Libri Dilectio: September 2009

30 September 2009

Waiting on Wednesday: Nanny Returns

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

Coming 15 December 2009

Nanny Returns, Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

10 years after her first Nannying experience with the X’s, Nan has returned to New York City.

This is all I know about this one, but I already can’t wait to read it! I loved The Nanny Diaries. The movie did NOT do it justice, if you haven’t read it, you definitely should. I haven’t liked Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus’s last few novels very much, but I’m hoping that their return to Nan will be just as hilarious and heartbreaking as it was the first time around!

No, this isn’t strictly YA and certainly isn’t middle grade fiction, but I think that it has some definite cross over appeal. High school girls liked The Nanny Diaries so I think they’ll like this one as well. I can say that with confidence because back in 2002, I was one of the high school girls who liked it! =)

29 September 2009

Book Review: Wake

Wake, Lisa McMann
(Gr 9+)

Synopsis from Amazon:
“Not all dreams are sweet.

For seventeen-year-old Janie, getting sucked into other people’s dreams is getting old. Especially the falling dreams, the naked-but-nobody-notices dreams, and the sex-crazed dreams. Janie’s seen enough fantasy booty to last her a lifetime.
She can’t tell anybody about what she does — they’d never believe her, or worse, they’d think she’s a freak. So Janie lives on the fringe, cursed with an ability she doesn’t want and can’t control.

Then she falls into a gruesome nightmare, one that chills her to the bone. For the first time, Janie is more than a witness to someone else’s twisted psyche. She is a participant…”

I picked this up after reading good reviews of it on several other blogs. All I can say is they were right! I decided to start this last night and I didn’t stop reading until I finished. I just got completely sucked into the story. I was fascinated by the premise and just couldn’t stop reading. I love books that grab my by the throat and won’t let me stop reading!

Janie is a sweet, loveable protagonist. She can’t help what she sees in people’s dreams and it frequently embaresses or unnerves her. Cabel was dark and mysterious (not in a supernatural way). I instantly had a crush on him. They are a great pair and I can’t wait to read more about the two of them!

I put a hold on Fade today so hopefully I’ll get it soon! I can’t wait to find out what happens to Janie and Cabel!!

Teaser Tuesday: The Monstrumologist

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!

“For even as he was speaking these soothing words, a family was being slaughtered. While we drowsily whiled away the deadest hours of the night, the beasts were busy imbuing them with blood.” –The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey. pg 217.

28 September 2009

Little Girls Love Pink Books

There seems to be an unusual number of super duper girly books hitting the shelves lately. I don’t know what it is. I can’t say that I dislike it. Every girl just needs a pink book from time to time, in my humble opinion. Once, a few years ago, I was browsing the adult fiction collection at the library I was working at. I wasn’t reading anything about the books, just pulling out the pink spines, looking at the covers, and either putting them back or pulling them a little out so I’d remember where they were. A co-worker happened to wander past me at that point. He stopped, looked really confused and said, “What in the world are you doing?” I said, “Just looking for a pink book.” He rolled his eyes, sighed and said, “So you are literally judging a book by it’s cover?!”

Thinking back on it now, I’m not sure why he seemed so surprised. Don’t all girls do this? I don’t necessarily mean seek out a pink book, but judge books by their covers. For that matter, don’t all boys? I love a good cover. I’ve been known to buy or check out a book without knowing anything about it based solely on the cover. Sometimes I’m in the mood for a pink cover with a girl from the neck down, sometimes I want a black cover with some sort of metaphoric type image on it, and sometimes I just want something sparkly. The best example I can think of is Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld. I remember drooling over that cover endlessly. Eventually I gave in and bought it, knowing NOTHING about the story or the author. Thankfully, I ended up liking it a lot, but something about that pink and green belt just sucked me in. I really didn’t care about the story, I wanted to read that cover.
We just got a cart full of new books at the library last week (it was awesome) and going through them, I was most struck by the two girliest ones of the bunch. I thought those two books would be gone by the end of the day. I was almost right. The girlier of the two didn’t even make it to the end of the evening. The Princess and the Unicorn by Carol Hughes has, quite possibly, the girliest cover I have EVER seen. I mean look at that thing! It’s baby pink, with a blue eyed, blonde ringleted little girl, and matching blonde ringleted unicorn! The elementary school girls never even stood a chance against this one.
Megan McDonald has a new book out in her Sister’s Club series called Rule of Three. Again, I have no idea what this series is about, I’m assuming it’s pretty good since it’s Megan McDonald, but I haven’t read it. Regardless of my complete lack of knowledge about the series, it’s cover jumped out at me on the cart of new books. It’s so CUTE! First off, I LOVE cupcakes. Like with all my heart. Someday, when I get married, I don’t want a wedding cake. I want wedding cupcakes. Anyway, a stack of adorable pink cupcakes?! Ridiculously cute, and, you can’t see from this picture, but that pink frosting isn’t just pink. It’s sparkly pink! What is it about pink and green? I think that color combo is hard wired into girls brains. We’re born to love it.
I’m going to end this sparkly pink post on the sparkliest pinkest unicorniest girliest picture book series of them all. Victoria Kann’s licious books, Pinkalicious, Purplicious, and Goldilicious are so girly and sweet they may actually give you cavitites. The little girls love them. My library owns 4 copies of Goldilicious. All 4 are checked out and there are 7 holds. Poor little girls. They just can’t resisit the pull of Victoria Kann. And neither can I, I’ve read all three books. The four year old girl in me couldn’t walk past them without a read.

27 September 2009

Anderson’s YA Literature Conference

Yesterday was the Anderson’s Bookshop YA Literature Conference. It was the first time I’ve been to this particular conference. It was so much fun! It was kind of like Authorpalooza! We had the opportunity to see Judy Blundell, Ellen Hopkins, Libba Bray, Gennifer Choldenko, James Owen, Kaza Kingsley, Kerry Madden, Lisa Sandell, Jill Wolfson, Lisa Yee, Michelle Zink, Daniel Kraus, Cynthea Liu, Susan Fine, and Claire Zulkey. They always manage to get the BEST authors for visits at Anderson’s.

I went to break out sessions on Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, and a booktalk by the Anderson’s children’s manager. The break outs were GREAT because it was really small groups and 4 authors per session. It was more of a discussion group then anything. I sat next to Cynthea Liu during the booktalk and she is so cool! I definitely want to check out her book Paris Pan Takes the Dare. Libba Bray was completely hysterical! I already loved her, but now I totally want to be her friend!

I got a bunch of books signed, which is always awesome! I started by completely getting all tongue tied trying to tell Gennifer Choldenko how much I loved Al Capone Does My Shirts. She was so sweet.

I waited in Libba Bray’s line next and met a nice school librarian. Always love talking to other librarians! I actually got to talk to Libba for a minute and she wrote a note in my copy of A Great and Terrible Beauty. I didn’t take a picture with her because the camera was running out of batteries…of course.

As promised, I went totally fangirl with Michelle Zink. She was really sweet and didn’t even call me crazy! I reviewed Prophecy of the Sisters a little while ago (and LOVED it). Michelle commented on my review, which totally made my week, in honor of that I asked her to sign a copy to giveaway here! Check back later in the week for the giveaway!!

This is getting long, so quick wrap up. I also got a copy of What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell. She was nice enough to sign it for me on her way out. I bought Cold Hands, Warm Heart by Jill Wolfson, but she left before I could get her to sign it. Oh well, I do still get to read it! =) Lastly, I won a signed poster of Ellen Hopkins poem Manifesto that she wrote in honor of Banned Books Week. I’m so framing it and bringing it into the library to display!

Well, that’s all! I had a great time, met some great librarians, saw some friends (hi Abby!), and made a complete fangirl fool of myself with some amazing authors! Now it’s time to start getting excited about the Children’s Literature Conference. Although, sadly, that’s not until February.

25 September 2009

Fanfare Friday: Here Come the ABC’s

Here Come the ABC’s, They Might Be Giants

I send out loan bags to the local preschools as part of my job and they ask for CD’s a lot. In order to make sure that I’m sending them good ones, I’ve been listing to a lot of children’s music lately. It seemed fun to include it here!

I’ve decided to make Fridays on my blog Fanfare Fridays!! I’m going to announce…Fanfare if you will…a CD for preschoolers every Friday. They aren’t necessarily new releases, just albums I’m discovering week to week. Hopefully those of you with small children, small patrons, or the need to enjoy music for small ones will find these posts useful and fun!

I’ve been listening to a lot of music for preschoolers at work lately and this one stands out as one of the most fun yet! The songs are appropriate for children as young as 2 and will be fun for their grown ups as well. The tunes are catchy and educational! Give Wheels on the Bus a break, and try out this CD instead. Not convinced? Check out the music video for The Alphabet Lost and Found. Man that’s one catchy kids tune!

My favorite songs on the CD are E Eats Everything, Go for G, and Alphabet Lost and Found! This album is a combo CD/DVD so it’s kind of a multimedia extravaganza for preschoolers, enjoy!

24 September 2009

Book Review: The Magician’s Elephant

The Magician’s Elephant, Kate DiCamillo
(Gr 4-7)

Synopsis from jacket flap:
“What if? Why not? Could it be?

When a fortuneteller’s tent appears in the market square of the city of Baltese, orphan Peter Augustus Duchene knows the questions that he needs to ask: Does his sister still live? And if so, how can he find her?

The fortuneteller’s mysterious answer (An elephant! An elephant will lead him there!) sets off a chain of events so remarkable, so impossible, that Peter can hardly dare believe it.

But it is – all of it – true.”

I’ve said it before, to friends, family, library patrons, co-workers, anyone with ears. Kate DiCamillo is the best author writing middle grade fiction today. Hands down. I mean it. Sure, there are other middle grade authors who I like, even love, but Kate Dicamillo is the best.

Peter Augustus Duchene is an orphan, living alone with an emotionally unavailable soldier who served with his father. He spends his days learning to march like a solider, eat like a soldier, and prepare to live like one. Until the day he spends the money he was supposed to spend on food on a fortuneteller instead. That one simple decision sets the plot in motion and changes his life.

I loved Peter right away. He’s honest and sweet. He genuinely believes in truth and courage, and he wants, more then anything, to find the sister he thought was dead for so long. Kate DiCamillo writes such wonderful characters and this book is filled with great examples. The magician who conjured an elephant out of no where, but insists he “intended only lilies,” (48). The policeman and his wife who live in Peter’s apartment building and want to help him find a better life. The elephant herself, who doesn’t understand what’s happened to her and only wants to go home. This is the type of story that seems to have many strands flying all over the place, but ends up neatly tied in a bow by the end.

I love that Kate DiCamillo never writes down to children. She doesn’t shy away from tough vocabulary and trusts them to decipher meaning on their own. This story is one that will make it’s readers grow and influence their sense of hope in the world. I’d recommend it to just about anyone.

23 September 2009

Waiting on Wednesday: Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me

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

Coming 6 October 2009

Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me, Louise Rennison
Synopsis from AmazonUK:

“Ohmygiddygodspyjamas! The tenth marvy book in the Confessions of Georgia Nicolson is here! Get ready to laugh like a loon on loon tablets. It’s the FINAL instalment of Georgia’s fab and hilarious diary! Does Georgia escape the cakeshop of luuurve? Can there be more heartbreaknosity in store? Will the Sex God pop up again unexpectedly (oo-er)! And what about the supreme accidental snogmaster Dave the Laugh? Will she FINALLY choose her only one and only? So many boys, so little time!”

This is the tenth and final installment in the Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series that started with Angus Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging. One of the absolute funniest books I have ever read! I love love love Georgia Nicolson and have already pre-ordered my copy of this book! I can’t wait for people to start asking for this one by name! It will be hilarious!

22 September 2009

Teaser Tuesday: The Magician’s Elephant

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!

“And Peter forgot about Adele and his mother and the fortuneteller and the old soldier and his father and battlefields and lies and promises and predictions. He forgot about everything except for the terrible truth of what he saw, what he understood in the elephant’s eyes.” –The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo. pg 129.

21 September 2009

Book Review: Tricks

Tricks, Ellen Hopkins

(Gr 9+)
Synopsis from Amazon:
“‘When all choice is taken from you, life becomes a game of survival.”

Five teenagers from different parts of the country. Three girls. Two guys. Four straight. One gay. Some rich. Some poor. Some from great families. Some with no one at all. All living their lives as best they can, but all searching…for freedom, safety, community, family, love. What they don’t expect, though, is all that can happen when those powerful little words “I love you” are said for all the wrong reasons.

Five moving stories remain separate at first, then interweave to tell a larger, powerful story — a story about making choices, taking leaps of faith, falling down, and growing up. A story about kids figuring out what sex and love are all about, at all costs, while asking themselves, “Can I ever feel okay about myself?'”
I’ve never read a novel in verse before and I’ve never read any of Ellen Hopkins other books. I always thought I wouldn’t like the verse, that it would keep me from really enjoying the narrative, but it’s funny how much the opposite was true. I was completely and totally absorbed in this story. The writing was beautiful and heartbreaking, especially when I read why Ellen Hopkins chose this topic for her novel.

“I am often asked how I decide to write about a certain topic. This one
was inspired by a statistic I came across. Did you know that the average
age of a female prostitute in the United States is twelve years old?”

Obviously, Ellen Hopkins doesn’t write books like these for the shock value. She genuinely believes they are stories that need to be told. I found the five characters stories engrossing, devastating, and hopeful. This is a beautiful book that will knock the wind out of you. I don’t recommend picking it up lightly, but I do recommend reading it if you want to learn something and really feel connected to five people who you will definitely care about.

20 September 2009

In My Mailbox: Act 3

I work in a library, what am I doing buying so many books?! Since I just can’t help myself, here’s what was in my mailbox this week. Sorry wallet…you’re welcome bookshelf.

Blue Bloods, Melissa De La Cruz

First Light, Rebecca Stead

Rebel Angels, Libba Bray

Seeing Redd, Frank Beddor

The Hate List, Jennifer Brown
That’s all that was in my mailbox this week! I’m super excited to start…ummm…all of them. I think I can probably read all of them at the same time…maybe. In My Mailbox is a weekly meme masterminded by The Story Siren. Stop by her blog to peek inside other book bloggers’ mailboxes!

18 September 2009

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: New Trailer

How is it not February yet?! I’m so ridiculously excited for this movie!!!

Book Review: Al Capone Does My Shirts

Al Capone Does My Shirts, Gennifer Choldenko
(Gr 5-8)

Moose Flanagan and his family have just moved to a new home. He’s had to leave his friends, his grandmother, and the house he loved to start a new life on…Alcatraz.

Twelve year old Moose, his real name is Matthew, but everyone calls him Moose, is not at all pleased about his family’s relocation. Sure, now he lives on the same island as legends like “Machine Gun Kelly” and Al Capone himself, but he doesn’t get to see them or anything. Moose spends most of his time playing baseball (or wanting to), reading, and watching out for his sister, Natalie.

Life is anything but dull when you live on an island with the world’s most dangerous cons and Moose is only just finding out how interesting his life is becoming.

I originally picked this book up for two reasons, it was nominated for the Rebecca Caudill award last year and I couldn’t imagine what it would be about. At first I thought boy who helped Al Capone when he was in prison or maybe boy who had some sort of relationship with him post prison. The actual story of Al Capone Does My Shirts was much deeper then I expected, and funnier too.

Moose is an incredibly sympathetic character. He genuinely loves his family. He admires his dad, cares about his mom, and is very close with his autistic sister, Natalie. Natalie and Moose’s relationship is one of the strongest in the novel. He loves her and wants to protect her, but he also feels angry with her because he just doesn’t understand everything she’s thinking. I loved how careful Moose is with Natalie and how much he wants her to have the best life possible.

The secondary characters in this novel are interesting contrasts to Moose. My absolute favorite character was Theresa, a young girl who lives in the apartment next to the Flanagans. She throws herself right in Moose’s path from the moment he moves to the island, showing him around and nudging her way into a friendship with him. She is outspoken, but kind. Outside of the Flanagan family, she was the one character who really understood Natalie the best.

This is a wonderful story, but don’t skip out on the author’s note at the end of the novel! I thought it was fascinating. I never realized that there really were families living on Alcatraz during the years that it was a working prison. Gennifer Choldenko interviewed people who grew up on the island and provides some great historical insight that will fully flesh out the story for readers.

Already read Al Capone Does My Shirts? Check out Al Capone Shines My Shoes, the newly published sequel. I know I’m going to!

17 September 2009

Book Review: Prophecy of the Sisters

Prophecy of the Sisters, Michelle Zink
(Gr 7+)

Synopsis from Amazon (because it sounds so good):
“An ancient prophecy divides two sisters-
One good…
One evil…
Who will prevail?
Twin sisters Lia and Alice Milthorpe have just become orphans. They have also become enemies. As they discover their roles in a prophecy that has turned generations of sisters against each other, the girls find themselves entangled in a mystery that involves a tattoo-like mark, their parents’ deaths, a boy, a book, and a lifetime of secrets.
Lia and Alice don’t know whom they can trust.
They just know they can’t trust each other.”

Lia is the narrator, so as a reader, I was immediately drawn to her. I believed what she said, felt what she felt, and feared Alice as much as she did. However, as I read further into the story, I found myself doubting Lia. Is she what she seems? Is she the good twin or something much more sinister? Did I only trust her because I was hearing the story only from her perspective? I find myself finishing this book with so many questions floating around in my head that I’m going to need a sequel ASAP.

Prophecy of the Sisters was a lot scarier then I was expecting. The contrast of the daily lives of the characters and the growing evil the two sisters face was completely engrossing. The descriptions in the story are so vivid that I actually had to stop reading it right before bed! I wish I was kidding, HUGE baby right here. There are certain things that I’m more prone to being afraid of and this story hits the nail on the head, in a good way. This novel is dark and frighteningly beautiful. I could see everything so clearly that I was pulled fully into the story.

This is a great book for fans of Libba Bray’s A Great and Terrible Beauty. I can really say that with confidence because I finished reading GATB and immediately picked up Prophecy of the Sisters! I’d definitely recommend this book and I can’t wait to see Michelle Zink next Saturday at the Anderson’s YA Literature Conference! I’ll probably turn into a huge fangirl and freak her out, but hey, she freaked me out first. Fair’s fair. =)

16 September 2009

BBAW: Reading Meme

Book Bloggers read a lot. More than I ever thought possible. I thought that I read a lot, but compared to some of these people I’m practically illiterate. On that note, here are some questions I answered from the BBAW reading meme. Check it out for more blogger’s answers.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open?
I always use a bookmark, dog-eared pages are the stuff of nightmares for me! I’m not completely uptight though. I only use fun bookmarks. My favorites are my Babymouse, Mutts, and Pigeon bookmarks. If they aren’t cute then it just isn’t right.

What are you currently reading?
Tricks by Ellen Hopkins. I’m a little over half way through and so far it is devastatingly good.

Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time?
I usually have a system of sorts. There’s the book I’m listening to in the car, the one I read at work on my lunch breaks, and the one I read in bed. Although, it’s fine to read the bed book at work or vice versa, it depends what I’m in the mood for. Sometimes bedroom books find their way into my work bag and work books end up snuggled in the sheets with me!

10 September 2009

Book Review: Babymouse Dragonslayer

Babymouse: Dragonslayer, Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm
(all ages!)

Synopsis from Amazon:
“Get ready for the next big epic fantasy . . .
In a distant kingdom a growing darkness falls over the land.
One is called to defend . . . to bring hope . . . to slay the Mighty Dragon. . . .
Could it be . . . Babymouse? Find out when Babymouse leads her fellow Mathletes in the quest of a lifetime, a death-defying fight to win back both her school’s honor and the coveted GOLDEN SLIDE RULE. Our brave young hero must face not just the evil Owlgorithms but also her own personal dragon—MATH. Destined for glory, for greatness, for bookstores and libraries everywhere . . . this is the epic adventure fans have been waiting for!”

Babymouse has quite the imagination and uses it freely, almost too freely. She finds herself drifting and not really paying attention in math class, thus earning herself an F- on a math assignment. F-?! Woah, Babymouse. Her teacher promises to forget the bad grade if Babymouse will give up her lunch periods to compete with the Mathletes in the upcoming Math Olympics!

This installment of this pink, cupcake filled graphic novel features fun parodies of many popular fantasy books. Like these classic fantasy stories, Babymouse: Dragonslayer starts with a map. Of course this map features Babymouse-esque landmarks like, “Caer Cupcake” and “Furrypaws Forest.” At one point during her harrowing adventure, we even find our heroine under a tree, reading from a thick book entitled, “Another Story About an Orphan Who Has Magical Abilities and Saves the World From the Forces of Darkness (Book One of Twelve).”

I highly recommend this hilarious series, especially Dragonslayer! I LOVE BABYMOUSE! It’s great that she’s a cute girl mouse who loves pink hearts and cupcakes, but always imagines herself as the character having the adventures. She casts herself as the knight slaying the dragon, the detective solving the mystery, or the creepy monster, never the damsel in distress. She’s probably too cool to hang with me, but I would definitely want to be her friend!

09 September 2009

Waiting on Wednesday: Hush Hush

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

Coming October 2009

Hush, Hush, Becca Fitzpatrick
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.”

Not going to lie, the first thing that drew me to this one was FOR SURE the cover, but after reading some great reviews, I’m salivating for this book!

Still not convinced? Watch this book trailer and try not to want to read Hush Hush!

08 September 2009

Teaser Tuesday: A Great and Terrible Beauty

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!

“We stumble out of the cave. Miles above us, the moon has started to wane, the edges bitten off, but we bask in its light anyway, howling like wolves.” –A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray. pg 174.

05 September 2009

Barenaked Ladies: Snacktime

Hi! Short post today because it’s MOVING DAY! I’ve been commuting about an hour and twenty minutes to and from work everyday, but, as of this afternoon, I will now be living a mere 15 minutes from my library! Yay! While I’m lifting heavy furniture and boxes and boxes of books, you can enjoy some fabulous children’s music. I’ve been obsessively listening to Snacktime by Barenaked Ladies all week. Here’s a music video for their song Pollywog in a Bog. Watch it, love it, and then try to get it out of your head. Seriously, just try. It’s impossible. Enjoy!

04 September 2009

Book Review: Leviathan

Leviathan, Scott Westerfeld

(Gr 7+)

Coming 6 October 2009
ARC borrowed from same AWESOME co-worker who loaned me Catching Fire. She’s kinda like my dealer.

Synopsis from Amazon:
“It is the cusp of World War I, and all the European powers are arming up. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ fabricated animals as their weaponry. Their Leviathan is a whale airship, and the most masterful beast in the British fleet.
Aleksandar Ferdinand, prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battle-torn Stormwalker and a loyal crew of men.
Deryn Sharp is a commoner, a girl disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She’s a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.
With the Great War brewing, Alek’s and Deryn’s paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them both aboard the Leviathan on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure. One that will change both their lives forever.”

With that being said, here’s a much more in depth assessment. This book was not at all what I expected. I think I still had Uglies trapped in my head and was kind of thinking this would be more of the same. The Uglies and the Pretties vs. the Clankers and the Darwinists type of thing. I could not have been more wrong. Granted, Westerfeld’s writing style is still very much his own. He has a wonderfully creative voice that really brings characters to life, but Deryn is NOT Tally.

The imagery of the novel is wonderful. I had a fully fleshed image of the 1914 Europe portrayed in Leviathan. It didn’t hurt that the illustrations are so detailed. I wasn’t expecting this book to be illustrated so when I came across the first one I was very pleasantly surprised. If you’ve watched the book trailer then you’ve already had a taste of the incredible imagery of this story.

Now, characters. Obviously, to really love a book, you generally have to feel something for the characters. I was very drawn to Deryn. She’s tough, better then the boys, smart, and pretty creative with her language. Alek was a little more closed off for me, the chapters from his narration were not quite as engaging for me as Deryn’s. Granted, this might be because I’m a girl. I love the idea of a girl being better then all the boys. It’s not that I disliked Alek, I actually liked him a lot, I just didn’t feel like I got to know him quite as well as Deryn. Although, now that I think of it, that could be due to the fact that Alek doesn’t really know himself yet.

Finally, adventure…there is a lot of it. Alek is on the run from his own people and doesn’t know who to trust. Deryn is a girl masquerading as a boy, always in danger of being caught, as well as being in danger from German air machines. The battles are vivid and exciting, drawing you deeper into a plot that is NOT resolved. ARG! I love a good series book, but I’m ready for the next one now…please. I’m all wound up with tons of questions floating around in my head and the book is over?! I need more books!! This is a great story that I will definitely be recommending to all the kids at my library a lot.

03 September 2009

Accelerated Reader: Friend or Foe?

The New York Times ran an interesting article last week entitled, Reading by the Numbers. I’m sure a number of you have already read it and had opinions. I thought I’d weigh in with my own AR story.

During Grad School I volunteered at an elementary school library. The school I volunteered at was a big Accelerated Reader school. The kids were always very aware of how many points a book was worth and if it wasn’t enough, they weren’t interested. I had one boy who checked out Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince without having read any of the previous Harry Potter books just because it was worth so many points.

Conversely, if a book was worth too many points, a lot of kids were too intimidated to check it out. A similar problem was if the book was outside their official reading level. I remember one exchange vividly because it broke my heart just a little bit. Two boys were in the fiction collection looking for new free reading books. After a few minutes of unsuccessful searching, one of them became very excited because he found a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone checked in. He’d been asking about it for weeks and really wanted to read it. His classmate proceeded to turn to him and say, “You can’t get that, it’s above your level.” The Harry Potter boy stared at the book and then at his friend. The friend said, “If you get that, I’m telling.” No joke. He put the book back and ended up selecting a title at random that he seemed completely disinterested in. I tried to direct him to other books he might like, but he was so disappointed that he just wanted to get back to class. Curses…foiled by reading levels.

I do see the benefit of AR and other reading level programs like it. There are kids who don’t live in homes with reading parents and aren’t encouraged to read. For kids who struggle with reading or aren’t drawn to it programs like AR that can quantify their reading are beneficial. However, I think there are still a lot of kinks to be worked out. What are your opinions on AR, Lexiles, and other reading programs? Do you think they help or hinder a student’s desire to read?

02 September 2009

My Favorite Reading Accessory

Last year my brother gave me the best Christmas present EVER, a Peeramid. I have used it literally everyday since then. I love to lay in bed with my purple Peeramid to read a book. Yes, this is like reading for the very lazy, but also for the very comfortable.

This pillow is probably the single greatest invention of the 20th/21st centuries. Yes, I mean that. I used to use an extra bed pillow to prop up my books when I read (because I have very scrawny arms and am LAZY). My peeramid is even better! Now I can carry it around without looking like I’m about to take a nap all the time. Plus, look at that tassle…built in bookmark!

Check this little doo-dad out if you want to have the world’s best reading accessory…well alright, it’s tied with a cup of tea. Do you have any fun reading accessories or reading rituals?

Waiting on Wednesday #1

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

Here’s my first WoW!

6 October 2009

Ice, Sarah Beth Durst
Synopsis from Amazon:

“When Cassie was a little girl, her grandmother told her a fairy tale about her mother, who made a deal with the Polar Bear King and was swept away to the ends of the earth. Now that Cassie is older, she knows the story was a nice way of saying her mother had died. Cassie lives with her father at an Arctic research station, is determined to become a scientist, and has no time for make-believe.

Then, on her eighteenth birthday, Cassie comes face-to-face with a polar bear who speaks to her. He tells her that her mother is alive, imprisoned at the ends of the earth. And he can bring her back — if Cassie will agree to be his bride.

That is the beginning of Cassie’s own real-life fairy tale, one that sends her on an unbelievable journey across the brutal Arctic, through the Canadian boreal forest, and on the back of the North Wind to the land east of the sun and west of the moon. Before it is over, the world she knows will be swept away, and everything she holds dear will be taken from her — until she discovers the true meaning of love and family in the magical realm of Ice.”

I’m really excited for this book. I love fairy tale re-tellings and the cover is soooo pretty! What are you waiting for this Wednesday?

01 September 2009

Teaser Tuesday

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!

Coming 6 October 2009

“Deryn felt a trembling under her feet, and pulled off a glove, kneeling to place her palm on the freezing dorsal scales. A low moan shook the airbeast.” – Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld. ARC pg. 211.

Had to add this because it is SO AWESOME! Thanks to Mandy at Edge of Seventeen for finding it!

Harry Potter Reading Challenge: September Update

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, JK Rowling
(all ages!)

Synopsis from book jacket.

“Harry Potter has lived most of his life with his Aunt and Uncle and his horrible cousin, Dudley. Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia don’t like him even a little bit and let him know it, all the time. Harry’s life isn’t going so well, until the day a mysterious letter arrives for him telling him that he is no ordinary boy. He’s actually a wizard and about to start the adventure of a lifetime.”

I was given a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone for Christmas in 1998. I was in 8th grade and it was a thank you present from my junior high english teacher for babysitting her two boys. She told me she was reading it out loud to them and that they all loved it. I can actually remember my first reaction to the book, which was, “Ugh, a book about a boy wizard?! I think I’ll just keep reading my Tamora Pierce instead,” I was obsessed with the Song of the Lioness Quartet at that age.

Well, I ended up finishing the book I was reading that night and hadn’t brought anything else to read so I decided to give Harry Potter a try. I figured, one chapter, what can that hurt? Oh wow! I was sucked into that story so fast I never even saw it coming. I’m pretty sure that I finished the book later the next day. I then bullied my younger brother into reading it, then my mom, and finally my dad. We became a family of Harry Potter addicts. For all subsequent books in the series my brother and I traded off who got to read them first, I was odds and he was evens.

I read these books like my dog eats treats; just gulp, don’t chew. As a result, re-reading them feels like the first time all over again. You’ve probably noticed that I read the British version of the first book this time around. My dad picked it up in London a few years ago and it seemed like a good opportunity to check it out. Guess what, it’s the exact same! Obviously they say philosopher’s stone instead of sorcerer’s stone and they spell things British-ly, but other then that, exactly the same.

I am SUPER excited to continue with this challenge and keep re-reading this series. The thirteen year old girl inside me keeps begging for more boy wizards, even though she loves girl knights too. It’ll be interesting to see what everyone else thought of the first book. I’m definitely going to be reading other challenger’s blog posts, especially first time readers. Happy reading everyone!

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