Saturday, July 30, 2011

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt

Not much room to add to the slew of glowing reviews about this novel. Agreed: the cover is great (ahem, baseball). Agreed: it stands alone from the multi-award winning The Wednesday Wars even thought it is a companion novel. Agreed: the awkward play storyline.* Agreed: Nobody in the world writes like Gary D. Schmidt.

I'm going to say that he weaves this story. I know it's one of those forbidden review words, but that's what he does in all his novels. How he takes words and phrases and events and moves them in and out of his storytelling is genius. It makes the reader reflect and wonder what is it he is trying to put together and the result is a deep and involved reading experience. A reading experience that you feel. The plot is not pushed forward. He builds it gently and purposefully. Or as Doug says, "which you might remember if you cared." I love this. Love it.

3 more things to add:

1. The shout-out to the librarian cataloging all those Houghton Mifflin books (publisher of this novel) = fun.

2. In The Wednesday Wars, the passage where Holling says his sister's name for the reader ranks as one of the most memorable reading experiences of my life. I will never forget sitting in my car in a parking lot at work and wiping tears from my eyes as I listened to the CD. There's one of those in this one. Thanks, Mr. Schmidt.

3. I was worried reading this book. Ack! What if one day my sons don't like Gary D. Schmidt books?! I panicked for a moment. But only just that.

Note to the video: For 2 or 3 years we arranged for Mr. Schmidt to come to TLA. Every year there was some kind of transportation snafu. He finally came the year I was chair and I will forever regret the scant amount of time I was able to hear him speak.

*Okay, I will say that this could be what holds it back from proper medal award winning.

P.S. If anyone wants to talk about Doug's Dad & Ernie Eco with me I'd like to hear your thoughts on that in the comments.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Fracture by Megan Miranda

I was totally drawn into this book by the back cover description:
"A lot can happen in eleven minutes. Decker can run two miles easily in eleven minutes. I once wrote an English essay in ten. No lie. And God knows Carson Levine can talk a girl out of her clothes in half that time. Eleven minutes might as well be eternity under water. It only takes three minutes without air for loss of consciousness. Permanent brain damage begins at four minutes. And then, when the oxygen runs out, full cardiac arrest occurs. Death is possible at five minutes. Probable at seven. Definite at ten. Decker pulled me out at eleven."

Aaaah! Awesomeness. And the first line of the book deserves some props too:

"The first time I died, I didn't see God."

You get it? The first time she died. So does she see God the second time? Does she keep dying over and over again? WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN!?! That is pretty much a play-by-play of my reaction. Obviously I was sucked in like nobody's business.

And here is the great thing. The story keeps you guessing. I really had no solid idea where this author was going to take me. And not knowing was sort of amazing. I was never quite sure whether there was going to be a sci-fi turn, or whether that dude I was pretty sure Delaney shouldn't trust really was untrustworthy, or what exactly was going on with her mom.

It is sort of clausterphobic. It kind of had that flat, spare feeling that Revolver or Nothing had. It has you declaring you know what is going to happen and then you're wrong (or am I projecting too much? Because that is totally what I was doing). So, in other words: it is suspenceful.

Here is the thing we know for sure: Delaney really died. She was in a coma for six days. When she woke up, her brain scan showed irreperable brain damage. So how is she still alive? How is she walking, talking, breathing, and pretty much unscathed? What exactly is going on with her brain and how does a stranger know so much about her?

Book Source = ARC from ALA exhibit hall

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Veritable Reading Spree

Yes, I have been on a veritable reading spree of books published for adults! And they were great! Which is fantastic. I kind of love this "adult fiction" thing. Even if I seem to be drawn to the ones with teen characters.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Magical. I loved it. Basically two illusionists set up a contest and the circus is the result. With lots of intrigue and fantastic characters it is easy to just succumb to the story. It is very descriptive, usually that would turn me off of a book, but here I thought it really worked. The world the author created was amazing. The ending? Perhaps a bit anti-climatic. But still lovely. Definitely one of my favorites for the year.

Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson
I obsessed about reading this book for probably about two months before I finally gave in. It sounded like it could go either way: totally awful, or awful in the most awesome way possible. I ended up really liking it. On the cover someone said that it was succinct and I would have to disagree. Not succinct and with descriptions that did not make sense in a first person narrative. BUT. Awesome nonetheless. And it looks like it is going to be a movie directed by Steven Spielberg. Now i'm just wondering whether or not Cowboys & Aliens is going to be awful or amazing? Decisions, decisions...

Bossypants by Tina Fey
Not much to say about this other than the woman is funny. I giggled my way through the entire book. Literally laughed the entire way through. I don't know when the last time I did that.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
This is one that has been getting a lot of buzz lately. And it is well-deserved. A fun book about a boy who grew up with a grandfather who told him extraordinary stories. As the boy grew older he believed the stories less and less until one day he didn't believe them at all. Then something horrible happens and Jacob discovers that it's quite possible that everything his grandfather told him was true. Adventure and danger ensues. I really enjoyed it.

I think the book trailer really gives a good insight into the atmosphere of the book:

Book Sources:
Night Circus - ARC from staff ARC shelf
Robopocalyspe - library copy
Bossypants - library copy
Miss Peregrine's - ARC from staff ARC shelf

Sunday, July 17, 2011

What We're Reading at Our House - 3

I'm reading more than I have in ages, but nothing really to blog about yet. Patti and I both read Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Little, Brown 9/11) and will chat about it later...ONE HECK OF A CHAT.

So here's what we are reading at our house.

Still on his Geronimo Stilton kick and added Thea Stilton to the mix. I also introduced him to Big Nate by Lincoln Peirce and he's a big fan. Also, before Big Nate Strikes Again (#2) came through on his library holds, he was reading Ramona and Beezus. I'll have to hide the 3rd Big Nate from him until he finishes that one. Girl books rarely make it into his hands.

Picture books:
Purple Little Bird by Greg Foley (Blazer+Bray, 2011)
Greg Foley's Bear books are some of my favorites. I saw this one on the shelf and did a happy dance. Purple Little Bird looks for a new place to live. Colors, animals, and gentle sweetness.

That's How! by Christoph Niemann (Greenwillow, 2011)
Fun for both my boys. I love its over-the-top silliness and imagination.

Let's Count Goats! by Mem Fox and illustrated by Jan Thomas (Beach Lane Books/S&S, 2010)
Saw this just hanging out on the library shelf and grabbed it immediately. Mem Fox AND Jan Thomas?! Yeah, it's hilarious. It is reminiscent of one of the greatest picture books of all time - Where is the Green Sheep? also by Fox.

If Rocks Could Sing : a discovered alphabet by Leslie McGuirk (Random House Kids, 2011)
We all love this one. Fascinating, whimsical, and funny. As if collecting rocks wasn't fun for my boys as is, now we can try and find some that look like letters. Thanks to Bookends Book Blog and Book Moot for the tip.

My books:
All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin (Macmillan 9/11)
We love GZ here at Oops. When I went to TLA I beelined for Macmillan only to be told they were out of ARCs but they would send me one. I declined thinking how much better it would be to wait for its release. Nice thought. When Patti went to ALA in June she snagged one for me. I'm not finished with it yet.

The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai (Viking, 2011)
Well looky here. An adult book. My cousin pointed this one out to me. It's about a children's librarian! I'm 1/2 way and so far I'm not sure what I think. Have any of you read it?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

What we're reading in our house

Inspired by Joanna, here is what we're reading in our house:

I Saw a Bullfrog by Ellen Stern.

My little dude LOVES the pictures and the fact that it is so incredibly silly. And that he can see what these things really look like in the back. I love the way it is fun to read out loud. The first few animals are the best though.

The Teeny-Tiny Woman by Paul Galdone

With voices this thing is magic. Even if you have to say teeny-tiny like a million times. My son gets so grossed out about the woman taking the bone to make soup. And you know what? Me too! She's in a freakin' graveyard! I love how he noticed the cabinet had eyes the first time around.

Beware of the Frog by William Bee

I love William Bee. And the Train brilliant. It is maybe my favorite train book. Those sounds are so fun! Whatever killed in storytime the one time I read it. But Beware of the Frog is a little darker. Fun, but dark! I wasn't sure how it was going to go over, but since my son's favorite pastime is to hit things with sticks, I was fairly confident it would go over well. It did. Especially the smelly thing. He was a little confused when sweet old Mrs. Collywobble turned into a frog and was (in my mind, understandably) pissed about it. But it was a hit regardless.

Book Source = Library Copies