Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Book Review: One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
Publisher: Amistad
Publication date: February 2010
ISBN: 9780060760885

Source: Library

One Crazy Summer

Delphine, 11-years-old, and her two younger sisters are going to spend their summer in Oakland, California, with the mother that left them.  Delphine does not expect much, but gets even less when their mother simply sends them off to spend their days at a summer camp run by the Black Panthers.  All three of them unexpectedly learn a lot both about themselves and their mother during that crazy summer.

Things I Liked:
This book was fabulous!  Williams-Garcia manages to combine an interesting and important bit of history with excellent writing and delightful characters.  I positively adored Delphine and her sisters, particularly the way they interact with one another.  Each sister is unique and has personality enough to fill multiple books.  It's nice that we learn about history and the issues that were happening at that time.  But, really, this book is all about Delphine and how she grows, changes, and begins to understand her mother.  Her voice is just perfect, making me feel like I had a little sister I never knew about.  Pretty much, I agree with those who mention this as a Newbery contender.  Beautiful writing, memorable characters, and an interesting topic.  Here are some favorite parts:

Mother is a statement of fact.  Cecile Johnson gave birth to us....Mommy gets up to give you a class of water in the middle of the night.  Mom invites your friends inside when it's raining.  Mama burns your ears with the hot comb to make your hair look pretty for class picture day.  Ma is sore and worn out from wringing your wet clothes and hanging them to dry; Ma needs peace and quiet at the end of the day. p 14
I never thought about what Delphine meant or if it had a meaning at all.  It was just my name.  Delphine had a grown sound like it was waiting for me to slide into it, like a grown woman slides into a mink coat and clips on ruby earrings.  I figured since Cecile didn't have a mink coat or ruby earrings to give me when I grew up, she had dreamed up a name that I would grow into. p 82
Good old Merriam Webster.  I trusted Merriam because I thought, instead of having children she didn't want, she wrote the dictionary.  She didn't have anything else better to do, probably didn't have sisters and brothers to see after, which was why she knew every word in the world. p 83
Wouldn't Little Bobby rather be alive than be remembered?  Wouldn't he rather be sitting out in the park than have the park named after him?  I wanted to watch the news.  Not be in it.  The more I thought about it, the more I had my answer.  We were staying home tomorrow and the next day and the day after that. p 133
Things I Didn't Like:
I just felt a bit sorry for the kids because their mother so obviously didn't care about them.  I wanted to cry for them, especially when Delphine would have to prepare herself so she didn't feel bad about being ignored or dismissed.  And I'm not sure how much kid-appeal the story will hold, though I think they might enjoy the characters.

Reminded me a bit of Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor

The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon

s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: none

Overall rating: *****

What do you think are some possible award winners from this year?

Posted as part of Tween Tuesday, hosted by GreenBeanTeenQueen.

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Monday, August 30, 2010

Listless Monday, Back to School Edition

Listless Monday was inspired by both Amanda at A Bookshelf Monstrosity's feature Books by Theme and Court at Once Upon a Bookshelf's Listed feature.  Be sure to check out their lists!

(Yes, that apple is as big as my face.  No, it doesn't have much to do with back to school.  But, it is an apple...)

Ah, it's that time of the year again.  Back to school time.  It always makes me think pencils and notebooks and clothes shopping and the dreaded homework.  Fortunately, I'm coming back to school now as a librarian and not a student.  However, I threw together a list of books where a large part of it or an important part of it takes in school.  Whether that be a boarding, a regular old public, or a wizarding, these kids are all dealing with the social, emotional, and academic challenges of school.

Back to School Edition:

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund
Avalon High by Meg Cabot
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Dairy Queen by Catherine Murdock
The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
The Disreputable History of Frankie-Landau Banks by E. Lockhart
Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman
Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande
Fallen by Lauren Kate
Flipped by Wendalin Van Draanen
Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can't Have by Allen Zadoff
Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter
The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester
Great and Terrible Beauty series by Libba Bray
Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling 
Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins (suggested by Susan)
Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Schooled by Gordon Korman
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
Shug by Jenny Han
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
We the Children by Andrew Clements
The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt
Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher
The Wizard Heir by Cinda Williams Chima
You by Charles Benoit (I happen to be giving a copy of this away right now!)

Always looking for suggestions, since I am certain there are many more!

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A (Few) Girl(s) After My Own Heart

A Bit of Me(Me) is hosted by Danielle of There's a Book.

I was going to skip the theme for this week in order to simply post photos of my vacations, but I decided I couldn't pass up a little love for (a few of) my favorite heroine(s).  (You should know by now I have a hard time picking one favorite anything.)   

Anne of Green Gables: The CollectionLittle Women (Collector's Series)The Witch of Blackbird Pond

When I think of a favorite heroine in literature, the first few that come to mind are always: Anne Shirley and Jo March.  Really, those two shaped my childhood and on into my later years (I still love to watch the  Anne of Green Gables mini-series).  I even wrote a letter to Anne, expressing why I loved her and how I wanted to be her.  And Jo.  Oh, how I loved having a girl who didn't quite fit in, a girl who wanted to write and wear pants, to be my best friend.

But then I had to think of Kit Tyler from The Witch of Blackbird Pond, one of the first books that really sparked my love of reading.  I wanted to be her.  I wanted to wear her dresses (yes, how ironic that I loved Jo March, who didn't want to wear them).  I adored Nat. 

Jane EyrePride And PrejudiceThe Lord of the Rings: 50th Anniversary, One Vol. Edition

Then in the middle school and high school years, I discovered Jane Eyre, a much more sophisticated role model, but one who I adored for her romantic heart and yet her resolve of steel.  From her I learned not to give in to temptation despite what your heart wants.  She was one tough woman.  And, of course, Elizabeth Bennet who wielded a tongue that made me so envious I memorized whole sections of the book (and movie).  A women who obviously made mistakes, but who could still overcome and accept them.  And there was always Eowyn, the heartbroken, but never-giving-up destroyer of evil, who found a way to mend her broken heart (which, as I'm sure everyone did at that stage in life, I related to completely).  How could I possibly choose among them all?  

I couldn't.  Of course not.  So, I revel in those women who can be tough and tender.  Who can spurn a man with the best of them, and then come to love them.  Who are never perfect, but still manage to overcome their weaknesses.  Ah, the power of a writer to bring to life those women we can relate to and aspire to be like.  (It didn't escape my notice that all but one of these women was created by women who likely held some of these traits in their own personalities.)  

Can you pick just one?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Friday, August 27, 2010

Book Review: You by Charles Benoit and a Giveaway!

You by Charles Benoit
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication date: August 2010
ISBN: 9780061947049

Source: ARC provided by publisher


Kyle Chase is an ordinary teen.  He's just like you and me.  Though his story ends with a horrible incident, it unfolds just like every day of our lives.  Small choices, little things, lead him to where he ends up.  Somewhere he doesn't want to be.

Things I Liked:
I had really high expectations of this one.  In some ways, I was not disappointed.  I really enjoyed the unique second person narrative.  I've never read anything that pulled that off before.  I was impressed.  Admittedly, sometimes it was distracting or confusing, but still unique and interesting enough to keep my attention.  The story itself was a bit slow to start.  After that attention-grabbing beginning, it slows down and we get a lot of the day-to-day life of Kyle.  I think that was intentional, since it is his daily experiences that lead him to the inevitable ending.  I liked Kyle, I thought he was a good kid, even when he did stupid things over and over again.  I will admit the ending had me surprised - it was not as I expected, which was quite obviously the point.

The teachers complain that the students today are all lazy, ignorant, and stupid.  But the truth is that you're smarter than they are.  You're not even old enough to drive and you already know that none of this matters.  Not the English or the social studies or the math or the science.  If it did, if it really mattered, they'd teach it in a way that made you want to learn it.  But no, they've got to teach it in the most mind-numbing way possible, moving on without any real discussion to get to the next thing that's going to be on the test - the standardized test. p 35-36 of ARC
You want to tell her that what's wrong is the whole stupid assignment, that all it teaches kids is that there's one way to think, one way to act, so that by the time they reach high school all they have to do is look at somebody and they can tell if he's cool or a nerd or a jock or a hoodie.  That way if somebody starts thinking for himself, starts acting all weird, like wearing a sport coat to school, they'll be easy to spot. p 110-111 of ARC
Your whole life is a chain of choices - your choices. p 215 of ARC
Things I Didn't Like:
As mentioned above, I liked Kyle, but I really wanted to slap him upside the head.  He could have used that.  Sometimes things coming from his perspective sounded very didactic (just look at those quotes I have above - they sound rather preachy, don't they).  Zack was intriguing, but kept making me angry as well, though he was supposed to. 
I am quite sure if I had any kind of similar experiences when I was a teen, this book would have been life changing.  However, I was really not like Kyle, so it didn't resonate with me as much as it will with others.  While I was surprised by the ending, I was terribly confused the first two or three times I read it.  I guess I'm a little slow, but it wasn't immediately apparent to me exactly what happened.  Definitely a unique book with an audience that will adore it.  I'm just not in that audience.

A bit like Chris Crutcher and Gail Giles and other 'edgy' YA authors

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

s-factor: !
not as many as expected

mrg-factor: XX
definitely implied, though not described

v-factor: ->->
a few incidents, but not a lot of detail

Overall rating: ****

It just so happens I have an extra ARC of this book for one lucky reader (US only, sorry).  Leave me a comment telling me of a book that you read as a teen that really impacted you in some way (and a way for me to contact you).  I'll pick a winner next Friday.  Good luck!

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Book Review: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication date: August 2010
ISBN: 9780439023511

Source: Purchased :)

Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games)

Katniss has survived her second Hunger Games.  She's now living in the mysterious District 13, part of a rebellion that she's been a pawn in without knowing it.  Peeta was taken by the Capitol and she doesn't know what's happening to him.  Will she be able to keep him, herself, her family, Gale, and everyone else safe or will she have to risk it all to be the leader of the rebellion?

Things I Liked: 

After all the hype and the waiting, it was so great to finally pick up the final book.  Just reading a highly anticipated book like this is an experience apart from the book.  But, enough about that.  I was happy for nearly all of the book (though the beginning was pretty slow for me). I loved how there were several plot twists that threw me, specifically Peeta. [Purposely vague to avoid spoilers.]  It was, once again, really hard to put down and kept me on the edge of my seat for most of it.  I love what Collins manages to do, creating this world full of horrible things and yet not making us despair because of the hopefulness and the happy parts.  This book delves into Katniss' inner thoughts and emotions.  We get to see just how raw and difficult it is to survive after all this psychological, emotional, and physical stress.  It feels quite real to me.  Exciting, non-stop, grueling, heart-breaking (oh the heartbreak in this book)!  Favorite parts:
It isn't enough, what I've done in the past, defying the Capitol in the Games, providing a rallying point.  I must now become the actual leader, the face, the voice, the embodiment of the revolution.  The person who the districts - most of which are now openly at war with the Capitol - can count on to blaze the path to victory.  I won't have to do it alone.  They have a whole team of people to make me over, dress me, write my speeches, orchestrate my appearances  as if that doesn't sound horribly familiar - and all I have to do is play my part. p 10-11
"Oh, no.  It costs more than your life.  To murder innocent people?" says Peeta.  "It costs everything you are." p23
Things I Didn't Like: 
Right about when we hit chapter 25, I started to not like the book.  Up to that point it was everything I hoped for and more.  The rest disappointed and confused me.  I just didn’t feel very satisfied with the ending.  It felt half-hearted and vague and totally confusing to me.  If you'd like to read more of my thoughts on this, do check out the discussion in Natasha's spoiler post.  I didn’t much like the romance either, but that was just my personal preference. :) 

Read the first two books in the series The Hunger Games and Catching Fire
Unwind by Neal Shusterman
Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
The Maze Runner by James Dashner

s-factor: !

a few (though I admit I wasn't paying much attention)

mrg-factor: X
romantic, but not much else

v-factor: ->->->->
again, quite gory and violent - there's a lot of blood

Overall rating: ****

Well, what did you think? (Note: spoilers in the comments!)

For more dystopian reviews, check out Presenting Lenore's Dystopian August celebration!

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Back to the Library (and the Loot)

 (hosted by Marg of Adventures of an Intrepid Reader and Claire of The Captive Reader)

I'm finally home from vacation (it's been quite a while since I wasn't living out of a suitcase, or at least it feels like it)!  Today is my first day back in my own library and I feel both happy and sad about it.  Going back to work is so hard, no matter where you work, I think.  Anywho, I'm also back in my local public libraries and checking things out again!  I really didn't get nearly enough of my review copies read to justify this, but I had a few books on hold that I simply don't want to wait for.  So, here they are:

The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong
Linger by Maggie Stiefvater (yes, I'm probably the last to read this)
Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter

And the books really piled up while I was gone (ok, not really, but I was pretty excited about them all the same...)
Matched by Ally Condie (I've really been dying to get my hands on this, so I was super excited that it came for me)
It's a Book by Lane Smith
The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan
The Heir of Night by Helen Lowe

And, though I didn't get to visit any amazing bookstores while I was vacationing, I did stop by a for charity book sale and pick up a few books:
Eats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss
The Field Guide by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
Briar Rose by Jane Yolen

And this list would not be complete without this delight, which I purchased (of course):
Mockingjay (The Final Book of The Hunger Games)

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
and which I just finished and am currently trying to figure out my reaction to.  I loved getting to hash out some thoughts and read others' over at Natasha's spoiler-ridden discussion of it. 

What did you get this week?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Book Review: Don't Know Where, Don't Know When by Annette Laing

Don't Know Where, Don't Know When by Annette Laing
Publisher: Confusion Press
Publication date: August 2007
ISBN: 9780979476945
Source: Review copy provided by author

Don't Know Where, Don't Know When (The Snipesville Chronicles, Book 1) 
Hannah and Alex just moved to pokey old Snipesville, Georgia from San Fransisco.  Unhappy with the move, Hannah is compelled by her father to attend a summer camp for writing, while her brother attends baseball camp.  The two of them do not expect to meet up with Brandon, a black kid also attending baseball camp, or the Professor, a strange woman who seems to follow them around.  But, what they least expect is their time travel to WWII England.  There seems to be no way home except by finding a boy named George Braithwaite, who seems to have disappeared.  Will they ever make it back?

Things I Liked:
This was a fun way to learn more about the history of Britain during both WWI and WWII.  The kids experienced what it was like to be evacuees during those wars as well as the privations and other difficulties children faced back then.  I enjoyed learning more about personal experiences of people during the wars, than what most other books try to teach - the general what happened and when type of information.

Things I Didn't Like:
I found that for more than half of the book, the story moved very slowly.  I got bored and had a hard time plowing through the details, some of which seemed rather extraneous.  Also, some of the transitions between time and place or just sections was abrupt and made it disorienting to read.  Not the best example of time travel to learn about the past, but still pretty good.

Reminded me a bit of the Missing series by Margaret Peterson Haddix

The Devil's Arithmetic by Jane Yolen

s-factor: !
a few here and there

mrg-factor: X
some children born out of wedlock, but nothing described

v-factor: ->
soldiers who have been injured are described briefly

Overall rating: ***

Do you prefer time travel to teach history, regular historical fiction, or nonfiction?

Posted as part of Tween Tuesday, hosted by GreenBeanTeenQueen.

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Friday, August 20, 2010

Book Review: Sleepless by Cyn Balog

Sleepless by Cyn Balog
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publication date: July 2010
ISBN: 9780385738484
Source: ARC provided by Traveling ARC Tours


Eron has been a sandman for nearly a hundred years and his term is coming to an end.  He seduces his charges to sleep each night, but he isn't supposed to become too attached to them.  But Eron is feeling inexplicable attracted to Julia, one of those he puts to sleep.  As the time for his return to human life draws near, he tries to teach his replacement who shows little interest in life as a sandman.  Even as he starts his transition to human life, he knows he should stay away from Julia.  But will he be able to stay away from her when she is in danger?

Things I Liked:
This story was quite unique and interesting.  It had an odd mix of sweet and scary elements that worked rather well together.  I was intrigued by the idea of sandmen and the rules they must follow.  Eron was a fabulous hero and you can't help but root for him.  I found myself wanting to know more about his past life and his time as a sandman. Definitely not your typical paranormal romance.

Since I've worked at this stand in the food court since freshman year, pre-Griffin, I have a knack at predicting what certain customers will order.  Judging by their waistlines, I can tell that these girls are fat-free vanilla yogurt in a kiddie-size cake cone all the way. p 46 of ARC
Things I Didn't Like:
I think the interesting premise was really the best part of the book.  I found that the details of the story and many of the characters were lacking.  I was unimpressed with the development, especially the ending.  It felt rushed, short, and way too simplistic.  Things just kind of fell into place very neatly and without a lot of trouble.  Fun story idea, but it just fell flat to me.

Fairy Tale by Cyn Balog

s-factor: !@
scattered throughout

mrg-factor: XX
some implied stuff, nothing explicit

v-factor: ->
a few situations

Overall rating: ***

What do you think of the idea of sandmen lulling you to sleep at night?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Book Review: The Mark by Jen Nadol

The Mark by Jen Nadol
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children's Books
Publication date: January 2010
ISBN: 9781599904313

Source: Library

The Mark 

Cassie is not like other teenagers.  She grew up with her grandmother Nan, after her parents died in a car crash when she was only two.  Even more unique, she see's a strange glowing, a mark, on certain people.  At first, she isn't quite sure what it means, but after watching a man die, she is certain the mark appears on those who are going to die that day.  She struggles to deal with the burden of this sight and the memories of those she's seen with the mark.  She must figure out why she sees the mark and most of all, what she should do with that knowledge.

Things I Liked:
The ethical implications and philosophical discussions about whether she should tell someone it is their last day or not were very interesting.  In fact, I thought this was the most potent part of the book.  It was pretty refreshing to have a paranormal (sort of) book that discussed these kinds of topics.  Definitely made me think about what I would do if I found out I had one day to live.  Also, the end was very well done with some twists and surprises I wasn't expecting.  A pretty good read (considering I wasn't expecting something fabulous).

Things I Didn't Like:
While I enjoyed the fact that the paranormal aspect of the book was not the most important part, it was a little odd to expect the book to be about this mark, but then have 2/3 of it focus almost exclusively on her relationships with different people.  I wanted to know more about the mark and how her family relates to that ability, but there was very little focus on it.  I also really hated Lucas, her love interest.  He was just blah for me.  Their whole relationship was creepy and bothered me.  I would rather have had no love interest than the one she had.  Overall, interesting, but not quite satisfying.

A bit like Evermore by Alyson Noel

s-factor: !@#
quite a bit

mrg-factor: XX
Lucas.  Yuck.

v-factor: ->->
some disturbing images, she does see people die

Overall rating: ***

What's do you look for in a paranormal book?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Monday, August 16, 2010

Listless Monday, Fairy Tale Part II (Fairy-stories)

Listless Monday was inspired by both Amanda at A Bookshelf Monstrosity's feature Books by Theme and Court at Once Upon a Bookshelf's Listed feature.  Be sure to check out their lists!

The Iron Daughter (Harlequin Teen) Darklight (Wondrous Strange) Wicked Lovely (Wicked Lovely (Quality)) 

As you learned a few weeks ago, I like to include stories about fairies in my idea of fairy tales.  And since the realm of Faerie is making a comeback in the world of recent books today, there are lots of newer titles with faeries/fairies/fae/fey/fair folk/elves/pixies and any number of other iterations of this creature.  (NatalieSap created a great list called Faerie Fascinations, be sure to check it out!)  So, here are some I could think of:

The Fairy-Stories

Ash by Malinda Lo (suggested by Andie)
The Blue Girl by Charles de Lint (suggested by Andie)
Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner
Daughter of the Forest and the rest of the Sevenwaters books by Juliet Marillier
Dreamdark: Blackbringer and Dreamdark: Silksinger by Laini Taylor
Faerie Tale by Raymond E. Feist (suggested by Andie)
Fairy Tale by Cyn Balog
Iron King and Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa
Lament: the Faerie Queen's Deception and Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater 

Need and Captivate by Carrie Jones
Thornspell by Helen Lowe (suggested by Andie)
Whistle Bright Magic by Barb Bentler Ullman
Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr
Wings and Spells by Aprilynne Pike
Wondrous Strange and Darklight by Lesley Livingston

Any additions?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Out of Office, Part II

So, having returned from Bear Lake, we set off almost immediately (I just had time to give my students their final, which I assure you they loved) for Seattle.  We are spending about 10 days here visiting family, so I expect my posting will be sporadic at best.  I am hoping to have a Listless Monday post tomorrow though.  We'll see.  In the mean time, there is no lack of other blogs to visit, check my blog list below for a few, but be sure to come back and see me again soon! :)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Book Review: The Demon's Covenant by Sarah Rees Brennan

The Demon's Covenant by Sarah Rees Brennan
Publisher: Simon and Schuster (Margaret K. McElderry)
Publication date: May 2010
ISBN: 9781416963813

Source: Library

The Demon's Covenant (The Demon's Lexicon Trilogy) 

Mae is still reeling from all the events that happened in London.  She's struggling to come to terms with her own guilt over the dead magician.  But, when Jamie becomes entangled with a powerful magician, she calls on the Ryves brothers to help them again.  Alan, the sweet and kind brother, looking out for others.  Nick, the cold and inhuman one, attempting to be more human.  Mae is finding that everyone has a plan for Jamie, but none of them are going to tell her.  All the people she's trusted are lying to her, leaving her to make her own plans to save Jamie. 

Things I Liked:
I remember being so delighted after I read The Demon's Lexicon - it surprised and impressed me with its excellent storyline and awesome characters.  This book continues in that vein.  I absolutely love (like Angie) that this book is about siblings.  Alan and Nick are definitely not your everyday brothers, but their interactions are believable.  Mae and Jamie have a strong and yet complicated bond between them.  And the sarcastic humor that they all seem to constantly spout at one another is so much fun to read!  The beginning of the story isn't quite as intense and edge of your seat action-packed as later in the book.  But that ending!  There is a lot going on and surprises coming all over the place.  I loved it, and wanted more when it ended.  What a great, unique, well-written series.  Some of my favorite parts:

A streetlamp above slowly winked its single evil orange eye, and night swallowed them at a gulp.  The light sputtered back on with a grudging crackle and night spat them up... p 1-2
"My big plan to save Nick before you arrived was to toss a kettle at the magician's head."
Alan grinned. "You willing to defend me with a kettle?"
"Putting your faith in my awesome kettle-wielding skills doesn't strike me as your brightest idea ever." p 122
Mae was a bit impressed with how he seemed to look at the appliance and instantly comprehend its mysteries, when she'd been heating up ready-made meals for years by a method of pressing random buttons and hoping. p273
Things I Didn't Like:
I admit the ending kind of confused as well as delighted me.  There was so much going on at once that I think I missed stuff (and would have reread parts of it, if it hadn't been due at the library right away).  I wish there had been a bit more action earlier and a bit less confusion later.  But still a favorite of mine this year and a five star read!


Definitely pick up The Demon's Lexicon by Brennan first
Reminds me a little of the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare

s-factor: !@
not overwhelming amounts

mrg-factor: XX 
nothing explicit, though lots of sensuality

v-factor: ->->->
swords and knives and guns, what do you expect?

Overall rating: *****

Have you read this series?  What do you think of the sibling relationships?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Non-Library-Loot Post

Well, I usually include my weekly acquisitions (ie stuff that comes in the mail) in my library loot post.  But, since I have no loot whatsoever this week (ok, I did check out a book club set of 84, Charing Cross Road, but that doesn't really count for much).  So, instead of doing library loot, I'm doing non-library loot.  Here's what I received in the mail:

You by Charles Benoit (second copy - look forward to a giveaway!)
Radiance by Alyson Noel
Nightshade by Andrea Cremer (won in a contest from Penguin)
Sleepless by Cyn Balog (for Traveling ARC Tours)

What did you get this week?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Book Review: We Shall Overcome by Stuart Stotts

We Shall Overcome: A Song That Changed the World by Stuart Stotts
Publisher: Clarion Books
Publication date: January 2010
ISBN: 9780547182100

Source: Review copy provided by author

We Shall Overcome: A Song That Changed the World 

Following the development of the song "We Shall Overcome," this book discusses both its musical origins and the different times in history when it was used.  "We Shall Overcome" has come to represent unifying and strengthening of humanity.  It also represents the irrepressible spirit of mankind in pursuing freedom and right.

Things I Liked:
This was such a unique book!  While reading of the development of the song "We Shall Overcome," I was surprised at how both the musical content and the historical details combined fairly well together.  It was so interesting to see the different eras in US as well as international history that this song has been used to unite and uplift people who are seeking freedoms.  I knew absolutely nothing about the song, and thus found its historical development into a recorded song enlightening.  I also really liked the black and white photos scattered throughout, that seemed to add to the story so well.  The illustrations, while completely different in feel to the photos, also contributed to the feeling of the book.  I like that it came with a CD of the song - it was good to be able to actually listen to what the whole book was about.  Interesting and informative. 

Things I Didn't Like:
It seemed a bit short (which probably is good for nonfiction) and the separate sections at times did not flow well together, but it was still very interesting.  I'm not sure it will appeal to lots of kids, but musically inclined kids will probably gravitate towards it.

Through My Eyes by Ruby Bridges

With Courage and Cloth by Ann Bausum
Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice by Philip Hoose

s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->
some parts of civil rights and war protests are described

Overall rating: ****

What do you think of multimedia books?  Do they attract more readers or distract from the text?

Posted as part of Tween Tuesday, hosted by GreenBeanTeenQueen.

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage

Currently Out of Office

I've always wanted to have one of those email messages that responds to each email by saying that I'm out of the office.  But, in lieu of that, here's my out of office blog post.  I'm currently enjoying my family reunion (I hope) at Bear LakeListless Monday will be back next Monday and hopefully a few posts will arrive via scheduling later this week.  Obviously, I won't be responding regularly to comments or emails, just in case you wondered.  Have a great week!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Food, Glorious Food!

 A Bit of Me(Me) is hosted by Danielle of There's a Book.

This week's question is about our favorite food or restaurant.  Since we are not much of an eating-out kind of family (based on the income we have right now), I figured I'd be safer talking about my favorite kinds of food.  Then I also realized I had a corresponding restaurant for each type of food, so you get that info too!  Of course, I really couldn't decide on just one type of food that I like, so you get all three.

1. American: and by this I mean a big, fat, juicy steak.  I'm actually not that fond of hamburgers, but give me a steak and I'm a happy girl (I guess this is where everyone figures out I'm not a vegetarian :)  I especially love to have barbecues and cook steaks, since it always seems to taste better that way than when I order them in a restaurant.  I do, however, admit I like Outback Steakhouse.  Obviously I haven't been often, but when I have, it was excellent!

2. Mexican: with certain exceptions.  I'm beginning to realize how picky I am about food!  I really only like certain kinds of Mexican food, while others tend to make me ill just looking at them.  I used to adore our local restaurant Los Hermanos, but I don't love it nearly as much anymore.  Either my tastes have changed or their food has changed. :)

3. Italian: again with certain restrictions.  I have a particular fondness for a good fettuccine alfredo (it's a miracle I haven't clogged my arteries with all the fat from them).  But pasta and pizza in general are absolute favorites of mine.  For many years I noted lasagna as my favorite food, though it has to be the kind my mother makes, since I've never ordered it at a restaurant. My current favorite Italian restaurant is Macaroni Grill.

My attempts to make a pasta dish like unto Macaroni Grill's
And there you have it, more information than you ever wanted to know about my food preferences!

What's your favorite food or restaurant (or both)? 

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Friday, August 6, 2010

Book Review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

As I'm sure you've figured out by now, I've been celebrating fairy tales with NotNessie of Today's Adventure.  Which may leave you wondering why I'm posting a review of a book that doesn't scream 'fairy tale' at you.  Well, it just so happens, that I subscribe to the definition of fairy-story or fairy-tale that Tolkien explains in his essay "On Fairy-stories."  While talking about what exactly fairy-stories are for about ten pages, he finally gets to this little tidbit: 
A "fairy-story" is one which touches on or uses Faerie, whatever its own main purpose may be: satire, adventure, morality, fantasy... Tales about fairies, about the fair family in any of its houses, or even about dwarfs and goblins, are only a small part of their content. p 39 of The Tolkien Reader
Thus, as you will note from my labeled reviews of fairy tales, I refer both to the traditional idea of a fairy tale - like Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty - and to the types of stories that are about fairies/faeries/fae in any form.  Which can be a lot of stories.  I say, the more then merrier.  And on that note, here's the review:

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication date: February 2010
ISBN: 9780373210084

Source: Library

The Iron King (Harlequin Teen) 

Meghan Chase does not have an easy life.  Her father disappeared when she was four.  Her mother remarried a nice guy, but one who hardly notices her.  She lives in the backwoods of New Orleans and has to put up with everyone at school teasing her for it.  But things are about to get a lot worse.  When her brother is apparently stolen by faeries, she must find a way into faeryland and then face hostile courts and a deadly enemy that could destroy them all.

Things I Liked:
While at first it seemed kind of like every other recent faery book I've read, I was pleasantly surprised at the interesting turn it took.  I liked the idea of a different court, one that no one knew about, but that was so destructive to the others.  The plot took a while for me to really enjoy, but when it took those interesting turns near the end, I found myself quite caught up in it.  I'll be interested to see where Kagawa takes the story next.  Here are some good quotes:

The wine filled my mouth, flooding my senses.  It tasted of nothing and everything.  It tasted of twilight and mist, moonlight and frost, emptiness and longing. p 55
And then, like an explosion of light on the inside of my eyes, I felt it.  It was like color given emotion: orange passion, vermilion lust, crimson anger, blue sorrow, a swirling hypnotic play of sensations in my mind. p190
Things I Didn't Like:
I have to admit, for the first half or so, I was really annoyed by Meghan.  Seriously, she just seemed like such an idiot - running into danger, needing to be saved at every turn, completely ignoring anyone who told her to run away from evil.  I wanted to slap her and tell her to get smart.  I think she managed it in the end.  Also, with all the fabulous reviews, I was expecting it to be more awesome, so I felt just a little let down.  It was still enjoyable but not the most amazing book I've read ever.  

Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr

Wings by Aprilynne Pike
Lament by Maggie Stiefvater
Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston

s-factor: !@#
fairly regularly throughout

mrg-factor: X
there were several rather sensual parts, but not a lot

v-factor: ->->
some fighting, nothing too gory

Overall rating: ****

What do you think of as fairy tales?  Does it include stories about fairies?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage
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