Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Book Review: Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater

Ballad: A Gathering of Faerie by Maggie Stiefvater continues the story begun in the Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception.  Only this time the story is told from the point of view of James, an extremely gifted musical student and his faerie muse, Nuala who wants to snatch his soul.  After what happened in Lament, James has plenty of reasons to fear the faeries, but finds himself drawn to Nuala as they collaborate on an achingly beautiful musical composition.  And Nuala finds herself drawn to James in a different way than she is usually drawn to talented humans. Could she be feeling true love for James?   To complicate matters the new faerie is working a devious plot that will be hatched on Halloween, one that will not only endanger Nuala and James, but James former crush Dee.  Can James get over Dee, battle the evil faeries and find true love with Nuala? 
Stiefvater weaves an enticing magical tale. It’s almost as though she has been struck with a little faerie muse herself. Readers who enjoy Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely series or Carrie Jones' Need series will enjoy Stiefvater’s novels.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Book Review: Jane: A Modern Retelling of Jane Eyre by April Lindner

In the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you that I received this ARC from the publisher.  They only requested I read and post my review of the book.  There were no requirements stipulated on the type of review.

Having said that, I’m so glad I received this review.  I’m a big fan of Jane Eyre.  I would not have believed it possible to find a well-written modern version of the Jane Eyre story.  I was wrong.  I could not put this book down. Lindner stays loyal to the original while giving it a believable modern twist.   Even though I knew the story line and knew what to expect next, I found myself eagerly anticipating each step in the story.

Jane Moore is forced to drop out of college after the sudden death of her cold and distant parents. Abandoned by her older brother and sister, Jane is forced to find a job.  She takes a job as a nanny at Thornfield Park, the estate of brooding and handsome rock star Nico Rathburn. As in the original Jane falls for her employer and is surprised to find he returns her feelings. Of course, Nico is embroiled in a mystery that threatens to ruin everything. Jane is torn between her feelings for Nico and the consequences of his secret.

Jane is an irresistible romance and a new classic.  This is an excellent story to study along with the original. I almost wish I were back in school so I could do just that.

Next up on the to read list: Awakened by Ednah Walters

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Since it’s Banned Books week, I wanted to talk about Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.  It’s hard to know what to say, so many others have such eloquent reviews I’m not sure what I could add to the discussion.

I mentioned in my last post that the book was being challenged in Missouri.  A man named Scroggins has referred to the book as “soft pornography.”  I have to wonder if he even bothered to read the book.  Often people who object to books do so without taking the time to read them.

Speak is about a young girl who is raped.  Webster’s On-line dictionary defines pornography as the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement.”  Anyone, including Mr. Scroggins, who considers rape as a cause for sexual excitement, needs to re-examine their belief systems.  Anderson did not write Speak to create sexual excitement. The book provides a voice for those who feel as though their voice was stripped from them.  It handles a difficult subject with sensitivity and finesse.  Would I recommend this book for my third grade students? No. But I would recommend it for high school students.  Someone once said that we often don’t want young adults to read stories about the lives they lead.  Life is not pleasant. Life is not a fairytale.  Sometimes young adults need to read about reality in order to deal with it in their own lives.

And if you are wondering if this book has had a positive impact on teens you should check out this video of the author reading a poem she wrote based on the hundreds of letters she has received over the last ten years.

Don't take my word or Mr. Scroggins' word. Read the book. The subject matter may be mature, but the writing is wonderful.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Banned Books Week - Are You Enjoying Your Freedom To Read?

This is Banned Books Week.  Banned or challenged books often evoke strong emotions.  It is not something that is simply cut and dried. As a parent, librarian, bookworm and educator I find that I seem to fall all over the spectrum when it comes to books.  I am a strong believer in the freedom to read what I choose.  I’m an Army wife. My husband has put his life on the line numerous times to protect that freedom as well as many other freedoms.  Thanks to him and his soldiers, I feel comfortable exercising my freedom to read on a daily basis.
I also believe that it is my job as a parent to determine what my children are allowed to read or not to read.  Other adults should NOT make that decision for my children.
You might respond that as an elementary school librarian I make that choice when I chose to purchase or not purchase certain books for the library.  I will admit that I am a strong believer in age appropriate materials.  Library budgets are never big enough and it would not be a wise use of funds to purchase materials that might be suitable for only a few students.  There’s a difference between censorship and collection development.  There is also a reason that the books found in middle school and high school libraries are different from those found in elementary schools. 
Often I find that books are challenged for reasons I do not understand.  Over the years these are the challenges that have caused me to shake my head in confusion.  These books made the ALA list of top 100 books challenged during 2000-2009.  I’ve only listed the ones that I have seen in numerous elementary school libraries.  How many of these have you or your children read?
·  Scary Stories (Series), by Alvin Schwartz
·  The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain
·  Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
·   The Giver, by Lois Lowry
·  My Brother Sam is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
·  Goosebumps (Series), by R.L. Stine
·  The Great Gilly Hopkins, by Katherine Paterson
·  In the Night Kitchen, by Maurice Sendak
·  The Witches, by Roald Dahl
·  A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle
·  The Stupids (Series), by Harry Allard
·  Anastasia Krupnik (Series), by Lois Lowry
·  Halloween ABC, by Eve Merriam
·  Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George
·  Harry Potter (Series), by J.K. Rowling
·   James and the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl
·  A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstein
·  Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume
·   Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
·  The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain

                As I said banned/challenged books evoke strong emotions.  The best way to respond is to be informed.  Don’t take someone else’s word for it (not even mine).  Read the book in question.  At least that way you can form your own opinion of the book.

                Tomorrow I will talk about  Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, one of the books Wesley Scroggins urged a Missouri High School to pull from their shelves.

                And for the remainder of this week, I will be enjoying my freedom to read by re-reading some of my favorite banned books: To Kill A Mockingbird and Catcher in the Rye.  What will you be reading?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Not All Princesses Wear Pink

In the tradition of  Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots? by Carmela LaVigna Coyle, Jane Yolen’s Not All Princesses Dress In Pink is a wonderful picture book that tells girls that a princess does not have to fit a certain mold.  Written in rhyme, Yolen tells us "Some [princesses] play in bright red socks that stink,/blue team jerseys that don't quite fit,/ accessorized with a baseball mitt,/and a sparkly crown."


Princesses are shown riding bikes, doing carpentry, and getting muddy while dancing with dogs in the rain—all while wearing their crowns. The message is a good one for young girls and the illustrations are appealing.  If you have an unconventional or even a conventional little princess you should read this book with her.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Reading, Reading, Reading

It's hard to take time out to blog when you work full time and try to read full time as well. Several new books have arrived from the library this week. I've also received a couple of ARCs (advanced reader copies) as well.  This week I'm working my way through Maggie Stiefvater's Ballad, Charlaine Harris' Dead to the World (it's my audio read - I don't listen to music while driving anymore. I mostly listen to books on audio) and Jane: A Modern Retelling of Jane Eyre by April Lindner.  Jane is one of the ARCs I received. So far I'm absolutely loving it. Look for a full review by next week.

What are you reading?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Low Red Moon Giveaway

Confessions of a Bookaholic is giving away a copy of the Young Adult Novel - Low Red Moon by Ivy Devlin.  Check it out  Here.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Young Adult Dystopian Reading Challenge

I mentioned to a group of students that my son and I were in a reading race to see which of us could finish a book first.  It was a random comment as I was discussing books and authors with a group of fifth graders.  Over the following weeks several pairs of students mentioned at checkout that they were in a reading race.  It can be a good way to get a reluctant reader to finish a book.  Sometimes a little competition is good.

That's why I like reading challenges.  If you like young adult books (dystopian books in particular), check out the YA-DE Dystopian Reading Challenge at Bart's Bookshelf's YA-D2 Dsytopian Reading Challenge does.
The challenge starts October 1, 2010 and runs till December 19, 2010 so there is still time to sign-up. I have lots of books currently waiting to be read on my TBR shelf so I decided to go with level 3, which means I will be reading 5 books. 

Here is a list of books I am hoping to read for the challenge:

Floodland by Marcus Sedgewick
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Lies by Michael Grant
Scorch Trials by James Dashner
Pretties by Scott Westerfield

What's on your reading list?

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Guardian Legacy: Back-to-School pack GIVEAWAY- two readers will win...

Ednah Walters is giving away a Great Back To School pack.  Check it out!

The Guardian Legacy: Back-to-School pack GIVEAWAY- two readers will win...: "To celebrate the release of AWAKENED, my debut YA fantasy, I’m giving away: 1). A signed ARC of Awakened. 2). A Guardian Legacy T-shirt (b..."

Saturday, September 11, 2010

BlogFest 2010 - Continued

As I mentioned in yesterday's post is BlogFest 2010.  I don't know if I'll win any prizes, but already I've found several new blogs to follow.  For young adults books check out this blog:  You should certainly add it to  your reading list.

Friday, September 10, 2010

BlogFest 2010

If you love books and want to stay up to date in the world of books, there are many wonderful book blogs to help you.  This weekend is Blog Fest: a wonderful way to sample some great book blogs and win prizes as well.  Blog Fest 2010 is being hosted by A Journey of Books.  Check it out:

I start my day with a cup of coffee and a browse through the blogs. It's almost as relaxing as my morning walk.