Thursday, May 30, 2013

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Verity, a British secret agent, has been captured in France by the Gestapo.  There she is questioned and forced to reveal her mission.  Verity begins to tell her story, starting with her friend Maddie, a girl who dreamed of flying airplanes, to her own beginnings as a secret agent, to how she ended up alone in France.

The second half made the first half good.  It certainly was very cool to see how everything suddenly came together and made sense.  However, it didn't fix some glaring issues for me.  The entire first section of the book I was mostly just confused.  I couldn't understand what the point was.  Why was she writing this?  She was giving zero helpful information that the Nazi could actually use.  Why was she allowed to write it?  Why on Earth would she be allowed to write it in a narrative form?  It would be a waste of time and resources.  It was difficult for me because the entire premise of the book didn't make sense to me: That Verity would be writing this narrative of how she ended up a prisoner.

The second part, from Maddie's point of view also didn't really make sense.  For a girl that was so concerned about doing things the regulation way, and feared getting other people captured and killed, she would really have kept a detailed narrative of her time, with names of the people that helped her and exactly how they carried out their plans?  I know, I know.  Literary license, and we needed them to write it all down, or else how would we know?  But...I couldn't get passed it.  All the trouble has been gone to to create a realistic sense of place, except for this one thing the whole book revolves around wouldn't have actually happened.

If you can get past that, it's certainly a good story and great to see how everything comes together perfectly.  It was certainly good storytelling and good writing.  I enjoyed reading it.  I don't want to say too much about it, because it really was great how it all came together.  I made me go back to Verity's section a few times to see what she had written and how it matched up with what Maddie was revealing.

This was one of the Printz honor books, and I can see why it was chosen.  But man, it sure did bug me the whole time that the set up was how Verity was writing her confession.  In novel form.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


10 biggest book adaption flops.  From PW.

A Hunger Games makeup collection?  Is going to be, like, stuff to stain your skin green and crazy blue eyeshadow and face tattoos?  From The Hollywood Reporter.

7 reasons why you MUST read aloud to your kids at all ages.  As if you needed more reasons.  From babble.

Kids rally for libraries in New York City.  From SLJ.

Authors annotate first editions of their own books to be auctioned to benefit English Pen.  From The Guardian.

9 picture books with questionable values.  I totally agree with The Rainbow Fish.  That book makes me angry.  From babycenter.

Understanding the study that shows parents read more with girls than boys.  From The Atlantic.

SLJ's kid lit guide to Manhattan.

Strong Female Protagonist the webcomic.  From The Beat.

Waiting on Wednesday: Born of Illusion by Teri Brown

"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 Born of Illusion by Teri Brown.

Anna Van Housen is thirteen the first time she breaks her mother out of jail. By sixteen she’s street smart and savvy, assisting her mother, the renowned medium Marguerite Van Housen, in her stage show and séances, and easily navigating the underground world of magicians, mediums and mentalists in 1920’s New York City. Handcuffs and sleight of hand illusions have never been much of a challenge for Anna. The real trick is keeping her true gifts secret from her opportunistic mother, who will stop at nothing to gain her ambition of becoming the most famous medium who ever lived. But when a strange, serious young man moves into the flat downstairs, introducing her to a secret society that studies people with gifts like hers, he threatens to reveal the secrets Anna has fought so hard to keep, forcing her to face the truth about her past. Could the stories her mother has told her really be true? Could she really be the illegitimate daughter of the greatest magician of all?

Born of Illusion comes out June 11, 2013.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sparks: The Epic, Completely True Blue, (Almost) Holy Quest of Debbie by S. J. Adams

Debbie has been in love her with best friend Lisa for ages, but has never told for fear of losing her.  Now, Lisa seems to be considering going all the way with her new boyfriend.  Debbie knows she doesn't have much of a chance, but she HAS to let Lisa knows how she feels.  And so Debbie finds herself on a crazy adventure with new friends and devote Blueists, Emma and Tim, to track down Lisa before the night is over so Debbie can declare herself.

I totally loved this.  It was sweet, but with a tiny bit of an edge.  It had  fun, relatable characters that were a delight to read about.  The whole "Church of Blue" things was weird at first, but then ended up being quite nice.

I liked that all the action in the book takes place over one day.  Just one day.  And what a day it was!  We get to see Debbie, through each crazy adventure that happens over the course of the evening, take it in and realize something about herself.  By the time she actually manages to find and talk to Lisa, she is in a very different place then she was in that morning.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney

"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 When You Were Here by Daisy Whitney.

Filled with humor, raw emotion, a strong voice, and a brilliant dog named Sandy Koufax, When You Were Here explores the two most powerful forces known to man-death and love. Daisy Whitney brings her characters to life with a deft touch and resonating authenticity. 

Danny's mother lost her five-year battle with cancer three weeks before his graduation-the one day that she was hanging on to see.

Now Danny is left alone, with only his memories, his dog, and his heart-breaking ex-girlfriend for company. He doesn't know how to figure out what to do with her estate, what to say for his Valedictorian speech, let alone how to live or be happy anymore.

When he gets a letter from his mom's property manager in Tokyo, where she had been going for treatment, it shows a side of his mother he never knew. So, with no other sense of direction, Danny travels to Tokyo to connect with his mother's memory and make sense of her final months, which seemed filled with more joy than Danny ever knew. There, among the cherry blossoms, temples, and crowds, and with the help of an almost-but-definitely-not Harajuku girl, he begins to see how it may not have been ancient magic or mystical treatment that kept his mother going. Perhaps, the secret of how to live lies in how she died.

When You Were Here comes out June 4, 2013.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sabrina the Teenage Witch: The Magic Within by Tania del Rio

Sabrina is a witch, and that means she not only has to go to regular school, but to magical school too!  Sabrina is torn between two very different boys: Harvey, a mortal who she's know since kindergarten and has had a crush on forever, and Shinji, and fellow warlock who's recently started going to Sabrina's mortal school too.  With her talking cat Salem, her friend Llandra, and her two fabulous aunts, Sabrina will navigate the confusing worlds of both high school and magic.

Meh.  Oh it was cute.  Fluffy and light.  Those that like shoujo manga will love this one.  In her introduction, Tania del Rio talks about being asked to do Sabrina and choosing to do it in the manga style.  She describes shoujo as "..aimed at young girls filled with romance, adventure, and beautiful, strong-willed heroines."  Well, I don't know about the "strong-willed" part.  It's appropriate that this comes from Archie comics, since Sabrina and her friend Llandra are Betty and Veronica like in there mooning over the same boy.

This book would not pass the Bechdel test.  I don't think Sabrina had a single conversation with her friends, her cat, or her aunts that didn't in some way involve her ever present dilemma over which boy she should chose.  Or, once she started dating Harvey, how Harvey wasn't acting enough like a boyfriend.

Monday, May 20, 2013


So you think you want to be a librarian?  Grumpy misanthropes need not apply!  From PW.

Famous authors' handwritten outlines for great works of literature.  From Flavorwire.

And JK Rowling's notes for Harry Potter.  From Explore.

Judy Blume's Tiger Eyes as a movie.  From PW.

John Green's commencement speech at Butler University.  From EW.

Title reveal!  The third book in Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bones series.  From EW.

What a high school English teacher thought of The Great Gatsby movie.  From The Atlantic Wire.

Children's books in translation.  From The Independent.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Orleans by Sherri L. Smith

Ever since the deadly outbreak of Delta Fever, the entire Gulf Cost has been cut off from the rest of the Outer States.  The people on the outside assume that almost everyone in Orleans is dead.  But that is far from the case.  Fen de la Guerre lives in Orleans. In Orleans, you live with a tribe that corresponds to your blood type.  Blood is the most precious commodity in Orleans, and you need a tribe to protect you.  But Fen's tribe has just been attacked, and now she has her leader's new born daughter, and the promise that she will give the baby a better life.  Daniel is a scientist whose brother died of the Delta Fever.  Daniel is so close to finding the cure.  He believes that going into Orleans itself will help him get there.

I liked the set-up for this story a lot.  No, it's not at all new that there was a deadly outbreak of some kind and part of the U.S. gets quarantined and young people must struggle to survive.  BUT!  Sherri Smith went beyond the rather old and tired trope and created a really interesting way of life.  Delta Fever appears to be a kind of blood disease, and different blood types are effected different ways.  Fen is an O-Positive, and that's a good thing to be.  She has the Fever, but it's not going to make her go crazy, unlike some other blood types.  Because having "clean" blood is so important, back market blood farms have sprung up, and it isn't unusual go tribes to attack each other for their blood, or to sell them to a blood farm.  It's super creepy, and yet, totally fascinating.

Monday, May 13, 2013


John Green defines every acronym ever.  From Mental_Floss.

6 modern horror movies as 80s' YA novels.  From The FW.

Do classic children's books give to rosy a picture of childhood?  From The Guardian.

Mo Willems shares delightful things with us.  From CNN.

YA authors talk YA.  From The Los Angeles Times.

10 best book endings.  From PW.

The 10 worst mothers in books.  From PW.

Maureen Johnson calls for an end to gendered book covers and challenges people to redesign book covers.  From The Huffington Post.

Does the world need a content rating system for YA books?  Or please Lord no.  From Chron.

An interview with Peter Sis.  From The North Adams Transcript.

How graphic novels became the hottest selection in the library.  From PW.

3 YA sub-genres that should exist.  From Book Riot.

Someone I've never heard of to star opposite someone else I've never heard of in The Fault in Our Stars movie.  Clearly I am out of touch.  From EW.

Friday, May 3, 2013


Everyone should watch this documentary: Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines.  From PBS.

Can you guess the authors by their Nobel citation?  In my case the answer is no.  No I sure can't.  From PW.

Why it's important to differentiate between middle grade and YA books.  From The Horn Book.

Also from The Horn Book, Roger Sutton tells us why there needs to be a difference between YA and adult books.

Kid's books concepts to strange to publish.  From The Atlantic.

Unnecessary romance in YA.  From The Huffington Post.

AA Milne was a WWI propagandist?  Wha?  From The Guardian.

So India-based Reliance Entertainment is trying to acquire rights to the Graceling trilogy.  THEY BETTER NOT MESS IT UP.  From Variety.

"You should really have kids review the children's books."  Word.  From The New York Times.

A school district in Utah cut 20 library positions.  From Library Journal.

E-books and democracy.  The New York Times.

Hehe.  I am enjoying the One Star Review Guess Who.  Try to guess the name of the classic book from a one star review from Goodreads or Amazon.  From School Library Journal.
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