Saturday, April 9, 2011

InuYasha: Volume 50

by Rumiko Takahashi, 184 pages

A former opponent of their late father takes on Sesshomaru and InuYasha--only Sesshomaru tells his brother to butt out, as he lets the malicious demon fan the flames of his insecurity regarding his brother and their divided inheritance. What did their father mean by bequeathing Sesshomaru the sword Tenseiga instead of the seemingly more powerful Tetsusaiga that InuYasha wields? If Sesshomaru doesn't get a grip on his rivalry with his little brother and let his long-nurtured bitterness go, he may never fulfill his true potential--or grow strong enough to overcome their shared enemy, Naraku.

Oh, Sesshomaru! Think about the non-smitey powers of that sword at your side. InuYasha's may thrive on battling to protect life, but yours retrieves it from death's shores. Just look at little Rin and tell this reader that your daddy didn't love you as much as he did your half-brother. Silly boy.

Radiator Days

by Lucy Knisley, 316 pages

Filled with semi-autobiographical stories and lots of tangential trips into crazy day dreams, Radiator Days is a hodge-podge collection of school assignments, travel diary comics, and other miscellaneous work chronicling illustrator Lucy Knisley's college days and some of her early career.

I first ran across Lucy Knisley when I grabbed her book French Milk off the shelf on a whim. She thinks a lot like me. Her books are like little glimpses into her brain and I love it because she is just as crazy and snarky as I am. She is also an insanely talented illustrator. The artwork was so much fun and matches her whimsical personality.

Laugh out loud funny, bizarre and heartwarming, this graphic novel did not disappoint!

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

by Sherman Alexie, 288 pages

Nothing like reading a book a year after the controversy has passed to see what all the hubbub was about. And yet, I still don't get it. I mean yeah, I'm a progressive young adult librarian so of course I'm going to support materials like this getting into the hands of teenagers. Still, I didn't find this book to be all that controversial, especially relative to other young adult stuff out there. The infamous masturbation passage is seriously half a page - and quite frankly, it's pretty hilarious.

However, soapbox aside, this was a truly great story. Arnold Spirit is a gawky yet very worldly fifteen year old living on a Spokane Indian reservation in Wellpinit, WA. He was born with water on the brain, loves to draw and is constantly bullied by everyone except his best friend Rowdy.

Arnold has seen his share of poverty and alcoholism living on the reservation. Interwoven throughout his diary are glimpses into how these two things have made life on a reservation seem desolate and hopeless. A white teacher from the reservation school approaches Arnold and practically begs him to go to the local rich white school in nearby Reardan so he has some hope of a future. Arnold decides to switch schools, at once becoming a reservation outcast and a Reardan new-kid superstar.

As his family life begins to crumble at home, Arnold revisits the impact alcoholism and poverty have on his surroundings - sometimes with humor and sometimes with serious reverence. In the end, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian becomes a testament to the heartbreak of poverty and the power of resilience.

Gin Tama, Volume 8: Just Slug Your Daughter's Boyfriend and Get It Over With

by Hideaki Sorachi


Kagura's dad came to take her home. But before their spaceship could take off, an alien parasite breaks out of the cargo hold and exponentially grows while feeding off of the energy produced by the space terminal. Gin and Kagura's dad defeat the alien and Kagura decides to remain on Earth. But none of her friends realizes this so they sort of mourn her departure but Otae, Katherine, and Sachan fight each other to be Kagura's replacement. Then the director of the Shinsengumi takes his officers on a mission to assassinate his daughter's boyfriend. But their attempts only make the girl fall further for the guy; that is until she sees a a more dashing hero. And then Gin gets a new neighbor who looks like a monster but is really a softy. Finally, Zura gets the gang involved in a rescue attempt to get back his pet Elizabeth (who looks like Duckie Momo from Phineas and Ferb).

Friday, April 8, 2011

Crooker Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

"Larry lay thinking of Silas, how time packs new years over the old ones but how those old years are still in there, like the earliest, tightest rings centering a tree, the most hidden, enclosed in darkness and shielded from weather. But then a saw screams in and the tree topples and the circles are stricken by the sun and the sap glistens and the stump is laid open for the world to see."

Larry and Silas grew up as secret friends in the small town of Chabot Mississippi. Larry the son of a poor white family, Silas or "32" the son of a single black woman who lived on the property of Larry's family. Their friendship is split apart by a racial slur and Silas goes on to be a popular, accomplished student who goes off to college. When the girl of Larry's dreams doesn't ever return from their first date, Larry is quickly labeled a murderer and is ostracized by the community-even with no proof he committed any crime. When a second girl disappears years later Larry is again under scrutiny and Silas has returned home as an officer of the law to investigate.

This novel is positively dripping in Southern literary style. Listen to the languid rhythms and cadences of the poor and rural south as you read. While it is a thriller the setting and the sad and dark tone force the reader to slow down as to take it all in. The characters of Larry and Silas are well-developed and flashbacks between the present and the past provide an intimate, visceral portrait into the mysteries of friendship, hope and redemption. I couldn't put it down. 2010, 272 pages.

"Ender's Game: Battle School" by Orson Scott Card

120 pages

This graphic novel depicts the first part of Card's classic sci-fi novel "Ender's Game" (the first third or so, if I remember the book correctly). It's sometime in the future and Earth has already narrowly triumphed over an invading alien race, known commonly as "buggers." Six-year-old Ender Wiggin is taken to the elite Battle School after the government observes his intelligence and brilliant strategy through an implanted device that all children wear until their skills are assessed. At the School, he and many other young children undergo intense military training, but the authorities have put all of their hope in Ender alone to save the human race from the inevitable return of the buggers. First, though, Ender has to fight his own inner demons.

I loved the book version of "Ender's Game," I think that they've done a great job with the graphic novel. A lot of the details of the book are cut out, but the essentials are there and it seems to flow well. It's translates well visually and I loved seeing all of the battles come to life. For me, the bottom line is that "Ender's Game" is a great story about the human race and the lengths we will go to in order to protect ourselves from real and perceived threats, and I'll probably enjoy it in whatever format I find it in.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

13th Boy: Volume 1

by SangEun Lee, 179 pages

Junior high student Hee-So knows it was love at first sight when she met quiet Won-Jun. After appearing on a love-confession reality show, she finally told him how she felt and he agreed to go out with her. But Hee-So's happiness is short-lived, as only a month later he breaks off the relationship, saying he's not good for her. Hee-So is nothing if not determined (she announced her love on national television, after all) and she won't accept his decision as the final word. After missing the mark with her past 11 boyfriends, she's finally found her destiny--and she won't let him off the hook so easily. If only his obnoxious best friend Whie-Young weren't in the way making things complicated....

I think I know where this story is going. If the numbers are any clue, that is. Between Hee-So's random talking cactus Beatrice (okaaaaaay), Whie-Young's (and maybe Won-Jun's?) secret supernatural abilities, and the circuitous ways of destiny-determining messages in bottles, I'm not quite confident enough to predict an outcome just yet. I'm sure there will be plenty of silliness and melodrama between here and there and, for now, I'm happy to tag along for the ride.

Single White Vampire

by Lynsay Sands, 369 pages

New York-based editor Kate Leever gets more than she bargained for when she's assigned to manage her late supervisor's authors. When she tries to induce one of them--Lucern Argeneau, a reclusive writer of wildly popular vampire romance novels--to agree to some book signing tours and interviews, the only response she receives to her many gentle but persistent enquiries is a resounding "No." Worried she'll lose her new job if she doesn't make some progress, she flies up to Toronto to talk to him face-to-face, but finds his resistance in person is just as stubborn and cranky as on paper. She even makes suggestions on how to work around his minor sun allergy, but Luc just won't see reason. Oh, those crazy, arrogant, night-owl authors. Happily, his much more reasonable mother (who oddly doesn't look a day older than he does) plots with Kate to encourage him to agree to just one event--and suddenly it's Luc's turn to get more than he bargained for.

This is a paranormal-ish romance leftover from my handful of romance titles collected for the February challenge (I've got one more on my to-read shelf, so we'll see if I get to it before I have to turn it back in). I say paranormal-ish, because while Luc is very obviously outed to the reader as a vampire from the beginning, his later explanation for his kind's existence is more science fictiony than supernatural (it involves Atlanteans and biological nano-agents). This is a pretty funny read, which makes the romance formula much more palatable for someone like me who doesn't normally read romance-romance on her own. Really, my only gripe about this particular title is the aforementioned explanation for vampirism. Unless one is writing an angsty origins-centric story like those of Anne Rice with vampires perpetually fretting over their raison d'être, most people who knowingly pick up a vampire novel will readily accept that, in the confines of the story, vampires exist and are just part of the natural fabric of nunununess. When Luc abruptly decides to offer an unprompted, oddly pseudo-scientific origin for his family, it veers the story off on a short, irrelevant-seeming tangent. Also, Atleanteans? Really? The cheesiness would perhaps have worked better if he didn't sound so serious while relaying the information. That grumble aside, however, I was surprisingly content to fly through the rest of the book. Perhaps it was Luc's amusing, involuntary immersion in romance writer culture--obviously something with which Sands is intimately familiar? Or Kate's intrepid work ethic in the face of complication after complication?

There appears to be a whole series of books featuring the romantic lives of Luc's various family members past and present (several of whose stories supply the plots of his supposedly fictional novels), so if you enjoy this one and want to do more than just dip your toe in the waters of the goofier side of paranormal romance, you'll be set.

The Brothers' War ~ Civil War Voices In Verse

By: J Patrick Lewis ~ A National Geographic & Photographs by: Matthew Brady, 31 pp

Civil War was an awful experience that our forefathers have had to endure. The stories we hear are sad and gruesome. This book is no different. However, the book is of stories put into "verse" poetry. The phographs are a bit much, but it is truth. There is a variety of poetry; such as a letter from a father to his son at war and then a return letter from the son back to his father - both in poetry.

Interestingly, there is a timeline and a map of the Civil War giving us more information.

This is a poetry & a Big Read book.

Animal Academy: Volume 7

by Moyamu Fujino, 179 pages

Fune is inexplicably rejected by every high school she applies to...and is mysteriously accepted to one she doesn't. When she arrives on the well-hidden campus, she quickly realizes it is not an ordinary school and her classmates are not ordinary students. Everyone at the school, teachers and students alike, is really an animal, and the curriculum is focused on how to successfully integrate into human culture and society as a shape-shifter. It's all very strange and exciting, but Fune is confused as to why she's there, as she really is a human. Her advisor instructs her to keep this fact to herself and just go with the flow, but lying to her new friends while trying to understand the new world around her proves difficult for sweet, naive Fune.

In this final volume in the series, Fune finally understands her presence at the academy and learns that friendship and affection really do make the world go round. The story is, for the most part, cute and fluffy, if a little awkward and hard to navigate at times (there's a prominent set of sneaky, secret-keeping twins who are easily identified by the characters yet nearly indistinguishable to the reader, making for some speed bumps in the road to clarity). Just enough darkness swirls around on the edges to make you worry for a while, but ultimately all is well. While the characters look and act more like elementary rather than high school students, that's not especially relevant to the basic heart of the story.

Gakuen Alice: Volume 15

by Tachibana Higuchi, 193 pages

Mikan and her classmates are in the midst of a huge athletic festival. She throws herself into the various team-based competitions, hoping to forget her problems in the process, but two-faced, malicious Luna won't let her.

Still too much screentone and too many similar faces with the added issue of lots of unnecessary filler comprised of silly competition minutia that just distracts from the real, and more serious, plot. Buried in the excessive campy festival focus are nefarious schemes and a sweet story of friendship--but you'll have to dig pretty patiently to find them.

XxxHolic: Volume 8

by CLAMP, 182 pages

Still bearing the spider's grudge--and seeing some weird things out of his absent right eye--Watanuki learns that the spirit who gave him chocolate on Valentine's Day has put herself in danger in an attempt to help him. A whiner Watanuki may be, but he's also as selfless as they come, and so he throws himself into her rescue with no concern for his own well-being. But spider spirits can be fickle beings with shrouded motives, and Watanuki finds that sacrificing himself may not be enough.

Aw, Watanuki learns a lesson--volumes in the making--about loving himself enough to allow other people to love him. Sharing the burden is a good thing and he should do it more Yûko and Dômeki have been trying to tell him all along. :)

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Thomas wakes up in an elevator unable to remember anything about him other than his name. When the elevator comes to a stop he finds himself in a new world inhabited by Gladers, a group of teen boys that, like Thomas, have no memory of where they come from. The group has strict rules and wants Thomas step in line and earn his keep instead of asking questions and breaking the rules. But even they cannot answer the most pressing questions. Who are they? Why are they there? Who is the girl that just arrived and what does she mean to the group?

I watched the trailer for this book and was immediately hooked into the raw emotional situation facing these kids. How are they going to manage this new terrifying life? For me, I didn't get that raw feeling while reading the book. The dystopian premise is a good one, I just got lost somewhere along the way. I would have loved to see more character development of Thomas and the girl that shows up right after him though I can understand that without any memory you aren't supposed to have any character development. This is the first of a trilogy and naturally, Dashner pulled me back in with the last chapter and I'll be reading number two...although a bit grudgingly.  2009, 375 pages.


Kelly Creagh
543 pages

School Project+Cheerleader+goth kid= Isobel's life. She had been partnered with Varen Nethers to do an English project about Poe and she is not happy about it. He is creepy and never talks to anyone. Her boyfriend Brad doesn't like it either. Slowly Isobel learns how good her friends really are and finds a few new ones along the way. She starts seeing things that can't be real and Varen seems to be the cause but can't control it. Can she save him before it is too late?

I really liked "Nevermore". The theme at surface value can be seen as overused with the blonde popular girl growing as a person and becoming friends with the outcast boy but there is a lot of original idea too. There is more to Varen than meets the eye and Isobel is drawn into his world. As a fan of Poe I really liked all the references but the dreamworld is confusing. Towards the end I got pretty lost and frustrated. Great story and will definitely be awaiting the sequel.


Becca Fitzpatrick
432 pages

Nora and Patch are still dating but hit a rocky patch, he has been seen with Marcie Millar who is Nora's least favorite person. She's mad at Patch who won't tell her what's going on like normal and then she starts seeing her dead Dad around town. Nora's life is falling apart again..

I loved "Hush,Hush" but this was a real disappointment. Nora was all over the place emotionally. One minute she is in love with Patch the next super pissed usually we don't know why either. Patch never says anything useful. Vee is the steady friend as always but usually talks bad about Patch. The new character of Scott was intriguing but we don't see much of him. This book was very up and down, I was mad at Nora a lot of the time. The last fifty pages or so has some action and revealing tells but the rest I could have done without. Maybe the 3rd book will be better.

"Sean Griswold's Head" by Lindsey Leavitt

288 pages

Fifteen-year-old Payton Gritas has a pretty good life. She gets stellar grades, she's a star on the basketball team, and she has fun parents and a fabulous best friend. Then her world is turned upside down when she finds out that her dad has multiple sclerosis and her whole family has known for six months and not told her. Payton, feeling betrayed and fearful, begins to rebel for the first time ever. Her guidance counselor at school decides that she needs a focus object--an item to focus her emotions on.

Sean Griswold has been sitting in front of Payton in classes since third grade because alphabetically his name is right before hers. She decides that his head will be as good a focus object as any since she spends so much time staring at it. When she begins to pay attention to Sean's head (and, consequently, the rest of him), she realizes that there's a lot she doesn't know about him. As she becomes more intrigued by him and gets to know him better, he helps with some of the problems in her life...but also unknowingly creates different problems.

I usually don't like teen romances because I don't care for romance in general and the teen ones are often even more overdramatic and angsty. This one has some substance, though, and I enjoyed it. The romance is there, but a big part of the story revolves around Payton figuring out how to deal with a big problem in her once-perfect family. It's very predictable, but the characters charmed me so much that I didn't care. I loved Payton's voice and I adored Sean, Payton's parents, her brother Trent, and her friend Jac. All of them cracked me up throughout the story. My biggest problem with this book is the girly cover and the hearts all over the place on the pages. For one thing, I felt silly reading it (but that's probably just me) and it made the predictable outcome even more predictable. Definitely worth the embarrassment, though :)

Sleepy, Oh So Sleepy by Denise Fleming

2010/32 pgs

About the Book: A bedtime story perfect for the youngest of readers.

Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: The text of this book is very simple. We're introduced to various baby animals, and then the text of "sleepy, oh so sleepy" is repeated. Paired with Denise Fleming's beautiful illustrations, made from pulp papermaking, this book is a perfect bedtime read. The illustrations are soft and the text is soothing. A great read for babies on up!

The Best Birthday Party Ever by Jennifer Larue Huget, illustrated by LeUyen Pham

2011/40 pgs

About the Book: A girl has to start the party planning right away! Who cares if her birthday is 5 months, 3 weeks, 2 days and 8 hours away. This will be the best birthday party ever!

Sarah Teenlibrarian Says: We had a rule in my house that you couldn't talk about your birthday until it was your birthday month. I think lots of kids will relate to this eager anticipation of your next birthday and what exactly your party will hold.

The young narrator decides on colors, then balloons everywhere, then animals, party guests, and a Ferris wheel. Soon her dream party is out of control! Of course her elaborate party doesn't happen the way she plans, but her party is still fun.

A fun read for preschoolers who can't wait for thier next birthday.


by Raina Telgemeier, 213 pages

In sixth grade, Raina trips, falls and loses her two front teeth. Already slated for braces, the accident sets off years of dental work which affects how Raina perceives herself as she navigates the choppy waters of adolescence (and high school!)

Although Raina's dental work takes center stage throughout the graphic novel, it's really not what "Smile" is all about. It's more about the anticipation, the frustration and the joy of being a teenager. I think the book's strongest message is that it's okay to break away from people you used to call friends and find new ones. Raina's "friends" were making her life miserable and she has the gumption to tell them that treating her that way was unacceptable.

Once she does that, she begins a process of self-discovery that will leave you cheering. For those of us who grew up in the 90s (like Raina) you'll find the subtle references throughout the illustrations very nostalgic.

* 2011 YALSA Top Ten Graphic Novel for Teens

Hoshin Engi, Volume 9: The Princes' Choice

by Ryu Fujisaki

207 p.

War has finally come to ancient China! The kingdom of Zhou begins its march against the kingdom of Yin. With Bunchu being trapped in the Sennin world, Chokomei sends an assassin who specializes in germ warfare to eliminate the Zhou army and Dakki sends her father's forces to the frontline. Also, the princes of Yin return from their training in the Sennin world but instead of siding with Zhou like Taikobo hopes, they decide to return to Yin. So at last, Prince Inchon's forces meet up with Taikobo's forces and the battle begins.

The Amazing Spider-Man, The Gaunlet: Lizard

by Fred Van Lente, Jefte Palo, et al.


There's nothing quite like jumping mid-way into a story arc! At this point in the story, Kraven the Hunter is dead and his wife and daughter are up to no good trying to revive him. So they manipulate events behind the scenes to make Spider-Man miserable. Meanwhile, Curt Connors has given up being the Lizard and is attempting to do away with that part of his personality. However, he fails and the Lizard comes out with a vengeance. This time though, the Lizard can unlock primal instincts in humans and reptiles with his mind. Looks like Spider-Man may not get out of this one.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Suzanne Collins

370 pages

SPOILER ALERT for those who want to know NOTHING plotwise in this installment.

Katniss has survived another Hunger Games since she was rescued and taken to District 13 but Peeta was taken to the Capitol. The heads of the rebellion including President Coin (of District 13) want Katniss to be their symbol as the Mockingjay. She is rejoined with her mother, sister, and Gale since District 12 was destroyed by the Capitol. She is very confused about many things on just about every level from her feelings about Peeta and Gale to if the Rebellion is really an answer to the problems the districts feel. She feels out of place in the highly militarized District 13 and wants to do something, she agrees to be the Mockingjay but with several conditions. Will they be able to bring down the Capitol?

This was a bit of a letdown after reading the first two books in the series. I felt like Suzanne Collins was grasping at straws a bit plotwise. It was very disjointed and lacked the flow that seemed so natural in the other books. I did not like how Katniss spent most of her time doing nothing. There is a definite lack of Peeta which I don't care for either and when he does come back he is crazy. There is too much self reflection and not enough actual action. When things do start happening I found it confusing. The end is a bit vague and abrupt. The deaths that occur I found pointless and frustrating. There is a short epilogue but it didn't answer many qustions. I don't know what happened to many of my favorite characters. The questions that were answered were more like notes instead of a full fledged concept that had been thoroughly thought out. I don't know if the author was rushed to finish the story but it was even a different tone from the others. Not my favorite but not completely horrible either. I recommend it only to know what happens not on writing merits.

*NPR Best Book 2010

Catching Fire

Suzanne Collins

391 pages

SPOLIER ALERT for those who want to know NOTHING plotwise in this installment.

They've won! Katniss and Peeta both got through The Hunger Games but what do you do after surviving an ordeal like that? Afte a few months of quiet Katniss gets a visit from President Snow threatening her family and friends for making the Capitol look foolish. The districts are unhappy and he wants Katniss to help quell rebellion when touring the districts with Peeta. She realizes there is nothing she can do to help the unrest within the districts and fears for her life and those around her. The Quarter Quell (a special Hunger Games every 25 years with a twist) is announced and all participants will be past winners. Katniss has to go back into the arena but this time she has a new goal in mind. Read the book to find out more!

Out of the trilogy "Catching Fire" is probably my favorite. I find the personal relationships of the characters in this installment to be even more integral to the story than ever. I love how everyone interacts in their own ways. Katniss is almost indifferent to most people because she doesn't want to get too close then ends up realizing how deeply she cares for them. Peeta wears his poor heart on his sleeve and usually Katniss tramples on it a bit. He is very friendly and without his social skills who knows where she would be. Haymitch seems like a drunken fool but there are plans just being cranked out in that brain of his. He is outwardly bristly but cares a lot about Katniss and Peeta. All the while Katniss is afraid of people lying and doesn't know who to trust.We also learn more about how their society works. Loved it.

*Publisher's Weekly Best Book of the Year 2009

*YALSA Teen's Top Ten 2010

The Hunger Games

Suzanne Collins

374 pages

Katniss Everdeen spends most of her time caring for her mother and sister Prim in District 12. She hunts with her friend Gale and just tries to make it through every day. Every year The Hunger Games are held with twenty-four contestants (one boy and girl selected from each district). The contestants must fight to the death with only one winner left standing. When Prim is chosen to go Katniss goes in her place along with Peeta the boy chosen from her district. Who will win? I'm not telling.

I had this on my reading list for quite a while but this weekend I read the whole trilogy. I found the story to be engrossing and could not put the book down. There are a lot of books based on dystopian futures but this is one of the most original. I highly reccomend the whole series.

*New York Times Notable Children's Book 2008

*School Library Journals"Best Books 2008"

I Heart You, You Haunt Me

Lisa Schroeder

227 pages

Ava is a happy teenager with the perfect boyfriend until he dies in an accident. Her world is shattered and she doesn't know how to go on without Jackson. Luckily for her he comes back as a ghost and haunts her.

I was very intrigued when I learned the plot of the book and felt that I had to read it. I did not realize the book was written in verse so that was a surprise but a good one. The pace was fast since the chapters were really one to three page poems. I felt like the story ended when our main character was just starting to change and it felt a bit abrupt. Overall a great insight on grief and putting your life back together after the death of a loved one.

*ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers

Star Trek, the Original Series Omnibus

by Scott Tipton, David Messina, et al.

455 p.

This is a collection of stories from the fourth year of the Enterprise's five-year mission, as well as stories from the perspective of the Klingons, Gorn, Vulcans, Orions, and Romulans.

Monday, April 4, 2011

"Chasing Lincoln's Killer" by James Swanson

198 pages

James Swanson wrote a bestselling book ("Manhunt") about Lincoln's assassination and the pursuit of John Wilkes Booth and his co-conspirators. This is the young-adult adaptation of that book. It begins with the Confederacy's surrender at Appomattox and describes how the South's loss enraged Booth and his associates. From there, the book follows the planning of the assassins, the murder itself, Booth's escape, and his eventual capture. As one would expect, considering that Swanson wrote "Manhunt," the author did plenty of research, which allows him to write about what happened from several different perspectives: Booth, his conspirators, the police, the people Booth encountered during his escape, and more. Swanson provides plenty of details, but the story reads more like a crime novel than a historical text. I enjoyed the read and also learned a lot, and I think this is a great book to get young readers interested in this part of history.

Bless This Mouse

By: Lois Lowry& Illustrated by: Eric Rohmann, 152 pp.

I loved Lois Lowry's The Giver! I have had the opportunity to read such another great work of hers. Bless This Mouse is so cute. Hilegarde, the Mouse Mistress of Saint Bartholemew's Church, is a very stern leader of over 200 church mice. She does an excellent job at guiding them and teaching them how to stay safe and out of sight of humans. Hildegarde has an assistant that has a huge crush on her. His name is Rodrick. Hildegarde also has an enemy mouse, Lucretia, that is always trying to take her place as Mouse Mistress. The mice do get into some real close calls...

Follow Hildegarde, Roderick, and another 200 and more mice on an adventure that could cost them some of their lives!

I can see this as a cute little kids animated movie!

Oh and if you have not read The Giver and Bless This Mouse yet, I recommend that you do! You will not regret it! I assure you!

April Challenges

We currently have two challenges for April.

1. In honor of National Poetry Month, you will receive an extra participation point for each poetry book you read.

2. To support the Big Read, you will receive TWO participation points for each Big Read book you read.

Pssst! You can earn three extra points with one book on this list. 

March 2011 Winners!

March 2011 Winners

Most books read:
Jenny E. 39
Heather C.D. 22
Chris D. 19
Sarah B.T. 19

Most pages read:
Jenny E. 7779
Heather C.D. 5407
Sarah B.T. 5380

Participation points:
Jenny E. 41
Chelsea E. 31
Katie O. 29

Random drawing:
Kelly G.

March challenge winner:
Jennifer H.
Chelsea E.

Cover winner:
The Pleasure of My Company by Steve Martin

Review winner:
The four reviews of The adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle :the thing beneath the bed by Patrick Rothfuss. (Andy, Jennifer H., Sarah B.T., Heather C.D.)

Total books read: 198
Total pages: 51,978
Staff contributing in March: 20

"Room" by Emma Donoghue 2010 / 336p.

Imagine what life would be like if all you had ever experienced was within the confines of an 11x11 room...Spookily reminiscent of the Jaycee Dugard kidnapping horror story, "Room" is a novel that explores a child's perspective on life and the world around him, both before and after he has lived solely with his mother inside a garden shed "apartment" for the first five years of his life. This book is gripping and mind-bending, a strong story that captures your heart and mind from the get-go.

Written from five-year-old Jack's perspective, Donoghue spends the the first part of the book establishing the surprising normalcy of Jack's world in captivity. He was born in Room, the result of Ma's daily raping by her kidnapper, and has never been outside of its walls. Jack's wordview is miniscule and warped, yet he has never known anything different and has adapted and thrived to the best of his ability. Ma, although depressed to the point of complete catatonia on certain days, has managed to provide Jack with a somewhat consistent eating, bathing, cleaning, playing, watching tv, and sleeping schedule on most days. They keep track of time via a digital watch and have a wide repetoire of games, songs, and tv shows that entertain them on a daily basis. Ma has managed to convince Jack that only the stuff inside Room is real and that the images he sees on tv are in outer space and unreal. Their creepy captor, Old Nick, visits Ma on a nightly basis, bringing Jack and Ma the bare necessities to sustain their lives with the expectation of intercourse, which she dutifully performs while Jack remains in the confines of Wardrobe. Ma has managed to keep Old Nick from seeing or interacting with Jack, having convinced him that she'll do whatever he wants as long as he leaves Jack alone.

When Old Nick decides to withhold food and electricity from Room for a number of days in an effort to teach Ma a lesson about the amount of control he has over their lives, she begins to panic and comes to the conclusion that they must escape Room. After much coaxing and "unlying" to Jack about what lies beyond the door of Room, Ma convinces him to carry out a risky escape. After a terrifying scene in which Jack manages to plays dead, jumps out of a moving vehicle, and nearly gets swiped back up by Old Nick, Jack succeeds in escaping and Ma is freed from Room.

The rest of the novel is devoted to establishing Jack and Ma's new normal, a life that includes other people, the outside, and freedom. Although plagued by post-traumatic stress, Ma and Jack slowly begin their journey of recovery. With lots of messy details, humor, scary and happy surprises, they find their footing in the wide world. Donoghue uses extraordinary insight in her character development of Jack. You feel like you know him - he makes you laugh with his personification of objects and his naive, yet wise, observations on adults, society, and life in general. He is one of the strongest characters I have ever encountered in a novel. Although the other characters in the novel are less developed and hazy, I believe this is purposeful because to give them more shape would not be true to how Jack would view them. Because the book is written from his perspective, it wouldn't be fair to Jack's character to give the other characters more substance because five-year-olds don't see others as complicated and three dimensional.

This is the kind of book that has the power to enlighten. It opens your eyes to what we see and do in daily life without even thinking about it. Jack is an unforgettable character who will leave an indelible mark on your spirit.