Friday, April 5, 2013

What We Are Reading at Our House - YA/Adult Edition

Batting last and playing right field, I present YA/Adult books.

Messy (Spoiled #2) by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
Because I just finished this last night, I have to put it first. I am a fan of the Fug Girls and read their website almost daily. I appreciate their wit and I love that they infuse their fashion work with literary references, oftentimes YA from Anne of Green Gables to Sweet Valley High and the Hunger Games. As fans of YA I was so pleased when I learned they were writing their own series. I thoroughly enjoyed their first book, Spoiled (2011) and finally got around to reading last year's equally hilarious sequel, Messy.

For a series that is set in the world of Hollywood extreme fame, celebrity culture, and wealth, the teenage characters are refreshingly well rounded and interesting. Don't let the glossy, teen magazine-like covers turn you off. What's inside is pop culture gold. And laugh-out-loud funny. Seriously, they are comedy team that rivals Pohler/Fey.

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
And another book by one of my favorite writers! That I follow online! And Twitter! Okay, and Pinterest! Because she. Is. Terrific.

Sequels are tough acts and this one, while excellent, suffered the usual pitfalls of having to move things along without resolving too much. There are still unanswered questions from the first book and new mysteries. Plus, there's lots of the great Zuzana for much needed comic relief because it is heavy stuff in here: Bodies for Karou to rebuild, lost underground villages, bloody revolution, murder, and that whole chilling Thiago deal. And, of course, the tortured love story of Karou and Akiva. C'mon book #3.

I had a bit of an adult book trend. One with unhappy people in unhappy relationships. Not really fun at all. I only really liked the poetry collection Stag's Leap and its foundation of an ended marriage still wrecked me.

Good Kids by Benjamin Nugent
A friend recommended this 2013 title and it sounded like potential Alex material. Unfortunately, I had a difficult time keeping interested in both the story and the characters. Josh and Khadijah, high school acquaintances and kind of outsiders, witness his dad and her mom kissing in the grocery store. The ramifications from this affair follows them through early adulthood where they reconnect while both engaged to other people. Josh in particular can't move on, although his life as an accidental bassist in a pop/alternative band was a nice surprise.

The other adult 30-something relationship book I read was Zadie Smith's NW. It was ... okay.  I liked some parts but mostly it was another book where I just didn't like the characters as people and so I had difficulty finding their stories worthwhile.

My favorite adult book was Karen Russell's Vampires in the Lemon Grove. She is a wonder and she is from Florida. I'm so proud.

This is another collection of short stories and I think this is really where Karen Russell shines. The stories all contain an element of the fantastic and she works it all so well. And she is funny in "Dougbert Shackleton's Rules for Antarctic Tailgating", for instance. But she always infuses a layer of the mysterious. Of strangeness on the brink of somewhere. Of odd tastes and unusual sounds you can't quite place but sense their presence. And a little fear. Okay, sometimes a lot of fear. So Deliciously Good.

My favorite story, the one I think about all the time, is "Reeling for the Empire" about teen girls forced/tricked to work in a silk factory. A close second would be "The Graveless Doll of Eric Mutis" about bully teenage boys.  Okay, and "Proving Up" about families settling the American West. With a twist. Ack! *shivers*

Hello, Alex Committee, this is for sure one for the list.

What We Are Reading at Our House - Award Winners

And now I present the Award Winner section of my post.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
AKA 2013 Newbery Award Winner
I'm not naturally drawn to talking animal books, but this one is really special. Coincidently, I'm located not too far from where this story's real life inspiration resided. This would make a terrific read aloud and I am pleased that the Newbery went to such an accessible and younger audience novel. As Patti said, she's come a long way from the Animorphs!

And I officially read all the Newbery award books! I'm rather amazed that this was the only one I had not read before the announcement. Unlike the Printz, where I only read Code Name Verity out of the five. Until..

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
AKA 2013 Stonewall Book Award, 2013 Printz Honor, 2013 Pura Belpre Author Award

A fast read and deserving of its accolades. I loved Ari, his voice, and his family. I also checked out the winning Printz title, In Darkness, but I just never got around to reading it.

In addition to the YMA there were our two state awards this spring.

Florida Book Awards:

The children's winner this year was the excellent, wordless GN/picture book Unspoken: a Story from the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole. This got quite a bit of Newbery buzz so I'm glad to see it acknowledged here in Florida.

Bluebonnet Award:
The school children of Texas voted on their favorite Bluebonnet titles and chose Sim Taback's Postcards from Camp as the winner. It's hard to compete with a picture book about fun camp adventures that includes interactive letters in envelopes that kids can take out and read. Not much fun for libraries, but a terrific father/son story. Good choice! Runners up were Zita the Spacegirl (9 year old loves this series) and Being Audrey (which was nice, but rather surprising that it came in 3rd.)

What We Are Reading at Our House - Kid Edition

Friends, I have been reading and enjoying books (and so has my voracious reader 9 year old) but have neglected to muster the energy to write. Since there's so much to cover I'm breaking it up into 3 parts: Kid Edition, Awards, and YA/Adult.

The 9 Year Old:
Discovered and loved Dan Gutman's Genius Files and N.E.R.D.S.
Finally received The Familiars books 2 & 3 from the library holds. He loves this series of animal magic. If you are unfamiliar, check it out. It has been optioned for a movie.

For his historical fiction project I brought home a selection of titles and while he leaned towards Avi's True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, he went with The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg.
For his required non-fiction reading he read and loved Escape!: The Story of the Great Houdini by Sid Fleischman. For his poetry requirement he read Love That Dog. Three of my all-time faaaaavorites.

The 4 Year Old:
"Does it have Batman? Or Superman? Or Wonder Woman or Super Friends or The Flash or Green Lantern or Legos? Or Kipper? Because that is all I like to get these days. I know exactly where these books are kept in all three of my storytime libraries so I will just go and help myself."

Children's Books I Picked Out:
3 terrific early chapter book series!
Lulu series by Hilary McKay, Penny series by Kevin Henkes, Bink and Gollie #2 by DiCamillo, McGhee, & Fucile

Picture Books:
Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenheld.
Holy  moly, I love these two. AKR is back with another playful look at ordinary things. She is the master of quirk, pun, and double meaning. A must for classrooms! The 9 year old thought it was great.

Oliver by Birgitta Sif
I finally got this book in at my library and thought it was very charming. Oliver is an introvert. He's completely content to play make believe with his toys and shy of company. He accidently meets another child and realizes that playing with another child can be fun, too. Sharp readers will see that we have seen this new friend all along - on the street, in the library, at the pool. Very clever and very sweet. And Oliver wears glasses, another plus in my house. Both boys thought this was terrific.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta

Finnikin of the Rock review
Froi of the Exiles review.

Let's start with the cover. I love the cover art. I love how fierce Quintana looks, love the dagger, love how it matches up to the previous books in the series. Love, love, love. They did a great job of providing a cover that is interesting and will draw people in to the series.

I'm obviously coming at this book from the point of a fan. Even though the harsh reality of the books is a little too much for me at times (how much can people go through!?! Seriously, 'cause they go through a lot in here) I still find myself drawn to them and thankfully this latest installment didn't disappoint.

And the greatest thing? It is all tied up and concluded. I mean, I suppose that the author could start up 15 years later with the kids and a new drama, but as far as Finnikin, Froi, et al are concerned? Finito. Curtains for them. Case closed. Over. And it is a happy ending at that. If I'm going to nitpick, perhaps not everyone should have ended up so happily, but come on. After all they've been through? I damn well wanted that happy ending. There may have been mutiny had I not gotten it.

Let's back up a little though - because before our happy ending, there is plenty of crap they still have to wade through.  At the start we've got Froi fatally (or is he?) injured, we've got Quintana living in a cave, and the two Countries of Lumatere and Charyn are still on very rocky ground. The secret plots set up in the second book are continued on. Froi's loyalties are tested and questioned. It is very dramatic and I could not put it down.

I won't go into what happened, as you can imagine, there are lots of intertwining plot lines and it takes a while to sort through the intrigue to get to the truth, but as always our heroes manage (in such a way to make it as heart-pounding and thrilling for the reader as possible of course).

My one complaint is that the book changes voices at time and sometimes it is a little choppy. Other than that? No complaints. I loved it.

Book Source = ARC provided by publisher

Monday, January 28, 2013

Patti and Joanna Discuss the Youth Media Awards 2013

What a morning!

Welcome to our 2013 ALA YMA Annual Chat! If you are not entirely familiar with the YMAs, you’ll probably find this conversation odd at best. Patti and I were watching a live webcast of the awards which were held in Seattle at 8 a.m. PST. That was 10 & 11 a.m. for us.
Here is the link to the official ALA list of winners so you can try and figure out to what we are referring.

As usual, there were Yays! Mehs. and Wah?s

And that’s just the way it should be. The reading list just got really long (HELLO, PRINTZ!) and I’ll be placing a bunch of titles on hold at my library. Er, if they have them. So maybe not so much the Printz books yet, especially The White Bicycle which apparently only the committee has copies.

Here’s to next year! - joanna

Patti: YO!
Joanna: Muzak!
Patti: It is cool jazz muzak. I don't know about you, but I think it might be my favorite kind.
Joanna: It's rather impressive. I wonder wh picks it.
Patti: I especially like how this one has a Peruvian wind flute vibe too. ALEX Awards!
Year of Wonders? [ed note: I think Patti meant
Age of Miracles.]
Joanna: Maybe!
Patti: I do wonder if it is more of an adult looking back on their youth type book.
Joanna: Caring is Creepy? Girlchild - meant to read it.
Patti: Caring can be kind of creepy. Sometimes.
Joanna: Mr. Penumbra! Liked it.
Patti: These are great! I've not heard of one.
Joanna: LOL Patti.
Patti: OH I read My Friend Dahmer. It was good. I've read Pure too!
Joanna: The Round House. 2012 is the YEAR OF ERDRICH.
Patti: Tell the Wolves! The stamp of approval from Joanna!
Joanna: Oh wow I LOVE THIS LIST!
Patti: LOVED Where'd You Go Bernadette. Its got the stamp of approval for both of us. This was a fantastic, solid, great list.
Joanna: Yes. We kind of rocked this list between the 2 of us.
Patti: Indeed.
Patti: I'm drinking plain hot water. I wish that it had caffeine in it. Do you think we'll cut our hair really short when we're like 50? Is it inevitable?
Joanna: I think it's a possibility.
Patti: Does short hair or grey hair come first? I'm thinking grey hair becomes overwhelming and then you cut it. And then possibly dye it.
Joanna: And also it's really a pain. My hair is the longest it has been in ages. Buts I lurve it.
Patti: Schneider!
Joanna: Schneider Family - WILL YOU PICK SOMETHING?
Patti: Back to - LOL - I think I need this book for Charlie. His letters are wacked.
wicky wicky wack
Joanna: He'll work on it next year. Sam's letters have finally gotten small.
Patti: Other winners: Something about a homeless dog and something about someone who doesn't know who he is. (that is good news!)
Joanna: WOW. No Wonder? I thought that book was a shoe in.
4 Honor Books.
Patti: Lots of possibilities for Stonewall this year. I wonder if Ask the Passengers.. We've got Raina coming to TLA this year.
Joanna: DRAMA - a great choice. YES! She's awesome. And you'll get her husband, too?
Patti: Who is her husband?
Joanna: Dave Roman. Check out Astronaut Academy.
Patti: OH WOW!! That was a lovely book (Aristotle and Dante Discover the Universe). WE've got him coming too. I'm glad that Saenz is getting some love.
Joanna: You know your stuff! It wll be a great 100th Year of TLA. But just no Joanna.
Patti: Booo.
Joanna: :(
Patti: That puts a damper on it. for sure.
Joanna: Yeah, but then I'd never ever see you.
Patti: If I have time to go to the exhibits there will be a box for you.
Joanna: :D Woot!
Patti: Jenn and Rachel might go - we'll put them to work if they do! Corretta Scott King!
Joanna: Ah ha! Great. Demetria Tucker - goes to a librarian!
Patti: Lifetime achievement - Demetria Tucker. Wow. That's pretty neat! Doesn't it usually go to an author?
Joanna: Yes. I think this is great. Illustrator Honor - Christopher Myers (naturally)
Patti: Ellen's Broom
Joanna: Kadir - He's brilliant.
Patti: Kadir Nelson - who is the Mo Willems of the Coretta Scott King award.
Joanna: I love his stuff. YES! Too funny.
Patti: He is amazing. It is hard to beat him. Meh on the winner. I didn't like the art that much.
Joanna: Brian Collier. Author Honor - Jacqueline Woodson - Each Kindness
Patti: Again - no surprise there.
Joanna: A really touching book.
Patti: No Crystal Stair - people really liked this one. We almost picked it for Mock Printz
Joanna: I liked it.
Patti: I haven't seen the winning Hand in Hand by Andrea Pinkney
Joanna: Me neither. But I do like the Pinkney husband/wife team.
Patti: Pretty awesome. That is some hair! Love it. Ballyhoo! I'm going to start saying that. I like that word.
Joanna: Totally. Please do! Love bomb. He's fun.
Patti: wish the rest were as fun!
Joanna: EDWARDS Guess?
Patti: oh sh!t, no idea.
Joanna: Happy 25th anniversary. Tamora Pierce?
Patti: good guess.
Joanna: Phillip Reeve? MT Anderson JOHN GREEN?
Patti: john green. LOL.
Joanna: JINX!
Patti: He'll get it, but not yet. Tamora Pierce! And Joanna calls it right out of the gate.
Joanna: BALLYHOO! I totally got that from a blog. Maybe The YA YA YAs? I'll have to check. [
Yes!] Well deserved.
Patti: Totally. High quality, lots of titles, great series. William C. Morris. Seraphina?
Joanna: It got a lot of love. I'm lousy with this one.
Patti: Wonder Show has such a pretty cover.
Joanna: It was on my read list but I didn't get to it.
Patti: NOT After the Snow. Anything but that.
Joanna: A fantasy would be nice..
Joanna: You called it. WE ARE HOT!
Patti: The only choice.
Joanna: PATTI AND JOANNA KNOW ALL. Good. Maybe we'll get the nextbook faster.
Patti: Beware people! Printz?
Joanna: Printz..
Patti: Let's guess. I vote for Rollrock or Codename Verity.
Joanna: or the nonfiction?
Patti: The Bomb?
Joanna: Probably. Here we go NF Award.
Patti: NON FICTION. Steve Jobs....yawn. not the book - the man. so over it.
Joanna: Right.
Patti: Titanic I think had voices from the rats too.
Joanna: Wha?
Patti: Go BOMB!
Joanna: So tired of Titanic.
Patti: me too. DAMN, we are on FIRE!
Joanna: (insert sizzle sound)
Patti: These guys get love, but no love-bomb. what's up with that? Odyssey award (i don't listen to audio books)
Joanna: Forgot about the audio books part. The 9 year old in my house loved GHOST KNIGHT. I mean, how perfect is it for a 9 year old 4th grader?
Patti: The Fault in our Stars. John Green begins his winning year?
Joanna: Well, it's no for him, per se. But perhaps.
Patti: Ghost Knight! cuteness. He's stopped awarding Love-Bombs. Printz!
Patti: 4 honors: That is a lot. That is indecision. OH WOW! Aristotle and Dante! Awesome.
Joanna: Saenz will rock TLA.
Patti: Code Name Verity. He's on two panels too.
Joanna: Argh. I had Dodger at home but didn't get to it.
Patti: Terry Pratchett! That is pretty damn cool. THE SUSPENSE, who will win!
Joanna: Oh good! An unknown. The White Bicycle. WTH? In Darkness?
Patti: HOLY SH!T! John Green and Rollrock get shut out.
Joanna: Unknowns FTW!
Patti: Wow. Totally unexpected. I kind of feel like they were an ornery committee wanting to pick something that people wouldn't expect. I'm not sure that they didn't deserve honors at the least. Very interesting. Let's go for the hat trip. Saenz for the win!
Joanna: Have you heard of it? White Bicycle?
Patti: Hat TRICK! and i think i've seen the cover. So my point that I am going to repeat is HAT TRICK for Saenz!
Joanna: Pura Belpre - Saenz again?!
Patti: lol - Oh damn. he's not coming - he came last year.
Joanna: No Honor for illutration?
Patti: I am on crack. no honor! Wow. They've got a tough crew on that committee.
Joanna: David Diaz - Kadir Nelson of the Pura Belpre. But I do love love him. Written by Gary D Schmidt? What? Crazy!
Patti: Whoa! interesting.
Joanna: I tried reading Schmidt's middle grade book about aliens and I couldn't do it. I read 50 pages and then stopped.
Patti: I wondered how that would be. Now i know!
Joanna: I feel like I'll try again when there aren't others competing for my attention.
Patti: I haven't heard of the Revolution of Evelyn Serrano. Like the cover. WOOT!
Joanna: IT’S A SWEEP!
Patti: What a year he's having. A Sweep indeed! I did love that book, but i will be honest and say I didn't love it nearly as much as some of the others I read. So much so, that it didn't even make my year favorites. But so happy for Saenz. This is pretty fantastic. I don't think he's gotten much love since his first book.
Joanna: Right. Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award
Patti: Oh wow! Very cool. They must have conferred with the Coretta Scott King peeps.
Joanna: What a great selection. I wonder if they did! Andrea Davis Pinkney
Batchelder Award
Patti: Ye translated goodness: A Game for Swallows - Graphic Novel! This has been the year of child soldiers.(Son of a gun) Winner has a picture frame on the cover and is about kindertransport.
Joanna: Looks good.
Patti: I'm ready for lunch.I have Boudin left over from last night and I am looking forward to eating it.
Joanna: We have a ways to go yet.
Patti: I'm fading!
Joanna: It's a lot of work. Sibert! Electric Ben - 9 year old just read this one. It's kind of like a comic.
Patti: Second mention for Moonbird. A book about a bird you can only see in moonlight.
Joanna: Titanic again.
Patti: heh.
Joanna: I'll have to check out Moonbird.
Patti: BOMB! Let's get it a Newbery mention and it will have its own Hat Trick. I never know about the Carnegie. But the Donaldson Crew released a new vid. And that did not win! CLOSE UP of an EYE! FREAKY! OHMYGOD. I don't like this.
Joanna: What's this one called again?
Patti: What's up with the kids pretending to fly? Something about Condors. Doesn't matter because you never have to witness this again. Why is there a horse? This is about Condors.
Are you horseback riding or talking about condors. let's focus people.

Katherine Patterson for the Laura Ingalls Award. Good choice.
Joanna: Nice. She's still the Ambassador of Reading?
Patti: No idea
Joanna: Geisel Award.
Patti: Bated breath...
Joanna: exhale
Patti: OH Jeebus. They should just rename it. I have to say I love Pete the Cat. I love the videos too.
Joanna: Pete the Cat and His 4 Groovy Buttons. Oh my. I need Rabbit and Robot.
Patti: Oh cute! I like the looks of the winner.
Joanna: Pete - great storytime book.
Patti: Up, Tall, and High. is the winner
Patti: CALDECOTT! I have no ideas! I loved Bear has a story to tell
Joanna: 5 HONORS = indecision again.
Patti: totally
Joanna: Creepy Carrots. Didn't read it
Patti: Creepy Carrots was very good. Extra Yarn - still haven't read.
Joanna: Extra Yarn - love everything about it.
Patti: Green (ack! didn't like. Pretty, but still wasn't won over)
Joanna: Laura VaccaroSeeger is also amazing. Always great stuff from her. Didn't like Green either!
Patti: I have not seen Sleep like a Tiger! Excited about it. Looks great. THIS IS NOT MY HAT!!!! Oh wow!
Patti: That is great. Publishers will take more risks on funny subversive stories. Hopefully, anyway.
Joanna: AGREED.
Patti: 3 NEWBERY Honors:
Patti: Less indecisive.
Joanna: Splendors and Glooms - very very good.
Patti: BOMB!
Joanna: Bomb has no morroom for medal. 3 Tmes Lucky - Did not like so well. Applegate AGAIN! Wow.
Patti: The One and Only Ivan - you read it?
Joanna: Just Wow. No. It's a talking animal book. Not my top pick. But it's for younger readers so that's nice.
Patti: She's come a long way from the Animorphs. haha
Patti: You don't like talking animals in your books/
Joanna: So hilarious.
Patti: I don't mind talking animals, but I hate horse stories.
Joanna: I did love the underneath. [Ed: Whoops, confused Applegate with Kathi Appelt.] I just need to pick them up. No interest in horses.
Patti: And stories with gratuitous librarians. blech.
Joanna: Blech x2.
Patti: Alright! I have to get back to work. Are you able to clean this up? I can later if you're not able.
Joanna: Nope I got it. It was good again this year. Enjoy your lunch.
Patti: Thanks! and it was lovely talking to you as always!!! I still am reeling over the Printz.
Joanna: A great tradition. Me too! Good for them. Shine the light on something new or off the radar.
Patti: I guess. But I'm shocked they didn't get honors. And Code Name Verity did. I started to re-read it and didn't think it held up as much as some of the others. Oh well. I did love it regardless. Have a great day and thanks for doing the cleaning!
Joanna: The Fault in our stars?
Patti: I never re-read that one, but I did Rollrock and it was LURVLY even on the second read.
Joanna: She's amazing. Yes. OK - i'll keep you here forever so go!
Patti: yes! bye!
Joanna: Adios!