Thursday, September 30, 2010

Guardians of Ga'Hoole Winners

Congratulations to Sarah of KY and Johnny of GA who were the winners chosen by the Random Number Generator in the Guardians of Ga'Hoole giveaway!  Thanks to all who played.

Anderson's Recap

(I know, finally, right?)*

On Saturday, September 24 I was in Chicagoland for the 7th Annual Anderson's Bookshop Young Adult Literature Conference.  This is my third time attending this conference and what I love about it is the opportunity to meet and hear a whole bunch of awesome authors in a fairly intimate setting.  I believe I heard that there were about 270 people attending the conference, mostly teachers and librarians (but some teens and others, too!).  Really, for the number of authors that I heard and met, it was well worth the registration fees (and even the drive up to Chicagoland and the hotel beforehand).

My partner in crime for this adventure was the lovely Kelly of Stacked.  (Check out Kelly's recap here!)  We headed to Naperville Friday evening and had a lovely dinner and many geeky conversations about blogging and books.  We arrived at the conference hotel nice and early to peruse the bookstore, collect swag (including a couple of ARCs!), and scope out our seats.

While perusing, we randomly met another book blogger, DJ of DJ's Life in Fiction.  He's totally sweet and you should definitely check out his fantastic blog.  (Check out part one of his recap here!)

A-conferencing we go!
So, we scoped out a table near the front of the room and we ate breakfast and checked out the program schedule while we waited with bated breath to see which author would claim the RESERVED spot at our table.  It turned out to be Antony John, he of the adorable accent and the fabulous upcoming novel The Five Flavors of Dumb and 2008's Busted: Confessions of an Accidental Player.  And Antony was very, very nice and personable and it was great to talk with him about his book and the gorgeous cover (being featured this week at that cover girl).  In fact, talking with him convinced me that I had to buy his book and I'm so glad I did because I really enjoyed it (review to come).

Many lovely books to buy!
The conference featured a combination of headline talks and panel discussions.  We started the day with brief talks from three of the headliners - Blue Balliett, Pam Muñoz Ryan, and Kenneth Oppel.  Blue shared photos from the teeny weeny town of Three Oaks, Michigan, which was the inspiration for the setting of her latest novel The Danger Box.  Pam talked about the research she did for her latest novel The Dreamer, which is based on the childhood of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda.  And Kenneth Oppel (who is unexpectedly snarky and hilarious - hurrah!) talked about the inspiration for his latest novel Half Brother, which is based on actual chimp experiments performed in the 1960s and 70s.

James Klise, author of Love Drugged (which I loved), in the local authors panel
After these talks, we split up into smaller panel discussions.  I attended a panel called "You Thought You Knew Them", featuring the three authors we had just heard, each of which makes a departure with their latest books.  After that one, I attended a panel featuring local authors Simone Elkeles, Stephanie Hemphill, Stacy Kade, and James Klise.  I'm not going to go into great detail on the panels because this post is long enough.  Suffice it to say that it was a great opportunity to talk with authors and ask questions.  Simone Elkeles is hilarious, Kenneth Oppel has a book coming out in 2011 that's about a teen Victor Frankenstein, James Klise says that he's "addicted to writing for teens", Stephanie Hemphill assures aspiring authors that there is "enough room in this world for everyone who wants to write", and Stacy Kade encouraged us to let kids write what they want to write (even if it's horror!).

After the morning panel sessions, it was time for lunch and a talk from Charles Benoit, author of You.  But before we headed back in for lunch, I had the pleasure to meet Karen from Harvard, IL and I just have to give her a shout-out because she said some very sweet things about my blog.  Hi, Karen!  Okay, back to Charles Benoit.  He is hilarious and a very engaging speaker.  Though he's a newbie to writing YA, having written adult mysteries previously, I've heard nothing but great things about You.  Charles talked about his storyteller mother and how she inspired him to be creative.

David Levithan, John Green, Siobhan Vivian, Dana Reinhardt, Charles Benoit

Then it was time for more panels!  I attended the Contemporary Edge panel with Charles Benoit, John Green, David Levithan, Dana Reinhardt, and Siobhan Vivian.  There we learned a bit about Siobhan's new novel, Not That Kind of Girl, and had a very interesting discussion about language in YA novels.  David Levithan points out that a YA author's job is not just to write how kids talk but to "use words to find truth".  Sometimes four-letter words most aptly express a feeling.  While David has an adult novel coming out next year, John Green expressed that he has no desire to write for an adult audience, saying, "Teenagers matter to me as readers in a way that adults don't."

Next I was off to a Supernatural Panel, featuring Claudia Gray, Nancy Holder, Sophie Jordan, Kiersten White, and Debbie Viguié.  There was a very interesting question asked about research for fantasy novels.  Debbie said that she likes to examine lore that most people aren't familiar with and Kiersten said that it's difficult to compete with popular culture.  People read a certain series or watch a certain TV show and think that's how vampires/werewolves/faeries/etc. have to be.  But the truth is that there can be many interpretations of the same lore and there's tons of lore to interpret, too.  Kiersten also said that she sees paranormal creatures as metaphors for human emotions. 

After this last breakout session, we gathered in the ballroom once more for talks from Dana Reinhardt and David Levithan & John Green.  Dana showed us a bunch of proofs of her cover, which had many incarnations until they settled on the current one.  And David Levithan did an interpretive dance while John Green explained that the idea of two characters with the same name was inspired by David's experience at college with another student named David Leventhal.  Here's a little treat for you getting to (close to, I promise) the end of this post: 

(It's just a snippet, but it gives you an idea of the awesomeness.) 

Now, during the conference there were several times set aside for getting authors' autographs and I got a bunch of books signed.  I knew that hearing the authors talk would make me want to buy books, and I managed to get away with only purchasing four books:  The Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John, Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian, The Things a Brother Knows by Dana Reinhardt, and You by Charles Benoit.  

AND I got a treat for one lucky reader!  Tune in tomorrow to see what signed ARC I'm giving away!

Thanks to Anderson's for a lovely conference!

*And I apologize because, though I took about eleven billion pictures, almost 100% of them were terrible.  I am not a photographer... I will stick to blogging, thanks. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Audiobook Review: Liar

Liar by Justine Larbalestier, narrated by Channie Waites.  (Grades 9+)  Brilliance Audio, 2009.  8 discs (9 hours, 8 minutes). Review copy provided by my local library.

Okay, so I didn't read this one last year when everybody was buzzing about it and there was that big thing about the cover.  But I have finally caught up and... man, this book is weird.  Weird doesn't mean bad...

except for the narration of the audio recording.  I'll be completely honest here: I hated the narration.  It just didn't work for me.  The accents didn't work for me.  The reading didn't work for me.  I.  Just.  Hated It.  And after reading some of the comments on Justine Larbalestier's spoiler thread (seriously, do not read it unless you have read the book...), I think there's a lot that I missed by listening to it instead of having the print in front of me.

So it's a tribute to the book that I was willing to listen to the whole thing.

I don't know how much I can say without giving stuff away, so I'm not going to say a whole lot.  In my opinion, it's best to go into reading Liar without knowing anything about it.  Just plunge right in and see what you think.  There's a major freakin' plot twist in the second part of the book and you'll no longer be reading the book you thought you were (or will you?).

Someone in Justine's spoiler thread said that Liar is truly a book written for readers, written to be different for every reader and thus give every reader ownership of the story.  I completely agree with this and it's what makes the book so masterful.  Well done, Justine.

But seriously, read the print version.  Don't bother with the audio.

Do check out Justine's post about peeking in on the audio being recorded.  And check out another review of the Liar audiobook at Reading With My Ears.

Liar is on shelves now!

Hey!  I'm an Audible affiliate, so if you make a purchase after clicking on an affiliate link, I will receive a referral fee. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Banned Books Week Interview

Hey, Story Snoops interviewed me for Banned Books Week, making me feel like all kinds of a celebrity*.  Go on over there and check it out!!

*This week they're also interviewing Judy Blume, Meg Cabot, and Ellen Hopkins, among others.  As my friend MW would say, "Holy cats!"

Wicked Girls

Wicked Girls: A Novel of the Salem Witch Trials by Stephanie Hemphill.  (Grades 7+)  HarperCollins, July 2010.  408 pages.  Review copy provided by my local library.

Ann's the queen bee, daughter of the most important man in town, always gets her way.

Mercy's the pretty one, catching the eye of every boy (and man) in town.  She doesn't have money or status like some of the other girls, but that doesn't keep her from wanting to live like it.

Margaret's the plain one next to her cousin Ann, pining over Isaac and wondering if he'll ever return her affections.

Oh, and did I mention that it's 1692?  And these three girls are about to cause a stir in Salem?

When two young girls come down with a mysterious affliction, rumors of witchcraft spread  throughout the town.  Ann sees the attention the girls are getting and, anxious for some power of her very own, she convinces the girls to play along, blaming witches for the hysterical fits they're putting on.  In a world so utterly restrictive to girls and women, is it any wonder that they relished their power?  But when innocent blood is spilled, they'll have to decide if it's worth it.  In this fictional story based on the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, author Stephanie Hemphill examines what might have been going on inside the minds of the "afflicted" girls.

Between the subject matter and the verse format, this book is packed with teen appeal.  The pages go quickly and Ms. Hemphill does a nice job of showing why the girls might have acted as they did.  I could totally buy her premise that in their restricted lives each of the girls clung to whatever bit of power she was able to scrape up.  These are 17th-century Mean Girls.

I did have a couple of problems.  First of all, I couldn't keep the narrators straight because their voices were too similar.  There wasn't anything that discerned between them except the name of the character speaking under each poem's title.  In a story with multiple perspectives, you need to be able to tell the characters apart.

Secondly, I am not at all an expert and I do understand that this was a fictionalized account, but at least one of the characters referred to "bloomers" on multiple occasions throughout the book.  "Bloomers" were named after Amelia Bloomer who popularized the undergarments in the 1850s.  I'm of two minds about issues of historical inaccuracy in fiction.  Okay, it's a small thing and maybe Ms. Hemphill just used that word because it'd be something her audience would be familiar with or because it fit the cadence of the poems better.  And it's underwear, who cares, right?  But it was enough to jolt me out of the story each time I heard it (and I actually put down the book the last time so that I could go look up bloomers and see if I was right that it was anachronistic), so to me that's a problem.  Plus, it's got me thinking that if there was one inaccuracy, maybe there are more that I don't know enough to catch.  I get that it's fiction, but I also want my historical fiction to be, well, historically accurate.

(All that said, I am not an expert on historical undergarments.  Anyone know more about this than me and want to chime in?  Also, I'm interested to know what you think about piddly details in historical fiction.  Is it okay to get them not-quite-right because they're just little details or do you want exacting accuracy?  Is it okay if the author addresses it in her author's note?  Is it okay if it helps the modern audience understand what's going on, even if it's not mentioned in the author's note?)

Ahem.  ANYhoo.  Ms. Hemphill does include an author's note, which I loooove.  I believe that she did a great deal of research for this book.  She also includes information about each historical figure that the characters in the book were based on.  Most interesting to me, perhaps, was the information about what happened to each of the historical figures after the Salem Witch Trials were over.

To sum up: Wicked Girls has a lot of potential teen appeal.  The format didn't quite work for me, but I liked the book well enough.  I'd definitely recommend it to fans of historical novels-in-verse.  It maybe most reminded me of The Apprentice's Masterpiece by Melanie Little, so I'd recommend that as a readalike.  Also, teens interested in the Salem Witch Trials should check out Ann Rinaldi's A Break With Charity (and The Crucible, of course, but teens probably get that one in school).

Read more reviews at ReaderGirls, Dog-Eared and Well-Read,  and Pure Imagination.

Wicked Girls is on shelves now!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Don't forget AudioSynced

It's gettin' to be that time, again.  Send me a link to your September audiobook posts (email or leave it in the comments) and I'll add 'em to the roundup that'll post on October 1!  Feel free to snag the graphic above to use in your post(s).

In My Mailbox #48

I didn't think I was going to have anything for IMM this week, but I came home from the Anderson's YA Lit Conference late Saturday night to find two books on my doorstep!  In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.  Head on over there to find out what delightful books bloggers received in the mail, purchased, or checked out from the library this week! 

Crazy by Han Nolan (Harcourt Children's Books, September 2010).  

Summary from publisher: 

Fifteen-year-old Jason has fallen upon bad times - his mother has died and his father has succumbed to mental illness.  As he tries to hold his crazy father and their crumbling home together, Jason relies on a host of imaginary friends for guidance as he stumbles along, trying not to draw attention to his father's deteriorating condition.  

Both heartbreaking and funny, CRAZY lives up to the intense and compelling characters Han Nolan is praised for.  As Jason himself teeters on the edge of insanity, Nolan uncovers the clever coping system he develops for himself and throws him a lifeline in the guise of friendship.

I like things that are heartbreaking and funny, so I'm happy to take a look at this one!

Wildthorn by Jane Eagland (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, September 2010).  

Summary from publisher: 

They strip her naked, of everything—undo her whalebone corset, hook by hook. Locked away in Wildthorn Hall—a madhouse—they take her identity. She is now called Lucy Childs. She has no one; she has nothing. But, she is still seventeen—still Louisa Cosgrove, isn't she? Who has done this unthinkable deed? Louisa must free herself, in more ways than one, and muster up the courage to be her true self, all the while solving her own twisted mystery and falling into an unconventional love . . . Originally published in the UK, this well-paced, provocative romance pushes on boundaries—both literal and figurative—and, do beware: it will bind you, too.

I love the premise - very intriguing - and the cover.  

Annnd I also picked up some loot at the aforementioned conference, BUT I'm going to wait and tell you about that in my conference post(s).  I will say this: the authors were awesome and there was much love for librarians in that room.  I really appreciate the thoughtful and kind inscriptions that the various authors put in the books I had signed!  *love* 

So, that's my mailbox.  How about you?  Tell me one book that you got in the mail, bought, or checked out this week that you are most excited about! 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Around the interwebs

Links!  I have links for you!  (And that is as eloquent as I can be after this exhausting week...)

Oh my, was there a big kerfuffle about censorship and just in time for Banned Books Week.  See, this guy in Missouri objected to Laurie Halse Anderson's book Speak being used in high school English classes because he said that it should be classified as "soft pornography".  He also challenged Sarah Ockler's Twenty Boy Summer and Slaughterhouse Five. And then the interwebs exploded.  Read Laurie's response.  Read Sarah's response.  And Paul Hankins of RAW INK started the Twitter feed #SpeakLoudly, urging people to speak up against censorship.   Oh, and there's a whole list of Speak Loudly posts over at Bookalicious and also at The Reclusive Bibliophile.

I don't know that I have anything to add except I am a librarian and I will Speak Loudly for my patrons' right to read whatever they choose to read.

In other news, Librarian Pirate has compiled a Good Reads list of Mock Newbery titles.  Anybody have a Newbery pick already?

The Cybils panels have been announced!  Congratulations to all the wonderful bloggers who were selected to be judges.  I seriously can't wait to see what's nominated and which books make the shortlists!  Only one week to go until nominations open on October 1, so you'd better be thinking about what books you want to nominate!  I have a couple of mine in mind...

And I think that's all I've got for you.  I am headed back to Chicago this weekend to see my husband John Green and a lot of other fabulous authors at the Anderson's YA Lit Conference on Saturday.  If you will be there, please come say hi to me and Kelly of Stacked.  I promise we are very nice people and I would love to meet you!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

ALA is Not Your Mom

Okay, I was pointed to this post - Seven Things I Hate About Librarianship - by Jen of Stacked and maybe I'm just in a crotchety mood, but I felt the need to respond to #2:

Two: The main professional organization, ALA. Then again, it is called "American Library Association," which may make some wonder who's interests they are really watching. But name aside, it just seems more like an expensive subscription to some journals. At my level, I don't think it does a whole lot.
This blogger goes on to say that he/she dropped his/her ALA membership and has "not looked back".

Now, I'm not here to get up on my soapbox and shout to the world that ALA rules.  I'm also not here to say that ALA is terrible and a waste of money.  I'm here today to say that ALA is an organization made up of US.  It's not some magical entity floating around to solve all librarians' problems.  ALA is what we make of it.

Therefore, if you're not getting what you want out of ALA (what is it that you want out of ALA, anyway?), the only way to change that is to get involved.

ALA is not your mom.  ALA is not there to do your laundry and pick up your socks, metaphorically speaking.  ALA exists to create a professional network for the sharing of ideas, the bettering of our profession, and the education of library staff.  (Read the actual mission statement here.)

You know what is absolutely NOT helpful?  People complaining about something and not doing anything to change it.  ALA is what you make of it.  If you don't like it, get involved and change it.

(Full disclosure: Yes, I'm an ALA member.  Yes, I wish it was cheaper because I find the reported average salary of beginning librarians to be actually laughable [Who the heck did they survey?  Either that's way off or everyone I know is grossly underpaid].  No, someone from ALA did not ask me to write this blog post.)

ETA (9:23am):  I'm hearing in comments that lots of you would prefer to be members of divisions only (like YALSA, ALSC, etc.) if you could do so without being a member of "Big ALA".  If the divisions were not part of Big ALA, I wonder if the price for membership would go up?  And if the price for joining just the divisions was the same as joining the divisions + Big ALA, would you still want to join just the divisions?  I'm curious here.  I'm assuming that the divisions are somehow subsidized by Big ALA, but I don't know that for a fact.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Spaceheadz Winners!

Thanks to everyone who entered my giveaway for a copy of Spaceheadz by Jon Scieszka.  The random number generator picked #12 and #2, who are Karen D. from Texas and Jessi E. from Texas.  The winners have been notified by email.

Thanks for playing!

Love Drugged

Love Drugged by James Klise.  (Grades 9+)  Flux, September 2010.  304 pages.  Reviewed from purchased copy.

Someone at his high school knows Jamie's secret.
It's not his best friend.  It's not his girlfriend.  It's not his teacher.
Someone at his high school knows that Jamie's gay.  And before the secret spreads all over school, changing everything, Jamie's determined to fix the problem.  He's determined to be straight.  He has the miracle pill that will help him.  If it doesn't kill him first.

First of all, I have to give a shout-out to Lisa Novak who designed the cover.  The book's got a wildly intriguing premise, but the cover caught my eye before I knew what the book was about.  I saw the cover and I thought I want to read that book.  I just love the cover.

I also love what's inside the book.  I love the characters, especially Jamie.  He's a kid who's trying to figure out what it means to be who he is.  I was rooting for him the whole time, even when he was making bad decisions.  He's down-to-earth and I could understand why he chose the path he did.  Jamie felt very real to me, even when some of the plot elements went over the top a little bit.

To me, the tone of this book was perfect.  It's funny and light enough to differentiate the book from the scores of depressing YA novels, but it's serious enough that it gives the reader something to really think about.

The plot goes a little bit over the top in some places, and I wish that more of the secondary characters had been a bit more fleshed out.  Dr. Gamez, the developer of the pill, for example.  He's pretty much painted as a bad guy, and it would have been really intriguing if we'd seen another side to him.  I'm not saying that I want to be besties with a doctor who would develop a pill to "cure" homosexuality, but he would have been a more three-dimensional character if he'd had some good intentions.  Celia, too.  I get that we're seeing the story from Jamie's perspective, but it didn't seem like Celia had any faults (or if she did, they were faults that Jamie blamed himself for).

Oh, but those are minor things that didn't prevent me from really enjoying this debut novel.  I will certainly be looking for more from James Klise (a librarian!).  I think this would make a great book discussion selection.  It's certain to start conversations.

Read another review at The Bibliophilic Book Blog.

Love Drugged is on shelves now!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Giveaway! The Magnificent 12: The Call

Twelve-year-old Mack MacAvoy suffers from a serious case of mediumness. Medium looks. Medium grades. Medium parents who barely notice him. With a list of phobias that could make anyone crazy, Mack never would have guessed that he is destined for a more-than-medium life.

And then, one day, something incredibly strange happens to Mack. A three-thousand-year-old man named Grimluk appears in the boys’ bathroom to deliver some startling news: Mack is one of the Magnificent Twelve, called the Magnifica in ancient times, whatever that means. An evil force is on its way, and it’s up to Mack to track down eleven other twelve-year-olds in order to stop it. He must travel across the world to battle the wicked Pale Queen’s dangerous daughter, Ereskigal—also known as Risky. But Risky sounds a little scary, and Mack doesn’t want to be a hero. Will he answer the call? (Summary from publisher.) 

Want to win a SIGNED COPY of The Magnificent 12: The Call by Michael Grant?  Well, you're in luck because I have one copy to give away! 

Check out the book's website,, and this awesome book trailer: 

And fill out the form below to enter.  The giveaway is open to US residents with non-PO box addresses only and each person may enter once.  The giveaway will be open through October 5 and on October 6, I will randomly draw one name to win a signed copy of The Magnificent 12: The Call by Michael Grant.

The giveaway is now closed.  Thanks to all who entered!

Giveaway provided by publisher.  Good luck!

Monday, September 20, 2010

A Cybils Announcement for Nonfiction Monday!

Very fitting that on this Nonfiction Monday (now that I am back in town after my lovely weekend in Chicago), I get to announce to you that I'm serving as a nominating panelist for the Non-Fiction Picture Book category of the 2010 Cybils Awards!!  I'm working with a fabulous group of bloggers, as you can see: 

Panel Organizer: Jone MacCulloch, Check It Out
Panelists (Round I Judges):
Doret Canton, Happy Nappy Bookseller
Shirley Duke, 
Simply Science
Amanda Goldfuss, 
ACPL Mock Sibert
Abby Johnson, 
Abby (the) Librarian
Jone MacCulloch (see category organizer)
Karen Terlecky, 
Literate Lives
Carol Wilcox, 
Carol's Corner
Judges (Round II):
Kara Dean, Not Just for Kids
Roberta Gibson, 
Wrapped in Foil
Deb Nance, 
Carol Rasco, 
Rasco from RIF
Franki Sibberson, 
A Year of Reading

I am super excited about participating in the Cybils again this year!  Don't forget that nominations for the 2010 Cybils Awards will open on October 1.  Anyone can nominate one title per category (titles must have been published October 16, 2009 - October 15, 2010).  Yes, anyone!  You don't have to be a blogger or a certain age or a resident of the United States!  (Books must be published in English, though.) 
So start thinking about your favorite books of the year and get those nominations ready to go! 

Nonfiction Monday: Janis Joplin

Janis Joplin: Rise Up Singing by Ann Angel.  (Grades 8+)  Amulet Books, October 2010.  120 pages.  Reviewed from ARC snagged at BEA.

During a remarkable professional career spanning hardly more than three years, Janis Joplin soared to the heights of rock-and-roll fame with a blues-inflected voice and an electric stage presence that could set a stadium on its feet.  Then suddenly, at age 27, she was dead.  (Quoted from ARC flap copy.)

With frizzy hair and bad skin, Janis Joplin didn't fit in with the polished girls in her Texas high school.  While they wore circle pins and listened to Pat Boone, Janis preferred blues and longed to get out of her small Texas town.  After high school and a few stints at college, she ended up in San Francisco and started her singing career - a career that would lead to packed venues, tours in Europe, and appearances on TV.  In 1995, almost 25 years after her tragic death, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

With a straightforward, conversational tone and tons of pictures that bring the psychedelic '60s to life, Janis Joplin: Rise Up Singing will introduce teen readers to the tragically short life of this iconic singer.  The book's layout, with pages edged with trippy designs, adds to the overall feel of the book.  Obviously, this is going to appeal to teen fans of Joplin's music, but the story of an idealistic outsider finding a place for herself and succeeding beyond her wildest dreams will appeal to a wide audience.

Biographer Ann Angel doesn't shy away from the more scandalous events in Joplin's life - her copious drug use and an abortion in Mexico - but she doesn't glorify them either.  She includes a time line, source notes, a bibliography, and an index.

Janis Joplin: Rise Up Singing will be on shelves October 28, just after the 40th anniversary of Joplin's death.

It's Nonfiction Monday and you can check out this week's roundup at Wrapped in Foil!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

In My Mailbox #47

What was in the mail this week?  


Four books from the new Inside series by Sterling Children's Books (all out in October 2010):
Inside Dinosaurs
Inside Human Body
Inside Hurricanes
Inside Tornadoes

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (Dutton, December 2010).  I was so excited to find this one in the mail because I've been hearing some really positive buzz about this debut novel (plus, it's been blurbed by some of my favorite YA authors - Maureen Johnson, Robin Benway, Lisa McMann, etc!).  From GoodReads:

Anna was looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. So she's less than thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris — until she meets Étienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Étienne has it all . . . including a serious girlfriend. 

But in the City of Light, wishes have a way of coming true. Will a year of romantic near-misses end with their long-awaited French kiss? Stephanie Perkins keeps the romantic tension crackling and the attraction high in a debut guaranteed to make toes tingle and hearts melt. 

Personal Demons by Lisa Desroches (Tor Teen, September 2010).  This one, also, has gotten some good reviews and it's another debut, so I'm excited about this one as well!  From GoodReads: 

Frannie Cavanaugh is a good Catholic girl with a bit of a wicked streak. She's spent years keeping everyone at a distance—even her closest friends—and it seems her senior year will be more of the same...until Luc Cain enrolls in her class. No one knows where he came from, but Frannie can't seem to stay away from him. What she doesn't know is that Luc works in Acquisitions—for Hell—and she possesses a unique skill set that has the King of Hell tingling with anticipation. All Luc has to do is get her to sin, and he’s as tempting as they come. Frannie doesn’t stand a chance.

Unfortunately for Luc, Heaven has other plans, and the angel, Gabe, is going to do whatever it takes to make sure that Luc doesn’t get what he came for. And it isn't long before they find themselves fighting for more than just her soul.

But if Luc fails, there will be Hell to pay…for all of them.

I don't know if the subject matter is going to jibe with me, but it does sound intriguing! 

And that was my mailbox this week!  How about you?  What's the title you're most excited about that you received, bought, or checked out this week???

ETA (9/20/10): Whoops, I forgot to tell you that In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren!  Head on over there for the roundup! 

Friday, September 17, 2010

Around the Interwebs

Take a look at some of the things that have caught my attention around the interwebs this week:

My library has a Diversity Committee and I'm on it.  The purpose is to spread awareness and understanding of the cultural differences in our library and our community and the world.  We met this week and we watched some clips from the Anderson Cooper 360 piece on a CNN pilot study about children and race. Think we're post-racial?  Think that kids as young as four or five don't pick up on white bias?  Holy cats, you'd better think again.  Take a look:

For more clips, click the link above.  What do you think about this?  What can we do about it?  Definitely something to ponder...

On a lighter note, I discovered a new-to-me blog this week and I'm loving it, so you should check it out.  Mel's Desk is the blog of a public children's librarian and what I love, love, love is that she posts what she does for her baby storytimes.  We do baby storytimes, too, and I'm always looking for new ideas to spice things up a little bit.  Plus, she does awesome things like make her own big books, which is something I never would have thought to do but now I really want to try.

Sarah of GreenBean TeenQueen posted her amazingly awesome Fall Picks: Need to Know YA Releases and I immediately printed it out for our teen librarian and reference department.  She obviously puts a lot of work into these and they are very useful.

Lee Wind has a post over at Hunger Mountain that is very interesting: GLBTQ Teen Coming Out Stories: Move Beyond Them, Or Keep 'Em Coming?  He debates (with himself) whether or not the YA shelves have hit their limit of GLBTQ coming out stories and we should be moving on to books with GLBTQ content where coming out is not the main focus.  I have to agree with both of his minds on this one.  I think there's a real need for stories about GLBTQ teens where their sexuality is not the main problem or conflict of the book, just as I think there's a real need for stories about teens of different ethnicities and races where race/ethnicity is not the main issue in the book.  However, coming out is still a major event in a GLBTQ person's life and teens need relevant stories that reflect that.  There's room on our shelves for both kinds of stories.  Thanks to Maureen at Confessions of a Bibliovore for the link.

Speaking of books about different cultures, manuscripts are being accepted through September 30 for Lee & Low's NEW VOICES AWARD for a children's picture book story by a writer of color.  Click on through for the info.  Thanks to The Brown Bookshelf for the link.

Adrienne of What Adrienne Thinks About That talks about booktalking.  I used to be in the really-prepared, ready-to-do-formal-booktalks-at-a-moment's-notice camp because at my last library we did them on a regular basis.  At my current library, not so much, so I'm drifting into the read-this-book-because-it's-totally-awesome! camp.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.  Whatever gets kids reading!

And that's all I have to say about that.  Have an awesome weekend, folks!

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Nevermore by Kelly Creagh.  (Grades 9+)  Atheneum, August 2010.  544 pages.  Reviewed from purchased copy.

Once upon a high school cheery, Isobel faced English, leery
of the boy with pierce-ed lip and green eyes ringed with smudge-ed kohl.
When her teacher did assign her, then the fates they did align her
with the boy with eyes so clear they stared right down into her soul.
Varen was a tortured boy, finding escape for his soul.
Isobel would play a role.

As they started work together, Isobel decided whether
she condoned the actions of her jealous, football-playing beau.
Hearing strange things calling to her, unsure whether goth would woo her,
Isobel's caught up in Varen's spooky dreamland built on Poe.
As weird things begin to happen, as they study Edgar Poe
Isobel must stay or go...

Nevermore is Kelly Creagh's debut novel and I really liked it!*  Cheerleader Isobel gets paired up with scary goth kid Varen for an English project.  From the moment he writes his phone number down on her hand in purple ink, Isobel feels a spark, and as they work together on their Edgar Allan Poe project, she discovers that he's much more than eyeliner and silver chains.  Unfortunately, Isobel's jock boyfriend Brad is jealous and decides to make life hard for Varen.  And strange things start happening to Isobel - hearing voices, seeing things that aren't there...  Isobel thought she knew what she wanted - a decent grade on her English paper so she could compete with the cheerleaders at Nationals - but now she finds herself questioning her so-called friends and wanting to know what's behind Varen's mysterious facade.  Isobel will find out... but will she survive to tell about it?

What drew me in to the novel right off the bat were the characters of Varen and Isobel.  Varen!  I love him!  And Isobel is pretty darn sassy.  She could have easily been a flat character, a stereotypical cheerleader, but Isobel stands up for what she believes in and she's passionate about defending the people she cares about.  So, I liked both the main characters right off.  And then there's the chemistry between them.

Adele of Persnickety Snark was just ranting about unrealistic love-at-first-sight in YA novels, but I feel like Nevermore gets it right.  Isobel's attraction to Varen builds slowly and believably.  Kelly doesn't just tell us that Isobel has feelings for him, she shows us.  And that, my friends, makes all the difference.  Isobel and Varen are steamy without being steamy.  It's not a graphic love affair, but a spark that turns into a kind of smoldering thing, which is so much hotter than Isobel instantly falling "in love" and then beating the readers over the head with it.

Also, there's the creepiness.  Kelly does a great job with that, too.  For me, it's the off-screen stuff that really has the potential to be scary - the noises you hear but can't identify, the things you see out of the corner of your eye.  Kelly gets it right, with enough creepiness to please teens who like the scarier side of paranormal romance, and some unexpected funny bits to lighten the mood a bit.

Now, 544 pages is a lot of pages.  I generally feel that books should be 250-300 pages max (with very few exceptions).  And I'm not convinced that Nevermore really needed to be 500+ pages.  BUT.  I honestly enjoyed my time reading it.  It was a book that I looked forward to picking up and I didn't want to put it down to go to sleep at night.  Short chapters and engaging characters make the pages go by pretty quickly.

I'd definitely recommend Nevermore to fans of paranormal romance, but I'd try it on fans of straight-up romance, too.  The fantastic aspects to the story sort of trickle in at the beginning and really pick up at the end, so teens who don't think they like paranormal stuff might be drawn in by the characters.

Know that there is a sequel slated for 2011 and things are not going to be wrapped up with a big, shiny bow. I do feel like Kelly does a good job of completing the first part of the story while still building some momentum to lead us into the next book.

Read more reviews at Presenting Lenore, The Book Smugglers, Steph Su Reads, and Stiletto Storytime.  Also, check out an interview with Kelly at The Book Butterfly

Nevermore is on shelves now!

* which is a relief because I went to high school with Kelly and I had a great fear that I would not like her novel and then I would feel terrible.  Whew!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Giveaway! Guardians of Ga'Hoole!

The giveaway is now closed.  Thanks!

If your kids are as crazy about the Guardians of Ga'Hoole as the kids at my library, this is the post for you.  Two lucky winners will receive a copy of Guardians of Ga'Hoole: The Capture by Kathryn Lasky AND a copy of Lone Wolf, the first book in Kathryn's newest series, Wolves of the Beyond.

Here's a little info about Guardians of Ga'Hoole: The Capture:

When Soren, a young owlet, mysteriously falls from his nest one evening, he’s plucked up and taken to the sinister St. Aegolius Academy for Orphaned Owls. Once there, he must use his wits and bravery to escape his captors. If Soren can learn to fly, he might just be able to take refuge with a group of brave owls he’d thought only to be a legend—the Guardians of Ga’Hoole! (Summary from publisher.) 

As you may or may not know, the Guardians of Ga'Hoole movie, Legend of the Guardians, comes out September 24 (so you may want to stock up and fill in any holes in the series that you have!).  Check out the trailer:

Lone Wolf was flying off the shelves at my library all summer, so here's a bit about that one, too:

In the harsh wilderness beyond Ga’Hoole, a wolf mother hides in fear. Her newborn pup, otherwise healthy, has a twisted leg. The mother knows the rigid rules of her kind. The pack cannot have weakness. Her pup must be abandoned on a desolate hill—condemned to die. But alone in the forest, the pup, Faolan, does the unthinkable. He survives. This is his story—the story of the wolf pup who rises up to change forever the Wolves of the Beyond. Find out more at (Summary from publisher.) 

So, what are you waiting for?  Just fill out the form below to enter the giveaway.  Giveaway is open to residents of the US only and each person may enter one time.  The giveaway will be open for entrants through September 29 and on September 30, I'll randomly draw two names to each win a copy of Guardians of Ga'Hoole: The Capture and Lone Wolf

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Remember that Messy Craft?

My piñata program was super fun and I insist you all go do a piñata program at your library.

Wanna know how?  Check out my post on the ALSC Blog - Let's Make a Piñata!  (Please tell me if I missed an enye!)

A Day in the Life of a Children's Librarian

8:35am - Arrive at work, set up program room for the first Mother Goose on the Loose of the fall!  To set up the room, I arrange tables and chairs, get my books and props ready, pull books for a book display, get the music ready, go over the rhymes to make sure I know them, print out the words to a new rhyme we're doing so the parents can follow along, and set out brochures for the Imagination Library.

9:20a - Check email.  I respond to an email about setting up library programs at our local YMCA after school programs.

9:43a - Print out flyers about upcoming parent workshops to hand out at the program.

10:00a - Mother Goose on the Loose!  This is our program for under-2's.  We took a break from the program for August and it's great to see my babies again!  I see lots of familiar faces and a few new ones - one of my moms has brought along her new baby that she had while we were on break!

10:45a - The program's over but I leave the room set up because we'll be doing it again tomorrow.  I head upstairs to administration to have a few meetings with various managers.

11:30a - I talk to the director of our local Head Start preschool about setting up regular visits to their classes.

11:45a - Our evening shift worker comes in and I chat with her a little bit.

12:00p - I work on August's monthly report (which is over a week late - whoops!).

12:20p - Email report to my boss and start a file for my September monthly report.  In library school, our children's services professor assigned us a monthly report with the idea of teaching us to keep up our reports as we went along instead of sitting down at the end of the month and remembering everything that happened.  I guess it didn't quite stick, but I'm working on it!

12:30p - Lunch time!  I go out and grab a sandwich and read Kelly Creagh's Nevermore while I eat.

1:30p - I'm back from lunch and I show my staff what I've been working on for our fall storytime handouts.  This fall we're going to try giving patrons a take-home craft instead of doing one at the library and we'll be including handouts that go along with the storytime theme each week.  The handouts are half-pages, and one side has a list of related preschool-appropriate books and the other side has early literacy activities, rhymes, and crafts that they can do at home.

1:50p - I attempt to clean off my desk.  I tend to let things pile up, but I try to clean off my desk at least once a week.

2:06p - One of the things on my desk is an invoice for some shelving units we ordered, so I open the boxes to make sure we got what I ordered.  We ordered new bins for the board books and my looking at the bins somehow turns into me weeding the board book collection (for condition) and moving all of the board books into the bins and putting them out.

3:30p - Done with the board books, I put in an order for some craft supplies.

4:00p - I head up to the business office to turn in the invoice for the shelving units and complete the order for craft supplies.

4:30p - On my way back down, I stop by computer services to ask a couple of questions and our tech guy shows me the stuff he's been working on for our website updates.

5:05p - Back in my department, I talk with staff and make a sign to indicate where the board books have moved.

5:15p - I get things squared away and then head home... to make millions of piñatas for the program that's coming up on Friday...!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: Frozen Secrets

Frozen Secrets: Antarctica Revealed by Sally M. Walker.  (Grades 6-10.)  Carolrhoda Books, October 2010.  104 pages.  Review copy provided by publisher.

Antarctica: our vast, icy southernmost continent.  Winds can blow at 200 miles per hour and the temperature can plummet well below zero.  But it wasn't always this way.  What did Antarctica look like millions of years ago?  How is our changing climate affecting this frozen continent?  What hidden things may lie in the depths below miles of ice?

And just how is a scientist supposed to do research down there when it's so frickin' cold?!

There's no doubt about it: the miles of ice that cover Antarctica hold secrets about the past.  Air bubbles, dust, and volcanic ash trapped in the ice for hundreds of thousands of years may hold clues to what the continent was like long ago and how it's changed (and continuing to change).  How do scientists get this information?  Carefully and with lots of hard work!

In Frozen Secrets, Sally M. Walker brings readers along on a trip to Antarctica.  Scientists have to undergo special survival training and wear special gear to study there.  They also use special tools.  Scientists can use certain radar waves to measure the thickness of the ice (the ice in Antarctica is almost 3 miles thick in some places!).  They also use powerful drills to collect samples of ice from thousands of feet down and underwater robots to study the lakes and oceans.

Young adventurers interested in this extreme continent will get their fill of interesting Antarctic facts.  For instance, did you know:
  • Antarctica gets an average snowfall of only 2 inches per year!
  • Scuba divers in Antarctica wear "dry suits" instead of wet suits.  They are special suits that go on over whatever clothes they're already wearing, keeping them dry and warm with a layer of air for insulation!
  • There are educational outreach programs that send school teachers to Antarctica with scientists so that they can share their experiences with their students!
  • There are liquid lakes found under miles of ice in Antarctica!
  • There have been dinosaur fossils found in Antarctica! 
And, of course, the book is plenty detailed and has excellent source notes, making it great for report-writing.  I'd expect nothing less from Ms. Walker. 

Frozen Secrets is an information-packed trek through the mysterious frozen continent of Antarctica.  There's a little something here for everyone: robots, dinosaurs, survival skills, environmental issues... All complete with color photos and a neat layout that puts the text on top of a background of ice, making a visually pleasing and informative book.   

Frozen Secrets will be on shelves October 1.

Happy Nonfiction Monday!  Check out the roundup at Rasco from RIF

Sunday, September 12, 2010

In My Mailbox #46

Here's the mail, it never fails. 
It makes me wanna wag my tail.
When it comes, I wanna wail, 

Yup, it's In My Mailbox time!  IMM is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.  Head on over there to see what other bloggers got - maybe there are some upcoming books you'll want to add to your TBR list!

For review:

The Familiars by Adam Jay Epstein & Andrew Jacobson (HarperCollins, September 2010).

The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman by Ben H. Winters (HarperCollins, October 2010).

The Winter of Red Snow: The Diary of Abigail Jane Stewart, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, 1777 by Kristiana Gregory (Scholastic, September 2010).

A Journey to the New World: The Diary of Remember Patience Whipple, Mayflower, 1620 by Kathryn Lasky (Scholastic, September 2010).


Paranormalcy by Kiersten White (HarperTeen, August 2010).

Love Drugged by James Klise (Flux, September 2010).

The two that I bought are by authors who will be at the Anderson's YA Lit Conference.  I'm trying to catch up on the books of the authors who will be appearing because I think that'll make the conference more meaningful.

*That's from Blue's Clues.  I could not find a satisfactory YouTube clip for you.  Believe me, I tried. 

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Never forgetting

I was driving home from work yesterday and for some reason I started thinking about the fact that the next day was September 11.  Probably no American who was old enough to know what was going on will ever forget where they were when they learned about the planes hitting the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.  But what I was thinking about were the kids who have grown up completely post-9/11.   As of today, any kid who's younger than 9 years old has lived exclusively in a post-9/11 world.

If I have kids, someday they're going to ask me if I remember where I was when the planes hit the towers, just like I asked my parents where they were when Kennedy was shot.

I was asleep, actually.  And then I woke up, and everything had changed, only we didn't know yet how everything had changed.  That would come later.

But I was asleep.  I was in my dorm room at Indiana University.  It was my sophomore year of college and I shared a room with my best friend.  I woke up to the phone ringing.  Of course, it was across the room on its charger, so I frantically hopped down from my top bunk to grab the phone.  My roommate was a notoriously light sleeper and I hated to wake her up if I could help it.

I grabbed the phone and saw that it was my ex-boyfriend calling.  He told me to turn on the news.  I didn't want to turn on the TV because I didn't want to wake B, so I logged on to some online news sites.  I saw the pictures, but I honestly didn't know what a big deal it was.  Before that day, I didn't know what the World Trade Center was.  I didn't know it was in New York.  I probably thought, "Oh, that's too bad.  A plane accidentally hit a tower somewhere."

I gave up and turned on the TV, plugging in headphones in an attempt to keep from waking up my roommate.  We had a tiny little TV and it was on top of our tall dresser.  The headphone cords weren't very long, so I was standing up, in my pajamas, watching the news.  I can't remember at what point I tuned in, but I think it was just after the second plane hit the tower.

My roommate woke up.  What a thing to wake up to.

We turned on the news properly and we learned what had happened.  We saw the towers fall.  I wasn't in New York.  I was in Indiana.  I can't even imagine what it must have been like for the people in New York.  But everything changed for us that day, too.

Maybe I was naive, but hey, I was 19 years old.  Before 9/11, it was inconceivable that something like this could happen to us.  Suddenly, it had happened.  The United States had been attacked.  On our own soil.  And suddenly, anything was possible.

IU didn't cancel classes that day.  At the time, I was in two statistics classes and in my first class, our professor told us she didn't know how to deal with an event this catastrophic except to concentrate on mundane things like statistics.  So we did math.

Rumors flew wildly over campus that day.  Large universities were a target.  The bombs were coming for us next.  Looking back now, I can see that it was ridiculous.  But was it?  That's how everything changed on that day.  Suddenly, all things were possible.  Suddenly, we knew things like terror alert levels and jihad.  Suddenly, terrorists had flown planes into the World Trade Center.  On purpose.  To destroy them.  So, suddenly, it wasn't all that inconceivable that the bombs could be coming for us next.  It didn't make any sense, but none of this made any sense.

We were too numb, then, to even feel angry.  That would come later.  The anger and the how dare they.  But violence is no answer to violence.  Even then, I knew that.

After watching the news all day long, we couldn't take it any more.  B and I went down to a friend's dorm room and we watched some really stupid movie (I can't remember what movie we watched) just to take our minds away for a bit.  But it was too late.  Everything had changed.

Someday, if I have kids, they'll ask me where I was on 9/11.  And I'll tell them how everything changed.  Because none of us will ever forget.

And hey, go over to The Reading Zone and read Sarah's post.