Libri Dilectio: July 2009

31 July 2009

Book Review: Catching Fire

Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins
(Gr 6-adult)

Coming 1 September 2009
(ARC borrowed from awesome coworker)

No synopsis. Just read it.
This will not be much of a review. No one needs my encouragement to want to read this book. Here are my thoughts, my very brief thoughts. There will be no plot discussion AT ALL because I think everyone should read this like I did, knowing nothing beforehand.

Catching Fire is FAB. The writing is great, the story is fast paced, and the characters are real and fascinating. I love the world Suzanne Collins has created and I can’t wait for the third book to come out. Although, I know I have a crazy long wait since technically this one hasn’t even come out yet! Anyway, everyone should read this book. Haven’t read The Hunger Games yet? You still have time. Go to the library/bookstore and pick up a copy of Hunger Games or preorder/hold your copy of Catching Fire RIGHT NOW!


My Debut YA Cover

This sounded like too much fun. Here is my Debut YA Book Cover. Maybe I’ll write this…it looks funny…or darkly funny. Ooooh…ideas.

Travis at 100 Scope Notes posted the steps, so try it out and see what your cover looks like!

26 July 2009

The Best Job Ever

My friends all asked me why I wanted to be a librarian. I’ve heard it all, like I’m sure most librarians have. “You’ll never make any money,” “Isn’t that, like, a volunteer job,” “Why don’t you just be a teacher?” Then once I started library school, it was the same old tune, but this time from other librarians. “Why do you want to work in a public library? Can’t you just be a teacher, won’t make any money, volunteer, etc.” The outside world just doesn’t seem to understand, but today I had a patron interaction that reaffirmed for me all the reasons why I made the PERFECT career choice.

I love Reader’s Advisory. It is, without a doubt, my favorite part of my job. When kids come to the desk and say, “Got anything good to read?” I jump up and start loading them up with tons of books. Usually they’ll take one or two of my suggestions. Once I even had a teen girl take seven out of nine that I pulled for her! These patrons then check out their books, go home, and presumably read them, but the best ones come back. They tell you what they thought of your suggestion, they trust you to make new ones, and they pass along books to their friends.

Several weeks ago a mom came in with her 4th grade son, who wasn’t a big reading enthusiast. She wanted something at or just above his reading level, but more then that, she wanted something he’d want to read. I did my usual pull a stack, promote the books, then leave them in peace to make a decision. He ended up choosing Silverwing by Kenneth Oppel. He seemed reasonably interested in the title and I thought he’d probably enjoy it.

Today his mom came back. She had a copy of Silverwing and she said she wanted to thank me for recommending it to him, “I’ve never seen him like that with a book before. He was saying, ‘Do I have 2 minutes before dinner so that I can read more?'” She said that he sent her to the library to pick up the next two titles in the series and that he wanted to make sure she told me how much he enjoyed Silverwing.

I could have BURST I was so happy. That is why I do what I do. To connect kids with books. To help kids who haven’t had that moment when a book grabbed hold of them find one that will. This is why I’m a librarian and why I LOVE MY JOB!

24 July 2009

Book Review: Shiver

Shiver, Maggie Stiefvater

(Gr 9+)
Coming 1 August 2009
(ARC picked up at ALA)

Grace has always been drawn to the wolves in the woods behind her house, especially one. A wolf with yellow eyes who saved her life and now seems to guard her all winter long. Sam is in love with Grace, a girl he’s never met, but has always been connected to. Sam spends his summers living as a human and his winters in the woods watching Grace, with yellow eyes.

After reading several reviews of this book and watching book trailers, I was really excited to get my hands on a copy. My goal was to try to find one at ALA. I thought at the very least I might get to browse through a display copy, but luck was with me! I not only got to take home an ARC, but Maggie Stiefvater signed it for me!! She was so nice. I told her how excited I was to read her book, which I’m sure she heard all day, and she very graciously said she hoped I’d like it. Well Maggie, I definitely did!

I love that Grace and Sam’s story is told from alternating perspectives. The reader gets to be inside both the main characters heads and feel them falling in love with each other. In that way their love felt real to me. They didn’t just fall into each other’s arms and start professing undying love, they got to know each other slowly. Yes, they are drawn to each other and trust each other from the start, but they still talk and share.

Sam’s form, wolf or human, is effected by the temperature. This is reinforced throughout the story not just from the narrative, but from the temperature markings at the start of each chapter. It was a clever way to connect the story and remind the reader of the uncontrollable force that threatens to separate Grace and Sam.

THANK YOU for writing a girl with a strong personality and a real life. Grace has friends, interests, and is more then capable of taking care of herself. I like that even though she fell completely in love, she never actually forgot herself. Too many female characters lose any sense of self after falling for the male character. Thank you, thank you for giving Grace a personality! Oh, and I like Sam too. 🙂

I highly recommend this book to all teen girls and those of us who still feel like teen girls! Librarians, be prepared, girls are going to want this book.

Here are some book trailers in case you need more to make you want to read Shiver, the two stop motion ones were made by the author!

21 July 2009

Book Review: The Last Apprentice: Clash of the Demons

The Last Apprentice: Clash of the Demons, Joseph Delaney
(Gr 6-8)

Coming 25 August 2009
(ARC picked up at ALA)

Synopsis from ARC

“Tom is reunited with his mother and must return to Greece to face a new and terrible threat from the dark forces, and a momentous decision must be made, causing a serious rift between Tom and the Spook that threatens to separate them forever.”

I’m a long-time fan of the adventures of Thomas Ward, the Spook’s apprentice. His story started with Revenge of the Witch and now Clash of the Demons is the sixth book in this genuinely frightening series. The story is told from Tom’s perspective in the first person so the reader is completely inside his head. Delaney pulls you into Tom’s world and makes you feel for him and care about everyone he loves.

For those who need a little Last Apprentice tutorial, Tom Ward is the seventh son of a seventh son. This means that he can see and do things that normal people cannot. In the first book he is apprenticed to John Gregory, the county Spook. A Spook’s job is to protect the county from evil; witches, boggarts, etc. Tom is John Gregory’s last apprentice and his most powerful. Their adventures take them all over the county to face various evil creatures, including the Fiend/Devil himself!

In this installment in the series we finally get to learn more about Tom’s Mam. She’s always been an enigmatic, endearing character, but now Delaney lets the reader in on her back story. Tom travels with his master, John Gregory, his friend, Alice and another Spook, Bill Arkwright to Greece to help his Mam face a powerful servant of the dark. The relationships between these five characters are so dynamic and interesting that they will draw the reader in as much as the action…and there is plenty of action.

I’m not an easy scare when it comes to books (movies are a different story!), but this series has always given me the creeps and this sixth title does not disappoint. Delaney never really goes for the full on gross out fear, but instead scares the reader with a slow build. The evil characters are really evil, but even those characters who fight for the light are starting to fall into shades of gray. Tom faces some of the scariest evil yet while he battles with his own inner conflict of dark vs. light. This book will have young readers rushing to turn on all the lights in the house and even adults will want to plug in a nightlight…just in case.

If you don’t read this series, you should stop reading this and run out to the bookstore/library to pick up a copy of Revenge of the Witch and if you already are a Tom Ward fan then reserve your copy of Clash of the Demons now!

Book Review: Beastly

Beastly, Alex Flinn
(Gr 7-10)

Kyle Kingsbury seems to have the perfect life. He’s handsome, popular, and rich, but completely lacking in real friends or kindness. When he plays a cruel joke on another classmate, she turns out to be a witch who casts a spell on him to make him as ugly on the outside as he is on the inside. The only way that Kyle can break the spell is to find someone who really loves him, as he is, and he has to love her in return. He has two years to find her or he’ll be stuck as a beast forever.

I love a good modernized fairy tale, something about seeing the Beast, the Frog Prince, and the Little Mermaid all typing to each other in a chat room run by Hans Christian Anderson is a little too much fun for me. I wasn’t sure how this particular story would work as a modern fairy tale. Since so much of the narrative hinges on the girl being brought to the Beast and kept in his home. That seems to fit well in old fairy tales, but I wasn’t sure how it would translate into modern story. The addition of the dead beat dad and the idea that the girl (Linda, but the Disney-ite in me keeps wanting to say Belle) is better off with Kyle/Beast then without him works really well.

The fact that the story is told from Kyle’s perspective only was great! I loved really getting inside his head and hearing why he was the way he was. I never thought about the fact that we, as readers, never get to hear the Handsome Prince’s side of the fairy tale. He’s always just the love at first sight, end goal for the princess. Kyle was a fully fleshed out character, with an intriguing back story and I definitely sympathized with him.

The only thing I can say that isn’t positive about this book is that it lagged a little in the middle. After establishing Kyle’s new life, away from everyone else and his transition from shallow mean guy to studious Beast, the story kind of stalled. Once Linda was added to the household it did pick up again and the relationship between her and Kyle was very engrossing, but I had to make it through the lull in the middle to get to it.

Overall this is a great novel that I would recommend to any teen who likes fairy tales or just someone who is looking for a nice love story. With the movie coming out next summer, I think it might be time to buy some new copies for the library. Teens are going to want to read this one!

14 July 2009

Book Review: The Last Olympian

The Last Olympian, Rick Riordan
(Gr 5-8)

Percy Jackson has saved the world more than once and now it’s time for him to do it again. He’s back at Camp Halfblood with his old friends Annabeth and Grover, ready for the final battle with the Titan lord Chronos. Chronos unleashes his power and puts all of Manhatten to sleep in order to take over Olympus, but Percy and the other halfbloods aren’t giving up without a fight. It’s demigod vs. demigod in a fight for dominance and the fate of the world.

Unlike past installments of this series, this last book read like a never ending series of battles. Percy does have frequent visions into the past and the current position of the enemy, but mostly this is a war book. That being said, I LOVED it! I am a little biased because I’ve been completely obsessed with this series since I first started reading it, but I thought this was a perfect ending to Percy’s story.

I love that Rick Riordan never gives up the humor. In one scene Percy and Nico D’Angelo visit Nico’s father, Hades, in the underworld. They come upon a family squabble between Hades, his wife Persephone, and her mother Demeter. Demeter is berating Persephone for marrying Hades when she “could’ve married the god of doctors or the god of lawyers,” (122). She also has an obsession with cereal! Get it? Demeter in Rome was called Ceres…cereal! I cracked up! Later when Annabeth is worrying about Percy he reassures her by saying he’s, “All invincible and stuff,” (176). Rick Riordan’s writing style is so unique and humorous! It really sets this series apart from others like it. Yes, you could say that Percy never really matures that much, but to be fair, he’s still only 16 in the last book. I think he sounds just like a 16 year old boy would. It makes him a very believable character and makes me like him more.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would encourage anyone who has read the rest of the series to read it and those who haven’t gotten into Percy’s story yet to pick up a copy of The Lightning Thief right away! That way you’ll be ready when the movie comes out in February. In the mean time check out the cast, it looks AWESOME! I’m super excited. =) Hopefully the open ended conclusion to The Last Olympian means that there’s more Rick Riordan demigod adventures to look forward to! Fingers crossed!

Here’s the NEWLY RELEASED movie trailer for The Lightning Thief! I’m so excited!!

Is it February yet?!

12 July 2009

ALA Conference

OMG! ALA is over for me and all I want is to go back and do it again. That was so beyond cool and tiring, but mostly cool!

I started the day around 9am and headed straight into the exhibits. I decided to start on the tech side because I knew once I wandered over to the publisher side it’d be all over for me. There were actually some interesting things to see over with those techies. I got tutorials in the new Dynix and Evanced which were fairly informative.

Eventually I gave in to the pull of the publishing side…which is okay because collection development is my job. It was like setting a kid free in a toy store after filling them up with sugar and promising them a personal visit with Santa. I was in heaven! I picked up every available catalog, promotional material, booklist, anything that would help me to know what books to watch out for. Oh and I got ARCs…so many ARCs. After it was all said and done I ended up with a ton of new books and I’m currently rushing through this post so I can dive into them. I’m most excited about Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (she signed my ARC!) and Clash of the Demons by Joseph Delaney (the 6th book in The Last Apprentice series and I got the last ARC!!).

I love how many authors were there today! I came so close to Judy Blume…it made my heart skip a beat! I LOVED Mo Willems and Jon Sciezska, they are quite possibly two of the funniest guys ever! The two of them hosted the book cart drill team show (yes of course I went to that, how could I not?!) and they were just as entertaining as the book cart teams. I made a complete fool of myself with Patricia C. Wrede. She probably thought I was some obsessive fangirl, but like I said in my last post the woman writes books about a princess who runs away to be a dragon’s cook/librarian. She rocks! I hope the authors all know just how much everyone appreciates them coming to things like this. It’s the librarian equivalent of meeting rock stars.

The best part of the day was getting to see so many old friends. The people who prepared me for this career, who supported me, who wrote letters of recommendation for me when I was applying to grad school. It was so great to get the chance to hug them, share experiences with them, and thank them for everything they’ve done for me!

Yay ALA! I want to go again next year!

08 July 2009

Book Review: Thirteenth Child

Thirteenth Child, Patricia C. Wrede
(Gr 6-8)

The most powerful magicians in the world are seventh sons of seventh sons and the most unlucky children are thirteenth. Lan is a double seventh son and his twin sister, Eff, is a thirteenth child. Eff has been mistrusted and mistreated for most of her life just for being thirteenth. When her family moves out West it’s her chance to start a new life where no one knows her curse. Life in the West isn’t easy – the settlements are constantly under threat from the many magical creatures living just beyond the protective magical border. Eff must discover her inner strength to find out if she really is bad luck or just a different kind of magical.

It seems that most fantasy novels I’ve read have been set in some sort of alternate Europe. Even novels that don’t come right out and say it feel European. When they’re made into movies, the actors are all British, whether the novel suggests they should be or not. This book intrigued me from the start since it’s very obviously set in an alternate America. Eff’s family starts out living on the East Coast and then moves West to newly settled lands. There are references to the Revolutionary War, American geography, and Benjamin Franklin is described as a self trained double seventh son. It was fun to finally see some magic in the US.

I started this book fully expecting to love it. I devoured Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles (beginning with Dealing with Dragons) as a young teenager. Any author who writes a princess who runs away to be a dragons cook/librarian can do no wrong in my eyes. Thirteenth Child lived up to my expectations for the most part. Large chunks of it felt like set up. This definitely reads like the first book in a series. Wrede is focused on world building and giving the reader a fully fleshed out idea of Eff’s back story. Hopefully the next installment in the Frontier Magic series will be more action based with less exposition.

07 July 2009

Book Review: The Forest of Hands and Teeth

The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Carrie Ryan
(Gr 9+)

Mary lives in a small village, surrounded by high fences to keep out “the unconcecrated.” These zombie creatures have kept her village locked within itself for years. Mary dreams of a world outside the fences and away from “the unconcecrated,” but she knows there is probably no such place and if there is, that she will never get there. She fears the day the fences will be breached while still dreaming of the ocean and a certain boy she hopes to marry.

Zombies are everywhere right now. I feel bad admitting that this is the first zombie book I’ve ever read, although I do have Pride and Prejudice and Zombies sitting on my bookshelf waiting for me. Carrie Ryan’s book intrigued me from the start. I read a review of it and immediately had to read it. The combination of romance, religion, morality, and plain old zombie thriller is wonderful! I could not put this book down.

Mary is an incredibly sympathetic character. She lets the reader into her world and bears her soul. She is the most developed character in the book, understandably since she’s the main character. Several synopsis reviews that I read suggested that this book was a romance, but it definitely is not. Readers looking for romance should look elsewhere. Yes, Mary has a love interest and there are traditional obstacles keeping them apart, but this is ultimately a story of Mary’s personal strength and drive. A sequel The Dead-Tossed Waves is set to come out in Spring of 2010 with a third as yet untitled book to follow in 2011. The film rights have been sold to Seven Star Pictures so expect a movie soon.

Too excited to wait for a movie? This book trailer is FAB and will put you in the mood for more zombie fun!

Book Review: The Chosen One

The Chosen One, Carol Lynch Williams

(Gr 7+)
Kyra is one of the Chosen Ones. She lives on a compound with her family; three mothers, one father, and many brothers and sisters. Kyra is the oldest girl in her family and knows that she is nearing marrying age. When the prophet comes to her family’s home and announces that he’s had a vision of who she will marry no one is ready for who it is. Kyra is told that in a short time she will marry her Uncle Hyrum, 50 years her senior and her father’s brother. She knows that to try to escape her fate could leave her family with nothing, but she can’t imagine going through with the marriage.

This book grabbed my attention and held on tight. The novel is fast paced, but still filled with description. There isn’t much character development for anyone, but Kyra. This could be because there are so many characters and the novel is not very long. Kyra is a sympathetic character, but that is probably because she seems to not actually hold most of her people’s beliefs. The prophet said that reading fiction is a sin so the entire compound burned their books, but Kyra goes to the public library bookmobile every week to read. The prophet says that close relationships between boys and girls is a sin, but Kyra, for all practical purposes, has a boyfriend. She and Joshua meet regularly to talk and of course, kiss. She does find herself disgusted by the type of dress she sees in one trip off the compound, but that is really the only time she seems to hold with her people’s beliefs.

The novel is overall very good and an interesting read. I suppose if it had been told from the perspective of someone who was deeply devoted to the compound’s beliefs and mission, it might not have widespread appeal. I’d still be interested to read a book on this subject that doesn’t seem like the narrator is a normal teenage girl who has just been dropped into the world of polygamy. I did enjoy that it read more like a thriller than most others on this topic. This will definitely intrigue many teen readers.

06 July 2009

Book Review: Emma-Jean Lazarus

Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell out of a Tree, Lauren Tarshis
(Gr 5-7)

Emma-Jean Lazarus is not like her fellow 7th graders. She’s incredibly intelligent, thoughtful and logical, but she has no idea how to socialize with others her own age. When she comes across one of her peers crying in a bathroom it sets off a chain of events that brings her deep into the world of 7th grade social drama.

Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell in Love, Lauren Tarshis
(Gr 5-7)

Emma-Jean has made new friends, found new family, and is finally learning to be comfortable socializing with her peers. Just in time for the spring dance she realizes that she has caught “spring fever” and has her first crush on a boy. Caught between asking him to the dance and her own feelings of logic telling her she doesn’t want to go, Emma-Jean starts another social adventure in the jungles of 7th grade.

I love Emma-Jean Lazarus! These books made me laugh out loud and absolutely fall in love with Emma-Jean. Even though she is socially distant from her peers, her character manages to leap off the page to tug on the reader’s heartstrings. The social problems of Tarshis’s novels are the small, average, every day tragedies of junior high. Who is popular, why are they popular, what boys like what girls, do I have egg salad breath?!

Emma-Jean’s story is especially interesting because she shares the narration with her friend, Colleen. Colleen is a happy, nice girl who wants to be everyone’s friend and therefore worries a lot about what people think of her. Readers get to hear Colleen’s thoughts as well as Emma-Jean’s throughout much of both novels. I highly recommend Emma-Jean to anyone who is looking for a good realistic fiction title, or those who are trying to decide which 2010 Rebecca Caudill nominee to read next.

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