Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Movie Trailer - The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

Cassandra Clare's hit series, The Mortal Instruments, is now being adapted for film.  The first movie (based, of course, on the first book, City of Bones) is coming out in August... Are you planning to see it??

Friday, April 26, 2013

Review: Four Secrets

Four Secrets
by Margaret Willey

Book Description:
"I don't know if all schools are like mine, but at North Holmes they have this thing that can happen, from out of the blue, and there is even a code word for it it's called getting stung."

Katie, Nate, and Renata had no farther to fall.

"They become like scorpions; they sting you till you die."

But when they hit the bottom of the social ladder, they found each other. Together, they might be able to change things. To stop the torment.

"We were united. We were going to take a stand."

So they made a plan. One person seemed to have everyone's secrets and all the power. If they could stop him...

"We needed first of all to get Chase alone. Away from his friends."

But secrets are complicated, powerful things. They are hard to keep. And even a noble plan can go horribly wrong. 

"What a dark and terrible place this school is."

This one will suck you right in. It starts with Katie, Nate, and Renata being in juvenile detention for having kidnapped Chase and keeping him hostage for almost a week. Told in alternating chapters from each of their perspectives, you slowly learn what happened. Why they ever thought this idea might work and how they got caught.  You find out that they each had a secret...a secret that they'd do almost anything to keep everyone else from finding out... I couldn't put this one down. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Review: Pinned

by Sharon Flake

Book Description:
Autumn and Adonis have nothing in common and everything in common. Autumn is outgoing and has lots of friends. Adonis is shy and not so eager to connect with people. But even with their differences, the two have one thing in common--they're each dealing with a handicap. For Autumn, who has a learning disability, reading is a painful struggle that makes it hard to focus in class. But as her school’s most aggressive team wrestler, Autumn can take down any problem. Adonis is confined to a wheelchair. He has no legs. He can't walk or dance. But he’s a strong reader who loves books. Even so, Adonis has a secret he knows someone like Autumn can heal.

In time, Autumn and Adonis are forced to see that our greatest weaknesses can turn into the assets that forever change us and those we love.

I actually was not that fond of this book.  While I liked the fact that Autumn liked Adonis and didn't care at all that he's in a wheelchair, Adonis was pretty much a jerk through the whole book. Even when he comes to appreciate her for who she is, he still wants to keep it a secret that he likes her. No girl should have to settle for that.  I also had a hard time reading this book in Autumn's voice, because I kept correcting her speech in my head (example - she would say "I don't read good and teacher keep pushin'" and in my head I would read the sentence then replay it in my head as "I can't read that well and my teacher keeps pushing me to try harder."). It just became exhausting. Ugh. 

Not on my recommended list. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Review: Wonder Show

Wonder Show
by Hannah Barnaby

Book Description:
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, step inside Mosco’s Traveling Wonder Show, a menagerie of human curiosities and misfits guaranteed to astound and amaze! But perhaps the strangest act of Mosco’s display is Portia Remini, a normal among the freaks, on the run from McGreavy’s Home for Wayward Girls, where Mister watches and waits. He said he would always find Portia, that she could never leave. Free at last, Portia begins a new life on the bally, seeking answers about her father’s disappearance. Will she find him before Mister finds her? It’s a story for the ages, and like everyone who enters the Wonder Show, Portia will never be the same.

I really enjoyed this one! I liked the historical setting and the gentle way that the "freaks" are part of the story. They each have their own issues, both physical and emotional, but they are not as blatantly "freaky," I guess you would say, as they would be in an adult book. I loved seeing how while Portia was at first overwhelmed and intimidated by their presence, she came to appreciate them all and be folded into part of their family. In fact, I loved Portia's determination to create her own fate and to find a family, even if eventually it's not her birth family. 

I thought this book had a great tone. Historical, yet completely relatable in theme, with a strong main character. I can't wait to see what Barnaby writes next...

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Review: City of a Thousand Dolls

City of a Thousand Dolls

by Miriam Forster
The Bhinian Empire, book one

Book Description:
Nisha was abandoned at the gates of the City of a Thousand Dolls when she was just a little girl. Now sixteen, she lives on the grounds of the isolated estate, where orphan girls apprentice as musicians, healers, courtesans, and, if the rumors are true, assassins. She makes her way as Matron's errand girl, her closest companions the mysterious cats that trail her shadow. Only when she begins a forbidden flirtation with the city's handsome young courier does she let herself imagine a life outside the walls. Until one by one, girls around her start to die.

Before she becomes the next victim, Nisha decides to uncover the secrets that surround the girls' deaths. But by getting involved, Nisha jeopardizes not only her own future in the City of a Thousand Dolls—but also her life.

I really enjoyed this book. Forster introduces a new world where the eastern influences of our Asian cultures are highly evident but the fact that the world is also completely cut off from anywhere else gives it its own unique presence. There also used to be magic in this world, though it has now disappeared...

Nisha is an interesting main character. While there were moments that I grew somewhat frustrated because she could not see what was happening when I had already figured things out, I have to give her credit for her reactions once she did. This is not a girl to take things lying down. She refuses to let others decide her life. She is gutsy, bold, independent, and her stubbornness and loyalty take her a long way. She also has a strict sense of right and wrong that I highly admire. I cannot wait to see where the second book in the series will take her.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Movie Trailer - Catching Fire

I'm sure you've probably seen this by now, but just in case you haven't...here is the first official trailer for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire coming out this November!!

What do you think? Will you be seeing it in the theater? I know I will be...

Friday, April 19, 2013

Movie Review: The Host

The Host 
Chockstone Pictures
Rated: PG-13
125 Minutes

Movie Description
A parasitic alien soul is injected into the body of Melanie Stryder. Instead of carrying out her race’s mission of taking over the Earth, ‘Wanda’ (as she comes to be called) forms a bond with her host and sets out to aid other free humans.

Overall I pretty much loved the movie. I thought they did a great job adapting it to the screen...but I know that part of my reaction came from having read the book first. I read some reviews that thought the movie didn't have enough action and was too focused on the emotional relationships between characters (with too much kissing...LOL), but those people have obviously never read the book. The book itself delves pretty deeply into the relationships between the characters precisely because the author was trying to define what makes us human, and what love truly looks like.

Visually, the movie was stunning. The alien creatures were fascinatingly both beautiful and well, alien. Their appearance once they took over the human hosts was well defined through calm demeanor, slower movements, and sort of a 1950's vibe in clothing and interpersonal interactions...I loved, too, how the Seekers were only ever in white and drove around in pure silver vehicles. It induced an almost clinically cold feeling when you were watching their scenes.

I thought Saorise Ronin did a fantastic job as Melanie/Wanderer.She was almost like two different people when she was acting the memories of Melanie's life and then when she was actively inhabited by Wanda. They did a great job with her voiceovers (everytime Melanie spoke inside Wanda's head). There was no awkwardness like the actress couldn't quite match up the timing. It really was as if she had two personalities interacting throughout the movie.

While at first I had been unsure of the casting for Ian (Jake Abel - who I tend to think of as an actor who plays not-so-good guys...) I found myself completely sucked in by his character...again. Ian is the first ever adult book crush that I had.
*Spoiler Alert* In fact, one of the biggest problems I had with the movie was that they altered the scene that absolutely melted my heart where Ian holds Wanda in her true form and still finds her beautiful... I missed that moment!

*Spoiler Alert!*
The only other problem I really had was the transition from Wanda being in Melanie's body to the new girl at the end. While I was reading the book because I was so emotionally invested it did not feel quite as jarring or perfectly poised to solve all of the characters' problems... but when you see it in the movie, it almost feels like a cop-out. Oh, you are choosing to sacrifice yourself and leave so Melanie and her family can be happy? Oh, Look! We found a new body for you... you have to take it or she'll die... and look, now you and Ian can live happily ever after... It just was too...pat...an ending. (And Emily Browning, while I love you in everything else you've done, I wasn't quite feeling you in this role...sorry!)

However, aside from those small issues, I found myself totally sucked into a fabulous story again and I will absolutely be buying this on DVD when it comes out. :)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Review: Prairie Evers

Prairie Evers 
by Ellen Airgood

Book Description:
Prairie Evers is finding that socialization isn't all it's cracked up to be. She's been homeschooled by her granny and has learned the most from traipsing through nature. But now she has to attend public school, and feels just like her chickens--cooped up and subject to the pecking order. School is a jolt for Prairie until she meets Ivy, her first true friend. But while raising chickens and the great outdoors have given Prairie wisdom and perspective, nothing has prepared her for the give and take of friendship. When Prairie finds out that Ivy's home may not be the best place for Ivy, Prairie must corral all her optimism and determination to hatch a plan to help.

This is a sweet story. It's about a girl who is trying to figure out how to interact with other people since she's never been to school before.  It has that slower pace that you find from stories set in the South or the Mountains and Prairie is a girl who feels like she could really be any age.  It's an easy book to read with a story that will leave your heart warm. 

A slightly younger title, but one that I think anyone could read and enjoy. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Mini Reviews: The Prequel Novella Edition

Among the Nameless Stars
by Diana Peterfreund
Prequel to For Darkness Shows the Stars

Book Description:
Before Kai joined the Cloud Fleet, he wandered…AMONG THE NAMELESS STARS

Four years before the events of FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS, the servant Kai left the North Estate, the only home he’d ever known, and Elliot North, the only girl he ever loved, in search of a better life. But the journey was not an easy one.

Featuring narrow escapes, thrilling boat races and at least one deadly volcanic wasteland.

I loved getting to see things directly from Kai's perspective as he was taking himself out into the world. Even though this novella is short, Peterfreund packs a lot of information about the world and Kai's situation into it, giving it a lot of depth. Things are not easy...that's for sure.

The Prince 
by Kiera Cass
Prequel to The Selection

Book Description:
Before thirty-five girls were chosen to compete in the Selection . . .
Before Aspen broke America’s heart . . .
There was another girl in Prince Maxon’s life. . . .

Another prequel from the guy's perspective! I love the idea of getting inside Maxon's head. I loved finding out that he really was intrigued by America from the start...not just because she was refreshing in her refusal to bow and scrape for him, but also because he really found her attractive inside and out... makes me SOOO anxious for The Elite!

Note - These are both ebook novellas available through Amazon or Barnes and Noble. They are not books that we have in our Library's collection...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Review: Sever

by Lauren DeStefano
The Chemical Garden Trilogy, book three

Book Description:
With the clock ticking until the virus takes its toll, Rhine is desperate for answers. After enduring Vaughn’s worst, Rhine finds an unlikely ally in his brother, an eccentric inventor named Reed. She takes refuge in his dilapidated house, though the people she left behind refuse to stay in the past. While Gabriel haunts Rhine’s memories, Cecily is determined to be at Rhine’s side, even if Linden’s feelings are still caught between them.

Meanwhile, Rowan’s growing involvement in an underground resistance compels Rhine to reach him before he does something that cannot be undone. But what she discovers along the way has alarming implications for her future—and about the past her parents never had the chance to explain.

Okay, it's going to be a little tough to review this book without spoilers since it is the final book in the trilogy.

This whole series has left me somewhat of an emotional wreck. DeStefano's books are INTENSE. The way that book two left off gave me shivers and I knew as soon as we got Sever into work I HAD to finish the series, reading responsibilities be damned! I even ended up cheating a little bit by flipping to the last page (WHICH I NEVER DO!) to verify that Rhine doesn't end up dying. I just couldn't take the emotional uncertainty anymore...I had to know that she made it!

I don't want to give anything else away, but I will say there were huge highs and lows in this book and that overall this has been one of the few dystopian series lately that I have gotten heavily emotionally invested in. The whole premise felt really realistically possible and I think that I will remember these books for a long time.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What's On My Hold List?

Welcome back to
"What's on My Hold List?"
This is the April 2013 edition!

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!

Dark Star
by Bethany Frenette

Going Vintage
by Lindsey Leavitt

Pandora Gets Frightened
by Carolyn Hennesy

School Spirits
by Rachel Hawkins

*If you click on each title, it will take you to the book on
Amazon.com for more information. :)*

So, these are the books I'm waiting anxiously to get my hands on...
what are YOU waiting for??

Monday, April 8, 2013

Review: Curses! Foiled Again

Curses! Foiled Again
by Jane Yolen
illus by Mike Cavallaro

Book Description:
Aliera Carstairs is back. This time she's got her cousin—and best friend—Caroline in tow, and the stakes are higher than ever. The realm of Seelie, the fairy kingdom of which Aliera is the hereditary defender, is under attack, and only Aliera and Caroline can set things right. Caroline, fragile and wheelchair-bound, may seem like more of a liability than an asset, but Aliera knows there's more to her quiet cousin than meets the eye.

I really like the books in this series. I love Yolen's storyline.  Aliera is a strong main character. Even as she's bewildered and hesitant to become the "Defender," she still will fight for what she believes is right...and she's a total kick-butt kind of girl with a sword!! LOL. 

I love the illustration style, too.  Not only are Cavallaro's characters easy to recognize and the panels are easy to follow, but he does this neat thing where the "regular" world is black and white, but anything magical is in color.  Take a look: 

Okay, I have no idea why this posted sideways, but I think you get the idea anyway, right?? LOL. 

I just think it really stands out the way that the illustrated decided to highlight all of the magical beings and events through color. It makes them jump right off the page... very cool.  

I can't wait to see where the adventure takes us in the next book of the series! 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Movie Trailer - Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

While I didn't *hate* the first Percy Jackson movie, it definitely did not live up to my love for the book...This trailer for the second movie, though, looks like they've made some improvements!! I can't wait to see it and find out. What do you think?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Review: The Shadow Girl

The Shadow Girl 
by Jennifer Archer

Book Description:
For as long as Lily Winston can remember, she has never been alone. Iris, a shadowy figure who mimics Lily's movements and whispers in her ear, is with her always -- but invisible to the rest of the world. Iris is Lily's secret. But when Lily's father is killed in a tragic accident, his cryptic final words suggest that he and Lily's mother have been hiding secrets of their own. Suddenly, Iris begins pushing Lily more than ever, possessing her thoughts and urging her to put together the pieces of a strange puzzle her father left behind. As she searches for answers, Lily finds herself drawn to Ty Collier, a mysterious new boy in town. Together, Lily and Ty must untangle a web of deception to discover the truth about her family, Iris -- and Lily's own identity.

When I picked this book up, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that this book sucked me in immediately. It reads really easily and Archer builds suspense beautifully, revealing small secrets one by one, building Lily’s discoveries into one culminating life-altering event. Intermingled within the mystery of Lily’s identity are also her conflicting feelings for Wyatt and Ty, as well as her guilt and grief over her father’s death.

As the story concludes and Lily determines where she will go from here, the only detraction is one confrontation that seemed to be looming, but never actually comes to fruition. Aside from that, Lily’s story is a well-done blend of suspense, mystery, and romance. I just can't help but wonder if there might be a sequel down the pike that will explore Lily's future choices? I hope so...

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Discovering Your "Brand" of Fantasy

Some of you may know that I also blog for the national YALSA (Young Adult Library Service Association) blog, called the Hub. 

Today, I have a post on the Hub's blog called Discovering Your "Brand" of Fantasy. It's all about the various sub-genres within the larger Fantasy genre and how to better pick out books you might enjoy. I'm pretty proud of this post. I'd really love it if you'd all check it out. Hope you like it!!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Review: The Gift

The Gift
by Andrea J. Buchanan

Book Description:
High school sophomore Daisy Jones is just trying to get by unnoticed. It doesn’t help that she’s the new girl at school, lives in a trailer park, and doesn’t even own a cell phone. But there’s a good reason for all that: Daisy has a secret, unpredictable power—one only her best friend, Danielle, knows about.

Despite her “gift” (or is it a curse?), Daisy’s doing a good job of fitting in, and a gorgeous senior named Kevin even seems interested in her! But when Daisy tries to help Vivi, a mysterious classmate in a crisis, she soon discovers that her new friend has a secret of her own. Now Daisy and her friends must deal with chilling dreams and messages from the beyond. Can Daisy channel the power she’s always tried to hide, before it’s too late?

This book, originally self-published, could probably have benefited from a thorough editing job. While the premise had moments of promise, there were too many small extra plotlines that were actually distracting from the main story. I also think that it seemed to take a little too long for the two major arcs of the story to come together. That *could* be partially attributed to the fact that I listened to this as an audio book, so the whole story took some time, but I really think the ghost/energy connection was too hard to piece together the way that the author presented it. 

Even though I didn't really enjoy the story, I was happy to find that the author included the songs that Kevin "performed" and also Danielle's diary entries (which I thought would have made a nice addition perhaps interspersed within the story...). It made for a more interesting end.