Last Five Posts

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sunday Salon (on Thursday) - SLJ Battle of the Kids' Book - Round 3

The Lost Conspiracy

Ok, I somehow forgot to post this and I know you've been on tenterhooks wondering how The Battle is going!  Blame it on Spring fever and Jr. Academic Superbowl mania. Anyway, there are only TWO contests in this round and then we get to see what book rises from the dead and hear what the great Katherine Paterson has to say about all three books!!

Match 1 - Charles and Emma vs. The Lost Conspiracy
I can't really "predict" this one because I already saw that The Lost Conspiracy won!

Match 2 - Marching for Freedom vs. Tales from Outer Suburbia
These were both great books.  I learned new things from MFF.  Reading about these events from a young person's perspective makes me wonder if I would have had the gumption that they did.  Even when they didn't have Martin Luther King's support, they did what they needed to do.  I don't think I have the guts... They changed lives, mine included.  Still, I must admit that I like Tales better. Now, this one will be judged by the incredible Walter Dean Myers. Yes, really, Walter Dean Myers.  Did you know he was "given" to someone as a child and he doesn't know why?  I kinda believe he might find a certain affinity with MFF.  On the other hand, have you seen the wonderful cover of Sunrise Over Fallujah? Or Brown Angels?  I think illustration and design are important to him too...  I'm gonna have to stick with Shaun Tan on this one...

Final judging isn't until Monday - Spring Break! - so I'll be back on Sunday with thoughts on the Zombie book, Mr. Myers' pick, and the final round.

Sunday Salon - Monthly Reading Update - March 28, 2010


It was a busy reading month for me and I may have forgotten to write down some books. I've been following the SLJ Battle of the Kid's Books which will be ending April 5th. I've also been doing some picture book reading for the upcoming Mock Newbery club. This coming month will see me doing more Mock Newbery and Mock Printz reading as well as participating in the Dewey ReadAthon.

Read on for my fake challenge participation and how my book buying squeeze has gone this past month.

Debut Author Challenge (8)
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

In the Middle Reading Challenge (15)
Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
Storm in the Barn by Matt Phelan
Meanwhile by Jason Shiga
Mirror, Mirror by Marilyn Singer
Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Young Adult Reading Challenge (29)
Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr
Mia the Magnificent by Eileen Bogess
Runaway by Meg Cabot
Being Nikki by Meg Cabot
Before I Fall by Lauren Olier
Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
King of Attolia by Megan whalen turner
Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner
Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan
Versus by Steve Stone
Boys, Girls and Other Hazardous Material by Rosalind Wiseman

POC Reading Challenge (12)
Fiddler on the Roof

Loving Your Library (16)

Book Buying
I am appalled at the amount of money I spent on books this month!  It was so bad, only $4 less than this time last year!  And more than last month!  I am really trying to reel it in but it's been faster than waiting for the library.  But I did buy some awesome books:
Green by Laura Peyton Roberts
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
The Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by Green and Levithan
Changeless by Gail Carriger
Fiddler on The Roof
Tales from a Madman Underground

Total: ~$87.00

Total books read in March - 22
Best Book of March - Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner

One quarter of the year has passed!  I've read a grand total of 56 books! So much for slowing down...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Restoring Harmony by Joelle Anthony - Review

Restoring Harmony
Joelle Anthony
Putnam/Penguin
May 2010
320 pgs. ARC
4 copies

My Thoughts
Molly's immediate family lives in future Canada while her grandparents, who she doesn't know, live in future Seattle,USA. Molly is chosen to travel to the US to bring the grandparents back because the family has cause to believe that something has happened to Grandma and Grandpa is suffering all alone.

My favorite sub-genre of fantasy is dystopian. I love future messed up worlds that hold onto a small hope for redemption and that's what Restoring Harmony is. Molly has to travel through a downtown Portland that's been left ravished from the Great Collapse. She carries her "fiddle" with her and she's hoping she makes it to the GPs in one piece. She meets an older woman and they swap stories and sympathies but when it comes time to hightail it to her final destination, Molly has the to leave the lady to her chances, but not before exchanging their digits. Along the way she meets a guy who saves her from getting robbed, or worse, arrested. She makes it to the grandparents to find GF is fine and GM is alive but sickly. They are extremely poor and soon to lose their house. Molly makes a deal with the neighbor to work his garden in exchange for food. A relationship forms as Molly finds out how her rich GF went from prominent, wealthy doctor to starving recluse. She also starts taking care of the two kids next door since their guardian seems to leave them alone all the time. And that guy who saved her? Well, Spill keeps coming back to check on her and he and Molly become fast friends. But Spill is hiding something. How is he able to get all the things Molly's GPs need to survive?

This was good solid reading. Most of the novel took place in Portland with Molly at her GPs but you read a lot about her family in Canada and learned about her mom growing up. My major beef with Spill was his age. Molly is only 16 but Spill is almost 21! That was distasteful to me, especially since I have a 14 year old. Thinking about her dating a 19 year old, out of high school, secretive sort made me want to murder someone. Spill's age is necessary for some plot specifics but Molly could have been older. Maybe a senior in high school would have been more palatable. Still, it's a minor point, so I give this one 4 copies.  It's been 1 1/2 mos since I first read it but much of the story is still there.  That's worth buying.

ARC provided by Around the World Tours.

For Keeps by Natasha Friend - Review

For Keeps
Natasha Friend
Viking/Penguin
April 2010
272 pg. ARC
3 copies

Thoughts
Josie thinks she may finally get together with Matt Riggs. Josie's mom, Kate, finally found a guy who shares her appreciation of books. Everything seems to be falling in place. Until they run into Josie's biological parents. The ones that don't know Josie is alive. And her mom wants to keep it that way.

For Keeps starts off with Josie in the role of mom although she keeps telling us that her mom usually has her stuff together. Josie is a high school junior who plays a mean game of soccer. It's always been just her and her mom, and they've enjoyed things that way. When Josie and Kate both find boyfriends they start seeing less of each other.

We see Josie as she tries to make decisions without her mom's help and she shows resentment that her mom is tied up with someone else. After all, she's had her to herself for 16 years. Very realistic. In the meantime, Josie is dealing with truths about her "boyfriend" as well as the grandparent she is slowly getting to know, all of this without her mom's guidance or, even, knowledge.

Although I enjoyed For Keeps when I was reading it, it doesn't stick with you afterwards.  I had a hard time recalling details once the book was out of my sight.  Which is fine.  My only pause would be for students who are fans of Perfect and Lush, Natasha Friends first two books.  Those books dealt with eating disorders and alcoholism.  Those students might be disappointed if they are looking for more of the same.  I still give the book 3 copies because it was entertaining and worth the read.  FYI, The cover for this one is very different from Natasha Friend's previous efforts and that should have clued me in....

ARC provided by Around The World Tours.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sunday Salon (on Thursday) - SLJ Battle of the Kids' Book - Round 2



Ok, all the first round brackets have been judged!  Let's see how I did overall and then my predictions for the winners of round 2:



Match 1 - Charles and Emma vs. Claudette Colvin - I lost since the judges picked Charles and Emma
Match 2 - Evolution of Calpurnia Tate vs. Fire - I lost and Evolution advanced
Match 3 - The Frog Scientist vs. The Last Olympian - Yay! The Last Olympian moved to round 2
Match 4 - Lips Touch vs. The Lost Conspiracy - I lost but The Lost Conspiracy won
Match 5 - Marcelo in the Real World vs. Marching to Freedom - I lost but Marching to Freedom marched on
Match 6 - Peace, Locomotion vs. Season of Gifts - I lost and Gifts were given to round 2
Match 7 - Storm in the Barn vs. Sweethearts of Rhythm - Yay! The Storm moves me into two wins.
Match  8 - Tales From Outer Suburbia vs. When You Reach Me - I won and Tales lived to tell another one...

Round 1 - Wins:3 Losses:5

Wow, I took a serious self-esteem hit in thi first round until I realized that judges, even though they are authors, are actually people too!  They have opinions and they like and dislike things just like I do.  Well, not JUST like I do...

So, on to round 2 predictions

Match 1 - Charles and Emma vs. Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
As I mentioned in my Sunday Salon, I chose Evolution of Calpurnia because I find it slightly more palatable than Charles and Emma.

Match 2 - The Last Olympian vs. The Lost Conspiracy
I tried to re-read TLC but still haven't made it past the first 100 pgs.  I will finish it today but I'm hoping that The Last Olympian moves on. I see that Angela Johnson is judging and I'm sure she believes that you can say what you need to say and do it well in books of smaller size.  So, I hold out hope for this one.

Match 3 - Marching for Freedom vs. A Season of Gifts
Against my better judgement, I'm going for Season of Gifts on this one.  I don't know if it's the better book since I didn't read Marching.  Thinking about Bud, Not Buddy, one of Judge Curtis' books, makes me think he'll like Season.
Match 4 - Tales from Outer Suburbia vs. Storm in the Barn
This should prove to be a great match-up! Although, I don't think Tales is really a graphic novel it can be billed as such.  I have it in the short story collection at our library.  I may move it.  I loved Tales and my heart picked it over WYRM in Round 1.  The stories awakened a sense a wonder and also immediately brought to mind a way I could use it in the classroom.  I pored over the pictures and marveled at Tan's artistic talent and tried to determine what the stories meant!  I also pored over Storm in the Barn.  I loved how the history was woven into the story and the minimal use of color in the illustrations.  Phelan also has a great artistic talent. I could see who I would hand this one to and, like Tales, it includes staff members as well as students.  But, I kept going back to Tales.  Just to look at it.  I would seek it out and stare.  I only remembered Storm when I came across it.  So, I'm hoping for Tan on this one. Judge Shannon Hale writes for a variety of audiences and she writes prose as well as graphic novels.  Remembering her The Actor and The Housewife leads me to guess that she will agree with me.  Please!

There, you go!  I'll be back on Tuesday with updates from Round 2.  In the meanwhile, visit SLJ Battle of the Kids' Books and watch for my comments on each match!  Add your own while you are there!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday Salon - Battle of the Kid's Books - Round 2 (and some 1)


It's (almost)round 2 of School Library Journal's Battle of the Kid's Books. I did not fare so well in the brackets during this first round. There are still a few contests left so I am going to do only two second round picks.

1. Charles and Emma vs. Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
I had both of these books set to lose in the first round but somehow they survived. The audience for these books is different though I can see Teens reading both. I'm going to give the edge to Calpurnia because it's not just about Darwin so I think it has a better story The brothers in the story are well-written even though Jacqueline Kelly doesn't have any siblings. It's the kind of story you can put down and then pick it up later and fall right back into also, the grandpa kind of reminds me of Mark Twain. You know, if I knew him. So, on to round three with Calpurnia.

2. The Last Olympian vs. The Lost Conspiracy
I really enjoyed The Last Olympian and read it in one night. I really enjoyed the beginning and the end of the The Lost Conspiracy and read it over a week. Maybe that was the problem. I am loathe to pick either book at this point. I will come back on Wednesday with my pick...

I finally read The Storm in the Barn and I must say it was amazing. I almost cried at parts of it. It solidifies my choice and I hope the judge, Anita Silvey, doesn't let her nonfiction love push it out of the running. I also need Peace, Locomotion and Tales from Outer Suburbia to win their matches. There are still three more matches to go before we begin round 2 officially on Thursday, March 25th, so check back then for my picks.

I haven't forgotten about The Morning News Tournament of Books. I've been following them but haven't done as much reading as I had hoped. I'm three books in, which is more than last year, and should make a minimum of two more. I've read The Help and Lowboy from Round 1 and will tell you what I thought of them and I've finished The Anthologist and just need to read Wolf Hall for the quarter finals.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen

woods Woods Runner

Gary Paulsen

Wendy Lamb Books

January 2010

164 pgs.

Summary

From his 1776 Pennsylvania homestead, thirteen-year-old Samuel, who is a highly-skilled woodsman, sets out toward New York City to rescue his parents from the band of British soldiers and Indians who kidnapped them after slaughtering most of their community. Includes historical notes.

My Thoughts

In the beginning I was bored with Woods Runner. I'm not really a huge fan of survival fiction but I do like some historical fiction. But, I thought the historical notes were distracting because they occur after each chapter. Then I noticed that they were pretty much geared towards what you just read, so they could actually add to the reading. But I didn't like that so I stopped reading them.

My impression of Woods Runner changed drastically after Sam went out hunting the bear. Oh.My.Word. The description of the raids and Sam following the raiders was amazing. I had to read with one eye closed and I had to keep some tissues nearby. Gary Paulsen's details add an additional dimension to the book that never felt intrusive. I could barely put the book down. I actually closed my office door and turned off the overhead light. I did not want to be disturbed.

Woods Runner gave me a different perspective on the Revolutionary War. I can't wait to hand this to the social studies teachers. I hope they add this as a reading choice when they study this time period. It's a fast read but it's not easy. The trauma Sam, his parents, and then Annie, experience is haunting. By having us follow Sam as he tries to track down his parents, Paulsen was able to insert the historical aspects without slowing down the story. We learned about the redcoats, their weaponry, the Hessians, war prisoners, and normal people who helped the Americans. It was a nice lesson and didn't feel like you were being "schooled".

I give this one 4 copies. I think it's better than last year's Notes From The Dog and more in keeping with Hatchet. Even if the teachers don't use it in class, I see it leaping off the shelves.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

finikin

Finnikin of the Rock

Melina Marchetta

Candlewick Press

February 2010

399 pgs.

Summary

Now on the cusp of manhood, Finnikin, who was a child when the royal family of Lumatere was brutally murdered and replaced by an imposter, reluctantly joins forces with an enigmatic young novice and fellow-exile, who claims that her dark dreams will lead them to a surviving royal child and a way to regain the throne of Lumatere.

My Thoughts

I was excited when Finnikin and Sir Topher picked up Evanjalin. She knew things she shouldn't and she wasn't afraid to use the information she needed. I was disappointed when they picked up the thief. He was unnecessary. I was excited when Evanjalin helped Finnikin "break" into the prison. Disappointed when the thief tried to rape her. That's how this book was for me; alternating between exciting and disappointing. While enjoyed the book, small parts were disappointing. Overall I loved the twists and turns and the not completely resolved issues. The idea of trying to bring a kingdom that been torn apart back together. To start over in a place they no longer knew. That's intriguing. People have their memories. They aren't all good or all bad. But the same story is remembered differently based on who you are and who you've been. Finnikin wanted things the way they were but you can't really go back home. In this case both home and Finnikin had changed.

Still not sure what I think about this one. It's definitely one to add to the library and will be a great discussion book. But I wanted more from this book. Maybe a second read is necessary...

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

beforei
Before I Fall
Lauren Oliver
HarperTeen
March 2010
470 pgs.
Summary
After she dies in a car crash, teenage Samantha relives the day of her death over and over again until, on the seventh day, she finally discovers a way to save herself.
My Thoughts
On the surface, you know what this book is about. Girl dies, girl comes back, girl tries to redeem herself. Repeat. 7 times. But, really that's not it. At first, Sam does try to prevent her death from happening again. I mean, who wouldn't? But, that's not the right answer for her. So she decides to spend her days trying to find the right answer. I loved many things about this book. In Before I Fall, Lauren Oliver writes some beautiful sentences that paint gorgeous mind pictures. She tells a great story, too!
In the beginning though, I disliked Samantha. Intensely. "There's always going to be a person laughing and somebody getting laughed at." WHAT? But I kept reading because I know redemption has to be coming, right? And there's more beautiful writing..."little wisps rising like phantoms in the air" to describe cigarette smoke. Describing sunshine as "the sun has just spilled itself over...and is too lazy to clean itself up."
But then there's Rob. Sam's boyfriend. He's an obvious idiot and you wonder why she likes him so much. Then we find out. We take a look at all of Sam's friends. And the people who should be her friends. And we learn so much about each one.
This is one of few books that uses all 480 pages to it's advantage. I thought it about it even when I was done reading. I'm still trying to decide who to hand it to next. I want it to be someone who has the time to read and discuss it with me! I will buy this one for the library - 4 copies.
Caveat: There is a lot of drinking in this book which somehow disturbed me more than the smoking and sex...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday Salon - Battle of the Kid's Books - My Picks

This week kicks off School Library Journal's Battle of the Kids' Books. Here are my first round picks and the reasons, so to speak, why I made these choices.

1. Charles and Emma vs. Claudette Colvin
Now, I know Claudette already won an award but I have to hand her this match, too. Although both books introduced me to new information in different ways, I was more than captivated by the story of Claudette. Having Claudette's version of events interspersed with the history we all "know" gave it the extra edge. It made the history seem more present. So for this round, I choose Claudette Colvin.

2. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate vs. Fire
I had the opportunity to Skype with Jacqueline Kelly and she answered quite a few questions for us, the most important being why the name Calpurnia. My predictions were wrong and it wasn't based on To Kill a Mockingbird. Of course this in no way turned me off to Calpurnia, I was an immediate lover of Fire and it still holds a place in my heart. Fire had romance and war and beauty and power. It was better than Graceling. Fire is my book of choice for this match.

3. The Frog Scientist vs. The Last Olympian
This one is a no-brainer: The Last Olympian. Cuz, I didn't read The Frog Scientist. I loved the action and adventure in TLO and thought it a fitting end to the series. I remember moving my name up on the hold list, er..I mean...um, never mind. I really loved it. That is all.

4. Lips Touch Three Times vs. The Lost Conspiracy
Again, I only read one of these books but, in this case, I didn't like it. So, Lips Touch wins this round. The Lost Conspiracy started out strong but quickly became tedious and predictable. I couldn't wait for it to end. My student reader felt the same way. Lips Touch to Round 2.

5. Marcelo in the Real World vs. Marching for Freedom
Marcelo wins hands down. I didn't read Marching for Freedom. Now, I enjoyed Marcelo but I didn't think it deserved all the pub it got. I thought it was predictable and the part with the secretary unnecessary. Anything But Typical was a much better book. Still, Marcelo wins this particular match-up.

6. Peace, Locomotion vs. A Season of Gifts
A Season of Gifts had it's moments. Some scenes were described so vividly I could see them, especially the young girl with the apron who was like Grandma Dowdel and when the boy was being bullied. Other than that I thought it was pretty out of touch. I also thought Locomotion was a far better book than Peace. I thought the emotions were more present in Locomotion and the writing more beautiful. That said, Peace wins the match because it was better than Season.

7. Sweethearts of Rhythm vs. The Storm in the Barn
Hmm, this one is tough. I haven't read either book in this match-up. This will not stop me from choosing. The Storm is my choice because it's so pretty. I have this one at school and the drawings were amazing. It advances in my poll.

8. Tales from Outer Suburbia vs. When You Reach Me
Ok, I'm back. I just finished reading TFOS. On the one hand, this book should be against The Storm in the Barn, since it's a graphic novel, or Lips Touch, since it's short stories. It's a beautiful book. Shaun Tan is an amazing illustrationist, er illustrationer, er illustrator. I mean the detail is amazing. The table of contents consists of small stamps with page numbers instead of prices and a small picture representing the story. The stories are simple on the service but as you read, you fall deeper into them. I loved Distant Rain, the story of unread poems. Words gathering in secret places and coming together only to be separated by storms and put together in new ways to be discovered by others. Beautiful. And Stick Figures: Who are You, WhyAre You Here, What Do You Want? These questions surround a brutality only seen on the school yard. Haunting. I loved this book. I want to own it. I like to look at it. I like re-reading it. Ah-May-Zing (did I use that word enough?). On the other hand, I have been an evangelist for When You Reach Me since I read it this past summer. I mean, seriously, I carried it around standing on corners (in the library) pointing at people and quoting lines from it. I called it for the Newbery without hesitation and everything else I read paled in comparison. I forced teachers and students and my own child to read it. None of them loved it like me. Crazies. This one is truly hard to call. But, despite everything, I have to give it to Tales. I have to. It's the better kid's book. Really.

Ok, that was tough. So, here are the books that I will send to the second round:
  • Claudette Colvin
  • Fire
  • The Last Olympian
  • Lips Touch Three Times
  • Marcelo in the Real World
  • Peace, Locomotion
  • The Storm in the Barn
  • Tales from Outer Suburbia
I'll be watching The Battle closely to see what the judges say. I'll pick my second round winners next week. I've gotta go read Lips Touch and Storm...
While you are waiting, check out the Peanut Gallery and, if you read this before midnight, go vote in the Undead round!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

willgray

Will Grayson, Will Grayson

John Green and David Levithan

Dutton Children’s Books

April 2010

304 pgs.

Summary

One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens—both named Will Grayson—are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical.

Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

somegirls Some Girls Are

Courtney Summers

St. Martin’s Press

January 2010

245 pgs.

Summary

Regina, a high school senior in the popular--and feared--crowd, suddenly falls out of favor and becomes the object of the same sort of vicious bullying that she used to inflict on others, until she finds solace with one of her former victims.

Bullet Point by Peter Abrahams

bulletpoint Bullet Point

Peter Abrahams

HarperTeen

April 2010

304 pgs.

Summary

Wyatt never really thought much about his dad—a hardened criminal, a lifer in a prison somewhere on the other side of the state. But then the economy had to go and tank, and the community had to go and cut the baseball program from Wyatt's high school. And then the coach had to go and show Wyatt a photograph of his dad at sixteen, looking very much like Wyatt himself. Through a series of unfortunate—or perhaps they were fortunate—events, Wyatt meets a crazy-hot girl named Greer with a criminal dad of her own. A criminal dad who is, in fact, in jail with Wyatt's own criminal dad. Greer arranges a meeting, and Wyatt's dad is nothing like the guy he's imagined—he's suave, and smart, and funny, and cool, and—Wyatt's pretty sure—innocent. So Wyatt decides to help him out. A decision that may possibly be the worst he's ever made in his life.

Ostrich Boys by Keith Gray

ostrich Ostrich Boys (Definitions)

Keith Gray

Random House

March 2010

304 pgs.

Summary

Ross is dead, and Blake, Sim, and Kenny are furious. To make it right, they steal Ross’s ashes and set out from their home on the English coast for the tiny village of Ross in southern Scotland, a place their friend had always wanted to go. What follows is an unforgettable journey with illegal train rides, bungee jumping, girls, and high-speed police chases—all with Ross’s ashes along for the ride. As events spin wildly out of control, the three friends must take their heads out of the sand long enough to answer the question: What really happened to Ross?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sweet, Hereafter by Angela Johnson

 sweet Sweet, Hereafter

Angela Johnson

Simon and Schuster

January 2010

118 pgs.

Summary

Sweet leaves her family and goes to live in a cabin in the woods with the quiet but understanding Curtis, to whom she feels intensely connected, just as he is called back to serve again in Iraq.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

incarceron Incarceron

Catherine Fisher

Dial Books

February 2010

442 pg.

Summary

To free herself from an upcoming arranged marriage, Claudia, the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, a futuristic prison with a mind of its own, decides to help a young prisoner escape.



Thoughts
Incarceron opens with a view of Finn, another major player in the saga. Finn is imprisoned but he is sure that he wasn't always inside Incarceron. He has visions of the outside.

The story then switches to Claudia. She is Outside, where Protocol rules. It's been declared that it's been for everyone if we return to a simpler time. No progress, no electronics, no strife, no hunger...HA! As if! How can you live and not learn and grow? Is that really living?

Somehow these two lives are intertwined. As Finn and Claudia fight their own personal battles they are drawn closer and closer together.

I loved how Catherine Fisher led me to make predictions that didn't turn out quite how I guessed. So I alternated between slaps on the back and groans of frustration, but I couldn't stop reading.

Favorite thing about the book: Attia. She's my hands down favorite character this year.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Ever After Ever by Jordan Sonnenblick

ever Ever After Ever

Jordan Sonneblick

Scholastic Press

February 2010

Summary

Although Jeff and Tad, encouraged by a new friend, Lindsey, make a deal to help one another overcome aftereffects of their cancer treatments in preparation for eighth-grade graduation, Jeff still craves advice from his older brother Stephen, who is studying drums in Africa.

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

skyis The Sky is Everywhere

Jandy Nelson

Dial Books

March 2010

275 pgs.

Summary

In the months after her sister dies, seventeen-year-old Lennie falls into a love triangle and discovers the strength to follow her dream of becoming a musician.

Borderline by Allan Stratton

borderline Borderline

Allan Stratton

HarperTeen

298 pgs.

Summary

Despite the strained relationship between them, teenaged Sami Sabiri risks his life to uncover the truth when his father is implicated in a terrorist plot.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Sunday Salon - Searching for my Printz - March 7, 2010

Because I just don't have enough to do, I'm gearing up my search for the next Printz Award! The reason I started this blog was to keep track of my reading so that I could improve my book review skills and hopefully pick the book that would be considered best for teens by the ALA.

This first list was chosen in three ways:
  1. Several starred reviews
  2. Established author
  3. Gut reaction
In no particular order and with links to the local public library:

Sweet, Hereafter by Angela Johnson
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
Ever After Ever by Jordan Sonnenblick
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Happyface by Stephen Edmonds
Borderline by Allan Stratton
Ostrich Boys by Keith Gray
The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers
Num8ers by Rachel Ward
Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen

Watch for summaries and short reviews!

Monday, March 1, 2010

2010 Book Battles - Something for Everyone!



Two of my favorite places are running book battles to decide the best of the best. I'm not participating in either one officially, mostly due to time, but I'm going to be following each.

1. The Morning News - The 2010 Tournament of Books
Each year the irreverent TMN hosts this wonderful contest. I love reading how they chose the books and discovering what new way they will bash other book awards. They profess to be non-elitist and are surely extremely entertaining. I try to read at least one of the books each year but this year's list contains a number of tempting morsels. I've linked to the brackets for those of you who want to read along.

Top 16 Contenders

The Year of the Flood, by Margaret Atwood
The Anthologist, by Nicholson Baker
Fever Chart, by Bill Cotter
Logicomix: An Epic Search for Truth, by Apostolos Doxiadis
The Book of Night Women, by Marlon James
The Lacuna, by Barbara Kingsolver
Big Machine, by Victor Lavalle
Let the Great World Spin, by Colum McCann
Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel
A Gate at the Stairs, by Lorrie Moore - reading
Miles from Nowhere, by Nami Mun
That Old Cape Magic, by Richard Russo
Burnt Shadows, by Kamila Shamsie
The Help, by Kathryn Stockett
Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned, by Wells Tower
Lowboy, by John Wray

This contest will run from March 1 - April 5. Way too fast. I'm going to read along slowly and I'll be sure to post my reactions. I've already read The Help and am reading A Gate At the Stairs now. I've ordered Lowboy and The Book of Night Women from the library to complete those brackets.

Are there any on this list you've read? Or want to read?

2. School Library Journal - Battle of the Kid's Books
I only found out about this battle during the summer 2009. I think this is only their second year and I can see they've modeled it more after TMN's tournament, including a zombie round. Fuse 8 has a great video that explains the battle. Due to my participation in a Mock Newbery club, I've read a few of these! There are still some I want to dive into and this might be the incentive I need.

Top 16 Contenders

CHARLES AND EMMA by Deborah Heligman
CLAUDETTE COLVIN by Philip Hoose
THE EVOLUTION OF CALPURNIA TATE by Jacqueline Tate
FIRE by Kristin Cashore
THE FROG SCIENTIST by Pamela S. Turner
THE LAST OLYMPIAN by Rick Riordan
LIPS TOUCH by Laini Taylor
THE LOST CONSPIRACY by Francis Hardinge
MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD by Francisco X Stork
MARCHING FOR FREEDOM by Elizabeth Partridge
PEACE, LOCOMOTION by Jaqueline Woodson
A SEASON OF GIFTS by Richard Peck
THE STORM IN THE BARN by Matt Phelan
SWEETHEARTS OF RHYTHM by Marilyn Nelson
TALES FROM OUTER SUBURBIA by Shaun Tan
WHEN YOU REACH ME
by Rebecca Stead

This contest runs from March 15 - April 5, even faster than the TOB! Again, I'm going to try to read along, especially since I've read a great number of these books. I have Lips Touch Three Times, Charles and Emma, and Tales from Outer Suburbia right here on my desk!! I've also completed two other brackets and can't wait to weigh in! I love how they decided on the brackets because it's way more even than TMN's TOB.

What have you read on this list? Any you've been meaning to read?

I'm really excited about both of these contests and will keep you informed of my progress, if any, each week!

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