Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Face on the Milk Carton

The Face on the Milk Carton, by Caroline B. Cooney, 1990.

My first review, so please bear with me!

I've been meaning to read The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney forever, and can't really tell you why I haven't. It's the required summer reading book for 8th graders in the town I work in and I have tons of extra copies in my office, so availability wasn't the problem. The story sounded interesting enough--a girl spies a picture of herself at 3 on a milk carton, and the perfect life she'd been living in begins to unravel as she seeks to learn the truth about her early childhood.

I think one of the reasons I hesitated so long is because I know that there are 3 other books that follow this one. Knowing that in advance kind of ruins the book for me--I know not everything will be cleared up by the end of FOMC, which means I'd have to commit to reading the whole quartet. While I have nothing against reading a complete series, if I don't like the first book, it's kind of a chore to read the rest. (But I must, because I don't like loose ends!) Basically, I was afraid I wouldn't love it, but would be obligated to continue reading.

But, FOMC was available as an eBook on my library's virtual branch and I was very anxious to try that service out, so I ordered and downloaded it. I can only "check out" titles for 2 weeks, so I kind of forced myself into the commitment, and finally read it.

I have to say that my first instincts are correct. I now have to finish all the other books. FOMC had an ending, sure, but knowing there's more means I have to keep going. I want to compare my eBook with a physical copy, because there were a lot of grammatical and typographical errors on my nook.

Anway, the story itself is straightforward. We meet Janie Johnson at 15. She has a lovely home life, with parents who dote on her, is surrounded by friends, and basically wants for nothing. She spends time, though, toying with the idea of changing the spelling of her first and/or last names to give herself more of an identity.

At lunch one day, she happens to take a swig of her friend's milk (Janie's lactose intolerant), she sees a picture on the side of the milk carton. It's an ordinary picture of the "Have You Seen This Child?" variety, an ordinary three year old wearing an ordinary dress--but Janie recognizes herself in that picture.

This revelation sends Janie into spirals of depression and indecision. Did her parents--a local soccer coach and his committee-attending wife--ruthlessly kidnap her twelve years ago? Bit by bit, Janie's memory of that time resurfaces, leaving her with more questions--why did she willingly leave her family behind? What does  that say about her? Who can she trust with this secret? If she tells her parents, and she's wrong, it will cush her parents. If she says nothing, and she's right, an entire family in New Jersey has been holding out hope for twelve years that Jennie (as she was known) will be returned to them. If she's right and she tells, will she be forced to leave the parents who love her and be returned to this family she can barely remember?

It was an intriguing story, I'll grant you that. However, Janie's indecision began to grate on me after a while. Will she tell, won't she tell? How many people can she alienate while she deliberates? I'm curious to learn why this book is repeatedly chosen as the required 8th grade summer reading.

And now I have to read the rest of the series to find out what happens! The saga continues with Whatever Happened to Janie?, The Voice on the Radio, and What Janie Found.

Enjoy your reading!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pre-order Forever!

Maggie Steivater has announced book 3 of the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy, Forever.

The cover looks amazing!

Enjoy your reading!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox is an internet meme created by The Story Siren to share new books received, purchased, or borrowed from the library. I just purchased a nook, so I have a category for eBooks, too!
Galleys (on my eBook!):
  • The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group by Catherine Jinks
  • Adios, Nirvana by Conrad Wesselhoeft
  • The Freak Observer by Blythe Woolston
  • The Duff  by Kody Keplinger (as mentioned last week, this was from a contest on Gayle Forman's blog)
  • Guardians of Ga'Hoole: the Capture by Kathryn Lasky (I won an awesome contest over at Novel Novice and received this book and a nifty travel pillow with reading light built in!)

  • Beautiful Malice by Rebecca James
  • Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
  • Halo by Alexandra Adornetto
  • Love, Stargirl by Jerri Spinelli
  • The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
 Borrowed from the library:
  • Castration Celebration by Jake Wizner
  • Charlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood
  • Crazy-Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
  • I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman
What's in your mailbox this week?

Enjoy your reading!

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Hob

Adults who love The Hunger Games now have a blog to call their own! Head over to The site is dedicated to the Hunger Games trilogy and upcoming movie. You can even join the forum to discuss all things HG with other fans!

Right now they're running a Mockingjay contest! Enter to win an official, stamped copy of Mockingjay from the book tour! (It's a stamp signature because Suzanne Collins isn't signing on this tour due to a hand injury.)

Enjoy your reading!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event showcasing upcoming releases. Breakingthespine may be the creator of this event--I'm not sure. I first learned about it through WORD for Teens.

I'm waiting for The Scorch Trials, the second book in the Maze Runner trilogy by James Dashner. As a lover of dystopian fiction, it's no wonder I enjoyed The Maze Runner, the story of a boy who finds himself in an elevator with no recolelction of how he got there. He's entered a world of boys...these boys have to find their way out of the Maze. Easy enough, right? Right...except that the Maze changes every single night. And is surrounded by horrible beasties. The area that the boys live in is safe from outside elements, but heaven help you if you should be stuck in the Maze by nightfall--the falls close in and you're trapped outside.

It's good stuff, I'm sure I'm not doing it justice (blame it on my foggy brain--sinus infection). The Maze Runner got a nice boost when Mockingjay was released (it was referenced in several articles). What I like about it is that this story is told from a boy's POV, so when I had my high school boys coming in to the library over the summer complaining about all the "girly" books on the Summer Reading List, I could say, "No, The Maze Runner is really awesome and could definitely be considered a boys' book!" Unfortunately, it was so popular all summer that it was never checked in!

Long story short, I am anxiously waiting for the second installment, which is to be released on October 12. Here's the product description from Amazon (NOTE: contains spoilers if you haven't read/finished The Maze Runner):

Solving the Maze was supposed to be the end. No more puzzles. No more variables. And no more running. Thomas was sure that escape meant he and the Gladers would get their lives back. But no one really knew what sort of life they were going back to.
In the Maze, life was easy. They had food, and shelter, and safety . . . until Teresa triggered the end. In the world outside the Maze, however, the end was triggered long ago.
Burned by sun flares and baked by a new, brutal climate, the earth is a wasteland. Government has disintegrated—and with it, order—and now Cranks, people covered in festering wounds and driven to murderous insanity by the infectious disease known as the Flare, roam the crumbling cities hunting for their next victim . . . and meal.
The Gladers are far from finished with running. Instead of freedom, they find themselves faced with another trial. They must cross the Scorch, the most burned-out section of the world, and arrive at a safe haven in two weeks. And WICKED has made sure to adjust the variables and stack the odds against them.
Thomas can only wonder—does he hold the secret of freedom somewhere in his mind? Or will he forever be at the mercy of WICKED?
Enjoy your reading!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Speak Up and Speak Loudly

Ironic that censorship is in the news just before Banned Books Week begins. A few weeks ago, Ellen Hopkins was "uninvited" to speak at the Humble, TX, teen book festival (which has since been cancelled, presumably because a number of authors scheduled to speak withdrew to support Ellen). And now this.

Dr. Wesley Scroggins, a fundamentalist Christian and parent in Republic, MO, recently published an editorial denouncing three popular YA books: Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughter-House Five (partly because it contains "so much profane language, it would make a sailor blush with shame"), Sarah Ockler's Twenty Boy Summer (which "glorifies drunken teen parties, where teen girls lose their clothes in games of strip beer pong"), and, most shocking of all, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, partly because of two rape scenes. Scroggins likens the rape scenes to "soft pornography." You can read Scroggins editorial here.

I'm angered by these challenges, but truly incensed because people are actually listening to what this man has to say. Everyone has the right to read what they want to. Just because YOU don't like it doesn't mean it's bad, or that NO ONE should read it. It's freedom to read, people!

I enjoyed Twenty Boy Summer so much that I actually emailed Sarah Ockler to praise the book. This novel is about so much more than "drunken teens." It's a story of love and a story of grief, and who has the "right" to own it. There are some deep messages in TBS, one that I'm not sure Scroggins would pick up on, even if he were able to get past the drinking.

But there's a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, I suppose. For we all know that when books are challenged or reviewed, word gets out, and so many more people choose to read these books for themselves, in order to form their own opinions. The one thing I actually tolerate about censorship is that oftentimes brings these books right into the limelight.

Librarians, authors, and readers are just a few of the people demanding to be heard. This issue is quickly making its way around the YA-blogosphere. Here are just a few of the blogs I've read on the subject:

Laurie Halse Anderson's blog
Sarah Ockler's blog
Tahleen Reads
YA Love

What can you do?
Finally, READ! Now is perfect time to start reading some banned and challenged books. Take a look at the list of the American Library Association's Top 10 most frequently challenged books of 2009. And don't stop there--once you're done reading, SHARE what you've read! Post your thoughts on Facebook, tweet about it, add it to your blog.
Enjoy your reading!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Getting started

Just getting started on my blog here. Thought I'd take things nice and slow at first, and just highlight what I'm reading/working on/excited about this week.

  • If You Come Softly
  • Behind You
  • Miracle's Boys
(in preparation for my monthly juvenile detention visit. I thought I'd booktalk Jacqueline Woodson this month.)
  • Halo by Alexandra Adornetto
  • Hothouse by Chris Lynch
Excited about:
Looking forward to reading (hopefully soon!):
  • Fallout by Ellen Hopkins
  • Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking, book 3) by Patrick Ness
  • The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
Things to do this week:
  • Game Night at the library!
  • YA team meeting
I think that's about all, librarian-related!

Enjoy your reading!