Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Alice in the Country of Hearts: a manga review

By QuinRose
Art by Soumei Hoshino

A review in 10 words or less: Alice in Wonderland as only manga can portray.


Kidnapped by a handsome man with rabbit ears, Alice Liddell finds herself abandoned in an odd place called Wonderland and thrust into a "game," the rules of which she has yet to learn. Alice, ever the plucky tomboy, sets off to explore and get the lay of this strange land, intent on finding her rude kidnapper and giving him a piece of her mind (and her fist). But little does she know that she's wandered right into the middle of a dangerous power struggle involving just about all of Wonderland's attractive, weapon-happy denizens. And the only way for Alice to return home is to get acquainted with the lot of them?! How in the world will she manage that and still manage to stay alive?!
~Amazon Description~
Volume 1: Much like the original, Alice Liddell is a dreamer, and one lazy, sunny afternoon, she is whisked away to Wonderland by a fluffy white rabbit.  And also like the original, the fluffy white rabbit is a little manic.  This particular rabbit is actually a man with rabbit ears who is madly in love with Alice.  Upon her arrival in Wonderland, Alice discovers she is playing a game.  In order to return home, she must interact with the inhabitants of Wonderland, and little does she know that there is a whole lot of crazy coming her way.  The land is experiencing a very rocky piece, and three independent kingdoms each want Alice for their own.
Volume 2:  Alice is learning to live in Wonderland.  She has befriended the mafia boss Blood Dupre and his gatekeepers Eliot March, Dee, and Dum.  She has nurtured Boris, the leader of the Amusement Park's henchman, and she has had tea with the Queen of Hearts.  She has also learned that life and death are not matters of serious thought in Wonderland.  With hearts as clocks, death only means a new beginning.
Volume 3: Peter White is as desperate as ever to have the love of his dear Alice.  But she will have none of it.  She's too busy trying to help the Clockworker and discover why Ace, a Knight of hearts, always shows up covered in blood.

Volume 4: Alice decides to spend a carefree day in the Amusement Park with Boris (who kind of represents the Cheshire Cat).  After, Boris confronts Ace for scaring Alice.  Alice is going all crazy and threatens to kill Alice which sets Boris into a fury.  Then something really strange starts to happen with the seasons and I got really confused.

Volume 5:  The finale...sort of.  Alice is invited to the Queen of Hearts ball.  There, she confronts Blood Dupre and comes to a hesitant truce with the mafia boss.

So the "game" isn't over.  Alice is still stuck in Wonderland.  And things are stranger than ever.  But there are no more volumes which is curious...



I've said it before, and I'll say it again...I love all things Wonderland.  I actually checked out Alice in the Country of Clover first, and quickly realized that I needed to know a little bit more about the world before preceding, thus the diving in to Alice in the Country of Hearts.  The series is a lot of fun.  It's a bit weird, and it takes some getting used to, but generally a lot of fun.

If you like quirky; if you like chaotic; if you like a little deranged; check out Alice in the Country of Hearts.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Top 10 Tuesday: Most Frustrating Characters Ever

Top Ten Tuesday
Top 10 Most Frustrating Characters

The good thing about frustrating is that frustrating doesn't have to be bad.  There are several characters who worry me, excite me, keep me on the edge of my seat for far too long, but I still enjoy them.  Keeping that in mind, here is a list of ten characters that absolutely drove me batty...and the feelings I experienced at the height of my frustration.

1) Severus Snape (Harry Potter) - Are you good?  Are you bad?  Will you just pick a side already?

2)  Elizabeth (Pride & Prejudice) - Dear heavens girl, open your eyes!  

3) Sarah (City of Dark Magic) - Forget your libido and solve the stupid mystery!
 
4) Katniss (Mockingjay) - I realize that you have experienced something that NO ONE should ever have to experience, but if you don't get out of the stupid closet, take a deep breath, and live your life which is more than others have been given the opportunity to do, I'm going to go absolutely crazy.

5) April and her father (Ten Things We Did) - BAD PARENTS!  My goodness, what kind of parent lets their daughter stay in someone else's home for good while they go off to another state???
  
6) Charlie (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) - This was my own confusion, but...I honestly believed Charlie was autistic, and I just couldn't figure him out at all.

7) The King (Entwined) - Look here King, you have twelve daughters that desperately need you.  Forget tradition and get those girls outside!

8) Ruby (The Boyfriend List) - Ruby, you are a mess!  STOP IT already!  Thank goodness you're in therapy!

9) Frankie (The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks) - All things in time and moderation.  I'm with you Frankie...girl power!  But all things in moderation.

10) Mr. Matthews (My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece) - Your son has, literally, worn the same shirt through this entire story.  Your loss is awful, but you have TWO more kids who need you!!

Thank goodness all of the frustrating, awkward moments work themselves out.  There are teens being teens, parents making bad decisions, and characters being forced to accept the horribleness that has been their life and move on.  Isn't that the beauty of fiction?  We get to experience all of that without ever really having to experience it all!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Say hello to my little friend

Library Shorts


 

Happy Monday Morning!  Today's video is a Library short. So to kick off your week, I'd thought I'd introduce you to someone special.  He's only about a foot tall, but he's full of spunk and is the unofficial mascot of my library's Teen Room.  You've seen him around these parts before, but I thought it was time you were formally introduced to the one, the only, Mike the Garden Gnome!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Library GrabBag: Book Faces

Another week, another passive program.  This week we tackled "book faces."  It went relatively well, and the best part, it cost us absolutely nothing.  Isn't that really the best kind of program...one that comes in under budget and brings some success!

Our method:
  • Each teen that wanted to participate was asked to find a book cover that feature all or a portion of a person's face.
  •  We used our cellphones to take a picture of the teen holding the book up to their face, coordinating tilt of the head and exposed features.
  • Participation earned them a piece of candy.
  • Photos were shared on our blog and Facebook page.
They were absolutely amazed how many books there were to pick from, and the best part was helping them line up the cover correctly.  Any idea how few teens know their left from their right?!


 





Thursday, January 24, 2013

Through the Ever Night: a review

By Veronica Rossi
Website: http://www.veronicarossi.com/
Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EblNe_Buqh4
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13253276-through-the-ever-night

4 / 5 Gnomes

A review in 10 words or less: Imagine electrical tornado storms, like, all the time.  Pretty scary.

It's been months since Aria learned of her mother's death.

Months since Perry became Blood Lord of the Tides, and months since Aria last saw him. 

Now Aria and Perry are about to be reunited. It's a moment they've been longing for with countless expectations. And it's a moment that lives up to all of them. At least, at first. Then it slips away. The Tides don't take kindly to former Dwellers like Aria. And the tribe is swirling out of Perry's control. With the Aether storms worsening every day, the only remaining hope for peace and safety is the Still Blue. But does this haven truly exist? 

Threatened by false friends and powerful temptations, Aria and Perry wonder, Can their love survive through the ever night? In this second book in her spellbinding Under the Never Sky trilogy, Veronica Rossi combines fantasy and sci-fi elements to create a captivating adventure—and a love story as perilous as it is unforgettable. 

~Amazon Description~ 

The Breakdown:

Oh, where to begin.  Basically, the world as Aria and Perry know it is falling apart.  Aria is in a rush to find the Still Blue and save Talon from the evil clutches of Hess in Reverie, and Perry is in a rush to save his tribe from the onslaught of terrifying aether storms that are ravishing his territory.  There's a lot of rushing.  And to top it all off, Aria and Roar (who is like, the best guy ever) leave Perry, who is on the verge of losing the respect of the Tides.

The Awesome:

There are a lot of fun books, especially dystopias, that have great storylines but lack character development.  Rossi does both exceptionally well.  You get to know all of the key players while an intricate story develops around them.  She even manages to work in some heavy hitter questions that are essential to a good dystopia: is the well fare of a few better than the well-fare of the whole?  Is one person's life weighted more important than another's?  Will bigotry survive an apocalypse?  I've really been enjoying her writing style and passing it off to others I know will appreciate it as well.

And there's also her dreamy boys.  Perry and Roar...equally parts fractured and strong, fearful and courageous.  Dreamboats.

One thing I can't quite seem to figure out...locations.  Where are the Tides?  Where is Sable?  If they are really far apart, how are they getting to these places on foot so quickly?  Or towards the end of the book, on horseback?

The Not So Awesome:

I have no "Not So Awesome" to contribute at this time.

Read it.  Really.  You'll enjoy it.  I promise.  But don't forget to read Under the Never Sky first because you'll be totally confused if you don't.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Dawn of the Arcana Vol. 3: a manga review

By Rei Toma
Still 3.5 / 5 Gnomes

A review in 10 words or less:  Won't you tell me my future?

Princess Nakaba of Senan and Prince Caesar of Belquat only married each other for the sake of peace between their two warring countries, so no one expected there to be love between the unlikely couple. Nakaba is starting to warm to Caesar, however, and her attendant Loki doesn’t like this one bit. Are Loki and Caesar destined to be enemies? And how does Nakaba’s power, the Arcana of Time, fit into all this?

~Amazon Description~

Emissaries from another kingdom have arrived in Belquat, and Princess Nakaba is basically being held captive in her quarters.  Why?  Well, it's that red hair thing again, and the fact that she's a total disgrace.  Her relationship with Prince Caesar is progressing, slowly, which is putting Loki in quite the mood, and her "powers" of "sight" are happening more often.  When one of the emissaries, who just happens to be a Prince, discovers that Nakaba carries the Arcana of Time, he's desperate for a vision of his home country.  Seems that Nakaba can't help but to find herself smack dab in the middle of uber trouble.  Imagine that.

I'm not a fan of manga.  I'm pretty sure that's come out somewhere in another blog post.  I read them because I feel it is a part of my job to be informed and to have the capability of conversing with my manga-crazed teens on their favorite titles.  As manga go, I'm really like this story.  There are no chibi moments, and it is really plot driven.  The story actually develops in each volume, and I can feel the action building which is keeping me reading.  If you're a hesitant manga reader, I would suggest starting with Dawn of the Arcana.  I can't promise you'll give it a thumbs up, but it's worth a read!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Top 10 Tuesday: Settings I'd Like to See More Of

Top Ten Tuesday
Top 10 Settings I'd Like to See More of

I'm generally not very picky about settings.  I'm a little over Prague, but that's my own fault really.  Every other book I've read lately has been set in Prague.  I'm really a sucker for imaginary lands...and futuristic America, so there's no particular place that interests me more than others.  But since this is a list that "requires" ten entries, here we go:

1) Victorian London - Because I love steampunk(ish) fiction.

2) Australia - Because, perhaps we'd get some awesome accented audiobook readers.

3) No particular tropical island - Because Libba Bray did it so well in Beauty Queens.

4) 1920s New York - Because apparently I'm on a Libba Bray kick and really want the sequel to Diviners.

5) Indianapolis - Because it was sooo much fun reading The Fault In Our Stars set in my hometown.

6) Italy - Because it could be just as creepy and ancient as Prague.

7) Ireland - Again with the accents...

8) Outer space  - Because if all stories set in space are as awesome as Mothership, than space is where it's at.

9) The beach  - Because everythime I read a story set near a beach, I can pretend I'm on vacation.

10)  The world of the Fey  - The Fey are creepy...and beautiful.  And there's magic.  And inevitably a dreamy boy, often times that is both creepy and beautiful and has magic.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Introducing The Librarian Way

 

So if you're here, you've probably heard of Q & A: The Librarian Way, a weekly video with Julia at Sunbeamyellow.blogspot.com on librarianship.  Well, we're expanding!  Are you glowing with exciting?  Because I'm glowing with excitement!  Basically, it's a spot where we can share additional resources and continuing the discussion of all things library!  If you're interested, join us at thelibrarianway.blogspot.com.

See you tomorrow with a Top Ten Tuesday list!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Daughter of Smoke & Bone: a review

By Laini Tayor
http://www.lainitaylor.com/
4 / 5 Gnomes

A review in 10 words or less:  An ancient war and a love that defeats death.

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.

When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?


~Amazon Description~

So, I read books quickly.  Apparently, I have the mentality of getting through a book as quickly as possible and not savoring it, not enjoying it, not fully understanding the story.  It comes down to that guilt thing I mentioned in last week's Top 10 Tuesday.  There's just too many books and too little time.  Reading so quickly often necessitates a second reading to continue series.  If I just took the time the first go around, I might possibly remember enough to get me through book two, or three.  But alas, that is not my way.  This was my second reading of Daughter of Smoke and Bone.  I remembered pretty much nothing, which made moving on to Days of Blood and Starlight a little daunting.  Oh my, how much I missed the first time around.

The Breakdown:

Karou lives in Prague (again with a story set in Prague!)  She also sort of lives in this "other" world in which Chimera trade wishes for teeth.  Sounds a little weird, but stay with me.  No one else really knows about this "other" world, and Karou has done a pretty excellent job keeping it secret until black handprints start to appear on all of the doors that lead to the chimera.  Living among two worlds isn't easy for Karou.  She can't shake the feeling that something is missing, she's not whole, until she meets a Seraphim, or angel, that she is inexplicably drawn to.  She realizes that he may hold the secrets she has longed to learn.

The Awesome: 

First, I must mention that the cover is beautiful.  B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-LIf the book hadn't been selected for book club, I would have been drawn in eventually.

I like books where there isn't an easily distinguishable good and evil, morally ambiguous.  You understand the point of view of both sides, causing you to root for the "goodie" and the "badie" at the same time.  The chimera are monsters and the seraphim angels.  You think it would be a pretty easy decision...but no.  Taylor does an excellent job of showing that everyone has good and bad in them, darkness and light.

The true draw of the book though is most definitely the love story.  Karou and Akiva's connection is instantaneous.  It's almost primal, and it's definitely steamy.

The Not So Awesome: 

It' really a personal dislike and not a "not so awesome."  I'm not a huge fan of the flashback.  It can take you out of the here and now, the urgency of the situation.  Taylor does it well though, giving you enough to make you understand and feel that urgency, but not enough to drag the story along. 

This is a fantasy with substance.  Taylor does an excellent job developing the history, crafting a story that goes beyond the bits of magic and heart-wrenching love story.  I can't wait to start the sequel.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Library GrabBag - Six Word Memoirs

Library GrabBag - Six Word Memoirs

We have a very active afterschool crowd at my library.  On any given day, we have 20-40 teens hanging out in the Teen Room from 3-6pm.  With the onslaught of hormonal, emotional teens, we decided to keep them busy and on a schedule, which has worked miracles for our own sanity and made the space a more enjoyable and relaxed atmosphere.

  • Mondays - Wii checkout
  • Tuesdays -"Try It Tuesday", alternating between games, crafts, and tech classes
  • Wednesdays - Xbox checkout
  • Thursdays - Gaming tournaments
  • Fridays - Movie

The minute the walk into the Teen Room, they know what to expect.

This winter/spring we're also instituting a weekly activity in the form of a passive program.  For those teens that aren't video game junkies, the passive programs offer an opportunity to be creativity and express themselves in fun ways.

Week One - Six Word Memoirs

Never thought I'd work with teens!

Our first week (a short week) we had 34 entries.  Of course, there is a bit of bribery.  Enter a memoir, get a piece of candy.  I know they're only in it for the candy, but now they have something new to look forward to each week that's hopefully just a little out of the ordinary. 

Some of my favorites:

"I survived the 2012 world ending."
"My life revolves around Japanese things."
"I really dislike guys that lie."
"In some universe we're Time Lords." 
"I never developed any special superpowers."
"If only the doctor was real."
"Duct tape can fix almost anything."
"You would make a good Dalek." 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Dawn of the Arcana Vol. 2: a manga review

By Rei Toma
3.5 / 5 Gnomes

A review in 10 words or less:  I love you...but I love you too.  Oh no!

Princess Nakaba of Senan and Prince Caesar of Belquat only married each other for the sake of peace between their two warring countries, but things take a surprising turn when Caesar finds himself falling for his strange wife! Caesar tries to get Nakaba to return his feelings, but she maintains that he is her enemy and that she hates him. So when Nakaba has a vision of Caesar getting killed, will she say anything to save him?

~Amazon Description~

Things are starting to get tense.  Or...more tense, because let's face it, the fact that your new father-in-law wants to kill you is a pretty tense situation.  Princess Nakaba still has red hair, which is apparently a royal faux pa, and is only making things worse.  On the bright side, her new husband, Prince Caesar, isn't quite the jerk she thought he was.  But wait...her Ajin body guard Loki totally has an agenda to "befriend" Caesar than inspire a revolt of Ajin to destroy the kingdom of Belquat.  So, yeah, Princess Nakaba has her hands full in volume 2.

Dawn of the Arcana is turning out to be quite the nail biter.  Their's royal intrigue, a love triangle, civil unrest...now if only Princess Nakaba would start thinking for herself, this story might just turn out tot be pretty awesome!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Top 10 Tuesday: Debuts I'm Looking Forward To

Top 10 Tuesday
Top Ten Debuts I'm Looking Forward To
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
By April Genevieve Tucholke
City of a Thousand Dolls
By Miriam Foster
Another Little Piece
By Kate Karyus Quinn
MILA 2.0
By Debra Driza
Nobody But Us
By Kristin Halbrook
Dear Life, You Suck
By Scott Blagden
Pivot Point
By Kasie West
Premeditated
By Josin L. McQuein
The Madman's Daughter
By Megan Shepherd
The Nightmare Affair
By Mindee Arnett

Monday, January 14, 2013

Q & A: The Librarian Way - Yeah!

Julia and I started this endeavor with the intent of making a quality, useful product for public and school librarians.  We want to share information, start a discussion, and express the importance of our field and why we will continue to remain relevant in communities all across the country.

We knew that getting this information out and about in Libraryland would take awhile.  To our excitement, this past week, our latest video on "How to deal with pesky teens" made it into the American Library Associations weekly enewsletter, ALA direct.  We are SO EXCITED!!

As always, we want to hear from you Libraryland!  Do you have questions you want us to tackle?  Suggestions you would like us to share?  Let's keep the discussion going Libraryland and support one another as we continue forward, growing and thriving, in uncertain times.

Head on over to our YouTube channel for a Library Short with Julia!

Friday, January 11, 2013

City of Dark Magic: a review

By Magnus Flyte
http://magnusflyte.com/
2.5 / 5 Gnomes

Once a city of enormous wealth and culture, Prague was home to emperors, alchemists, astronomers, and, as it’s whispered, hell portals. When music student Sarah Weston lands a summer job at Prague Castle cataloging Beethoven’s manuscripts, she has no idea how dangerous her life is about to become. Prague is a threshold, Sarah is warned, and it is steeped in blood.
 

Soon after Sarah arrives, strange things begin to happen. She learns that her mentor, who was working at the castle, may not have committed suicide after all. Could his cryptic notes be warnings? As Sarah parses his clues about Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved,” she manages to get arrested, to have tantric sex in a public fountain, and to discover a time-warping drug. She also catches the attention of a four-hundred-year-old dwarf, the handsome Prince Max, and a powerful U.S. senator with secrets she will do anything to hide.
 
City of Dark Magic could be called a rom-com paranormal suspense novel—or it could simply be called one of the most entertaining novels of the year.

~Amazon Description~

The Breakdown:

Sarah is Beethoven nerd, okay, scholar.  It just so happens that a Beethoven exhibit is being installed in a museum/palace in Prague, and with the mysterious death of her friend and mentor, she has been summoned to complete his work in organizing the historical artifacts all-things-Beethoven.  Chaos, lost of sex, and a whole slew of weirdness ensue, to say the least, leaving Sarah in a fight for her life and on a journey for the truth...how did her mentor actually die, and why is Prague so darn creepy.

The Awesome:

This part is hard when you neither love nor hate a book.  It was a fun read, but left me neither excited nor disappointed.  It just...was.

The most awesome character is a tie.  There's Pollina, the blind, sickly child prodigy who is, for some reason, a bit clairvoyant and fiercely independent.  Then there's Nico, the spunky dwarf who always knows more than he lets on and makes a wicked bodyguard.

Probably the best part of the book is the city itself, Prague.  This isn't the first book I've read that uses the city as the stomping ground for historical hauntings and secret societies (see The Book of Blood and Shadow)The city sounds genuinely disturbing; maybe it's because we don't have any cities in the U.S. that old, or maybe it's that everyone wants to kill you and talk about hell.  It has now made my list of cities to see and read in.

The Not So Awesome:

There wasn't anything that was totally not awesome either.

I didn't really like Sarah, and because I didn't really like her, I was never really rooting for her to, well, live I guess.  She's a bit of a floozy, and I know that she is a highly intelligent woman, but in the face of danger, would someone really be able to put together an entire conspiracy theory?  I could just be upset because I completely lack the powers of observation.

Oh...there is one thing that peeves me a bit.  The "author."  Why have a pseudonym?  Why not take credit for your work with your name plastered on the cover?  I'm okay with fake names if they serve a purpose for the story, like A Series of Unfortunate Events and Lemony Snicket, but to just use a fake name...not a fan.

Overall, if you like treasure hunt books with urban fantasy elements, this could be a choice.  Maybe a good beach read??

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Junk Drawer: Line Movement

Junk Drawer: Line Movement

Our wonderful teens are back to school from a long holiday break, which means that the Teen Room is quickly falling back into a routine with afterschool visitors.  What better way to keep teens participating and interested in the library?  Offer programs!  But let's ease into it with a simple, FREE, craft that's fun for all ages.  

I found this gem on Pinterest (oh glorious pinterest).  It's called line movement, and basically it's an optical illusion that gives the appearance of a 3D hand.  What do you need...oh, just a piece of paper, pencil, marker, and crayons.  What?  Did she just say paper and crayons?  Yes she did.  It was hilarious watching the kids notice that this wasn't just a normal tracing of a hand.  There were many stories of hand-turkey drawings and deformed fingers.  Good times.  Just another wonderful moment watching teens get creative and pretend they don't secretly LOVE to color.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Dawn of Arcana Vol. 1: a manga review

By Rei Toma
3.5 / 5 Gnomes
A review in 10 words or less:  Two royal families, one ancient war, and an unwanted marriage.

Princess Nakaba of Senan is forced to marry Prince Caesar of the enemy country Belquat, tantamount to becoming a hostage. While Caesar is pleasing to the eye, he is also selfish and possessive, telling Nakaba outright: “You are my property.” With only her attendant Loki at her side, Nakaba must find a way to cope with her hostile surroundings, her fake marriage...and a mysterious power!

~Amazon Description~

The Breakdown:

In this particular world, there are two warring factions, the Senan and the Belquat.  In order to keep the peace, the two factions marry off their children every few years.  Princess Nakaba of Senan has recently been shipped off to Belquat and has married the younger son, Prince Caesar.  Traveling with her is Loki, Ajin with floppy ears and a tale who serves as her protector.  By the end of the book, we discover that all is not smiles and giggles in the Belquat royal line, and Nakaba has a mysterious power that allows her to see into the future and past.

The Awesome (and Not So Awesome):

It's a bit hard to tell, so I'll reserve judgement until I continue.  I do, however, want to continue, so I suppose that's a start.  The relationship between Nakaba and Loki is intriguing, and I have the sneaking suspicion that Prince Caeser isn't the royal jerk he appears to be.  Oh, what will happen next?!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Top 10 Tuesday: Bookish Goals for 2013

Top Ten Tuesday
Top 10 Bookish Goals for 2013
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

When I started thinking of reading goals, I couldn't help but notice that several of my goals had to do with avoiding guilt.  As a librarian, I'm expected to read.  And I love to read, so that's not usually a problem.  But there's always a bit of guilt involved when you have yet to read a series that everyone is talking about, or a title that is constantly requested, or a book a teen is raving about and keeps asking if you've read it yet.  Then there's also the guilt of not reading outside of your dedicated collection and thus having little to contribute to reader's advisory when an adult wants to know what mystery to read next.  Reading guilt...there is most definitely worse things in life, but it's there none the less.  So in 2013, I'm going to attempt to shake off the guilt, but accomplish some goals at the same time.

1) Finish at least (5) series I've already started - As named in my video last week on New Year's resolutions.

2) Read at least (3) nonfiction books

3) Read at least (3) adult fiction books

 4) Read at least (3) classics

5) Listen to at least (3) audiobooks
 
6) Review every book I read (and add it to my Goodreads profile)

7) Don't feel guilty for re-reading a book I love while others sit on the shelf

8) Don't feel guilty for not completing an audiobook if I don't care for the reader

9) Don't feel guilty for starting new series and then not finishing them

10) Finally read Graceling by Kristin Cashore, a book that I have checked out (not kidding) eleven times and have yet to actually read it. 

Happy reading!!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Q &A : How to deal with pesky teens

Q & A: The Librarian : How to deal with pesky teens

 

Before and after a school break is usually a difficult time.  Teens can extra energetic, to say the least, and with time away, can forget how to behave in a library setting.  Don't worry, they'll get the hang of it again and settle into the normal routine, but until that time, Julia and I are offering up some suggestions on how to deal with those "pesky" teens.

Sidenote:  I consider myself a teen advocate.  I will go into battle for any teen that walks through my door as long as they respect the library and the other teens who are using the space.  But there are those times when you have to ask teens to leave.  And that's okay too.  It all comes down to consistency.  The teens that walk through your door should now what you expect from them, and they should understand the consequences of not meeting expectations.  Relaying those expectations (attainable expectations that take into consideration that they are still teens, loud, energetic teens) is the quickest way to building a welcoming, successful teen space.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Under the Never Sky : a review

By Veronica Rossi
http://www.veronicarossi.com/
4.5 / 5 Gnomes

A review in 10 words or less (or a little more): Where virtual reality isn't all it seems and dreamy, resilient boys can change your life.


Since she’d been on the outside, she’d survived an Aether storm, she’d had a knife held to her throat, and she’d seen men murdered. This was worse

Exiled from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland—known as The Death Shop—are slim. If the cannibals don’t get her, the violent, electrified energy storms will. She’s been taught that the very air she breathes can kill her. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He’s wild—a savage—and her only hope of staying alive.

A hunter for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry views Aria as sheltered and fragile—everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he needs Aria’s help too; she alone holds the key to his redemption. Opposites in nearly every way, Aria and Perry must accept each other to survive. Their unlikely alliance forges a bond that will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky. 

~Amazon Description~

What a great reading start to 2013!  This is a perfect example of why I love to read the blogs of teen lit enthusiasts.  I had heard of the title.  I knew the cover.  But it just wasn't high on my priority list.  Then I read some fantastic reviews and I knew that I had to move it up on my queue.  So glad I did.

The Rundown

Aria lives in the Realms.  Think Wall-e without everyone being overweight.  Forced into dome dwellings to avoid the violent storms brewing in the real world, the Realms offer opportunities for entertainment.  After a teenage stunt gone awry, Aria is cast out of her home into the desolate wasteland known as the Death Shop.  Dwellers (Realm people) don't mix well with Outsiders (the savages who live "outside"), but Aria will have to learn to trust them if she's going to survive.

The Awesome

Boy do I love a good dystopia.  I wonder what that says about me, a relatively quiet, peaceful girl that enjoys stories of death and destruction?  I think it says that I appreciate stories of hope, because at the core of most dystopias is this rather beautiful idea of a better life, better people, better choices.  This is the first in a series, but it is filled with this intangible belief that is equal parts beautiful and heart-wrenching.

I also love a book with an awesome, dreamy boy.  And Ms. Rossi definitely knows how to write awesome, dreamy boys.  What is it about bad (yet not really bad) moody boys?  I suppose that says something about me as well, but that's okay, because Perry is, well, awesome.  He's loyal, brave, stubborn, funny, and loves so deeply that he's just swooney.

Let's not leave out the ladies.  Aria raises the bar for female heroines as well.  She's dealt a pretty bad deal.  She's not blameless, just ask her mother, but instead of curling up into a ball and waiting to die, she fights, fiercely, never once complaining.  I think that's what I loved about her most.  She didn't complain when she's given every reason to.  Instead she keeps moving forward, one step in front of the other.

One last piece of awesome.  Senses.  We have five, but we don't use them very well.  What if we did?  What if we were exceptional seers, hearers, smellers.  What if we could see, hear, or smell tempers and emotions?  A very interesting question indeed...

The Not So Awesome

There's only one thing, and maybe it will play out a little more in books to come, but this rendering business.  I had a lot of trouble looking past the imprinting ickyness of Twilight.  Do authors think we won't buy a real connection?  Why does there always have to be something more?  Something seemingly supernatural?  And then it just gets in the way.  Hmm..

So lots of awesome.  Read this book.  I know.  Another dystopia, another love story, but Rossi does an exceptional job, and there are some really awesome twists lingering toward the end of book one that you'll want to stick around for to book two. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

For Darkness Shows the Stars : a review

By Diana Peterfreund
http://www.dianapeterfreund.com/
4 / 5 Gnomes

A review in 10 words or less: A heartbreaking story of destructive beliefs and star-crossed lovers.

It's been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family's estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot's estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth—an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.

But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret—one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she's faced with a choice: cling to what she's been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she's ever loved, even if she's lost him forever.

Inspired by Jane Austen's persuasion, For Darkness Shows the Stars is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.

~Barnes and Noble Description~

The Breakdown:

The description above pretty much sums everything up.  In a dystopian world where science and faith have ripped apart the world, a new caste system has been created: Luddites, the ruling class, the Reduction, the product of unfaithfulness who are mute and "simple", and the Post, the generation between, born from the Reduction but lacking the qualities of the unforgiven.  Elliot is a Luddite.  Kai is a Post.  When Kai asks Elliot to escape from the jail that is the North family's estate, she refuses, knowing people depend on her.  Four years later, the boy she once loved returns, and the world, as she knows it from her tiny little island, changes forever.

The Awesome:

Did you read the description?  The book is inspired by Jane Austen, and it's a dystopia, which is pretty much literary genius.  You really get the best of both worlds: the beauty and romanticism of Austen's love story and the grit and darkness of a good dystopia.

I always liked Anne Elliot in the original.  She was quiet, yet strong.  Elliot North is all together a different kind of heroine.  She too is quiet and strong, but she's resilient and courageous as well.  Her lot is one of privilege, but she cares more for people than possessions, and she loves truly and deeply.

The dystopian elements are pretty fantastic as well.  There's a deep underlying discussion of faith and science.  Is there a step that is too far?  And how far can faith justify a means?  Yet it's never preachy which is always refreshing.

The Not So Awesome:

It's a bit confusing.  As much as I loved the dystopian elements, they often got in the way.  The descriptions of the Luddites and Reduction were never cleanly described, leaving you trying to piece together the world and distracting you from the emotions being thrown around.

There wasn't much that wasn't awesome.  So glad I finally took the time to pick up For Darkness Shows the Stars.  I'd love to see Peterfrend visit all of Austen's work.  There's nothing quite like a refreshing take on a classic story.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Waffle Wednesday: Maximum Ride Vol. 1

By NaRae Lee
A review in 10 words or less: Genetically mutated teens fight werewolf guy things and travel west.

Fourteen-year-old Maximum Ride knows what it's like to soar above the world. She and all the members of her "flock" - Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman, and Angel - are just like ordinary kids, except they have wings and can fly! It may seem like a dream come true to some, but for the flock it's more like a living nightmare. When the mysterious lab known as the "School" turns up and kidnaps their youngest member, it's up to Max to organize a rescue, but will help come in time?
 
~Amazon Description~
 
I don't quite understand why popular books are being made into manga and graphic novels.  Do you really gain more of the story in a different medium.  I suppose it all comes down to money...
 
As "second-tellings" go, the Maximum Ride manga is decent.  The artwork definitely has a Japanese manga appearance, but at the same time, it's very Americanized as well.  Six genetically mutated kids live on a hidden mountain top, away from prying eyes and possible danger.  One day they are found by this werewolf guy men things, and the youngest in their "flock" is captured.  Determined to get her back, they head west toward California to return to the school where they were raised, and the one location they know their friend will be.
 
If you like genetic mutations, people that can fly, and evil beastie guys, this will definitely be up your ally.  On the plus side, it jogged my memory enough that I might not need to re-read book one to continue the series!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Top 10 Tuesday: Books I Resolve to Read in 2013

Top Ten Tuesday

Top 10 Books I Resolve to Read in 2013

(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

Several books on my lists are books that I've checked out from the library at least 3 times and failed to read them each and every time.  I've read wonderful reviews, seen them praised on other blogs, but yet, I allowed myself to be swayed by other pretty covers.  In 2013, I resolve to read these ten books, so help me, or I promise to re-read Madame Bovary, which has been at the very top of my least favorite books ever list for over ten years.

1) Graceling by Kristin Cashore

2) Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway

3) The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

4) Shades of Gray by Jasper Fforde

5) Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia

6) Cirque Du Freak by Darren Shan

7) Crank by Ellen Hopkins

8) Magyk by  Angie Sage

9) Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

10) Marked by P.C. Cast
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