Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell


"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 Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.

From the author the New York Times bestseller Eleanor & Park

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?


Fangirl comes out September 10, 2013.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Scorched by Mari Mancusi

One night, at her grandfather's museum, Trinity hears a voice calling to her from the strange egg her grandfather claims is a dragon egg.  The voice is asking Trinity to save her.  Connor has a single focused mission: destroy the egg and the save the future of the world.  He knows what the future looks like, that's when he's from.  His twin brother Caleb has also come from the future, but his goal is to save the dragons at all costs.

It reminded me a lot of The Terminator.  Someone has come from the future to change the past which will save the world.  Someone else from the future has also come back to the past to make sure the future still happens.  It wasn't exactly like that, but the situation was similar enough that I was thinking about it from the very begging.  Trinity actually remarks how things are getting to feel a bit like The Terminator.

Trinity spends much of the book trying to figure out whom she can trust.  She meets Connor first, and after what he tells her and shows her, she's pretty sure he's right; the egg must be destroyed.  It's the egg or the world.  But when she meets Caleb, things start to get confused.  Caleb doesn't seem evil, but he wants to save the dragons.  The connection between Trinity and the egg are growing stronger and stronger, and she wants to protect it.  The Dracken is an organization that wants to save the dragons, and they want to help Trinity with the egg, but at the same time, she's a prisoner there.  Trinity doesn't know who's telling the truth, who's just trying to use her and who, if anyone, is really evil.

Time travel is tricky.  It's hard to be consistent with the world building and make sure things make logical sense when you throw in time travel.  Things can get confusing.  There were a couple of things in particular that confused me.

Spoilers

Monday, August 26, 2013

The 100 by Kass Morgan

The only humans left live in a space station orbiting above an Earth destroyed by radiation.  But the space station can only last so long, so its leaders decide on a way to see if Earth is once again safe for human life.  100 juvenile prisoners are sent to Earth.  If they survive, the rest of the human race can follow if they die...they were slated to be executed anyway.

The 100, which hasn't even come out yet, is already in development to be a show on the CW.  It wasn't written specifically for that purpose, but I can see why it got snapped up for a show.  It reads like TV episodes.  It revolves around a collection of characters, all who are hiding dark secrets and chapters, and book itself, ends on dramatic cliff hangers.

The story is split between what's happen on Earth which focuses on juvenile convicts Clark, her ex-boyfriend Wells, who got himself imprisoned so he could go with her and try to earn her forgiveness, and Bellamy, the young man who shot the Chancellor in order to be on the ship with his sister.

On the ship we see through the perspective of Glass, who was supposed to go to Earth but made a run for it in the confusion and made it back to her wealthy family, who were able to secure her a pardon.

Our main character's lives, through slow reveals, are all intertwined.  What did Wells do that was so unforgivable?  Why does Clarke blame him for her parent's execution?  Why was Clarke herself prisoned?  What did Wells do that speed up the process to send the ship to Earth?  What did Glass do to get herself imprisoned?  What is the terrible secret she cannot tell anyone?  Lots of drama.  On Earth, we have a love triangle with Clarke, Bellamy and Wells.  Up in the space station, Glass is reunited with her lower-class love, only to fear he will learn what she's still hiding. 

The world building was pretty good.  A lot is still left unsaid, but it's pretty clear that was deliberate.  Humans left Earth in the first stages of the "Cataclysm" but there has been no detail so far as to what exactly that was.  It's mentioned that some "infected" survivors made their way onto the ship and were quarantined.  Anyone who gets sick on the ship is quarantined.  The space station is split up into classes.  Phoenix is where the wealthy live.  They are the ruling class, they have the best food, better clothing options and more opportunities.  Walden and Arcadia are where the lower class lives.  Their lives are hard.  They cannot come and go around the ship as they please.  They are limited on food and clothing and job opportunities.  Because of limited resources, there is a strict one child per family limit.  Those that disobey are executed.

It's a pretty harsh world.  Execution seems fairly typical.  It doesn't seem that these people living in space have learned to adapt very well.  They're just living off what meager resources they originally brought with them, and as those become less and less, Walden and Arcadia suffer more and Phoenix takes what there is.

I think teens who have enjoyed other dystopias will like this series a lot.  Plenty of drama and romance for all.

The 100 comes out September 3, 2013.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

News

What's next for graphic novels in libraries?  From PW.

The problem with new about books.  Very thoughtful.  From The Huffington Post. 

What would a world without libraries look like?  Students have their say.  From Book Riot.

Marie Lu talks about the final book in her Legend series.  From USA Today.

Children's science fiction might be about to see a resurgence.  From The Guardian.

Why we'd be screwed if YA books were real.  From The Huffington Post.

Exciting things happening over at Dark Horse Comics.  From PW.

Cassandra Clare talks Mortal Instruments movie.  From PW

In young author news, Penguin signs a 13 year-old and Bloomsbury signs a 21 year-old

Bookstores are turning to crowdsourcing to stay in business.  From The New York Times.

Should parents limit comics reading?  From SLJ.

11 classic children's books with the titles changed to reflect their dark messages.  From BuzzFeed.

The life and times of Randolph Caldecott.  From The New York Times. 

Kid Lit stamps from around the world.  From Book Riot.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story by Peter Bagge


"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 Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story by Peter Bagge.

The alternative-comics master offers an indelible and idiosyncratic take on the protofeminist
 

Peter Bagge's Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story is a dazzling and accessible biography of the social and political maverick, jam-packed with fact and fun. In his signature cartoony, rubbery style, Bagge presents the life of the birth-control activist, educator, nurse, mother, and protofeminist from her birth in the late nineteenth century to her death after the invention of the birth control pill. Balancing humor and respect, Bagge makes Sanger whole and human, showing how her flaws fueled her fiery activism just as much as her compassionate nature did. Sanger's life takes on a whole new vivacity as Bagge creates a fast-paced portrait of a trailblazer whose legacy as the founder of Planned Parenthood is still incredibly relevant, important, and inspiring.

Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story comes out October 15, 2013.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

In the final book of The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy, Elisa and her friends chase after the kidnapped Hector.  They are short on time.  The traitor Conde Eduardo has seized Elisa's throne and the country is moving toward civil war.  Elisa must find Hector and broker a peace deal with the Inviernos who want her people dead, or it will mean the end of the entire kingdom.

I have loved this entire series and I loved this one too.  Perfect end to the trilogy.  It stayed true to everything that came before it.  All the characters, main and minor, continued to grow and find themselves, and how everything came together at the end was perfect.  Things did get a little draggy in the middle where we're journeying through underground tunnels and not a whole lot is happening.  But that is a small complainant.  Overall, I loved it.

Rae Carson does great with romantic relationships.  I think after Po and Katsa from Graceling, Elisa and Hector is one of the better relationships I've read in recent YA.  First there is the fact that Hector is not Elisa's first love.  In the first book of the series, Elisa was in love with someone else, and he was killed.  Elisa mourned him and misses him.  And she fell in love with someone else.  Someone who was first her friend and then became something more.  Someone who respects her in every way.  For her power, for her strength, for her cunning and ability to plan and strategies, as well as seeing her as beautiful.

Elisa didn't fall apart at the death of her first love.  She didn't kill herself or swear never to love another.  Her emotions and grieving were realistic and true, and when she was ready she saw someone she loved right in front of her.  How often do we get to see that in YA?  Our main female character not marrying her first love?  The one she was meant to be with?  Rather realizing that her life holds more than one true love.  And that that can be OK, even wonderful.

Hector at first wrestles with the idea of marrying Elisa.  He will never have as much power or influence as his wife.  Is he a strong enough person to do that?

Their relationship does end in a traditional way, in marriage, unlike Po and Katsa, but in this story marriage made sense, where it wouldn't have in Graceling.  Elisa married Hector not only for love, but for political reasons as well.  Elisa cares for her kingdom first.  She wouldn't have married Hector if it hadn't been the right move for her kingdom, as much as they loved each other.  Elisa would not have allowed her personal feelings to jeopardize what her people needed.  She never did.

Some small spoilers

Monday, August 19, 2013

How to Catch a Bogle by Catherine Jinks

Birdie is apprenticed to Alfred the Bogler.  A Bogler is someone who traps and kills bogles, terrifying monsters that eat children.  Birdie is the bait.  It might not sound like a great job, but it much better than living on the streets in Victorian London.  When orphans begin disappearing off the streets in London, there's no one to pay Alfred to catch the bogle.

This was great.  It had everything you could want.  Scrappy orphans.  Tough little girls.  Pickpockets.  Monsters.  Adventure.  Daring-do.  Mad scientists.  It was totally delightful.

Birdie actually quite enjoys her job, there's a lot of pride in working for a Bogler.  She worries about when she'll be too old to help Alfred.  Bogles only go after children.  She also worries, a bit, about being eaten.  She doesn't worry about this nearly as much as you'd think.

We see Birdie have closer and closer escapes as the stakes are raised.  A few times she hardly escapes with her life.  And then, of course, there is the crazy Dr. Morton who thinks he can catch a bogle and make it do his will.  Birdie realizes it's not just the monsters she has to be afraid of.

Birdie is tough little girl.  She's determined not to let anyone take her job away from her, not even concerned adults like Miss Eames, who are willing to take her in a give her proper music education.  It's tempting, but Birdie doesn't like Miss Eames butting in, with her scientific ideas that involve catching bogles with other bait than a little girl.  Birdie thinks Miss Eames is just trying to put her out of a job to make Birdie come live with her.

This is a middle grade novel, and it won't be for everyone.  Not all kids want to read about child-eating monsters.  But it really had just the right level of horror.  The bogles that Birdie comes up against are described is terrifying detail.  We hear the stories of poor kids disappearing.  But we never actual get a scene with a child being eaten by a monster.  It thought it was just right.

This is a great one to add to you collection.  It's the first of a trilogy, although I really think it could stand by itself.  I hope the other books in the series are just as good.

How to Catch a Bogle comes out September 3, 2013.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

News

Is it the coolest bookstore in the world?  Entirely possible.  From Book Riot.

10 best openings to YA books.  Since when is Pride and Prejudice a YA book? From hypable.

Miami public school library cuts detrimental to students.  From SLJ.

Sherman Alexie's True Diary removed from NYC summer reading list.  From SLJ.

Speak to be adapted as a graphic novel.  I really hope it's good!  From PW.

What's really killing student's love of reading?  From Book Riot.

Malinda Lo talks about genre labels.  From YALSA.

Why a YA librarian installed a Ms. Pac Man game in the library.  From GalleyCat.

Why teachers should read more children's books.  From The Guardian

LeslĂ©a Newman, author of Heather Has Two Mommies, reflects on 25 years of writing.  From dallasvoice.com.

Working together is working smarter.  From SLJ.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

News

Business cards of famous literary characters.  From PW.

Movie news:  We might see Meryl Streep in The Giver and Sigourney Weaver in City of Ashes.  A first look at Geoffery Rush in The Book Thief.

Meet the master of Kenya's YA fiction.  From allAfrica.com.

How books can teach your child empathy.  From The Wall Street Journal.

Why E. B.  White wrote Charlotte's Web.  From Letters of Note.

11 picture books that do a great job depicting dads.  From babble.

Phyllis Reynold Naylor finishes Alice series.  I loved this series so much growing up.  Excellent books.  From PW.

A.S. King on her book Reality Boy.  From PW.

John Green is very excited for the Fault in Our Stars movie!  From Entertainment Weekly.

95 YA books to read instead of reading Harry Potter again.  Not that there's anything wrong with reading Harry Potter again.  From Upworthy.

Hunger Games camp?  That...just seems like a terrible idea.  From Tampa Bay Times

NPR's ultimate backseat bookshelf.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Willow Chance is very smart.  She's fascinated by nature and medical conditions and finds it very hard to get along or make connections with other people.  That's been OK, because she has her parents, until suddenly, she doesn't anymore.  Now Willow is completely alone in a confusing world with no friends or family to help her.  Except that maybe there are.

This was a very interesting book.  The tragedy that leaves Willows parent's dead happens early on in the book, and we know it's coming from the very first page.  The story wasn't really about the tragedy, however.  What this book was really about was how people touch other people's lives in unknown and surprising ways, and that they small things that people do can have a great impact on other people.

Although it never specifically says, Willow seems to be on the autism spectrum. She has difficulty communicating, she doesn't connect with people, and she has certain fixations, like nature and medical conditions and the number 7.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birute Galdikas by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks

The true stories of three scientists who changed the way we think about primates forever.  Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey and Birute Galdikas were all recruited by anthropologist Louis Leakey and set out, with little to no training or background, on field research that would result in discoveries that advanced our understanding of the link between humans and primates.

Another triumph from First Second!  Seriously, can they do anything wrong?  I don't think I've read anything from First Second that I haven't loved.

This is a great middle grade graphic novel that does an excellent job at showing how each of the three women got her big break, the research she did, discoveries made, and also the toll this kind of work took on her personal life.

Jane Goodall was the first to be discovered by Louis Leakey.  Jane had always wanted to study animals, but for a while her work had nothing to do with animals.  She jumped at the chance to visit a school friend in Kenya, and there she met Louis Leaky, who was working in Nairobi.  She started out working as Leakey's secretary, but soon had the chance to study chimpanzees.  So off she went, with no schooling in anthropology or sciences, no advanced degree.  She named the chimpanzees, much to other scientist's disgust (scientists usually would number them), but when Jane observed chimps using tools and eating meat, she earned the respect of her peers.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Draupadi: The Fire-Born Princess by Sarawati Nagpal, art by Manu

 Princess Draupadi rises from a sacred fire after her father's prayers.  She is to be married to her love, Arjuna, a Pandava prince.  But Draupadi's destiny surprises even her, as she finds she must marry Arjuna's four brothers as well.  Her husband's cousins, the Kauravas do everything in their power to hurt her family and bring down the Pandavas.  Draupadi discoveries her purpose is to bring about the end of the Kauravas.

I didn't love it.  I appreciated the telling of a myth that we don't often get to hear.  Greek myths get told over and over again in a variety of forms, but this is adapted from the Indian epic Mahabharata, a story many people have never heard of.  I really wanted to like it.

Draupadi herself is an interesting character.  She born full grown for the purpose of marriage, but her destiny is larger than that.  She deals with going from marrying the man she loves to having to marry his four brothers as well.  She is hotheaded and outspoken.  She demands revenge against those who have wronged her.  She grows as a person over the years and learns compassion.

Unfortunately, the storytelling and set up of the graphic novel did not do the story justice.  It just wasn't a very good graphic novel.  Rather than using the art to enhance the story, all the images did was reflect the text.  The art was flat pencil drawings.  Characters didn't look the same from panel to panel, making characters, especially the men, hard to follow.  Most problematic were the large blocks of text on each panel.  What is the point of a graphic novel when most of the text is still narrative?  You have the medium that allows people to see what's happening.  It seemed like we had a prose story that was cut up into small chunks and glued onto pictures.  It was essentially a long picture book, not a graphic novel.

So it was disappointing all around - the art, the text, the poor use of the medium.  It made reading it a slog and completely took away from what could have been a really interesting story.  I would have liked to have seen it in someone else's hands.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Premeditated by Josin McQuein



"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 Premeditated by Josin McQuein.

 A week ago, Dinah’s cousin Claire cut her wrists.

Five days ago, Dinah found Claire’s diary and discovered why.

Three days ago, Dinah stopped crying and came up with a plan.

Two days ago, she ditched her piercings and bleached the black dye from her hair.

Yesterday, knee socks and uniform plaid became a predator’s camouflage.

Today, she’ll find the boy who broke Claire.

By tomorrow, he’ll wish he were dead.


Premeditated comes out October 8, 2013.

Monday, August 5, 2013

News

More and more, publishers are trying to find blockbusters.  From Forbes.

Miss. Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children will be directed by Tim Burton.  That seems like a good fit.  From The Christian Science Monitor.

Will Charlie and the Chocolate Factory follow Matilda to Broadway?  From The Hollywood Reporter.

Five things you need to know about young adult fiction.  From BookRiot.

15 children's classics that have been banned in America.  From BuzzFeed.


Dyslexia suffer Jamie Oliver reads a book all the way through for the first time at 38.  From The Telegraph.

Great actors read Dr. Seuss.  Or, well, people pretending to be great actors.  From The Huffington Post.

What would the Magic School Bus kids look like grown up?  Perhaps like this...  From BuzzFeed.

Must every new coming of age novel be "the next Catcher in the Rye?"  I can't say I hear that comparison a lot.  From The Atlantic.

Are children's books darker than they use to be?  From The Guardian.

Two thirds of parents don't read to their children every night.  From SLJ.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Blue Bloods The Graphic Novel by Melisa De La Cruz, adapted by Robert Venditti, art by Alina Urusov

The Blue Bloods vowed that their immortal status would remain a closely guarded secret. And they kept that secret for centuries. But now, in New York City, the secret is seeping out. Schuyler Van Alen is a sophomore at a prestigious private school. She prefers baggy, vintage clothes instead of the Prada and pearls worn by her classmates, and she lives with her reclusive grandmother in a dilapidated mansion. Schuyler is a loner...and happy that way. Suddenly, when she turns fifteen, there is a visible mosaic of blue veins on her arm. She starts to crave raw food and she is having flashbacks to ancient times. Then a popular girl from her school is found dead... drained of all her blood. Schuyler doesn't know what to think, but she wants to find out the secrets the Blue Bloods are keeping. But is she herself in danger? (from Goodreads)

As the title makes clear, this is the graphic novel adaptation of the popular Blue Bloods series.  I have not read the original book (it wasn't one of the vampire series I got too) so I can't really comment on the adaptation, unfortunately.  The story seemed to move along well, and it certainly was pretty to look at.

Schuyler is out main character and our outsider who just doesn't fit in in her exclusive and well-off high school.  Sky's mother is in a coma and she lives with her aunt.  When she learns she's a Blue Blood, her whole life is turned upside down and she's desperate to find answers.  Her love interest is Jack Force, the most popular boy in school and sister to the most popular girl in school, Mimi.  Jack and Sky, of course, feel some kind of deep connection to each other neither of them understands.

So, you know, nothing new.  It's a supernatural romance.  But it's certainly entertaining, and the art is beautiful.  Everyone in it is gorgeous - tall and thin and beautiful, men and woman.  It was a fast read, and takes you through the first book in the series. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Will & Whit by Laura Lee Gulledge

Will fears the dark.  She spends most of her time creating beautiful lamps from found objects and helping her aunt with the antique store.  Keeping busy helps Will to ignore the sadness she is feeling.  When hurricane Whitney sweeps through town and causes a prolonged blackout, the darkness forces Will and her friends' secrets into the light.

I really liked this.  Laura Lee Gulledge is author of Page by Paige, also a graphic novel I very much enjoyed.  I thought her story-telling improved in this one, and I love her artistic style.

Will is sad.  That is clear.  We know she's only lived with her aunt for about a year, so clearly something has happened to both her parents.  But like the dark she fears, Will pushes unpleasant thoughts aside by working on her lamps.

She has two wonderful friends, Noel and Autumn.  Noel has a crush on Autumn but can't bring himself to tell her.  Autumn is a bit insecure when it come to boys and can't believe that anyone could like her.  Before the hurricane strikes, Will and her friend become involved in a town carnival some other kids their age are putting on.  But then the blackout hits, and Will gets recruited to figuring out how to light the now dark space.

The hurricane forces a lot of things out into the open.  I liked that contrast - the lack of lights force things out into the light.  With no electricity for days, everyone is outside and interacting with each other.  Relationships are made and broken.  Will has a chance to face her fears, and to be honest with both her friends and her aunt about how she's really been coping this last year.  She's asked to create an original art piece for the carnival.  Will has only ever created from other objects before, and it gives her a chance to express her thoughts.  What she creates is truly beautiful.

The art is done in black and white, with lots of shading and shadowing.  I liked how Will's fear of the dark, and her other fears and sadness, were portrayed.  They were all shown in the shadows of other objects.  Will might be riding a bike, and in the bike's shadow we see a bicycle built for three with only one rider.  When Will has to turn off her flashlight, in its shadow we see a sword, something she wished she had to protect her from the dark.  It was beautifully done.  It tied in so perfectly with Will's finally art instillation, where she uses shadow to create something herself.  Intentionally.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

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