Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Read in December

This month I read the following the books:

1. United We Spy - Ally Carter
2. The Flint Heart - Katherine Paterson
3. Eve - Anna Carey
4. The Miseducation of Cameron Post - Emily M. Danforth
5. What Colleges Don't Tell You (and Other Parents Don't Want You to Know): 272 Secrets for Getting Your Kid Into the Top Schools - Elizabeth Wissner-Gross
6. The Infinite Moment of Us - Lauren Myracle
7. The Whole Story of Half a Girl - Veera Hiranandani
8. Breathe - Sarah Crossan
9. The Five Fists of Science - Matt Fraction

Picture credit: Girl Reading by Eduard Klieber

Friday, December 27, 2013

Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List review

Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List
by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn
Knopf Books for Young Readers
August 2007

First line: "I lie all the time."

This book was okay. I picked it up because I had love, love, loved Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist written by the same authors. Naomi and Ely are best friends who have grown up across the hall from each other in a chic New York high-rise apartment building. The past year has been rocky for them, as Naomi's father destroyed their family with an illicit affair with one of Ely's lesbian moms. The aftermath is awkward all around for everyone in the building. The main conflict, of course, is that Naomi still harbors a childhood crush on Ely - she's certain that they were destined for one another, and the fact that Ely has been openly and proudly gay for the last few years hasn't put a dent in her affections. Naomi and Ely are like a younger Will & Grace, full of witty banter and extremely close, and of course, totally co-dependent and wrong for each other.

Levithan and Cohn absolutely nail the awkwardness of the late teen years - wanting desperately to seem cool and hip and often tragically failing. I liked how self-conciously arch and clever the characters were, even though there were several cringeworthy moments where they were trying too hard. The book has multiple viewpoint characters, each with a very unique voice. Unfortunately, a lot of the characters were unlikeable and unrelatable. Naomi has an extremely annoying habit of substituting symbols or smilies for words, making some of her chapters read like a rebus. Ely came across as bitchy and mean. Gabriel, the doorman with a crush on Naomi, made many musical references that I'm sure went over my head, and he seemed shallow, only liking Naomi for her looks. There were several different characters named Bruce, and several characters named Robin, which I'm sure happens in real life, but still made the story a bit confusing to follow at times.  I couldn't relate to Naomi's pathetic romantic obsession with Ely, but I've known plenty of women who've fallen head over heels for gay guys and I've helped coach and counsel them through it. In my experience, this kind of thing usually happens when a girl is absolutely not ready for a real relationship, so lusting after someone unobtainable feels more "safe."

Fans of Levithan and Cohn's other works should seek this one out. The writing duo were ahead of the trend for "New Adult" fiction - mature YA featuring college-age protagonists. The New York City setting is critical to the tone and feel of the book. This story couldn't happen anywhere else. I liked how the big city excitement and fast pace didn't stop the characters from feeling like they were in a small town where everyone knows everybody else's business.

Who will I recommend this book to? Glee fans who are Rachel/Kurt 'shippers (yes, sadly, such a thing exists.) New Adult readers. Contemporary fiction readers who enjoy schadenfreude in reading about failed romances.

Compare to:
Pink - Lili Wilkinson
Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance - Emily Franklin & Brendan Halpin
Dash and Lily's Book of Dares - David Levithan and Rachel Cohn
Freak Show - James St. James

I borrowed this book from the library.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Night Road review

Night Road
by A.M. Jenkins
May 2008

First line: "Cole did have a map in his backpack. He'd studied it in the parking garage. Only now that he was already on the subway did it occur to him that it might be outdated."

Three "hemovores" (don't call them vampires!) go on a road trip to teach the newest member of their ranks, young redneck Gordon, the finer points of how to survive. Johnny, the leader of the hemovores, runs a safe house for blood-drinkers in Manhattan and insists that Cole, who is quite a loner, take on the project of helping Gordon. Cole is accompanied by the light-hearted Sandor. Cole is tightly controlled, but events unfold to help him come to terms with his own unfortunate mistakes from when he was newly made. Sandor is light-hearted and jolly, and is accidentally responsible for having created Gordon after a mugging. Gordon is having enormous difficulty accepting and dealing with matters, longing to reconnect with his family and girlfriend, and has a lot of trouble seeing past his small-town hickish ways. 

The vampires - excuse me, hemovores, must avoid sunlight and must drink human blood. Typically, they are able to hypnotize their victims, and quickly draw a small amount of blood, enabling them to feed without killing. When being taught how to pick suitable targets, Cole and Sandor despair of ever making a proper hemovore of Gordon. Gordon insists on gravitating to cute girls, even when more likely targets are available and taking unnecessary risks. My favorite scene is when Sandor begs Cole to get Gordon a dog - to cheer him up, to make it easier to start small talk with humans (aka omnis), and of course, if he gets desperate, he can always eat the dog! There's a very dark and twisted humor at work here. While I love a good series, Night Road is a stand-alone book, with a highly satisfying ending, but the door could easily be open for a sequel. The writing is tight, with well-thought out characters, pacing and plot. I enjoyed it enormously.

Compare to:
Thirsty - M.T. Anderson
The Reformed Vampire Support Group - Catherine Jinks
Infinite Days - Rebecca Maizel
Evernight - Claudia Gray

I borrowed this book from the public library.

Friday, December 13, 2013

All the Truth That's In Me review

All the Truth That's In Me
Julie Berry
Viking Juvenile
September 2013

First line: "We came here by ship, you and I."

If Arthur Miller's The Crucible met Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak, this would be the result. Judith has survived years of harrowing captivity. Her kidnapper has finally released her from the tiny cabin that she's been trapped in, but not before cutting out her tongue. Judith returns to her tiny Puritan village, and faces the scorn and disgust of her neighbors who question her moral purity and shun her. Make no mistake, this is an intense read, with none of the light-hearted magical touches that fans of Berry's middle-grade fantasies may be accustomed to. 

The book is addressed from Judith to Lucas, the young man that she's been secretly in love with for many years.  Her obsession with Lucas, and her initial inability to speak has shades of The Little Mermaid to it.

Although everyone assumes that Judith was violated during her capture, she is unable to tell them what really happened. There's also the mystery of what happened to her friend Lottie who disappeared around the same time. Gradually, with the encouragement of her friend Maria, Judith opens up and begins practicing how to speak again. Against her mother's wishes, she tries to attend school, but even the schoolmaster sleazily demands "extra lessons" with her, with the gross implication that he's delighted she won't be able to report him for any impropriety. The theme of "finding her voice" is not too heavy-handed, and though it's a slow start, once you settle in to Judith's world, there's a very satisfying conclusion.

I can think of a few teens who were fascinated by the recent kidnapping case in Ohio who would want to pick up this intense novel. I'd also recommend this to readers of psychological thrillers.

Compare to:
Room - Emma Donaghue
I'd Know You Anywhere - Laura Lipmann
Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson

I received a free copy of this book.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

False Princess Giveaway

As soon as I heard that Eilis O'Neal had written an e-short story called A Royal Birthday, I got so excited! I loved The False Princess, so any little peek back into that world is highly welcome. Check out my review, if you're not already convinced.

Want to win your own hardcover copy of The False Princess? Leave a comment on the blog, I'll draw names from a hat and announce a winner next week! The giveaway is for US and Canada only.

Here's a description of the short story prequel:

A Royal Birthday
by Eilis O'Neal
Egmont USA
December 2013

This e-short prequel to The False Princess will appeal to fans of Shannon Hale and Tamora Pierce, giving them a new author to love and a new fantasy world to enter, a world filled with wizardry, mystery, and just the right touch of romance. 

This prequel introduces the court of Thorvaldor, Nalia, its princess, who has reached the magical age of sixteen, and her best friend, Kiernan, the earl's son who loves her but feels he is too far below her in rank to dream of making a match with her. 

The novel on which this e-short is based has received glowing reviews, been named a YALSA 2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults, and made numerous state master lists (Georgia, Rhode Island, Utah, and Maryland). 

Top 10 Winter 2013 Books to Read

This week's topic from The Broke and Bookish is: Top Ten Books on My Winter TBR.

Here they are - these are the 10 books that I am so excited to read next.

Yup, plenty of sequels to series I've already started, and a few new series to start as well. I'm reading The Infinite Moment of Us for my book club. With any luck, I'll tear this this set of 10 books by the end of the year!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Read in November

This month I read the following the books:

1. All the Truth That's In Me - Julie Berry
2. Fortunately, the Milk - Neil Gaiman
3. Star Jumper: Journal of a Cardboard Genius - Frank Asch
4. Cam Jansen and the Green School Mystery - David Adler
5. The Devil's Storybook - Natalie Babbitt
6. Fake Mustache - Tom Angleberger
7. Dragon's Egg - Sarah L. Thomson
8. The Elite - Kiera Cass
9. The Devil's Other Storybook - Natalie Babbitt
10. Emmaline and the Bunny - Katherine Hannigan
11. Starters - Lissa Price
12. The Spindlers - Lauren Oliver
13. The Rithmatist - Brandon Sanderson
14. Happy Families - Tanita S. Davis
15. What's Left of Me - Kat Zhang
16. Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List - David Levithan & Rachel Cohn

Picture credit: The Students by unknown artist

Friday, November 29, 2013

Divergent trailer

Divergent isn't coming out until April of next year. The trailer looks amazing, though - it's going to feel like a long wait!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Happy Movember!

We set up this display at the library for November, aka, "Movember" and it's been a lot of fun. The main challenge is finding new books with faces on them to fill up the display when these check out. Oh, and also, not putting handlebar mustaches on every single one, since handlebar mustaches really are the most fun.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Invisible Inkling: The Whoopie Pie War review

Invisible Inkling: The Whoopie Pie War
by Emily Jenkins, illustrations by Harry Bliss
Balzer + Bray
July 2013

Hapless fourth-grade Brooklynite Hank Wolowitz and his invisible pet bandapat named Inkling return in this gently humorous realistic fiction, with just a touch of fantasy elements. 

Although Inkling is an unreliable narrator with a sometimes distant relationship to the truth, readers will accept that he is invisible, not imaginary. In addition to managing the demands of his often cranky, but always funny invisible friend, Hank also navigates complicated school friendships, swimming lessons where he copes with the embarrassment of being ranked a "Neon" (the lowest level) and most importantly, dealing with the mean-tempered food truck lady whose cheap, non-organic treats threaten the success of his family's boutique ice cream shop. 

Pumpkin is one of Inkling’s favorite foods, yet Hank finds himself agreeing to "splat" his hard-won canned pumpkin out the window in order to impress popular kid Joe Patne. Hank also discovers that water renders Inkling visible and is finally able to focus on improving his swimming technique. A diverse cast of characters and believable middle-class urban setting make this tale of the value of true friendship very relatable without being didactic.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
This review originally appeared in School Library Journal.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Blue Bloods: Revelations review

Revelations: A Blue Bloods Novel
by Melissa de la Cruz

October 2008

First line: "On an early and bitterly cold morning in late March, Schyler Van Alen let herself inside the glass doors of the Duchesne School, feeling relieved as she walked into the soaring barrel-ceiling entryway dominated by an imposing John Singer Sargent portrait of the school's founders." 

Another fast-paced, fun installment in the Blue Bloods series, where wealthy New York teens, part of a secret cabal of reincarnated vampires, struggle for answers as they transition into their vampire heritage. Who is the Silver Blood murderer? That's the big question. Evil Silver Bloods prey on other vampires and the students at Duchesne are particularly vulnerable. After the sudden loss of her grandmother, Schuyler Van Alen is forced to move in with the Force family, all the while carrying on a secret affair with Jack Force, much to his twin sister Mimi's dismay. Mimi is planning on marrying her brother (her reincarnated soul mate) and then using her hypnotic powers to mind-trick people into thinking that she was always his wife.

In the meantime, Schuyler's best friend from childhood, Oliver, is head-over-heels for her and his blood bond pretty much makes him her heartbroken slave. I am rooting for Oliver, poor guy. It also turns out that Texas newcomer Bliss is the daughter of Lucifer himself and while sleepwalking has committed many crimes! Interesting stuff.

The Venator investigation continues, quietly naming Schuyler, Bliss, Mimi and Dylan as suspects and the investigation moves to Rio de Janeiro, eventually pulling Schuyler and Oliver from New York to Brazil.

Melissa de la Cruz's take on vampiric reincarnation is unique, but the vampires' incestuous relationships, their easy money (invested carefully over the long term) and their adventurous globe-trotting, in many ways, this series feels like Anne Rice, Jr.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

TARDIS library display

I'm pretty excited about the upcoming 50th anniversary of Doctor Who - so excited, I decided to put together a Doctor Who display at my library, transforming one of our display cases into a TARDIS. Inside, we put books on time travel, sci-fi, Doctor Who DVDs as well as books about the show. We also included biographies of historical figures featured on the show such as Madame Pompadour, Winston Churchill and Vincent Van Gogh. We included books by famous English authors mentioned on the show - Agatha Christie, Charles Dickens and Shakespeare's sonnets. I even put Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in there, since the Doctor claimed to have read it before it was published.

So far, reaction has been very positive. A lot of Doctor Who fans have asked to take pictures with it, and we also get a lot of questions, "What is that blue box?" Bar none, I think this is one of my favorite displays ever.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Read in October 2013

This month I read the following the books:

1. Towers of Midnight - Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
2. Sacrifice - Cayla Kluver
3. Parallel - Lauren Miller

Picture credit: Girl Reading by Henri LeBasque

Friday, November 1, 2013

Nanowrimo 2013

Where do all the books in the library come from? Somebody's got to write them. Somebody could be you! November is National Novel Writing Month - or Nanowrimo for short, where aspiring authors attempt to write a novel in just one month. Here's a message from the official nano site.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween feltboards

Here are two felt boards I whipped together for Halloween.

I'm really happy with this bat one. The kids loved the sparkles on some of the bats.

Here's the rhyme I used:
Five Black Bats
Five black bats are flying around,
The first one did not make a sound.
The second one said, "I'll fly far tonight"
The third one said, "I don't like sunlight"
The fourth one said, "I want to eat some bugs"
The fifth one said, "I want some hugs"
Five black bats are hanging upside down
Shhhh! It's daytime, don't make a sound!

This pumpkin felt board was popular as well, even though it's not quite as cute as I hoped. Maybe I'll re-do it by next year.

I used this old classic:

Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate.
The first one said, "Oh my, it's getting late."
The second one said, "There are ghosts in the air."
The third one said, "We don't care!"
The fourth one said, "Let's run and run."
The fifth one said, "I'm ready for some fun!"
Oooooh, went the wind
And out went the lights
And the five little pumpkins rolled out of sight.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Phantom Tollbooth documentary

Several years ago, I had the good fortune to meet Jules Feiffer while he was on a book tour. He's a delightful man with a great sense of humor. He amazed everyone in his audience by sketching characters at lightning speed, all while sharing anecdotes about his career. I was happy to hear that there's a documentary about The Phantom Tollbooth coming out. Here's the trailer:

The Phantom Tollbooth: Beyond Expectations - Official Documentary Trailer from freckless productions on Vimeo.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

All Hallows Read posters

What's All Hallows Read? Simple: give someone a scary book for Halloween. It was started a couple of years ago by Neil Gaiman.

Check out this whole set of fantastic All Hallows Read posters by Sabrina Zbasnik at her blog.

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Hero for WondLA review

A Hero for WondLA
by Tony DiTerlizzi
Simon & Schuster Children's Books
May 2012

First line: "Eva Nine watched a turnwing flap its triple pair of wings to join its flock."

DiTerlizzi continues his sci-fi saga of Eva Nine in this gorgeously illustrated sequel to The Search for WondLA. There are several internet extras embedded in the illustrations, but readers don't need computer access to enjoy the story. DiTerlizzi's two-tone blue and black illustrations are reminiscent of W.W. Denslow's original illustrations for The Wizard of Oz.

Eva Nine has long believed herself to be the last surviving human on Orbana but now she joins a human colony for the first time, and after a lifetime of limited contact with other sentient beings, naturally she finds everything very overwhelming. Human pilot Hailey and Nine's older "sister" Eva Eight each have their own agendas and Eva Nine learns a lot about loyalty, friendship and xenophobia. I liked how Eva matures so much in this book. Eva is temporarily blinded by the comforts of her new home in New Attica amongst the human colonists, but after she realizes that she misses her alien friend Rovender, who has been barred from entering the human city, she leaves to continue her search for answers about how their world came to be in ruins.

With fantastic world-building, airships, chases, intrigue and mystery, this is a series that has a lot of appeal for older middle grade readers and young YA readers. I'm definitely looking forward to more in this complex and fascinating series.

Compare to:
The Wizard of Oz - L. Frank Baum
Zita the Spacegirl - Ben Hatke
The Ruby Key - Holly Lisle
Larklight - Philip Reeve, illustrated by David Wyatt

I borrowed this book from the library.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Masquerade review

Masquerade: A Blue Bloods Novel
by Melissa de la Cruz

May 2007

First line: "The pigeons had taken over St. Mark's Square."

Masquerade is the second volume in the Blue Bloods series. This one veers a bit (only a bit, mind you) from the formula of the first. There's slightly less brand-name dropping and conspicuous consumption in this one, and a little more international intrigue in Italy as teen vampires-in-training hobnob with the wealthy New York elite.

Schuyler is searching for her missing grandfather, a patriarch amongst the ancient vampires, but in the meantime she requires a human blood donor. She leans on her best friend Oliver, who (of course) is secretly in love with her. Mimi Force, daughter of the powerful New York businessman Charles Force, is busy planning the party of the century. Mimi is eagerly looking forward to "bonding" with her twin brother Jack... and he is secretly feeling really not so sure about the whole thing. There's plenty of confusion about who's related to who - all the vampires are essentially reincarnated avatars of saints, angels or gods and inter-related in various ways. Jack and Schuyler are being established as a couple to root for, yet they are technically first cousins. Mimi and Jack have been a couple for many lifetimes, and no one is more frustrated than Mimi about the inappropriateness of wanting to marry her twin brother. There is a side plot about Bliss Llewellyn being duped by Kingsley, an undercover agent, but she still pines for missing Dylan. Who are the real villains? Who are the Silver Bloods? The cliffhanger ending leaves everything still up in the air.

Compare to:

I borrowed this book from the library.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Read in September 2013

This month I read the following the books:

1. Instant Mom - Nia Vardalos
2. Asunder - Jodi Meadows
3. This Wicked Game - Michelle Zink

Picture credit: Girl at Bookcase by unknown

Friday, September 27, 2013

Instant Mom review

Instant Mom
by Nia Vardalos
April 2013

This was a fast read. A quick and enjoyable book for anyone who is thinking about adoption. In many ways, Vardalos seems to struggle to openly talk about the heartrending process of struggling with fertility and turning to adoption - as a comedian, she was always quick to gloss over any dramatic moment and throw in a joke or quick quip instead. The book starts with an extended apology - because she values her privacy, she admits that she leaves many details out. This is really too bad. I think those personal details are exactly what would have really brought this book to life.

While she doesn't make a huge point of it, it's obvious that she and her husband, after struggling a bit in the early days, must be multi-millionaires after the success of Big Greek Wedding. She does over a dozen IVF treatments, without even considering the cost. She decides to take a year off and not work just to get her head together.

I liked that Vardalos wanted to write a success story about adopting from foster care - she's right that only the stories of horrible abuse hit the press and skew the public's perception. She puts in a cheerful plug for explaining that there are thousands of children legally free for adoption. I still remain very skeptical, however. Check out the site - I challenge anyone to find an adorable cherub in good health with no mental or physical disabilities under the age of 4 available for adoption such as her daughter. The vast majority of toddlers available for adoption through foster care are deeply, profoundly disabled and most will never lead normal lives. Again, I think this is a spot where Nia's wealth and fame served her well. I doubt your average citizen would so quickly be offered such a great placement.

Vardalos has a sharp eye for how women interact with each other and talks about the difference between women who are supportive of each other (the way we all should be!) vs. what she calls, "BWS" or women with "Beautiful Woman Syndrome" - well-meaning, but ignorant women who think that their beauty substitutes for brains and loudly like to crow their uninformed opinions to anyone within earshot, vs. "The Coven" - catty women who only exist to tear each other down.

The second half of the book reads like any parent who is just besotted with his or her child. Vardalos admits that she has a big mouth, and she can't stop herself from nattering on and on about her perfect and charming her little girl is. Her daughter's biggest problem is fear of abandonment which manifests itself in fear of sleeping by herself. I enjoyed the story of how Nia and her husband took turns sleeping in a cot by their new daughter's bed, slowly inching the cot away bit by bit as their child grew more comfortable. I also loved the story of how they used their dog Manny to get closer to their daughter, pretending to make a "Manny cake."

Again, this is a fun, quick read, but not as emotionally honest or gripping as other adoption memoirs out there. Try Dan Savage's The Kid for a more in-depth, gritty yet still humorous adoption success story.

I borrowed this book from the library.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

New book domino record

The record has already been smashed for the greatest number of books toppled in domino-like fashion. Seattle Public did one earlier this summer; now Cape Town's Central Library already has them beat. I liked that they spelled out "Central Library" with the books. The cheers and hugs at the end made it look like everyone felt the hundreds of hours of set up was definitely worth it.


Friday, September 20, 2013

New Harry Potter artwork

Mary GrandPre, the artist for the American editions of Harry Potter has released some rarely seen full-color artwork depicting additional scenes from the series. Check out the complete set over at Buzzfeed.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Blue Bloods review

Blue Bloods
by Melissa de la Cruz
March 2007

First line: "The Bank was a decrepit stone building at the tail end of Houston Street, on the last divide between the gritty East Village and the wilds of the Lower East Side."

This series features absurdly wealthy teens in upper-class Manhattan, whose vampiric heritage is passed down from generation to generation. These vampires do sport fangs and occasionally drink blood, they are "immortal" in the sense that they are frequently incarnated, but other than that they don't share very many vampiric foibles such as problems with sunlight, crosses or garlic. Celebrity name-dropping and name-brand conciousness figures heavily here, as the students of exclusive prep school Duchesne: outsider Schuyler Van Alen, her best friend Oliver Hazard-Perry, love interest Dylan Ward, popular twins Jack and Mimi Force and Texan newcomer Bliss Llewellyn, gradually come to realize their true natures. The teen years are when new vampires are at their most fragile, and some uber-vamps known as "Silver Bloods" are hunting them.

Things gets a bit confusing at the end, with the revelation that the teens have been reincarnated over many centuries, with significant ties to the Mayflower, the Roanoke Colony and Ancient Egypt. Some of the vampires are descended from arcangels, and many of them are in incestuous relationships. Jack and Mimi apparently were an item in past lives, something Mimi would very much like to resume. Jack is interested in Schuyler, who might or might not be his former wife, his mother and simultaneously his aunt. See? Confusing. Lots of suspense... is Charles Force, the twins father, a villain, or just a grouchy patrician? Is teen dreamboat Dylan human or vampire? Is Dylan innocent or is he the one responsible for Blue Blood murders, or is he just a pawn? The series reads a lot like Gossip Girls, which makes sense, as the author is also responsible for the popular Au Pairs series. This is a light, fluffy, quick read, promising a series worth returning to.

Compare to:

I borrowed this book from the library.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Top 10 Books to Movies

Top Ten Tuesdays is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is: Top Ten Books You'd Love to See as a Movie.

Guess what? It seems like any and every popular YA book these days is quickly optioned for a movie treatment. I couldn't limit my list to just 10! Here's my list of Top 15 (possibly) upcoming books to movies.

1. Delirium - Lauren Oliver
This was optioned as a movie, then filmed as a TV pilot for a series, but not picked up. Will it ever see the light of day?

2. Firelight - Sophie Jordan
I loved this book. I barely remember the non-dragon twin sister, but I bet they could feature lots of drama with her jealously staring down her sibling.

3. House of Night - PC Cast
I'm curious if they'll tone down the paganism in a big screen adaptation of this book series.

4. Paranormalcy - Kierstan White
This would be a lot of fun.

5. The Forest of Hands and Teeth - Carrie Ryan
A great zombie story and would provide lots of awesome visuals I think.

6. Vampire Academy - 2/14/14 - Richelle Mead
I am a sucker for stories that take place at boarding schools.

7. Divergent - Veronica Roth
This is coming out in March 2014.

8. Daughter of Smoke and Bone - Laini Taylor
Excitement is running very high for this adaptation. The last I heard, they are still working on a script. I can't wait to see this one!

9. Matched - Ally Condie
Disney has bought the rights, but no further word on this project.

10. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - Ransom Riggs
This deliciously creepy and wonderful book is in development for a film adaptation and tentatively scheduled for release in 2015.

11. Shadow and Bone - Leigh Bardugo
In development.

12. The Raven Boys - Maggie Stiefvater
Here's another book that's been picked up and is in development.

13. Uglies - Scott Westerfeld
In development.
14. Wicked Lovely - Melissa Marr
In development with no release date or even casting news yet.

15. Graceling - Kristin Cashore
This is in development and may come out in 2014.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Book Lovers infographic

I just found this neat infographic. What kind of Book Lover are you? I'm having a hard time deciding, myself. I think I'm split between at least four different sub-types!

What Species of Reader Are You?--Infographic

Infographic by Laura E. Kelly

Friday, September 6, 2013

A Lesson Before Dying review

A Lesson Before Dying
by Ernest J. Gaines
Random House
December 1993

I can see why English teachers love this book, and why generations of students will be doomed to hate it. It's an unsubtle look at race relations and the death penalty, with a bit of religion thrown in for good measure. This was an Oprah's Book Club pick, and is sure to remain a popular alternative to To Kill a Mockingbird for years to come.

Grant Wiggins is an unhappy school teacher at a segregated black school in the 40's. He's pressured by his family into tutoring Jefferson, an innocent black man found at the scene of a bar robbery turned homicide. Jefferson has been sentenced to death and his "nannan" - godmother, wants to prove that he is more than a "hog" as his defense attorney had claimed.

How to make this book more relatable for teens? Hmm... you could draw parallels to the Troy Davis case, although it seems that the fervor surrounding that case has already died down. NPR did a piece on Willie McGee and the Traveling Electric Chair.

What's really striking is that for all the visits, and all the food that's brought for Jefferson - he and Wiggins really don't speak much at all, and Jefferson never does get the equivalent of a high school education. Everything that Wiggins encourages Jefferson to do is much more for the comfort of the people who will survive him. The story is rather slow paced and full of atmospheric details of racist Louisiana in the 40's. The last chapter is a doozy as the emotional impact of the actual execution affects everyone in their small town.

I borrowed this book from the library.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Top Ten Books for School

This week's Top 10 Tuesday topic from The Broke and the Bookish is:
 Top 10 Contemporary Books That Would Be Great Paired With A Required Reading Book.

I'm not sure if I can think of 10 - but let me see.

First and foremost:

1. A Lesson Before Dying by Earnest Gaines paired with Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. This is actually such a great pairing - I'm going to have to post a review of A Lesson Before Dying to explore this more fully.

2. Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie paired with The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich. I know that there are schools out there that are doing this pairing already. But, I'm suggesting it mostly because I wish I had read them together. The Birchbark House is such a great book - it really is like The Little House on the Prairie from a Native American's point of view.

3. Here's a great pairing: The Wizard of Oz by Frank L. Baum and The Search for WondLA by Toni DiTerlizzi. It's subtle, but little hints and nods to The Wizard of Oz are definitely there.

There are so many modern takes on Shakespeare out there. I think any of them are more enjoyable if you know the source material. Here are some of my favorites:

4. Jenna and Jonah's Fauxmance with Much Ado About Nothing

5. Wondrous Strange paired with A Midsummer Night's Dream.

6. Just One Day with any Shakespeare play.

Along those lines:

7. Jane by April Lindner with Jane Eyre.

And for something completely different:

8. Birthmarked with A Handmaid's Tale.

9. The Hero With a Thousand Faces with Harry Potter

10. And.... I'm out of ideas! What would you pick for the 10th pairing? 


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