Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys.

"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 Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys.

It’s 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street.

Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.

With characters as captivating as those in her internationally bestselling novel Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys skillfully creates a rich story of secrets, lies, and the haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny.

Out of the Easy comes out February 12, 2013.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Aristotle and Dante meet one summer in high school.  Ari can't swim.  Dante teaches him, and even though they are incredibly different, the two become close friends.  Ari's brother is in prison, and he doesn't even know why.  His family won't talk about it.  All the not talking presses on Ari, until he isn't sure what to do or where to turn.  And all the while there's Dante, seeming to love him unconditionally, which might be more than Ari can stand.

This was beautiful.  It was just beautiful.  It was moving and heartfelt.  It explored sexuality and friendship and growing up and family and what happens when you hold things inside.  I thought the sparse writing style was perfect.  I loved it.  And I was teary at the end.  While there are many books I love and that have moved me, I really don't often cry over books.  But I was just so happy, at the end, and had such a feeling of, "at last, the universe if finally making sense for Ari and he so deserves it and I'm so glad," I had tears in my eyes.

Ari was a wonderful character.  Despite the fact that he was the narrator of the entire book, and it was a first person narration, it was very hard to get to know him, and know what he was really thinking.  The writing style worked perfectly for this.  Dialogue was realistic, which meant short, chopped sentences.  It never felt choppy, however.  It was kind of amazing how lyrical and smooth it was.  It somehow came out seeming poetic, rather than choppy are terse.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Youth Media Awards 2013

So I am fairly happy with the winners of the Youth Media Awards this year.  Usually, I am filled with rage afterwards.  No rage this year, I'm glad to announce.  I'm happy that my favorite book of the year, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (which I will review soon, I swear) won two awards and was an honor book for the Printz.  I was also very happy that Seraphina won the Morris Award.  That book was awesome.  And now, the winners!

The winner of this year's Printz Award (for excellence in literature written for young adults) is In Darkness by Nick Lake.
Honor Books: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (yay!) by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, Dodger by Terry Pratchett and The White Bicycle (none of us had heard of this one) by Beverley Brenna.

The winner of this year's Newbery Medal(for the most outstanding contribution to children's literature) is (to no one's surprise) The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.
Honor books: Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz, Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin  and Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage 

The winner of the Caldecott Medal (for the most distinguished American picture book for children) is This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen.
Honor Books: Creepy Carrots! illustrated by Peter Brown, written by Aaron Reynolds, Extra Yarn illustrated by Jon Klassen, written by Mac Barnett, Green illustrated and written by Laura Vaccaro Seeger, One Cool Friend illustrated by David Small, written by Toni Buzzeo, and Sleep Like a Tiger illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski.

The winner of the Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award (recognizing an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults) is Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney.
Honor Books: Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E. B. Lewis and No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie.

The winner of this year's Pura Belpré (Author) Award (honoring a Latino writer and illustrator whose children's books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience) is Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (yay!).
Honor Book: The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano

The winner of the Stonewall Book Award - Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award (given annually to English-language children’s and young adult books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience) is Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (yay again!)
Honor Books: Drama written and illustrated by Raina Telgemeier, Gone, Gone, Gone by Hannah Moskowitz, October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Lesléa Newman, and Sparks: The Epic, Completely True Blue, (Almost) Holy Quest of Debbie by S. J. Adams.

The winner of this year's Morris Award (for a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens) is Seraphina by Rachel Hartman.

Friday, January 25, 2013


According to a Pew study, most people don't know what libraries have to offer.  From infoDocket.

Oh Lord, I'm so depressed now.  Libraries dying slow death, Delta councillor suggests.  From the now. could always go this route: library turns to pole dancing to entice new readers.  From The Guardian.

Not a lack of Latino lit, but a lack of awareness.  From SLJ.

10 most anticipated book adaptations of 2013.  From PW.

Such a nice story.  An American Girl doll has gone on many adventures after being lent out from the New York Public Library.  From The New York Times.

A 6th grader from Flint, Michigan is going to have his book published.  From mLive.

Conspiracy theories about classic literary characters.  From Flavorwire.

How sad am I that I couldn't be a John Green's Even of Awesome?  So sad.  From PW.

Sarah Dessen tells the truth about high school.  From

A German publisher is being criticized for removing controversial language from a classic children's book.  From Spiegel Online International.

A conversation with the always awesome Gail Carriger.  From PW.

Built of books.  From designboom.

Why was I not informed?  10 literary board games for book nerds.  From Flavorwire.

Gary Busey would like to tell you about Hobbits.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Princeless Book One: Save Yourself by Jeremy Whitley, art by M. Goodwin

Like her older sisters, when she turns 16 Adrienne is placed in a tower guarded by a dragon and forced to wait to be rescued by a prince.  But when Adrienne discovers a sword hidden under her bed, she decides to change her own story.  Teaming up with her guardian dragon, Sparky, Adrienne escapes from her tower and sets off to free her sisters.

This was awesome.  In all different ways.  First of all, people of color! Yay!  A whole family of Black princesses! Bedelia, who befriends Adrienne and joins her on her adventure, is white, as is the pathetic prince who tried to rescue Adrienne and ended up running from the dragon.  So far there haven't been any characters of color beside Adrienne and her family, but I have high hopes.

Next, seriously kick ass female characters.  We have Adrienne and Bedelia, who are both doing something that is not typical for woman and have gotten tired of hiding it.  Adrienne has decided she's not going to wait around to be rescued for her life to start, and does it herself.  Bedelia is a blacksmith, but has been letting everyone think that it's her father that does the work, because who would buy armor from a girl?  Bedelia make Adrienne some amazing armor, and then joins her on her quest.

When Adrienne first comes into Bedelia's shop and asks to see the armor, Bedelia shows her the "Women Warrior Collection," which is made up of the stereotypical bikini tops and bottoms.  Clearly harkens back to Xena and Wonder Woman.  Adrienne wonders why armor for woman couldn't be like armor for men, only fit for a woman.  The Woman Warrior armor is so revealing, it would be easy to get killed.  Bedelia thinks about this, agrees, and proceeds to make not a costume, but armor for a warrior women.  Thank you, Jeremy Whitley, you are awesome.

On top of this, it's a good story.  Sparky burns down Adrienne's tower, so her parents think she's dead and have sent knights out to kill the dragon.  Adrienne first heads back to her father's castle to get her little sister, only to discover she's already been taken away somewhere.  Adrienne's brother, Devin, is at odds with his father, who does not think he is fit to be king.  Devin is the only one who knows Adrienne is really alive.  When this first book ends, Adrienne and Bedelia are headed off to rescue Adrienne's sister Angelica.

For the most part the layout was typical comic layout of mostly regularly panels.  It did break of out of this at times, in particular when there was fight scenes, which made these scenes especially striking.  I liked the art, it fit well with the fantasy story.  In terms of representations of woman, the female characters seen so far all pretty much have the same body type - slim, even Bedelia, who's part dwarf and super strong.  Hey, you can't have everything.

Overall, awesome!

Emiko Superstar by Mariko Tamaki

Emiko's best friend moved last year and now she's trying to fit in with the other girls at school. What ends up happening though is a growing feeling of alienation that pushes Emiko to find connections with performance artists who live on the fringe. As Emiko develops a growing sense of self, she also starts performing by reading the diary of an alienated wife that she babysits for. As the story progresses Emiko must decide whether or not she's reflecting her own self or just a reflection of the people she has grown to care for.

I really wanted to love this. I thought the themes were really strong, the setting was fantastic, and the portrayal of underground performance art was new. I unfortunately thought the characters were rather weak. Well maybe that isn't the best explanation, the characters didn't live up to the rest of the story. They were a bit under-developed and underwhelming. Emiko never seemed to really find her sense of 'self.' I liked her development as a performer and her growing confidence in that, but I didn't really feel like that would necessarily mean that she had a new definition of self. Which is the payoff that I was searching for and never ended up getting. Emiko found a group of people that she connected with, but instead of defining herself she let the group define her which I think kind of undercuts the entire arch of the story.

Then there was the subplot of the family that Emiko babysits for. I found this to be quite fascinating and kind of wish more time was spent with it. I thought that the ambient tension and frustration that the family was going through was quite poignant.

To sum up:
  • I liked the artwork
  • I loved the setting
  • I liked some of the secondary characters
  • I thought the main character was weak
  • I thought the themes were underdeveloped, though well chosen
Overall this book was only okay, it had the potential to be great but never reached the heights I wanted it to.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

"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 Scarlet by Marissa Meyer.

Cinder returns in the second thrilling installment of the New York Times-bestselling Lunar Chronicles. She’s trying to break out of prison—even though if she succeeds, she’ll be the Commonwealth’s most wanted fugitive.

Halfway around the world, Scarlet Benoit’s grandmother is missing. It turns out there are many things Scarlet doesn’t know about her grandmother and the grave danger she has lived in her whole life. When Scarlet encounters Wolf, a street fighter who may have information as to her grandmother’s whereabouts, she has no choice but to trust him, though he clearly has a few dark secrets of his own.

As Scarlet and Wolf work to unravel one mystery, they find another when they cross paths with Cinder. Together, they must stay one step ahead of the vicious Lunar Queen who will do anything to make Prince Kai her husband, her king, her prisoner.

Scarlet comes out February 5, 2013.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

Astrid Jones lives in the kind of small town where rumors abound, so when Astrid thinks she might be falling in love with a girl, there's no one she feels she can talk to to help her figure things out.  Not her distant father or her overly-concerned-with-appearances mother.  Not her closeted gay friends.  Not even Dee, the girl who she thinks she might be in love with.  The only people she can confide in are the passengers in airplanes, flying thousands of feet above her head.

This was excellent, while also being hard to read.  It was hard because sometimes I like to pretend that "things aren't like that anymore" even though I know that's a load of crap.  You read articles all the time about some kid getting beat up at school for being gay, or parents demanding that their child stay in the closet until they're out of their house.  This was one of those towns.

Two of Astrid's friends are in an elaborate deception where they're dating each other to cover up for the fact they're actually both gay.  And have significant others.  And go to a gay club.  Astrid knows this, but still does not feel comfortable telling her best friend that she's kind of in love with a girl.  Maybe.  She's not sure what that means.  She's dated boys before.  Does this now mean she's gay?  She has no one to work things out with.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Remember that list from CareerCast where being a librarian was one of the least stressful jobs there was?  We beg to differ.  From Screwy Decimal.

Ahhh, it's that time of year, Newbery speculations abound, and I start wondering what book that I've never heard of is going to win the Printz Award this year.  But does getting these awards make any difference?  From PW.

Possible award contenders from SLJ.

New year's resolutions for the publishing industry.  From Forbes.

Patrica Polacco's In My Mother's House is back on the shelves in Utah's Davis County after being removed and required special permission to check out.  From Desert News.

A literary tour of historical YA.  From The Atlantic Wire.

Eoin Colfer is writing a series of Dr. Who e-books.  This has the potential to be awesome.  From The Guardian.

I must have this book.  Like, now.  The Downton Abbey graphic novel parody.  From The Huffington Post.

Best selling books of 2012.  Fifty Shades of Gray for the win!  From PW.

10 great books destined to become children's classics.  From TED Blog.

Shelly Bond is the new head of Vertigo.  From PW.

"Girl" books that boys will love.  From Shannon Hale's blog.

A school library in Minnesota thrives after removing all its books.  Sure, because they use their "robust community of neighboring branch and university libraries in the surrounding area."   From The Digital Shift.

The Wall Street Journal says print is here to stay.

Cool!  A new children's focused graphic novel imprint!  From PW.

MacDonald's in the UK is giving out books with their happy meals instead of  toys.  From The Telegraph.

Three Catching Fire characters you won't see in the movie.  From EW.

Time out.  THAT IS NOT FINNICK.  From

Caroline B. Cooney says goodbye to The Face on the Milk Carton series.  From The Huffington Post.

I have so many things I could add to this tumblr.  Lousy Book Covers.

Waiting on Wednesday: Breaking Point by Kristen Simmons

"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 Breaking Point by Kristen Simmons.

After faking their deaths to escape from prison in Article 5, Ember Miller and Chase Jennings have only one goal: to lay low until the Federal Bureau of Reformation forgets they ever existed.

Near-celebrities now for the increasingly sensationalized tales of their struggles with the government, Ember and Chase are recognized and taken in by the Resistance—an underground organization working to systematically take down the government. At headquarters, all eyes are on the sniper, an anonymous assassin taking out FBR soldiers one by one. Rumors are flying about the sniper's true identity, and Ember and Chase welcome the diversion….

Until the government posts its most-wanted list, and their number one suspect is Ember herself.

Orders are shoot to kill, and soldiers are cleared to fire on suspicion alone. Suddenly Ember can’t even step onto the street without fear of being recognized, and “laying low” is a joke. Even members of the Resistance are starting to look at her sideways.

With Chase urging her to run, Ember must decide: Go into hiding…or fight back?
(Summary from Amazon)

I loved Article 5 and how it developed and grew. So I definitely can't wait for the sequel and see how the story continues and how Chase and Ember's relationship develops.

Breaking Point comes out Feb. 12.

Monday, January 14, 2013

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Mia and her family go out for a drive to visit her grandparents, and her life changes forever.  Mia was already struggling with a difficult decision.  Stay with her boyfriend on the west coast, or go to Julliard?  Now Mia is facing the most difficult decision of her life.  Does she want to stay in this world without her family?  Or join them?

Dammit Gayle!  Can I call you Gayle?  Dammit Gayle!  You went and created this amazing family, these incredible people who you just want to hang out with, and then you killed them off!  And I'm not giving anything away by saying that.  It's pretty much in the description of the book, and also, it happens in the first, like, five pages.

Mia is outside her body, watching the surgery that's preformed to try and save her life.  Watching her family and friends arrive at the hospital.  Mia remembers her parents, little brother, and her relationship with her boyfriend, Adam.  We learn more and more about Mia's parents and her brother, and the strong bonds that tied them all together.

Music is an important part of the story.  Mia is a cellist, her father was a punk rocker, and Adam is in a band that is starting to get noticed and tour.  Music brought Mia and Adam together.  Music was an important aspect of her family and her family's friends.

It's such a horrible choice that Mia has to deal with.  She knows she's lost her whole family.  She can see that her body is in terrible shape. Her recovery physically will be long and painful, and how will she ever recover from the loss of her family?  Mia knows that the easiest, and perhaps the most peaceful thing would be to let go and die, but it's difficult when so many people, in particular Adam, and waiting for her to wake up.

It was really a story that tore at my heartstrings.  And it's such a short little book, really a quick read.  But it packs a hell of a punch.  It was amazing how life-like and full these characters became.  Again, this was not a long book, and it just goes to show that when something's written well, it doesn't have to be hundreds of pages long.  The simplicity worked so well.  Even the supporting characters I felt like I knew well by the end of the story.

There's a sequel Where She Went, which I will have to read. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Jacob grew up with his grandfather's stories about the magical home he lived in Wales during WWII, where children with peculiar abilities stayed, protected from monsters.  Now 16, Jacob doesn't believe his grandfather's stories.  He knows his grandfather fled the Nazis and lived in Wales before enlisting in the army.  His stories are just his way of telling the trauma of that time.  Or are they?  When Jacob's grandfather suddenly and suspiciously dies, and Jacob thinks he sees one of his grandfather's monsters, he begins to wonder if maybe all the stories were really true.

Can we first talk about Ransom Riggs' name?  That is an amazing name.  Is Ransom his given name?  Perhaps it's a family name.  Or perhaps his parents just named him Ransom, in which case they were way ahead of the curve with giving their child a weird name. 

But we're here to talk about the book.  It was not what I expected.  I don't know why, but whenever I see a book with old timey pictures, I go to a certain place.  And that place is often one of tongue-in-cheek humor, like The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place.  So when one is expecting The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, and gets this book instead, well it's quite a surprise.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Adventure Time Vol 1 by Ryan North, art by Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb

Finn (a human) and best friend Jake (a dog) live in the land of Ooo, along with princess made out of bubblegum and vampire queens.  The Lich, an evil skeleton, has escaped from his magical prison and is now intent on destroying the whole world!  With his magic bag he sucks up Finn, Jake and all their friends.  It's time for an adventure to save the world!

Adorable.  So freaking cute and funny.  I loved it.  I was laughing out loud.  Apparently Adventure Time is an Emmy Award nominated TV show on Cartoon Network.  I had never heard of it, but then I don't have cable so that hardly means anything.  And now it has become a comic book.

Since it's been a TV show for a number of seasons, there were some assumptions made about your knowledge of the Kingdom of Ooo, its surroundings and its inhabitants.  Like it became clear that this was not the first time The Lich had had to be dealt with.  Despite that, I didn't find it difficult to follow the story and pick up the implied backstory.  It was pretty straightforward.

Those who watch the show I'm sure already knew, but I did not realize until the end of the story that Ooo is actually on Earth.  This is a post-apocalyptic world we are living in, and that not all of the world is as bright and as happy as Ooo is.

Jake the dog has the ability to change shape and make himself as big or as small as he likes.  He and Finn are best friends, and they enjoy fist bumping and going on adventures.  They are true friends who always have each other's backs, even when one of them doesn't have the best of ideas.

Princess Bubblegum (who is part human, part bubblegum - yeah, it's a strange, strange, post-apocalyptic world) is also a good friend of Finn and Jake's.  She might like pink and frilly things, but when it comes to planning how to get out of the bag The Lich has trapped them in she's all business.

The art is cartoony (of course), and lacking detail, but the characters all feel so warm.  It is a bright, happy world we see for the most part, until The Lich starts sucking everything up.  Then we see a bit of the darkness there is.

One particular sequence of panels I loved was when the friends have managed to cut a hole in the bag, but every time they fly out to attack The Lich, he just sucks them back up again.  In the foreground of each panel, Finn and Princess Bubblegum talk strategy while in the background you can see the others, in turn jumping into the hole, and then in the next panel falling from the sky as they're sucked back into the desert world in the bag.

This was a great graphic novel for middle grade kids, but it also has that tongue-in-cheek-humor that adults love to find in children's shows.  I had a great time reading it.

Wet Moon book 1: Feeble Wanderings by Ross Campbell

Cleo is beginning college and dealing with her two new roommates, who she's convinced hate her.  Cleo and her friends deal with the daily angst or love and friendship, as someone begins spreading rumors about Cleo.

I had the same reaction to Feeble Wanderings that I had to the other graphic novel by Ross Campbell I read.  Hardly anything actually happens, and I dislike every single character.  I can't care about a story if I don't care about what happens to at least one of the characters.  And just like in Water Baby, everyone is Feeble Wanderings was unpleasant, sulky, or mean, and I just don't care what happens to these people.

I know some people are into comics and graphic novels like this.  The ones were nothing much happens, and it's lots of people complaining about the futility of life, or whatever.  I do not.  So this was not for me.

I was also bothered that I couldn't figure out what kind of world I was in.  Was it supposed to be the real world?  And alternate world?  It seems like everyone in this town dresses punk or goth.  Is that just the college community Cleo is in, or is it the world she's in?  It was unclear.

Something I do give Campbell credit for is that he's never afraid to show what people really look like, especially during their most private moments.  When someone is starting at themselves in the mirror trying to decide if they're fat.  When they pick their nose when they're alone.  There is kind of a gritty ugliness to the way he draws people.  Like it's almost too real.

I do not like the way any female character is drawn with huge, shinny lips though.  I find that annoying.

It was not for me, but it might be up an angsty teenager's ally.

Waiting on Wednesday: Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson

"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 Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson.

The Bluebeard fairy tale retold. . . .

When seventeen-year-old Sophia Petheram’s beloved father dies, she receives an unexpected letter. An invitation—on fine ivory paper, in bold black handwriting—from the mysterious Monsieur Bernard de Cressac, her godfather. With no money and fewer options, Sophie accepts, leaving her humble childhood home for the astonishingly lavish Wyndriven Abbey, in the heart of Mississippi.

Sophie has always longed for a comfortable life, and she finds herself both attracted to and shocked by the charm and easy manners of her overgenerous guardian. But as she begins to piece together the mystery of his past, it’s as if, thread by thread, a silken net is tightening around her. And as she gathers stories and catches whispers of his former wives—all with hair as red as her own—in the forgotten corners of the abbey, Sophie knows she’s trapped in the passion and danger of de Cressac’s intoxicating world.

Glowing strands of romance, mystery, and suspense are woven into this breathtaking debut—a thrilling retelling of the “Bluebeard” fairy tale.
(Summary from Amazon)

I know, I know. I'm obsessed with retold fairy tales. But they're so good! Or at least this one sounds quite awesome. Lots of intrigue and suspense! Huzzah!

Strands of Bronze and Gold comes out Mar. 15.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Tiger Lily is unlike anyone else in her tribe; they are cautious of her.  The Sky Eaters are warned to stay away from the Lost Boys.  They are strange and dangerous.  But one night, after rescuing an English man from a shipwreck, Tiger Lily comes face to face with Peter Pan, the leader of the Lost Boys.  Tiger Lily is pulled into their world, and begins to ignore the changes that are beginning to take place around her.

This was an interesting, thoughtful interpretation of Peter Pan.  It's a slow moving story.  It unfolds leisurely, and there aren't really any intense or dramatic moments that have you on the edge of your seat.  Even though there are murderers and love and betrayal.  It's all very subdued.

Tiger Lily was told from the perspective of Tinker Bell.  Faeries, in this world, cannot speak, but have the ability to read others emotions and memories.  Tinker Bell has attached herself to Tiger Lily, who for the most part ignores her, and sees the entire story unfold.

Monday, January 7, 2013


Do we still need libraries?  In a word, yes.  From Phillips Academy.

A lesson in illustrating wheelchairs from someone who uses one.  From The Mary Sue.

Young adult fiction in 2012.  From Barnes & Noble Review.

Six important things you won't believe were invented in comics.  From

Guess what?  Being a librarian is one of the least stressful jobs there is!  You know, because we sit around and read all day in the quiet.  From CareerCast.

Rachel Hartmas, author of Seraphina (so awesome) talks about the bumps she hit on the road to publication.  From PW.

I was just having this conversation with a friend the other day. When is it OK for a kid to read a book with more serious themes?  From The New York Times.

An illustrated tribute to Maurice Sendak.  From The New York Times.

There is now a Harry Potter shop at King's Cross Station!  Guess where it's located?  From The Guardian.

Nooooo!  Neil Gaiman plans his last book signing tour ever.  From The Los Angeles Times.

Predicted trends for 2013.  From Scholastic.

Umm, where do they get off making comparisons to Judy Blume's Forever?  These books' whole point seem to be to titillate.  That was not the point of Forever.  At all.  The sex scene in Forever is unique in the fact that is was brutally honest and that it was not titillating at all.  From The Independent.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Game for Swallows: To Die, To Leave, To Return by Zeina Abirached

The Lebanese civil war has been going on since before Zeina was born.  It is a daily part of life.  Because of the bombings, Zeina, her little brother and mother and father live in the foyer; the only safe space in the apartment.  One evening, Zeina's parents go to visit her grandparents, and have not returned as bombing intensifies.  The other tenants from the building come down to keep watch over Zeina and her brother.

It amazing how things can just become part of everyday life.  The fact that there were snipers hiding at the end of your street, and you have to walk a certain way so you won't get hit.  The fact that bombings are any everyday occurrence, and sometimes people die, or your home gets destroyed.  That it takes hours to get a dial tone on the phone, that you can't go near windows, that you wait on long lines for gas.  And somehow there's still the belief that it's "more or less safe" there.  Because it's home, and that's how things have always been.

The foyer of Zeina's apartment is the safest place in the apartment building, so usually all the other tenants make their way down to them during heavy bombing.  Zeina's parents are not there, having gone to visit her grandparents.  But they left an hour ago, and haven't shown up yet.  All through the night, the tenants and children find ways to amuse themselves.  The adults also show differing opinions on what course of action should be taken in regards to the war.  Fight, leave, wait.

That evening, a shell lands in what was Zeina's bedroom, and the next day everyone has to find new places to go.  A few leave Lebanon, but most find other people to stay with.  Despite the constant danger, most do not seriously think about leaving.

The illustrations are striking.  Done in black and white, the pictures are deceptively simple.  The first few pages are of the streets, and it took me a minute to realize that there were bullet holes everywhere.  It just kind of blends in.  The style reminded me a lot of Persepolis.  

Much like Little White Duck, this is another excellent middle grade level book that allows young people to see what life is like for children growing up outside of the United States.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a severe facial deformity.  Many surgeries later, Auggie is healthy, but will never look like other children.  Auggie has been home schooled his whole life, but now, as middle school and the 5th grade approach, his parents have decided it's time for him to go to school with other children.  Auggie is both excited and scared.  He knows it will be difficult for the other kids to see past his face and realize he's just an ordinary kid like them.

This was a wonderful, thoughtful, heartfelt book. It was full of wonderful hopefulness, but also the harsh realities of being different.

I loved how much Auggie's family was part of the story.  It wasn't just Auggie's story, it was about his mother and father and his older sister Olivia.  It's easy to just focus on Auggie, and all that he's been through, but Auggie's medical issues have had a serious impact on the entire family, that that doesn't get ignored.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan, art by Fiona Staples

The native people of the planet Landfall and the native people of Landfall's moon, Wreath, have been at war for generations.  Much of the galaxy has been pulled into the war and forced to chose sides.  Alana and Marko are from opposite sides, but fall in love, run off together, get married and now have had a child.  And now both sides want them dead.

I had heard nothing but good things about Saga.  I finally read it.  It was just as awesome as everyone said it was.  More!  I need more!  And now, please and thank you.  I read the trade paperback, which collects issues 1-6.  There are currently 8 issues out, with the 9 coming out this month.

How can I begin to extol the awesomeness of Saga?  First off Alana and Marko are great characters.  Yes, they have the whole star-crossed lovers thing, but not in an annoying stupid I-can't-live-without-you kind of way.  Although they clearly love each other very much.  They are an equal team, they have each other's back, they are very funny, and they are going to save their child if it's the last thing they ever do.  Alana is tough.  She has a sarcastic edge to here.  Marko seems to be the more introspective and thoughtful, but Alana is the one who pulls him back when he goes into a rage.  Their relationship seems so natural and genuine.  You know, they really seem to care and like each other.

The world is really interesting and I'm looking forward to learning more about it.  There are all different sorts of creatures in this world, since there are all sorts of planets involved in the war.  Alana's people, from Landfall have wings, but don't seem to be able to fly.  Marko's people, from Wreath, have horns and have some kind of magical ability.  There's also a strange planet of robots (but robots that can procreate?  Interesting) with televisions as heads.  The prince of the robot kingdom is one of the one's hunting down Alana and Marko.  He also seems to be suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome after being in a particularly  gruesome battle.

Then there are the bounty hunters that have been sent to search for Alana, Marko, and their child, who after much discussion is named Hazel.  The two we meet in volume 1 is The Stalk and The Will.  The Stalk is this incredible looking body of a spider, armless torso and head of women but with spider eyes being, and The Will seems to be a human.  The Will is a confusing man.  He's paid to kill people, but is also trying to free a six-year-old child from the sex-slave trade.

Fiona Staples' illustrations are great, as always.  There's always such detail.  People have facial expressions that fit with their personalities.  People have different kinds of body types.  Not everyone looks the same.  The world around the characters are drawn with as much detail as the characters themselves.  With scenes that are provocative, it never feels explicit or done to titillate.  There is a sex scenes between he robot prince and his wife.  The Stalk is topless.  But these things are not sensationalized.  They just are.  They are part of the world, and they are not there purely to thrill the reader.

Hand shakes all around.  Everyone should read it.  Yes, everyone.  And I need to find myself the next issue.

Waiting on Wednesday: Asunder by Jodi Meadows

"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 Asunder by Jodi Meadows.

Ana has always been the only one. Asunder. Apart. But after Templedark, when many residents of Heart were lost forever, some hold Ana responsible for the darksouls–and the newsouls who may be born in their place.

Many are afraid of Ana’s presence, a constant reminder of unstoppable changes and the unknown. When sylph begin behaving differently toward her and people turn violent, Ana must learn to stand up not only for herself but for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

Ana was told that nosouls can’t love. But newsouls? More than anything, she wants to live and love as an equal among the citizens of Heart, but even when Sam professes his deepest feelings, it seems impossible to overcome a lifetime of rejection.

In this second book in the Incarnate trilogy, Ana discovers the truth about reincarnation and will have to find a way to embrace love and make her young life meaningful. Once again, Jodi Meadows explores the extraordinary beauty and shadowed depths of the soul in a story equal parts epic romance and captivating fantasy.

Asunder comes out January 29, 2013. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Giveaway: Dancing in the Dark by Robyn Bavati

Our first giveaway of 2013 is an ARC of Dancing in the Dark by Robyn Bavati!

He tossed her into the air as if she were weightless, and just for a moment she seemed suspended there, defying gravity. I couldn't take my eyes off her. I knew what she was feeling. It was in every movement of every limb.

Here was a power I had never seen before, a kind of haunting loveliness I had never imagined. Seeing it made me long for something, I didn't know what . . .

Ditty was born to dance, but she was also born Jewish. When her strictly religious parents won't let her take ballet lessons, Ditty starts to dance in secret. But for how long can she keep her two worlds apart? And at what cost?

A dramatic and moving story about a girl who follows her dream, and finds herself questioning everything she believes in.

Dacning in the Dark comes out February 8, 2013.

Giveaway ends January 16, 2013.

Every Day by David Levithan

Each day, A wakes up in a new body.  A tries to do the best he can not to interfere with the person whose body he's in life.  But one day, he meets a girl, and everything changes.  In love for the first time, no matter where A is or what body he's in, he always wants to find her.

I'm using the pronoun "he" because that's what we default too, but there's actually nothing that suggests that A is a boy or girl.  A is just as likely to be in the body of a male as a female, and does not have a preference for either one.  A is genderless, but since we don't have a pronoun to go with that, I'm using "he" because that's what they do on the book flap.

This was certainly an interesting and unusual story.  A has always been like this, and accepts that it will always be the same.  It is of course a difficult way to live, but A has learned much from always being in someone different.  But it has not allowed A to form any kind of lasting attachments, because of course they can't be kept.
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