Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Wishing you all

...And don't forget, the Library Sheriff is reminding you to return your books on time... OR ELSE!!! Mwahahaha...

Review: The Drowned Cities

The Drowned Cities
by Paolo Bacigalupi
Book Description:
In a dark future America where violence, terror, and grief touch everyone, young refugees Mahlia and Mouse have managed to leave behind the war-torn lands of the Drowned Cities by escaping into the jungle outskirts. But when they discover a wounded half-man--a bioengineered war beast named Tool--who is being hunted by a vengeful band of soldiers, their fragile existence quickly collapses. One is taken prisoner by merciless soldier boys, and the other is faced with an impossible decision: Risk everything to save a friend, or flee to a place where freedom might finally be possible.
I had heard how great Ship Breaker won awards, even... but I just hadn't had time to read another dystopian book in the last year or so that wasn't already high on my priorities list. Well, I'm gonna have to make time to go back and read it now, because the companion book was stellar.
This book is set in a dark, war torn dystopian United States (well, what's left of it, that is...). It is gritty and violent and compelling. There is no romance and really little hope. Yet... you read continuously searching for the seeds of hope and finding little hints that it may yet be there to find.
Reminiscent of the darkest portions of The Hunger Games, Bacigalupi is an author for those readers who do not want their gritty future tied to romance... this is for a more hard core, action seeking science fiction reader. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Review: It's Kind of a Funny Story

It's Kind of a Funny Story
by Ned Vizzini
Book Description:
Like many ambitious New York City teenagers, Craig Gilner sees entry into Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School as the ticket to his future. Determined to succeed at life—which means getting into the right high school to get into the right college to get the right job—Craig studies night and day to ace the entrance exam, and does. That’s when things start to get crazy.

At his new school, Craig realizes that he isn't brilliant compared to the other kids; he’s just average, and maybe not even that. He soon sees his once-perfect future crumbling away. The stress becomes unbearable and Craig stops eating and sleeping—until, one night, he nearly kills himself.

Craig’s suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, isolated from the crushing pressures of school and friends, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.
I really need to listen to my teen readers at the library more often. The trouble is I usually have such a huge stack of books that I'm dying to read any way that when a teen suggests a book I tell them, "oh yeah, I'd like to read's going on my list" and then it takes ages for me to get to it...
I had three different teens recommend this book to me. I'm so glad I finally picked this one up. It was indeed a great story! Others have said this, but it bears repeating...for a book about a suicidal teenager, this was actually a surprisingly funny book. Vizzini manages to make this book feel achingly "real" precisely because it covers such a huge range of emotions. There are NO one dimensional characters and the plot is utterly realistic. What a well done book.
I highly recommend this one (and I'm going to check out the movie...I want to compare it to the book...)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Review: Live Through This

Live Through This
by Mindi Scott

Book Description:
If Coley Sterling’s best friend would stop hating her, if her dance-team captains would lighten up, if her friends would stop asking her about Reece, the geeky sax player she’s crushing on—then her life would be perfect. Right? After all, Coley’s stepdad is a successful attorney who gives Coley and her siblings everything, and her mother will stop at nothing to keep them all happy and safe—including having escaped ten years ago from the abuse of Coley’s real father. But Coley is keeping a lot of secrets. She won’t admit—not even to herself—that her almost-perfect life is her own carefully crafted facade. Now, Coley and Reece are getting closer, and a decade’s worth of Coley’s lies are on the verge of unraveling—along with the life she thought she knew.
This. This is a doozy of a book. It is gripping, it is un-put-downable. Once I had gotten about 20 pages in, there was no stopping. I read straight through until the last page, tears streaming down my face in several spots, shivers running down my spine. I could not tear myself away.

This is not a book for everyone. The author doesn't really worry about being very open about what's happening between Coley and her boyfriend, or Coley and the person who has crossed the line with her... For some people this book may be a little too much. Too hard to read.

I would really only recommend this book to very mature readers in grades 11 and up.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Review: Pandora Gets Greedy

Pandora Gets Greedy
by Carolyn Hennesy
Pandora series, book six
Book Description:
Pandora is off to Rome in search of Greed. With a little magical help, Pandy and her friends pose as servants for a Roman senator. But the hard work leaves little time to search for evils—not to mention dealing with the senator’s bratty daughter. When a feud breaks out between the senator and Julius Caesar, Pandy finally gets the courage she needs to search for Greed. But there is an odd twist. The Greek gods are in town on a "family reunion" with their Roman counterparts. Are the double gods just a coincidence or are they here to help her?
While I love this series, I had a hard time getting into this particular volume. I don't know if it's that it starts out with Pandora having forgotten what she her mission, or that it took a few chapters to build into the larger story, but something just felt like it was lacking... as I continued into the story things evened out again, but I had a really hard time at first.
Once things picked up again, I loved seeing the Greek and Roman god counterparts interact. It was fun to see them working together and sometimes against each other as they waited for Pandora to complete her quest. Pandora's friends also continue to grow closer and closer as a unit, bonding and protecting one another whenever they can.
The next book in the series is the final one and though this book was not my favorite in the series, there is NO WAY that I'm not going to read the last one and find out how it all ends! 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Review: Seraphina

by Rachel Hartman
Book Description:
Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty's anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high.

Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen's Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life.
It has been a little while since I have read a story about dragons that has left me in awe. It's not that the dragon books out there aren't's that they all seem to have very similar lore these days. Not so in Seraphina. Though I have read books where dragons could take human form before, Hartman writes about this process and other dragon-y aspects in such a way that it felt utterly new and brilliantly done.
I could picture the painful process of a giant dragon folding in on itself to take Saar (human) form. I could empathize completely with how they must feel trapped and utterly alien amongst humankind. I understood their mathematical and scientific brains, revolted by human feeling and floundering as emotions they did not want flooded their systems.
Hartman manages to convey excellently drawn perspectives of both humans and dragons as they beome embroiled in political strife. Seraphina, who can see both perspectives, is the perfect narrator. Her struggle to fit in, yet hide herself from scrutiny is fascinating. Her relationship with dragonkind draws readers in effortlessly. Her struggle to fight off feelings for the one man she should never pursue...
A phenomenal fantasy debut, absolutely recommended to all fantasy readers, and well worthy of a shiny, shiny (dragon scale shiny, LOL) gold star: 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Review: Princess Academy: Palace of Stone

Princess Academy: Palace of Stone
by Shannon Hale
Princess Academy, book two
Book Description:
Coming down from the mountain to a new life in the city is a thrill to Miri. She and her princess academy friends have been brought to Asland to help the future princess Britta prepare for her wedding.There, Miri also has a chance to attend school-at the Queen's Castle. But as Miri befriends students who seem sophisticated and exciting she also learns that they have some frightening plans. Torn between loyalty to the princess and her new friends' ideas, between an old love and a new crush, and between her small mountain home and the bustling city, Miri looks to find her own way in this new place. 

I am so happy that this follow-up to The Princess Academy finally came out. The first book is one of my all time favorites! Miri is a fabulous character: loyal, smart, ambitious (but in the best way...) and true blue to the end... I was so happy to see her back.

Shannon Hale does a FABULOUS job shifting Miri into life in the royal city. This book still features friendship, romance, and learning, plus it delves into political intrigue, danger, and above all figuring out exactly who you are as a person and where you want your life to take you. Miri finds herself embroiled in a battle for power with divided loyalties - the worst possible place. It takes months and real life-threatening danger for her to determine exactly what the truest course is...and of course, for her to lead the charge.

Full of wisdom, wit, and heartwarming relationships, Hale has followed up a beautifully written book with a bang up sequel. I adored every minute of it!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Review: The Girl is Trouble

The Girl is Trouble
by Kathryn Miller Haines
sequel to The Girl is Murder

Book Description:
It's the Fall of 1942 and Iris's world is rapidly changing. Her Pop is back from the war with a missing leg, limiting his ability to do the physically grueling part of his detective work. Iris is dying to help, especially when she discovers that one of Pop's cases involves a boy at her school. Now, instead of sitting at home watching Deanna Durbin movies, Iris is sneaking out of the house, double crossing her friends, and dancing at the Savoy till all hours of the night. There's certainly never a dull moment in the private eye business.

Amateur sleuth, Iris, is back and the stakes have gone up another notch. The war is Europe is looming over everyone in Iris' life and it's starting to take its toll on her friends at school, her neighbors, and especially her father... The kids at school in the Jewish afterschool club have started receiving threats. Iris learns her mother may have been murdered and because...well, the reason would have been absolutely horrifying! Unsure who she can trust, whether her best friend and father are lying to her, and feeling like her world is crumbling around her, Iris must do the best she can to find out all the nitty-gritty details to clear everything up and set her world back to rights. 

I really loved this mystery and hope that this series continues with another book!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Review: The Name of the Star

The Name of the Star
by Maureen Johnson
The Shades of London, book one
Book Description:
The day that Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London to start a new life at boarding school is also the day a series of brutal murders breaks out over the city, killings mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper spree of more than a century ago. Soon "Rippermania" takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him--the only one who can see him. And now Rory has become his next target.
This is exactly how I like my ghost stories. Creepy, but not horrifying enough to keep me awake all night, huddling under the covers in terror... Johnson uses just enough description to keep you riveted, to make you shudder, but not enough to imprint mutilated body parts in the back of your brain.
Easy to read, intriguing, and with a main character that I thought was pretty cool, from the moment I turned the last page, I found my fingers itching for the next book. I hope it's coming out soon! I'm totally trying to guess what may happen in the next book as it seems there may be a change of venue... ooops! NO more spoilers, I promise. LOL.  

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Review: Wildwood

by Colin Meloy
Book Description:
When her baby brother is kidnapped by crows, Prue McKeel begins an adventure that will take her and her friend Curtis way beyond her hometown and deep into the Impassable Wilderness. There they uncover a secret world in the midst of violent upheaval, a world full of warring creatures, peace-loving mystics and powerful figures with the darkest intentions. What begins as a rescue mission becomes something much bigger as the two friends find themselves entwined in a struggle for the very freedom of this wilderness. A wilderness the locals call Wildwood.
I wanted to love this book. In the beginning, I liked it very much. It has a folksy sort-of feel in the storytelling. It has a kidnapped brother, and an intrepid sister, out to recover him... it has a dark, mysterious wilderness that captivates Prue and readers alike.
As I continued reading, though, the story began to lag for me. I'm not sure exactly why. Partially, I think, because I personally do not particularly like books where main characters are talking animals. It just doesn't work for me and there were definitely some important characters here who were of the non-human variety. Also, this delved a lot into politics and (unlike in M.W. Turner's books which are full of political intrigue that I couldn't help but be fascinated by...) it just became too much.
I think that there were a lot of factors that just added up to not quite a win here for me. I think maybe if the book had been a little shorter, not quite so complicated, I might have persevered and possibly even have enjoyed my reading experience, but in the end, I really only enjoyed the first third of this book.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Banned Books Week

Did you know that Banned Books Week is just coming to an end? Yup, from Sept. 30th to Oct. 6th, Librarians, book Lovers, and teachers celebrate YOUR right to choose what you read by fighting attempts at censorship.  Every year the most challenged books are announced, and book lovers everywhere attempt to convince other people to read books that have been banned elsewhere. 

This year some funny posters were even created... check it out!

That's right.  It's President Snow from the Hunger Games Trilogy. Did you know that The Hunger Games has been banned in some places in the US? Exercise your rights to Intellectual Freedom and pick it up, if you haven't already!
In fact, there are lots of banned/challenged books that are just looking to find someone to pick them up! Show them some love... 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Review: Rift

by Andrea Cremer
prequel to Nightshade
Book Description:
Sixteen-year-old Ember Morrow is promised to a group called Conatus after one of their healers saves her mother's life. Once she arrives, Ember finds joy in wielding swords, learning magic, and fighting the encroaching darkness loose in the world. She also finds herself falling in love with her mentor, the dashing, brooding, and powerful Barrow Hess. When the knights realize Eira, one of their leaders, is dabbling in dark magic, Ember and Barrow must choose whether to follow Eira into the nether realm or to pledge their lives to destroying her and her kind.
It's been a little while since I read an Andrea Cremer book and I'd forgotten how easily she draws me right into the Nightshade world! Now, this book is a prequel, so it takes place in an older society, and I thought she did a really great job fleshing out this time period. Though many things are still secret (we are dealing with a secret sect of a religious army derived from the Templars, after all), the process by which the initiates choose and are accepted into their branch of service was well thought out and interesting, and the power structure of their world was explored just enough to be illuminating, but Cremer wisely withheld enough to make things very intriguing for the sequel...
I liked the very Celtic feel of this time and place. This was strongly enhanced by listening to the narrator of the audio book, Sile Birmingham, who did an excellent Scots accent. With action, romance, and a very creepy "bad guy," I cannot wait to dive into this world again in the sequel, Rise, which will be coming out this spring.   

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Review: Bad Hair Day

Bad Hair Day
by Carrie Harris
Kate Grable series, book two
Book Description:
Kate Grable is geeked out to shadow the county medical examiner as part of her school's premed program. But after he's arrested for murder, she's left with the bodies. And when Kate's brother, Jonah, stumbles upon a dead gamer girl, Kate realizes that the zombie epidemic she cured last fall was only the beginning of the weirdness taking over her town. Someone—or something—is murdering kids. Something really hairy. And strong. Possibly with claws.

Could it be werewolves, like Jonah and his dorktastic friends think? Kate's supposed to be a butt-kicking, zombie-killing genius . . . but if she can't figure out what's behind the freakish attacks, the victims—or what's left of them—are going to keep piling up.
Oh, Carrie Harris... how do I love your books? Let me count the ways:
1. Sassy heroine
2. SMART heroine
3. Good friends
4. A great boyfriend
5. Funny, loyal brother
6. Viral Zombies
7. Hilarious LARP groupies
8. "Werewolves" (or are they...)
9. Nanobots
10. Geektastic internships with Doctors
11. A "Rock"-a-Thon

This book once again made me laugh out loud, even as I was marveling at the brilliant blend of the paranormal and hardcore science. I love that for every weird phenomenon that happens, there is a perfectly viable explanation and, of course...Kate is always right there to fix things!

The perfect vacation read (I tore through this one while I was in Martha's Vineyard, in fact), I am going to bestow a beautiful Gold Star to this book!
Bad Hair Day is coming out this November! 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Gold Star Interview: Kelly Keaton!

Hello All!

As you all know, when I LURVE a book, I give it a Gold Star Review here. Well, to liven up the blog a little, I'm going to (try to) interview the author of each book that receives a coveted Gold Star! I hope you'll enjoy these quick, little interviews. :D

Today's guest is the fabulous Kelly Keaton! I'm so excited. I loved both of Kelly's books in the Gods and Monsters series, but today, we're going to talk officially about the second title, A Beautiful Evil. You can go back and check out my gushy Gold Star Review here.

Welcome, Kelly! Thank you so much for stopping by to chat with me. I have just a couple of quick questions for you:

1.     How long did it take you, from first spark of idea to final proofs, to write A Beautiful Evil?

Since it was the second in a two book contract, the idea – or at least a vague idea – was there from the time I sold the first book. So, almost two years. The actual writing time once I started it was about two months - I’m a big procrastinator, LOL.

2. If you could write a book under a pseudonym that no one would ever connect to you, are there any genres you would love to secretly explore?
Not anything I feel would need to be secretive about. I’m actually toying with writing a contemporary romantic comedy. Love reading those and always wanted to write more in that genre. My very first manuscript was a rom-com w/some paranormal thrown in.
3. I LOVED that A Beautiful Evil evoked such a strong atmospheric setting. You must have researched New Orleans quite a bit. Is there any one part of New Orleans that you think everyone should visit or a piece of the town’s history that you think everyone should know?
Thanks! There are so many places I’d advise people to see. The Garden District. Lafayette Cemetery. The French Quarter. Jackson Square. You can just walk and shop and sit and eat and take it all in, day after day, and it never gets old. NOLA has this amazing Old World yet vibrant feel, an ambience – a feel-good, happy, artistic vibe. Well worth the visit! *I cannot WAIT to go to New Orleans someday. I think there are so many cool things to see!*
4. If you could cross one thing off your bucket list tomorrow, what would it be?
Tour sites of ancient Greece. *That is on my bucket list, too!*
 5. Quick picks list:
Favorite vacation destination?
Beach, mountains, and NOLA.
Favorite childhood book?
The Black Stallion by Walter Farley
Favorite writing snack food?
Favorite clothing item?
White V-neck T
Thank you so much, Kelly, for letting us interview you. It was a pleasure!

For more information about Kimberly and her books (I personally keep stalking checking her website for information about book #3!), check out her website at