Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Top Ten Books If You Like These TV Shows, Movies...

 Top Ten Books If You Like These TV Shows, Movies...
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)
Here's my random list of things I'm reminded of while reading books.  Hopefully you've heard of a few of them, or this is going to be a little awkward :)

1) American Gladiator fans should read The Hunger Games
Do you remember American Gladiators?  The ridiculous obstacle show where beefy men and women wearing spandex would attempt to stop the average Joe from finishing a series of hilarious activities.  Reminds me a little of The Hunger Games.  Survival stories with adventure and mind games.

2) The Bachelor fans should read The Selection
This one is pretty obvious.  Ego inflated boy seeks young woman to make his wife...because, you know, that should happen in the span of a month.  Despite the setup, I really like the series though and can't wait for the next book.  "Romance" with a touch of intrigue and cattiness.

3) The Warriors fans should read The Loners
There's nothing quite like the  1979 film about a gang accused of murdering a rival leader and forced to make it back through the streets of New York to the safety of their turf.  The Loners is a bit of an apocalyptic tale about teenagers trying to survive.  The hallways of a high school become the streets, and survival is the only priority.  Survival stories with adventure and mind games.

4) Alice in Wonderland fans should read The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her  Own Making
A young girl with a big imagination finds herself in a spectacular new world where everything is a little off, and there are a few lessons to learn along the way.  Imaginative characters, fantastical adventure, and a spectacular quest.

5) Oceans 11 fans should read Heist Society
They might be teens, but they're excellent thieves and everyone has a job to do.  Much like the movies, Ally Carter's Heist Society dives into a world of intrigue, red herrings, and bit of rooting for the bad guy.

6) Criminal Minds fans should read I Hunt Killers
I'll admit it....I like serial killers.  Not like like them, but I find TV shows and movies about the hunt for evil crazy people really entertaining.  If you get that, you should read Barry Lyga's I Hunt Killers.  It's  a little bit Criminal Minds, a little bit CSI, and a whole lot of creepy.

7) Clue  fans should read And Then There Were None
If you remember my February 14th post, Tim Curry is on my list of the most awesome things in the world.  A group of people are invited to a mysterious home, and one by one people start dying.  While Agatha Christie isn't as slapstick as the 80s comedy, the plots are similar and fun for amateur sleuths.

8) Charlies Angels fans should read  The Friday Society
Kick butt girls, each with their own talents, work together to fight a villain.  Each girl brings something different to the table which is always fun, and the steampunk flair of the book is superior to the 70s fashion of the TV Show.  Cheesy but fun on both accounts.

9) Before Sunrise fans should read Just One Day
Serendipitous moments during travel bring a day to remember for two lonely travelers.  Sigh.  Why don't these things ever happen.  I never sit next to a chatty, interesting person on a plan.  Chance meetings and instant chemistry on the streets of Europe.

10) Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr. style) fans should read The Girl in the Steel Corset
Both stories have Victorian Londan settings with mysterious villains.  The characters in The Girl have the same witty rapport as Sherlock and Watson, finding themselves in dangerous situations.  Adventure abounds and fun is had by all.

What are your suggestions?  Happy Reading!

Monday, April 28, 2014

War Brothers

Author: Sharon E. McKay
Illustrator: Daniel LaFrance
Info: Annick Press, copyright 2013, 176 pages

#HubChallenge Best Graphic Novels

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): There is fear in the hearts of the children of Uganda and hope in the darkness that freedom is possible.

This is the graphic novel edition of Sharon McKay's novel set in Uganda, where Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has, since 1987, abducted up to 30,000 children from their villages and homes for use as soldiers and slaves. It is in these nightmarish times that the fates of 5 boys and a girl are entwined. Captured from their school by the LRA, the boys wait for rescue only to discover that if they are to survive they must rely on themselves. But friendship, courage, and resilience might not be enough to save them. Based in part upon interviews with child soldiers in Northern Uganda, War Brothers is a stunning depiction of the human cost of wars fought by children. 

~Goodreads Description~

I've heard stories of Joseph Kony and the Invisible Children.  I've seen movies that show the horrors of young boys and girls wielding guns and spouting hatred.  And it's unbelievably horribly.  Sharon McKay brings a new face to the story.  She brings a hope that you don't usually see in newscasts.  In War Brothers, a school is invaded by LRA soldiers and the students are taken captive.  It's immediately obvious that the soldiers know how to manipulate and intimidate, seeking out the weakest and breaking them until there is blood on their hands.  One boy resists.  He remains determined and steadfast, protecting friendships and believing that freedom will come one day.

For many it doesn't, and the consequences are deadly.  But for the few that do, a new war stands in their way.  A war of guilt and disgrace.  That's what McKay does best.  She shows the fear that these free children face and the persecution against them for circumstances beyond their control.

It's a terrible story, but a beautifully made graphic novel.  The artwork is impressive and the personal letters at the beginning and end of the story put a human face on the story itself.

A must read that definitely deserves a spot on the YALSA list of great graphic novels.

Friday, April 25, 2014

It's coming!

So I was browsing Goodreads this morning and came across the cover for Leigh Bardugo's third book in The Grisha series!  Only a couple of months until it's release, and I can't wait.  Isn't the cover pretty?

What book are you looking forward to reading this summer?

There are a few books I have to read before June, so you bet I'm going to go into a reading frenzy so that I'm all ready for the June 17th release of Ruin and Rising.  If you're a fan of fantastical fiction...you should totally check out Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Another year down...And a very happy birthday!

Have you ever had a project you absolutely loved doing, but you are always sooo relieved when it's actually done?  That's the annual Teen Film Festival for me.  We're in our fifth year, and the entries keep getting better.  But it's an exhausting task.

I wanted an event that would celebrate the passions and interests of young filmmakers.  After spending two years marveling at the talents of a local high schools media class, I knew that I wanted to recognize their achievements when I moved into the public library realm.  Thus the Teen Film Festival was born.  Not only has it created a platform for up-and-coming film, but it has also allowed me to build and foster some pretty awesome community connections.

If you know a teen who loves film, help them find an outlet.  Who knows, maybe the next Spielberg is in your own backyard.  And if you have the time, definitely check out the entries from this year's festival (https://www.youtube.com/user/teenfilmfest).

Congratulations to the student filmmakers of the 2014 Teen Film Festival!

And a very happy birthday to my little brother!  It's hard to believe you're 27...only because that makes me really old :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Top 10 Female Characters Who Totally Kick Butt

Top Ten Female Characters Who Totally Kick Butt
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

Today is a bit of a freebie.  It's our top ten whatever characters.  All I had to do was fill in the blank! I was leaning toward fictional boyfriends, but that gets a little weird, so I decided to take another route.  In no particular order, here are a few of my favorite kick-butt female protagonists.  Sometimes these ladies literally kick butt.  Sometimes they're just fierce women who know who they are and live life according to their own rules.  Either way, they're ladies that every contemporary teen should get to know.  There's a lesson or two to learn along the way.

1) Caelena Sardothian
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Literally kicks butt and doesn't let anyone push her around.
2) Liesel Meminger
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
Liesel is a survivor.  She finds her way through each tragedy.

3) Finley Jayne
The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross
Finley is a force to be reckoned with.  She's her own woman.
4) Sophronia Temminick
Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger
Sophronia is clever, quick witted, and extremely mischievous.  My kind of girl.

5) Lex Bartleby
Croak by Gina Damico
She's a reaper, saving souls, but, good or bad, she's a fighter.
6) Sabriel
Sabriel by Garth Nix
She might have an unexpected destiny, but she faces it with courage.
7) Puck Connolly
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Puck is terribly stubborn and fiercely courageous.

8) Josie Moraine
 Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
She never gives up and dreams big.  And she's stubborn.  Love a stubborn girl.

9) Nancy Kington
Pirates! by Celia Rees
She wants more than her station in life will allow, and she sails the seven seas to find it.

10) Queenie
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
The definition of kick butt.  

Katniss Everdeen (before she gets SUPER whiney), Sunday Woodcutter, Hermione Granger, Katarina Bishop, Hazel Grace Lancaster...there are so many kick-butt female characters

Friday, April 18, 2014

Dogs of War

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): A love story for man, and soldier's, best friend.

Author: Sheila Keenan and Nathan Fox
Info: GRAPHIX, copyright 2013, 208 pages

Hub Challenge Read: Great Graphic Novel #hubchallenge

Some war heroes heard the wind whistling over a hidden trip wire.
Some war heroes sniffed out a sniper 1,000 yards away.
Some war heroes stood tall . . . on four legs!

DOGS OF WAR is a graphic novel that tells the stories of the canine military heroes of World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War. This collection of three fictional stories was inspired by historic battles and real military practice. Each story tells the remarkable adventures of a soldier and his service dog and is rendered with fascinating and beautiful detail bringing to life the faithful dogs who braved bombs, barrages, and battles to save the lives of countless soldiers.

~Goodreads Description~

Confession...I only picked up this particular title because it was on the Hub Challenge reading list.  And another confession...I'm slowly making my way specifically through the graphic novels on that list because they're quick to read and my only chance of reading 25 titles.

But I loved it, and it most assuredly deserves the accolade of "Great Graphic Novel." Three stories, three time periods, three tales of heroic men and canine companions in the midst of war, Dogs of War is touching and exciting.  Everyone loves a touching, heartfelt story about the relationship between man and dog, and this small book has it in abundance.  The story weaves its way from an orphaned kid in Word War I surviving the trenches, to a young man in a frozen tundra looking for adventure, and a soldier returned home from war finding it hard to leave the battlefield behind.  It's an interesting take on the armed services and love story to the animals that have helped in the war efforts.

A must have for library shelves.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): Growing up is hard...letting go is even harder.  And all's fair in love and scavenger hunts.

Author: Tara Altebrando
Info: Dutton Juvenile, copyright 2012, 239 pages

An all-day scavenger hunt in the name of eternal small-town glory

With only a week until graduation, there's one last thing Mary and her friends must do together: participate in the Oyster Point High Official Unofficial Senior Week Scavenger Hunt. And Mary is determined to win.

Mary lost her spot at Georgetown to self-professed "it" bully Jake Barbone, and she's not about to lose again. But everyone is racing for the finish line with complicated motives, and the team's all-night adventure becomes all-night drama as shifting alliances, flared tempers, and crushing crushes take over. As the items and points pile up, Mary and her team must reinvent their strategy--and themselves--in order to win.

~Goodreads Description~

I SO wanted to fall in love with Tara Alterbrando's The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life.  It has tons of my favorite story elements.  An epic night...scavenger hunts...the end of high school and the fear of college...secret crushes.  But I just didn't love it, and I've been trying to figure out why.

This is what I've got...I'm too old.  I think I'm too old to appreciate the nostalgia or sense of place that this book might bring to a reader.  There were too many love woes (Mary loved Carson...who loved Winter...who was in love with Carson...but knew Mary loved Carson...and Patrick loved Mary...but Mary just wanted to be friends...and Dez was pretty much in love with himself...and messy).

Drama, drama, drama.

And after reading some exceptionally well-written books over the past few months, this particular story and writing style fell short.  I kept going to the mantra I've heard so many creative writing teachers preach, "show me, don't tell."  I want to feel the angst instead of heaving you tell me it's there.  I want you to give me enough credit as a reader to know who is speaking at any particular time with out constantly being told that "he said" something or "she asked" something.  Really.  I'm good.

The book has potential.  It just fell short of my expectations.  But, with all of that being said, there is definitely a lot in the book that might attract the attention of a teen reader.  If you know a teen who is worried about what's next, figuring out the college thing while having to let go of high school...this might be the right choice.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Top 10 Bookish Dream Items

Top Ten Bookish Things (That Aren't Books)
That I'd Like To Own
 (Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

Oh that I could afford all the bookish items I want.  Here are just a few...

1) A Wrinkle in Time T-Shirt
 2) Book Text Scarf

 3) Book Stairs!!!!!

 4) This Room in my house...

 5) A Literary Tattoo

 6) Tolkien phone case

 7) Narnia Lamp Post Pendant
8) LOTR Doormat
9) Diagon Alley Legos

 10) Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatter Mug

What's on your bookish item must-have list?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Boxers & Saints

Author: Gene Luen Yang
Info: First Second, copyright 2013, 325 pages, 170 pages
YALSA Great Graphic Novel

Hub Challenge Read - #hubchallenge

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): The Boxer Rebellion through the eyes of a young warrior and saint.

Boxer: China, 1898. Bands of foreign missionaries and soldiers roam the countryside, bullying and robbing Chinese peasants.

Little Bao has had enough. Harnessing the powers of ancient Chinese gods, he recruits an army of Boxers--commoners trained in kung fu--who fight to free China from "foreign devils."

Against all odds, this grass-roots rebellion is violently successful. But nothing is simple. Little Bao is fighting for the glory of China, but at what cost? So many are dying, including thousands of "secondary devils"--Chinese citizens who have converted to Christianity.

Saints: China, 1898. An unwanted and unwelcome fourth daughter, Four-Girl isn't even given a proper name by her family when she's born. She finds friendship--and a name, Vibiana--in the most unlikely of places: Christianity. 

But China is a dangerous place for Christians. The Boxer Rebellion is in full swing, and bands of young men roam the countryside, murdering Westerners and Chinese Christians alike. Torn between her nation and her Christian friends, Vibiana will have to decide where her true loyalties lie...and whether she is willing to die for her faith.

~Goodreads Description~

I've been a fan of Gene Luen Yang for quite some time.  I was first introduced to his style of storytelling in American Born Chinese.  He introduces the reader to Chinese culture in an accessible way, telling history through beautiful artwork and folklore.

In Boxer, we see the rise of western religion in rural China with the introduction of missionaries into the countryside and the inevitable backlash from local resistance.  Then we also get to see the flip side, in Saints.  A young girl, a convert, is looking for a way to belong in late 19th century China, and she finds it with the ghost of a saint and the acceptance of a foreign faith.

I'm usually not a fan of historical fiction, but Gene Luen Yang manages to make it thrilling and engaging.  I know very little of Chinese history, but I might just have to read a little more on the Boxer Rebellion.

Friday, April 11, 2014


Author: Marissa Meyer
Audiobook Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Info: Macmillan Young Listeners, copyright 2012, 8 CDs

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): 

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . . 

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

~Goodreads Description~

Don't you hate it when you read a story you really like, but then you forget nearly all of it before the sequel comes out?  I've been wanting to finish this series, but knew I wouldn't have time for a Cinder re-read, so I decided to give the audiobook a shot.  Alas...no accented reader, but for once, that was just fine.  Rebecca Soler does an excellent job bringing Cinder to life.  The story, just as I remember it now, is creative, clever, and a lot of fun.  Aliens, cyborgs, magic, romance...it has it all.  And now I'm ready for Scarlet!  I think I'm going to have to continue with the audiobook now that the voice of Cinder is clear in my head.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Summer Prince

Author: Alaya Dawn Johnson
Info: Arthur A. Levine, copyright 2013, 289 pages

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): Art speaks, traditions are questioned, and the future changes when a boy becomes a king.

The lush city of Palmares Três shimmers with tech and tradition, with screaming gossip casters and practiced politicians. In the midst of this vibrant metropolis, June Costa creates art that’s sure to make her legendary. But her dreams of fame become something more when she meets Enki, the bold new Summer King. The whole city falls in love with him (including June’s best friend, Gil). But June sees more to Enki than amber eyes and a lethal samba. She sees a fellow artist.

Together, June and Enki will stage explosive, dramatic projects that Palmares Três will never forget. They will add fuel to a growing rebellion against the government’s strict limits on new tech. And June will fall deeply, unfortunately in love with Enki. Because like all Summer Kings before him, Enki is destined to die.

~Goodreads Description~

This was a tough read, and to be honest, I'm still not quite sure how I feel about it.  It's clever and creative.  I know that.  It's a cautionary tale about power, politics, and technology.  I got that out of it.  And it's a love story about sacrifice, forgiveness, and revolution.  And that's about all I've got on this one.

The story was foreign to me, and I'm an avid reader of dystopian worlds and imaginary lands.  I just couldn't wrap my head around what was going on.  I couldn't visualize the people or the place.  It was happening, but it wasn't playing out in my head like most stories naturally do.  I couldn't see the art that played such a pivotal role in the story.  I couldn't picture Gil and his dancing, or Enki and his bare feet.  I couldn't picture futuristic Brazil.  This isn't to say that it wasn't well written.  The story picked up steam towards the middle, and I had to know how it ended.  I just didn't have a basis for comparison.  I don't know or understand Brazilian culture, so much of the language and description was lost on me.

One plot device I did really enjoy was Enki's letter to June throughout.  It added context to his story and strengthened the bond they had created over the course of the year.

Overall, a good read, just not one of my favorites of the year.  I think you should read it, so that we can talk it out.  So if you do, please come back and let me know!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Top 10 Most Unique Books I've Read

Top Ten Most Unique books I've Read
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

This was a toughy of a list.  I almost stopped at five, but I powered through and realized that some of my favorites books are a bit different, unique.  What's on your list of unique titles?

1) The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
I love books where the narrator talks directly to the reader.  This is one of my favorites.

2) The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
Fforde takes classic literature and turns it on its head.  Awesome.

3) Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
War from a fighting female's perspective.  Not often done.

4) For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
An Austin tale set in a dystopian future.  Quite clever.

5) The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
A book where a setting is as important as the characters.

6) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
Told from the unique perspective of young man on the spectrum.

7) Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn
A tale that shows how difficult it would be to read without all 26 letters of the alphabet.

8) The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
Death as a narrator.  Chapter foreshadowing. A heartfelt and breathtakingly good read.

9) Room by Emma Donoghue
Absolutely disturbing tale from a five year old's perspective.

10) Lemonade Mouth by Mark Peter Hughes
Written like a documentary, and another example of how books excel to movies.

Happy Reading!

Monday, April 7, 2014


Author: Rainbow Rowell
Info: St. Martin's Press, copyright 2013, 445 pages

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): Sometimes it's hard to write your own story.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?  Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

~Goodreads Description~

The Awesome
Rainbow Rowell has a way with words.  I mentioned this before in my Eleanor & Park review.  She's a poet really, weaving together descriptions and sentences that sometimes leave you speechless.  She is also excellent at dialogue.  In many ways it reminds me of John Green.  It's smart.  Fastpaced.  Witty.  And leaves me envious of the "Gilmore Girls-esque" quips that were both intelligent and entertaining.

Then there are her characters.  I loved Cath and her insecurities.  I maybe might have seen just a smidgen of myself in the nerdy, wallflower of a college student.  Levi.  Sigh. Levi is spectacular.  From the moment Cath walked into her dorm room and encountered Levi, I was smitten.  He's smart, awkward, and genuinely kind. Reagan might be a little rough-and-tumble, but her tough love saves Cath.

And that's the true awesome of the story.  The characters save each other.  Sometimes subtly, sometimes outright, but each, in their own way, find a way to help the other.  As coming of age stories go, there isn't anything epic in Fangirl.  It's  really just the story of a girl who finds out she is capable of so much more than she ever dreamed, and that change doesn't always have to be as terrifying as we allow ourselves to believe.

The Not So Awesome
Nothing really to report.  Wren drove me crazy.  She made me grateful that I don't have a twin, and especially a twin sister.  While she eventually comes around, there were moments I wanted to take her by the shoulders and scream at her until I was blue in the face.  Something tells me that's exactly what Rowell intended...and maybe how our parents felt about us growing up :)

I might be fangirl-ing a little over Ms. Rowell's newest novel.  She's a spectacular writer  And if you haven't picked up one of her books yet, you really should get on that as soon as possible.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Spring Break

I wish I could report that I'm lazing on a beach somewhere, listening to the waves crash against the coast, growling because someone has awkwardly positioned their blanket way too close to me on a the nearly deserted sand.

But I'm not.  I am, however, attempting to relax and trying desperately to complete some minor DIY home improvements.  There will be reading.  There will be movie watching.  There will be endless hours off playing catch with my lovely dog.

So I'll see you next week!  Hopefully, for my Indy folks, you've found some fun outdoor activities to celebrate the end of winter (knock on wood!)
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