Thursday, October 31, 2013


Happy Halloween!  Here are some oh so scary links for you!  The top 10 horror stories11 most evil characters in books.  Why Frankenstein is the greatest horror novel ever.  From PW.

Too much testing is killing kids' love of reading.  From Los Angeles Times.

An in-depth look at the challenges to Eleanor & Park.  From StarTribune.

Are school librarians part of your project-based learning team?  They should be!  From edutopia.

How Amazon and Goodreads could lose their most passionate readers.  From Salon.

"I'm so surprised Allegiant is selling well!" said no one ever.  From PW.

Should more YA fiction be read in school?  From The Guardian.

Ahahha!  Luna would totally read Francesca Lia Block!  What books would Harry Potter characters read?  From Mashable.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Uncrashable Dakota by Andy Marino

"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 Uncrashable Dakota by Andy Marino.

In 1862, Union army infantryman Samuel Dakota changed history when he spilled a bottle of pilfered moonshine in the Virginia dirt and stumbled upon the biochemical secret of flight. Not only did the Civil War come to a much quicker close, but Dakota Aeronautics was born.

Now, in Andy Marino's Uncrashable Dakota, it is 1912, and the titanic Dakota flagship embarks on its maiden flight. But shortly after the journey begins, the airship is hijacked. Fighting to save the ship, the young heir of the Dakota empire, Hollis, along with his brilliant friend Delia and his stepbrother, Rob, are plunged into the midst of a long-simmering family feud. Maybe Samuel’s final secret wasn’t just the tinkering of a madman after all. . . .

What sinister betrayals and strange discoveries await Hollis and his friends in the gilded corridors and opulent staterooms? Who can be trusted to keep the most magnificent airship the world has ever known from falling out of the sky?

Uncrashable Dakota comes out November 12, 2013.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Cold Spell by Jackson Pearce

Kai and Ginny have grown up together, and they knew when they were were 11 they'd spend their lives together.  Ginny knows Kai loves her, so when Kai disappears with a strange girl named Mora, Ginny knows he hasn't just left her.  Ginny sets out to find Kai, discovering along the way a world of darkness and monsters she never knew existed.

This was a retelling of The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen.  Sort of.  I mean, that was the intention, and it did certainly have call-backs to the story.  But it was pretty different, which is true of the other books in Jackson Pearce's Fairy Tale Retellings series.  They're not retellings exactly, maybe "inspired by The Snow Queen" would be more accurate.

I haven't loved most of the Jackson Pearce I've read.  I read Sweetly and Purity.  Maybe I should read Sister Red.  I'd heard good things about that one.  Anyway, I enjoyed this more than the others, although I found it choppy and the world building was weak.  Although perhaps if I read all the books in the series I would understand the world better.  I recall now there were evil, girl-eating wolves in Sweetly.  The probably build on each other.

The core of both the original fairy tale and Cold Spell is there, which is that love can be incredibly powerful.  Cold Spell puts a twist on this by questioning whether love is enough.  I liked that Ginny, who doesn't really have an identity of her own at the beginning, she just sees herself as part of Kai, learns her own strength and starts to realize that while she loves Kai and never falters in her determination to find him, she doesn't need him to be her life the way she did before. 


Sunday, October 27, 2013


Finalists for 2013 National Book Award for Young People's Literature announced.  From PW.

A brief history of young adult literature.  From CNN.

Make Lemonade is part of the NY city curriculum for 8th graders.  Now some principals are questioning the choice.  From NY Daily News.

How children's books thrived under Stalin.  From The Guardian.

Kids' comics aren't just for kids anymore at New York Comi-Con.  From PW.

So excited to see The Phantom Tollbooth documentary!  From boingboing.

A 13 year-old has coordinated the collection of one million books to be donated to kids in need.  From The Huffington Post.

A new breed of teen-services librarian. From

Ohhh, there's going to be a Harry Potter Forever stamp! From Mugglenet.

Finally, some good news out of the Philadelphia school system.  Two school libraries that were closed will reopen thanks to an anonymous donation.  From infoDocket.

Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere banned at a New Mexico high school after a complaint from one parent.  From SLJ.

Plaquemines Parish School lifts a 12 year ban on To Kill a Mockingbird.  From

Harassment and objectifying women alive and well at New York Comi-Con.  From The Beat.

Friday, October 25, 2013

The Carpet People by Terry Pratchett

In the beginning, there was nothing but endless flatness. Then came the Carpet . . . That’s the old story everyone knows and loves. But now the Carpet is home to many different tribes and peoples, and there’s a new story in the making. The story of Fray, sweeping a trail of destruction across the Carpet. The story of power-hungry mouls—and of two brothers who set out on an adventure to end all adventures when their village is flattened.

It’s a story that will come to a terrible end—if someone doesn't do something about it. If everyone doesn’t do something about it . . . (Goodreads).

So this was quite interesting.  Terry Pratchett wrote The Carpet People in 1971, before he was all famous.  It went out of print.  Now, it was decided it was time for a new edition, but it wasn't just republished.  Pratchett actually went back and reworked the book he wrote when he was 17.  In the author's note Pratchett says, "It's not exactly the book I wrote at seventeen.  It's not exactly the book I'd have written at forty-three."  So of course I spent the whole book wondering what was different from the original.  Could I get the original from the library so I could read and compare?  I'm quite curious.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Extracted by Sheery D. Ficklin and Tyler Jolley

"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 Extracted by Sheery D. Ficklin and Tyler Jolley. 

Welcome to the war.

The Tesla Institute is a premier academy that trains young time travelers called Rifters. Created by Nicola Tesla, the Institute seeks special individuals who can help preserve the time stream against those who try to alter it.

The Hollows is a rogue band of Rifters who tear through time with little care for the consequences. Armed with their own group of lost teens--their only desire to find Tesla and put an end to his corruption of the time stream.

Torn between them are Lex and Ember, two Rifters with no memories of their life before joining the time war.

When Lex’s girlfriend dies during a mission, the only way he can save her is to retrieve the Dox, a piece of tech which allows Rifters to re-enter their own timeline without collapsing the time stream. But the Dox is hidden deep within the Telsa Institute, which means Lex must go into the enemy camp. It’s there he meets Ember, and the past that was stolen from them both comes flooding back.

Now armed with the truth of who they are, Lex and Ember must work together to save the future before the battle for time destroys them both…again.

Extracted comes out November 12, 2013.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


Why our future depends on libraries.  From The Guardian.

The Fault in Our Stars movie has a release date.  From USA Today.

Jack Gantos talks about the darkness in his Norvelt books.  From Kansas City Entertainment.

UK children's laureate Malorie Blackman is hosting country's first YA Literature Convention.  From The Telegraph.

23 signs you're the Ron Weasley of your friend group.  I say it's not a bad thing.  From BuzzFeed.

SLJ's bullying prevention roundup.

Gene Yang's Boxers and Saints makes the National Book Award for Young Peoples Literature longlist.  From PW.

New trends in YA.  From PW.

David Levithan says don't be afraid to write a bad book.  From The Guardian.

8 year-old flags sexist children's book; bookstore takes notice.  From

An adult YA addict comes clean.  From Vulture.

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Princess in the Opal Mask by Jenny Lundquist

Elara has spent her life as a servant, longing for the family she's never known and wondering why they gave her up as an infant.  Princess Wilhamina, of the kingdom of Galandria, has worn a mask since she was a baby, and no one will tell why.  A peace treaty is being broken between Galandria and the neighboring kingdom of Kyrenicia, which involves Wilha marrying the crown prince.  Wilha and Elara are brought together under the strangest of circumstances, and must learn to trust and rely on each other.

This involves a lot of spoilers.  Stop reading now if you don't want them.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

When Did You See Her Last? by Lemony Snicket

Lemony Snicket's All the Wrong Questions series continues with his second wrong question, "When did you see her last?"  Snicket and his incompetent chaperon, still in the dying town of Stain'd-by-the-Sea, take on a new case of the missing Cloe Knight.  Snicket's chaperon quickly decides Miss Knight has run away to join the circus, but Snicket is doubtful.  Evil villain Hangfire is still on the loose, and Snicket and his collection of journalist, taxi driving, and statue-stealing friends work to get to the bottom of the mystery, which grows more mysterious all the time.

I felt the same way about this as I felt about this first in the series.  OK, but not quite up to A Series of Unfortunate Events.  Not as clever, not as sharp, not as funny, and not as interesting.  We are slowly learning more things about Snicket and the mysterious organization he works for, but not much.  It is still very much a secret.  We do learn that Snicket has both a brother and a sister, and that his sister is in another city, preforming a task alone which Snicket should have helped her with.

It is revealed that Hangfire is also part of a secret organization, that seems bent on doing evil.  Perhaps a connection to the villains that kept popping up in A Series of Unfortunate Events?

As with last time, I enjoyed all the little asides Lemony Snicket is famous for, but for whatever reason, this series just doesn't work as well.  I still keep reading them because I want to see how much will be revealed about the secret organization. And I am curious: will Beatrice ever make an appearance?  There are two more books in the series to find out.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher

"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 Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher.

Dear Mr. S. Harris, 

Ignore the blob of red in the top left corner. It's jam, not blood, though I don't think I need to tell you the difference. It wasn't your wife's jam the police found on your shoe. . . . 

Zoe has an unconventional pen pal-Mr. Stuart Harris, a Texas Death Row inmate and convicted murderer. But then again, Zoe has an unconventional story to tell. A story about how she fell for two boys, betrayed one of them, and killed the other. 

Hidden away in her backyard shed in the middle of the night with a jam sandwich in one hand and a pen in the other, Zoe gives a voice to her heart and her fears after months of silence. Mr. Harris may never respond to Zoe's letters, but at least somebody will know her story-somebody who knows what it's like to kill a person you love. Only through her unusual confession can Zoe hope to atone for her mistakes that have torn lives apart, and work to put her own life back together again.

Rising literary star Annabel Pitcher pens a captivating second novel, rich with her distinctive balance between humor and heart. Annabel explores the themes of first love, guilt, and grief, introducing a character with a witty voice and true emotional resonance. 

Ketchup Clouds comes out November 12, 2013.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


Get to know the real Daniel Radcliffe, sans Harry Potter.  From The New York Times.

Author Veronica Roth shares her story.  From The Bugle.

The New York Public library bravely makes a list of the 100 most popular books of the last century.  From NY Daily News.

Cartoonists fundraise for Oklahoma libraries.  From PW.

The scariest thing in teen fiction today is the economy.  From NPR.

Publishers think teens don't want to read about sex.  I'm going to guess that they're wrong.  From The Independent.

Author Lizzie Skurnick is starting her own imprint dedicated to publishing beloved and forgotten YA books from the 1930s through 1980s.  OMG, All-of-A-Kind Family!  I loved those so much!  From NPR.

Old book covers.

How the shutdown is effecting libraries.  From Library Journal.

Students still use Wikipedia, but are wary of it.  From SLJ.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


What your favorite Baby-Sister's Club book character says about you.  I'm totally a Mary Anne (although I do NOT have good handwriting) but wanted to be Claudia.  From The Huffington Post.

Everything you ever wanted to know about children's publishing but were afraid to ask.  From The Independent.

James Patterson wants to save school libraries.  From SLJ.

Two months from its release date, Catching Fire is doing quite well.  From The Hollywood Reporter.

Revisiting the classics of an early age, with Lois Duncan.  From The New York Times.

John Green takes a shinning to Pittsburgh, location of the filming for The Fault in Our Stars.  From Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The best Halloween books of 2013.  From The Huffington Post.

NYC teacher's union is trying to get the state to uphold it's school librarian staffing mandate.  From SLJ.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Silversix by AJ Lieberman & Daren Rawings

Phoebe has been living on her own since her parents died a year ago.  When a strange man comes looking for her, Phoebe runs for it, taking with her the moon registry her parent's left her.  Phoebe gets nabbed by Child Welfare Services and finds herself living in a home for orphaned children.  She meets five other kids, all who have the same moon registry, all signed by Phoebe's father, all whose parent's died on the same shuttle explosion.  The Silversix set out to find the truth of their parent's deaths, and maybe bring down the most powerful company on Earth.

It was fun, but a lacking in details.  Some kids won't care.  But there wasn't a whole lot of world building. Craven Mining controls pretty much everything, because they control the Hydro-2, some kind of energy source.  But I wasn't totally sure what, exactly, Hydro-2 was, how it was mined, why there were steel bubble, and why there couldn't be any open space.  So I had a lot of questions.  Oh, I was also confused about what the transmission that was sent to Phoebe's location before the shuttle blew up.  What was the transmission?  It wasn't the moon registry, all the kids already had those.  So...what exactly was it that they were looking far? Whatever

So yes, there were holes.  A fair number of holes.  But despite that, it was still an enjoyable read.  Phoebe is spunky, determined and resourceful.  The friends she makes are a rainbow of ethnicities, and they create for themselves their own kind of family.  All does not go smoothly.  The kids get to use their various talents to get themselves out of trouble.

The ending also happened rather quickly, and was again lacking in detail.  Suddenly they're all heroes and Craven is in jail and no more Hydro-2 and all the open space comes back.  Hmm, the more I write about this the more I realize that there was a lot missing from this story.

The art was cute and cartoony.  I didn't like the color pallet so much, I thought it looked a little sickly, that maybe that was intentional to create a feel for the world.  The format was traditional comic panels with very little breaking out of the mold.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always by Elissa Janine Hoole

"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: Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always by Elissa Janine Hoole.

Cassandra fears rocking the family boat. Instead, she sinks it. Assigned by her English teacher to write a poem that reveals her true self, Cassandra Randall is stuck. Her family's religion is so overbearing, she can NEVER write about who she truly is. So Cass does what any self-respecting high school girl would do: she secretly begins writing a tarot-inspired advice blog. When Drew Godfrey, an awkward outcast with unwashed hair, writes to her, the situation spirals into what the school calls "a cyberbullying crisis" and what the church calls "sorcery." Cass wants to be the kind of person who sticks up for the persecuted, who protects the victims the way she tries to protect her brother from the homophobes in her church. But what if she's just another bully? What will it take for her to step up and tell the truth?

Sometimes Never, Sometimes Always comes out November 8, 2013.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff

Mila and her father, Gil, had planned to travel from London to upstate New York to visit her father's friend, Matthew.  Just days before the trip, Matthew goes missing.  Mila and Gil take the trip anyway, hoping they can help.  Mila is incredibly perceptive, and begins to piece together what Matthew's life was like and why he might have left.  But as she's nearing the solution, she encounters a personal betrayal that changes her perception of everything.

The only other book I'd read by Meg Rosoff was How I Live Now which I hadn't really enjoyed so I didn't know what to expect from this very different book.  I thought it was great.  It was thoughtful and refreshingly different from everything I'd been reading.  Mila is not a typical narrator, so I hope the book will be appealing to middle school kids and not just to adults!

Mila can read emotions well, even the ones that people are trying not to show.  She notices the smallest of details, like Sherlock Holmes.  She even notices and understands things her father doesn't see.  Her father is a translator, and usually has his head in the clouds.  Mila often feels like she needs to take care of him.

Mila and her father arrive in New York and are retrieved by Matthew's wife, Suzanne, and their infant son.  Mila can tell right away that Suzanne's carrying a lot of anger.  When they reach the house, Mila can see that the dog is clearly Matthew's dog, and Suzanne doesn't like it.  Why wouldn't he take his dog?

Mila is beginning to see the kind of life Suzanne and Matthew had, and tries to reason out how someone could up and leave his baby son.  There are a lot of surprising revelations as the story continues and Mila and Gil uncover more and more, things they never thought they would learn.  Big, life changing things.

As Mila puts it all together, she comes to a surprising realization, which I don't want to give away.  It is hard for her to handle.  It makes her think about the nature of truth.

It's a very quiet, thoughtful kind of book.  There are big revelations, but to call them "exciting" would be wrong.  It's not going to be for everyone, but I highly recommend it.

Oh, but there's no use of quotation marks, which I find annoying and at times confusing.  What exactly is the point of that?

Monday, October 7, 2013


11 most evil characters in literature.  I don't know if I'd necessarily agree, but I really like her reasoning behind each of her choices.  From PW.

Oh dear.  A shipping error sent copies of Veronica Roth's Allegiant to fans before it was officially out!  The author has asked for no spoilers if you got one.  From hypable.

Patrick Ness on writing.  From io9.

What makes a book "best"-worthy?  From PW.

Tim Federle talks about the challenges to his book, Better Nate Than Never.  From The Huffington Post.

Jack Gantos on From Norvelt to Nowhere.  From NPR.

11 quotes from authors on censorship and banned books.  From BuzzFeed.

What ever happened to book editors? Hmm, perhaps this explains why I've read so many books and wondered, "Didn't anyone edit this?"  The answer might be, "no, not really."  From PW.

A talk with Ellen Hopkins on her new book Smoke.  From Daily News.

Children's reading percentages dropping due to digital content.  From The Guardian

Clearly the world cries for a Wonder Woman movie.  From BuzzFeed.

News on The Giver film adaptation.  From The Hollywood Reporter.

In other Lois Lowry news, the Brooklyn Book Festival gives her an honor, and she's the first children's book author to receive it.  Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

Fear, pain and loneliness have their place in children's literature.  From The New York Times.

Why science fiction isn't just for geeky boys.  From The Guardian.

I would very much like to know what exactly the parent's grounds were for having The Invisible Man removed.  I'm glad it's being reconsidered.  From SLJ.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: Reality Boy by A.S. King

"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 Reality Boy by A.S. King.

Gerald Faust knows exactly when he started feeling angry: the day his mother invited a reality television crew into his five-year-old life. Twelve years later, he’s still haunted by his rage-filled youth—which the entire world got to watch from every imaginable angle—and his anger issues have resulted in violent outbursts, zero friends, and clueless adults dumping him in the special education room at school.

Nothing is ever going to change. No one cares that he’s tried to learn to control himself, and the girl he likes has no idea who he really is. Everyone’s just waiting for him to snap…and he’s starting to feel dangerously close to doing just that.

In this fearless portrayal of a boy on the edge, highly acclaimed Printz Honor author A.S. King explores the desperate reality of a former child “star” who finally breaks free of his anger by creating possibilities he never knew he deserved.

Reality Boy  comes out October 22, 2013.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff

Erdemoglu Selim is a lieutenant in the Turkish Janissary Corps, and he doesn't love it.  What he really wants is to live a quiet life and make tea.  That becomes impossible when Delilah Dirk, a swashbuckling adventurer, is imprisoned, and then escapes the Turkish palace.  Selim is swept up and along with Delilah Dirk, and soon he must decide if this life of adventure is really for him.

Oh First Second.  Do you ever get it wrong?  So much fun!  I love how Delilah Dirk is totally unapologetically herself.  She makes no excuses, and has little patience for waffling. 

The only disappointment was that this was billed as Delilah Dirk's story.  I mean, it is called Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant.  But it was really the Turkish Lieutenant's story.  It was from Selim's point of view and was his story of his meeting and joining Delilah Dirk.  That didn't stop it from being a fun graphic novel.  I liked how Selim and Delilah Dirk worked together and played off each other. Although she ended up being a secondary character in her own book, Delilah Dirk is certainly not in the background!  I wonder if all the books will be from Selim's point of view.  I hope more of the stories will get to revolve around the title character.

After Delilah Dirk rescues Selim from being beheaded because he's suspected to be in league with Dirk herself, their first adventure is stealing treasure from the Evil Pirate Captain Zakul.  Selim is skeptical, but goes along with it, and soon they're blowing up bridges and running from pirates and escaping in flying boats.

Her outfit is kind of odd, don't you think?  When Selim is first interrogating Delilah Dirk he says, "Why do you dress like this?  Certainly you would look more at home on the street corner."  Delilah Dirk is about to give him a snappy reply, when she's distracted with how delicious the tea is.  And we never get back it.  Why does she dress like that?  She's always in motion.  Sword fighting, jumping out windows, making speedy getaways.  I'm trying to decide if her outfit doesn't make sense for her character, or actually dressing in this way does make sense, because she's Delilah Dirk and she's going to wear whatever she damn well pleases.  Unclear.

While I don't think this would be above middle schooler's heads or anything, the content does deal with battles and stabbing people with swords.  A lot of people die at Delilah's Dirk's hands.  So just a heads up.

The art appears to be digitally created (I think) but I found it very pretty and the colors are nice and bright.  It has a mostly traditional comic book layout, although there were some lovely full page spreads and great action scenes that broke out of the panels.
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