Friday, March 30, 2012

Review: The Mostly True Story of Jack

The Mostly True Story of Jack
by Kelly Barnhill

Book Description:
Enter a world where magic bubbles just below the surface. . . .

When Jack is sent to Hazelwood, Iowa, to live with his strange aunt and uncle, he expects a summer of boredom. Little does he know that the people of Hazelwood have been waiting for him for quite a long time.

When he arrives, three astonishing things happen: First, he makes friends -- not imaginary friends but actual friends. Second, he is beaten up by the town bully; the bullies at home always ignored him. Third, the richest man in town begins to plot Jack's imminent, and hopefully painful, demise. It's up to Jack to figure out why suddenly everyone cares so much about him. Back home he was practically, well, invisible.

This was a magical tale, but it's that kind of magic that turns out to be creepy. I felt bad for Jack as he was trying to figure out who and possibly what he was...and yet, he was a really good guy and he made new, loyal friends in his new town.

I liked the writing style of this book a lot. It was like a fairy tale, but also realistic. I love stories about magic that comes from the earth and things around us, so this was a fun read for me. I'll definitely be checking out Barnhill's next book.

Review: Where I Belong

Where I Belong
by Gillian Cross

Book Description:
In the hot desert of Somalia, Mahmoud is kidnapped and held for a ten thousand-dollar ransom. His older sister, Khadija, is in London, thousands of miles away; and yet Mahmoud s life is in her hands. Someone has discovered her identity, that she is Qarsoon the Hidden One the face of famous fashion designer Sandy Dexter s newest collection. Who can Khadija trust to help her? She now must appear as planned on the Fashion Week runway. Only then can she possibly earn the money to save Mahmoud s life. Also involved is Abdi, a fourteen-year-old boy coming to terms with the mysterious disappearance of his father, and Freya, the totally unfashionable daughter of Sandy Dexter, trying to find her place in her mother s world of haute couture.

I thought that this was an interesting way to learn a lot about Somalian culture.  I hadn't really known anything about it before.  Khadija, Abdi, and Freya each brought a totally different viewpoint to the story and it was intriguing to read how they interacted with each other and the adults around them. I had trouble sometimes keeping track of who was the narrator of the different chapters, though. 

There was a lot of exciting stuff in this book and it had short, easy to read chapters.  While I thought the storyline was really interesting, it didn't completely capture my interest. I'm glad I read it, but it's not my favorite new book.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

March Manga Mania Meeting Reminder!!!!

Hey Guys!

Don't forget to join us here at the West Springfield Public Library for the March meeting of our anime/manga club,


Show off your awesome artistic skills, talk with others about
your favorite mangas and graphic novels,
and grab a quick snack with friends!

For grades 6-12

WEDNESDAY, March 28th at 3:30 p.m.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Review: Fever

by Lauren DeStefano
The Chemical Garden Trilogy, book two

Book Description:
Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but they’re still in danger. Outside, they find a world even more disquieting than the one they left behind.

Determined to get to Manhattan and find Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan, the two press forward, amid threats of being captured again…or worse.

The road they are on is long and perilous—and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and men die at age twenty-five, time is precious. In this sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price—now that she has more to lose than ever.

I actually enjoyed this sequel better than the original Wither, mostly because it got Rhine out of the mansion and into the real world, where she had a chance to take charge. DeStefano's world is beautiful and crumbling... a devestating and destructive place. I think it's super creepy having to imagine that I would already be dead in this world.  I don't always think the romance is really believable, but in book two it gets a little better.  I think Rhine becomes more of a real person in this book.  Not just a tragic heroine, though...she never really gets out of that horrible stereotype either because of her horrible situation. I loved the setting more than the story I think, but I will definitely be reading book three. I have to find out how it ends!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Movie Review: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games
*Based on the book, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I am going to try to make this review as spoiler-free as possible for people who haven't yet seen the movie, but if you haven't read the book yet, you may just want to skip the entire review as I'm sure I'll end up ruining something for you...LOL.

After years of waiting for this book to be adapted into a movie, I finally got a chance to SEE the world of Panem in all it's dichotomic glory. The lushness of the Capitol, the devestation and poverty of the outlying districts...
In case you've forgotten, here is a basic description of the storyline:
Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games." The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Katniss' sister, Prim, is chosen by lottery, Katniss steps up to go in her place.
There were so many things that I loved about this movie...and I only had one very minor complaint.

Anyway, these are the things that I liked:
1. The casting - I thought that the entire cast was phenominally chosen. At first I had been skeptical about a few characters (Lenny Kravitz??), but the choices all turned out to be brilliant on screen. Jennifer Lawrence was wonderful as Katniss, managing to evoke all the right emotions, especially as with the movie, you don't really get to see inside her head like you do in the book. Both Peeta and Gale were well chosen and worked really well off of Katniss. The adults surrounding her? Epic. The way that Effie and Haymitch dealt with the kids and played off of each other was great. The use of Cesar as both comic relief and as an expository character (giving depth to the world and treating the viewer as a "viewer" of the games) was exceedingly well done. (He might even have been my favorite movie character, perchance...) ...And for all my earlier hesitance...I really loved Lenny Kravitz as Cinna. It turned out to be a great choice.
2. The world building - I actually thought that the movie enabled Collins to expand the viewer's perspective of the world A LOT. In the book, you are trapped inside Katniss' head, and it is fantastic and compelling and emotional as hell, but in the movie, you are able to FEEL what has been building in Panem for a long time. You are able to see what the President is doing to control his power over the people. You are able to get the mood of the country, its priviledged, its downtrodden. You see how the other Hunger Games tributes feel... There is just so much more explored here.
3. The use of camera work to deflect the violence - Okay. There was no way that I was NOT going to see this movie. It is one of my favorite books of all time and it has looked epic from the moment they started promoting it. That does not mean that I wasn't mentally steeling myself to make it through the violence of the Games. I was so pleasantly surprised with how they filmed this. Yes, there are kids fighting to the death. Yes, you know exactly what happens. Yes, you see a lot of it...BUT you don't SEE it. They filmed this with two different techniques that contribute to a lot of the violence being down played...actually three methods. One, a shaky cam, so that you see what happens, but it's so quick moving or blurry that you don't really know what you've seen until after it's off screen again. Two, almost like an old Alfred Hitchcock movie, they clip in and out of the violence. You see a sword flash during a wind up, then you cut to a falling body...without seeing the gory slash in between. Lastly, they utilized the cannon firing and visual display of fallen tributes to alert Katniss that someone had died without the viewer having to see the death at all. I was really pleased over all with how well this turned out. I knew what happened, I got the emotional devestation of it, but I didn't have to look away from the screen at all... KUDOS.

My only complaint with this film, and it is a minor one, is that I thought it lacked some of the character building that the book had... because we are seeing the whole picture and we weren't inside of Katniss' head, you missed out on feeling her confliction as she deals with her emotions inside the arena and her knowledge that they will have an impact if she makes it out. You miss seeing some of the cold calculation she must go through to figure out how to survive... Though I loved the movie and felt it was almost perfect, I thought that possibly, they could have added one or two lines somehow here or there that would have explained Katniss' thoughts without bringing in voice-over narration...

Overall, I thought this movie was AMAZING. I plan to go see it again this weekend...and if you know me, you'll know that means it was epic. I hate paying to go to the movies in general...I wait a lot until things come out on DVD, and I cannot remember the last time that I saw a movie in the theater twice. It may have been Harry Potter 4? I'm not sure. LOL.

What did you all think?? 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Movie Teaser Trailer for "The Host"

I am beyond excited to finally be able to share the teaser trailer for the movie adaptation of one of my favorite books, Stephanie Meyer's The Host.

Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact. Wanderer, the invading "soul" who has been given Melanie's body, didn't expect to find its former tenant refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

As Melanie fills Wanderer's thoughts with visions of Jared, a human who still lives in hiding, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she's never met. Reluctant allies, Wanderer and Melanie set off to search for the man they both love.

It's a fantastic reimagining of the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack Finney. I *cannot* wait until this movie comes out... in March 2012 (such a long time to wait!!)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Are you curious about Steampunk?

Steampunk in one of today’s growing trends in YA literature but many people still have no idea what steampunk means, let alone if they’ll like reading it. The clearest and most concise definition I could find online says steampunk is “genre fiction typically set in Britain in the 1900′s when steam power was prevalent and prior to the broad use of electricity. The location can be anywhere, however, including North America. Steampunk usually encompasses alternate history elements and fantastical inventions. They are often heavily geared toward science fiction and fantasy. Steampunk comprises romances and non-romances.” Even that definition can lead to some head scratching, though. What does it really mean?

Steampunk is alternate history. Steampunk is awesome gadgetry. Steampunk is corsets, cravats, top hats, goggles, and parasols. Steampunk is a variety of little elements that add up to a very unique reading experience. So, how to do you figure out if you might be a steampunk lover? Here are some questions you could ask to find out:

  • Are you a fan of historical settings?
  • Do you love when characters use cool gadgets?
  • Are you fascinated by clothing from different eras?
  • Do you find yourself dropping slang you’ve read into regular conversations?
If you answered yes to even one of these questions, you may find that you love steampunk. The next thing you have to figure out is where to start. Even though all steampunk books have core elements that make them fit the subgenre, there are elements that make each have an individual feel. You could definitely start with an anthology of stories like Steampunk, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer, or Steampunk!, edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. grant. If only one of the above elements strongly appeals to you, though, you may want to start with a title that fits that element more closely.

For example, historical fiction fans may want to start with Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan trilogy which is an alternate history of World War I. Another classical alternate history is William Gibson and Bruce Sterling’s The Difference Engine, in which Ninteenth Century London is experiencing both the Industrial Revolution and the start of the computer age. These books celebrate both details from our past and the possibilities of what could have been if the world had evolved in different directions.

Fans of gadgetry might be more interested in books like Kady Cross’s The Girl in the Steel Corset, which features some really cool steam-powered bicycles and automatons. Arthur Slade’s The Hunchback Assignments series centers around a hunchback named Modo who happens to be able to shape-shift, but is surrounded by secret agents and villains that utilize the most amazing inventions. These books have the historical version of James Bond’s spy gadgets!

Fashion fans can rejoice in the world of corsets and cravats. Some authors go out of their way to revel in the historical details of the time period, especially in the fashions. Gail Carriger is a perfect example. Her Parasol Protectorate seriesfeatures a heroine who will not leave the house without a parasol, a best friend with the most odious taste in hats, and a Lordly vampire who exemplifies men’s avant garde fashion in Victorian London.

If you find yourself picking up on Georgia Nicholson’s terminology or speaking with a British accent after watching Bridget Jones’ Diary, you may be more into steampunk for the intriguing slang you can incorporate into your everyday vernacular. Philip Reeve’s Larklight series will leave you with a resounding “Huzzah!” Not only is the family heartily British, but their travels through space allow them to combine traditional Victorian slang with imagined space terminology–a wordsmith’s delight.
So whatever the aspect of steampunk that may appeal to you, there is a matching book out there. Watch out, though! Once you’ve delved into your first steampunk novel, you may find that you cannot resist diving back into this complex and imaginative world. The language, the history, the style and the characters will be calling…

Monday, March 19, 2012

Review: Chime

by Franny Billingsley

Book Description:
Before Briony's stepmother died, she made sure Briony blamed herself for all the family's hardships. Now Briony has worn her guilt for so long it's become a second skin. She often escapes to the swamp, where she tells stories to the Old Ones, the spirits who haunt the marshes. But only witches can see the Old Ones, and in her village, witches are sentenced to death. Briony lives in fear her secret will be found out, even as she believes she deserves the worst kind of punishment.

Then Eldric comes along with his golden lion eyes and mane of tawny hair. He's as natural as the sun, and treats her as if she's extraordinary. And everything starts to change. As many secrets as Briony has been holding, there are secrets even she doesn't know.

Okay, this book was definitely not my "cup of tea." In fact, I really, really disliked it.  Briony talks about herself in the third person the whole time (meaning she calls herself Briony...ugh) and that just really bugged me. 

HOWEVER, tons of people out there *loved* this got great reviews from all the professional, I want you to go check it out for yourselves if the description sounds cool to you, and let me know what YOU thought! 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Attention Cassandra Clare fans!!

The newest issue of Book Page's Children's Corner has some brand-new and exciting news for Cassandra Clare fans!!

Cassandra Clare, whose previous best-selling series of YA urban fantasy novels have been set in contemporary New York (The Mortal Instruments) and Victorian-era London (The Infernal Devices), has signed a new deal with Margaret K. McElderry Books for an upcoming series set in present-day L.A. The first book in the Dark Artifices series will be published in 2015.

Margaret K. McElderry Books, a division of Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing, also announced a few more specifics of the plot in the Huffington Post:

The series follows Emma Carstairs, the fiercest warrior and most skilled young Shadowhunter since Jace Wayland, and Emma’s sworn partner in arms, Julian Blackthorn. Despite Emma’s complicated feelings for Julian, the two must band together to investigate a demonic plot that stretches from the warlock-run nightclubs of the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica.
Sounds interesting!! I know you Cassandra Clare fans are squealing to yourselves right now, aren't you, lol?! I'll be keeping my eye out for book one, for sure.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Review: A Beautiful Evil

A Beautiful Evil
by Kelly Keaton
Gods and Monsters series, book two

Book Description:
After the epic graveyard battle at the end of Darkness Becomes Her, Ari and her friends know what they’re up against: Ari is facing the Medusa curse and is haunted by the image of what she will become. To make matters worse, the heinous goddess Athena has kidnapped young Violet and is threatening to destroy Ari.

Ari, along with the superhot Sebastian, is doing everything she can to learn more about Athena and to get Violet back. But the battle of good and evil is bigger than she realizes, and she’s about to be pulled into a world more horrific than she could ever imagine....

Keaton has blown me away again with the second book in this series.  I love the decaying side of New Orleans and its futuristic society found here. Everything is the most elegant mix of lushness and disrepair. Ari even travels to Mount Olympus and finds the same strange mix of revelry and ruin. Gorgeous in both imagery and the written word.

The stakes get even higher in this sequel. Ari must face what she will become...and her place in society. Her friends get pushed to the limits and some even have to pay the ultimate price.
Gripping. Phenomenal. A definite GOLD STAR.

I'm really not sure how I'm going to be able to wait for the third book!!

Review: Dragonswood

by Janet Lee Carey

Book Description:
Wilde Island is not at peace. The kingdom mourns the dead Pendragon king and awaits the return of his heir; the uneasy pact between dragons, fairies, and humans is strained; and the regent is funding a bloodthirsty witch hunt, hoping to rid the island of half-fey maidens.

Tess, daughter of a blacksmith, has visions of the future, but she still doesn't expect to be accused of witchcraft, forced to flee with her two best friends, or offered shelter by the handsome and enigmatic Garth Huntsman, a warden for Dragonswood. But Garth is the younger prince in disguise and Tess soon learns that her true father was fey, making them the center of an exciting, romantic adventure, and an ancient prophecy that will bring about peace between all three races - dragon, human, and fairy.

This book could be read alone, or as a follow up to Carey's Dragon's Keep.

It is a marvelous fantasy about a world where so much magic exists and the poor main character is abused and persecuted for even the thought of her practicing... Tess is a strong character that must go on the run. She finds out a lot about herself and her place in the world during her time in the Dragonswood.

This world contains both dragons and fairies...two of my favorite fantasy creatures!  The story is really well done and the creatures are cool and well integrated into the world. Love, adventure, heartbreak...the book encompasses it all. A new favorite fantasy!

*This was my selection for the March Meeting of our book club, Flippin' Pages. We did fantasy books this month! Next meeting is April 10th and we'll be talking about our favorite MYSTERY books.*

Teen Review: Why We Broke Up

Why We Broke Up
by Daniel Handler

Book Description:

I'm telling you why we broke up, Ed. I'm writing it in this letter, the whole truth of why it happened.

Min Green and Ed Slaterton are breaking up, so Min is writing Ed a letter and giving him a box. Inside the box is why they broke up. Two bottle caps, a movie ticket, a folded note, a box of matches, a protractor, books, a toy truck, a pair of ugly earrings, a comb from a motel room, and every other item collected over the course of a giddy, intimate, heartbreaking relationship. Item after item is illustrated and accounted for, and then the box, like a girlfriend, will be dumped.

Tired of Makeups and break ups?

Read Why We Broke Up for a refreshing twist on relationships. Read as Min discovers herself and the truth behind "True Love" or what she thought it was...

Reviewer: Alma

Monday, March 12, 2012

Flippin' Pages March Meeting REMINDER!!!

Hey Guys!

Don't forget to join us here at the West Springfield Public Library for the February meeting of our teen book club, FLIPPIN' PAGES!!

If you're in grades 6-12, join us for a snack and tell us all about your favorite FANTASY books!

TUESDAY, MARCH 13th at 3:30 p.m.

Review: The Fox Inheritance

The Fox Inheritance
by Mary E. Pearson
The Jenna Fox Chronicles, book two

Book Description:
Once there were three. Three friends who loved each other—Jenna, Locke, and Kara. And after a terrible accident destroyed their bodies, their three minds were kept alive, spinning in a digital netherworld. Even in that disembodied nightmare, they were still together. At least at first. When Jenna disappeared, Locke and Kara had to go on without her. Decades passed, and then centuries.

Two-hundred-and-sixty years later, they have been released at last. Given new, perfect bodies, Locke and Kara awaken to a world they know nothing about, where everyone they once knew and loved is long dead.

Everyone except Jenna Fox.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox is one of my FAVORITE science fiction books! It is amazing how it all unfolds as Jenna slowly regains her memory and realizes what has happened to her...what her parents have done to her...

This follow-up is another great book.  It was really interesting, because rather than being from Jenna's perspective, it is from her friend Locke's.  It is also set 260 years after the first book.  Again it deals with biomedical ethics and what truly makes us human.  This book is both entertaining and thought-provoking. 

Though not *quite* as good as the first book, I really liked seeing things through Locke's eyes. Definitely recommended for sci-fi lovers.

Review: Everneath

by Brodi Ashton

Book Description:
Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath. Now she’s returned—to her old life, her family, her boyfriend—before she’s banished back to the underworld . . . this time forever. She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can’t find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.
Nikki longs to spend these precious months forgetting the Everneath and trying to reconnect with her boyfriend, Jack, the person most devastated by her disappearance—and the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s just one problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who enticed her to the Everneath in the first place, has followed Nikki home. Cole wants to take over the throne in the underworld and is convinced Nikki is the key to making it happen. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back, this time as his queen.
As Nikki’s time on the Surface draws to a close and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she is forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole’s queen.

I really liked this new mythology about the Underworld.  Here there are immortals who feed off of regular humans to stay alive for centuries...but at what cost?! I thought that Nikki was a great main character and that her emotional state was really believable. 

This book has love, betrayal, danger, imminent death, ethical has it all. A fun read for anyone who likes mythology. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What's on My Hold List?

I wanted to try out a new feature...
I think it will be fun a lot of fun!
Each month, I'll let you know
"What's on My Hold List?"

One of the most beautiful things about working at our Library is that I know what's coming out and what we'll be getting and I can put the books on hold right away!
These are some of the books that I'm currently waiting for:
by Lee Nichols
Haunting Emma, book three
*This one is still on my hold list...apparently it's taking forever to come in. I may break down and get this one on my nook soon!*
by Veronica Rossi
*Another one that's still on my list, but I believe it is on its way!*
by Kim Harrington
Clarity, book two
by Lissa Price
*If you click on each title, it will take you to the book on for more information. :)*
So, these are the books I'm waiting anxiously to get my hands on...
what are YOU waiting for??

Monday, March 5, 2012

Reminder - HUNGER GAMES training session!!

Would you survive a fight to the DEATH?

Join us for the HUNGER GAMES training session
and hone your survival skills!!

This Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.
Grades 6 - 12

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Review: Cinder

by Marissa Meyer
Lunar Chronicles, book one

Book Description:

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

I loved this futuristic sci-fi version of the Cinderella story. It was *this* close to being a gold star review, except it ended with a HUGE cliffhanger and the next book doesn't come out until NEXT YEAR. Ugh.

I loved Cinder's character. The fact that she is a cyborg was really cool, especially since this doesn't verge so far into sci-fi that I had trouble understanding things. There was no confusion about medical/scientific stuff. YAY! I loved the fact that not only was Cinder's body both hard and soft, but that it reflected her personality so well...

I loved the descriptions of New Beijing. It was a fascinating dichotomy of the traditional and the futuristic. The fact that the Eastern Commonwealth was at the head of the Earthen Union also felt very possible in humanity's future...and can I mention that the whole Lunar thing was super intriguing? I want to learn more about their history and culture. I'm hoping the next book in the series gives us a more inside perspective there.

All in all, this was book was so close to what my perfect reinvisioning of a fairytale could be it was sort of eerie. I wish that we knew a little more of Cinder's story at the end, but I am SO absolutely looking forward to reading more of her journey in the following books. I cannot wait for Scarlet to get here!!

Review: Every Other Day

Every Other Day
by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Book Description:
Every other day, Kali D'Angelo is a normal sixteen-year-old girl. She goes to public high school. She attends pep rallies. She's human.
And then every day in between . . . She's something else entirely.

Though she still looks like herself, every twenty-four hours predatory instincts take over and Kali becomes a feared demon-hunter with the undeniable urge to hunt, trap, and kill zombies, hellhounds, and other supernatural creatures. Kali has no idea why she is the way she is, but she gives in to instinct anyway. Even though the government considers it environmental terrorism.

I devoured this book. Gobbled it up unashamedly. There is just something about Barnes writing style that lent itself absolutely beautifully to this intriguing concept. In fact, with memories of a sleepless night... I give this a GOLD STAR review!!

I loved Kali's character. She was mutlicultural and fabulous. She was strong and yet, often bewildered. She was unashamed when she had to kick butt. AWESOMESAUCE. When you find out what she is and how she came to be... very, very cool!

I really have no idea if this book is a standalone or the start of a series, but either way, I'm happy. I loved it all on it's own, and I would HAPPILY read another...and the way it most definitely could have a very cool sequel.

Love the paranormal? Looking for something a little different now that there's so much paranormal out there? Pick this one up, ASAP!!