Friday, September 28, 2012

The Robe of Skulls by Vivian French

The evil enchantress Lady Lamorna doesn't know it yet, but her simple request for a black velvet dress with skulls, poison ivy, and spiders, embroidered on it and red petticoats is going to set into motion a series of events that will bring the unlikeliest of heroes together: a troll whose head tends to come off, two chatty bats, a misfit prince, a True Heart girl named Gracie Gillypot, and Ancient Crones. The question now becomes will their efforts be enough once Lady Lamorna joins forces with the evil were-girl Foyce  in their plan of "Prince, zap, frog"?

When thinking of this book, the phrase "delightful romp" comes to mind. Add to that Renee Raudman's absolutely awesome reading and you have an absolutely compelling audiobook.

I probably would have enjoyed this book just reading it to myself. It has all of the elements that make it fabulous: humor, endearing characters, exciting chases, and absolutely entertaining villains. The plot is slightly predictable, but the dialogue makes up for the slightly formulaic storyline.

There are some references to modern day devices, I think a roller coaster is referenced at one point, but I don't have a complete grasp of what the world is like. so much time is spent with the characters that there isn't a ton of explanation of what the world of the Five Kingdoms is like. Which is kind of okay, you don't really need it. The real draw are the characters. They are so well done, simplistic yet there's just the right amount of depth to them to make them memorable. I especially loved the bat Marlin and Gubble the troll. They were both so delightful! Yes, Gracie Gillypot is a bit of a wet blanket as she's just so perfect and such a True Heart. But who cares? Prince Marcus makes up for her (and he's not even the best character!) and she's not in it too frequently.

I really want to also talk about Renee Raudman. She was so perfect for this, each voice and accent she did for the individual characters was so spot on. She had an incredible ear for pacing and tone. I think she might have spoiled me for all other audiobook readers. Sublime.

As I did listen to the audiobook, I didn't get to partake in the illustrations within the book. They're done by Ross Collins, and from what I can tell they're excellent. They seem to really encompass the style of the book.

I'm also sharing a video off of Vivian French's website, I think her hairstyle is fabulous.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Second Life of Abigail Walker by Frances O'Roark Dowell

Abigail Walker is trying to fit in, her best friend moved away and now Abigail hangs out with the "medium girls." They talk about medium things, weigh medium amounts, and do medium things. Abigail does not wish to talk about medium things, she is constantly reminded by her father she is not a medium size, and after discovering a fox discovers she doesn't want to do medium things. Through her budding friendship with Anders, Abigail discovers what she may make her own way through the world without doing anything a 'medium' way.

There's a confession I'd like to make, I know that Frances O'Roarke Dowell is an amazing writer but I always end up finishing her books with a bit of a miffed feeling. There seems to be always a bit too much going on, or a theme that just doesn't need to be there, or an aspect that is a little jarring.

I really thought that the whole aspect with Abigail's different issues - being bullied, weight, discovery of self - trying to resolve themselves was quite well done.  The evolution of her friendship with Anders; his father Matt, who has post-traumatic stress disorder; and Matt's mother Mrs. Benton, teaches horseback riding; is quite lovely as well. There's a little bit of mirroring going on with the whole overcoming obstacles that is just generally well written. I really enjoyed that.

But then there's this whole thing with the fox. I just don't get it. The fox talks about essentially who she jumps through different times and spaces, and how she's a friend of the crow, and what in the world is this doing in here? Turns out that the fox was with Matt when the tank exploded and there's a thing where she must resolve her feelings about what happened to him in order to move on. Weird. I would go as far as to say unnecessary. This part either needed to be fleshed out, or gotten rid of. I just kept thinking of how odd it was to have the fantasy aspect in a realistic fiction book. It slowed down the pacing and really didn't add a whole lot to the plotline.

I also didn't love how Abigail didn't seem to resolve anything with her parents. She learns to eventually stand up for herself, but you know that she is going to be pushed into horrible situations with her mother stressing about Abigail's lack of social life and her father ragging on her about her weight. Yes, it is a bit more realistic, but I needed just a touch more resolution. You know?

Considering the fact that Oct. is National Bully Awareness month, I do definitely recommend it. Overall it is a memorable and well written book. Accessible and engaging. There's just some weird parts.

Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time adapted and illustrated by Hope Larson

The graphic novel adaptation of Madeleine L'Engle's classic a Wrinkle in Time.  Meg Murray, along with her peculiar little brother Charles Wallace and her friend Calvin O'Keefe are sent on the strangest of journeys to rescue her father, a physicist who has disappeared.

I expect a lot from my novel adaptations.  If something's already an awesome book, and it's being turned into something else, be that a TV show or a movie of a graphic novel, I feel it should be equally as awesome.  Is that so much to ask?  You have such great material to work with.  How can it go wrong?  Of course, sometimes it does.

I love A Wrinkle in Time and have read it many times.  I was excited to read the graphic novel adaptation, because it seems like such a great book to do in the graphic novel format.  The novel has such beautiful imagery, it was going to look gorgeous on the page.

I think Hope Larson did a great job with adapting the story.  Much of the dialogue is directly from the book. This allowed the characters to remain themselves in their new form.  Hope Larson nicely allowed the characters to explain themselves more to make up for the lack of background information.

What did not work for me was Hope Larson's art style.  It's not that I don't like her art style.  I've read all her other books, and I've enjoyed them.  However, her style is very simplistic.  There is little color or detail in her work.  Sometimes it is actually unclear what is happening in the pictures because of this.  Other times she has to resort to using words where she shouldn't have to.  In one scene, Mrs. Whatsit takes Meg, Charles Wallace and Calvin flying up to the top of a mountain to wait for sunset and moonset.  There are two panels, one representing sunset and one moonset.  On the top of each panel is written "sunset" and "moonset" otherwise it would not have been clear.  In a graphic novel I feel like that shouldn't have to happen.  The pictures should be able to speak for themselves.

There was such fabulous potential for beauty and darkness in A Wrinkle in Time.  They travel to other worlds, they see strange creatures.  They see things that are amazing beautiful and incredible frightening.  I didn't get anything of that from Hope Larson's illustrations.  No beauty, no darkness.  I really wish that this adaptation had been illustrated by someone who had a more detailed, painterly style.  I wanted the beauty and the darkness.

It's still a good adaptation, I just would have preferred a different visual experience.

A Wrinkle in Time comes out October 2, 2012.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Indigo Awakening by Jordan Dane

"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 Indigo Awakening by Jordan Dane.

 Because of what you are, the Believers will hunt you down.

Voices told Lucas Darby to run. Voices no one else can hear. He’s warned his sister not to look for him, but Rayne refuses to let her troubled brother vanish on the streets of LA. In her desperate search, she meets Gabriel Stewart, a runaway with mysterious powers and far too many secrets. Rayne can’t explain her crazy need to trust the strange yet compelling boy—to touch him—to protect him even though he scares her.

A fanatical church secretly hunts psychic kids—gifted “Indigo” teens feared to be the next evolution of mankind—for reasons only “the Believers” know. Now Rayne’s only hope is Gabe, who is haunted by an awakening power—a force darker than either of them imagine—that could doom them all.
(Summary from GoodReads)

Runaways? Voices? Crazy awesome cover? So there.

Indigo Awakening comes out Dec. 18th.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel by Nikki Grimes

Dyamonde Daniel is one smart cookie, just ask her! She's a sassy girl who loves math and isn't afraid to stand up for herself or others. But when Free, the other new kid at school, starts making trouble and scaring other students with his attitude, Dyamonde decides it's time introduce herself.

I really enjoyed this book. Nikki Grimes has created a very unique and real voice. Dyamonde has real worries and stresses, but her attitude toward how to solve them and how she approaches life is refreshing. She doesn't whine about or mope, she takes it all in stride and continues to forge ahead. Her life is something that anyone could relate to, and the theme of viewing life through math is adorable.

Dyamonde's efforts to get to know Free and understand where his attitude comes from is rather delightful. Free's father lost his job, and now his family has had to move into a small apartment with his grandparents to make ends meet. As a school librarian, this is something that happens frequently; and Free's surly response to this is one that I see often.

Dyamonde's straightforward perspective on life and the themes of friendship and change are fantastic. I am excited to book-talk this with my students. I read the book in about fifteen minutes, and it seems rather perfect for anyone around the age of nine.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Kissing Shakespeare by Pamela Mingle

Miranda has grown up in the shadow of her famous Shakespearean actress mother. After a terrible performance in The Taming of the Shrew, Miranda's frustration leads her to rethink acting all together. But just as she is about to call everything off, the mysterious fellow student Stephen propositions her. He wants her to come back to the Elizabethan Age and ensure that Shakespeare becomes a brilliant playwright instead of becoming a priest. Miranda now must navigate the cultural and political intrigues that hinder her budding relationship with William Shakespeare, but also her quickly developing feelings for Stephen.

Shall we first discuss the elephant in the room? What is up with this cover? Yes it's pretty, but it really is no reflection at all of the story. If Miranda is in the 1580s, why would she be showing off her shoulders and have her hair down? Pretty... I guess, but I think it's rather insulting that a pretty cover is what's needed to draw people in. But we here at Wandering Librarians have grumbled a bit about the vapidity of covers.

Let me state that there's a theme with the rest of the review. Build up and let down. I felt that there was a continuous build up of a theme or information and then was let down with the follow through. I had such hopes for this, perhaps too high, and I thought that I would love it but didn't.

I liked the fact that Pamela Mingle chose The Taming of the Shrew to kick start the story, as we are supposed to see Miranda conform her modern views to the traditional Elizabethan age. Except Miranda never really comes off as the strong feminist that Katherine does. She comes off as arrogant, credulous, and a bit lacking in the personality department. She cries over almost anything that has to do with Stephen and her intense feelings for him, yet continuously goes along with his plan to seduce Shakespeare without thinking of alternatives. She finds herself in the middle of a religious and political conflict and yet doesn't really think to make a concentrated investigation of it.

I thought that the descriptions of the historical elements were very well done. The little details about dress, food, religion, were all so fascinating. But the details that made the story somewhat tolerable were pretty infrequent, and generally were overridden by the sad storytelling.

I thought that there would be this great dramatic ending (Spoiler alert), obviously Miranda wouldn't actually end up sleeping with Shakespeare but I thought there'd be at least so sort of deep conversation about what he wants in life and why priesthood wouldn't be right for him. I didn't thin that Miranda would just kiss him a couple times and then he would declare that he'd already decided he wasn't going to become a priest. It just kind of showed that Miranda had no real purpose. It probably would've been fine without her, therefore this story never needed to be written. Sad.

Not well done. No real point and and very disappointing ending. I read some other people's requests for a sequel, but I think it would be best to let dead dogs lie. It had potential, but never really went anywhere.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Skinny by Donna Cooner

Ever is 15 and 302 pounds.  She's been gaining weight ever since her mother died when she was ten.  Ever has a voice in her head, who she calls Skinny, who tells her what other people think of her.  She knows that everyone is disgusted by her.  Her only friend is her childhood friend, Rat.  Ever decides that with gastric bypass surgery, she will lose the weight, and Skinny, for good.  Then she will be able to do everything she ever dreamed on, mainly trying out for the school musical and getting her old friend, Jackson, to fall in love with her.

I had a lot of problems with this book.  I almost don't know where to start.  Almost.  I was on page seven of this book when I figured out that Ever was seriously depressed and was in need of counseling.  Page seven.  Her mother died when she was ten, she started gaining weight shortly after that, she thinks everyone is constantly looking at her and judging her, she has one friend, she knows she has a beautiful voice but can't sing and she's got this voice in her head telling her how worthless and ugly she is.  This kid needs help, right now.  You know what she doesn't need?  Major surgery.

Ever weights 302 pounds and at 15 years old and 5'6" that certainly is a health issue.  But the bigger issue is how tightly drawn into herself she is, and at the same time blames everything on everyone around her.  She is totally blind to the actual perceptions and actions of people around her.  All she can see is her weight.  If only she wasn't fat, everything would be fine.  She would get back the boy she loves, she would star in the school musical, etc., etc.  These are totally rational things for a depressed, overweight kid to think.  But you know what needs to not happen?  GASTRIC BYPASS SURGERY.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

How Do You Respond to "That" Question?

I'm going to have to do a bit of venting, and then I want your opinion.

Today I was at the gym, minding my own business, wearing a shirt that said "faculty" on it I got from my school when we did a farewell flash mob for the seniors a few years ago.  A guy that I would guess was in his late forties I've never seen before comes up to me and says, "I've seen your shirt and I've always wonder what school you work at."  So that's kind of weird, but OK.  So I tell him, and he asks what I teach and I say I'm a librarian and he says, "That's must be fun.  I have a friend who's a librarian.  Do you have a library science degree?" "Yes."  "I've always wondered why a degree is needed." "..."

This has probably happened to you.  It has happened to me multiple times.  It never stops making me angry.  This guy managed to say the two things that piss me off the most.  First, "that must be fun."  I love my job.  I love being a librarian.  I do it because I love it and I think it's important.  And yes, it is often quite fun.  But it's a job, and it's hard work.  I don't sit around reading all day and cutting out paper hearts.  It's that, "Oh, what a cute job.  How fun.  You must really love kids."  Does anyone say to a plumber they must really love toilets?  Does anyone anyone tell a stockbroker, "Oh, I envy you, that sounds like fun?"  It's insulting.  People who work in the arts, kindergarten teachers, and people who work with young children get this too.  "That must be fun."  Yes, it can be.  But when someone says that there's such a lack of respect for what we do.  Such a lack of understanding.

The second is even worse.  "Why do you need a degree in that?"  Why do I need a degree for my professional job?  Why did I take two years studying so I could perform my job to the best of my ability?  Does anyone ask a lawyer why they need a degree in that?  Why is this any different?  I got a degree so I would have a background in children's and young adult literature.  I got a degree so I would know how to manage a library.  I got a degree so I would know how to teach information literacy, to collaborate and work with faculty members, and learn how to stay up-to-date on constantly changing technologies.  I got a degree so I could learn how to integrate the core curriculum standards into my teaching.  I got a degree so I would know how to support whatever community I was in, and know how to chose items that community needs.  I got a degree so I could learn how to catalog all the items I purchase, maintain and weed my collection, and find the answer to any question that gets asked of me.  I got a degree so I could stand up for books that might be questioned by some, so that everyone in my community can feel they are represented.  I got a degree for a lot of reasons.  No, not just anyone can do my job.  Or at least not just anyone can do it well.  I guess I could be a lawyer, just a really, really crappy one.

It does not help that librarians are constantly being fired in times of budget cuts and replaced with paraprofessionals.  No, it's not the same.  It's not the same at all.  Because we don't just check out books and tell people to be quiet and read stories aloud.

Also, how do people not realize how offensive it is to ask someone why they need a degree for their career?  Especially someone you don't know?

I've decided I need to have a stock answer prepared for when this happens.  Something that I have memorized so when I'm in the moment I can just fall back on it rather than either being too angry to say anything or deciding it's not worth it and laughing it off.  I could recite Joyce Valenza's Manifesto for 21st Century Teacher Librarians, but it's kind of long.

What do you say when someone asks you that question?


9 unfinished novel by great writers.  From PW.

A new Hobbit trailer!  Totally don't think it's necessary for it to be two movies, but I'm so excited!

Where did the children of Chicago go?  To the library, of course.  From SLJ.

20 favorite author's adorable school pictures.  From Flavorwire.

So...there's a trend to call books aimed at 14-35 year-olds (that's quite a range) "new adult."  I think that is silly.  From The Guardian.

Rae Carson talks about The Crown of Embers (which I loved).  From EW.

Roald Dahl's early life in pictures.  From The Guardian.

Twisted new covers for old books.  From Laughing Squid.

Hunger Games for Math Nerds.

Shadow by Michael Morpurgo

After fleeing from Afghanistan and living six years in England, Aman and his mother are being held in a detention center and threatened with deportation back to Afghanistan.  Aman's best friend Matt isn't allowed in to visit, so he sends his grandfather, a retired journalist.  Aman tells Matt's grandfather the story of his and his mother's flight from Afghanistan, and the dog that helped them.

I did not find myself emotionally connecting to anyone in the story.  I'm not totally sure why.  Aman's life was very difficult, and what he and his mother had to endure, both leaving Afghanistan and in the detention center, was terrible and sad.  But for whatever reason it was like reading a newspaper article.  The characters never became actual people.  Maybe because the book was so short, and it really just focused on telling the story, not developing the characters.  The story was important, but it lacked a human connection.

Also, Shadow seemed to hurt Aman and his mother much more than she helped!  It was lucky they'd met her and Sergeant Brodie in the end, but Shadow got them into an awful lot of trouble!

Everything seemed to get tied up pretty neatly at the end.  Just when it seems like all hope is lost, Sergeant Brodie shows up and easily saves the day.  And what about the little girl that Matt's grandpa was so struck by in the detention center?  What about her?  I thought it wasn't just about Aman, it was about all the children being held.  It was nice (and lucky) for Aman that he had a special relationship with a US solider, and that that US solider had enough pull to stop him and his mother from getting deported, but what about the others who are being unfairly held?

Maybe I'm just suppose to think about how this is a nice story about a boy and his dog, and how ultimately the dog saved him twice.

If you're scratching your head and wondering where you've heard Michael Morpurgo's name before, he's the author of War Horse.

Shadow comes out September 30, 2012.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster

"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 City of a Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster.

  The girl with no past, and no future, may be the only one who can save their lives.

Nisha was abandoned at the gates of the City of a Thousand Dolls when she was just a child. Now sixteen, she lives on the grounds of the isolated estate, where orphan girls apprentice as musicians, healers, courtesans, and, if the rumors are true, assassins. Nisha makes her way as Matron’s assistant, her closest companions the mysterious cats that trail her shadow. Only when she begins a forbidden flirtation with the city’s handsome young courier does she let herself imagine a life outside the walls. Until one by one, girls around her start to die.

Before she becomes the next victim, Nisha decides to uncover the secrets that surround the girls’ deaths. But by getting involved, Nisha jeopardizes not only her own future in the City of a Thousand Dolls—but her own life.
(Summary from GoodReads)

While I don't love the cover, I love the sound of the plot. Sounds fantastic right? 

City of a Thousand Dolls comes out Feb. 5, 2013.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Shadowfell by Juliet Marillier

Sixteen year old Neryn has been wandering all over the kingdom of Alban with her father in order to keep her alive. It is illegal to deal in magic and Neryn is able to interact with the Good Folk which makes her one of the few people alive with the ability. After being gambled away to a complete stranger, Neryn finds herself being led to a supposed safe haven called Shadowfell by the secretive Flint. Soon Neryn finds that she is a part of a greater plan to take down the king and save Alban, but what will she have to do for that to happen and who can she trust?

I liked this book, I didn’t have strong feelings of joy while reading it but it definitely held my interest and I am most likely going to read the next one.

The beginning was strong, and I loved the introduction of Flint’s character. The entire premise of Neryn’s abilities was also interesting and well explained. What threw me for a bit of a loop is the fact that the mythos that the Good Folk are based on is all Celtic inspired (or at least I’m assuming it is). I didn’t know this until about two-thirds of the way through. The lyrical chants that hadn’t really made sense did once I figured this tidbit out.

Helpful hint: Stanie mon = stone man

I really liked Neryn’s character, I thought she was rather fantastic. Obviously at sixteen she wants to be strong enough to go off on her own and be self-reliant, but she’s still young enough to want the guidance of another. This leads to her vacillating on whether or not to trust Flint, and running from him numerous times. This got a bit tedious, but was true-ish for the story. She has a very strong sense of herself and it moves the story along when it might otherwise lag.

The ending was also very strong and action-packed. I liked the fact that it wasn’t all tied up into a nice neat package. Of course not everything could be sunshine daisies as this is a series, but there’s some emotional ambiguity that was thought-provoking and a rather nice send off for the book.

Here’s my one thing that I got a bit weirded out by. Neryn is sixteen. Flint is twenty. They are headed toward a romantic relationship. In a high fantasy, should I be clutching my pearls because they are romantically involved? Or do I need to get over myself and the cultural norms I’ve grown up with because this is supposed to be a different world? As I was reading I leaned toward pearl clutching. Thoughts?

Shadowfell is quite good. You should read it and see if you too need smelling salts when Flint and Neryn kiss.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Infects by Sean Beaudoin

An unfortunate chicken factory mishap lands Nick (juvenile delinquent nickname, Nero) on an Inward Trek for juvenile delinquents.  Things get bad pretty fast, and it's not because of the lousy food and forced hiking.  People seem to be falling victim to a strange disease.  A disease that seems to make them want to eat other humans...

In full disclosure, I didn't finish this.  I couldn't.  It was too icky.  There was far too much flesh ripping and raw meat eating and brains and things.  Ew.  Not my thing.  I'm sure plenty of people will enjoy this.  Just not me.

As for the story itself, it is much in keeping with Sean Beaudoin's other book I read, You Killed Wesley Payne, which I kind of enjoyed.  It had the same kind of "fuck it all" attitude.  The characters make lots of snappy comebacks, even when they are faced with attacking zombies.  It's all very tongue-in-cheek, pithy, snarky, and other words like that.  Usually I love that.  But somehow, I find it grating the way Beaudoin does it.  I got tired of it in Wesley too.  I was tired of it by the time people started into zombies, which wasn't even half way through.

Nick and his ragtag gang of juvenile delinquents (which keeps getting smaller as people are attacked and zombified) run about the woods, following Nick who's been elected leader.  Nick is torn between getting home to protect his developmentally delayed (but video game genius) sister, or go after his crush, who just so happens to be on the corresponding Inward Trek for female juvenile delinquents for reasons unknown.  At least unknown to be, because I didn't finish the books.  Nick chooses this crush, and off they all race into the mountains.  That's where I stopped.

If you like horror and gross stuff and zombies and don't mind a bit of fun being poked at the horror genre, then I have no doubt you'll enjoy this.

The Infects comes out September 25, 2012.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

“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.

So I took the wimp way out and just used the summary from the publisher, but here's my nitpick about it: the summary focuses on the romance aspect of the book which is somewhat important but is definitely not the majority of it. At least for this book. The real focus should be on the fact that Blue, Gansey, Adam, Ronan, and Noah, are four messed up individuals who find something in each other that connects them. They all find a balance in having the group together, and if any of the dynamics are thrown off they all fall apart.

The real drama comes from the relationships and the fact that Gansey has enlisted/emotionally hijacked them all into a fantastical quest. They are looking for King Arthur's body. Yep. King Arthur from the Round Table. It seems that Gansey has made it his seventeen year old life's mission to find it. What he doesn't know is the fact that some other boys have also looked for it from Aglionby and one of them ended up dead.
There are some big themes and plot twists in this, and I kind of wasn't expecting it to come together like it did. In a positive way. I was surprised that Maggie Stiefvater was able to get all of these big ideas to work almost cohesively. I had a few issues with the villains, I thought some of them were a bit clunky and not well developed. Otherwise pretty freaking good. The characters are all very unique and have distinct voices, which is maybe why she had five different narrators. Which I found quite jarring. I wish it would've been written from no more than two perspectives. Not that it wasn't interesting to see the plot unravel from different eyes, but that I felt like I was just getting into the rhythm of a character and then we'd jump to someone else. On the flip side of it, I don't think I would've emotionally connected to the characters as much as I did if she hadn't done four of the narrations, so I guess it's a trade off.

There's still some mysteries to unravel, and I'm already eagerly anticipating the sequel. It was an interesting and intense setup to a series.

Raven Boys comes out Sept. 18.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Wonder Woman: Blood by Brian Azzarello, art by Clif Chiang and Tony Akins

Zeus has disappeared.  The Greek gods are fighting amongst themselves for control of Olympus.  Hera is after a woman who is supposedly pregnant with Zeus' child, and Wonder Woman has learned the shocking truth about her own birth, that throws her right in the middle of the warring gods.

It's time for a new origin story!  Again!  As far as I can tell, this is a completely new origin story, correct me if I'm wrong.  Originally, Diana had been created by her mother, Hippolyta, out of clay, and then is given life.  During a revamp, she was given even more power by being blessed by various gods.  Now her origin is completely different, and it's is the basis of the story.  That was kind of cool.  They didn't just change it and leave it at that, the entire story is about Diana's "true" origin.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


These library posters from the 60s are amazing.  And still totally relevant.  Hmmm.  From Brain Pickings.

Children succeed with character, not test scores.  From NPR.

Is YA the new chick lit?  From BuzzFeed.

OMG!  This is totally unexpected!  Mockingjay is going to be split into two movies!  Who could have seen it coming?  From EW.

New things from Hope Larson!  From The Beat.

UK children's laureate on library tour to protest library closures.  From SLJ.

Who will create the new normal?  Changing the culture of books covers.  From CBC Diversity.

I loved this book!  Sourcebook gives Linnea in Monet's Garden a new life.  From PW.

In defense of the Catwoman cover.  I am unclear what is exactly "creative" about either the old or new cover.  It seems like a fairly typical tits and ass pose.  Also, regardless of how "aware" an artist might be in his art, I don't think that gives you a free pass to go ahead with it.  From The Beat.

Proof that principals value librarians.  From SLJ.

Why Reading Rainbow was canceled.  From GalleyCat.

Update on Judy Blume and her fight against breast cancer.  From NY Daily News.

New YA books that adults will love.  From The Atlantic Wire.

Telling info graphic on children's books.  From The Digital Reader.

Make some delicious looking food inspired by children's and YA books.  From The Huffington Post.

Waiting on Wednesday: Velveteen by Daniel Marks

"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 Velveteen by Daniel Marks.

Velveteen Monroe is dead. At 16, she was kidnapped and murdered by a madman named Bonesaw. But that’s not the problem.

The problem is she landed in purgatory. And while it’s not a fiery inferno, it’s certainly no heaven. It’s gray, ashen, and crumbling more and more by the day, and everyone has a job to do. Which doesn’t leave Velveteen much time to do anything about what’s really on her mind.


Velveteen aches to deliver the bloody punishment her killer deserves. And she’s figured out just how to do it. She’ll haunt him for the rest of his days.

It’ll be brutal... and awesome.

But crossing the divide between the living and the dead has devastating consequences. Velveteen’s obsessive haunting cracks the foundations of purgatory and jeopardizes her very soul. A risk she’s willing to take—except fate has just given her reason to stick around: an unreasonably hot and completely off-limits coworker.

Velveteen can’t help herself when it comes to breaking rules... or getting revenge. And she just might be angry enough to take everyone down with her.

Velveteen comes out October 9, 2012.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Mystery Society by Steve Niles, art by Fiona Staples

Husband and wife team of Nick and Anastasia created the Mystery Society to uncover paranormal secrets.  They are in desperate need of others to join their group, and luckily, they are joined by Secret Skull (a ghoul), twin girls Nick freed from Area 51 and a robot with the brain of Jules Verne.  They'll need all the help they can get when Nick is framed for a crime he didn't commit.

Mystery Society is a five part series that has been gathered into one volume.  I was disappointed to find that there don't seem to be any more in the works.  Why ever not?!  It was such fun!

There are various adventures going on at once in Mystery Society.  First, we have Nick springing the twins from Area 51, while Anastasia fights off Secret Skull, who ends up being an ally.  Then Nick is framed for killing people during his raid of Area 51 and they're all on the run.  Meanwhile, someone has stolen the skull of Edgar Allan Poe, and Secret Skull and the robot with the brain of Jules Verne are off to retrieve it.

I loved Nick and Anastasia's relationship.  They're so in love with each other, and protective of each other, but also secure in how capable the other person is.  They have a real partnership, and work together well.  Besides Anastasia, we have three more very capable female characters.  Secret Skull is (or was, she's dead so it doesn't matter so much now) a women, as are the twins, who have hardcore supernatural powers.

Nick stresses the importance of not hurting people when it isn't necessary.  The twins at first want revenge for what was done to them, but Nick convinces them that that's not the way to go.

The "twist" at the end was a little lame.  The twins are hiding a secret from the Mystery Society!  Whatever could it be?  Are they, in fact, evil?  Aliens from another planet?  No, they're...actually only one person who was split into two.  So what?  Who cares?  Why was that a dramatic reveal?  So that part was meh, but otherwise I really enjoyed this and am sad there's no more for me to read.

The art is done by the fabulous Fiona Staples, who I love.  In Mystery Society, she used colored backwashes that connected to certain characters and feelings.  The coloring gave the world a washed out kind of feeling, which made me feel like things are not great with the world.  In contrast, panels where the Mystery Society was together were drawn in darker, more substantial colors, and with more detail.

Definitely recommended!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

Kat, Lillia and Mary all have something in common.  They all want revenge on someone they thought was a friend.  Brought together by different circumstances, the three vow to help each other get back at the people who have wronged them.

First things first, one of the three main girls in this books is Asian, and there's an Asian girl ON THE COVER OF THE BOOK!  I know!  It's crazy!  So exciting.  OK, fine, she's the only one whose face isn't fully on the cover (the girl on the left's face warps on to the spine) but still, this is a pretty big deal.  Actually, in terms of physical characteristics given in the book, the three girls on the cover seem to be pretty good representations.  Nice job, Simon & Schuster.  Man, it's sad that I was excited about that, isn't it?

The book itself: I was disappointed.  It felt disjointed.  The stakes were set up to be so high, but in fact were not that high at all.  Things just didn't make sense.  I didn't believe that the characters would do the things they did.  They didn't seem to have any reason too.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Are librarians still important?  Hells to the yes.  From Scholastic.

Judy Blume has been privately fighting breast cancer.  We're all behind you, Judy Blume.  The Atlantic Wire.

Q & A with Ian Falconer, author of Olivia.  From PW.

Eddie Gamarra on turning YA books into movies.  From SLJ.

Hey, guess what?  Mo Willems is still awesome.  From the LA Times.

David Levithan talks about stuff.  From Digital Book World.

Reading The Giver for the first time, as an adult.  The Atlantic Wire.

You must watch this.  For it is amazing.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett

"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 Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett.

16-year-old Dusty Everhart breaks into houses late at night, but not because she’s a criminal. No, she’s a Nightmare. Literally. Dusty is a magical being who feeds on human dreams.

Being the only Nightmare at Arkwell Academy, a boarding school for magickind, and living in the shadow of her mother’s infamy is hard enough. But when Dusty sneaks into Eli Booker’s house, things get a whole lot more complicated. He’s hot, which means sitting on his chest and invading his dreams couldn’t get much more embarrassing. But it does. Eli is dreaming of a murder. The setting is Arkwell.

And then it comes true.

Now the Dusty has to follow the clues—both within Eli’s dreams and out of them—to stop the killer before more people turn up dead. And before the killer learns what she’s up to and marks her as the next target.
(Summary from GoodReads)

I stumbled upon this randomly on Amazon. It sounds super intriguing and I love the cover. The idea of a person being a nightmare is pretty great right?

The Nightmare Affair comes out March 5th, 2013.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

Elisa has become queen of  Joya d’Arena and the Inviernos are supposedly defeated.  Elisa has no time to figure out how to rule and what her kingdom needs from her when Invierno attacks beginning again, and Elisa's life is in immediate danger.  With her loyal friends, Elisa must once again use the power her Godstone provides to save herself, and her kingdom..

I was a little confused at the beginning, because it had been a while since I read the first book in this series, and the second did not seem to pick things up where we left off.  Rather we've jumped to where the war, which was really just beginning in the first book, is now over.  And quite a lot has happened.  After I figured out what was going on, I quite liked this choice.  There was no rehearsing of what's already been done, Elisa is moving forward, and fast, because of the situation around her.  Her problem is no longer that she's trying to help win a war, her problem is figuring out how on earth one acts like a queen.

I was frustrated at Elisa a lot in this book, because I know she's so smart, but she wasn't always doing the smart thing.  However, it made sense when she didn't.  Elisa is such a wonderful, well developed character.  I feel like I really know her.  She is a complex women, struggling with coming into power, navigating politics and officials, and also being a 17 year-old who's in love with someone she spends all her time with but can't be with.  She's flustered, confused, afraid, powerful, and strong all at once.  We also get to know Hector well over the course of this book, and again, he is a complex, well developed character.

Elisa has always been very strong and secure in her faith and the existence of God.  God responds to her when she prays, which she can feel though her Godstone.  I appreciated the fact that Elisa is beginning to realize that the history of her religion she knows might not be the full story.  We haven't gotten in to it too much, but it's been brought up now, and I have hopes for an in-depth exploration.

I know some have been bothered by the religious aspect of these books, and the clearly Judeo-Christian religion that it is.  But...that's what this book is about.  They are about Elisa's faith and her changing relationship with her faith as much as they are about romance and adventure and a girl finding herself.  I do not feel that the religion gets in the way of the story.  I like reading about Elisa's  relationship with her faith, which has been involving since we first started reading her story.

And for those who are curious, Elisa's weight is much less a focus of the book, although it's clear she's still a bigger then what seems to be traditionally beautiful in this culture, which is women who are "slender."

The Crown of Embers comes out September 18, 2012.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang

Each person is born with two souls.  The two souls share everything, from thoughts to feelings to control of the body.  But usually one soul is dominate, and as the person grows older, the weaker soul fades away.  But not always.  Eva was suppose to fade away long ago, and now Addie is the only one who knows she's still there. Eva can't speak or move, she can only communicate with Addie.  When a chance comes for Eva to regain some control, Addie and Eva must decide if it's worth the risk.

 This seems like a very promising start to a series.  It was something a little bit different.  Yes, it's still sci fi book about kids trying to overthrow the government with a romance element, but it was different enough to make it fresh and exciting.  And it's kind of cool that the love triangle is actually just between two people.  It's just that only one of the souls in each person is attracted to the other.  Drama!

This was mostly Eva's story, the soul that doesn't have control over her body.  Eva is portrayed as more of a thinker, quieter, softer, while Addie is stronger with a shorter temper.  Addie is the dominate soul, but she relies on Eva a lot to help her figure things out.  We spend much more time with Eva's thoughts and feelings then we do Addie's

I wanted more world building (of course).  I almost always want more world building.  We get to know very little about the world Addie and Eva inhabit.  We know they are living in America, but it isn't clear if it's an alternate America or an America of the future.  If it's an America of the future, what happened that caused people to start being born with two souls?  We know very little of the political situation inside or outside America.  This part, I assume, was intentional, as there's a bit of a dramatic reveal at the end about the world outside of America, so I have hopes that things will be more threshed out in books to come.

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