Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Underneath

I have always enjoyed Kathi Appelt as a picture book author and now I am enjoying her as a novelist.

Let me get this out of the way before I list my praises for the book: I do not like the cover. It seems very juvenile and gives the book a more innocent feel.

Now...on to what I liked.

1. I love stories about animals - granted this one was hard at times because of the abuse but ultimately the spirit of the animals shined through.

2. I love stories about redemption - Gar Face is a jerk. 'Nuff said.

3. The format of this story was so intriguing - Grandmother moccasin was cool.

I heard it's in the running for the National Book Award. That's pretty awesome.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Inubaka Vol 9 & 10

Cute little Suguri is back to getting peed on and loved by every dog she encounters. In volume 9, she works at a remote dog breeding "fram" and meets a mysterious young man who has a special touch with dogs, just like her.

In volume 10, the Woofles pet shop is met with some serious competition and Suguri is wooed by the new shop's owner.

Will she succomb to the pressure and leave Woofles for a bigger, brighter facility?

We will have to wait until volume 11 to find out!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Diamond of Drury Lane

Cat Royal is such a spunky main character that a reader can't help but love her. The hardships she endures during the tale The Diamond of Drury Lane go from bad to worse. And all along, I kept rooting for her.

Could it be my partiality toward red heads?


Julia Golding has written a superb mystery with this book. Mystery is definitely not my genre but this one kept me interested. I loved the characters and the London landscape.

Hopefully more Cat Royal books are on their way!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


What a fantastic book this was! I'm a huge fan of the happy ending and even though this book didn't have a sappy, perfect, wrap-it-all-up ending, I still loved it!

The characters were so imaginative and dynamic. The story line was creative and original. I loved the idea of having a Grace. I wonder what mine would be?

On a similar note, after having finished this book I saw a show on TV about people with supernatural powers. For example, this one guy could withstand extreme cold temperatures by regulating his own body tempreature. They dropped him into 8 degree cold water and he didn't even shiver. I thought - wow - he is a Graceling! I love it when real life portrays the literary life.

Kristin Cashore's book is going to be very popular. Mark my words.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

My Mother the Cheerleader

Robert Sharenow rocks. Who knew that he had such a cool job at A&E writing and producing some of the coolest docu-soaps ever!

Anyway, that's what I learned from reading his brief bio from the back flap of My Mother the Cheerleader. And God - did I love this book. The characters were so complete and true. The story was one that has been told from many perspectives and in many ways but Sharenow has written something both timeless and original.

This book has been on my to-read list since it made the Michigan Thumbs Up! top 20. I'm totally disappointed that it didn't get into the top 4 but hopefully being on the list (as well as other noteworthy lists) will put it into the hands of teens all over.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Bloody Jack

Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy (Bloody Jack Adventures) Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy by Louis A. Meyer

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
A fine tale of hidden identity with a few pirates mixed in for good measure.

View all my reviews.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Seer of Shadows

Avi is definitely one of my favorite authors of all time. He has a way with a story, for sure. One problem I have though - is who to recommend his books to. Currently, his books are cataloged in both the Juvenile and Teen areas of my library.

The Seer of Shadows is one that is currently not shelved in the teen area. But I think the spooky setting and ghost character would appeal to an older audience.

I will be handing it off to some of my test readers to prove or disprove my theory shortly.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Inubaka Vol. 8

Inubaka: Crazy for Dogs, Vol. 8 by Takashi Hashiguchi

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
Wow - this one was so sad! Poor Lupin runs away during a thunderstorm and no one knows where he is. And then he gets attacked by another dog!

No further romance between Tappei and Suguri :( Maybe in the next one, as they are set to go on holiday!

Review from Goodreads!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy

I can't believe I had never read this book until now. Gary D. Schmidt is now solidly in my top 3 YA authors of all time. I love ALL his books. He has a way of saying things that just resonates so loudly with me.

I always find the coolest quotes in his books. And Lizzie Bright was no exception. I don't have my copy in front of me right now (but I will edit this post when I have the quotes word for word).

I love how Mrs. Cobb turned out to be such a pivotal person in the story. And I think it's sad we didn't get to know more about Mrs. Hurd. Willis broke my heart when he painted those shutters and Turner is another one of Schmidt's AWESOME leading characters.

So - if you are like me and are waiting for some reason to give this one a go - wait no longer!

Breaking Dawn

My ranking of the Stephenie Meyer Twilight series:

1. Twilight
2. Breaking Dawn
3. New Moon
4. Eclipse

Breaking Dawn beat my expectations by quite a bit because I wasn't a fan of New Moon or Eclipse. But I thought she wrapped it all up quite nicely with this last installment. I enjoyed the parts about Nessie even though it was a bit weird and creepy.

I hope someone else comes along to give our teen readers another lovely series like J.K. Rowling, Christopher Paolini or Stephenie Meyer. I know that these series books may not be the best literature out there - but they get kids reading which is what is so important!

The Art of Racing in the Rain

Who would have thought a whole novel could be written - and a deep one at that - from the perspective of a mixed breed dog? Definitely not me. But when someone told me about the premise of this book, I was totally intrigued. I took it home and read it in one night.

Apart from some of the detailed racing stuff, I dug the book thoroughly. It was funny, sad, heartbreaking and completely believable. Yes - a book written by a dog was (to me) extremely believable. I kept looking at my dog and wondering if he was capable of such deep thoughts as Enzo. And I know it's doubtful but I really like the idea!

I hope more people read this book. It was recommended by several staff members in my library system and it gets my full recommendation as well!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Ghost's Child

I love Sonya Hartnett. Surrender was such a deep book - a multilayered book. But The Ghost's Child was pretty straightforward even while mixing fantasy with reality.

Still, I think this book is more of an adult title than a teen one. I can think of a few teens I'd like to have read it right away and see what they think of it.

Now I just have to wait for it to arrive at the library!

The Dangerous Days of Daniel X

Bleh. I didn't like this book. But something must be good about it because I was compelled to read it to the end.

Basically, the main character is an alien hunter whose parents were killed by the #1 bad guy alien on the planet. And now he is out to kill all the bad guy aliens on "the list." This book follows him through is quest to find and kill #6.

The interplanetary setting is somewhat cool. But the characters seriously fell flat for me. And the prose just seemed forced the whole time. I'll be interested to hear teen reviews.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Skin Hunger

Kathleen Duey used a very cool writing method with Skin Hunger. The chapters were alternatively narrated by a teenage boy who is stuck in a dark magic school and a farm girl turned city girl who may have gotten in over her head with her new roommates.

How these two characters are related is a mystery until the very last page. Clues are dropped along the way as to what the connection may be but the truth does come out in the end.

Speaking of the end, I was left wanting MUCH more. I realize this is advertised as "Book One" but such an anticlimactic cliff hanger really made me mad!

All in all, it was a really good book. I liked the voices of the characters as well as the setting and the mystery. Can't wait for the next one!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Willoughbys

Lois Lowry is such an amazing writer. Whatever she does, it is fantastic. So when The Willoughbys came through the library I immediately got my grubby little hands on a copy and gobbled it up in no time flat.

The book is "an old fashioned story" about careless parents of 4. The parents don't love the kids and the kids don't love their parents. A certain turn of events brings a baby into the picture and the Willoughby children give her away to a reclusive millionaire.

The kids end up orphans and their new nanny is just what they need.

It's a funny story - clean and quick. I imagine it will get lots of attention from Lemony Snicket fans. And hopefully many others as well.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Invasion of the Plush Monsters

We had a really fun program the other day making plush monsters.

I originally got the idea from Craft Magazine (seen to the left). Basically, what we did was draw free-form monster figures on some felt, cut out and sew.

It was loads of fun and just to prove it, here are a few pictures from afterwards:

The Latent Powers of Dylan Fontaine

This is another one that was just "eh" for me. I liked the idea of the book - a mother leaves her husband and 2 sons for another man. Dad is a workaholic and big bro is a pothead musician. Main character Dylan is mixed up about a lot of things including the gal in his life.

But for me, the characters fell flat. They were not dynamic or believable as real people. The band members were all stereotypes and no one really struck me as someone I could meet on the street.

One thing I really liked is this Australian saying "She'll be apples" which apparently means everything's gonna be just fine. I'd love to hear someone say that in real life now that I know what it means!

Monday, July 14, 2008


Rumors by Anna Godbersen was another satisfying tale of the late 19th century New York City elite. It was full of both scandal and beauty. The details in the story as well as the interwoven storylines make it a very juicy tale.

It won't end up on my top 10 list but I can see why lots of ladies out there would fawn over it.

Plus, the cover is stunning.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Crossroads

I don't know why but I really hate to say that I didn't like a book. Especially if I finish it. I sort of feel like there are enough books out there in the world that if I pick one up that I don't like, I shouldn't feel obligated to finish it. So when I finish a book, I hope I can say I liked it.

But this time I don't know what to say. I just finished The Crossroads by Chris Grabenstein and it was just ok for me. It had a cool premise and fun dialog but it won't be one that sticks with me for ages.

But if you like a good ghost story with some nice twists and a bit of mystery, this might be the book for you!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Ender's Game

The coolest gifts I've ever received have all been books. That being said, I was uber-excited when I saw that the attendees of the Edwards Luncheon in Anaheim at ALA were receiving a copy of Ender's Game by award recipient Orson Scott Card.

The lunch was great, dessert was fantastic, and the speech...well...the speech was a speech. (Sorry Mr. Card; I don't have a very long attention span).

And the book? It was great. Every once in a while I read a science fiction novel that sucks me into the world created by the author. I love it when good books can do that. Another one that pops into my mind along the same lines is A Wrinkle in Time.

Ender was a pretty cool (albeit precocious) young man. I was rooting for him all the way. I hated his enemies and (sometimes) even his loved ones. I kept wondering how the whole thing was going to get "wrapped up" near the end of the book when Ender was still just "practicing". But it was a really cool way to end. Totally unexpected.

Usually I'm not a huge sci-fi person but this book is a classic YA piece and should be read and recommended by all who serve teens.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Paper Towns

I'm still giddy. At the Printz reception (which rocked) I saw John Green and M.T. Anderson chatting it up and I had just finished Paper Towns so I got the courage to approach John Green and he was really cool abou tit an he signed my ARC. Whoooppee! How cool!

For all the hype this book is getting, I was building it up to be a major cool book in my mind. And it sort of disappointed. Margo Roth Spiegelman is a character that I cannot place in real life. I found the book to be highly unrealistic. One thing I did like about the book was the Omnictionary.

A question I'd love answered about the book: Why honeybunny? I got sort of sick of that word.

Monday, June 30, 2008

The Bone Magician

When The Black Book of Secrets came out, I snatched it right up because I loved the look of the cover and the black pages. But the book was even better than the cover. The story was awesome. She is an awesome storyteller. And The Bone Magician does not upset as a second novel.

This book is another tale set in the dark town of Urbs Umida. But this time we are watching dead bodies, witnessing resurrections and paying to see beasts and magic shows. And catching a killer. The silver apple killer, to be exact.

I found The Bone Magician to be addictive. I couldn't put it down. I loved how she wove the two stories together and brought up familiar characters from The Black Book of Secrets in the end of The Bone Magician. I can't wait to go back and read the first one and pick up clues, once again.

If you haven't read The Black Book of Secrets, do it! The Bone Magician doesn't come out 'til later this year so you still have time to read the first one before it does.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


Oh. My. Gosh. I love Jon Scieszka. He (also) spoke at a pre-conference I recently attended in Anaheim, CA. He is so dang funny. He read snippets from his new (out in the Fall) book Knuckleheads. His humor is so dead-pan. He cracks me up.

Anyway, I was LUCKY to score a copy of the ARC and read it in about an hour. It has very short chapters about his life "growing up Scieszka". He had 5 brothers. They caused their parents much grief.

I did not know that he grew up in Flint, MI. Being a Michigander myself, I think this is way cool.

Well, the book is fantastic. It is just a short memoir piece aimed at the younger set but worth reading no matter what age you are. I think this book will be a huge hit even though it is sort of in a world of its own amount youth non-fiction. I keep telling people it reminded me of Haven Kimmel.

So. Read it. As soon as you can. I've already given my copy away but I made the reader promise she would return it to me upon completion. And if not, I will hunt her down!

The Clique Summer Collection #1: Massie

I had the pleasure of hearing a few "tween" author's speak at a pre-conference in Anaheim, CA during ALA's Annual Meeting. Lisi Harrison, author of the ever-popular Clique series was one of the presenters. She talked about how she used to work at MTV and how the culture there was the inspiration for the Clique girls' lifestyle.

She recently finished a "summer series" companion to her Clique books. Each of the girls has their own book. As an incentive to attending the program, we received a copy of the first book in the series titled Massie.

It was a fun, quick read. Massie causes trouble as usual being the self-centered brat that she is. She becomes a cosmetics salesperson for a new line of Beautiful makeup. But her idea of the best sales pitch is not in line with the company's philosophy.

The book was very different from other Clique books that I've read because the other girls in the Pretty Committee are off doing their own things. Still, it should please the readers to know that Massie gets her way (as always) and Lisi Harrison has worked her name-dropping, glamorous lifestyle magic once again.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Missing Girl

This fast paced novel really shook me out of my non-reading haze. Norma Fox Mazer is so good at suspense and characterization. I think I read this book in only a few hours but it was so good I can't really remember. Actually, I'll qualify that and say that (knowing there was going to be an abduction) I was a bit bored in the beginning but I plowed through it anyway.

What a fierce story about overcoming the odds and the sheer force of will.

This one will be super easy to recommend!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hunger Games

I was lucky enough to score an ARC of Hunger Games and I am totally in debt to Cindy D. cuz man, that book rocked.

You know when you read a killer book and then at the end you think, "Oh crap - when is the sequel coming out?" Yeah, it was that good.

Friday, April 18, 2008

After Tupac and D Foster

While reading the book After Tupac and D Foster, I kept thinking back to all my fantastic trips to NYC. I wished I could go sit on the stoop with the girls. Or jump rope with them. Woodson has done such a good job with setting in this novel.

I also thought back to my HS days (or maybe jr high) when Tupac was a huge star. I remember how he was always in the news. And these are the memories from a small town white girl. I had to go to project playlist and search for the Tupac songs the girls talked about in the book. This book would be perfect for a playlist!

Overall, it was a short read...with short chapters. It was highly readable. I hope it ends up on the Quick Picks for reluctant readers list.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Down Time!

This post is dedicated to Jen...

In my mucho mucho spare time (haha) I have been crocheting a little. The book that has inspired me the most is called Amigurumi World: Seriously Cute Crochet.

I hadn't planned on doing a crochet program this summer for my teens...but I am doing a knitting program. But wouldn't it be so fun to make these little creatures for a program?

Here is my bunny: (and yes, she's wearing blush!)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

You Know Where to Find Me

Rachel Cohn is such a wonderful author. You Know Where to Find Me is an original, in-your-face, *special* piece of work.

In it, a chubby HS girl is struggling with her close cousin's suicide. She lives in Washington, D.C. and is full of civic alarm as well as teen angst. A recurring topic in the novel is of D.C. statehood as well as taxation without representation.

It's sort of a weird juxtaposition for me with all the government issues aside the drug abuse in the book. But somehow it works.

I will have a lasting memory of a particular scene in the book where a Dr. is explaining how exactly drug overdose victims usually die. They choke on their own vomit. They do not fall asleep into oblivion and experience no pain like so many believe. A sobering wake-up call for anyone experimenting with drugs and experiencing despair.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Recycled Magazine Flower Tutorial

I think this will be a fun program for teens @ the library...

Start with a discarded magazine. Rip out about 25 pages. Don't be long as you get *most* of the page, you will be fine.

Fold your first page in half.

Do this four times and you will get a thin strip about 1/2 inch wide.

Start rolling your piece into a tight spiral. At the very end, dab a bit of hot glue on the tail and smooth it onto the sprial so the piece is in tact.
On the left is a spiral with 2 magazine pages.
Continue rolling folded pages around the center until you reach your desired diameter.

For the stem, take a folded page and fold it in half vertically and glue it to the back of the flower.

For the leaves, fold a bunch (6?) of pages in half and staple 3 times vertically about an inch from the edge. Then cut out a leaf shape.
Repeat for as many leaves as you need.

Fringe the outer edges of the leaves by making small snips all the way around the edges, leaving the "stem" in tact.

Punch a hole on each side of the staples and cut a piece of yarn long enough to go all the way around the punched holes and leave enough to tie a knot.

Notice the triange shaped punched holes.
Glue the leaves into the stem with hot glue. (Sorry this photo is fuzzy).

And now you are done!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Gonna be a good book...

From You Know Where to Find Me by Rachel Cohn: "Bruises mapped my body from bumping into tables and tripping over curbs while walking with a book in my hand, my eyes focused on the pages instead of the live space around me".

Monday, March 10, 2008

Still (stuck) in Florida

This will have to do with books by the end, but I'll start by saying that I am still in Florida. I should have done pj storytime tonight at the library in cold, Walker, MI.

Yesterday morning my mom drove me to Orlando (which is an hour from her home in Melbourne beach). She dropped me off, said goodbye and drove home. I got my boarding pass and headed to the gate only to see that my flight was delayed. I approached the desk and plead my case about a connecting flight in Atlanta and they sent me to another gate with an earlier flight heading out. But when I got there the bad news cloud was darker. The captain for this flight was on the same airplane that was delayed from the other flight. Neither captain would be leaving Orlando anytime soon. Standby in Atlanta wasn't an option as there were already several people ahead of me and no seats on any flights out to GR until TUESDAY. I called my mom (who had already arrived back home) and asked her to come pick me up. Oh, and did I mention my luggage made its way to Grand Rapids without me?

So here I am...still in Florida. Reading Eat Pray Love for the second time and STILL loving it. I have never had such a "right book at the right time" moment before in my life. Tonight I will leave the house at midnight and drive an hour north to the Kennedy Space Center where Space Shuttle Endeavour will launch at 2:28 a.m. I am told it is an incredible sight and not to be missed. I've seen a rocket launch before but never a shuttle. So here in Florida I am living it up, savoring every minute while missing husband, home and dog with an aching heart.

Elizabeth Gilbert's book is bringing me so much comfort. I have had such a relaxing and peaceful vacation, even with a 2 day vacation addendum. I've finished part 1 of EPL again and here is the final words of the 36th chapter:

And I will leave with the hope that the expansion of one person - the magnification of one life - is indeed an act of worth in this world. Even if that life, just this one time, happens to be nobody's but my own.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

On vacation...

I'm on vacation in beautiful Melbourne Beach, FL visiting my mother. I just finished reading Infidel by Ted Dekker (will blog later) and my mom had Eat Pray Love on her bookshelf so I picked it up.

And of course I'm loving it. The first adult book of read in ages is really good.

Plus, I just looked up the author, Elizabeth Gilbert and found out that her sister is Catherine Gilbert Murdock of Dairy Queen and Off Season fame.


Inubaka v.7

Volume 7 of Inubaka was just as cute as every other volume. Little Suguri is still getting herself into trouble. She's still making friends and still making a fool of herself every few pages. I'm starting to wonder if these books are helping people become more aware of the problems facing animals today. The author of the graphic novels is obviously pleading the case for dogs as often as possible. I'm also starting to wonder if Suguri and her boss at the pet shop are ever going to admit that they have the hots for each other. Maybe in volume 8...


I didn't like Infidel as much as I liked Chosen but I won't go as far as to say I didn't enjoy it at all. The series is unfolding nicely and Infidel had a nice side-story with Johnis on a quest to find and save his mother. Dekker explores humanity a bit more in this book as he describes the world of the Horde in more detail and opens the eyes of his heroes to the lives of their enemies.

So the quest continues. The books are still lost and so is Billos - one who swore to help find them. Renegade is the next in the series and is due out in a few months. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

librarything vs. goodreads

Is anyone else really bummed that librarything costs money? I really like their site and I like their features/widgets better than goodreads but I use goodreads because it is FREE. I have 200 books on my librarything account here but after that you have to pay. I keep waiting for them to announce that they've done away with the subscription rate but I think I ought not hold my breath. :(

Don't Call Me Ishmael

Ok usually I don't complain about non-literary elements in a book but I have to say that I really dislike the cover for Don't Call Me Ishmael by Michael Gerard Bauer. The whale with the spring on it is never discussed in the book. I realize the whale part has tie-ins to Moby Dick but why does it say Ahoy Sucker! on it?

Digression over. This book reminded me a lot of The Wednesday Wars which I loved. But this one just didn't have the spark for me that WW did. I can see a high school class using this and comparing themes with Moby Dick but are there really high school classes that read MD?

Another bothersome part for me is all the bullying. I don't have personal bullying memories from my own middle/high school years but I knew a few tiresome folk who liked to nag others. Unfortunately, I've yet to read a YA novel that really nails 'the bully'. Too many times they are over-the-top in my opinion and this book was no exception. The bully, Barry Bagsley was very predictable and unrealistic.

I liked Scobie...he was a great character. I liked to picture him "screwing up his face" as Bauer put it. It even made me flinch a few times.

Don't Call Me Ishmael made it onto my to-read pile because it was picked as one of the top 20 for the Thumb's Up! award this year in Michigan. I have to say I think there are many stronger contenders in the bunch.

Monday, February 25, 2008


Chosen is the first book in Ted Dekker's newest Circle series book. The series is called The Lost Books. My guess is that if you have read any of the other Circle books, this one will make a lot more sense. But I don't think it's imperative because I got along just fine.

It follows 4 teens as they set out on a quest. Their quest becomes much larger than anyone could ever imagine. They encounter the Horde, the Shataiki bats and a few Roush (good, white bats).

Fans of Lord of the Rings and/or Eragon will be pleased with this new series. There aren't extensive battle scenes but I'm sure there will be later on in the series when the huge Horde (orc-like creatures) encounter the Forest Guard (the good guys).

I don't know anyone else who has read this one yet, so I am anxious for some feedback. All in all, I thought it was pretty darn good.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Mystery of the Fool and the Vanisher

David and Ruth Ellwand have put together a very believable graphic novella with The Mystery of the Fool and the Vanisher. I received this as an ARC from Candlewick just today at the library and I finished it before we opened the doors. It is only 100 pages and is filled with photos both by the author and by the character Isaac Wilde.

Set mostly in 1889 the book follows a photographer as he documents an archeological dig. Strange things begin to happen and rocks with holes seem to play an important role. Looking through these rocks affords you a look into the world of pixies.

I love the use of photographs in the book. It's a very exciting mystery. I can't wait to hear what others have to say about it!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Fun Program Idea

This would be a load of fun to do with a group of teens. It's called "CD Cover Meme".

I got the instructions from the YALSA blog here.

First, you go to the wikipedia random articles page here.

The name of the article is the name of your band.

Second, you go to the random list of quotations on here.

The name of your album is taken from the last four words of the final quotation on the page.

Third, you go to the interesting photos from the last 7 days page on Flickr here.

You use the third image as your album cover.

Lastly, you use Photoshop or an online image editor like Picnik or Splashup to create your album cover with the above ingredients.

Here is my creation:

Saturday, February 16, 2008


Laura Weiss has outdone herself with her second YA novel called Leftovers. I read Such a Pretty Girl and was pretty unhappy with it. I thought the characters were a little far-fetched and the storyline was a bit of a stretch. But Leftovers is fantastic!

The 2-person narration style is well suited for this novel. It is a story of 2 girls from opposite parts of society. But they are best friends and their friendship drags them through the mud and then some. What they endure is hard to imagine yet believable. I think Weiss's characters tend to be a bit stereotypical but other than that, I have no complaints.

Leftovers is a great mystery that brings you through a few years in the lives of two strong young women. I've read a few other reviews of this book and it sounds like lots of people are reading it in one sitting. Maybe it will be on the quick picks list? One can hope.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

2008 MLA Thumbs Up! Top Twenty

Because a coworker is on the committe, I got to see the list before they published the ballots for the '08 MLA Teen Thumbs Up! Award.

I made a bookshelf of the top twenty on my goodreads account here.

Check it out.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Another story about my dog

Well my dog is now famous. Sort of. His picture graced the pages of the Lowell Ledger since my mother-in-law sent in his picture when the paper asked for pictures of cute dogs. The story is hard to read but it's about how I told my storytime kids that Foster likes to read (he's pictured above with his paw on Where the Wild Things Are) and the only problem the kids saw with that was "But how does he turn the pages?"

And just because Fost is so darn cute, he might even end up in the annual report my library system publishes every year :)

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Dangerous Book for Dogs

I took a break from YA books and read The Dangerous Book for Dogs by Rex & Sparky. It is a very enjoyable read for dog lovers written from the perspective of two dogs.

My favorite part was called "A Special Note on Fake Throws" where the dogs address those people who find it funny to act like they are throwing their dog a ball but just do the wind up with no release. I agree with the dogs that this is mean and should be avoided at all costs.

Above is a picture of my dog, Foster reading another one of his favorites, Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

A Room on Lorelei Street

After reading Mary Pearson's book The Adoration of Jenna Fox and loving it, I decided to go back and read her previous YA book, A Room on Lorelei Street.

Boy am I glad I went back to read it! What a great book. I can't think of a single flaw in this title. Zoe Beth Buckman is a strong young woman dealing with incredibly rough (though believable) circumstances.

So many YA titles have great characters but their circumstances are often far-fetched.

I will be handing this one off to other strong young women as often as I can.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

100 Cupboards

This book came well recommended and I have to say that I was so disappointed with it when I finished.

100 Cupboards has TONS of potential to be an awesome book but N.D. Wilson fell short with his descriptions of the alternate worlds and evil characters.

Even the regular characters fell a bit flat. The reader never finds out enough about anything to be satisfied.

Huge let down.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Fun Reading Quizzes!

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Literate Good Citizen
Book Snob
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
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You're Babar the King!

by Jean de Brunhoff

Though your life has been filled with struggle and sadness of late,
you're personally doing quite well for yourself. All this success brings responsibility,
though, and should not be taken lightly. Life has turned from war to peace, from damage
to reconstruction, and this brings a bright new hope for everyone you know. These hopeful
people look to you for guidance, and your best advice to them is to watch out for snakes.
You're quite fond of the name "Celeste".

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Someday this Pain Will be Useful to You

Have I mentioned yet that one of my all-time favorite books is The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger? Well, now I have.

One reason I liked Someday this Pain will be Useful to You by Peter Cameron so much was because it was so Catcher in the Rye-ish.

18-year-old James is living in NYC with his mom and big sis. His parents are divorced and he is having a hard time navigating the waters between mom and dad.

I've heard from other readers that James is a cold, unrelatable narrator but I have to disagree. I think he is a very believable 18 year old wanting to shape his life a specific way while trying to appease everyone around him. I love the scenes with his grandmother and in her house. I can see why James wants to move to the midwest through his descriptions of adoration to his gran and her lovely home.

Inside the Mind of Gideon Rayburn

Sarah Miller has written an interesting type of book with Inside the Mind of Gideon Rayburn. It is about a young man whose thoughts are being intercepted by an anonymous (although obviously part of the story) girl.

Rarely do I have to reread passages because of confusion but I had to reread the first few pages of this book several times before feeling like I even *sort of* got it. Basically, the book is being told by the girl who is inside Gideon's head. I think it's supposed to be a mystery who the girl is but not to far into the book I had it figured out and then it just got boring.

Unfortunately I have to say I did not like this one. Just wasn't substantial enough for me. Another book about elite private schools. Bla.

The Dead and the Gone

The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer was availabe at midwinter in ARC form. I snatched one up and ran! I totally loved Life as We Knew it which is the counterpart to this title.

LAWKI was about a meteor hitting the moon and all the reprecussions that came about because of it. It followed a teen girl named Miranda and her family through her journal entries. The moon is hit so hard that it is pushed toward the earth. This causes all kinds of terrifying weather such as tsunamis, volcanoes and earthquakes. It also causes hysteria, massive death tolls and eventually hunger and starvation.

TDATG follows a teen boy and his 2 young sisters. They live in New York City and their parents are not to be found after the meteor hits the moon. Mom was on her way to work at the hospital when the subways flooded and Dad was on the coast of Puerto Rico for his mother's funeral.

This book is written in third person narrative but still evoked the same horrific feelings as LAWKI. I felt like I needed to run to the grocery store and stock up on non-perishables and dog food in case of an emergency. I also felt like I needed to stock up on matches and candles and blankets and anything else that might come in handy if the power went out for an indefinite period.

Anytime a book can effect you in such a way, it is well written. She got her point across! We are vulnerable. And life is precious. I definitely kissed my husband and hugged my dog after reading The Dead and the Gone.

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!

Laura Amy Sclitz (a librarian, mind you) is the recipient of the Newbery Award this year with Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices From a Medieval Village. The book is a drama with mostly single character pieces. Basically it is a collection of monologues of chracters ranging from paupers to traveling salesman to nobility.

The collection offers a brief glimpse into this particular village. The information learned from such brief pieces though, is amazing.

A lot of people are facinated with different time periods and cultures. This title is for them as well as someone who just needs to beef up a bit on medieval life.

It's non-fiction yes, but dramatic and enjoyable to say the least.

The Luxe

Anna Godbersen depicts Manhattan in 1899 so well in The Luxe that I believe she lived there and then.

That being said, I didn't like this book. I felt all the drama was telegraphed and I wasn't pleased with the prologue giving away so much of the story.

I know I'll probably get stoned for saying I didn't enjoy this popular title but for me it lacked a stick-to-your-bones quality that I find in so many other YA titles these days.

I will say that if you are a fan of Gossip Girls or readalikes or if you are looking for another world to escape into for a few hundred pages, give The Luxe a go.

Boy Toy

This title was brought to my attention because of a few list-serves I belong to. One is yalsa-bk and the other is a yahoo group called adbooks. Both are discussion lists for YA literature. I think it was yalsa-bk where the thread popped up about how incredibly graphic this novel was in depicting sex with a minor. Any good drama sucks me in as quick as can be so I ran to the shelf and grabbed it for my airport and flight time into Philly.

The crazy coincidental story that goes with this book review is that while I was reading Boy Toy in the airport, CNN was broadcasting out of the airport TVs that Debra LaFave had violated her parole. Good old Debbie is one of those HS teachers who was caught having sex with one of her students. Much like the character in Boy Toy. And THEN later in my hotel room I was watching the news and saw another teacher in trouble for sending nude photos of her self to her student's cell phone.

I have to say that I was not shocked by the sex scenes in this book. I realize that they are between an adult teacher and a 12-year-old boy but being so familiar with several stories (cough Mary Kay Letourneau) just like this, I found Barry Lyga's story to be compelling and adequately naughty.

What I didn't expect to find was such a heart-wrenching depiction of the now 18-year-old victim (Josh) having to come to terms with his perpetrator's early prison release.

The book was awesome. I hope Lyga wins awards for his bravery taking on this issue.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox

Just like Sweethearts, I read this one in my hotel at ALA. For anyone who might not know, ALA stands for American Library Association. I also may speak of YALSA which stands for Young Adult Library Services Association.

Back to topic: This was my first Mary Pearson book (A Room on Lorelei Street is now in my to be read pile). I really enjoyed the book and I keep struggling to find the correct genre to put it in. Basically it's a sci-fi/romance/medical thriller. It's set far enough into the future that the crazy cool medical stuff going on is just believable. And I always love having another true sci-fi book to add to my list of recommendables.

Jenna Fox is recovering from an unidentified accident. She has serious memory loss and is being cared for in California even though she knows the accident happened in Boston. Her mother and her grandmother are living with her but aren't divulging very much info. Slowly, Jenna pieces together some memories and starts to really examine who she is. Things get real tricky when she starts school with a bunch of outcasts and finds out she's only got 10% of her old brain.

So - is Jenna Fox really Jenna Fox? And what happened to the friends she remembers being in the accident with her? She can still hear their voices but can't figure out why.

It's a great read that stays with you long after you put it down.

I'll take this opportunity though, to complain about one thing in the book. The character Dane - who goes to school with Jenna - is mysterious and cryptic and vague. At one point Dane is basically attacking Jenna and a neighbor intervenes. But nothing is really said about why Dane is doing the things he does. I wish Pearson had fleshed him just a tinge more.

Regardless of my feelings about Dane - I think this book will be among the best of '08. Mark my words!!!


Well, Sweethearts by Sara Zarr just arrived in the library today! I read it in Philadelphia the on Friday night of midwinter in my wonderful Marriot 22nd floor hotel room.

I hope it gets checked out right away because I want as many people as possible to read this title. The cute cover with the pink cookie will entice a lot of girls. I think it will be a hit.

The book is about a long lost childhood friendship and what kind of changes can take place in a lifetime. Jennifer has to overcome all kinds of adversity including binge-eating, compulsive stealing and even...a ghost?

It's a sweet tale about lost loves, self-abuse and dysfuctional families. A must-read, if you ask me.


Gary D. Schmidt is now my favorite YA author...which is so hard to say because I love so many. The first one I read by him was The Wednesday Wars which was a Newbery honor book. I plan on reading Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy soon.

Trouble was about a young New England boy named Henry who comes from a trouble-free family. Both of his siblings are super-star athletes and he is following in their footsteps in crew.

But trouble arrives at his doorstep in the form of a shocking family accident involving a Cambodian immigrant named Chay.

Henry's journey is accompanied by Black Dog who he rescues from drowning. Black Dog wreaks havoc on the famous Smith home but Henry's parents allow it because of their trauma.

I don't want to do any spoiling because the book has so many great twists and turns. All are a bit foreseeable but wonderful nonetheless. I think the book comes out in April.

On a similar note, I just found out that Gary Schmidt (who is from my area) is presenting at one of the branch libraries in my system but I will be in Florida visiting my mother on vacation. I am heartbroken that I won't get to see him but I'm sure I'll enjoy my time away!

Inubaka vol. 6

The day I walked into my current library and began working was the first day I had any interactions with graphic novels. Many people have misperceptions of gn's because of the word graphic. I was one of those people. I figured they were full of violence or nudity (and some are) and that was why they were called graphic novels. I didn't even stop to think that maybe the graphic was refering to all the pictures...anyway.

Soon after I began working as a youth librarian I fell in love with a new gn series called Inubaka. It's about this young country girl who has grown up in the lap of luxury - a bit naive in the ways of the world. She decides to set off on her own and lands a job at Woofles, a trendy little dog shop right smack downtown.

She quickly becomes a favorite of all the dogs in the store as well as many customers and coworkers. Her sweet and quirky attitude gets her in trouble every once in a while as well as her not-so-well-behaved dog Lupin.

The book is full of cute dogs and I even learn a few things every once in a while.

Volume 6 is called Threat or treat and starts out with Suguri winning an agility challenge with Lupin. Later she discovers the dog cafe only to be mortified by Lupin's naughty behaviors at the cafe. She tries to train him in obedience but she doesn't use the right tactics. Lupin ends up a bit traumatized - but when he really needs to, he behaves. Suguri learns a lesson about selfishness.

It's a lovely book - humorous, romantic and cute cute cute. I can't wait for volume 7.

a year with books

I'm starting a little late but I'd really like to blog my life with books this year. I read A LOT so I guess that means a lot of blogging...we'll see. I'll try to catch up on what I've already read this year.

But for now, I'll lift my glass to a glorious year of reading!! Huzzah!