Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday Fun: Gorgeous Covers

Have you ever seen the cover of a book and had your breath taken away?  That's how I felt when I saw Just Like That by Martha Qualey.

Look at it!  It's so amazingly gorgeous.  There's something about the rose petals in place of the footsteps, and the color palette, that just draws me in.

Sadly, this cover really has almost nothing to do with the book's story.  I loved the book, but the cover didn't match it.

When it comes to covers that do match the story, one of my personal favorites is the hardcover edition of John Green's An Abundance of Katherines.

You have the math elements, the variety of girls that Colin has dated, and a great color palette.  The cover sells the book and tells you what you're going to get.

What's your favorite cover?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Review: Small Acts of Amazing Courage

Small Acts of Amazing Courage
Gloria Whelan
2011; Simon & Schuster; ISBN 978-1-4424-0931-6 (hardcover)

Summary:  In spite of her father's wishes, Rosalind is not a proper fifteen-year-old.  Rather than talk about fashion and young men with other English girls at the club, Rosalind spends time with her best friend Isha at the local bazaar.  It's 1919 in India, and people like Gandhi are calling for India to gain its independence from Great Britain.  Rosalind loves India and can't deny the logic behind such demands for freedom.  Sent to England by her father, Rosalind finds ways to show kindness and challenge the status quo.  Whether she's hearing Gandhi with her friend Max or urging her aunt Louise to gain her own independence, Rosalind cannot stand by idly during this exciting, intriguing debate.

Rarely has a novel been so well-titled.  Several characters in Gloria Whelan's latest novel exhibit small acts of amazing courage, like breaking free of their narrow lives, rescuing a casteless baby from a life of poverty, or speaking out in favor of Indian freedom in the face of criticism.  The actions of Rosalind, Max and Louise are contrasted with English attitudes and opinions, and those attitudes come up lacking in justice, fairness and mercy.  Although this thin novel could have used an English character whose viewpoint was not so anti-India, this book is still an eye-opening look at the early development of the Indian independence movement.  What's more, Small Acts of Amazing Courage showcases history through the eyes of engaging characters like Rosalind and Louise.  Pair this novel with Keeping Corner by Kashmira Sheth and Climbing the Stairs by Padma Venkatraman for a full look at India between the World Wars.

Other Reviews
Rebecca's Book Blog:
Waking Brain Cells:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Review: Bone--Quest for the Spark, Book One

Bone: Quest for the Spark, Book One
Tom Sniegoski (author), Jeff Smith (illustrator)
2011; Graphix (Scholastic); ISBN 978-0-545-14102-4 (softcover)

Summary:  It should be a time of peace for the Valley, with Queen Thorn settled on the throne.  But something dark is coming--something called the Nacht.  It has taken over the Dreaming, the world you enter in your sleep.  Now anyone who falls asleep is trapped by the Nacht.  The only hope for the Valley is Tom Elm, the twelve-year-old son of turnip farmers.  He knows he could be a hero, but he didn't know that being one would be so scary.  Thankfully, he has some help: his best fried Roderick the raccoon, explorer Percival Bone, and Percival's niece and nephew.  There's Randolf the Veni Yan warrior-priest, a member of the Fair Folk called Lorimar, even two stupid Rat Creatures.  But will this be enough to defeat the Nacht?

The nine volumes in the Bone series, created by Jeff Smith, are extremely popular with the late elementary school/middle school set, and author Tom Sniegoski has crafted a stirring tale that builds on the original world of BoneQuest for the Spark stands on its own, but will attract both new readers and old friends of the Valley.  The mix of gentle humor and fast-paced adventure draws in the reader, and the cliffhanger ending is bound to mean impatient waits for book two.  The characters are simple and straight-forward, although Lorimar and Randolf have more complex natures.  The full-color illustrations scattered through the story are witty and fun.  Quest for the Spark is a great way to entice middle schoolers to move from the children's room to the YA area. 

Other Reviews
Guys Lit Wire:
Getting Kids Reading:
Kids Comics:
Graphic Novel Reporter:

Friday, April 22, 2011

Friday Fun: YA Novels with Footnotes

There should be more novels with footnotes, I think.  Especially in YA novels.  Why?  Because footnotes allows an author to have a witty aside that doesn't mess up the flow of the main story.  And there's not enough witty asides in this world.

If you haven't read a YA novel with footnotes, why not give one of these a try?

John Green: An Abundance of Katherines (who, coincidentally, has written about the appeal of footnotes in novels)
Jonathan Stroud: Bartimaeus books (The Amulet of Samarkand, The Golem's Eye, Ptolemy's Gate, and The Ring of Solomon)
Daniel Ehrenhaft: Drawing a Blank
E. Lockhart:  Ruby Oliver books (The Boyfriend List, The Boy Book, The Treasure Map of Boys and Real Live Boyfriends)
Michele Jaffe: Bad Kitty

Any ones that I missed?  Drop me a comment!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Review: Everything I Was

Everything I Was
Corinne Demas
2011; Carolrhoda Lab; ISBN 978-0-7613-7303-2 (hardcover)

Summary:  When her father loses his job, Irene's life changes greatly.  Her mother, who sees luxuries as necessities, doesn't understand those changes.  It puts Irene in a difficult position, for she likes the new life they've started.  She likes living at her grandfather's place in the country, helping him in his nursery.  She's even found a new friend.  But Irene's mother isn't happy, and she finds a way for them to return to the city.  This leads Irene to a decision: should she go with her parents or choose the life she wants?

A young girl struggles to control her life in this insightful novel.  Irene's coming of age is set against the backdrop of the contemporary financial hardships, adding additional pressure upon Irene's maturation.  This process is handled deftly, showing the slow steps and occasional errors made as each of us grows up.  Characters like Irene's grandfather and Irene's new friends Jim and Megan are well-drawn and sympathetic, as is Irene.  Pair Everything I Was with The Not-So-Great Depression by Amy Goldman Koss for a pair of novels about financial hardships leading to growth.

Other Reviews
Kritters Ramblings:
Just a Girl:
Manga Maniac Cafe:

Monday, April 18, 2011

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Fun: ALA Elections

I know the ALA elections may not seem like fun on the surface, but just think--it's time for librarians to express the direction that they think ALA should be heading in for the future.  If you say that ALA, YALSA, or any division doesn't reflect what matters, elections are a way to change that!

ALA Election Info

Posts about the upcoming election at the YALSA blog

There's just a week left to vote!  Don't miss out on your chance to create change.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Review: Exposed

Kimberly Marcus
2011; Random House; ISBN 978-0-375-86693-7 (hardcover)

Summary:  For Liz, her comfortable life is full of constants: her parents, her camera, and her forever-best friend Kate.  As she enters her senior year of high school and prepares for college, Liz thinks her life will remain the same.  When Kate begins to pull away from her after they have a small fight at one of their monthly sleepovers, Liz doesn't understand.  Then Kate reveals that Liz's brother Mike raped her during their sleepover.  Now Liz has a head full of questions.  What is the truth?  How does Mike's behavior reflect on Liz?  And most important, will Liz ever have back her forever-best friend?

Exposed relates a story of friendship, family, heartache and guilt in moving free verse.  Liz's confusion and shame is fully explored, as she grapples to discover what really happened between Kate and Mike.  She tries to lean on her boyfriend and her photographs, but gradually Liz hits rock bottom as she realizes her opinion on the matter.  This experience shows Liz gradually maturing, her life going from black and white to shades of gray.  The debut novel of Kimberly Marcus, Exposed will be enjoyed by fans of novels in verse. 

Other Reviews
Fiction State of Mind:
Tea Time with Marce:
Annette's Book Spot:
Atlanta Examiner:

Friday, April 08, 2011

Friday Fun: The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award

Have you heard about the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award?  Established in 2008, this contest offers a reward of a publishing contract and cash advance to the winner (this year, the publisher is Penguin).  In 2010, a Young Adult award was added.

How does the contest work?  250 quarterfinalists are selected in both the General Fiction and Young Adult Fiction categories, which are then judged by a group of reviewers (including me, in fact, to provide full disclosure).  100 semifinalists in each category will be evaluated by a panel made up of YA author Gayle Forman, VP & Publisher of Putnam's Books for Young Readers Jennifer Besser and literary agent Julie Just.

The 2010 ABNA for Young Adult Fiction went to Amy Ackley for Sign Language.  If you want to find out more about this year's quarterfinalists, you can read excerpts of each manuscript.  And if you've got a Kindle or a Kindle app, you can even download them to read on the go!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Review: Deadly

Julie Chibbaro
2011; Atheneum (Simon & Schuster); ISBN 978-0-689-85738-6 (hardcover)

Summary: Prudence has so many questions.  She wants to know whether her father will ever return home after being declared missing during the Spanish-American War.  She wanders if it's right for her mother to try and move on after waiting for eight years.  Most of all, she wants to understand how people get sick, how some people recover and some don't.  Beginning work at New York City's Department of Health and Sanitation, Prudence starts to learn about cells, bacteria, and more.  With her boss Mr. Soper--a man with whom Prudence is slowly falling in love--Prudence assists with tracking down a typhoid carrier who has sickened dozens of people.  The carrier, a healthy woman named Mary Mallon, has never had typhoid but must be held in quarantine to prevent her spreading typhoid.  Such treatment makes Prudence examine whether she's equipped for a scientific career, a career that could answer her questions.

Written in a diary format, Deadly examines a young woman slowly choosing her future life.  Ever since the disappearance of her father, Prudence and her mother have withdrawn from life.   Yet Prudence wants to know why people die, if those deaths could be prevented.  For a young woman in 1906, the easy, expected path was marriage, children, and a home.  Prudence would not find her answers in such a setting, though.  Her struggles on the Mary Mallon case--the woman known as Typhoid Mary--forces Prudence to balance her heart against her mind.  This process is portrayed authentically, giving readers a window on the hardships faced by women choosing a career in this period.  There's a great sense of place, of what life was like in 1906 New York City, in this novel.  An intriguing meld of historical fiction and science, through Prudence's new-found knowledge and sketches of plans and germs, Deadly will appeal to readers who are interested in diseases or women's history.

Other Reviews
Musings of a Book Addict:
Confessions of a Bookaholic:
Goddess Librarian:
Historically Speaking's interview with Julie Chibbaro:

Monday, April 04, 2011

Crosspost: New to Me--Alanna: The First Adventure

I missed posting this sooner, but my New to Me post for March is up at the YALSA Hub.  I talk about reading Alanna: The First Adventure, and whether older fantasy novels suffer from the same issues as realistic fiction. 

Friday, April 01, 2011

Friday Fun: Youth Literature . . . in Peeps

Since 2007, the Washington Post has sponsored Peeps Show, a contest to create a diorama featuring Peeps, those fascinating, beyond-nature-or-science marshmallow creatures.  Why not take a look at those entries that draw their inspiration from books for children?

Videos of 2010 Finalists
Goodnight Peep

The Mad Hatter's Peep Party

Photo Galleries
Peeps Show IV:
Look for Where the Wild Peeps Are, The Book of Bunny Suicides: A Tribute to Andy Riley, Madeline, Peeps and Prejudice and Zombies, and One Thousand and One Peepian Nights.

Peeps Show III:
This year features Mary Peeppins and two different takes on Peep on Wire.

Peeps Show II:
Marvel at The Wonderful Wizard of Peeps, Sesame Peep and SpongeBob SquarePeeps.

Peeps Show I:
Take a look at Little Po' Peep!