Friday, April 29, 2011

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

My love for Patrick Ness' Chaos Walking Trilogy is huge. A big thank you to Candlewick for sending me A Monster Calls in the mail!

This is such a departure from Chaos Walking, and I was curious how Ness would handle it. How do you take another author (and a beloved deceased author at that) and make their story your own? Well, if you're Ness you do it with grace and write an amazing story that does justice to your own reputation as well as Dowd's.

Conor is having a rough time. His mother has cancer, he's being bullied at school, and he has had the same nightmare every night since his mother was diagnosed. So when a monster shows up, he's not all that surprised. The only thing is, it isn't the monster from his nightmare. This one is entirely new.

The first thing I noticed is that regardless of this being an entirely different type of story, there were some big thematic similarities - mainly in the fact that Ness makes "truth" an essential part of the story regardless of what type of story he is writing. The monster in this story is searching for Conor's truth. He tells "true" stories. There is tension between the grandmother and the mother regarding truth, between Conor and his father, between Conor and the bully, and so on. The levels and layers of truth affect relationships with others, but sometimes, most importantly, how it affects your relationship with yourself. It was brilliant.

I really liked the way that monster was an ancient, earth-based spirit/creature. He was monstrous, but he was also recognizable and somewhat natural (I'm grasping at how to describe him - I don't mean natural like home-grown in your garden - more like it was almost normal that there were things in the world like the monster). He tied into the plot in interesting and surprising ways. The stories he told were good stories in and of themselves, but really served to further open the consciousness of Conor, and managed to do so without being remotely frying-pan-ish.

I liked the art - especially the monster. Occasionally the art was a little dark for me to make out all the nuances, but that may be due to it being an arc.


Book Source = Arc sent by publisher

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Holy Macaroni, y'all.

I am going to be straight with you. I read If I Stay, I enjoyed it, but I didn't love it. If I remember correctly, it was a title we considered for our Mock Printz, but then ultimately decided against it (my memory is blurry on exactly why). Anyhow, I am not telling you all this to do some sort of back-handed compliment thing - I just wanted to illustrate the allure, the (impossible to ignore) compulsion to read the same story told from another perspective. This came in and I HAD to pick it up. Immediately. I had to know.

Now, this isn't exactly the same story, it takes place three years after Mia comes back from her coma, but essentially it is dealing with the same thing.

I ate it up.

I almost read it from cover to cover and was irritated when I had to put it down to, you know, work and stuff. The melodrama that distanced me in the first book totally worked for me this time. that I loved it! I loved Adam, even though he had me rolling my eyes. The tension between Mia and Adam was exquisite and even though you don't start getting to the real meaty bits until about 3/4s of the way through the book, you don't mind because the whole book is just propelling you along.

Good stuff.

Book Source = Tayshas Review Copy

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

TLA 2011 Book Cart Drill Team Videos

Ack! I forgot to post these. Check out the videos for the 2011 TLA Book Cart Drill Team Competition. Winners were APL and AISD, but AISD was voted Top Banana in a tie breaker. If your school or public library needs some advocacy inspiration, these videos could do it.

Round Rock Independent School District  - Hip Hop Librarians

Austin Public Library - Bibliofiles

Austin Independent School District - HB493ers (referencing school library funding )(and school librarians are teachers)

Northside ISD - Storysteppers
(sorry, no video at the moment. They did a fun skit number of the library olympics.)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Coming soon: Meg Rosoff!

Not the first time Bookshelves of Doom completely made my day. Pay attention folks!


And it sounds so Meg Rosoffy good.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Bumped by Megan McCafferty

My love for Megan McCafferty has been well documented here on Oops, so I think it is only understandable that I was literally DYING to get my hands on Bumped when I heard about it. Nevertheless, I had to wait until TLA for a friend to pick up the book and lend it to me (seeing as I barely got to make it to the exhibit hall and all), but she brought it into work and we switched. A copy of Bumped for Sloppy Firsts (which incidentally another co-worker is reading as well).

Because of all this love, I was surprised when I found Bumped a bit hard to get into at first. Was my love just for Jessica Darling and Marcus Flutie's epic 5 novel love story?

Luckily, it turns out, that my love is not only for them. I really enjoyed Bumped, although I will admit it took me longer to get into the groove of the book. That, I think, can be attributed to the fact that McCafferty invents a whole new set of slang that the characters speak and I found it a little off-putting at first (by the middle of the novel I sort of enjoyed it).

This is a future where a human reproduction virus radically limits the length of time humans (both female and male) are fertile. A huge industry of "pregging for profit" has developed so that adult aged humans can purchase children to raise as their own. Melody and Harmony her recently-discovered-separated-at-birth twin sister have grown up in radically different communities with very different opinions on how a person to live. When they are finally reunited nothing will ever be the same for them again.

I think the characterization probably suffered a bit at the expense of the set-up, but I found this to be a highly enjoyable read. I enjoyed the play on teens and pregnancy and what a future might look like if teens were the only ones who could procreate.

I actually had a hard time not comparing it to Wither by Lauren DeStefano the whole time I was reading since they had such incredibly different takes on the same premise (how interesting that these both came out this year - new trend alert?). I have to say, I found the ideas put forth in Bumped to be the more likely of the two. And it was funnier. So while neither Harmony or Melody resonated with me like Jessica, I will say that I would pick up a sequel if it was in the works and that I look forward to whatever McCafferty writes next.


Book Source = Borrowed ARC

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Texas Library Association Conference

We at Oops are gearing up for the 2011 Texas Library Association Conference which will be starting next Monday in Austin.

Those of you who are visiting due to panels I am on at TLA, welcome! Happy to have you here! Hope you'll stay awhile and read through our archives. Enjoy yourself and enjoy the conference!

Friday, April 1, 2011

SLJ's Undead Poll Winner

Viva the Undead!

As much as I love this book, I am concerned that it lost so easily being part of a series. I'm looking forward to seeing what the new judge thinks. I also wonder if the judge is a new reader to Sounis/Eddis/Attolia because that will certainly factor into the decision. These books are so full of little inside secrets that while I don't think it would matter to a new reader, it absolutely enhances the experience for the established fan.

It will be interesting! After last year's surprise Frog Scientist, I was very curious to see if there would be another out-of-left-field pick. I don't think Conspiracy winning the poll is very surprising. The Battle just got more interesting.