Friday, September 30, 2011

The Phantom Limb by William Sleator

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The Phantom Limb by William Sleator
October 1, 2011, Abrams

Summary from Goodreads:

Isaac is the new kid in town. His mother, Vera, is in the hospital with a mysterious illness, and the only person left to care for Isaac is his distant grandfather. Friendless and often alone, Isaac loses himself in his collection of optical illusions, including a strange mirror box that he finds in his new house, left behind by the previous tenants. Designed for amputees, it creates the illusion of a second limb.Lonely Isaac wishes someone would reach out to him, and then someone does—a phantom limb within the mirror box! It signs to Isaac about a growing danger: someone who has murdered before and is out to get Vera next. The only way Isaac can solve the mystery and save his mother is with the help of the mirror box. But can he trust the phantom limb?

I've never read anything by William Sleator but he's been on my radar since I began working with teens in 2009 (Rewind, in particular, has been on my to-read list forever). I heard about his passing on August 3 and also that he had just finished up his latest book. Abrams was kind enough to send me an ARC of The Phantom Limb.

I really, really wanted to like this book. The premise is interesting enough--someone is trying to kill Isaac's mom, and the phantom limb in the mirror box might be able to help him stop the murder. Sure, it's far-fetched, but it sounds like it could be a fun read--and something younger boys, in particular, might enjoy.

I would still recommend it to younger boys (although the suggested age range is 14, I didn't really come across anything that would offend slightly younger readers), but I was very disappointed with many aspects of the book. Much of it felt rushed, as though there was an intense push to get it finished and no time for editing. The storyline is way beyond suspension of belief. Believing that a phantom limb is trying to help solve a murder is one thing. Believing that everything that happened in the hospital could actually happen? I mean, one of the things, maybe. ALL of them? No freaking way. It's just too implausible.

All the talk about optical illusions, though, really piqued my interest (Isaac's a collector). I've looked up information on the Menger sponge, the mirror box, and the spiral can test out the aftereffect here, but the Menger sponge I just cannot wrap my head around. All of these illusions are things that you really have to see to understand--simply visualizing them based on what you've read isn't enough. So I will give Sleator props for introducing me to a subject I'd previously had little knowledge of, and I definitely think that younger readers might develop a fascination with optical illusions after finishing this book. When all is said and done, however, unfortunately I feel that the execution wasn't as great as it could have been.

ARC received from publisher.

Enjoy your reading!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Christi's Adventures: Ellen Hopkins' Perfect Book Event!

Be sure to enter my current giveaways!

On Tuesday I made yet another trek out to the Princeton Barnes & Noble, this time to meet the inimitable Ellen Hopkins. I gotta say that this B&N does a really great job for author events--before Ellen came out the woman in charge of events sent around a clipboard that we could add our emails to if we wanted to be kept up-to-date with events at that store. You mean I won't have to remember to check the B&N website constantly? Yes, please! She also had a ton of Banned Books Weeks bookmarks (with Ellen's manifesto on the back) that she handed out, and when I told her I was a librarian, gave me a bunch to share with my teens.

Ellen Hopkins is, simply put, an amazing speaker. To start the program she read several pages from each of the four characters in Perfect, explaining that she wanted us to hear the characters the way she wrote them. (By the way, I totally hear the characters the way she reads them. Awesome!)

Then she spoke about Banned Books Week and how she's one of the most challenged authors of 2010. It was totally reassuring to hear her say that she writes about dark subjects because it exists, and there are teens out there who nee dot know they're not alone. She also spoke at length about the inspiration behind her books--most are based on things that happen either to friends or readers--and she spoke about her upcoming projects. Triangles is her first foray into adult fiction and will be out next month. Tilt will be her 2012 young adult release, and the main characters in Tilt are actually secondary characters from Triangles. She said she's also doing research on her 2012 adult release, titled Collateral, which is about people in the armed forces, and those they leave behind when they're deployed. They all sound incredible!

She took many questions from the audience and discussed everything from how she felt about being challenged, her inspiration for her work and her favorite authors (Stephen King, who is also the most influential author of my teen years!).

Then it was time for the signing! I was a little flustered when it was finally my turn, but still managed to tell Ellen that I was a teen librarian and a blogger, and that my teens were quite jealous I was meeting her. I got my copy of Perfect signed, as well as Crank (for my Banned Books Giveaway--you're already entered, right?) and Identical (presumably for next summer's Book Auction at my library, if I can bear to part with it). 

(It's me and Ellen-freaking-Hopkins OMG)

So there you have it, another author event in the books. Ellen will be promoting Triangles at the Princeton Public Library on Wednesday, October 19th, and you know what? I might have to make the drive to see her again. She was just that impressive and I love her. :)

Enjoy your reading!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I'm Not Her by Janet Gurtler

Be sure to enter my current giveaways!

I'm Not Her by Janet Gurtler
Sourcebooks Fire, May 1, 2011
Read for 2011 Debut Author Challenge

Summary from Goodreads:
“For the first time in my life, I didn’t feel envy…” 
Tess is the exact opposite of her beautiful, athletic sister. And that’s okay. Kristina is the sporty one, Tess is the smart one, and they each have their place. Until Kristina is diagnosed with cancer. Suddenly Tess is the center of the popular crowd, everyone eager for updates. There are senior boys flirting with her. Yet the smiles of her picture-perfect family are cracking and her sister could be dying. Now Tess has to fill a new role: the strong one. Because if she doesn’t hold it together, who will?
This is an excellent and realistic debut novel. Told from Tess' point of view, I'm Not Her shows the agonizing horror of a young, healthy teen being diagnosed with cancer. Kristina is the athletic superstar sister, and Tess is the "other" sister--the smart, artistic one. As happens in many YA novels (and in many families, I'm sure), Mom identifies more with Kristina and is always in the stands, cheering during a volleyball game, or taking her shopping for the latest fashions. Tess has always identified more with her father, a university professor, but as the events of the novel unfold, Tess begins to see that she's less a reflection of either of her parents and more of an individual than even she gave herself credit for.

While Kristina hides herself away from the world after learning she has cancer, Tess is left to field questions. A-list seniors who previously only knew Tess as "Tee's little sister" are now seeking her out at school and on Facebook, seeking information on their dear friend. Tess is, understandably, both annoyed and flattered by this new popularity.

What I loved about this novel was that Tess was real enough to still want things for herself, but not so much of a monster that she acknowledges her behavior as selfish at the same time. What I didn't love about this novel was how poorly Tess was treated by her parents. Her artwork is treated like a hobby by both parents--Mom even likens it to her own scrapbooking that she does occasionally! Here's this poor kid doing something she loves and no one takes her seriously. Ugh. And even with Honor Society--her parents don't even think that's a big deal. They suck.

Don't even get me started on Tess' "best friend" Melissa. What a beast. And Nick? I desperately wanted him to be so much more than he was. I did love how Kristina's friends rally around Tess when she needs it most. There were so many touching moments in this story. And there were so many "oh-my-God-did-that-just-happen?" moments, that I think I'll end this review here, before I give too much away. Suffice it to say that Janet Gurtler has a talent for emotional, realistic fiction and I can't wait to read more. Oh, but I don't have to--her upcoming novel, If I Tell, is on my nook already, courtesy of NetGalley!)

Borrowed book from the library.
Enjoy your reading!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

Be sure to enter my current giveaways!

Impulse by Ellen Hopkins
2007, Simon Pulse

Summary from Goodreads:
Aspen Springs Psychiatric Hospital is a place for people who have played the ultimate endgame. The suicide attempt survivors portrayed in this novel tell starkly different stories, but these three embattled teens share a desperate need for a second chance. Ellen Hopkins, the author of Glass and Crank, presents another jarring, ultimately uplifting story about young people crawling back from a precipice.
Ellen Hopkins has a gift. Written in her signature verse, Impulse tells the stories of three teens who attempted suicide and now find themselves patients in a psychiatric hospital. Vanessa, Tony, and Connor are from three vastly different worlds, but the trio forms an unusual bond while trying to heal and come to terms with what drove them to attempt to end their lives. Impulse will leave you haunted. We very quickly start to feel for these characters and so desperately want them to find only good things in their lives. The ending will leave you speechless. Impulse is  the kind of book that could very easily be a standalone, but oh. My. Goodness. I cannot wait for the sequel, Perfect, to find out what happens next (and yes, I know it was released on the 13th, but I'm waiting to get my copy tomorrow, at Ellen Hopkins' signing at the Princeton Barnes & Noble!).

Borrowed book from library.

Enjoy your reading!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

In My Mailbox (53)

Be sure to enter my current giveaways!
Blogoversary giveaway 
Banned Books Giveaway Hop!

In My Mailbox is an Internet meme hosted by The Story Siren to share new books received, purchased, or borrowed.   

So here's what I got this week!

Borrowed from the library:
  • Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories edited by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones (I am so grateful that this book has been written and compiled, and I cannot wait to read it!)
  • Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick (juvenile fiction)
  • Fourth Grade Rats by Jerry Spinelli (juvenile fiction) (my daughter is reading this in her (fourth grade) class, and I wanted to see what she's been reading)
  • Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Reading by Tommy Greenwald (juvenile fiction) (we were talking about the importance of book trailers at a reader's services meeting, and one of the librarians shared the link to this book's trailer. Hysterical--actually liked the trailer better than the book.)
  • Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant (picture book): Sadly, we made the decision to put one of our dogs down this week, and this book really helpd my daughter (and me, who am I kidding?) with this decision.
Received from author for review:
  • Perfected by Girls by Alfred Martino
  • The Lipstick Laws by Amy Holder (for Collingswood Book Festival)
  • Tighter by Adele Griffin (also for Collingswood!)
  • He's So Not Worth It by Kieran Scott (for the author visit Kieran's doing at my library in a few weeks!)
What did you get?
Enjoy your reading!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Banned Books Week Hop!

Did you enter my blogoversary giveaway yet? Click here!

Welcome to Banned Books Week! As a teen librarian of course I absolutely adore banned books. I haven't been part of a challenge committee yet, and I'm not sure what I will do in that situation (even though I know what both ALA and my library say to do!), but in the meantime I'm trying to draw attention to some of the greatest challenged works of our time by displaying them around my branch.

While I am not about censorship, I can understand that people take offense to certain materials. It's your privilege as an American to have your own opinion about things. If you find the content in a book questionable, then by all means do not allow your teen to read it (good luck with that, by the way). Ideally, I would assume that you've READ the work in question and discussed with your teen why you're opposed to said material.

I do NOT agree with people who think their opinions matter more than everyone else's. I don't need you choosing materials for me or my child. Husband and I have been raising Daughter to realize that everyone is different, and if we were all the same, the world would be a mighty boring place. I believe this is true in the world of reading, as well. Just because a book isn't right for you or your family doesn't mean it's wrong for everyone.

So this week I encourage you to pick up a banned book. And because this is a giveaway hop, I have a prize! One lucky follower will win a copy of Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler, recently banned in Republic, MO (a district with it's own mess of problems), as well as a copy of Crank by Ellen Hopkins, who has had more than her share of challenges and bans. (I'm hoping to get Crank signed by Ellen next week, but I don't want to promise that in case something happens beyond my control!) EDIT: Crank is indeed signed by Ellen!

When you're finished here, be sure to hop over to the other blogs participating!

Enjoy your reading!

Friday, September 23, 2011


Did you enter my blogoversary giveaway yet? Click here!

Hey gang...thank goodness it's Friday. Suffice it to say it's just been a difficult week, and even though it's supposed to rain here in NJ for, I don't know, the next millennium, I'm ready to look forward to funness. Like, Tuesday I'm heading to the Princeton Barnes & Noble for Ellen Hopkins' book signing. And next weekend is the Collingswood Book Festival. Anyone else going?

Don't forget to enter my blogoversary giveaway, and tomorrow I'll have my Banned Books Hop giveaway up and running, so be sure to stop back!

Have a great weekend, and enjoy your reading!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard

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Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard
Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, March 8, 2011
Read for YA Contemps and 2011 Debut Author Challenges

Summary from Goodreads:
It's hard finding beauty in the badlands of Washokey, Wyoming, but 14-year-old Grace Carpenter knows it's not her mother's pageant obsessions, or the cowboy dances adored by her small-town classmates. True beauty is wild-girl Mandarin Ramey: 17, shameless and utterly carefree. Grace would give anything to be like Mandarin. When they're united for a project, they form an unlikely, explosive friendship, packed with nights spent skinny-dipping in the canal, liberating the town's animal-head trophies, and searching for someplace magic. Grace plays along when Mandarin suggests they run away together. Blame it on the crazy-making wildwinds plaguing their Badlands town. Because all too soon, Grace discovers Mandarin's unique beauty hides a girl who's troubled, broken, and even dangerous. And no matter how hard Grace fights to keep the magic, no friendship can withstand betrayal.
Here's another book that's been on my to-read pile forever. I finally got around to it, and I did enjoy it. It's a strong debut novel, and I look forward to more from Kirsten. I love stories about small towns and the teens desperate to escape them. I also love reading about the nonsense that is beauty pagentry. There was just something a this novel, and I think it was our narrator, Grace. She was just so...YOUNG. I totally get that was the point, to show how naive she was when compared to Mandarin. I mean, she's 14 but the school decided she was too smart to be a freshman, so they bumped her to a sophomore. It just struck  me as improbably that a girl as meek and innocent as Grace would ever have the motivation to ever leave her tiny little town.

Mandarin was a fun character, though, and I enjoyed reading about her quirks. A girl like Mandarin, in a town like Washokey? Of COURSE people are going to talk about her! That's another thing I loved about this novel--Kirsten created a very realistic portrayal of the small-mindedness that is all too often present in small towns.

Own book.

Enjoy your reading!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Top 100 YA Books

Did you enter my blogoversary giveaway yet? Click here!

I've been seeing this all over the blogosphere lately, most recently at The Book Cellar. I've been resisting it, because I don't know where it originated and basically I hate people telling me what the best is. But, I am curious to see how many of these I've read, you go! 

Bold  = I've read it
Italic = I own it but haven't read it

1. Alex Finn – Beastly
2. Alice Sebold – The Lovely Bones
3. Ally Carter – Gallagher Girls (1, 2, 3, 4)
4. Ally Condie – Matched
5. Alyson Noel – The Immortals (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
6. Anastasia Hopcus – Shadow Hills
7. Angie Sage – Septimus Heap (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
8. Ann Brashares – The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (1, 2, 3, 4)
9. Anna Godbersen – Luxe (1, 2, 3, 4)
10. Anthony Horowitz – Alex Rider (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
11. Aprilynne Pike – Wings (1, 2, 3)
12. Becca Fitzpatrick – Hush, Hush (1, 2)

13. Brandon Mull – Fablehaven (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
14. Brian Selznick – The Invention of Hugo Cabret
15. Cassandra Clare – The Mortal Instruments (1, 2, 3, 4)
16. Carrie Jones – Need (1, 2, 3)
17. Carrie Ryan – The Forest of Hands and Teeth (1, 2, 3)
18. Christopher Paolini - Inheritance (1, 2, 3, 4)
19. Cinda Williams Chima – The Heir Chronicles (1, 2, 3)
20. Colleen Houck – Tigers Saga (1, 2)
21. Cornelia Funke – Inkheart (1, 2, 3)
22. Ellen Hopkins – Impulse
23. Eoin Colfer – Artemis Fowl (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
24. Faraaz Kazi – Truly, Madly, Deeply
25. Frank Beddor – The Looking Glass Wars (1, 2, 3)
26. Gabrielle Zevin – Elsewhere
27. Gail Carson Levine – Fairest
28. Holly Black – Tithe (1, 2, 3)
29. J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
30. James DashnerThe Maze Runner (1, 2)
31. James Patterson – Maximum Ride (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
32. Jay Asher – Thirteen Reasons Why
33. Jeanne DuPrau – Books of Ember (1, 2, 3, 4)
34. Jeff Kinney – Diary of a Wimpy Kid (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
35. John Boyne – The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
36. John Green – An Abundance of Katherines
37. John Green – Looking for Alaska
38. John Green – Paper Towns
39. Jonathan Stroud – Bartimaeus (1, 2, 3, 4)
40. Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl – Caster Chronicles (1, 2)
41. Kelley Armstrong – Darkest Powers (1, 2, 3)
42. Kristin Cashore – The Seven Kingdoms (1, 2)
43. Lauren Kate – Fallen (1, 2, 3)
44. Lemony Snicket - Series of Unfortunate Events (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13)
45. Libba Bray – Gemma Doyle (1, 2, 3)
46. Lisa McMann – Dream Catcher (1, 2, 3)
47. Louise Rennison – Confessions of Georgia Nicolson (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
48. M.T. Anderson – Feed
49Maggie Stiefvater – The Wolves of Mercy Falls (1, 2, 3) 
50. Margaret Peterson Haddix – Shadow Children (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7) I own them all but have yet to read books 6 & 7.
51. Maria V. Snyder – Study (1, 2, 3) I've only read book 1.
52. Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
53. Markus Zusak – I am the Messenger
54. Mark Haddon – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time55. Mary Ting – Crossroads
56. Maureen Johnson – Little Blue Envelope (1, 2)
57. Meg Cabot – All-American Girl (1, 2)
58. Meg Cabot – The Mediator (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
59. Meg Cabot – The Princess Diaries (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10) \
60. Meg Rosoff – How I Live Now
61. Megan McCafferty – Jessica Darling (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
62. Megan Whalen Turner – The Queen’s Thief (1, 2, 3, 4)
63. Melina Marchetta – On the Jellicoe Road
64. Melissa de la Cruz – Blue Bloods (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
65. Melissa Marr – Wicked Lovely (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
66. Michael Grant – Gone (1, 2, 3, 4)
67. Nancy Farmer – The House of the Scorpion
68. Neal Shusterman – Unwind69. Neil Gaiman – Coraline
70. Neil Gaiman – Stardust
71. Neil Gaiman – The Graveyard Book
72. P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast – House of Night (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 )
73. Philip Pullman – His Dark Materials (1, 2, 3)
74. Rachel Caine – The Morganville Vampires (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
75. Rachel Cohn & David Levithan – Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist
76. Richelle Mead – Vampire Academy (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
77. Rick Riordan – Percy Jackson and the Olympians (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
78. Rom LcO’Feer – Somewhere carnal over 40 winks
79. S.L. Naeole – Grace (1, 2, 3, 4)
80. Sabrina Bryan & Julia DeVillers – Princess of Gossip
81. Sarah Dessen – Along for the Ride
82. Sarah Dessen – Lock and Key

83. Sarah Dessen – The Truth about Forever
84. Sara Shepard – Pretty Little Liars (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
85. Scott Westerfeld - Leviathan (1, 2)
86. Scott Westerfeld - Uglies (1, 2, 3)
87. Shannon Hale – Books of a Thousand Days
88. Shannon Hale – Princess Academy
89. Shannon Hale – The Books of Bayern (1, 2, 3, 4)
90. Sherman Alexie & Ellen Forney – The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian91. Simone Elkeles – Perfect Chemistry (1, 2, 3)
92. Stephanie Meyer – The Host93. Stephanie Meyer – Twilight Saga (1, 2, 3, 4)
94. Sue Monk Kidd – The Secret Life of Bees
95. Susan Beth Pfeffer – Last Survivors (1, 2, 3)
96. Suzanne Collins – Hunger Games (1, 2, 3)97. Suzanne Collins – Underland Chronicles (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
98. Terry Pratchett – Tiffany Aching (1, 2, 3, 4)
99Tonya Hurley – Ghost Girl (1, 2, 3)
100. Wendelin Van Draanen – Flipped

Ack, that was pretty painful. But seriously, who created this list? The Host isn't considered YA, but adult, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid is more juvenile. Still, according to this I pretty much suck as a YA librarian!

How many have you read? 
Enjoy your reading!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pregnant Pause Release Day!

Did you enter my blogoversary giveaway yet? Click here!

I don't often do release day posts, but I read and reviewed an eGalley of Pregnant Pause by Han Nolan way back in April (read my review here) and it was such an excellent, heart-wrenching novel that I made a note of its release day so I could remind you all to run out and pick it up. Trust me, you'll love it.

Here's the summary from Goodreads:

Nobody gets away with telling Eleanor Crowe what to do. But as a pregnant sixteen-year-old, her options are limited: move to Kenya with her missionary parents or marry the baby’s father and work at his family’s summer camp for overweight kids.
Despite her initial reluctance to help out, Elly is surprised that she actually enjoys working with the campers. But a tragedy on the very day her baby is born starts a series of events that overwhelms Elly with unexpected emotions and difficult choices. Somehow, she must turn her usual obstinance in a direction that can ensure a future for herself—and for the new life she has created.
Enjoy your reading!

Monday, September 19, 2011

1st Blogoversary and Giveaway!

Well, happy blogoversary to me! It's been one year since I started my little blog, and it's come a long way since then!

Here are some of my favorite memories from the past year:
  • First of all, I'm so excited to be able to say I have over 450 followers! I remember how thrilled I was when to hit 30, and now there are 450 of you! I love you all, and am so grateful that you all take the time to read my blog!
  • Meeting authors! E. Lockhart & Tonya Hurley, Megan McCafferty (also the first time I met my cosmic twin Kristy), and Sarah Mlynowski at their respective book launches. Jaqueline Woodson, Susane Colasanti, Eireann Corrigan, and Barry Lyga at NJLA. Kieran Scott at the Collingswood Book Festival (and looking forward to having her visit my library in a few short weeks!).
(Me, Megan McCafferty, and my "cosmic twin" Kristy)
  • The overall incredible awesomeness that is BEA. (OMG I totally stalked David Levithan!). Having Bettina Restrepo recognize me and introduce me to Christina Mandelski.
(David Levithan's head.)
  • Having authors reach out--to me--to ask for interviews, reviews, and giveaways. Also, having authors tweet and post about my blog--that's something I hope I never get used to.
  • Finally, just jumping in to this fabulous world of blogging has been an experience. I've been lucky enough to meet some of you in person (and hope to meet more of you soon!), and even more in the blogosphere, and I consider myself so fortunate to coexist in such a warm and welcoming community. Thank you all for a fantastic year. 
Now for the giveaway! One lucky winner will win two of my current faves from 2011 (and 2 books that just aren't getting the recognition they deserve)--Pregnant Pause by Han Nolan and The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle (links take you to my reviews).

Contest will close on October 3. 

Enjoy your reading, and good luck!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

In My Mailbox (52)

In My Mailbox is an Internet meme hosted by The Story Siren to share new books received, purchased, or borrowed.   

So here's what I got this week!

  • As I Wake by Elizabeth Scott (Squee! You all know how I feel about Ms. Scott, right? And how excited was I to get this in the mail a full day before its official release date LOL)
  • Inconvenient by Margie Gelbwasser (I've read and reviewed Inconvenient and interviewed Margie, but she'll be at the Collingswood Book Festival and I definitely can't wait to *meet* her in person!)
Won from Mundie Moms: an ARC of Wildefire by Karsten Knight (thanks, Katie!):

Borrowed from the library:
  • All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin (woo-hoo! Been waiting for this one forever!)
  • Every You, Every Me by David Levithan (yay!)
  • Isle of Blood: Monstrumologist #3 by Rick Yancey (double yay!)
  • Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich (adult nonfiction and my choice for Banned Books Week!)
What did you get?

Enjoy your reading!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer

Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer
HarperTeen, February 11, 2011
Read for 2011 Debut Author Challenge, YA Contemps Challenge AND A-Z Challenge

Summary from Goodreads:
What if your worst enemy turned out to be the best friend you ever had?
Meet Brooke: Popular, powerful and hating every minute of it, she’s the “It” girl at Douglas High in Lake Champion, Minnesota. Her real ambition? Using her operatic mezzo as a ticket back to NYC, where her family lived before her dad ran off with an up and coming male movie star. 
Now meet Kathryn: An overachieving soprano with an underachieving savings account, she’s been a leper ever since Brooke punched her at a party junior year. For Kath, music is the key to a much-needed college scholarship. 
The stage is set for a high-stakes duet between the two seniors as they prepare for the prestigious Blackmore competition. Brooke and Kathryn work toward the Blackmore with eyes not just on first prize but on one another, each still stinging from a past that started with friendship and ended in betrayal. With competition day nearing, Brooke dreams of escaping the in-crowd for life as a professional singer, but her scheming BFF Chloe has other plans. And when Kathryn gets an unlikely invitation to Homecoming, she suspects Brooke of trying to sabotage her with one last public humiliation. 
As pressures mount, Brooke starts to sense that the person she hates most might just be the best friend she ever had. But Kathryn has a decision to make. Can she forgive? Or are some rivalries for life?
I finally got around to reading this book--it's been on my nook since it was released in February. Another one of those books that I knew I'd enjoy, so I waited to read it. Rival is a very quick and enjoyable debut. It's not your typical popular girl versus loner chick book, although this is the underlying theme, of course. With the chapters alternating points of view, readers are able to glimpse events as they're observed by both Brooke and Kathryn, and we quickly realize that what each girl recognizes as the truth might be anything but.

I appreciated that we were able to see Brooke's side of the story, too, so we could realize that she wasn't really the bitch she first appeared. I seem to be on a "books-about-girls-whose-fathers-want-nothing-to-do-with-them" kick lately. I wasn't too sure about the ending--I mean, it worked, but I think I might have liked a different outcome. Still, Rival was an impressive debut and I look forward to reading more from Sara!

Own book.

Enjoy your reading!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Between by Jessica Warman

Between by Jessica Warman
Walker & Co., August 2, 2011

Summary from Goodreads:
Elizabeth Valchar --- pretty, popular and rich --- wakes up the morning after her 18th birthday on the yacht where she’d been celebrating with her closest friends. A persistent thumping noise has roused her. When she goes to investigate, she finds her own drowned body is hitting the side of the boat. Liz is dead. She has no memory of what happened to her, and can only observe in horror the fallout of her death.  
She’s also soon joined by Alex Berg, a quiet boy from her high school who was killed by a hit-and-run driver. The two keep each other company, floating in and out of memories and trying to piece together the details of what happened to each of them.  
In her regular life, Liz was a runner. It wasn’t abnormal for her to run 8-10 miles per day. But as memories from closer to her death begin to surface, Liz finds that she’d been running much more than normal, and that she’d all but stopped eating. Liz’s mother, who died when Liz was nine, had battled with anorexia as well, and those around her worried that Liz was following in her mother’s footsteps. But something more sinister was consuming Liz from the inside out...
This is one of those books that you really can't say that much about, without giving too much away. As a huge fan of If I Stay and Before I Fall, I was very much looking forward to reading this when I picked it up at BEA. So, following that logic, I proceeded to put it aside until August. :)

I. Loved. This. Book. I think the size was a little daunting--it's a thick book! But once you get into it, man, you cannot turn the pages fast enough! From the beginning we know that Dead Liz is not nearly the same as Live Liz, but we're so intrigued to learn how she got from there to here.

I love Jessica Warman's take on afterlife--Liz is stuck between life and death, but she doesn't know why. She can go back to certain memories, but she has to figure out why those memories are important. And, oh yeah, Alex is there to help her. Alex was killed a year earlier in an as-yet-unsolved hit and run accident. And Alex was definitely not part of the upper crust of society, like Liz was. Neither one knows why they were paired up in this in-between stage, and I loved the tension between the two.

I fluctuated between love and hate for Liz. She was an awfully spoiled little princess, and a lot of what she says to Alex is just downright mean. However, she starts to grow in the in-between, and begins to realize WHY she acted that way--and discovers the ramifications of her actions. 

The actual mystery that Liz is trying to solve seemed pretty obvious to me, as an outsider, but it was still quite interesting both to watch Liz make that realization and see if the living would come to the same conclusion. I highly recommend this book--it's got romance, it's got mystery, and it's an excellent read.

ARC picked up at BEA.

Enjoy your reading!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Nonfiction Help!

I'm desperately asking any or all of you for help! It's time to replenish my collections, and I have until next Friday to come up with a list. My fiction section is pretty awesome (if I do say so myself), but I weeded the hell out of my nonfiction section this summer, and would like to restock it with some new, current, incredible titles. I'm scouring the Internet and the resources I have available but I'm not a big reader of nonfiction so I don't really know what's hot. If any of you have any suggestions for must-have YA nonfiction, I would be greatly appreciative!

The titles have to be YA, not adult-with-YA-appeal. I know I weeded a lot in these categories:

  • Computers/Technology
  • Sex/Puberty/Coming of Age
  • Jobs/Careers/College
  • I'm also interested in books dealing with true crime and/or kids in juvenile detention/prison (prison memoirs always go over big at the local juvenile center I visit)
  • I don't think I'm too concerned with history right now--our YA nonfic is interfiled with adult nonfic, and their history collection is pretty tight.

I know there are the nonfiction series (like FAQ, Opposing Viewpoints, etc.), I'd rather find some incredible standalones. I did find a bunch of titles that caught my eye and that I think would circ well at my library, but unfortunately they're not in the categories I mentioned above LOL

It's funny how I always say I wish I could pick my own stuff, but when given such a broad assignment, I'm coming up blank! Have any awesome suggestions for me?

Enjoy your reading!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

Sweetly by Jackson Pearce
August 23, 2011, Little, Brown

Summary from Goodreads:
SWEETLY is a modernization of Hansel and Gretel and a companion book to SISTERS RED.  
Twelve years ago, Gretchen, her twin sister, and her brother went looking for a witch in the forest. They found something. Maybe it was a witch, maybe a monster, they aren’t sure—they were running too fast to tell. Either way, Gretchen’s twin sister was never seen again.  
Years later, after being thrown out of their house, Gretchen and Ansel find themselves in Live Oak, South Carolina, a place on the verge of becoming a ghost town. They move in with Sophia Kelly, a young and beautiful chocolatier owner who opens not only her home, but her heart to Gretchen and Ansel. 
Yet the witch isn’t gone—it’s here, lurking in the forests of Live Oak, preying on Live Oak girls every year after Sophia Kelly’s infamous chocolate festival. But Gretchen is determined to stop running from witches in the forest, and start fighting back. Alongside Samuel Reynolds, a boy as quick with a gun as he is a sarcastic remark, Gretchen digs deeper into the mystery of not only what the witch is, but how it chooses its victims. Yet the further she investigates, the more she finds herself wondering who the real monster is, and if love can be as deadly as it is beautiful.
At the risk of being shunned, I did not love this novel. To be fair, I am not the biggest fan of fairy tale retellings to begin with (although I think Alex Flinn has done some awesome ones), and I suspect that's the reason why I hesitated to read this book for so long. BUT, my teens at the library have been pestering me for this book, and I do love the cover, so I finally decided to give it a whirl.

It felt like everything was dragged out for SOOOO long, and then bam! Everything comes to a quick conclusion. Ansel and Gretchen are supposed to be so in tune with each other, but she can't share what's really going on with Sophia because he loves her. OK, I get that--BUT 
YOU'RE IN FREAKING DANGER. Grow a set and tell him, already.

Fans of Sisters Red (which I'll admit I haven't read) and of fairy tale retellings in general will, obvs., love this novel. It just wasn't for me. 

Another thing that bothered me (and it must be just me, because I've yet to read a negative review of this book), will follow below. It might be kind of spoilery, so I'll leave some space.

You've been warned....

Werewolves. I am so over werewolves. I'm just sayin'.

ARC received from publisher.

Enjoy your reading!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Library Program: 9/11 Documentary & Discussion

I hosted a 9/11 documentary viewing and discussion last Thursday at the library. I selected a documentary from our branch's collection called 102 Minutes That Changed America. It was a television special that aired, commercial-free, on the History Channel on September 11, 2008.

This film is a compilation of amateur and professional video taken during the harrowing 102 minutes where the Twin Towers were struck and ultimately collapsed. These are videos that I, at least, have never seen before and the reactions captured are all raw and real in their own right. There are videos from college students in an NYU dorm, people watching from Times Square, across the river, a block away, a mile away. The documentary is shown in real time with no narration--just titles of where the video was shot. It's definitely a harrowing documentary. You can learn more about it here, if you'd like.

On the evening of the program I welcomed my teens to the library and gave a little introduction to the film. My regular teens at the library are young--between 13 and 16 years old. None of them had any recollection of 9/11, although some said they've been told they watched it happen on TV. I explained my personal connection to the events--my husband, at the time a bridge painter in NY, watched the towers fall on his birthday. Two days later, his crew showed up at Ground Zero to offer their services with the search and rescue. I was at work at the time--teaching kindergarten in a day care in central NJ. Many of our parents worked in NY; one of our after-care students lost her dad that day.

I wanted to make the events real for my teens. I know they'd spent time in school this week learning about the events, but I wanted them to know this was something real that happened. I think this documentary captured that reality. I think my teens definitely took something away from this program, especially because so much of this footage is so raw. 

While a few of my teens were less than interested (and one actually asked if we could put another movie in),  I think it was because their level of comfort that was being tested. The movie ran over our typical 8:30pm end time, so I lost a great number of teens at that time, but several did stay until the conclusion. Next week we'll be back to our regular teen advisory board meetings, planning upcoming programs (and actually, this program was suggested by the very same teen advisory board!), but hopefully tonight's program will make the events of 9/11 real to these teens who have no memories of it.

Enjoy your reading!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

In My Mailbox (51)

In My Mailbox is an Internet meme hosted by The Story Siren to share new books received, purchased, or borrowed.

So here's what I got this week!

I'd pre-ordered Ashes by Ilsa Bick on my nook, and Tuesday morning it was there! Cannot wait to start this one, I've heard nothing but great things about it!

And because I pre-ordered Ashes, I got these nifty gifts from Jen over at Literaticat (thank you!):

  • I had won a signed copy of Divergent in a TLC Auction a while back, and it finally came! Woo hoo!

Received from publisher (thank you, Little, Brown!):
  • How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr 
From NetGalley:
  • If I Tell by Janet Gurtler
  • You Are My Only by Beth Kephart
Borrowed from the library:
  • Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  • I'm Not Her by Janet Gurtler (huh, 2 books by her in 1 week!)
  • Norweigan Wood by Haruki Murakami (this book was pulled off a summer reading list in NJ recently & I wanted to see what all the hubbub was about)
  • Never Have I Ever (Lying Game #2) by Sara Shepard
  • Kill Me If You Can by James Patterson (adult fic)
So what did you get?
Enjoy your reading!