Libri Dilectio: December 2009

29 December 2009

Book Review: East

East, Edith Pattou
(Gr 6-everyone!)

Synopsis from Amazon:
“Rose has always felt out of place in her family, a wanderer in a bunch of homebodies. So when an enormous white bear mysteriously shows up and asks her to come away with him–in exchange for health and prosperity for her ailing family–she readily agrees. The bear takes Rose to a distant castle, where each night she is confronted with a mystery. In solving that mystery, she loses her heart, discovers her purpose, and realizes her travels have only just begun.”

I have meant to read this book pretty much since it came out. I’ve always been attracted to the cover, it’s so pretty and after reading a little about it, I thought the story sounded amazing! Finally, finally I got around to reading this fabulous book!

The story is told from the perspective of multiple characters. In this way, the narrative moves very quickly and the reader has strong feelings for many side characters as well as the main character. Rose is the main character. A girl named for the Eastern point of a compass, Ebba Rose has been a wanderer her entire life. Her mother is a deeply superstitious woman who puts meaning in everything. When Rose’s first gift after her birth is a pair of boots, her mother is worried that she will leave home early and not come back.

This story is based on the folk tale East of the Sun West of the Moon. It also reminded me A LOT of the story of Cupid and Psyche the whole element of the stranger coming to the bed every night was so similar. Actually, after doing a little more research, it would seem that I am not the first one to make this connection, shocker. It also reminded me of Beauty and the Beast, again, I’m probably not the first to think that. I love how often you can see the similarities between folk and fairy tales. It really illustrates the oral tradition that these tales come from. It’s like a historical game of telephone, with every country changing the details to a story a little bit.

I had so much trouble putting this book down! Which, frankly, is my favorite type of book. It was epic, well written, and compelling. I would definitely recommend this to any of my fairy tale fans at the library, although, since it’s been out back in 2005, most of them have probably already read it. Actually, they definitely have, because they recommended it to me.

20 December 2009

In My Mailbox #6

I tried my hardest not to buy any books before Christmas, but there are just too many good ones coming out! I couldn’t help myself! Granted, I also bought TONS of presents for other people so I didn’t feel too bad about indulging in presents for myself a little. Here’s what I didn’t need a gift receipt for this week!

Fallen, Lauren Kate
Nanny Returns, Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus
Looking for Alaska, John Green
In My Mailbox is masterminded by Kristi at The Story Siren! Check out her blog to see what was in other book bloggers mailboxes this week.

18 December 2009

Fanfare Friday: Singin’ in the Bathtub

Singin’ in the Bathtub, John Lithgow

This album came out back in 1999 so a lot of you probably already know it, but it’s so cute I couldn’t resist. I love the mix of traditional songs and ridiculous new ones. Oh John Lithgow, you’re so silly, and no, you can’t sing. I love him anyway though!

This CD is the perfect balance of silly catchy songs that kids will love, and if my department is any sign, grown ups will also enjoy them! Several of my co-workers are big fans of “From the Indes to the Andes in His Undies.” Although, who wouldn’t? It’s so fun! I want to sing along and dance about everytime it comes on. There are also some fun classics like “A You’re Adorable,” “Inchworm,” and “Swinging on a Star.” I love CDs that I know little Becky would have liked. I would have played this one to death and had the whole thing memorized.

Play this for your preschooler, have a dance party, and try not to be too scared of “Big Kids.”

17 December 2009

Fairy Tale Update

The other day, I decided to start reading some fairy tale re-tellings in order to make me a better librarian…and also for fun. I got some GREAT suggestions from you guys for more books to add to my list and I really appreciated it. Then, today I got my SLJ email and what do you know…MORE fairy tale re-tellings! Their list had a lot of the same titles that were suggested and a few new ones. Best part, I’ve only read one book on their list (Ash, Malinda Lo), so now I have more to add to my reading list! Thanks for the suggestions, I’m already having fun with reading these books!! Fairy tales make me so happy.

16 December 2009

Book Blogger Holiday Swap

It’s funny how when I signed up for both Book Blogger Holiday Swap AND Secret Santa it didn’t really occur to me that that meant I would get two presents! I was just excited to pick out books for other book bloggers. I love buying books for people. The best thing is when you give someone a book and then it becomes one of their favorites. My poor little cousin knows that all he’ll ever get from me is books. He’s gotta go somewhere else if he wants toys because cousin Becky only gives books!

Anyway, I came home today and found my present from my Holiday Swapper! I was a little surprised by how heavy the box was and definitely walked faster up the stairs to my apt. to see what was hiding in the box! It was 4 books. Seriously…FOUR! Wow. ANNNNND…they’re ALL signed by the authors!! Wowzers. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to the wonderful person who sent me so many great books!!

She gave me
Project 17, Laurie Faria Stolarz
Ink Exchange, Melissa Marr
How to Ditch Your Fairy, Justine Larbalestier
Unseen Companion, Denise Gosliner Orenstein
Thank you again and Happy Holidays everyone!

Waiting on Wednesday: Insatiable

Waiting on Wednesday is masterminded by Breaking the Spine. Check out her blog for more upcoming releases that bloggers are waiting patiently for.

Coming June 2010
Insatiable, Meg Cabot

A modern sequel to Bram Stoker’s Dracula

by Meg Cabot.
“Sick of hearing about vampires? So is Meena Harper.

But her boss is making her write about them anyway, even though Meena doesn’t believe in them.

Not that Meena isn’t familiar with the supernatural. See, Meena Harper knows how you’re going to die (not that you’re going to believe her. No one ever does).

But not even Meena’s precognition can prepare her for what happens when she meets — then makes the mistake of falling in love with — Lucien Antonescu, a modern-day prince with a bit of a dark side…a dark side a lot of people, like an ancient society of vampire-hunters, would prefer to see him dead for.

The problem is, Lucien’s already dead. Maybe that’s why he’s the first guy Meena’s ever met that she could see herself having a future with. See, while Meena’s always been able to see everyone else’s future, she’s never been able look into her own.

And while Lucien seems like everything Meena has ever dreamed of in a boyfriend, he might turn out to be more like a nightmare.

Now might be a good time for Meena to start learning to predict her own future…
If she even has one.”

After reading lots of other people’s versions of vampire stories I’m super excited to read Meg Cabot’s! She rocks my socks!

11 December 2009

Fanfare Friday: A Wish for Wings that Work

A Wish for Wings that Work, Berkley Breathed

Fanfare Friday has been holiday hijacked today by my favorite Christmas movie of all time. It’s the story of Opus, an aeronautically challenged penguin who wants nothing more for Christmas then “some penguin wings that work.” With his (unwanted) sidekick, Bill the cat, Opus spends the day before Christmas trying to fly and writing an important letter to Santa.

This movie may illustrate exactly why I was such a weird kid…and now a weird grown up. While other kids watched Frosty the Snowman and other things like that, I was laughing my butt off watching Opus’s butt fall off…really, it falls off…a few times.

I can recite this whole movie, as I’m sure most people can with their Christmas favorites and I’m so happy that it’s available on DVD! Now my (someday) kids can be just as weird as I was. Sigh, that’s the dream anyway. While all their little friends are singing carols and watching Rudolph they’ll be saying things like, “As your records will show, Father Christmas, I am a bird. Specifically, a penguin. An embarrassing accident at birth, for which I do not blame my mother. I prefer to blame Congress.” Oh yeah, I’m going to have cool kids.

If you haven’t seen this dark horse Christmas classic, you’re really missing out! Track down a copy and hold on to your butt! There’s also a book version that is just as much worth reading as this is worth watching. Happy Holidays!

10 December 2009

Secret Santa Presents!

Yay! Today I came home to a package waiting for me (which is always fun), but today it was extra fun. I got my Secret Santa present! Before I tell you about my funfun stuff, let me thank my awesome Secret Santa!! Margaret from Blue Duck Book Reviews is awesome! She’s a college student who loves to read and participates in TONS of blog challenges. She reads a great selection of books and writes really well thought out reviews. Check out her blog and show her some love!

Okay, now on to the presents!!
Aren’t those cute packages?! She wrote me clues on the front of every one to see if I could guess which book was in it. Sosososo cute!
(disregard my candle and dish o’ pine cones)
The carnage afterwards…I like opening presents.
All the wonderful presents!
That’s right she got me
(ignore the Curious George book. That’s my coffee table book…I’m SUCH a children’s librarian)
Princess Academy, Shannon Hale (I just read this one and now I’m SUPER happy to own it!)
The Mysterious Benedict Society, Trenton Lee Stewart
Fablehaven, Brandon Mull
Lots of fun Christmas candy…which I am currently eating.
A super cute B bookmark
AND a duckie! Get it, because her blog is Blue Duck Book Reviews!
Thank you Margaret! I loved the presents and can’t wait to start reading the books!!

Book Review: Princess Academy


Princess Academy, Shannon Hale
(Gr 4-8)
Synopsis from Amazon:
“Miri lives on a mountain where, for generations, her ancestors have quarried stone and lived a simple life. Then word comes that the king’s priests have divined her small village the home of the future princess. In a year’s time, the prince himself will come and choose his bride from among the girls of the village. The king’s ministers set up an academy on the mountain, and every teenage girl must attend and learn how to become a princess.

Miri soon finds herself confronted with a harsh academy mistress, bitter competition among the girls, and her own conflicting desires to be chosen and win the heart of her childhood best friend. But when bandits seek out the academy to kidnap the future princess, Miri must rally the girls together and use a power unique to the mountain dwellers to save herself and her classmates.”

  Surprisingly enough, I’ve never read any Shannon Hale before. Lots of people have told me to read this book and after some friendly pushing from two coworkers, I finally picked it up. They both loved this and so did I, just like they knew I would!
Shannon Hale’s writing style is so descriptive. I could see everything playing out in my head like a movie. The setting is unique and the mountain is practically a character itself. Mount Eskel felt like another Acadmy girl throughout the story. The mountain was a source of pride and strength for Miri and all the girls.
Miri is a wonderful character. She’s smart, funny, and spunky. I loved how badly she wanted to be the Academy Princess, but that she wasn’t really wanting to be a real Princess. The only draw for her was to see the rest of the world, learn as much as she can, and find a better life for her family. I know I really love a character when I want to be their friend, and I definitely want to hang out with Miri!
While this story wasn’t actually a fairy tale re-telling, I think it’s the type of book that will appeal to girls who like fairy tales. It reads like an old folk tale and I felt like it should start with “Once upon a time,” and end with “Happily ever after.” Sigh, this was a wonderful story that made me feel happy!

09 December 2009

Keeping Warm with Some Twisted Fairy Tales

I’ve realized over the time I’ve worked as a librarian that there are certain holes in my reader’s advisory skills. Surprisingly one of those is fairy tale re-tellings! I’ve loved all the ones I’ve read, but there just aren’t many that I have read. I’ve decided that it’s time to fill that hole and start reading some fairy tale re-tellings and also some new stories that read like classic fairy tales (think Shannon Hale). Winter seems like a good time to do this! There’s something so cozy about fairy tales, so I think I’ll warm up, expand my reading interests, AND become a better librarian this winter.

Here’s the list I’ve come up with so far. If you have any good suggestions of books to add send them my way!

Princess Academy, Shannon Hale
East, Edith Pattou
Beauty, Robin McKinley (I’ve never read ANY of her books!)
Book of a Thousand Days, Shannon Hale
Cybele’s Secret, Juliet Marillier (Already read Wildwood Dancing and loved it!)
Spindle’s End, Robin McKinley
Ice, Sarah Beth Durst
Tender Morsels, Margo Lanagan

I’ll probably not read them back to back…actually I definitely won’t read them back to back! I can’t read too much of the same type of book all together or I’ll go a little nuts. But, hopefully, these titles will help to start expanding my reader’s advisory skills. Next up after this set…historical fiction for boys!

08 December 2009

Harry Potter Reading Challenge: December Update

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, JK Rowling
(all ages)

Harry Potter is starting his fourth year at Hogwarts with his best friends Ron Weasley and Hermoine Granger. The trio has faced the dark more times then most full grown wizards, but this year they will find themselves battling an unseen evil from within the walls of Hogwarts itself. The Triwizard Tournament introduces a whole new cast of characters into the wizarding world and shows Harry that Hogwarts isn’t the only place in the world where a boy can learn to be a wizard.

This is the book in the series that stands out for me as the turning point novel. It’s the one that changes the tone from fun kids book to deeper teen novel. I know I said kind of the same thing about Prisoner of Azakban, but this is the book that shows us that JK Rowling is not messing around. She will kill off characters and she’s not afraid to mess with our sense of safety in the wizarding world. Although, as the best books do, this one still has lots of opportunities for fun!

Goblet of Fire I think, is especially interesting, because it shows the reader (and Harry) just how big the wizarding world really is. While reading the first three novels I felt so safe and insulated in the world of London and Hogwarts. I didn’t even think that there might be wizarding communities and schools in lots of other countries. It was fun to read about other schools and get to meet wizards from other countries. It made the world seem a lot bigger. I’m not sure why I’d never thought of the wiarding world outside of Diagon Alley, but looking back on it, I feel a little foolish.

I’m excited to keep reading these later books. The rest of the series are the ones that I’ve only read once, and that once was a super fast read. Already I’m finding things that I don’t remember or that I’ve mis-remembered because of the movies. I do remember feeling very stressed out and depressed while reading Order of the Phoenix so it’ll be interesting to see if I feel the same re-reading it, now that I know how it ends.

03 December 2009

Book Review: Front and Center

Front and Center, Catherine Gilbert Murdock
(Gr 7+)

Synopsis from Amazon:
“After five months of sheer absolute craziness I was going back to being plain old background D.J. In photographs of course I’m always in the background…
But it turns out other folks have big plans for D.J. Like her coach. College scouts. All the town hoops fans. A certain Red Bend High School junior who’s keen for romance and karaoke. Not to mention Brian Nelson, who she should not be thinking about! Who she is done with, thank you very much. But who keeps showing up anyway…”

I love love love DJ Schwenk. She is one of the most real, sweet girls in fiction for teens right now. All teenage girls should read these books. Frankly, I want to be more like DJ.

This is the third (and as far as I know, final) installment of the Dairy Queen series and a perfect, full circle ending to DJ’s story. If you’ve read the other books, you know that DJ’s biggest problem is self esteem. It seems like no matter how great she is, she’s the only one who just can’t see it. She second guesses herself with everything – wondering why she’s popular, why people want to do nice things for her, and why in the world anyone thinks she can play D-I basketball. Oh DJ…you just don’t know how awesome you are.

I don’t want to say much more about this, since it’s the third in a series, but these books are seriously awesome! This one made me cry…twice. And actually, the second one, The Off Season made me bawl like a baby while driving because I had it on audiobook. The best part is, these books also made me laugh out loud! I love any book that illicites those types of responses from my little black heart. I highly reccommend you read this!

02 December 2009

Waiting on Wednesday: The Dead Tossed Waves

Waiting on Wednesday is masterminded by Breaking the Spine. Check out her blog for more upcoming releases that bloggers are waiting patiently for.

Coming 9 March 2010

The Dead Tossed Waves, Carrie Ryan

Synopsis from Amazon:
“Gabry lives a quiet life. As safe a life as is possible in a town trapped between a forest and the ocean, in a world teeming with the dead, who constantly hunger for those still living. She’s content on her side of the Barrier, happy to let her friends dream of the Dark City up the coast while she watches from the top of her lighthouse. But there are threats the Barrier cannot hold back. Threats like the secrets Gabry’s mother thought she left behind when she escaped from the Sisterhood and the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Like the cult of religious zealots who worship the dead. Like the stranger from the forest who seems to know Gabry. And suddenly, everything is changing. One reckless moment, and half of Gabry’s generation is dead, the other half imprisoned. Now Gabry only knows one thing: she must face the forest of her mother’s past in order to save herself and the one she loves.”

I really liked The Forest of Hands and Teeth and now I can’t wait to read the companion! I love monster books where the monsters are MONSTERS and not love interests. These zombies are NOT sexy, they will mess you up! =)

01 December 2009

Movie Review: New Moon

New Moon, Chris Weitz

I finally saw New Moon on Thanksgiving. Before I start any sort of opinion slinging, I think I need to preface this by saying that I hated New Moon the book. I remember reading that book and just flipping past chunks of pages. I skimmed it so badly that I forced myself to listen to Eclipse as an audiobook because I thought I’d just skim it again out of habit. My main problems with the book were two fold, one, I hated Bella, and okay, really just that one I guess. She annoyed me to no end. Anyway, now that I’ve established my mindset going into the movie, I think I can talk about it a little.

My first thought during this film was WTF?! Why are they trying to make Edward look like a real live grown up? Why was he always in a suit jacket?! He already looked older then the last one, since, duh, real people age, but they didn’t really help matters by dressing him like my grandpa. Small point to make, yes, but I thought it was weird.

My favorite part of the whole movie was, without a doubt, Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black. He was funny in all the right places, he made the most sense of any of the characters, and yes, in a completely cradle robbing way, that is one nice looking boy. It’s funny that he was my favorite because I did NOT like Jacob in the books. His whole kiss raping thing weirded me out beyond belief and kind of made me dislike him, but now I might be turning. After the movie I think I’m becoming…Team Jacob! Gasp!

There were several scenes that made me laugh out loud (and most of the rest of the theater). One in particular takes place in one of Alice’s visions of the future. If you’ve seen the movie, I know this cracked you up and if you haven’t, it will. However, overall, the movie held my attention and entertained me for the full 2.5 hours which is more then I can say for a lot of other movies. Frankly, I liked the movie a lot more then the book, and I’m pretty sure I’ve never said that before.

Is the Lightning Thief out YET?!

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