Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour.

 Colby and Bev have a long-standing pact: graduate, hit the road with Bev's band, and then spend the year wandering around Europe. But moments after the tour kicks off, Bev makes a shocking announcement: she's abandoning their plans - and Colby - to start college in the fall. 


But the show must go on and The Disenchantments weave through the Pacific Northwest, playing in small towns and dingy venues, while roadie- Colby struggles to deal with Bev's already-growing distance and the most important question of all: what's next? 

Morris Award—finalist Nina LaCour draws together the beauty and influences of music and art to brilliantly capture a group of friends on the brink of the rest of their lives.

The Disenchantments comes out February 16, 2012.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Yule Ball 2011

On December 18, Anna and I and our fellow librarian friend Rachel (who we hope will soon be doing some guest blogging) went to the 7th annual Yule Ball in Cambridge.  Anna and I went last year and it was AMAZING.  As in magical and fabulous and hard to describe.  If you're new, the Yule Ball is a Harry Potter wizard wrock concert.  You are so missing out if you've never listened to wizard wrock.  You are missing out on the awesome.

It was sad, however, because Draco and the Malfoys, who are my very favorites, were playing their last concert ever.  Ever!  I don't know why they are leaving the Harry Potter music scene, although I understand that people need to move on at some point.  But it's too bad for us, as their songs are a delight.  Draco and the Malfoys didn't go on until later though.  Let's start at the beginning.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Giveaway: Audio Book of Cinder by Marissa Meyer

We have an exciting giveaway for you!  Thanks to the kind folks at Macmillan Audio, we have the audio book of Cinder by Marissa Meyer for you! I reviewed Cinder a few weeks ago, and it was a lot of fun.  Listen to the first six minutes of the audio book.



Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

In this thrilling debut young adult novel, the first of a quartet, Marissa Meyer introduces readers to an unforgettable heroine and a masterfully crafted new world that’s enthralling.


Cinder will be coming out January 3, 2012.

Giveaway ends January 1 and is limited to the U.S. only.


This giveaway is now closed.

Around the World by Matt Phelan

In 1873, Jules Verne wrote Around the World in Eighty Days, and exciting adventure of a man racing against time.  The book inspired real life adventures to circumnavigate the world.  In this graphic novel, the stories of three individuals at the end of the nineteenth century are told, who all went around the world in very different ways.

The first story is of Thomas Stevens who from 1884 to 1886 rode around the world on a bicycle (naturally taking a boat at the water bits).  And not the bicycle you're probably picturing.  One of the ones with the gigantic front wheel and a tiny back wheel.

The second story is Nellie Bly's, a female reporter for the New York World who set out in 1889 to beat the Jules Verne hero and go around the world in 74 days.

The final story is about Joshua Slocum, a mariner.  In 1895 he set out in a small boat to sail around the world, not returning until 1898.

This was a lovely graphic novel.  The illustrative style is similar throughout the book, but the color scheme is different for each story.  Stevens' story is in blues and grays, Bly's story is more colorful and vibrant with yellows and blues, and Slocum's is the most subdued in dark blue, gray and brown.

I know the story of Nellie Bly, but I'd never heard of Thomas Stevens or Joshua Slocum before, and it was fascinating reading about them.  Slocum's story and the least words, and was very sad.  It was about his trip around the world in his little boat, but it was really about his sadness and loneliness about the loss of his beloved first wife.  Although he's remarried, he clearly still loves her a misses her.

Nellie Bly came off as a total jerk in her story.  It might be based on fact.  She probably had to be very assertive and not let other people push her around.  She was doing things that were unheard of for women.  She's glaring or squinting angrily in most of her illustrations.  And saying rude things.  If it's based on fact, then fine, otherwise, why make her look so unpleasant?

Definitely a very pretty as well as informational graphic novel.  Recommended!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

Rose Edelstein develops the ability to taste the emotion in food on the eve of her ninth birthday.  The first thing she realizes is that her mother is incredibly sad and empty.

I strongly disliked this.  If I hadn't been listening to it on audio, I wouldn't have finished it.  The audio itself I wasn't that great.  It was read by Aimee Bender herself, and she had a very flat and uninspiring reading voice.  Rather like the book itself, which I'm sure was intentional.

I do not like books that aren't about anything.  Or rather, are about "life."  I just don't care.  I don't want to read about someone's day-to-day life, for the same reason I rarely use my Twitter account and hardly ever update my Facebook status.  I want to read a story with a point and a plot.  I don't want to read someone's kind of pointless inner musings.  I know some people like books like that a lot.  I know books like that are often highly praised and thought of as "literary."  To that I say "whatever."  You can keep your literary.  It doesn't change that fact your book wasn't about anything.


Spoilers

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Vanishing Game by Kate Kae Myers


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on The Vanishing Game by Kate Kae Myers.

Jocelyn's twin brother Jack was the only family she had growing up in a world of foster homes-and now he's dead, and she has nothing. Then she gets a cryptic letter from "Jason December"-the code name her brother used to use when they were children at Seale House, a terrifying foster home that they believed had dark powers. Only one other person knows about Jason December: Noah, Jocelyn's childhood crush and their only real friend among the troubled children at Seale House.

But when Jocelyn returns to Seale House and the city where she last saw Noah, she gets more than she bargained for. Turns out the house's powers weren't just a figment of a childish imagination. And someone is following Jocelyn. Is Jack still alive? And if he is, what kind of trouble is he in? The answer is revealed in a shocking twist that turns this story on its head and will send readers straight back to page 1 to read the book in a whole new light.


The Vanishing Game comes out February 14, 2012.

Dude! It's the FREAKING HOBBIT!

I'm not sure if I have mentioned that I am a HUGE Lord of the Rings nerd. My dad read them to me when I was about ten and I've read them three other times since. I love the books and loved the movies, and I have been super psyched about The Hobbit movie coming out since 2009. So I have to share this with all of you, I know it's pretty hard core fantasy, but technically Tolkien intended it for children so it's still blog appropriate right?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

For thousands of years in the Range, the same million souls have been born over and over again in different bodies.  Until Ana.  Ana is new, and no one knows why she exists, or what happened to Ciana, the soul that was never reborn.  Ana has grown up believing she has no soul at all, and is therefore incapable of human emotions, like love.  Ana travels to the main city of Heart to try and discover why she was born, and finds the citizens suspicious of her very existence.  Ana finds help in Sam, who struggles with his own feelings: can he love someone who might only live once?

I loved this so much.  And I wasn't expecting to.  It took me totally by surprise.  The world that Jodi Meadows has created was absolutely fascinating.  And so many different aspects of the world were explored.  In this world, the same people have been born over and over again for thousands of years, and they remember their past lives.  Therefore there are people in teenager and child bodies but that act like adults (but have to deal with the limitations of their bodies).  You could be born to someone that in a past life was your sibling, or friend or a lover.  It was just so weird and interesting to think about how it all worked.

Ana is completely overwhelmed by this.  She has been kept in isolation, and for her, everything is new.  She's fascinated and excited about all the new things she experiences, while Sam watches on in amusement.  He hasn't really experienced anything new in thousands of years.  Ana trying to process how everything worked, how everyone knew everyone else and how you could be male in one life and female in another pretty much mirrored how I was trying to process it.  It's such a foreign concept it's hard to wrap your head around.  A lot of thought had to be put into making this world make sense, and I really appreciate that.

I thought Ana and Sam's relationship was lovely.  Sam is fascinated by Ana and does not blame her, like so many others, for Ciana disappearing.  He seems attracted to her, but doesn't act on it.  While Ana and Sam appear the same age, he's got thousands of years on her.  At one point, Ana goes to the library and looks at pictures of Sam in past lives.  She sees him old and young, male and female, in all sorts of different bodies.  It's hard for her, although she realizes that no matter what he looks like, she can also pick out Sam in the picture.  There relationship grows slowly, as Ana learns to trust Sam, and Sam realizes that Ana is someone he can confide his fears in.

I still have so many questions though!  I'm actually glad for once to see the start of a series because I really want to see where it's going to go.  By the end, we've learned some very dramatic things about Ana's origins, but it's also raised lots of other questions.  I also want to know more about what's outside of the Range.  Are there other people out there they just don't have any contact with?  What's up with the dragons and the sylph (some kind of strange smoke like creature that kills by burning)?  Why do they seem to be after the temple in the middle of Heart, that doesn't have any doors (except for sometimes)?  Questions!  When does the next one come out?  I hope really soon.

I highly recommend this.  Incarnate comes out January 31, 2012.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

John Green is coming!



John Green will soon begin his 2012 tour for his new book The Fault in Our Stars and guess where he's starting?  AT MY SCHOOL!  Squee!  So exciting!  And it's already sold out.  It's crazy.  John Green has been to my school before, just after Paper Towns came out.  However, he was not a HUGE DEAL yet.  Now he is a total HUGE DEAL, so much so that he can sell out fairly large venues like a rock star.  Yay John Green!  Something about you just makes me want to tousle your hair and tell you you're adorable.

The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex

Gratuity "Tip" Tucci is writing a five-paged paper on the true meaning of Smekday, the day the aliens invaded Earth.  Tip has an interesting perspective, although no one else knows it.  With her cat named Pig, Tip begins her journey to find her mother who was taken by the aliens and winds up teaming up with a rogue Boov named J.Lo.  When Earth is reconquered by another alien race, the Gorg, who are much bigger and scarier than the Boov, Tip is determined to not only find her mother but get all these aliens off her planet for good.

I listened to this on audio book, which I'm not going to recommend.  The audio book itself wasn't bad, although the voice that was being done for the aliens got kind of annoying after a while.  When you listen to it, you miss out on visual elements.  Tip has an old Polaroid camera she's taking pictures with through their travels, and J.Lo draws comics to explain things about his background and the Gorg.  When I figured out I was missing something, I went and found the book and looked at all the pictures.  You do really miss out if you don't have that piece.

Waiting on Wednesday


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on The Agency: The Traitor and the Tunnel  by Y.S. Lee

Get steeped in suspense, romance, and high Victorian intrigue as Mary goes undercover at Buckingham Palace - and learns a startling secret at the Tower of London.

Queen Victoria has a little problem: there's a petty thief at work in Buckingham Palace. Charged with discretion, the Agency puts quickwitted Mary Quinn on the case, where she must pose as a domestic while fending off the attentions of a feckless Prince of Wales. But when the prince witnesses the murder of one of his friends in an opium den, the potential for scandal looms large. And Mary faces an even more unsettling possibility: the accused killer, a Chinese sailor imprisoned in the Tower of London, shares a name with her long-lost father. Meanwhile, engineer James Easton, Mary's onetime paramour, is at work shoring up the sewers beneath the palace, where an unexpected tunnel seems to be very much in use. Can Mary and James trust each other (and put their simmering feelings aside) long enough to solve the mystery and protect the Royal Family? Hoist on your waders for Mary's most personal case yet, where the stakes couldn't be higher - and she has everything to lose
. (Summary from Goodreads)



This is the third books in a historical mystery series that I've really enjoyed. Can't wait to see where it goes! The Traitor and the Tunnel comes out Feb. 28, 2011.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

News

Ryan Gosling loves the library.  And you.

SLJ's Best Books of 2011.

Did you miss it?  Because I sure did.  The Blogger/Publisher kerfuffle.   I completely understand publishers wanting to save money by printing less books and saving on shipping when they might not get a review out of it.  However, bloggers (for the most part) do not work for the publisher.  It's a hobby, and we have real, full-time jobs.  Sometimes we don't get to stuff, and sometimes we choose not to review something, and sometimes it takes us a long time to get around to reading something.  We are not on your payroll.  From the LA Times.

Neil Gaiman talks to Shaun Tan.  I would listen to Neil Gaiman talk about anything.  From The Guardian.

I get to use "kerfuffle" multiple times in a single post!  Leila Roy of Bookshelves of Doom summarizes 2011's biggest YA lit kerfuffles.  From Kirkus.

So, apparently 1 in 3 children in the UK don't own a book.  That makes me sad.  From BBC.

2011 Bad Sex Award.  From CBC News.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Thirst (Ava Delaney #1) by Claire Farrell

Ava Delaney doesn't belong, shouldn't exist. Infected at birth with vampire poison she is not entirely human, not 100% vampire. She has lived by herself for the past seven years after running away from her zealot grandmother at the age of eighteen. Fighting her growing urge to drink blood and trying to stay hidden from the local vampire clans becomes more difficult after saving a young man from a vampire. Carl becomes enslaved and he mindlessly pressures Ava to drink from him. In desperation Ava reaches out for help, and unfortunately gets Peter Brannigan. Peter hates all vampires after they killed his family, but he also happens to have a lot of underworld connections and have a general knowledge of vampire culture. As they work together to free Carl, Ava finds herself in the middle of a vampire turf war, and of course is the only one to be able to stop the stalemate.

First off I would just like to say that I had assumed this entire time, just until about twenty minutes ago when I reread the first chapter, that Ava was like eighteen. Not to be a total ditz about it, but doesn't this generally sound like something straight out of a young adult book? I'm not saying that it isn't inclusive for a young adult audience, the violence is pretty low key and it's not uber sexy, but you would think that with a twenty-five year old protagonist that it would be a bit grittier than it was. The storyline, violence, and sexuality were all pretty PG-13. Practically PG if you compare it to some other things. I guess my gripe is either amp up the gritty or make her younger...... which isn't really possible since this book is already published.

Otherwise, pretty decent. There isn't a ton of depth to the story, perhaps that might come into play more as the series progresses? The characters are solid, though not quite three-dimensional. Ms. Farrell has some very interesting elements to work with, such as Carl and Ava's relationship post-enslavement, Peter's background, Ava's employment by Daimhin, and so on and so forth.

This e-book wasn't quite novel length, more novelette, so I'm trying to give it the benefit of the doubt that it could've been more thorough if given greater length. Makes sense right? Right? It also could help that I got this for free..... just sayin'. Worth the free read, I will probably check out the sequel and then make a final decision on the series.

The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges

In 1888 in Russia Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, is trapped in a world of balls and marriage.  Katerina wishes to be a doctor, although Russian women are not allowed in the medical schools.  Katerina is also hiding a terrible secret: she can raise the dead.  Katerina is careful never to tell anyone about her curse, but her secret gets out and now the rival families of the Dark and Light courts are after her power.


My knowledge of Russian history is minimal.  It mostly revolves around Jewish history and not what the aristocracy was up to.  But since I do know that the Russian Revolution was in 1917, whenever the tsarevitch (the heir to the throne) was mentioned I would think, "Oh Nicky, if only you knew what was coming."  Most of the book was spent with Katerina going to balls.  No wonder the regular Russian people revolted.  I had a hard time keeping straight all the secondary characters.  I did appreciate the explanation of Russian last names at the beginning of the book, which was helpful.  Even so, with so many characters having the same name or similar names, and there were just so many of them, I lost track of who was who early on.  I would have loved to have a family tree or something.  There were just so many damn royals!  And they're all related to each other.
 
When Katerina talked about the books other women liked with scorn, saying, "All romances ended exactly the same way: a girl realized the surly boy she had hated all along was the only person in the universe who could completely her soul.  I did not believe for a minute that my soul could be completed by some surly boy," I had such high hopes for her.  But nope.  The surly boy that had annoyed her all along, who was constantly telling her she was evil was in fact madly in love with her and she with him.  Sigh.  Oh well.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera Hiranandani

Sonia Nadhamuni's father has just lost his job, and that means she can't go to her beloved private school with her best friend any more.  For the first time, Sonia is entering public, and for the first time is dealing with questions about what color she is.  Sonia struggles to figure out where she fits in, being half Indian and Jewish but not religious.  As Sonia's father sinks into depression, Sonia spends more and more time out of the house and with her cool new friend Kate.  Sometimes things just don't feel right to Sonia, but she not sure how to fix it.

Sonia is coming from a "hippy" school.  Very integrated, very creative and free-flowing - the teachers go by their first names, there are no grades, there's lots of doing and experiencing things.  When Sonia enters public school, she is unsurprisingly shocked at what she has to deal with that she never had to deal with before.  No one had ever asked her if she was Black before, and it wasn't something she had ever thought about.  Suddenly, Sonia is questioning who she is.  Besides being half Indian, her mother is Jewish, and although the family isn't religious, Sonia has always thought of herself as half Indian and half Jewish.  Now she has to really think about what that means. 


Sonia gets pulled between two groups at school.  The first is a popular crowd.  The only girl Sonia really likes is Kate, the leader, who genuinely seems to like her too, but doesn't stand up for her when the other girls say mean things.  Sonia also is friends with one of the few Black students at her school, Alisha, who likes to write.  Sonia ends up pushing Alisha away in favor of spending time with Kate, who has cool parents and pretty clothes.  I liked that Sonia wasn't hanging out with the popular crowd just to be popular.  Kate really did seem like a nice person, and the two girls had a lot of fun together.  Kate was very encouraging of Sonia when they all tried out for cheerleading together.  Ultimately though, Kate wasn't a true friend.  A true friend wouldn't let other "friends" treat you badly, which Sonia eventually realizes.
 
Sonia's father's depression was a very interesting aspect of the story.  We have Sonia's coming-of-age story, and her identity struggles, but separate from that we have her struggle to understand what's happening to her father.  As her father falls deeper into depression, Sonia watches her father have a hard time getting out of bed, and experiences his sudden anger and sadness.  After he gets another job, Sonia assumes that everything will be back the way it was before, but then her father disappears.  It story doesn't get too in-depth on the topic of depression, but I thought that it was handled very well for a middle-grade book.  Depression is described as a sickness (which it is), and Sonia comes to understand that it doesn't just go away all at once.  It's something that her father constantly has to work on, and that he needs help with.

The Whole Story of Half a Girl comes out January 10, 2012.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder can't remember anything before the accident that caused her to become a cyborg at age 11.  Five years later, an incurable plague is sweeping through all of the Eastern Commonwealth.  Cyborgs are being drafted to test new antidotes for the disease, and none of them have survived.  Cinder is volunteered to be a test subject by her guardian, but much to Cinder's surprise, she discovers she's immune to the disease.  This realization is the first step in Cinder beginning to piece together her early life.  With the plague spreading, war brewing with the powerful Lunars, and Cinder's unlikely friendship with the Crown Prince Kaito, Cinder finds that she is the missing piece to an intergalactic puzzle.

This is billed as a retelling of Cinderella, but there really isn't a whole lot of Cinderella left, which was just fine with me.  It kind of has the framework of Cinderella.  Cinder lives with a guardian (who is not nice) and two sisters (who are NOT ugly, and one is actually quite nice).  Her father (who adopted her) is dead.  Cinder has to do all the work to support the family and is not allowed to go to the ball.  She falls in love with the prince, runs away from the ball (and leaves a foot behind, although there's not searching door-to-door for her due to being arrested).  So yeah, it was Cinderella-y, but it wasn't just a retelling of the story, for which I was glad.
I enjoyed this and I'd like to see where the series is going to go.  There is a lot going on in this story, and at times it was confusing and a little convoluted.  We don't really get a whole lot of background on the world Cinder is living in.  It's the future, there have been two more world wars, and after the fourth one, the world was divided it as it currently was in the story.  We also have the Lunars, who live on the moon and have the power to manipulate people.  There's a lot of politics and intrigue and mystery going on.  Usually I get really annoyed when I don't understand what's going on in the world, but I didn't with this one.  I think it's because I felt like there was a promise of much more information to come.  So I went along for the ride.

Spoilers

Waiting on Wednesday: Getting Over Garrett Delaney by Abby McDonald


"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 Getting Over Garrett Delaney  by Abby McDonald.

Seventeen-year-old Sadie is in love: epic, heartfelt, and utterly onesided. The object of her obsession - ahem, affection - is her best friend, Garrett Delaney, who has been oblivious to Sadie's
feelings ever since he sauntered into her life and wowed her with his passion for Proust (not to mention his deep-blue eyes). For two long, painful years, Sadie has been Garrett's constant companion, sharing his taste in everything from tragic Russian literature to art films to '80s indie rock - all to no avail. But when Garrett leaves for a summer literary retreat, Sadie is sure that the absence will make his heart grow fonder - until he calls to say he's fallen in love. With some other girl! A heartbroken Sadie realizes that she's finally had enough. It's time for total Garrett detox! Aided by a barista job, an eclectic crew of new friends (including the hunky chef, Josh), and a customized selfhelp guide, Sadie embarks on a summer of personal reinvention full of laughter, mortifying meltdowns, and a double shot of love.


Getting Over Garrett Delaney  comes out January 24, 2012.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Since love had been identified as a disease, everyone has an operation on their 18th birthday.  The operation cures a person of armor deliria nervosa, and then you will be safe forever.  Lena is counting the days until her 18th birthday.  She has been looking forward to it for years.  All she wants is to be safe. But then she meets Alex.  Alex isn't safe, even though he's 18.  Alex is from the Wilds, where people don't have the operation.  Even though Lena knows better, she wants to keep seeing Alex, and before she knows it, they've fallen in love.  Lena is still counting down the days until her 18th birthday, but now it means the end of her world.

I really enjoyed Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall, which I thought was thought provoking and original.  I was hoping for more of the same from Delirium.  I didn't quite get it.  I knew what was going to happen the moment the book started.  Clearly Lena, who was so safe in her protective world, was going to fall in love with some guy and realize that All Was Not As It Seemed.  Which is exactly what happened.  So it was pretty predictable.  But I will say the end was a little surprising.  There was a bit of twist involving Lena's mother, who committed suicide when Lena was little.  Lena's mother didn't respond to the operation, and supposedly love drove her mad.  That was an interesting side-plot.

So this operation, I have questions.  It seems like it doesn't just get rid of love, but emotions of all kinds.  People who have had the operations have a glazed, kind of glassy way about them.  It's like all feelings are gone.  Except people can still get angry.  There's plenty of adults getting angry.  And adults being cruel.  Super cruel.  So I found that inconsistent.

One thing I did like is how Lena's preservative of herself changed.  Lena has always thought of herself as average and plain.  She's nothing special, she thinks.  She doesn't believe that Alex would like her over her beautiful friend Hanna.  As Lena and Alex fall in love, Lena begins to see herself as Alex sees her, and her confidence grows, not just in her physical appearance, but in all aspects of her life.

I think teens who enjoy dystopia romances will like this books as well.  I just didn't think there was anything particularly different or exciting about it.

Monday, December 5, 2011

News

Yay Cherie Priest!  Boneshaker is going to be a movie!  I really hope it's good!

This comic sounds awesome.  I must find it. 

Parents still prefer paper books for their children, even if they're e-readers themselves.  From The New York Times.

Authors recall the best book they ever got for Christmas.  I think some people aren't telling the truth...  From USA Today.

Notable children's books of 2011.  And by "children's books" they mean from picture books to YA.  From The New York Times.

Neil Gaiman guest starred on The Simpsons.  You can watch The Book Job on Hulu.

Brian Selznick is happy with the movie adaptation of The Adventure of Hugo Cabret.  From the Chicago Sun-Times.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Yeah, I know I'm seriously behind the times.  A few years ago when the entire world was reading this book, people kept asking me if I'd read it yet and what I'd thought and I'd say, "Yeah, it's on my to-read list."  However, my to-read list is about a million books long, and I just wasn't that interested.  It seemed to be one of those love-it-or-hate-it books.  Either people said it was the most amazing thing they'd ever read, or people were totally unimpressed, didn't know what the big deal was and discussed how it was clearly written by a middle-aged man, as no one else could write a book where female characters of various age kept jumping into bed with a middle-aged man.

I finally decided to read it because of the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is coming out and I saw the preview and it looked kind of awesome. And since I feel strongly about reading the book before seeing a movie based on a book, it was, at last, time to read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  So I did.

In case you've been living under a rock, or work in a field where you primary read YA literature, it is the story of Mikael Blomkvist, a respected journalist who's just been find guilty of libel, which puts a crimp in his career.  Blomkvist is hired by Henrik Vanger, the head of an old and powerful Swedish family to ghost-write his autobiography, but the real reason Vanger hired Blomkvist is to solve a decades old murder of his grand-niece, Harriet, who vanished without a trace in 1963.  Blomkvist joins forces with Lisbeth Salandar, a researcher with a photographic memory and authority issues.

Here's the interesting thing about this book: almost half of it was set-up.  Things didn't actually start happening until more than halfway through the book.  The story is so incredibly detailed that over 200 hundred pages are spent giving us all the background we need in order for the action to really start.  While this was kind of annoying after a bit, I was interested and involved enough (and horrified enough) to want to see where things were going to go, so I carried on and was reward with one royally fucked up story.  Whoa.  Holy shit.  I was so, so, so, not prepared.  How is it that whenever people talked about this book no one ever said, "Oh, P.S., not for the faint of heart."  Or maybe, "Involves graphic violence against women."  Or even, "You may want to throw up at various points while reading this book."  Something.  Anything.  I'd like to have been warned is all.  Because holy shit.  Fucked.  Up.  So disturbing. 

So...yeah.  It was certainly an engaging story.  Lots of twists and turns and near escapes and horrible, horrible things happening to people.  I kept reading, even when I was absolutely horrified, so well done book.  I am now a lot more wary about seeing the movie.  I also don't feel the need to read any of the subsequent volumes.  Unless the movie's really good and then I'll have to, I guess.

In conclusion: graphic violence against women.  A lot of it.  Just be prepared.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe

Kaelyn is living on an island that is part of Canada when an unknown virus suddenly appears.  It starts out just seemingly like a cold - sneezing, coughing.  But then it breaks down your social inhibitions.  Then the hallucinating starts, and then you're dead. Kaelyn's father, a microbiologist, is working hard to find a vaccination, but things are getting bad fast.  The island is quarantined, and even though they've been promised food and medicine from the government, no help seems to be coming.  Is it only a matter of time until the virus takes them all?

I classified this as a dystopia, but it isn't, not really.  It hasn't actually happened, so I guess it's sort of futuristic, but something like it could happen, and the world Kaelyn was in was our world today.  It isn't out of the realm of possibility.  It was particularly creepy reading it because everything that happened was possible.  It wasn't one of the "strange disease sweeps through and then everyone turns into brain eating zombies!"  It was like Outbreak.  A previously unknown virus shows up somewhere and people start dying.  It moves very fast and there isn't a whole lot of time to find a solution for it.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Meghan Chase has grown up unnoticed by the people around her.  She always seemed to blend in and fade away.  Even her stepfather seems to have a hard time remembering she's there.  There's a reason.  Meghan learns that she's half faery after her little brother disappears and is replaced with a Changeling.  Meghan must journey into the Nevernever to get him back, and discovers it's really her that everyone is after.

I enjoyed this, although I thought it kind of went on longer than it had to.  I assume it was so we could be introduced to all the different realms of the faery world, but some of the travel between the worlds felt unnecessary.

I liked that there was so much traditional faery lore that went into the writing of this book.  Meghan's only friend in the human world was a boy named Robbie Goodfell, who turns out to be Puck (if you remember your Midsummer Night's Dream you'll recall that Puck's real name is Robin Goodfellow).  Puck is of course part of Oberon and Titania's court, which is the Summer Court .  There is also the Winter Court, which was Tir Na Nog.  That was kind of weird choice, as there's nothing about Tir Na Nog being in endless winter in the Niamh and Ossian story, I don't think.  Anyway, I liked the mixing of all different kind of faery mythology.

Of course there was a budding romance, between Meghan and the Winter prince, Ash.  I'm not exactly sure why they're in to each other, it was one of those love-hate relationships.  Ash also kept making remarks that he would have no problem killing her.  Maybe he's just trying to cover up his feelings, which are all in turmoil.

Toward the end of the story, Meghan is beginning to realize that she has the potential to become very powerful, which is why everyone seems to be after her.  While I don't know if I'm going to read the rest of the series, and I can definitely see why these books are popular.


I have a question though.  At one point in the story, Meghan makes a deal that in exchange for information she'll give someone her happiest memory.  After it's taken, she has no memory of her father.  Why wouldn't she have any idea that she had a father if only a single memory was taken?  Her father was in her life until she was six, she certainly would have had plenty of memories of him.

Sandra and Woo: a Webcomic by Powree and Oliver Knorzer

Sandra is a twelve year old with a pet raccoon named Woo. He happens to have the ability to speak to her and they must make sure that this remains a secret from her father, friends, and the world. While the must work together to make sure that their friendship remains a secret, they must also face their separate lives in the wild and school and their relationships with animals, boys, and friends.

This webcomic is ridiculously cute and hilarious. I'm not sure if you understand how much I liked it. Sandra is a quirky kid who not only has a talking raccoon but also a fixation on and a love of video games and fantasy. She dates a boy named Cloud, named after a Final Fantasy character, who learns sword fighting and is generally a stereotypical nice guy. Her best friend Larissa is a pretty pyromaniac with a penchant for manipulation. These three are all quirky, funny, and endearing. Hipsters in training.

Woo is full of hijinks.... which sounds corny but is really the only way I can think of describing him. Adorable, sarcastic, and hungry for anything, Woo must balance the fact that he is a pet with his feral nature.

I read through this in essentially one night and have been checking back in with it regularly. I strongly recommend it. I think you'll all like it too. The art is clean and suits the storyline perfectly, the characters and secondary characters are all memorable and engaging, and the storyline is super engaging.

Sandra and Woo updates Mondays and Thursdays.

Waiting on Wednesday


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa.


You will kill. The only question is when.

In the dark days since the insidious Red Lung virus decimated the human population, vampires have risen to rule the crumbling cities and suburbs. Uncontested Princes hold sway over diminished ranks of humans: their "pets." In exchange for their labor, loyalty and of course, their blood, these pets are registered, given food and shelter, permitted to survive.

Unregistered humans cling to fringes, scavenging for survival. Allison Sekemoto and her fellow Unregistereds are hunted, not only by vampires, but by rabids, the unholy result of Red Lung-infected vampires feeding on unwary humans. One night, Allie is attacked by a pack of rabids, saved by an unlikely hero...and turned vampire.

Uncomfortable in her undead skin, Allie falls in with a ragtag crew of humans seeking a cure, or cures: for Rabidism and for Vampirism. She's passing for human...for now. But the hunger is growing and will not be denied. Not for friendship—not even for love.
(Summary by Goodreads)


I like Julie Kagawa a lot, she writes a solid story without fluff. It seems to always be a rather straight forward plot line that's all about the characters, and she writes it brilliantly. The Immortal Rules comes out April 24, 2012.

Monday, November 28, 2011

N.E.R.D.S.: National Espionage and Rescue Defense Society by Michael Buckley

Jackson is on his way to being the most popular boy at Nathan Hale Elementary. Charming, athletic, and good looking, Jackson Jones has it made. So what if he likes to pick on the weirdos and nerds that don't fit in? Jackson is doing the world a service by keeping them in their place. That is until he discovers that he must get the motherload of braces. In a flash he is at the bottom of the barrel and he must find new pursuits, like observing (otherwise known as spying) his ex-friends, teachers, and peers and discovering all their secrets.  The only ones that seem to elude him are five losers that are always getting out of class. By pure chance Jackson hides in a locker that he sees them sneak into and finds himself in a secret lair. After finding himself and his braces upgraded he discovers that these five geeks routinely save the world and have spectacular nano-technology abilities to help them:

Mathilda Choi's asthma inhalers give her the abilities to fly and throw fire. She has exceptional fighting abilities and can use anything as a weapon. Heathcliff Hodges has huge buckteeth and can hypnotize anyone with them. Duncan Dewey loves to eat glue and can secrete a sticky substance from his pores allowing him to climb the walls and stick to anything. Julio Escala is ADD and harnesses his hyperactivity for super strength and speed. Ruby Peet is the team leader and is allergic to everything, including negative emotions and lying. They are not only united in saving the earth, nerdiness, and special abilities, but also their hatred of Jackson Jones. As everything seems to falling apart for the N.E.R.D.S. - with a new administrator and a douche bag new agent - they are put onto a new important case saving scientists and keeping Dr. Jigsaw from rearranging the continents. Will the agents be able to pull together and reevaluate their perspectives of each other and how they work to save the world? I listened to this in my car going to to and from work.

You can either read the rest of this review to discover why I didn't like this or you can stop here with the knowledge that I didn't like this. It doesn't really deserve a longer review, but I will go into detail because as a Wandering Librarian that's what I do.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Saving June by Hannah Harrington

Harper's sister June killed herself two weeks before graduation.  Her family is stunned.  June always seemed like the perfect daughter, unlike Harper, who's always been at odds with her family.  Now Harper's mother and father, who are divorced, want to split up June's ashes.  Harper decides to take the ashes to California, where June always dreamed of going.  Harper heads out on her road trip with her best friend Laney and Jake, a boy whose relationship to June is unclear.

Meh.  That's how I feel about this book.  Complete meh.  Maybe because I'd just read a book about a girl working through the death of a loved one and it was very well done.  Maybe because I'm a little tired of reading about sisters dying, usually from suicide.  Maybe because this particular story was kind of clunky.  Or perhaps, as far as stories about a road trip to bring a loved one's ashes to a promised place, A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend would totally be my pick.

I didn't connect with this story at all.  I didn't feel anything about any of the characters.  Harper's family was fairly horrible to her, which I know was the point.  Everyone was still treating Harper as the outcast and June as the perfect one, despite the fact June was the one who'd killed herself.  Despite this, I just didn't find myself caring very much about Harper.  Also, I thought it was kind of awful that Harper spread June's ashes somewhere without her parents.  Yeah, her parents were jerks, but June was there kid.

Jake was kind of a dick, but we were suppose to see him as deep because he listened to 70s rock.  Harper and Jake had a love-hate relationship I found really annoying.  Laney was a fairly flat character who randomly gets pregnant toward the end.  I have no idea why.  It didn't add anything to the story.  Don't worry, she has a miscarriage so she doesn't have to decided what to do.  And it totally annoyed me that none of the characters could even bring themselves to say the word "abortion."

The road trip was long and disjointed.  There were numerous stops along the way, and I wasn't sure what the point was.  Most of them didn't really help build the characters in any way.  Rather, we got new characters thrown at us that then never showed up again.

I didn't really feel like any of the characters got any kind of closure or where working toward moving forward by the end.  So yeah.  Meh. For whatever reason, I just didn't connect with it.  I think there are plenty of YA books that are very similar that explore the issues and emotions considerably better.

Saving June comes out November 29.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

 Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumors in her lungs... for now.

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumors tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind

The Fault in Our Stars will be available January 10, 2012.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sign Language by Amy Ackley

Abby's father is dying of cancer.  Abby deals with this mostly by pretending that it isn't happening, until her father really dies.  Now Abby has to figure out how to get through her days, with little help from her mother who has fallen apart.  Abby knows her friend Spence will always be there to support her, but Abby finds she's pushing everyone away who tries to help.

The book is split into two parts, "Before and During" and "After."  The book spans about three years; the year Abby's father is dying, the year after his death, and the year after that.  It was interesting that the book covered such a span of time.  In most of the YA I've read where a character dying is the main focus of the book, it either focuses on the process of dying, or the immediate aftermath.  This looked at the entire process, from the original diagnosis, to the first year, to the year after.  

Monday, November 21, 2011

Breaking Dawn, part 1

Gather 'round children, for I have a tale to tell.

Once upon a time, there was a love like no other love that had ever been loved before.  Ever.  Alas, problems arose, for the boy, aside from looking like he was in constant pain, was an unchanging, undying vampire with mind-reading abilities.  The girl didn’t care, for she loved him so, and also had a tendency to crash in to things and needed someone to help her up.  Thus, the two decided to marry, after working out a deal that first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes sex, then comes vampifying, in that order.  So they shook hands to seal it and then the movie started.

Young Jacob Black, of the turning-in-to-wolves Blacks, is upset with his wedding invite, and therefore does what he always does when he’s angry – takes off his shirt.  Within the first ten seconds of the movie.  Jacob shrugs and says, “Things are going to get pretty boring pretty quickly, so let’s start things off right.”  He then turns into a wolf and runs away.  Poor Bella’s father, Billy Burke, who everyone loves, looks very sad and makes everyone want to snuggle him until he feels better, and Bella’s mom is still a flake.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Breaking Dawn: It's finally here!

It's that time once again, when all anyone can talk about is TwilightBreaking Dawn: Part One (sweet Moses we have to watch a part two, oi) is finally out. Of course the four of us are going to see it, we've come this far we have to see it out to the bitter end. We're starting early this year, so expect some sort of review sometime tomorrow early evening.

Who knows what to expect? For our friend Christina's sake I hope that it is the best thing ever. For my own sake I hope it's awesomely bad so I can giggle throughout. Regardless, you'll hear about it tomorrow.

*UPDATE*
 I am going to be honest and say that I can't do the movie review justice. So I'm going to make Arianna do it tomorrow. I will let you know that we thought the make up and acting has gotten better, but that doesn't mean that the movie is good. Jacob's chest is exposed within 15 seconds of the movie starting. The sex scene was built up for nothing.

Let me preface Ari's post with a little background information: in the past we've gone to the movie at night and out for drinks afterward. this was fine except we were all so tired that we didn't spend a ton of time together after the movie - something that we lamented the past three times we've gone. Not this time though, this time we had a plan. A plan that involved drinks.

We decided to meet before and have brunch, because if we were going to this movie we were going to be a little tipsy when we went. We went, had our meals, had our drinks and went to the theater. Arianna had brought us alcoholic candies to eat during the movie and we were planning to go out for drinks afterward. I would just like to state that we should have drank more prior to going to the movie...

Switched by Amanda Hocking

When Wendy was six, her mother tried to kill her.  She was convinced that Wendy wasn't really her child.  Wendy is now 17, and her mother has been in a mental institution for 11 years, and it turns out she was right.  Wendy isn't her child.  She's a changeling, and now she's expected to leave her brother and aunt and return to her "true" home.  Finn, the handsome tracker who found her, promises that Wendy will finally feel like she belongs and will learn more about her gift of Persuasion.  But things quickly become more complicated then Wendy could ever imagine.

So Wendy is a changeling.  I associate changeling with fairies, which, essentially, what the Trylle are.  Even though they're trolls.  Yes, trolls.  A troll in this world seems to be a magical creature with close ties to the Earth.  OK, fine, whatever, but it felt like "troll" was what the author went with because that hasn't been done yet.  There have been way too books where a girl realizes she's really from the fairy world, but no one has done trolls!  Even if a troll is pretty much being defined as a fairy.  Fine.  They're "trolls."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler art by Maira Kalman

Min Green and Ed Slaterton broke up.  Now Min is returning to Ed a box filled with things she collected over the course of their two months together.  And she's writing him a letter explaining exactly why they broke up.

Before I started this, I thought it was an adult book, because the concept just seemed like it was.  I was totally taken aback when I realized the characters were in high school.  But it turned out I was right.  It is an adult book, even though it revolves around teenage characters.  I think some teenagers would still like it, but definitely the appeal is going to be with an older, more mature, perhaps more jaded and cynical crowd.  Not that I think this book was jaded and cynical.  It totally wasn't at all.  What I mean is this is a portrayal of a real relationship.  No supernatural love-bond kind of thing.  And the relationship ends, as relationships often do.  That's all I mean. 

News

Well.  This is depressing.  Yes, there are Black people in your Hunger Games.  From Racialicious.

Best children's books of 2011. From PW.

Anne Ursu, author of Breadcrumbs, on happily ever after (or not).  From Cynsations.

I'm sure you've wondered what would be on Nancy Drew's ipod if she'd had one.  Flavorwire has filled us in.

Awww, Besty-Tacy is getting a reprint.  From The New York Times.

If you're wondering what happened to the Occupy Wall Street People's Library (which I was) after Zuccotti Park was cleared, it's not looking good. 

If you've been waiting for Pottermore, you'll probably have to wait a while longer. From USA Today.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Flyaway by Helen Landaf

Stevie's only 15, but she's has been looking after her mom for a long time.  Sure, sometimes her mom disappears for days at a time, but Stevie knows how much her mother loves her.  Then Stevie's aunt Mindy gets involved, and Stevie's mom ends up in rehab for meth addicts and Stevie has to live with Aunt Mindy.  Stevie hates it, especially with Mindy after her all the time to study and tell her where she's going.  All Stevie wants is for her mom to come back so they can live together again.  Stevie begins working at a bird rehabilitation center, where she meets Alan, a troubled boy who used to go to her high school.  Stevie has a lot going on in her life, but the hardest is learning the truth about her mother.

This was a bittersweet sort of story.  Stevie loves her mom very much despite the fact her mom has done little to deserve her daughter's love.  Stevie is constantly left alone, skipping school to wait by the telephone either for her mother to call or to answer in case a call comes for her mother.  Stevie's mother has big dreams that involve selling her own jewelry and buying a house, but nothing she does gets her, or her child, any closer to these goals.

Waiting on Wednesday: Irises by Francisco X. Stork


"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 Irises by Francisco X. Stork.

Two sisters discover what's truly worth living for in the new novel by the author of MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD.

TWO SISTERS: Kate is bound for Stanford and an M.D. -- if her family will let her go. Mary wants only to stay home and paint. When their loving but repressive father dies, they must figure out how to support themselves and their mother, who is in a permanent vegetative state, and how to get along in all their uneasy sisterhood.

THREE YOUNG MEN: Then three men sway their lives: Kate's boyfriend Simon offers to marry her, providing much-needed stability. Mary is drawn to Marcos, though she fears his violent past. And Andy tempts Kate with more than romance, recognizing her ambition because it matches his own. 

ONE AGONIZING CHOICE: Kate and Mary each find new possibilities and darknesses in their sudden freedom. But it's Mama's life that might divide them for good -- the question of *if* she lives, and what's worth living for.

Irises will be available January 1.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hunger Games Trailer

Not going to lie, I'm torn about this. Jennifer Lawrence seems like she'll rock it out, but the rest..... eh. Am I being too cynical? Has Twilight ruined me forever and made me pessimistic for all book adapted movies? Or am I just being realistic? Regardless this looks visually stunning, and obviously I'm going to see it regardless of what the critics say. What do you think?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

My Boyfriend is a Monster: I Love Him to Pieces

Dicey, the only girl on the high school baseball team and Jack Chen a D&D playing science genius, end up partners for the classic health class egg baby project.  Just as Dicey and Jack Chen are seeing the blossoming of their relationship despite their different interests, a virus sweeps through the town turning people into mindless zombies!  Dicey and Jack Chen are on the run for safety, and when Jack Chen is bitten, they are rapidly running out of time.

Adorable.  Totally.  Loved it.  Dicey is pretty fabulous.  She's an amazing baseball player and takes it very seriously.  She likes Jack Chen from the start, but she isn't about to fall all over herself to get his attention.  It doesn't occur to Jack Chen (who is always referred to by his first and last name) that someone like Dicey could ever be interested in him, and it takes him a while to figure out that she likes him and that he also likes her.

Their relationship is really cute.  Despite their different interests, they get along really well and have a lot of fun working on the project together.  By the way, did your school make you pair up for the egg baby project?  And did you do it in high school?  Eggs babies were definitely a middle school project for me (got to teach the children when they're young) and we weren't paired up with anyone.  We were all single parents.  Anyway, Dicey and Jack Chen take an interest in what they other one likes to do, but of course, isn't it always the way, right when things get going disaster strikes!

Now, luckily for Jack Chen, both his parents are scientists who were working on finding a cure for this disease, which was not suppose to jump to the town so quickly.  So when Jack Chen is bitten, Dicey knows she has to get him to his parents before he succumbs to it.  At one point, Jack Chen tries to take off without her so she won't be in danger, but Dicey is having none of that and tracks him down and sets him straight.

It seemed like the whole town got zombified pretty fast, but everyone seemed pretty up beat at the end, so maybe it wasn't as bad as it looks.  I will definitely read the following volumes.

The story is told through black and white drawings and is done with a fairly traditional comic book format of panels.

Hourglass by Myra McEntire

Emerson Cole has a little issue, one that no one thus far has been able to help her with. Her brother and sister in law want to help her and gone through dozens of 'experts' that say they will cure Emerson of her problem. Emerson sees visions of dead people, or at least that's what she thinks they are. They're people from different eras that have a tendency to pop up at inopportune times and pop out when Em touches them. When Emerson is booted from her private school because her scholarship runs out, she must move in with her brother and try to readjust to life at home. This time her brother has another guru set up to fix Emerson. A young man, Michael, who says that he understands what she deals with because he has the same ability. As he helps her come to terms and understand the ripples in time, that allow them to see into the past and in Michael's case into the future, it seems that Michael has his own agenda for getting close to Em. This along with the mysterious ghostlike Jack, leaves Emerson confused and unsure of what her next steps are. The only things she is certain of is that she is ridiculously attracted to Michael who is off-limits, her abilities to see the past is getting stronger, and she is the only hope for a man that died six months ago.

As I read the summary I just wrote I have to admit that I think it's total trash. So I'm posting the GoodReads summary as well:

For seventeen-year-old Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn’t there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents’ death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She’s tried everything, but the visions keep coming back.

So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson’s willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may change her past.
Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he’s around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?

OK. I feel better now. I really liked this book. As in I kept trying to read it between my classes coming into the library good. It was completely atmospheric and the lore behind Emerson and Michael's abilities was well thought out. I liked that even though their romance seemed a bit 'fated,' it also developed realistically to a point where I could see why they cared for one another. Also the entire focus wasn't on their relationship, it was also about helping Emerson deal with her parents' deaths and how grief changed her.

In other words I thought that this was a well thought out and fully developed book, which I have to admit surprised me since Myra McEntire is a debut author. I am not an optimistic reader for debut authors. This surprised and delighted me. Well done Myra McEntire, I am quite excited for your next book Timepiece. I do have to ask why there needs to be a love triangle though, I just don't find them to be satisfying plot devices. Could you please change that?

Friday, November 11, 2011

All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin

The Balanchine family is the biggest supplier of illegal chocolate in all of the United States, but Anya Balanchine wants nothing to do with it.  Anya's father and mother are both dead because of involvement in the crime world (her father was the city's most notorious crime boss) and her older brother was brain damaged.  All Anya cares about is keeping her brother and sister safe and out of any involvement with the family business and trying not to get involved with Win, who happens to be the new assistant DA's son.  This becomes harder when poisoned chocolate starts showing up around the city and the police think Anya did it. 

I was a big fan of Gabrielle Zevin's Elsewhere.  It was a book that really made me think about things.  And it had a relationship between two people that seemed realistic and organic and made sense.  I was therefore unsurprised that I liked All These Things I've Done very much as well.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Censorship

Let's start the month off right with book censorship. The offender: good old The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian which was pulled from a school in Georgia after complaints. The best part: superintendent Shawn Tobin's proposal that “Employee[s] will confirm reading material is free of vulgar language, sexual content, racial insults or demeaning religious connotations.” So that leaves...nothing. Nothing at all. Despite his statement that " “Do I want to ban books?  Absolutely not. I’m not trying to get rid of Huckleberry Finn,”if his proposal should pass than Huckleberry Finn would be right out.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Hidden Gallery by Maryrose Wood

The Incorrigible children, Alexander, Beowulf and Cassiopeia, are staying in London while Ashton Place is repaired from that disastrous Christmas ball of Lady Constance Ashton.  Of course, their governess, Penelope Lumley, will be accompanying them.  Penelope is thrilled at the thought of all the wonderfully educational things London will offer the Incorrigibles, and the chance of seeing her dear, former headmistress of Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, Miss Mortimer.  But almost immediately after leaving Ashton Place, strange things begin to happen.  From gypsy prophesies to hidden rooms, Penelope fears the children might be in danger again.

Much like the first book, The Hidden Gallery was hysterical.  Did you like Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate EventsThe Incorrigible Children series is wonderfully Snicketesque.  That dry, matter-of-fact, tongue-in-cheek, wandering off on tangents way of storytelling.  I love it.  It is not for everyone.  I think that if you like British comedy, you'll also like books like this.  If you don't, I'm not sure.

In this second volume, the plot thickens.  Considerably.  The Incorrigible children had been raised by wolves and taken in by Lord and Lady Ashton, although we're not sure why, as Lord Ashton has no interest in them and Lady Ashton totally hate them and blames them for everything.  They are cared for by our heroine, the plucky governess Penelope.  In The Hidden Gallery, Penelope begins to piece together the Incorrigibles' confusing background.  Things become more and more confusing the more she learns.  But Penelope is a Swanburne girl and Sawnburne girls are curious, resourceful and determined and she'll get to the bottom of it sooner or later.

I love how the children are a combination of hanging onto their wolf-like characteristics (they have a tendency to drool, chase squirrels, and add "awoo" to the ends of words), but they're also learning Latin and about the Peloponnesian War and randomly come up with things that show they're considerably smarter than most of the people around them who think they're little savages.  Penelope believes in setting standards high, so who cares if they have a tendency to howl at the moon?  She sends them off to fetch their protractors and graph paper.

Also, the art is just perfect.

Spoilers!  Sort of.

Waiting on Wednesday: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sighty by Jennifer E. Smith


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith.

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. She's stuck at JFK, late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon to be step-mother that Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's in seat 18B. Hadley's in 18A.

Twists of fate and quirks of timing play out in this thoughtful novel about family connections, second chances and first loves. Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it.
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight comes out January 2, 2012.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Ruby in Her Navel by Barry Unsworth

During the Middle Ages in Italy, Thurstan Beauchamp, a Christian Yusuf, an Arab, in the palace's finance office.  Thurstan not only deals with the King's money, but also gets sent on errands that involve bribes and blackmail.  On one of these errands, Thurstan meets his childhood sweetheart, whose husband has recently died.  Thurstan believes that at last he will have everything he ever wanted, but there are dark times approaching for the kingdom of Sicily, and things are not as they appear.

Every now and then I like to read an adult book.  You know, just to prove I can.  Oh, and I can.  I just chose not to most of the time.  My mother had given me this one.  When I was almost done with it she informed me she didn't think it was that great.  To which I said, "Why are you giving me bad books to read?  Don't you know my to-read list is a million books long?"  But at that point I was almost finished.  And I guess I didn't hate it enough to give up part way through.  Although, to be honest, there was some skimming.

Despite the cover, this book is not racy.  Like, at all.  What was most interesting about the story was the time it was set in.  Sicily was quite interesting during the Middle Ages.  It had that period where many different religions were living fairly peacefully together under the king.  Keep in mind that this was a time when the Crusades were going on, so that was a pretty big deal.  Unfortunately, this period didn't last forever.  This story is being told right at the time when everything was beginning to deteriorate, and there were emerging feelings of hatred toward the Arab population.

Thurstan is a naive little twit who thought he was much cleverer than he actually was and for most of the book I just felt sorry for him, because it was pretty clear to me from fairly early on where things were going.  I wanted to cry, "You're being played for a fool!  Obviously."  But he didn't listen.  Sigh.  They never listen.  So I was hardly at the edge of my seat as there wasn't much of a mystery.  I did keep reading to see how everything would wrap up, and it got wrapped up awfully tidily.

There's a side plot with some dancers that Thurstan finds and brings to court and his relationship with one of them.  That's where the title comes from.  It seemed an odd choice.  Perhaps something that sounded kind of racy was wanted?  Even though it wasn't?

So it was fine.  The romance wasn't all that romancy, the intrigue wasn't all that intriguing, and the mystery wasn't all that mysterious.  So...yeah.  It was fine.  It was no Mistress of the Art of Death.  Or Brother Cadfael.  But nothing ever could be.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Cinderella: Ninja Warrior by Maureen McGowan

Cinderella's real mother was a powerful wizard, but after her death, Cinderella's father hid her wand.  Shortly after he remarried, he died under suspicious circumstances.  Now Cinderella is held prisoner in her own house, thanks to her wicked step-mother's black magic, which is illegal in the kingdom.  Cinderella bides her time until she can make her escape, training herself to be a ninja warrior and working on developing her magic.  Now if only she could find her mother's wand...

When I saw the title of this book, I was of course intrigued.  Then, when I learned that it was not just Cinderella being a ninja warrior, but also a choose-your-own-adventure story (you know, at some high point in the action it'll say "To do this, go to page whatever, or, to do that, go to this other page"), I was incredibly excited.  I used to love choose-your-own-adventure books.  They were so ridiculous, so fun.  Alas, I was disappointed.

This book took itself way too seriously.  Come on now.  Cinderella is training to be a ninja warrior?  And you've made it a choose-your-own-adventure book?  This is not something that anyone would ever take seriously.  I was expecting silliness and hijinks at every turn.  But no.  What I got was a fairly straight-forward Cinderella story, except ninja training and magic are closely related in this world and since Cinderella isn't allowed to study magic, she's practicing becoming and ninja in secret. 

At three points in the book, you have the opportunity to make a decision for Cinderella.  The problem was, it didn't make any difference what you chose, you always ended up at the same place in the end.  So what's the point of that?  Why bother writing different paths, which weren't even all that interesting, if she's always going to end up at the exact same point?  And the divergent paths weren't very exciting.

Actually, the book as a whole wasn't very exciting.  Even when Cinderella is competing in a magic competition, and it's suppose to be nail-bitingly exciting, I was kind of bored.  The story just did not catch my interest.  It wasn't funny, it wasn't silly, it wasn't exciting, it was just...nothing really.  Kind of blah.

This is the first book in a series of "Twisted Tales".  I can't say that I'll be looking for the other ones to come out.

Friday, November 4, 2011

News

Vintage covers of The Phantom Tollbooth.  The 2002 UK one is awful.  Actually, I don't like any of the ones that don't use Jules Fieffer's art.  From Flavorwire.

More Phantom Tollbooth inside information.  From SLJ.

Mo Willems' Zena Sutherland lecture, 'Why Books?'  From The Horn Book

The new movie posters for The Hunger Games!  Very dramatic.  I'm feeling better about Peeta.  Not so much with Gale.  From EW.

The Case of the Graveyard Book.  Repackaging young adult books for adults.  From PW.

OMG!  J.K. Rowling was thinking about killing off Ron!  So glad she didn't.  From The Guardian.

Thank goodness. The Occupy Wall Street coloring book is finally out.  From Time Magazine.


The worst consequences of literary teenage romances.  From Flavorwire.
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