Saturday, April 30, 2011

H is for ...

Shannon Hale--I love Book of a Thousand Days!

Kevin Henkes--He's pretty multitalented. Picture books and awards for the illustrations. And chapter books. His newest one about the little bunny might be my favorite. Though Junonia is quite beautiful.

Charlie Higson--I did so enjoy the Young Bond series. His newest one is pretty cool, too. If you don't mind zombies.

Tad Hills I keep putting the stuffed animals in my Amazon cart and then waiting.

Penny Horvath Loads of fun. Because The Canning Season made me laugh in parts. And with a name like Everything on a Waffle who wouldn't want to pick that one up and read it?

Mary Henderson--Don't recognize the name? Click through and you'll get a hint. Still one of my favorite SW books.

HERMIONE--which I totally pronounced Her-Me-Own for like the first two books reading them with my little brother. Oops.

This post took me a long time to write. Been getting loads of rotten headaches lately. Booo.

Friday, April 29, 2011

G is for ...

John and Hank Green! I've ever only read Paper Towns. So sorry, John, as I know that is your first and true passion. But with videos like these I had to list you here.

1:36-3:15, especially. Not as big a fan of the first part. :/

(Oh. I just previewed the layout and this video comes with an interesting preview screen shot. But ... the end part really is so cute. Not the dance. The whole nerd boys and nerd girls thing.)

Alec Greven. Please don't become a weird little self help guru. I love your books. SPOT ON with both the How to Talk to Girls and School Rules. ;]

Keith Graves. Cause Frank Was a Monster Who Wanted to Dance.

Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams. TUNNELS and subsequent followups. I have always been fascinated by underground worlds. Mostly because I would never have the nerve to explore them myself in real life. But I can totally do it in a book! (Side note ... once my family was at a place called Enchanted Rock. Mostly it's hiking but there are some caves to explore. I remember finally getting the nerve to go down there and hearing my little brother from deep within the bowels of the earth say "THERE ARE LIKE A MILLION DADDY LONG LEGS DOWN HERE!" And that, my friends, was my signal to climb back out and be done with my spelunking days.)

Steve Grubman's animal portraits in Orangutans Are Ticklish.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

F is for ...

John Flanagan and The Ranger's Apprentice Series--love it. Perfect for those who want the epic fantasy but who are not really quite ready to properly enjoy LOTR. Yet. Anyway. I can't think of one student who hasn't ended up loving these books.

Frederick Wentworth. A patient, patient man. Terrible YouTube posting. And seriously what is that actress doing with her mouth? But here it is.

"I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in F. W. I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father's house this evening or never. Captain Wentworth to Anne Elliot"

Frog and Toad. My very most favorite of all Frog and Toad stories is the one about the Cookies and WILLPOWER. Awesome. And story of my life. But ... looky here! Creepy claymation.

Frankenstein, by Mary Shelly. OOOH! Shivers. But between that and Dracula (oops. Missed that on D. Have to save it for S) you really have spooky scary stuff covered. Classic.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

E is for ...

Dare I say it. Dare I even say it? Once upon a time Edward was special to me. Then it just go to be TOO MUCH. He so broody. But then again if I was stuck with a whiny baby like Bella I'd be broody as well. Is this going to get me flame comments? I really did love the stories, once upon a time. I also prefer RP as Cedric. Even before I got tired of the Twilight stories/movies.

PD Eastman. The Best Nest. I totally remember loving that book as a kid. It was one of the first ones I got on my color Nook just this year. My niece and I enjoy it together.

The City of Ember should never have been made into a movie. The best part about that story was the DUH moment when as a reader I finally realized where they had been the entire time! I loved the first one. Liked them progressively less as I read further in the series but that's OK. I loved the first one enough to make up for all the rest.

ELEPHANT (Gerald) & PIGGIE!!!!!!!!!!! Only because they are the BEST! My two favorites are There is a Bird on Your Head and We Are in a Book! But ... they are all hilarious. Mo Willems is a picture book rock star genius. I was SO excited ... when was it ... about 18 months ago? When we got to attend a limited live webcast? Closest thing to an author visit. Was awesome to see his studio.

Emma--almost as much as I love Anne. And all the different versions. Thank you, Jane!
"I may have lost my heart, but not my self-control. "
"Better be without sense than misapply it as you do. "
"If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more."
"There are persons who the more you do for them, the less they will do for themselves."
"Indeed, I am very sorry to be right in this instance. I would much rather have been merry than wise."
"Dear Diary, Today I tried not to think about Mr. Knightly. I tried not to think about him when I discussed the menu with Cook... I tried not to think about him in the garden where I thrice plucked the petals off a daisy to acertain his feelings for Harriet. I don't think we should keep daisies in the garden, they really are a drab little flower. And I tried not to think about him when I went to bed, but something had to be done."

Excuse the cheesy song cut. Couldn't find a clip with the real movie.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

D is for ...

Cory Doctorow--I am embarrassed to say the only one of his books I've ever actually read is Little Brother. And I didn't understand most of the technical jargon. But it was still SO GOOD. And I find him an interesting person ... heard him speak at ALA and have read blog posts. Don't always agree with his opinions but I still find them interesting.

Jennifer Donnelly--seriously. Both of her books. So good! Sad for sure, the first one especially. But must reads.

James Dashner--The Maze Runner series. Creepy FUN. I have had an ARC for his first 13th Reality book for a while now. It keeps getting put down the To Read list because I own it. I am sure this is not what the publisher had in mind. But ... publishers! I'm not like that any more. I didn't have a blog when I first got the book! I promise I won't do that again and now I've let the cat out of the bag ... :X

Dumbledore. Ah, Professor Dumbledore. [SPOILER] How sad we were to see you go.

"In fact, being - forgive me - rather cleverer than most men, my mistakes tend to be correspondingly huger."
"There are all kinds of courage. It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends."
"We must try not to sink beneath our anguish, Harry, but battle on."

(Quotes found here)

Monday, April 25, 2011

C is for ...

Patrick Carman--can I just say how awesome he is? I first heard about his series The Dark Hills Divide. Then last year we were able to schedule a free Skype chat. AMAZING. He keeps doing cooler and cooler things with Skeleton Creek and 3:15 and all of the other irons he has in the fire. Keep it up!

Ally Carter--this trailer is specifically for book three but it explains the series quite well. Total popcorn lit but who cares. It is SO MUCH FUN. Also love the Heist Society book[s].

Lincoln Child (& Douglas Preston)--LOVE the Agent Pendergast series. If they made movies they'd probably be too gross/scary for me to watch. But I am DYING to find out what is going to happen in the next one. They left us on such a cliffhanger!

Susan Cooper--The Dark is Rising series ... I've done this with a couple of bookclubs now. We struggle a little with the vocab but it's been fun to then watch the (in my opinion horrible but they've enjoyed it) movie The Seeker and compare the two. In one case we got to also watch The Sword in the Stone and sort of talk a bit about how the two versions of the Arthur story compared. And these were 4th graders.

John Christopher--one year I had a SUPER smart group of fifth graders and we read The White Mountains. Oh, the awesome discussions we had about free will and what it means to have choices! They also made the funniest little book trailer video using a little battery powered back massager as a Tripod. I should have kept better track of where I saved that. No idea where it is anymore. :/

Sunday, April 24, 2011

B is for ...

Blue Balliet--Chasing Vermeer (and subsequent followups) was so much fun to read. I still remember (and wonder how we ever pulled it off) the year it was on the state list how we got a bunch of clues together and delivered them to participating classrooms just like in the story. Kids had to look up information about artists and solve puzzles and all because my Yoda READ poster had been "stolen." FUN TIMES. Doubt with the increased testing pressure we'd ever get any participation with something like that now. Maybe. But I doubt it. At one time there had been rumors of a movie. Oh well.

Holly Black--White Cat and Red Glove. Hello? SO GOOD. Cannot wait for book three!

One of my favorite "grown up" authors is Steve Berry. LITTLE bit of fact with his fiction ... makes for a fast-paced thriller that's hard to put down!
I'm behind but another favorite is Jim Butcher's Dresden Files series. Too bad they made the short-lived TV version into such rubbish.

Gilbert Blythe. I know, I know. Last post was by first name. But who cares. First literary swoon. And I still do every time I read about him. Hey. Him calling Anne "Carrots" and dipping her hair in the ink? That gave me hope that all the boys who were so mean as kids could actually grow up to be nice.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A is for ...

In need of some inspiration for posts beyond Goodreads reposts we're going to go the alphabet route. Seen it on a couple blogs lately. Shall we start at the very beginning?

Anne of Green Gables--had to go with a character name here because HELLO! Most favorite non-mystery character ever. I cannot even count how many times I have reread these books. Which reminds me ... it's been a while. Hoping to be able to visit PEI next summer. Maybe. If the stars align. ;]

Tom Angleberger--The Strange Case of Origami Yoda. Is it terrible I really want it to win next year? Took a while but I can finally do the simple Yoda. The super complicated one? Egads, no. Anyway. Is it wrong to influence the children's vote?

Jay Asher--I listened to Thirteen Reasons Why. That is THE way to experience this book. IMHO, anyway. Sad. But powerful.
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher « Random House Audio

Avi--I've never found anyone who loved The End of the Beginning as much as I did. But I have convinced others to enjoy it. I don't even usually go for the philosophical animal route. But these two ... they made me laugh and they taught me at the same time!
JunoniaJunonia by Kevin Henkes

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As I was reading this I would go back and forth between loving the story and then thinking "This is a little strange/boring and what student would I ever recommend this to?"

The descriptive language is absolutely beautiful. I could see the waves and feel the sand and smell the air and taste the chocolate icing on her birthday cake. Teachers will love to use passages from this book just for the descriptions.

Alice is a believable and relatable character. She gets excited and disappointed and as readers we feel both of these emotions. I could see the secondary characters in my mind they, too, were described very well.

Don't pick up this book expecting action and adventure, however. Most of it is Alice learning to accept the world around her. As she reaches her tenth birthday she begins to see that not everyone is perfect and they will sometimes disappoint her.

Because I read this on my Nook I was not as careful to take notes as I should have been ... marking passages that were especially evocative of a particular sense. Or marking the strange passage where Alice decides that she believes in a female God. That one was just weird.

I will probably get a copy of this for my school library. But only one.

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Pigs to the RescuePigs to the Rescue by John Himmelman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I already know this one is a winner with the almost four year old crowd because my niece brought it over to read this afternoon.

Adorable pictures. Fun opportunities for choral reading (she belted out "PIGS TO THE RESCUE" several times). Now I need to find a copy of Chickens to the Rescue.

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A Crack in the Sky (Greenhouse Chronicles)A Crack in the Sky by Mark Peter Hughes

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If I could give a three and a half I would. This was an interesting read and I am very curious to see the series continue.

Eli is a genuinely curious (and reluctant) hero. And though his Grandfather was far from a perfect man they did seem to share a genuine affection.

I liked how the author did a very thorough explanation of some of the science behind the story. He talked about what was fact and what was fiction and gave other sources to read for information. Granted, at a middle grade to YA audience I'm not sure how many of them will take advantage of that. But I could be wrong. And hey. I fully admit I am taking the other sources at face value and not actually looking them up myself. :/

I did find the character of Marilyn a little strange.

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Life As We Knew It (Last Survivors, #1)Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well. While the science behind this story is not particularly factual (I guess I don't really know ... but the moon getting knocked out of proper orbit by an asteroid? I think not) the physical and mental issues the family faces in a world torn apart by natural disaster are way too realistic.

In fact it sort of freaked me out and made me wonder if I had enough food storage and emergency supplies. :/

Looking forward to books two and three. That's the benefit of discovering a series later on. You don't have to wait so long to find out what happens.

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The Fourth StallThe Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am so going to be tired in the morning. But that was freaking hilarious. BRAVO.

OK. It's morning now and I can be a little more coherent. Only ... I actually took a couple of notes on my Nook and now I'm going back and realizing I have no way of figuring out where they were unless I go back page by page. Grr argh! There were some very funny lines!


Just ... READ THIS. :]

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Neptune's ChildrenNeptune's Children by Bonnie Dobkin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Picked this one as a sort of finally go back and hit up some of my really old to read titles.

I liked it. As many of the other reviews will tell you ... it's sort of a cookie cutter dystopia meets Lord of the Flies meets Animal Farm. No one needs to have all of the power.

Creepy setting the whole thing in a Disney-land type location. But I guess that dichotomy adds to the suspense.

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Hold Me Closer, NecromancerHold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm beginning to think I read too much paranormal/supernatural (what is the difference) fic. I need to branch out. It's like chocolate.

That said ...

1) FUNNY! Really, it was.

2) Can't say I would have caught it on my own but somewhere I heard the title and chapter headings were references to songs.

3) What is up with the offensive "whatever the Mormons worship" on page 172? God and Jesus Christ. Unnecessary dig, in my opinion.

4) Would not have recognized this quote, either. Which is kind of sad. "'Begin at the beginning,' I said, 'and go on until you come to the end. Then stop.'" (p 136 and apparently a reference to Alice in Wonderland)

5) Does have werewolves. But necromancers. That's a new one.

Obviously set up for a sequel.

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No Passengers Beyond This PointNo Passengers Beyond This Point by Gennifer Choldenko

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Interesting and unique story. Unexpected twists ... ESPECIALLY if you make it all the way to the end. Though I will admit I think it could be hard for some readers to make it to the end. At least younger or less sophisticated readers.

Loved her Al Capone books.

Maybe a three point five. I think a considerable number of people might give up before they get to the end.

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Afterlife (Evernight, #4)Afterlife by Claudia Gray

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ummmm ... still a good story. Just started to get bored near the end. Could be because I was at a conference and tired anyway.

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Hare Moon: An Original Forest of Hands and Teeth StoryHare Moon: An Original Forest of Hands and Teeth Story by Carrie Ryan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Like many people ... I just wish there was more!

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The New WorldThe New World by Patrick Ness

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Loved getting Viola's backstory.

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Bluebonnet Time

I was able to see a preview of this book on Netgalley. Was totally excited by the idea when I saw it listed because I've had the author perform at my school and he is AWESOME! And of course we TX librarians are always on the lookout for TX books.

But I'm not a huge fan of this title. The story is OK ... not going to become my new most favorite but certainly the idea was worth exploring. There is just too much on the page. Too much text and too much illustration. No ... quiet space. (It doesn't have to be white!) It just has to give the reader's eyes a rest so that they can sort of relax and process the story. And it's not that I don't think the illustrations are well done. Bits and pieces are great. Overall there is just too much.

I can see Texas teachers wanting to use this one in lessons, certainly. And maybe even science teachers in other areas. I also think just about everyone will open the book up and get a bit overwhelmed.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Rubia and the Three OsosRubia and the Three Osos by Susan Middleton Elya

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Did not recognize the author's name at first ... til I saw the picture of her book with the seal on the cover.

The rhymes are funny. And she does a great job of mixing both Spanish and English.

I like how in her version Goldilocks tries to come back and make things right. Truly haven't seen that before.

The one thing I don't like ... is that some libraries may think buying this book will constitute filling the needs of their Spanish speaking patrons. It's a cute story ... but it really isn't culturally authentic. It's hard to find children's literature in Spanish that IS culturally authentic. We need more of it. Don't get this and think it covers multicultural requests. Just get it because it's cute ... and keep looking for Mexican or Guatemalan or Puerto Rican folk tales in Spanish. You need some of those, too.

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One Pup's UpOne Pup's Up by Marsha Wilson Chall

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So cute!

The kids will love this one. Nice counting story that doesn't seem totally forced.

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Wonder BearWonder Bear by Tao Nyeu

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Sadly ... I just don't get it.

I do like her style and can see parts of each picture that I do really enjoy. Just ... as a whole ... I don't get it.

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13 Words13 Words by Lemony Snicket

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Darn it. I don't get this one either.

Of course I am not a huge Lemony Snicket fan, either. I mean ... I really like The Composer Is Dead. But I got kind of tired of The Series of Unfortunate Events. Didn't need thirteen of them.

So I was not the prime audience for this title.

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Bunny DaysBunny Days by Tao Nyeu

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Now, see ... I DID like this one. I've actually seen it before with my sister and niece. Just wanted to see it again before I posted it here.

So cute. These bunnies are adorable. And the bear. So patient as he fixes his little friends.


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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Weekend Trip & Lots of Reading

The Mystery of The Fool and The VanisherThe Mystery of The Fool and The Vanisher by Ruth Ellwand

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a strange and haunting book.

I'm super curious now to see the other books this husband and wife team have created.

This is of course, fiction. But the photography lends an eerie sense of reality to the story. If you enjoy stories about the fae ... this is one not to miss.

Loved this line from page 24 ... "When the lid opened, the sweet smell of age, like an old library, was the first thing I noticed."

PS Don't stick with my review. Go back to the book's page and look for Elizabeth Bird's review. Much better description. You'll be convinced to go look for this book immediately!

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The Visconti HouseThe Visconti House by Elsbeth Edgar

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a quiet mystery--not a lot of action--but a nice one nonetheless. The Australian (and, in a way, Italian) setting is a lovely one to sort of imagine from the author's descriptions. The main characters learn to accept themselves and their perceived differences with classmates.

I did like it. Just was able to put it down several times and to be a four or five star book ... at least for me ... I want to be so enthralled in the story I can barely stand to stop reading until it's done.

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The Dark and Hollow Places (The Forest of Hands and Teeth, #3)The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

OOOH! If you can get past the whole zombie thing Carrie Ryan's story is just so good.

In fact this might have been a five for some of the lovely turns of phrase ... but I did think that one of the relationships in this one seemed a bit rushed. I may be wrong but I think this one was shorter than her others ... so why didn't they give it more time/pages too develop?

That said ... still loved it. Still bummed it's the end. Oh. Except for the short story I saw on Twitter that I can now download on my Nook. So now that I'm home after a little weekend jaunt ... now off to do so!

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Because of Mr. TeruptBecause of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There were a lot of good things about this book. Good writing. Interesting characters. Liked how it was written from all of the different points of view. Took a bit to get used to but it was worth it.

I just thought the main plot problem really came out of almost nowhere. It was very jarring.

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Delirium (Delirium, #1)Delirium by Lauren Oliver

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Story's not too original (future society where we are no longer allowed to love) ... but the execution was quite well done.

Read in the car on the way to an air show. Wish I would have kept track of some of the beautiful lines ... but I didn't.

I forgive Netgalley for denying me an e-arc (I'm very low on the totem pole in terms of followers) and actually as I was not a super huge fan of her first book the author, too. Looking forward to more!

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As you can see we spent some time driving to our destination (well ... not ME, obviously) and I managed to not get carsick while reading. Good stuff and library stack now significantly reduced!