Saturday, March 5, 2011

Astonishing X-Men, Volume 3: Torn
by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday
141 p.
Emma Frost, headmistress of Xavior's School for Gifted Youngsters, has been doing some rather odd things lately. One of those things is communicating with a group of evil psychics known as the New Hellfire Club. With this group, Emma attempts to take out the X-Men and to recover an unknown item from a very secure metal box. If this weren't bad enough, two super strong aliens who want to destroy the X-Men team up to do just that. But all is not as it seems.

Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
by Sean Williams
360 p.
This novel is based on the hit video game with the same name. It stars the unnamed apprentice of Darth Vader. This apprentice has been sent on a mission to eliminate the remaining Jedi and to build a secret army to be used in an attempt to overthrow the Emporer. But as the apprentice embarks on this mission, he has visions about his past and his future that begin to change who he is. Will he carry out this mission? Or will he find himself in middle of something he never expected?

Hoshin Engi, Volume 6: The Taishi of Yin
by Ryu Fujisaki
191 p.
Unable to defeat Bunchu of Yin, Taikobo and his friends regroup to prepare for the inevitable war between Choka and Seiki. Still in shock over Dakki turning his oldest son into hamburgers, Sho Ki eats very little and his on his deathbed. In an effort to cheer him up, and settle a dispute between the top two military guys, Taikobo hosts an Iron Chef competition. Unfortunately, it only makes Sho Ki more depressed. Also, to help pay off the debts of Sho Ki's second son, Taikobo hosts an elephant race, which results in the destruction of the palace. And Dakki's middle sister has come back with revenge against Taikobo on her mind. Will Taikobo ever catch a break?


by Neil Gaiman. HarperCollins, 1996. 370 p. 9780060557812.

Richard Mayhew is normal: he leads a normal life, has a normal job, and a very normal fiancee. But when Richard helps a girl he finds crumpled and injured on a London street, his whole life turns upside down. Richard discovers the hidden world beneath London, the mysterious and magical London Below, and must help Door, the girl whose life he saved, all while being chased by the most evil of evil assassins. As in his other works, Gaiman creates a vibrant and intricate world, dark and dangerous yet full of life. The book can feel a bit measured at times, but the intricacy with which Gaiman fleshes out both the characters and the environment is stunning. Most notable are the variations he makes with actual London landmarks as translated in London Below. Readers of Gaiman’s other works will recognize his signature style and many of the same plot devices he uses in his other books.


by Andy Lane. BBC Books, 2007. 250 p. ISBN 978-0-563-49655-8

What do you get when you mix a half-eaten Weevil, magic weight loss pills and strange, alien-crafted device found at a cinquefoil murder scene? The latest case for the Torchwood crew. Jack, Gwen, Owen and Toshiko resume their roles from the popular BBC television show, saving Cardiff and Britain from alien forces sneaking through the rift all while trying to live normal lives. Much like the show, the story is filled with jargon, graphic violence, and some adult themes, which might turn some people off. For fans of Torchwood, this book will be a true treat. The layout of the story is much like how an episode of the show would run, which is great for invoking visual imagery, but frustrating when reading a book due to the very specific descriptions and the somewhat choppy story line. Readers that enjoy television tie-in novels such as Star Trek or Doctor Who will enjoy the format and technicality of this story.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Tardis Handbook

by Steve Tribe, 128 pages

As a relatively new Whovian (I actually prefer being called a "Wholigan"), I wanted to brush up on all the new Tardis bells and whistles. This book features Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor, so the latest version of the Tardis is featured in this book.

I learned quite about the history of the Tardis (Time and Relative Dimension in Space for you Muggles). It also highlighted some prior Time Lord history, and explained who the Doctor's enemies are. (Exterminate! For a quick online review, watch the musical number from the Craig Ferguson Show on Youtube.)

If you've read this far, you are either a Whovian or have the potential to become one. In that case, I read another book last fall that you might enjoy: Chicks Dig Time Lords. It has literate essays from female fans, including many librarians and novelists.

In the Whoniverse, Ten will always be my Doctor.

Boiling Point

by K.L. Dionne, 294 pages
I needed a fast read for an airplane trip, so I picked up this thriller by K.L. Dionne. All the main characters converge at Chaiten in Patagonia. At first they are antagonists, but later they join forces to try to escape the sudden eruption of a supposedly "extinct" volcano. In a way the characters seem like a cast for a disaster movie: the mad scientist, the earnest environmentalists, the egotistical tv star and his put-upon crew. I finished it because I wanted to know who survived, if anyone.

The descriptions of the forces that the volcano unleashes are pretty gripping, but some of the plot points were extremely implausible (think Volcano with Tommy Lee Jones, or Pierce Brosnan driving a SUV over a road covered in burning lava in Dante's Peak). I didn't like the ending, so I think that colored my overall view of the book.

I'm a big disaster movie fan, but this book just didn't make the cut for me.
Cate K.


Alex Finn
304 pages

We are all familiar with the story Beauty and the Beast and Beastly follows that story with a few changes. In this retelling our main character is Kyle Kingsbury a rich and handsome high school freshman. His father is a news anchor who has taught him looks are all the really matter and Kyle believes that to his core. He isn't a very nice guy even to his supposed friends. When a girl in his English class call attention to herself by complaining about voting for people for a school dance just by looks alone. He decides to teach her a lesson and asks her about the dance fulling intending to take another girl. At the dance he gives a white rose corsage to the ticket girl since his girlfriend didn't like it and publicly humiliates the girl from English class, or tries to. Later she shows up in his room and puts a curse on him to be ugly outside to match his insides. Because he showed some kindness in giving the rose to the ticket girl he will have two years in which to find a girl who loves him. We follow him though these two years.

I enjoyed Beastly quite a bit. You know how the story will end but the modern adaptation was original and engaging. The main character changes quite a bit throughout the story and learns that there is way more to life than how you look. I'm waiting for the movie adaptation but I'm afraid they will have changed to much of the story.

City of Glass

Cassandra Clare
541 pages

The final book in the Mortal Instruments trilogy answers a lot of our questions. Clary wants to save her mother and would anything to accomplish that so she travels to Idris. Simon gets pulled in to after a surprise attack on Jace and the Lightwoods almost gets him killed. Valentine finally makes his move against the Clave and no one knows how to stop him. Luke tries to reason with the clave the Downworlders can help but prejudice runs deep. Can our characters work together to keep The City of Glass from Falling?

Poor Simon is in prison for most of this book but he ends up okay. If okay entails having the mark of Cain on your forehead though. Clary goes against everyone's advice and warnings with little consideration for others but that works out for the best too. Jace is kind of sullen since he thinks he's evil and not a ton of fun. Sebastian is creepy but no one figures this out until it is too late. Finally we are told Jace and Clary are not siblings! I knew I was right it just took forever to get to the truth. Poor Jace just keeps turning out an orphan thankfully the Lightwoods like him. I'm excited to see how the next trilogy moves on from this point.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Shaman Warrior: Volume 6

by Joong-Ki Park, 198 pages

When his master, the incomparable shaman warrior Yarong, is betrayed and killed by the General (Yarong's own trusted superior), Batu swears vengeance. But he's also made a promise to the fallen Yarong--to protect his infant daughter from the newly adopted genocidal policy of the Kugai clan who once employed him.

Yaki has run off from the brutal Butcher Camp where she was raised--and toughened and indirectly protected--and has rejoined her guardian Batu, eagerly agreeing to aid him in his co-plot with the Manutu clan to assassinate the General and his right-hand man, Yuda, the one who dealt the death blow to her father years ago. But will Batu and Yaki and their fellow conspirators survive yet another betrayal from within?

The politics in this manhwa (Korean manga) series are a little hard to follow, but the characters are intriguing and the art is all detailed, well-choreographed action. It was sweet and sad to see, via flashback, how Batu and Yarong met and became friends, and it's good to see various characters from previous volumes all coming together again. But I'm still worried for Nejo, Yaki's closest friend from the Butcher Camp, whom we don't get any updates on at all in this installment. They were separated last volume, neither aware of the other's situation, and I worry for his safety and their naive dream of a quiet future. And now one of the Manutu's own is a spy for the Kugai? What's going to happen next?!

"Chains" by Laurie Halse Anderson

316 pages

It's 1776. Twelve-year-old Isabel and her five-year-old sister, Ruth, are the slaves of a gentle elderly woman in Rhode Island. Their father was sold and taken to another state long ago, and their mother is dead. Their owner has promised that they'll be set free after she dies, but when she does, her will is lost and the sisters end up being sold to a cruel couple in New York City. There they find themselves in the middle of a city divided by the American Revolution. Isabel becomes friends with a young slave named Curzon who has ties to the Patriots, and he convinces her to spy on her owner, who is loyal to the King. Isabel thinks that helping the Patriots will help her and her sister obtain their own freedom, but she soon realizes that the situation is much more complicated than that.

There are a lot of books about slaves that are set during the Civil War, but I haven't seen many that take place during the Revolutionary War. This story highlights the irony of the fact that many of the men who sought their political freedom from the British enslaved human beings themselves. I'm not an expert on life during the Revolutionary War, but some of the details in the book didn't ring true to me, especially the dialogue. Other than that, I enjoyed "Chains." I got sucked into this story right away, and the characters really came to life to me. I think this is a great book for younger readers because it introduces the horrific atrocities of slavery and shows a side of the American Revolution that's sometimes overlooked without being terribly graphic.

February Stats-PLEASE READ!

I will be working on stats this weekend. PLEASE tally your information here. Only five people have done this so far for February. January's totals took several hours on a snow day-since there is no snow is sight...


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"After" by Amy Efaw

This book was an incredibly graphic depiction of a young girl named Devon who does the unthinkable - she gives birth in her bathroom and disposes of the baby in her apartment dumpster. Even more shocking is that Devon denies knowing she was ever pregnant! She is a straight-A honors student who has the potential to take her soccer playing skills to an Olympic level. So why would such a bright young girl do something so unthinkably awful?

That is the question that author Amy Efaw keeps everyone guessing at throughout the entire book as you follow Devon into the juvenile court system as she relives what has happened over the past 9 months. I hit the entire range of emotions on this one - sadness, shock, frustration, disgust, but primarily anger.

I won't ruin anything for anyone, but only in the last pages did I really understand why it got nominated for the Gateway. The story weaves together beautifully in the end and the reader gets a fuller picture of what may have led Devon to commit such a heinous, reprehensible act.

Apparently the phenomenon of home births and abandonment is an all too real and common problem - and a growing one in the young adult population. It is said that an average of one baby PER DAY is abandoned or thrown in a dumpster in the United States. So yes, a story like this is incredibly relevant to a young adult audience and isn't just out there for shock value.

Shocking, vivid, intricate and incredibly thought-provoking. Efaw did her research on this one for sure. Well done.

"By The Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead" by Julie Anne Peters

"There's always a way out. All you have to do is take it."

Daelyn is 15. She has tried to commit suicide multiple times without success. Her most recent attempt has rendered her unable to speak. But this time, she is determined to get it right. She finds a website called "" which helps the user chronicle a suicide plan from start to finish. As Daelyn counts down the days to her next attempt she meets an eccentric young man named Santana - but will his friendship be enough to save her life?

Many of the characters in this book aren't believable and that's a huge pet peeve of mine. The author doesn't spend a lot of time fleshing out the characters and exploring why, where and who they are. I found this frustrating as I really wanted to know more about her parents and what role they played in her getting to this point as well as Santana, the guy who could potentially save her life.

However, to the author's credit, I did feel like I saw the story from exactly how Daelyn perceived her surroundings. It was painful to hear Daelyn relive horrible memories from her childhood and I could almost understand why she had reached such a miserable, desperate point. I think this book could help a lot of teens who find themselves in a similar situation - especially the list of resources in the back of the book for individuals who are contemplating suicide.

This book was very dreary and definitely not light-hearted. A lot of depressing fluff sprinkled throughout left the story feeling incomplete. I also think it fell flat towards the end. Readers looking for a neatly wrapped ending will find this title frustrating but hopefully thought-provoking. Ideally, this book will be a vehicle for some to have an open discussion about teen suicide.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Usagi Yojimbo: Book Six: Circles

by Stan Sakai, 167 pages

Grown a bit weary of the wandering life, Usagi thinks of returning to his home village and settling down. But a few too many things have changed (and a few too many have not) to make staying there a comfortable choice. Although that doesn't mean he can't stop in and visit now and then. He'll just have to watch out--as he always does--for the bandits and demons and a certain lunatic who lurk in the bushes waiting to make sure he never reaches his destination.

Aw, poor Usagi. But he'll be ok. The wandering life suits him well. And if and when he decides to settle down for real, I'm sure he'll find somewhere he can happily call home.

Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle: Volume 20

by CLAMP, 184 pages

The repercussions of the previous volume's shocking events knock the companions for loop after loop as lies are exposed, truths revealed, and futures altered.

Oh, Fai! *hugs him to make it all better* We see more than just frightening fragments of his past this time and realize there has been yet another subtle twist in play since the first volume. Every time I read one of these lately, all I want is the next book!!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke


About the Book: When Zita and her friend come across a meteor, the find a red button remote. Of course, curiousity gets the best of Zita and she pushes the button, sending her best friend to another planet. Zita soon follows and embarks on a journey in a strange new world to save her friend.

Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: I read a review of Zita the Spacegirl on Betsy Bird's blog and knew I had to check it out. Zita is a great new addition to middle grade graphic novels and I can't wait to start booktalking it. Zita reminds me a bit of The Wizard of Oz, Gregor the Overlander, and Astro Boy all rolled into one and set in space. Zita's adventures are exciting and fun and she meets a great cast of unique characters along the way.

One thing I love about graphic novels is the way the artist can connect the reader to the characters and portray emotion in a powerful way. Ben Hatke excels in that and there were characters I grew to love in this short graphic novel. I hope there are more of Zita's adventures to come.

The artwork reminds me a bit of Kean Soo's Jellaby, one of my favorite middle grade graphic novels, and I'm always a sucker for full color when it comes to graphic novels! The artwork is colorful and detailed and packs a lot of emotion into the small frames.

A great new middle graphic novel-add this to your reading list if you work with tweens!

What Happens in London by Julia Quinn


About the Book: Olivia Bevelstoke is spying on her new neighbor. Sure, he's handsome and a bit mysterious, but they say he killed his fiance.

Harry Valentine knows that the girl next door is spying on him and he doesn't like it one bit. He really hates it when he gets instructions from the war office that he is to spy on a visiting Russian Prince and finds out that the Prince has set his sights on Olivia.

As Harry starts to spend time with Olivia, he discovers he just might be falling for her himself.

Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: What Happens in London is a hilarious regency romance! When I was asking for suggestions for a romance to read for my adult reading materials class, I heard Julia Quinn's name over and over again. While the second book in the Bevelstoke series, I wasn't even aware that it was part of a series and the book can stand perfectly on it's own.

The characters are too much fun. Olivia makes lists in her head that pertain to the various situations she finds herself in, which often lead to a funny narration on her part. Olivia and Harry start out disliking each other but that doesn't last long and they soon form a friendship. They talk to each other through their windows and share in the reading of terrible literature with Miss Butterworth and the Mad Baron, which adds another element of fun to the book. They have a witty banter and the book made me laugh out loud on several occasions. When I found out it was part of a series, I had to go back and pick up the first book-I was impressed with the author.

What Happens in London is a RITA Award winner for Best Regency Historical Romance and the Romance Winner on Rusa's 2010 Reading List. Even if you snub romance or historical romance, give this one a try. It's a fast read and full of humor that makes this a very enjoyable read.

The Folk Keeper by Franny Billingsley


About the Book: Fifteen-year-old Corinna Stonewall learned early on that boys had it easier. So she transformed herself into Corin and became a Folk Keeper. She writes in her journal and keeps the Folk tame, or as best she can.

One day Lord Merton arrives and summons Corin to his estate on Cliffsend. He tells her he knew her parents (Corin was left at an orphanage as a baby with no clue to her past). Lord Merton soon passes away and Corin travels to Cliffsend with Lord Merton's wife and cousin to become the new Folk Keeper. The Folk at Cliffsend are more terrible than what Corin has encountered before. The tricks she used before don't work and she is slowly discovering new powers at Cliffsend that will lead Corin to discover the truth about her past. But she must discover the truth before anyone else does because the truth will put her in danger.

Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: Franny Billingsley has a new book coming out this month called Chime, which has everyone raving and already has six starred reviews. The kidlit world was buzzing with news of a new book by this author and I felt very out of loop-I had never heard of Franny Billingsley before! But then I realized it's been 11 years since her last book, and while The Folk Keeper was critically acclaimed, it didn't generate a lot of buzz outside of the book world. So I decided to catch up and see what all the buzz was about.

The Folk Keeper is a strange little book. The story is told in journal entries and it has the feel of an old folktale or a gothic tale. It took be a bit to get into it because we're thrown right into the story and we're never really told what or who the Folk are (I imagined them to be like Fey or Fairies). The Folk Keeper's job remains a bit of a mystery throughout the book as well, with only little details here and there.

But once you get going, the story picks up-the author doesn't waste a lot of time setting up the story, and Corin is whisked off to Cliffsend very quickly. Once at Cliffsend I found myself engaged in this odd little tale. Corinna tries to come off as a strong and in charge girl (or boy at times, as she's hiding her identity) but deep down you see her fears and her struggles. She also has a sharp wit which I appreciated-it made her a more interesting character.

There are a lot of fantasy elements to the book, but I don't think non-fantasy readers would be turned off by that because they are lighter fantasy. There's also a bit of a romance, but again, it's fairly light. Mostly, this is Corinna's story about discovering who she is and choosing her path.

It reminded me a bit a Neil Gaiman, so I would recommend to this Gaiman fans or readers who enjoy folk tales and gothic stories. After reading The Folk Keeper, I understand the excitement of a new book from this author and I'm looking forward to reading Chime.

X/1999: Volume 2: Overture

by CLAMP, 184 pages

Sora, one of the Seven Seals, drops in to chat with the injured Kamui where he's being looked after by his childhood friends Fuma and Kotori. Meanwhile, the siblings' father is confronted by an intruder who desires the sword the man has sworn to deliver to Kamui. Whose vision will come to pass? Whose choices will lead to the future (or its deletion)?

The memories and nightmares stirred up in this volume are pretty gruesome, but as the end of the world has been set in motion, I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise that it entails some unpleasantness.

XxxHolic: Volume 4

by CLAMP, 185 pages

Watanuki is so put upon that he has to make Valentine's Day chocolates for Yûko to distribute (in Japan, women give men chocolates on February 14th; guys don't give reciprocal gifts until March 14th on White Day) and, later on, his own birthday meal. And the one chocolate he actually tries to give to the girl he likes is eaten by his perceived rival, Dômeki. A stolen soul and several chocolate exchanges later, Watanuki learns about the power of words from a pair of identical twin sisters who are perhaps not so alike as they first appear.

Hahahaha! Every time you think Dômeki might actually say something kind and not-sarcastic to Watanuki, he undercuts it with mockery. Some day, they'll get caught being nice to each other--they'll deny it ever happened, of course, but the reader will know....

InuYasha: Volume 46

by Rumiko Takahashi, 184 pages

Naraku retrieves his heart in order to make the most of its all-too-human corruptibility. With it, he plays with the emotions of those who would stand in his way. Will Kagome be able to withstand the poisoning influence of Naraku's spider threads and save Kikyo? And how much longer will Miroku be able to hide the extent of his injuries from those he loves?

Ooh, creepy Naraku's got his heart back! Spidery goodness (well, evilness) once more! And yay! Sesshomaru, InuYasha's full-demon brother, makes an appearance after far too long an absence. He saves poor Kohaku but won't admit it wasn't just for his own convenience because he's too proud to confess to being a softy. Rin's influence, that. The little girl worships him and he can't bring himself to let her down. Sesshomaru's a cold, quiet spoken character who never changes his expression, and if you think he might possibly look or sound mad, then it's already too late for you (or whoever's on the receiving end of his super subtle ire). The day I can actually make out a furrow between his brows, I think I will jump out of my chair in excitement. I like InuYasha just fine, but his head would explode with jealousy if he knew how much cooler I think his brother is. Hee hee. :P

City of Ahes

By Cassandra Clare

453 pages

Clary, Jace and the rest of the gang are back in the second Mortal Instruments book. Clary's mom is in a coma, Simon may be turning into a vampire, and Jace is well Jace. I don't want to give too much away so that is all you get.

I devoured this book so details are a bit blurred. I like it but sometimes it feels like the author is just putting off telling us what is going on. I am very frustrated when people give Jace or Clary clues about their past and they don't jump on it then those people die. There is a ton of tension between Jace and Clary with the whole sibling thing going on, which I do not belive. Maybe when I finish the next book I'll be proven right.
2009 ALA Teens Top Ten Title

A Secret Affair by Mary Balogh

You've all heard the story. Girl from meager means (Hannah) snags one of the richest men in the country who just happens to be really, really old. When he finally dies Hannah is now the Duchess of Dumbarton and she is very wealthy and has a reputation for taking lovers and being an ice princess. What no one knows is that this time, the rumors are true-she is going to take a lover and she's set on Constantine Huxtable. Will he be up to the challenge or dismiss her ridiculous power plays?

This is #5 in the Huxtable series but it easily stands on its own. Engaging characters, quick pace and situations that are far fetched in this day and age but focus on the core kindness of humanity. A nice introductory author into historical romance. Very tame on the sexual content. 2010, 352 pages.

Anna and the French Kiss

By Stephanie Perkins

372 pages

Anna is ready for her senior year in Atlanta with her best friend, little brother, and job at the movie theater. What she isn't ready for is being shipped off to Paris for her senior year. While it is a bit of a culture shock she makes a lot of friends and grows up a lot. She may even fall in love.

I read this book in pretty much one sitting, I just couldn't put it down. It is a nice romantic teen read but it written very well. If you like romance, teen books, or a little french lesson in your book give this a look.

My Heartbeat

By Garret Freyman-Weyr

160 pages

This book is about Ellen, her brother Link and his friend James. When she joins the school where the two go she starts looking at their friendship differently. Another classmate asks if they are together and she doesn't know how to answer. It is a story about growing up and understanding the people around you.

This was a pretty short read and I think some extra pages would have done it some good. It is an original plot but it falls flat.


By Patricia Briggs

208 pages

Aralorn is a spy who has a little magic at her disposal. The setting is a little vague, the reader is sort of thrown into the story but it works out. Aralorn has two companions: her horse and Wolf who she rescued. Wolf looks like a wolf but he can talk so there is more to that story. I really enjoyed it and if you've read her other novels definitely read this one too.

Masques is the first novel published by Patricia Briggs and I think it shows the great writing she was capable of. I love her Mercy Thompson series and Masques is just a good in its own way. It is kind of a fantasy/sword and sorcery novel with a strong female main character. I reallly liked and and will be reading the sequel soon.

By Matsuri Hino

208 pages

Zero is in prison. There is a war going on. Yuki wants to fight and sides must be chosen. Where will this leave our characters? Ichiru's plan is revealed.

This volume is full of big changes and that is a good thing. Sometimes I find the action artwork to be confusing but otherwise very good. Does anyone else not like Yuki's hair long? I hate it. The short look was way more spunky. Also I find the front cover to be creepy with the dolls in her lap.

Vampire Knight Vol 8

By Matsuri Hino

208 pages

We finally learn of Yuki's mysterious past! I'm not gonna tell you about it though. Zero is super conflicted about what to do as always. We learn who the true villian is too.

I really liked this volume because the reader is rewarded with information after having to read all the other volumes.

"Jane In Bloom" by Deborah Lytton

208 pages

Jane has always simultaneously adored her older sister Elizabeth and resented her for being the center of attention all the time. On one hand, Jane shares a close bond with Lizzie and wants to be just like her, but on the other, she gets tired of living in "perfect" Lizzie's shadow. But now that Jane is 12 and Lizzie is 16, Lizzie isn't so perfect anymore. She has a serious eating disorder, and it's beginning to tear the family apart. As it gets worse, Jane struggles to figure out how to deal with the consequences of her sister's disease and to figure out who she is. Along the way, she starts to take comfort in photography and develop different relationships with her parents as they each react differently to Lizzie's situation.

I've read several books about eating disorders, but this is one of the few that shows the perspective of someone close to the victim rather than the person with the eating disorder. It gives a voice to the ones who are often overlooked when tragedy strikes. There isn't enough Lizzie in the story for me to really connect with her, but I love many of the other characters, especially Jane, Jane's dad, Ethel, and Hunter. Obviously, this story brings up several tough subjects, but there are plenty of cute, touching moments as well. This is one of those stories that is going to stick with me for a long time.

Our Only May Ameila by Jennifer Holm


About the Book: May Amelia has seven older brothers and is the only girl that's been born along the banks of the Nasal River. It's hard to be a proper young lady when you're surrounded by boys. May Amelia longs for a sister and now that Mama is going to have another baby, there's hope that another girl will come along.

Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: At ALA they announced a sequel to Our Only May Amelia and I decided I better read this one before the sequel comes out!

May Amelia is a great main character-she's funny and spunky and gets into a lot of mischief. The first part of the book tells the various adventures of May Amelia and her brothers and then one the new baby is born, the book shifts a bit. There's still stories about May Amelia's adventures, but the book becomes more about her than it was to start. (And I don't want to say much because I don't want to spoil anything for anyone who hasn't read it).

This one had the same problem with the other Jennifer Holm book I read this month, Turtle in Paradise. A great story, fantastic characters, but the ending just comes a bit too quickly. I wanted a bit more to be wrapped up. But as a whole, the book was great and I really enjoyed. I listened to it on audio and Emmy Rossum is the narrator and she did a great job-I hope they can get her again for the sequel.

I would recommend this one to readers who enjoy the Little House Series or Caddie Woodlawn.

Vampire Knight Vol 7

By Matsuri Hino

200 pages

After the holidays everyone returns to class except one student.

Yuki wants to ask Kaname about her past because she thinks he might be the one who took away her memories but ends up losing the nerve. Zero is dealing with being hungry and he confronts Kaname on Yuki's behalf. Something very interesting happens between these characters which may surprise you.

The whole cloak and dagger side story with Shiki was confusing and after reading several more volumes I still don't think I understand everything.

Once again I think Kaname is being a jerk and should just share some info. Ichiru is still hanging around but we don't know quite why. It is a good solid volume.

Vampire Knight Vol 6

By Matsuri Hino

200 pages

Yuki being Yuki helps a lost little boy but ends up led to an abandoned building and drained of energy. The night students find her and take Yuki to a vampire party. Of course she doesn't stay upstairs and sees things that upset her. Zero is also there but as a vampire hunter on duty. Kaname is introduced to young vampire ladies since he is a very eligible bachelor.

I like that this volume was a bit of a departure from the others. Usually they're at school and we never see them anywhere else so a little change of scenery was good. Kaname of course acts all weird as always though. Yuki heads to find about her past only to have the records act all on their own. We see a look into Kaname's childhood which I liked and there are some touching moments between Yuki and Zero especially in the end of the volume.

Vampire Knight Vol 5

By Matsuri Hino

208 pages

Zero is accused of murder and vampire hunters come to Cross Academy with the intention of killing him. Will Kaname intervene or let Zero be killed? Oh and Zero's twin brother Ichiru who we thought was dead is really mad at him.

I like this volume quite a bit. A lot happens and the story progresses nicely. I loved the artwork for twenty first night: guilty, Yuki and Zero look quite scholarly.

Vampire Knight Vol 4

By Matsuri Hino

200 pages

A new student arrives at Cross Academy and her name is Maria Kurenai. She is in the moon dorm at she puts several people on edge. Zero warns Yuki away from her with no explanation and Kaname has Ichijo keep an eye on her.

Vol 4 gives the reader more information into Zero's past which I like because mystery is a little overrated. I thought the Maria storyline would be stretched out a little more but oh well. I don't want to give anything away so go read it.

"The Princess Bride" by William Goldman

456 pages

William Goldman claims that as a boy he loved to hear his father read the S. Morgenstern classic, "The Princess Bride." Only later did he find out that his dad had skipped huge parts of the story--the long, boring sections. So Goldman came up with this, "the good parts version," with tons of lengthy descriptions left out and his own thoughts and experiences inserted throughout the story. In reality, he's making the entire thing up--there is no Morgenstern and Goldman is the one who dreamed it all up. I've loved "The Princess Bride" movie for as long as I can remember but I'd never read the book, and I'll admit it: until I started reading, I really thought that it had been written by some guy named Morgenstern and that Goldman had abridged it. It wasn't until I got into the introduction that I figured it out! It's an interesting way to tell the story, and I think Goldman did it this way to make it stand out, to get some laughs about the publishing industry, and to show how much a good book can suck you in and affect your life.

I LOVE the story itself. It's got everything: action, adventure, love, humor. The dialogue, especially, is fantastic. The book seems to make fun of itself (or fairy tales in general) and almost all of the characters are stereotypical (the dashing hero who can do everything well, the beautiful but dumb princess, the arrogant and evil prince). But no matter how ridiculous the characters are, or even what they do--Wesley is a killer pirate, after all--I still love them.

"The Princess Bride" is one of the few stories that I prefer as a movie as opposed to a book. Perhaps it's because I've loved the movie for most of my life, but something about it seems to translate on screen better than on paper. I still thoroughly enjoyed the book, though.

Vampire Knight Vol. 3

By Matsuri Hino

200 pages

After Zero drinks Yuki's blood Kaname Kuran has withdrawn to his room and refuses to leave. Ichijo's grandfather who is on the Vampire Senate comes to visit the Moon dorm under the guise of visiting Ichijo but his real plans are a bit more sinister.

This is not my favorite volume of Vampire Kight. It isn't an inferior volume storywise or by artwork I just like more Zero. Kaname is kind of a creeper in my opinion and this just has him mopey all the time. Then you have Ichijo's weird grandpa who keeps making weird remarks and sort of harassing Kaname. For continuity's sake I read it but I probably wouldn't read it again.

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda

by Tom Angleberger. 141 pages.

Tommy and his friends face the usual dilemmas facing many sixth graders: the opposite sex, parents, school, the opposite sex, friends, sports and the opposite sex.

Enter Dwight, who rarely does anything right, is always in trouble, gets harassed by other kids and picks his nose. And who is also an origami master. Dwight is the creator and voice of Origami Yoda, a paper puppet. Yoda gives cryptic, very Jedi-like advice to Tommy and all his friends, including Mike, who is driven so insane when playing softball in PE it makes him cry, and Quavondo, who wants to lose his nickname of 'Cheeto Hog.' But Tommy needs to know -- is Origami Yoda real? Can a loser like Dwight, who isn't even smart enough to take Yoda's advice, be the voice of Yoda? To learn if Yoda is real, Tommy's solution is to take a scientific approach -- collect stories from all of his friends and acquaintances into a case file, acquire comments from a confirmed Origami Yoda non-believer, and study the evidence. Because Tommy needs to know the answer -- if he takes Yoda's advice and it's wrong, Tommy is DOOMED.

This is such a fun book to read. Tommy, Sara, Kellen, Lance, even Dwight and Harvey are such believable and relatable characters. All of them remind me of kids I knew in middle school -- Dwight is Jeff Jacoby reincarnated! Middle-schoolers will relate to these very real, very likable characters and be fighting to follow Angleberger's Yoda-folding directions and struggling to provide Jedi-warrior advice.


By: Janet Evanovich, 256 pp

Emotions, emotions, emotions...
Because of a rabbit named Tibbles, Megan Murphy and Patrick Hunter fall in love. Megan may not have met Pat if it weren't for Pat's rabbit nibbling on Megan's skirt.
Megan has had two (2) horrible engagements in the past and now has decided never to get married! That is until she has fallen in love with Patrick Hunter. He feels the same about her.
I enjoyed listening to "Thanksgiving" written by Janet Evanovich and read by C.J Crit on CD. This story is funny, cute, and irresistible.

Divergent by Veronica Roth


About the Book: In futuristic Chicago, the city has broken up into factions depending on value you hold most important. Are you selfless? Abnegation is for you. Value honesty about all else? Candor is your faction. Is bravery the most important thing? Dauntless is where you belong.

Sixteen-year-old Beatrice was born and raised in Abnegation, but she knows she can't stay. At the choosing ceremony, Beatrice decides to switch factions and become Dauntless. But becoming Dauntless won't be easy. The Dauntless will only accept ten new members into their faction and to become Dauntless, the initiates must compete and train in various skills.

Beatrice transforms herself into Tris and tries to excel at Dauntless training and decide who to trust. But Tris is hiding a secret from them all-one that could be dangerous to her and her new faction. As she uncovers a growing unrest among the factions, Tris must decide where her allegiances belong.

Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: This book is getting a lot of marketing a buzz behind it and is being touted as the "next Hunger Games." As Nancee mentioned in her review, Divergent is similar to The Hunger Games without feeling like a copy. Fans of The Hunger Games series would be the first group I would give this book to.

Tris is an interesting character and her world is an interesting take on the dystopian genre. Instead of it being the entire country or world, this dystopia focuses on one city. I did wonder what was going on in the rest of the country, so hopefully we get more answers in future books (because yes, this is a series, everything is in YA these days). I found Tris to be gutsy and a bit soft and she balanced these two very well. She's never really a pushover yet she's never really a completely strong kick-butt girl either. She falls in between which gives her room to grow throughout the novel. I also liked that Tris showed a bit of a soft side, it made her more relatable to me.

Even though the book is almost 500 pages long, it really is a quick read. I finished this in two days as the story was engaging enough to keep me reading. There were a few things that were a bit predictable and I would have liked there to be more that I can create theories on for future books, but I still had a lot of fun with it. Even though there were things I saw coming, there were others that I didn't which kept the book interesting. I did think the author tried to squeeze just a bit too much in this book and there a few things that weren't as fleshed out as I would have liked. But hopefully these details will be given a chance to be fleshed out later on.

There's also a romance and I have to say I liked it. It wasn't love at first sight and the author took time to develop the characters and gave them a chance to like each other before the romance took off. Although this was one area that Tris bugged me a bit-she's a bit dense and I wanted to keep telling her that boy wasn't being mean, but liked her-it took her forever to see that!!

If you like dystopian, add Divergent to your list of books to read in 2011. With all the buzz surrounding this one and the popularity of dystopian novels, I'm sure this will end up being a book that gets talked about, especially with teens. Look for it in May (or ask your teen librarian for an ARC!)

Academ's Fury

by Jim Butcher, Codex Alera Book Two, 534 pages
This second novel of Butcher's epic fantasy series follows the same characters through another gripping adventure. Tavi, now in training to become one of the First Lord's messengers, stumbles across another grave threat to the realm. Back in the Calderon Valley, his uncle Bernard and Bernard's mate Amara face an insidious enemy of their own. Will Tavi's aunt Isana escape an assassin's blade and reach the First Lord in time to get help for the beseiged in Calderon?
Just when you think things couldn't get any worse for our heroes, Butcher piles on layer after layer of dark menace. Sometimes I think he overdoes the gruesome battles a bit, but it does make for an exciting read. There is a major plot revelation near the end but I saw it coming way back in the first book.

Love Drugged by James Klise


About the Book: Jamie knows he's gay, but he doesn't know how friends and family will react to his news. He's nervous about being different and wants to be "normal." When an attractive girl takes notice in Jamie, Jamie decides to try and date her. He becomes especially interested when he discovers that Celia's father is developing a drug that will suppress Jamie's his attraction to boys. So when Jamie has the chance to still some pills, he decides to take advantage of it and see if he can change.

Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: I really wanted to like this book. It was a Stonewall honor book this year and the premise sounded intriguing. And while there were good moments, overall I felt the book was another typical coming of age story.

We know about the pills early on, but then we spend around the first 100 pages getting to know Jamie, setting up his relationship with Celia before the pills are even introduced. And then when they are, they're still more a backstory than anything else. Mostly this is a book about Jamie trying to date Celia and it not working. The book picks up close to the end, but by that point, I had spent too long waiting for something more exciting or interesting to happen. The end is wrapped up very quickly as well which was very frustrating.

We're given a lot of extra details about characters that weren't really needed which bogged the book down. The book is told from Jamie's point of view and at times he's a hard narrator to stick with. He's very self-conscious and he often second guesses himself and worries a lot.

I did like parts of it and I thought the overall idea was good. The book also never feels overly preachy about "be who you are" and instead is more of Jamie's journey to that discovery, so I think teens will appreciate that it's not overly message-filled. I just found it a bit long and I wanted it to be more interesting. But if you have teens that will stick with it, I think Love Drugged could make a great book discussion title.

Albertine's Got Talent by Shena Power, illustrated by Madeline Valentine


About the Book: Poor Albertine. She lives in a family of very talented people. Mom sews doll clothes and can sew a new outfit in ten minutes flat. Dad has an award-winning vegetable garden. And her brother is a whiz at soccer. But Albertine has yet to find her thing.

Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: Albertine's Got Talent is a very funny picture book. And I will admit, I loved it because how often do you get to read the word "wonky" in picture books? So yes, major points there!

Albertine's family keep suggesting new hobbies that might develop into Albertine's talent. She tries gym class, swimming and woodworking, all with disastrous results. But Albertine learns her talent and discovers it on her own and learns that yes, she is good at some things!

The illustrations are a muted pastel color and I would have liked them to be a bit brighter-I thought they were a bit bland. But the story is fun and it would make a great read-aloud, especially for kids wondering what their special talent may be.

Dog Loves Books by Louise Yates

2010/32 pgs.

About the Book: Dog loves books so much, he decides to open a bookstore. He eagerly awaits for customers, but no one is coming. Until one day a young girl wanders into the store and Dog is able to share his love of reading.

Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: This is a cute book about a bookloving dog and it would pair nicely with How Rocket Learned to Read. Dog wants to share his love of books so badly and you feel so sad for him when no one is visiting his bookstore. But when he starts to read and take off on adventures in the books, you see why he loved reading so much.

Dog Loves Books is a nice, easy introduction to books and reading. The illustrations are simple but fun and the author/artist brings dog to life. And really, how can you not like a dog who loves to read?

The Inheritance

The Inhertance by Tamera Alexander 374 p.
A lovely inspirational book. I hadn't read a christian fiction title for quiet some time. Found this to be a sweet love story and not too preachy. Shows how life hand us challenges almost every day. How we choose to deal with those is up to us. And if we are lucky there might be some devine intervention to help out.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Paula Deen's Cookbook for the Lunch-Box Set

By: Paula Deen with Martha Nesbit and Illustrated by Susan Mitchell, 191 pp

I enjoyed reading this cookbook page for page with my 14 year old daughter. At first, she thought it was silly because she said it looked like it was just for little kids, but then once she really got into reading it with me, I would hear her say, "Oh, I did not know that was how you measure that!" Or, "Wow! It does seem easy to read a recipe now and make something." She had not ever been able to follow a recipe before this book.
Paula Deen has added an index, a glossary, and pictures by all that is needed for kids to prepare meals, desserts, and snacks for themselves and their families.
We enjoyed making the roll-up sandwiches together. It was a lot of fun and delicious too. We also used our own ingredients and just followed Paula's recipe steps and measurements and it still worked!
A delicious book to read and spend time with your kids creating fun!

A Card a Day

A Leisure Arts Publication, 178 pp

Scrapbooking is a very popular hobby today in many households, A Card a Day is a great way to do some simple scrapbooking practice. Plus making your own cards is a way to give someone a more personal gift.
There are over 365 card ideas in this book. The cards are by many different designers with instructions and pictures of how to complete your yearly cards. Have them ready for any and all ocassions.
My favorite card is the "Forever Begins Now."

The Scarlet Letter

By: Nathaniel Hawthorne; Adapted for the stage by: James F. DeMaiolo, 78 pp

WOW! I have read this in high school, however, I have never read it as a play with the scenes described and all. The words are beautifully written by Hawthorne; and DeMaiolo describes the scenery perfectly. I truly enjoyed this book.
Over a century ago, Hester Prynne wore the scarlet letter A for having committed such a horrible sin - sex with someone other than her husband, who has not arrived yet in Boston. A child is born and at the age of seven has asked her mother everyday what the meaning of the scarlet letter is and why her mother must wear it. Read this book for yourself to imagine a world so different than ours today.
"The Scarlet Letter continues to be the most frequently read novel in American high schools today as well as one of the most widely circulated novels in the American library system."

Simply Perfect

by Mary Balogh, 343 pages

Miss Claudia Martin has overcome personal losses and worked hard to start and expand her successful girls' school. The students, teachers, and business of running the institution are her life and she is honestly happy. But when a wealthy, titled, charmer of a man shows up in her office to offer what appears to be a simple favor via a mutual acquaintance, her safe, familiar life begins to feel increasingly topsy-turvy. Joseph, Marquess of Attingsborough, is attempting to do his duty as a duke-in-waiting and follow his father's dictates about marrying well and settling down to produce some heirs. But Joseph has secrets and dreams that may prove to be incompatible with what his father, and the rest of proper society, finds appropriate, and he's slowly starting to realize the capable Miss Martin may be among them.

This Regency romance is surprisingly engaging. Yes, romance is the big plot, but the characters actually appear to have lives that hold significance for them outside of their budding relationship. And Balogh gives them time to interact with one another on the level of business associates and then friends who grow to understand those aspects of each other's lives long before notions of another dynamic come into play. She also makes them imperfect in personality, if not in form, but without going overboard, and gives both the characters and the setting enough substance to make the reader sense the weight of the personal and societal pressures they encounter.

Simply Perfect is part of a handful of Simply... titles focused on the girls' school and its staff and students, so many of Balogh's other lead couples weave in and out of the story in supporting roles. While having so many side characters to remember can be a bit of a task, their presence also gives the setting a nicely fleshed out feel as it's clear they all have their own interlinked stories outside the central plot instead of existing only to serve it.

Thanks, Jen H., for another successful recommendation!

City of Golden Shadow (Otherland: 1)

by Tad Williams
(1996 | 770 p)

In the first installment of Tad Williams "Otherworld" series the reader is introduced to a future where the net and virtual reality are readily available to anyone with enough credits. A virtual reality professor at a South African University, Renie Sulaweyo, becomes good friends with her student, !Xabbu, one of the last remaining African Bushmen. Renie and !Xabbu become entangled in a conspiracy involving the most powerful and dangerous men in the world. The scope of what needs to be done is more than Renie can really comprehend, but she can't give up while her young brother, Stephen, is somehow entangled in these powerful men's dark machinations.

I continue to be surprised by how prophetic Science Fiction can seem. "City of Golden Shadow" was completed in 1996, but in it Williams imagines people watching "netflicks" instead of movies. His young characters spend hours battling monsters with their online friends, a nod to the popularity and evolution of massively multiplayer online roleplaying games (MMORPGs). (After some cursory checking* it seems the company Netflix didn't begin operations until a year later, in 1997, the same year that the acronym MMORPG came into use.)

Suffice it to say that this novel gave me everything that I love about Tad Williams -- an intricate plot, detailed world building and enough details to choke a horse. Williams weaves the sci-fi elements of networked computing and virtual reality with traditional South African folklore, to beautiful effect. A strong female lead character was just icing on this yummy sci-fi cake.

* I looked it up on Wikipedia. Don't judge.

I Wanna New Room

Karen Kaufman Orloff. Illustrated by David Catrow. 32 pages.
From the creators of "I Wanna Iguana" comes a new chapter in the life of Alex. Written as a series of letters between Alex, his mother and his father, Alex explains all the reasons why he should not have to share a room with his brother Ethan now that baby Annie has arrived -- when Ethan sleeps, it sounds like a cat coughing up fur balls, he sticks crayons up his nose and he breaks Alex's toys. Alex's extravagant pleadings are met with sensible responses from his parents, until Dad hits upon the solution of the two of them building Alex his very own treehouse that he doesn't have to share with anyone (unless he starts missing his little brother).
Catrow's hilarious and detailed illustrations are the perfect complement to Alex's sly and persuasive letters. Readers will especially enjoy Catrow's bird's eye view of Alex's plans for his own wing on the house -- a young boy's dream room!