few pages thinking that Navin was Max.

I like how Kibuishi uses the panels to invoke feeling.  On one page, where Navin and the robots are rising up in a kind of elevator, the panel is long and thin down the left-hand side of the page, allowing us to see how high and fast they are rising.  The use of double-paged spreads, often wordless, is also well done, creating a powerful impact.

Amulet: Prince of Elves will be available September 1, 2012.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Giveaway: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

We have an exciting giveaway for you!  Win an ARC of Printz Honor author Maggie Stiefvater's new book The Raven Boys.

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

The Raven Boys comes out September 18, 2012.

This giveaway is now closed.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Black City by Elizabeth Richards

"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 Black City by Elizabeth Richards.

 A dark and tender post-apocalyptic love story set in the aftermath of a bloody war

In a city where humans and Darklings are now separated by a high wall and tensions between the two races still simmer after a terrible war, sixteen-year-olds Ash Fisher, a half-blood Darkling, and Natalie Buchanan, a human and the daughter of the Emissary, meet and do the unthinkable--they fall in love. Bonded by a mysterious connection that causes Ash's long-dormant heart to beat, Ash and Natalie first deny and then struggle to fight their forbidden feelings for each other, knowing if they're caught, they'll be executed--but their feelings are too strong.

When Ash and Natalie then find themselves at the center of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to pull the humans and Darklings back into war, they must make hard choices that could result in both their deaths.
(Summary from GoodReads)

It just all sounds so dramatic and takes a lot of interesting aspects of different genres that I love. Also I think the cover is pretty.  

Black City comes out Nov. 13.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


I love these: minimalist posters of children's classic.  I think Little Red Ridinghood is my favorite, followed by The Pied Piper.  From BrainPickings.

Well, this makes me sad:  Two-thirds of parent's never read to their babies.  Read to you children!  From The Guardian.

Frog and Toad is going to be an animated movie.  It's from The Jim Henson Company, so maybe it will be OK?  From kidsscreen.

Carnegie medal winners Patrick Ness and Jim Kay talk about how they worked together on A Monster Calls without ever meeting.  From The Guardian.

A 12-year-old girl from Plymouth is half way to her goal of collecting a million gently used books for needy children.  Rock on, kid.  From Star News.

Children's books that look death in the eye.  From io9.

Lost tributes of The Hunger Games.  From The Huffington Post.

Patrica Polacco's In Our Mother's House was banned from a school in Utah.  From SLJ.

South Korea removes textbooks that teach evolution.  From Scientific America.

10  most terrifying children's books from around the world.  From Flavorwire.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

"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 Crown of Ember by Rae Carson.

In the sequel to the acclaimed The Girl of Fire and Thorns, a seventeen-year-old princess turned war queen faces sorcery, adventure, untold power, and romance as she fulfills her epic destiny.

Elisa is the hero of her country. She led her people to victory against a terrifying enemy, and now she is their queen. But she is only seventeen years old. Her rivals may have simply retreated, choosing stealth over battle. And no one within her court trusts her-except Hector, the commander of the royal guard, and her companions. As the country begins to crumble beneath her and her enemies emerge from the shadows, Elisa will take another journey. With a one-eyed warrior, a loyal friend, an enemy defector, and the man she is falling in love with, Elisa crosses the ocean in search of the perilous, uncharted, and mythical source of the Godstone's power. That is not all she finds. A breathtaking, romantic, and dangerous second volume in the Fire and Thorns trilogy.
(Summary from Goodreads)

I really enjoyed the first book of this, and am quite excited to see where Rae Carson takes the story. The Crown of Embers comes out Sept. 18.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Origin by Jessica Khoury

Pia has grown up isolated in the scientific compound of Little Cam in the middle of a jungle.  Pia is immortal, the product of the scientists research.  All Pia wants is to be able to join the Immortis team and help to create other like herself.  But when Pia has a chance to explore the jungle and meets a boy named Eio, she begins to wonder what else is out there in the world she doesn't know about.  And then she learns that the Immortis project has a dark side she never imagined.

This essentially was a supernatural romance, but we've replaced the supernatural part with science fiction.  Well, sort of science.  Pia will never age past 20, her skin is impenetrable and she isn't susceptible to any diseases.  I had questions about this, like "can she drown?"  "It's not so much that she's immortal, but that her aging process is in stasis."  "Am I thinking too hard about the science part of this?"  Anyway, Pia has never been outside the fence and then she gets outside the fence and guess who the first person is she bumps into?  A beautiful boy she feels drawn too.

Friday, August 3, 2012


Catching up with Jack Gantos.  From the New York Times.

Um, this is amazing.  JK Rowling plans 40ft high adventure treehouse for children in her backyard.   From Mail Online.

Interesting article about the "timelessness" of children's books.  From The Guardian.

23 terrifying movie adaptations of children's books.  From

Oh thank goodness!  Twilight Saga reboot denied by Lionsgate.  From The Guardian.

Remembering Sally Ride.  From PW.

Was Harry Potter a socialist?  Like we needed to give people another reason to ban Harry Potter.  From The Huffington Post.

Have I mentioned how much I love Neil Gaiman?  I love him.  Here's the transcript of 7 year-old Neil Gaiman being interviewed by the BBC about Scientology.  I think he kind of looked like Michael Phelps as a teenager. From The Village Voice.

Why don't Dr. Seuss books make good movies?  Duh.  Because the movie people won't leave them alone.  From The Guardian.

Also from The Guardian, The Hunger Games made archery cool.

7 video games that would make great books.  From PW.

Time out.  James Joyce wrote a children's book?  Does it have any punctuation?  From Yellow Brick Reads.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Drama by Raina Telgemeier

Callie's passion is the theater.  She and her friends are the devoted stage crew of Eucalyptus Middle School.  Callie will do whatever she has to to make sure the sets are beyond perfect.  Sometimes it's hard

Loved.  Totally adorable.  So sweet I want to snuggle it.  Especially if you were ever a theater kid, whether on stage or off, it will be such fun to read this.  But even if you're not, you'll still enjoy it because it's about boy issues and friend issues and growing up.

Callie and her friends are a delightful rainbow of multiculturalism.  It isn't mention in anyway, it just is.  They're just a bunch of kids, of a variety of different ethic and cultural backgrounds and sexual preferences and they all hang out and accept each other, because why wouldn't they?  Awesome.

I must say, these are some seriously talented middle school kids.  My middle school theater productions were nowhere near as professional.  And the students are pretty much doing it all themselves, from sewing the costumes to designing the sets.  Sometimes it was hard to believe they were 6th, 7th, and 8th graders, but then, I also wasn't kissing boys in middle school. 

Callie is awesome.  She knows her passion and nothing will get in her way.  She loves theater and wants to be a set designer.  She's already pretty good at it, and will go to no end to make her vision come true.  She also has bad luck with boys.  Her first crush, her friend Matt's older brother Greg, kisses her then ignores her and gets back together with his old girlfriend.  The Callie falls for someone who may not be into girls.  Callie goes through a lot of frustration, and even a few tears, but she shows her true awesomeness by the end.  She not only rejects Greg when he asks her to be his girlfriend (after his girlfriend breaks up with him) but she ends the story without a boyfriend and  totally cool with it.  I love you Callie!

Since this was an ARC, it isn't in full color yet, but it's done in Raina's signature sweet style.  I loved Callie's little brother.  Raina perfectly captured the exuberance of an annoying little brother with a million questions.  Raina can give her characters so much personality, with just a few freckles or a signature hairstyle.

So it was fabulous.  MAKE SURE  to get this for your library when it comes out, which will be September 1, 2012.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous by Kathryn Williams

Sophie Nicolaides has grown up in the kitchen of her family's Greek-Italian restaurant.  Sophie dreams of becoming a chef, and she might get her chance sooner than she thought when she enters to compete on a reality TV teen cooking contest.   But the contest is not what Sophie was expecting.  Is having her life exposed worth the possible reward?

This was fast, fun and sweet.  It's good to have nice books.  Nothing terrible happens, nothing overly sexy besides a few kisses.  A little bit of friendship and relationship drama and it all ends happily.  Delightful!

Sophie wants to have a real restaurant, not a family restaurant like her father owns.  Sophie wants to be a chef, not just a cook.  This is something that her father doesn't really understand.  Sticking with family means everything to him, and he doesn't understand why Sophie would want something different.

Sophie has a crush on (of course) her best guy friend Alex.  But when she goes to Napa for the competition at the National Culinary Academy she meets a dashing French student named Luc who gets her all confused!  What's a girl to do?  It doesn't help, of course, that Sophie's every move is being filmed and broadcast.

Sophie and her fellow competitors are shocked, shocked when they realize they're being manipulated by the show's producers to heighten the drama.  Come on kids, have you never seen a reality TV show?  Surely you didn't believe that's all happening naturally?  Do you?  This is why we need to teach media literacy, folks.

I think this would be a great pick for a middle school girl who liked books like The Tea Shop Girls or The Mother-Daughter Book Club.

I am NOT pleased to see that covers where the girl's head is cut off are making a comeback.

Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous comes out August 21, 2012.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann

"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 Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann.

 Bartholomew Kettle won't live long. Changelings never do. The child of a human mother and a faery father, Bartholomew is a secret, despised by both his races. If the English don't hang him for witchcraft, the faerys will do something worse. So his mother keeps him locked away, hidden from the world in the faery slums of Bath.

But one day Bartholomew witnesses a mysterious lady kidnap another changeling through a shadowy portal, and he realizes the danger is closer than ever before. Changelings are surfacing in the rivers, their bodies empty of blood and bone and their skin covered in red markings. A powerful figure sits in the shadows, pushing the pieces in place for some terrible victory. When a sinister faery in a top-hat begins to stalk Bartholomew's steps, he knows it's his turn. Something is coming for him. Something needs him. But when you're a changeling there's no where to run...

The Peculiar come out September 18, 2012.
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