Monday, December 04, 2006

Born Blue by Han Nolan

I'm finally getting around to reading Born Blue by Han Nolan. Published in 2001, it's part of the Great Stories CLUB grant that I'm working on with Blackstone Academy. This Friday will be the first time I visit the class to discuss the book. Their teacher, Bill, said they are enjoying this one more than First Part Last by Angela Johnson.

This story is about Janie who is in a foster home and her best friend is another child in the house named Harmon. They share a secret love of the music of Billie Holliday, Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald and Robert Flack. Ultimately it's discovered that Janie can sing but when her mother insists on hearing her sing, she clams up and won't sing.

Janie is also haunted by the fact that she nearly drowned when she was a small child. This story seems very realistic and somewhat depressing but I really want to make some progress with it before Friday.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Larklight by Philip Reeve

So, I just finished reading (finally!) Larklight by Phllip Reeve. This was one of those books that I got an advance review copy of plus a cool poster so I really wanted to read it. It's odd because it's a science fiction story that sets in outer space and Victorian England. Plus there's a pirate in it named Jack Havrock so that's a good thing.

Today I handed that book to a boy who was looking for something to read after he finishes The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau. That one I haven't read but it's been popular. I did read a funny title by the same author, Car Trouble, which I always suggest to those who want humorous, realistic fiction.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Larklight by Philip Reeve

It's always great fun for me to receive advance review copies of books. I'm always telling people this, of course, but I don't always read all of them. Sometimes I give them away to teen readers and ask them to report back to me about the book. Their feedback will often be the decision maker as to whether or not I read it.

Right now I'm reading Larklight by Phillip Reeve. He has also written Mortal Engines, Predator's Gold and Infernal Devices. Those three were all about the same characters who exist in an alternate reality where it's the world as we know it but the polar ice caps have melted and therefore some areas of the world aren't accesible the way they are presently.

Anyway, his new one is a science fiction fantasy that takes places in outer space and right now the two main characters, a brother and sister, have fled their home, Larklight, which is floating in space and after crash landing on Mars, have been taken in by a pirate named Jack Havrock. Oh, and I forgot to mention that it's Victorian England in outerspace! Interesting and enjoyable so far!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Boy Book (a study of habits and behaviors, plus techniques for taming them)

Well, it's always fun to read another book by an author you like and so I was excited to see The Boy Book (a study of habits and behaviors plus techniques for taming them) by e. lockhart had come out recently.

In the interest of full discloure, I should say that I listened to The Boyfriend List as an audiobook but, it doesn't really matter. I liked hearing the tale of woe that Ruby Oliver ended up sharing with a therapist after suffering from anxiety attacks. Her life in Seattle much different from my own since she lived on a houseboat with her performance artist mom and horticulturist dad.

And I was excited to read this book after adding e. lockhart to my friends list on MySpace. Certainly enjoyable and a great way to pass the time!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Down the Rabbit Hole: An Echo Falls Mystery

One of my favorite phrases as a librarian is, You can't always judge a book by its cover. Why do I like saying that? Well, many times, you can decide to read a book or not a read a book based on what the cover looks like but even I am deceived from time to time.

Take for example, the book I'm listening to right now. It's a title to be considered for the Rhode Island Teen Book Award called Down the Rabbit Hole: An Echo Falls Mystery by Peter Abrahams. I knew this book was a mystery but for some reason I thought the book featured a boy main character but it's actually a soccer-playing middle school girl who gets involved in a mystery in her Connecticut town.

Once I'm done listening to this, I can read the advance review copy I have of its sequel. I have a LOT of reading to do. Lately I've been getting behind in my reading and I have to pick up the pace. But I am definitely enjoying Abrahams' book since it's such a pleasant surprise!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Chew on This

One of the books on the list of titles to be considered for the 2008 Rhode Island Teen Book Award is Chew on This by Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson. Schlosser wrote Fast Food Nation and adapted that book about the fast food industry in the U.S. for younger readers. When I started reading it on Tuesday night, I flew through the first 50 pages. That doesn't usually happen with non-fiction books so I was pleasantly surprised.

Anyone who has ever been inside a fast food restaurant needs to read this book and find out what really goes on behind the scenes. It's fascinating and I'm glad that I decided to read it even though I already read his other book a few years ago. Oddly enough, they're coming out with a film version of the book Fast Food Nation so that's interesting to think about too.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Fables: Arabian Nights (and Days)

Just went downstairs to Tech Services and there was a bag of newly processed graphic novels and manga awaiting my arrival. One title that I've been looking forward to reading is Bill Willingham's Fables: Arabian Nights (and Days). Just published in 2006 by Vertigo, the edgier part of DC Comics, this book brings together issues 42 through 47 of the comic book series.

Since I haven't read it yet, I'll use the description in the library's catalog: Now that they know the identity of the Adversary, Fabletown prepares to defend itself. That means forming alliances with others who are unconquered by the Adversary's legions, but the arrival of a delegations from the Arabian Homelands shows them how tricky this can prove to be.

If you've never read Fables, now's your chance. Bill Willingham and the rest of the folks who put this book together are tremendous and really creative. Let me know what you think once you get a chance to read it, ok?

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Hoot (the movie)

When I first heard there was a movie coming out based on Carl Hiaasen's "Hoot," I was intrigued and even though it didn't do really well on the big screen, I wanted to say it so I brought it home from the library with me the other night.

One thing I liked about it was that musician Jimmy Buffett is featured as the science teacher of the main character. He also contributes music to the soundtrack which makes perfect sense since he the book and film are based in Florida. So the Carribean sound that he is known for, works really well in this setting.

If you need to read a mystery and/or you like reading about kids who want to save the environment, you should read Hoot and when you're done, read his other novel for young people, Flush, which just came out last year!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Preacher by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon

It's always great when I get a good book suggestion from a friend and recently I had one friend suggest the graphic novels of Garth Ennis and fortunately a co-worker had a few of Ennnis's titles in his own collection and brought them in for me to read.

So far I've read 3 books of "Preacher" and it's just an amazingly complex storyline with a lot of unexpected twists and turns. Of course this story is not for the faint of heart because there is senseless violence and bloodshed which fits in with the story, believe it or not.

The story centers around a young minister named Jesse Custer who has some amazing powers, his gun-toting girlfriend Tulip and their vampire friend Cassidy. Add to that a Holy Grail storyline and it's a page-turner that I couldn't put down!

Monday, July 24, 2006

Ya Yas in Bloom by Rebecca Wells

Well, a few months back I received a box containing 10 copies of Ya Yas in Bloom by Rebecca Wells. So I thought about having a book discussion group for the book. Well, the discussion part never really happened but I've given out copies of the book to a bunch of girls. Maybe we'll end up talking about it someday when they each come into the library again.

In the meantime I started reading it and I enjoy it because each chapter can stand on its own when it tells a different event in the lives of the Ya Yas, four women who are close friends, and their children.

It's set in the south in the 1950s and 60s so it's a different time and place which is a nice change of pace from the fantasy and realistic fiction I've been reading.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Hard Hit by Ann Turner

Last week at the meeting with other teen/young adult librarians, I heard about this book, Hard Hit by Ann Turner. The cover shows a boy lying on his back under the stars with a baseball glove on his hand. He looks sad or intent.

The story is about Mark Warren and how his family copes and responds when his dad is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. If you're looking for a funny story, this is not the one to pick up, but if you aren't afraid to read about a tough subject, go ahead and grab this one off the shelf.

You will really like it if you are a fan of poetry because each page is a poem. In libraryland we call this a novel in verse. I like them. Not everyone does. If you don't that's cool. Just stop in and I'll find something else for you instead!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Playing it Cool

The book I just finished that I offered to review for a meeting is "Playing it Cool" by Joaquin Dorfman. It's a bit of a mystery but the teen characters are great and I kept reading mainly to see what would happen.

Of course, on the other hand, it's a bit confusing when you try to figure out who or what motivates the main character. His name is Sebastian but some people call him Seba and some Bastian! He goes for a week to Wilmington, North Carolina with a high school buddy who is meeting his biological father for the first time. He's there to support his friend, you might say, but he's also there to pretend to be his friend. They reverse roles for the week, for some odd reason, which only adds to the confusion and mystery of the story.

I'm waiting to hear from a teen reader who has read this one who can tell me if they liked it or not. As for me, I wanted to finish it, not just for the meeting but so I could figure out what the heck was going on!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Golem's Eye by Jonathan Stroud

OK, this isn't a new book and I'm not actually reading it either, I'm listening to it on CD but it's great. Read by Simon Jones, The Golem's Eye, the 2nd book in the Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud is so full of complicated plot lines and weird twists that it's excellent for listening. And, I must confess, that it was a librarian friend who suggested listening to these so I did and I'm glad!

All the teens I know who read fantasy have really liked his first book, The Amulet of Samarkand, which I also listened to on CD so I knew I wouldn't be disappointed!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Fairest by Gail Carson Levine

Its cover shows a young girl in a fancy dress with a mirror up to her face. The title, Fairest echoes the line heard in Snow White, "Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who's the fairest one of all?" Well in Gail Carson Levine's (Ella Enchanted) latest book, we meet Aza who is described as being very unattractive yet has a wonderful singing voice, an attribute highly prized in her land. Well, her good nature and terrific voice get her into the King's castle where she befriends his young queen.

There are no dwarves but there are gnomes and yes, Aza does meet her charming prince but not until she realizes that looks may not be all they are cracked up to be! If you like fairy tales, you will like reading Fairest.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Born to Rock by Gordon Korman

You know it's a good book when you can't put it down and you read half of it in one day, right? Well that's what reading Born to Rock by Gordon Korman is like...I picked up the advance reading copy of this book at the Public Libraries Association conference in March. I was drawn to it by the cover which shows a baby with its hair in a mohawk!

The premise is that Leo Caraway doesn't find out until he is 17 that his biological dad is a famous punk rock musician from the 80s. He wouldn't even care about finding out about him because he loves his dad and doesn't want to upset his mom but he needs money to finance his college education at Harvard!

So he gets to know his "bio dad" by going on tour with him over the summer as a roadie! Read this book, you won't be disappointed!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Flush by Carl Hiaasen

Well, the audiobook I just finished today was very different from the previous one. Flush by Carl Hiaasen is about a Florida fisherman who sinks a gambling boat which has been dumping raw sewage into the water. Unfortunately he can't prove anything about the waste being flushed into the water so he takes matters into his own hands which means he ends up in jail!

Then his son and daughter concoct their own scheme to try and prove to the Coast Guard that the Coral Queen is really dumping into the water. Along the way the two run into a cast of characters who are very amusing and offer up a great twist in the story as well.

Although I listened to this story, I'm sure reading it would be great too because I liked his previous book written for kids your age, Hoot which will be released as a movie this month!

Monday, April 17, 2006

How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life

This audiobook looked intriguing at the PLA Conference last month so I picked it up and brought it home. How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life by Kaavya Viswanathan is the story of a girl who has worked hard all her life in order to attend Harvard University after she graduates high school. And all things point in that direction, she's smart, gets good grades and has gotten involved in plenty of academically connected activities like the Physics Club. But the dean at Harvard who interviews her thinks she needs to add something to her a life where she has friends and hangs out and does fun things.

Listening to this story was fun even if it's a little predictable. Opal changes her images (like in the movie "Mean Girls") and begins to have a lot more fun than she ever did but also questions why she is doing that! The narrator is Indian so all of the names and the voices of Opal's parents are done in a distinctive Indian accent which is fun.

Definitely take a look at this if you have a chance!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Bras & Broomsticks

Lately I've been getting through some of the teen fiction titles I want to read by listening to audiobooks and I just finished Bras & Broomsticks by Sarah Mlynowski. This is the very funny story of a high school girl who longs to be popular and thinks she can accomplish that goal with the help of her younger sister who just discovered she is a witch!

This was fun listening and heartbreaking when the magic wears off and Rachel has to figure out what to do to make things right!

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Stand Tall by Joan Bauer

Every now and then I listen to audiobooks in my car. It's very relaxing and I'm sure my driving is better than when I listen to "Sugar We're Going Down" by Fallout Boy. Anyway, my most recent audiobook was Stand Tall by Joan Bauer. This is the story of a very tall 7th grader who is nicknamed "Tree" by a classmate, the name sticks so everyone including his mom and dad call him that!

Well, Tree is dealing with helping his grandfather recover and learn to function with only half a leg after his leg needs to be amputated from an old war injury. At the same time he copes with his parents' divorce and spending time with both parents.

Great story and if you like this one, there are plenty more by this author!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Fables: Homelands

This graphic novel series by Bill Willingham is my favorite. Luckily a co-worker told me about this adventurous, outrageous look at the lives of "fables" or all the fairy tale characters we ever encountered as kids. This book has a lengthy story line with Little Boy Blue ("come blow your horn...") and toward the end we meet Gepetto and boy, is he one messed up dude! Great illustrations, fun to read, what more can I say?

Go ahead and read anything you can get your hands on by Willingham!

Thursday, January 26, 2006


Yesterday afternoon I went to the RI Teen Book Award committee meeting and we narrowed that list to about 17 but we still need to eliminate a few before the final vote in March. In the meantime I 'm encouraging kids who come into my library to vote on this year's nominees. There are so many good books out there right now that it's hard to get around to reading them all which is why I love it when kids tell me what they're reading and what the like!

Right now I'm reading Inexcusable (2005) by Chris Lynch. In the opening paragraphs we learn that something has gone badly wrong between Keir and a girl named Gigi. It appears that something happened between them that he thought was mutual but she is now describing as rape. They know each other and are good friends, so why would this happen? Well the rest of the book, so far, describes what life is like for Keir. He plays football, he lives with his widower father while his two older sisters are away at college and he is a well-liked guy at high school. Until this...

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Schwa Was Here

The Schwa Was Here by Neal Shusterman was another on the list of books under consideration for the 2006 RI Teen Book Award. Another librarian talked about this title at a meeting and said it was very funny but I didn't pick it up until earlier this month. Fortunately the book is funny and very offbeat. The premise is that a Brooklyn teen named Anthony, nickname: Antsy, becomes friends with a boy whom no one notices. He's been in their school but people just don't see him when he's there.

The boys try all sorts of things to test their theory that he isn't noticed by most people but one prank gets them caught by the meanest and richest man in town who, instead of turning them into the police, makes them work for him walking his dogs and later spending time with his blind grand-daughter.

The teen characters face issues lots of kids encounter. Parents who argue and friends who turn on you when you make new friends. The neat thing about this book is that nothing really bad happens to anyone and it has an interesting twist towards the end.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Y the Last Man: Vol 6

Although I don't pick up and read comic books all the time, I do read graphic novels, many of which are the monthly issues compiled in book form. So anyone who buys the issues and reads them will be way ahead of me but I still like keeping up with the storyline. So, one story I started reading, at the suggestion of a graphic novel reading co-worker is Y the Last Man by Brian K. Vaughn The premise is that all of the men on the planet have been wiped out by a plague except for one guy, Yorick and his pet monkey. And in each issue, Yorick is trying to get somewhere to help figure out how to repopulate the planet, essentially. He is being protected by a secret agent named 355 and accompanied by a doctor with expertise in cloning.

There's lots of action in this volume, entitled Girl on Girl so it's definitely worth reading!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Perfect by Natasha Friend

The book I'm reading now is Perfect by Natasha Friend. It's the story of Isabelle, a young girl struggling with bulimia. When her mom learns that she is throwing up after meals, she sends her to a therapy group to help her battle the disorder.

This book doesn't skimp on the details of binge eating and the subsequent purging that Isabelle goes through in order to not gain weight. She tells about how her cousin made a comment about her weight which set in motion her bulimia. Of course Isabelle is also still hurting from the unexpected death of her dad almost two years earlier. Clearly she's in a vulnerable spot and feels the only thing she can control is her eating!

With the pressure society places on girls and women to look a certain way, I'm sure many readers will relate to this book. This is a RI Teen Book Award title under consideration for the 2006 list!