Libri Dilectio: November 2009

30 November 2009

Book Review: Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why, Jay Asher
(Gr 9+)

Synopsis from Amazon:
“Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier.
On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list.

Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.”

Wow. This book was…wow.

I appreciate authors who aren’t afraid to write about hard things for teens. Especially when they do so in a real way that will mean something to them. Jay Asher writes with such detail and respect for his characters that the reader will have strong feelings for Hannah and Clay from the moment they start reading.

Suicide sometimes seems to be the last really taboo subject. There is a part in the novel when a high school class discusses suicide. They brush the topic off and become annoyed with it. The students in this class, who were so unreceptive to talking about suicide, had already discussed, “abortion, family violence, cheating–on boyfriends, girlfriends, on tests. But for some reason, they refused to have a discussion on suicide,” (p 172). There is obviously something wrong with this.

This is not an easy book to read, and an even harder book to like, but I read it very quickly and it definitely made me think, which I always appreciate. This is not a book to pass around to teens lightly, but I do think it is one that many will benefit from reading. If I were a high school English teacher, this is a novel I would very much want to have in my classroom.

24 November 2009

Book Review: Lips Touch Three Times

Lips Touch: Three Times, Laini Taylor
Illustrated by Jim Di Bartolo
(Gr 7-12)

“In such mild ways is the groundwork laid for first kisses and ruined lives.” pg 82.

I originally picked up this book because it was nominated for the National Book Award. Prior to it’s nomination I hadn’t actually heard of it. The cover is great and of all the nominated books, this was the one I really wanted to read.

The book is (as I’m sure most of you know by now) three short stories that all culminate in a first kiss. Of the three stories, I enjoyed the second one “Spicy Little Curses Such as These” the most. It read like something straight out of an old fairy tale anthology. I actually saw aspects of a lot of my favorite literary and fairy tales in this story. The atmosphere of India was wonderful. The descriptions were so vivid and the characters so complex that I couldn’t stop reading.

I also enjoyed the other two stories, “Goblin Fruit” and “Hatchling.” Although, I did find “Hatchling” to be a little confusing. Mostly just with the time period. At first I thought it was a turn of the century story, then I realized it was more modern day, but then I was right back at the turn of the century. My brain’s lack of a concrete time period left me feeling a little more detached from this story.

“Goblin Fruit” was an interesting story and I really loved the descriptions of the main character, Kizzy. The fact that she’s described as being maybe not the prettiest high school girl, but that she’ll grow to be the girl who, “would some day know a dozen ways to wear a silk scarf, how to read the sky for rain and coax feral animals near, how to purr throaty love songs in Portugese and Basque, how to lay vampires to rest, how to light a cigar, how to light a man’s imagination on fire,” pg 24. That’s a pretty awesome thing to grow up to be, if she grows up that is.

The writing in this book was really beautiful and I enjoyed it very much. I wasn’t expecting the illustrations to play such a large role in the stories and was very happy to see them used so well. I love a good illustration! Although it didn’t win the NBA, I’m glad I picked up this one and I definitely have some girls in mind who I will be recommending it to.

Here’s a book trailer to get you in the mood for some supernatural kissing.

23 November 2009

Book Review: Splendor

Splendor, Anna Godbersen
(Gr 9+)

In the fourth and final installment of the Luxe series, old flames will be extinguished, new ones will spark, and drama reigns in Manhatten. This is the story of four young women, Diana and Elizabeth Holland, Penelope Schoonmaker, and Carolina Broad. Every one of them has wealth, beauty, and dark secrets. In a world where image is everything and gossip is the most common form of communication, these women have everything and they just might lose it all.

I originally picked up the first book in this series, The Luxe, because of the enormous pink dress on the front cover and I quickly became fascinated with the world of turn of the century Manhatten. Anna Godbersen has obviously done some very impressive research. Reading this series is like peeking into the parlors and ballrooms of the women who lived in that time period. I’ve heard it described as turn of the century Gossip Girl, but frankly, I think that’s selling it short. Yes, there’s lots of social climbing, back stabbing, and conniving, but the writing and descriptions are so delicious that reading these books is like eating a whole box of expensive chocolates!

Splendor is the perfect ending to this series. I loved where all the characters ended up and frankly, I actually have no issues with the book at all. It had everything I’ve come to expect from a Luxe book; love, sex, parties, scandals, mystery, murder, and of course, LOTS of fancy dresses. I don’t want to say much more about it since it’s the last in the series and I don’t want to ruin anything. For those of you who already love these books as much as I do, you should definitely read Splendor, like right now. And for those of you who have yet to experience The Luxe, run out to the library/bookstore, get a copy, and start feeling fancy!

p.s. I took the “Which Luxe Girl are You?” quiz and I got Elizabeth Holland, which one are you?

21 November 2009

Demons, Ghosts, and Pretty Girls…Oh My: WINNER!

You’ve won an ARC of Beautiful Creatures and a signed hardcover of Prophecy of the Sisters!
Thanks to everyone who entered! provided a winner for this contest.

20 November 2009

Fanfare Friday: At the Bottom of the Sea

At the Bottom of the Sea, Ralph’s World

I love the artwork for this album. It looks like a great picture book! I want to read a story about a guy who plays the guitar under water! Great news, the artwork isn’t just fun, the music is too.

This band has a great indie rock sound for kids. The songs are really imaginative, but still very simple. The melodies are danceable, but not overly complex. In other words, kids can boogie to this and it isn’t going to stress anyone out. There’s even a fun song for the mom’s and dad’s. “The Coffee Song” has the funniest lyrics! Here’s a quick sample.

M-O-M-M-Y needs C-O-F-F-E-E
D-A-D-D-Y needs C-O-F-F-E-E

I love it! The kids learn to spell and all the grown ups get to laugh about their caffeine habits.

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I like to dance about…like a FOOL! This CD has great songs for dancing around, like “The Banana Splits (The Tra La La Song)” seriously, I can’t not dance to that song. It also has a mildly ridiculous updated version of “Itsy Bitsy Spider” that definitely will crack up kids and librarians. Check out this great music video for “Surfin’ in My Imagination” and have a bit of a dance. I promise you’ll like it.

19 November 2009

Book Review: Fade

Fade, Lisa McMann
(Gr 9+)

Janie gets sucked into other people’s dreams. She can’t control what dreams she enters and can’t always find a way out of them once she’s been sucked in. In Fade Janie is finally putting her ability to good use. She and her boyfriend, Cabel, are working for the police, solving crimes at their high school. Cabel has just finished working undercover to bust a drug ring, with a little help from Janie. Now the two of them are trying to find out if there is a teacher having affairs with students. As Janie delves deeper into her ability to solve the mystery, she starts learning new and startling things about herself.

I read Wake in one evening because it was so engrossing and Fade was just as good. I love that these books are short with fast moving chapters. Lisa McMann’s writing style is so unique. She manages to combine elements of paranormal romance and thriller novels effortlessly. The reader is completely sucked in to the story and can’t wait to find out what will happen.

I liked Cabel more in Wake than in Fade. I know that he had a seriously traumatic childhood, but I just wanted to scream at him. He kept leaving Janie in the lurch when she really needed him. It’s like, “I get it, you’re messed up, now stop running from the girl you say you love as soon as something gets a little hard!” I guess I can’t say that I dislike him, I just wanted to give him a bit of a smack.

Janie is a great character. She’s smart, capable, and loving. She knows that she’s different and uses what she can do for something good. I felt for her the whole time I was reading. Granted, the story is from her perspective, but still, I just liked her so much.

Fade gives the reader just enough information about Janie to drive you CRAZY! I need to know what’s going to happen to her. Gone doesn’t come out until February and I’m dying to read it right now!

18 November 2009

Waiting on Wednesday: Linger

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

Coming 20 July 2010

Linger, Maggie Stiefvater

Synopsis from the author’s website:

“The sequel to Shiver follows the story of Grace and the wolves of Mercy Falls.
Maggie says: “It’s about after. What happens after you discover there are werewolves in the wood, after you’ve fallen in love for the first time, after you’ve lost what you think you can’t live without, after you’ve become someone you can’t live with.”
This is the story of a boy who used to be a wolf and a girl who was becoming one.
Just a few months ago, it was Sam who was the mythical creature. His was the disease we couldn’t cure. His was the good-bye that meant the most. He had the body that was a mystery, too strange and wonderful and terrifying to comprehend.
But now it is spring. With the heat, the remaining wolves will soon be falling out of their wolf pelts and back into their human bodies. Sam stays Sam, and Cole stays Cole, and it’s only me who’s not firmly in my own skin.”
Okay, I’m a little late on this one. I’m pretty sure everyone else WoW’d this a few weeks ago, but I’m having a very Maggie Stiefvater-y kind of week. I read both Lament and Ballad this past week and I’ve already LOVED Shiver. Maggie Stiefvater is rapidly becoming one of my favorite authors and now I can’t wait to read Linger!!

17 November 2009

Teaser Tuesday: Splendor

This is a weekly meme run by MizB at Should Be Reading. Check it out for other Teaser Tuesday books. Here’s how it works.
1) Grab your current read
2) Open to a random page
3) Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
4)Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

“‘Do you really love him?’ Elizabeth knew Diana loved him, of course—she had known since the brief, strange period when she herself had worn Henry Schoonmaker’s engagement ring. What she meant was, did her sister love Henry as she had loved Will?” –Splendor by Anna Godbersen. pg 149.

16 November 2009

Book Review: Ballad

Ballad: A Gathering of Faerie, Maggie Stiefvater
(Gr 7-12)

James Morgan has just started at a new school for musically gifted teenagers, but he’s not just gifted. He’s the best bag-piper in the state of Virginia, and maybe even better then that. He’s so good that he starts to attract the “wrong kind” of attention. The fey have taken special notice of his skill, on faerie in particular, Nuala, would use his skill to sustain her own life, unless she falls in love with him first.

Oh no, more scary faeries! This is the companion novel to Lament which I read right before this one. I love when I miss a series for a little while so that I don’t have to wait between books. I finished the last page of Lament and just reached over to pick up Ballad.

My favorite character in Lament was James. I wanted to know more about him and I was dying for a little narration from him, so I was thrilled that Ballad was his story this time. The story is told in alternating chapters from either James or Nuala’s point of view. I love when romances unfold this way. I like knowing that each character is falling for the other, not only being inside one of their heads. This worked really well in Maggie Stiefvater’s book Shiver too. She’s got a really great style that jumps from one character’s head to the other’s seamlessly.

Once again the faeries in this novel are the bad guys. They don’t seem to be actually evil, not like human villains or monsters. They are described as not having souls and it just seems to be in their nature to be a little duplicitous. The image of the King of the Dead was really scary to me and I loved the image of James running after him after hearing his music.

These novels are obviously really well researched. I love the level of detail that is put into the story. It’s an interesting mix of Celtic folklore and modern paranormal romance, and I found it completely engrossing.

Maggie Stiefvater is ridiculously creative. Not only is she a great author, she’s also a composer, a musician, and an artist. Check out her website and listen to some of her arrangements and original compositions for Lament and Ballad. Then, watch this great book trailer, made by the author!

14 November 2009

Something Sweet for Saturday

Yesterday, the fabbity fab ladies of BookMac gave me this “luuurvely” award.
*Quick disclaimer, I seem to be channeling Georgia Nicolson today, I can’t help it, she is soooo “marvy.”*
Anyway, now I get to pass it along to some other great bloggers! I don’t know who originally designed this little award, but mad props! It’s aDORable.
Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link. Pass the award to 10 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

Sounds like fun to me. Here are the 10 blogs that I think are “luuurvely.”
Check out these great blogs and then go read some books for goodness sake!

13 November 2009

Fanfare Friday: Here Comes Science

Here Comes Science, They Might Be Giants

My boyfriend is a scientist, like a real one, with beakers and theories and labcoats. He’s so smart that I don’t understand what he’s talking about most of the time, but he’s cute so it’s okay. He says that someday when we’re married with kids he’s going to tell them science fairy tales. In honor of him and his natural nerdy adorableness, this week’s Fanfare Friday is all about SCIENCE!

I’ve already featured a They Might Be Giants album, Here Come the ABCs and I love this one just as much! They make some really great kids music! This album is a fun mix of catchy tunes and science facts. It makes me think of those movies and tv shows that always seem to have a character who learns science with a song. Might as well start that kind of learning as early as possible!

I like that these songs are so much fun to listen to. They make me want to dance around and I bet most kids will feel the same. Science needs all the kid cred it can get, and this album makes it 100% awesome! I really like “Meet the Elements”, “I Am a Paleontologist”, and “My Brother the Ape.” Check out this danceable fact filled album and start growing baby scientists while I try to convince my own scientist to write down his science fairy tales! In the meantime, watch this video for “Meet the Elements” that my besty showed me (and she just happens to be a professional musician, so you know this is good)!

12 November 2009

Book Award Predictions (2010)

Awards season is upon us. Books are starting to display themselves more prominently and hold their bindings a little straighter in hopes of being noticed by the selection committees. Before the official announcements are made, it might be fun to make some predictions of our own. Here are my picks for the Caldecott and Newbery awards. I’m not going to make a Printz prediction since I don’t feel like I’ve read enough YA this year to make even a remotely educated guess. These are kind of predictions and kind of my own personal mock awards.

Caldecott: The Lion and the Mouse, Jerry Pinkney

Newbery: When You Reach Me, Rebecca Stead

I went back and forth with these A LOT! I fully expect to see The Magician’s Elephant, Kate DiCamillo and Otis, Loren Long on the honor list for these two awards. Do you have any predictions or just books you want to win? Any at all? C’mon…give it a try…you know you want to!

10 November 2009

Book Review: Lament

Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception, Maggie Stiefvater
(Gr 7-12)

Official Synopsis:
“Sixteen-year-old Deirdre Monaghan is a painfully shy but prodigiously gifted musician. She’s about to find out she’s also a cloverhand—one who can see faeries. When a mysterious boy enters her ordinary suburban life, seemingly out of nowhere, Deirdre finds herself infatuated.

Trouble is, the enigmatic and conflicted Luke turns out to be a gallowglass—a soulless faerie assassin—and Deirdre is meant to be his next mark. Deirdre has to decide if Luke’s feelings towards her are real, or only a way to lure her deeper into the world of Faerie.”

I think I’ve probably said this before, and anyone who knows me knows this, I don’t like fairies, at all. They freak me out just a little bit. They’re like little human mosquitoes, or, you know, crazed psycho killers. I think that’s why I loved this book so much, because the fairies (well faeries I guess) are the bad guys! Yay! They were really scary, at least I thought so. The fact that they could be anywhere and that Deirdre can’t always see them, although she’s becoming more able to, was really creepy to me.

Luke was a great bad boy/good boy love interest, although, I’m getting a little tired of guys who are supposed to or want to kill the girl. What is up with that?! And why is it so hot?! My common sense kept saying, “C’mon, murder is not the basis of a healthy relationship,” but the rest of me kept shouting, “Makeoutmakeoutmakeoutmakeout!!” This may be something I think about more later.

My favorite character in the book, other than Deirdre, was James. He was sweet, funny, and everyone’s dream best friend. He was always there for Deirdre, he believed her even when she sounded nuts, and, like all fictious opposite sex best friends, was completely in love with her. Even with all of that going for him, and the fact that I liked him so much, I still wanted Deirdre to be with Luke instead.

I will now dive right into my covers with Ballad!

08 November 2009

In My Mailbox #5

Borders really knows how to take advantage of me. I’m already always just on the cusp of buying a new book and then they send me over the edge with lots of coupons! Curse you Borders! Anyway…here’s what I just couldn’t resist buying this week (actually the last two weeks because I forgot to do an IMM last week).

Ghostgirl, Tonya Hurley
Lament, Maggie Stiefvater
Ballad, Maggie Stiefvater
Leviathan, Scott Westerfeld
(yes, I’ve already read/reviewed/loved this, but I wanted to have a pretty hard cover copy of my own)
Liar, Justine Larbalestier
(funny that I bought this at the same time as Leviathan since Justine Larbalestier and Scott Westerfeld are married! I thought that was cute.)
Okay, the end. That’s what I’m stuffing onto my packed bookshelves this week! What did you get?

07 November 2009

Book Review: My Rotten Life

My Rotten Life, David Lubar
(Gr 3-5)
Tor Books, 2009
Review copy provided by publisher

Nathan Abercrombie is not popular and he’s having one of the worst days ever. The girl he likes has just ripped his heart out and then he gets picked last for baseball teams, even after the kid who spends his life with his hand jammed into his armpit/nose/ear/etc. Just when it looks like his day can’t get any worse, his friend, Abigail invites Nathan and his best friend, Mookie, over to her uncle’s laboratory. Nathan is accidently doused with a strange chemical that leaves him a half zombie! What’s a 5th grader to do when he finds out that he’s half dead and still has to go to school?

This is a book for boys. Filled with gross out humor (that, yes, made me laugh), video games, and gym class popularity, it’s guaranteed to entertain most middle grade boys. Nathan is a character boys will relate to. He reminded me of Greg, from Diary of a Wimpy Kid, except a little less self centered. Nathan is a “second bester,” which means that he’s not good enough to be popular and not bad enough to be a complete loser. He and his friends are at the bottom of the middle. They’re the second skinniest kid in school, the second fattest, second funniest, and so on. Nathan, second skinniest, is tired of being hurt by the kids in his class, but Abigail’s uncle seems to have a cure with his “Hurt-Be-Gone” solution. Unfortunately, the solution is what ends up turning Nathan into a half zombie.

Now, you’re probably thinking, “Half zombie? What in the world is that?” Half zombie means that Nathan is alive, but doesn’t need to do anything to maintain his life. He doesn’t need to eat, drink, breathe, or have a heartbeat, but he’s not really dead. This has its ups and downs. He might not be able to eat his favorite food anymore, or heal when he gets hurt, but he also doesn’t get tired or feel pain…ever.

If you’re looking for a fun book for middle grade boys, this one is perfect. There’s lots of stuff to gross them out and crack them up and it’s written in a fast paced style that will keep even the most reluctant readers turning pages. There’s even a discussion guide at the back of the book, so teachers/librarians/parents can take the opportunity to talk to kids about something they’ll really like! Check out My Rotten Life at the library or your local bookstore!

06 November 2009

Fanfare Friday: Jonathan Rundman

Public Library, Jonathan Rundman

Okay, so this isn’t a children’s CD. This is one for the grown ups, specifically the LIBRARIANS! I really like this album, it’s fun to play really loud in the car. This guy is after my heart by starting his CD out with a song called “Smart Girls.” I mean, c’mon, like I wasn’t going to love that?!

I’m not really sure how to classify this music. It’s very folksy, but with a little bit of pop/rock thrown in. Basically, just awesome! Obviously, my favorite song on the CD is “Librarian.” Here’s a clip of him playing it live. I love to belt this out in my car. I am a huge nerd…and a “liiiibrarian. I’m a liiiibrarian.”

05 November 2009

Harry Potter Reading Challenge: November Update

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, JK Rowling
(all ages)

Harry Potter has already faced down evil and defeated it twice. He’s found a home at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and made real friends in Ron and Hermione. However, it seems Harry will never have a normal year at school. Sirius Black, known murderer, has just broken out of Azkaban, the wizarding prison, and he’s heading straight for Harry.

I’ve always said that this book was my favorite in the series. It was the one that kept me guessing the most and it was when the series really came into it’s own. Looking back, I can also say it’s the first book in the rest of the series. In my humble opinion, the first two titles Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets feel like part of a different, companion series. Prisoner of Azkaban was the book that turned the Harry Potter series into the complex, multi-layered story that it became. It’s also the first one that was genuinely HUGE. I remember looking at that book for the first time and being genuinely surprised. Granted, the next morning, when I’d finished it, I decided it hadn’t been that big after all.

I listened to the audiobook version of this one as well, as I think I will continue to do with the remaining books. It’s amazing how much I missed the first time I read this series. I inhaled these books and didn’t notice a lot of the more fun details. My other problem is that the movies and the books are starting to blend together for me. Things that happened slightly differently between the two, one character doing something in the movie that another character does in the book, are starting to confuse me. I don’t know if this shows that I need to start trying to read a lot slower, or if the movies were just really well done.

So far, Prisoner of Azkaban is still my uncontested favorite of the Harry Potter books, but we’ll see if that changes as I read the rest of the series. Also, I’m officially into the books (4-7) that I’ve only read once before. I’m really excited to re-read the rest of the books!

04 November 2009

Demons, Ghosts, and Pretty Girls…Oh My: Giveaway!

Michelle Zink, Kami Garcia, and Margaret Stohl are three of the nicest authors ever! They really respond to their fans and want to talk to them. I’m still pretty new to blogging so I get super excited everytime someone reads anything I write, especially if they take the time to comment on it. Well, these three AWESOME authors all read my reviews and commented, which completely made my day. In honor of their inate awesomeness and their awesomely awesome books, I’m having my very first giveaway!
Here’s the deal…one winner will get an ARC of Beautiful Creatures annnnnd a pretty, SIGNED hardcover copy of Prophecy of the Sisters. Yay! To enter, just leave a comment with your email address on this post. The contest will be open until November 20th at midnight, open to US only. Want some extra entries? Okay.
+2 for being/becoming a follower
+1 for tweeting this
+1 for posting about the contest somewhere else
+1 for commenting on either of my reviews
Good Luck!

03 November 2009

Book Review: Hush Hush

Hush Hush, Becca Fitzpatrick

(Gr 9+)

Synopsis from Amazon:
“For Nora Grey, romance was not part of the plan. She’s never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how much her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch came along.
With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Nora is drawn to him against her better judgment.

But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora’s not sure who to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is, and to know more about her than her closest friends. She can’t decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For Nora is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen – and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost her life.”

This book started a little slowly for me. I had trouble with the fact that Patch was so obsessed with Nora from the moment he started talking to her. I wanted him to have a little more of a personality. He was just a dark, scary dude he was weirdly into the girl. However, Becca Fitzpatrick is obviously a good writer because by page 50 or so I was completely sucked in.

The story itself is really interesting. Nora has several life threatening encounters…or does she. Neither she, nor the reader, are sure of what is real and what is imagined. Fallen angels are a fun choice for paranormal teen fiction. I was getting a little tired of zombies, vampires, and werewolves, so angels were a great change of pace.

Overall, I enjoyed Hush Hush and think its a PERFECT read alike for Twilight. Teenage girls who are looking for their next paranormal romance will be happy with this one. Librarians/grown ups will too.

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