Saturday, August 29, 2009

Thoughts: Why Training is Important

I plan a more in-depth post next week, but I just wanted to say really quickly why I think training is so important for any professional, especially for those librarians who serve teens.

We all go through periods where we feel uninspired or unsure. As I was preparing my goals for next year, I knew I wanted to shake things up, try some new things while taking what I've learned in the last two years in my position. Yet I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do, or whether I was on the right track.

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to attend a training with Michele Gorman, teen librarian extraordinaire and a colleague from past YALSA committees. And it was just what I needed: the opportunity to reconnect with theory, yet also get many practical ideas. It really jazzed me up for not only my goal-setting, but for program planning and working on the collection at my library.

In short, training has helped me figure out what I wasn't sure of, and gave me a dose of positive energy. And we can all use some of that, I think! So if you have the chance to attend a training or a conference, please do so. You might be surprised by what you get out of it, even if you've been in the field for years and have seen it all. And if you're new to teen librarianship, you will come away amazed by everything you didn't realize was possible.

Look for a longer post next week, highlighting the ideas that Michele talked about and providing some of my reactions.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Thoughts: My TBR Pile

Every librarian has one. Most people, in fact, do, in some way, shape or form. I'm talking about the TBR pile: the stack--or stacks--of books that are waiting to be read. When life intervenes on your reading, like it's doing for me this week, I look over my TBR stack and almost long to read. Instead, I'll just have to content myself with waiting until I can pick up a book again.

If you're curious, this is what's on my pile at the moment.

Betsy and the Great World and Betsy's Wedding--the last two books in the Betsy-Tacy series. I had never read this series, and I started after I read Meg Cabot's comments about these books set in a small Minnesota town in the early twentieth century. As so many people have discovered, these are delightful, charming books. I'm both looking forward and dreading reading these last two, because that means I'll be all done, and I won't have any new Betsy-Tacy books to read.

Distant Waves: A Novel of the Titanic--this is partly for me and partly for my book. I've been working away on a reader's advisory guide to YA historical fiction. The deadline for the manuscript is December 31, and I really have to make that deadline. Otherwise, I'll be working on the book at the same time as the Printz, and I don't see that ending with me retaining my sanity. And this book looks particularly good: a mashup of spiritualism and family relationships, set amidst the drama of the Titanic's sinking.

The A-List: Sunset Boulevard--out of all the readalike series that came after Gossip Girl, this series has remained my favorite. I honestly think it's better-written than most, and I've enjoyed the character relationships. Now that the series has been rebooted, it's taking me a little time to get interested in the new characters, but I think this second book will do the trick. I had the same experience with the Gossip Girl: The Carlyles series, and now I really enjoy that series. So here's hoping for more lifestyles of the rich and famous!

Libyrinth: A Fabulous Adventure on a Strange World of the Future--I heard about this book somewhere, and put it on hold. When I received it and read the jacket copy, I practically cheered at the thought of a science-fiction novel concerning books and libraries. On a world far from Earth, thousands of years from now, Haly lives in the Libyrinth, a library so vast people sometimes get lost in it and never come out again. A clerk to the Libyrarian Selene, she and all the Libyrinth's residents are dedicated to protecting the books, for within them rests the sum of all human knowledge brought from Earth in the distant past.

I think you can understand why I'm so eager to get back to reading. Hope everyone's been able to keep up with their TBR pile better than me!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Review: And Then Everything Unraveled

And Then Everything Unraveled
Jennifer Sturman
2009; Point (Scholastic); 978-0-545-08722-3 (hardcover)

Summary: Delia's life is comfortable and unexciting, but that's what she likes. Living in Silicon Valley with her Internet millionaire mom, Delia spends time with her friends and goes surfing in secret. But that all changes when her mother is declared missing while on a trip to Antarctica. Suddenly, Delia's sent across the country to New York City, given to the care of her two aunts. Complete opposites, Aunt Charley and Aunt Patience both care about Delia in their own ways, and both want her to move on from the loss of her mother. But Delia can't move on--because she doesn't believe her mother is gone. This belief will set Delia off on a quest to discover what really happened to her mother.

Two Things to Know About And Then Everything Unraveled

#1: Mothers and daughters have a connection.

Delia and her mother are quite different. While T.K. Truesdale is practical, thorough and scientific, Delia is more emotional, relying on her instincts. Yet in spite of these differences, there is a connection between them. When Delia learns that her mother is missing, her knowledge of T.K.'s personality makes such a disappearance unlikely. T.K. does not allow unforeseen circumstances to change her plans, and even if they did, she knows survival tactics and is able to survive in the wilderness. It's more than a daughter's misguided hope that her mother is still alive: Delia is certain that T.K. is safe and alive somewhere.

#2: Romance can sneak up on you.

While Delia's jugglin a new school, her family, and the search for her mother, there's also a boy on the horizon. Quinn always seems to leave Delia tongue-tied, especially when they're at school and Quinn is maintaining his cool image. But outside of school, the real Quinn appears, who's friendly and funny and good to his younger siblings. It's no wonder that Delia finds herself falling for him. And thinking about Quinn helps Delia in the middle of all her problems.

The YA debut of Jennifer Sturman features a likable, identifiable narrator, caught up in a series of life-changing events. Helped by her friends and her new family members, Delia starts to build a new life for herself, while still hoping her old life isn't gone forever. While the central mystery is allowed to take a big step towards a solution by the end of the novel, there's still plenty of questions left for the expected sequel. Fans of the Gallagher Girls books by Ally Carter or The Luxe series by Anna Godbersen will find much to enjoy in And Then Everything Unraveled.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Contest: Winners!

Congratulations to Courtney and Sarah, the winners of the ARC prize packs! I plan to continue offering these kinds of prizes in the future, so if you didn't win this time, don't lose hope. And thanks for participating.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Contest: One Day Left!

Remember, you have until noon tomorrow to enter the contest to win one of two sets of ARCs. Get more details and enter the contest at this post.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Review: DupliKate

Cherry Cheva
September 2009; HarperTeen; 978-0-06-128854-8 (hardcover)

Summary: Kate is your typical stressed senior. She's determined to get into Yale sot hat she and her boyfriend Paul will attend college together. But that doesn't leave much time for Kate, amidst SAT prep, favors for recommendation-writing teachers, and a personal statement that's got Kate blocked. So when she falls asleep in front of her computer which is frozen on a lame simulation game, she's shocked to wake up to a duplicate version of herself named Rina. Could this be the way for Kate to achieve her goals? Or is Rina a wake-up call for Kate?

A combination of sci-fi and chick lit yields a fast-paced and fun read. Kate is like so many teens, trying to do too much because she doesn't know her limits. This doesn't mean she's irresponsible about what she takes on; often it's Kate who's staying home to study while Rina goes out with Kate's friends, even with her boyfriend Paul. But slowly, Kate realizes that perhaps her goals are not what she really wants. This natural realization lends some extra weight to the storyline, which is otherwise peopled with stock characters and is relatively predictable. But as Kate moves through the novel, you find yourself rooting for her to figure things out, wondering how her story will turn out. This could be a gateway sci-fi book for girls that haven't discovered the variety of that genre. Try handing this book and Scott Westerfeld's Uglies to a teen and see what happens!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Review: Pretty Dead

Pretty Dead
Francesca Lia Block
2009; HarperTeen; 978-0-06-154785-0 (hardcover)

Summary: Charlotte Emerson has it all: beauty, riches . . . immortality. She's lived a hundred years, thanks to Michael who made her into a vampire. For the last few years, Charlotte has lived in LA, in a mansion up in the hills, and has even gone to high school. She was looking for a friend and found one in Emily, a wounded girl. Charlotte tried to protect Emily--but she couldn't, as Emily's suicide proves. And with Emily's death, something begins to happen within Charlotte.

Francesca Lia Block brings her unique talents to a vampire story, making it into something different from your standard supernatural creature novel. Charlotte's world-weary attitude disguises a young woman who is becoming something different. The romance with Jared, Emily's boyfriend, is but one part of Charlotte's change; it's just another cog in her evolution from William's beautiful pet to being her own person. Like so many of Block's works, Los Angeles serves as more than a setting, providing an atmosphere of age and youth that complements Charlotte. Fans of Weetzie Bat will be eager for this new work, and vampire junkies might discover for the first time the appeal of Block's brand of urban fairy tales with Pretty Dead.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Contest: Win Some ARCs!

Even though ALA Annual in Chicago didn't yield as many ARCs as past conferences, I still have some books that either I've already read or don't think I'll get to read. So I thought I'd offer them up to all of you!

There are two prizes in this contest. If you enter, you are eligible to win either set of ARCs.

Prize #1 is three ARCs: Also Known as Harper by Ann Haywood Leal, The Goodbye Season by Marian Hale, and Rock 'n' Roll Soldier: A Memoir by Dean Ellis Kohler.

Prize #2 is two ARCs, both previously reviewed here on Librarian by Day: As You Wish by Jackson Pearce and The Miles Between by Mary E. Pearson.

To enter, please leave a comment with the following info:
  • your name
  • a way to contact you
  • the name of the book that you're most looking forward to reading this fall. It can be a previously published work that you've been saving, or something that's not yet published. Sky's the limit!
You have until noon on Friday, August 14 to enter this contest. Feel free to spread the word around about this contest!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Review: As You Wish

As You Wish
Jackson Pearce
2009; HarperTeen; 978-0-06-166152-5 (hardcover)

Summary: Viola's world shattered when her boyfriend Lawrence, her oldest friend, told her he was gay. Since then, Viola has been an invisible girl, wishing that she wasn't broken. And then, on day, a jinn appears with the power to make her wishes come true. it should be simple: Viola makes three wishes, the jinn grants them, and then Viola would forget about him and lives her new life while the jinn returns to his home in Caliban. But Viola just can't seem to make a wish. Maybe it's because she can't pick a wish to make. Or maybe it's because of the connection forming between her and Jinn . . .

In a deeply-felt romance, the idea of wishes is given a new complexity. From the first, Viola doesn't act like the humans that Jinn knows: she doesn't immediately wish for love or fame or riches. Instead, Viola changes and makes choices, not just wishes. For more than anything, Viola want the real thing--and falling in love with Jinn gives her that. Meanwhile, Jinn is also changing, contrary to his nature. He comes to see that his perfect existence in Caliban is empty and broken. Will these two find a way back to each other? They will have to see if they can discover the answer to an old riddle: if a bird and a fish fall in love, where will they live? As You Wish is a thoughtful debut, and Jackson Pearce brings intriguing character development and stylish writing to what could be a simple, shallow story.