Friday, December 21, 2012

Holiday Reading

Every time I get a break from school, I make sure I have plenty of reading material to keep me entertained.  This is the stack I'm taking home with me over the break.  It wouldn't be a holiday with several hours spent snuggled under a blanket with a good book while the chill wind blows outside.  I know I probably won't make it through all these (and the three or four more I already have at home), but I'll do my best and let you know what I think.  

Notice, there is a sports book in that stack.  I'm going to read that one first for all your sports fans!  Becoming a librarian has forced me to go outside my reading comfort zone and try new things.  There are books I definitely would not pick if I were simply engaged in casual reading, but they have expanded my reading experience and my view of the world.  

I don't have personal experience living in a post-apocalyptic world or a fantasy kingdom or a segregated school in the 1950's or even on the field in a high stakes football game, but I can get a little taste of it when I read a book.  And in that taste, I can see things from another point of view and just maybe learn how to empathize a little better with other people.  Everyone has a story with good parts and bad, and I believe a good book can help those stories converge.

Read something great during your break.  Read something cozy and familiar you know you'll love, but consider trying something new.  You never know, you might find a new love or a deeper understanding. 

What's on your reading list for the next few weeks?  Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments! :)

The Humming Room

In Ellen Potter's update of The Secret Garden, Roo Fanshaw is a quiet girl who is more comfortable alone in dark quiet places where she can be close to nature, but now that her father is dead, everything will change for her.

Her life in the trailer wasn't perfect, but it was familiar.  Now, she is sent to live with an uncle she's never met on an island called Cough Rock so named because her uncle's house was once a hospital for children with tuberculosis.

This creepy former hospital is filled with the ghosts of the dead and provides a mysterious atmosphere for the story.  There are moments of intensity and oddity in this book that I really enjoyed, but I wanted a bit more characterization and plot, especially at the end.  Still it does have great atmosphere and mood, and if that's what you're looking for, you'll be satisfied with this one.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


I love this book!  It's more than just good science fiction; it's a great story about friendship and loyalty.  Plus, there are moments of laugh out loud humor.  You must read it ASAP!  You might have to wait a while, though, because I've been booktalking it to people as I read.  S.J. Kincaid's website says it will be a series, so there are sure to be more!  Hooray!

Tom Raines is a nobody, a skinny kid with acne and an alcoholic father who is also addicted to gambling.  He's not good at anything except playing video games.  Tom Raines is destined for failure.  All that changes when the military plucks him from obscurity in a run down casino in Arizona to join other trainees in the Spire.  Once there, Tom gets a neural processor installed in his brain that makes him smarter and faster, but it also makes him susceptible to viruses and other dangers just like any other computer.

His ultimate goal is to join CamCo, a team of elite fighters that control the robots in space that fight earth's wars.  Tom will get physical, mental, and technical strength in the Spire, but he will also find real friends for the first time in his life and uncover conspiracies and dangerous enemies.

You won't be able to put this SciFi thriller down!  Again, you must read it NOW!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Last Dragonslayer

I cannot tell you how excited I am about this book.  I have been a Jasper Fforde fan for several years, so I couldn't wait to get my hands on his first book for young adults.  It was published in the UK a couple of years ago, but it is finally available in the US.  Friends, I was not disappointed!  Why do I love Jasper Fforde?  He puts fantasy elements in a contemporary, if slightly skewed, world.  His writing is clever, his characters range from completely sincere to completely ridiculous, and his books always surprise me!  I can't wait for the sequel!

Jennifer Strange, orphan and acting manager of Kazam's Magical Arts, has her hands full.  Magical power is on the wane, and it takes the combined effort of multiple wizards just to unclog a drain.  Her boss, the Great Zambini, is missing, and there's a new prophecy that the last dragon is going to die on Sunday at noon.

Jennifer doesn't want the dragon to die; he's the last of his kind, and the dragonlands are a beautiful natural landscape that will be eaten up by developers when the dragon goes.  But Jennifer seems to be the only one on the dragon's side.  With a warmongering king anxious to snap up the dragonlands and vanquish his neighbors and greedy corporations eager to create new shopping malls, there seems to be little hope for the last dragon.  In spite of all this, other forces are at work.  The wizards can feel it; Big Magic is coming, and no one can predict what will happen next!

Double Identity

This month's book club selection is a science fiction thriller by Margaret Peterson Haddix.  Bethany's parents have always been overprotective, but now her mother is weeping, and they are driving through the night like they are running away from something.  When they leave her at the home of an aunt she's never met, she begins to question everything about her life.

People in this small town are startled when they see Bethany, remarking on her resemblance to someone named Elizabeth.  Who is Elizabeth, and why does her name make Aunt Myrlie so sad?  Why have her Bethany's parents seemingly abandoned her, and who is the dark shadow dogging her footsteps?

You'll have to read the book to find out!  This one will keep you on the edge of your seat as try to figure out the answers.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Lions of Little Rock

Marlee is afraid of everything from the high diving board at the pool to talking to kids at school, but this year will be different.  To start, all the high schools in Little Rock are closed because people don't want to integrate, so Marlee's older sister isn't even going to school.

The junior highs aren't trying to integrate yet, so Marlee is back at school going through her days in silence until Liz shows up.  For some reason Liz latches onto Marlee, and Marlee eventually realizes that Liz could be a real friend.  As their friendship grows, a revelation about Liz threatens to tear them apart forever.

Liz is "passing."  That means she is a black person pretending to be white, so she can get a better education.  People are already upset about integration, and this just makes things worse.  Marlee knows she should leave Liz alone, that it would be better for both of them, but she's never had a friend she could actually talk to before.

Can Marlee find her voice when it really counts?

I loved this book!  It's great historical fiction, and a great book about friendship and bravery.  It's a powerful reminder of the evils of racism and the beauty of friendship.  It is a reminder that sometimes the true heroes are ordinary people who decide to stop ignoring injustice and take a stand in their own neighborhoods.  Be sure to read author Kristin Levine's note at the end of the book to find out about her inspiration for the story!

Saturday, December 8, 2012


One positive to come of this week of sickness is that I decided to read UnWholly to ease my misery.  I've been putting it off for since the book's release because I had so many other things I "needed" to read, but I decided to find release from my suffering in the pages of a much anticipated book.  And Neal Shusterman does not disappoint!  As much as I loved Unwind, I think UnWholly is even better.  It is the kind of story that weaves in and around until finally the connections are made, and the reader's mind is blown.  If you haven't read Unwind yet, please do, so you can also read this fabulous sequel.

Conner is trying to be a leader for the kids in the Graveyard, but he feels things slipping away.  To make matters worse, he still struggles with accepting the "gift" he discovered after the Happy Jack explosion:  Roland's arm.  The arm feels angry and out of control, like Roland but also like the kid Conner used to be.  No matter how much he loves Risa, this fear forces him to push her away.

Risa is still working as a medic and still a paraplegic.  Even though she is at peace with her decision to remain herself and not take the spine of an Unwind, there is a part of her that fears she is holding Conner back.

Starkey refuses to give up, even when the juvies come for him in the night and drag him from the house, he lets his parents feel his contempt.  The Akron AWOL is his hero, a larger than life superman who has no weaknesses, but when he comes face to face with Conner Starkey realizes his hero is not so stone-cold after all.

Lev is living with his brother under house arrest.  The boy who didn't clap receives no forgiveness from the rest of his family, but he struggles to find purpose in this new and unexpected life.

Nelson's life was destroyed when Conner Lassiter tranq'd him with his own gun and escaped, but now his a merciless and single-minded parts pirate.

And Cam.  No one is quite sure what Cam is yet, not even him, but his very existence will change things forever.

UnWholly is the best kind of science fiction that allows us to look at ourselves and our society through a different lens.  Neal Shusterman has created not just a heart-pounding thriller but real characters who take readers on a journey through contempt, frustration, anguish, disgust, love, despair, and finally hope.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Claire was disappointed with her assignment as birthmother, and now she approaches the birth of her first newchild with anxiety.  She isn't sure what to expect.  The birth proves to be a painful and frightening experience, but there are complications that leave Claire with a painful recovery.  She soon learns that these complications mean she can no longer be a birthmother.

As she begins her new assignment at the fish hatchery in confusion and embarrassment, she feels an unnatural attachment to the newchild, number thirty six.  She soon discovers that no one else feels this way, so she hides her emotions.

This is the beginning of a story that will take Claire away from the only home she's ever known and into near fatal danger.  But always she has one thought, to find her son.

Claire's son is the baby Gabriel, stolen by Jonas at the end of The Giver.  This conclusion to the four part series brings back all the characters we know and love from the previous books.  Of course, there are also old enemies made more tangible and frightening.

Lowry once again explores themes of love and sacrifice in this riveting book.  Let me say again that you should definitely read The Giver, Gathering Blue,and Messenger first.  You could probably get through Son without reading the others, but you would miss the depth of emotion.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Animals Welcome

Peg Kehret is one of the most popular authors in our library with books like Runaway Twin and The Ghost's Grave.  Now she has written a memoir about her life rescuing animals.

Each chapter details Kehret's experiences with different animals including wildlife, and her sincere love of animals shines on every page.  A large portion of the book focuses on cat rescue.  Caring for cats is easier for Kehret because her body is weakened by childhood polio.  Each animal's personality comes shining through as the author details its rescue story.

Fans of Peg Kehret's mystery novels and animal lovers alike will enjoy this memoir about the many ways she and the animals in her life have rescued each other.

Here is a video of Peg Kehret talking about one of her most popular books, Stolen Children.  It is filmed in the home she describes in Animals Welcome, and you can hear her dog, Lucy, barking at the beginning. :)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Wizard Heir

Seph has never known her family or his origins.  All he knows is that he is a wizard with a power that is becoming increasingly difficult to control.  After a tragic incident at a Toronto night club, Seph's guardians send him to The Havens, a remote private boys school in Maine.  Soon after he arrives, he learns The Havens is a place where he can get training and learn to control his power, but there is something sinister at work, and Seph is reluctant to buy the story his principal, Dr. Lester, is selling.

Little does he know that his defiance will put him on a path that will lead to heartbreak, revenge, and truth.

Fans of The Warrior Heir will be pleased to see that Seph eventually meets up with Jack, Ellen, Linda, Hastings, and all the other characters from the first book in this trilogy.  The Wizard Heir deepens connections and reveals in truths and plots in the Weir world.  Fantasy fans will enjoy Cinda Williams Chima's second entry in the series.

Sophia's War

New York City in 1776 is a dangerous place to be for loyal patriots.  The city has been captured by the British, and Sophia Calderwood and her parents must pretend loyalty in order to keep their home.  As if this weren't enough, they haven't heard from her soldier brother, William, in months, and they can do nothing but remain hopeful that he is still alive and out of British hands.  Sophia trusts in her hero, General Benedict Arnold, to lead the patriots to victory.

As part of the pretense of loyalty to the crown, the Calderwoods must take in a British officer, John Andre.  Sophia is prepared to despise this man who fights against her brother and her home, but she must admit that his charm wins her over.

When tragedy strikes, Sophia vows revenge against the British.  She will do anything to support the American cause including becoming a spy!  As she is plunged into even more danger, Sophia will meet with old enemies and former friends, and her greatest conflict may be with her own mind.  Who can she turn to for support?  And once she discovers a terrible plot, who will believe her?

Avi's newest book is perfect historical fiction filled with romance, intrigue, and danger!  Read the author's note to discover that all the people (except for Sophia and her family) where real actors in this revolutionary tale of traitors and spies.

If you want to learn more about real spies of the revolution, read George Washington, Spy Master, one of my personal favorites.  To learn more about Benedict Arnold, read The Real Benedict Arnold.