Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Naming by Alison Croggon

The GiftThe Gift by Alison Croggon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Maerad has lived a lonely life of slavery ever since her family was killed.  This changes when a man quite literally appears out of nowhere in the barn she’s working in and offers to help her escape.  Unsure of who this mysterious man is, but unwilling to let the chance at freedom pass her by, she agrees to sneak off with him.

Maerad learns that Cadvan is the man’s name, and that he is a Bard—he has magical abilities.  Using his abilities, he sees that Maerad has some powers of her own; in fact, he soon believes that she is actually The One from prophesies who is meant to fight the Nameless (a dark power opposed to the Bards and the overall balance of the world).  Together, they head off across the land towards the special schools that teach those like them how to harness their power for the good of the world.

This was an enjoyable story, and readers will be sure to become attached to Maerad, who is very much a normal girl with totally unexpected powers.  This is the first book of the Pellinor series, which continues with The Riddle, The Crow, and The Singing.

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Liar, Liar: the Theory, Practice, and Destructive Properties of Deception by Gary Paulsen

Liar, LiarLiar, Liar by Gary Paulsen

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

14-year-old Kevin has a talent he’s very proud of: telling lies.  In fact, he thinks that by lying about everything, he makes his life easier; after all, he tells people what they want to hear and he often gets his way.

Then Kevin begins to push his luck when he goes from telling small lies to telling huge lies, and things start to get a little messy.  For example, to get out of doing his share of a school project, he doesn’t just tell his partner that he’s not feeling well—he tells her that he suffers from relapsing-remitting inflamobetigoitis…and she believes him!  He also lies to his older brother and sister, which leads to a fight—so they get their car taken away.  Things keep spinning out of control until Kevin is forced to tell the truth about everything he’s been lying about…but does telling the truth make his life any easier than lying did?

This is a short, funny book that readers will be sure to enjoy.  Kevin is a likable character whose rationalization for lying will (almost) have readers convinced that lying is okay.  Those who enjoyed this book might also enjoy The Adventures of Jack Lime (Leck).

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Deadly by Julie Chibbaro

DeadlyDeadly by Julie Chibbaro

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Prudence lives in a cramped New York City tenement with her mother.  She attends Miss Browning’s School for Girls—and hates it.  Instead of paying attention to lectures on how to properly

run a household, Prudence finds herself daydreaming about people and what makes them healthy or sick, especially since her brother died from injuries from a cart horse and her father is still missing in action from the Spanish-American War.

When she has the chance to work as a secretary for an engineer at the Department of Health and Sanitation, she’s thrilled—and this means that she’ll have to stop attending the School for Girls! 

Because she shows such an interest in the diseases she reads about as she types up her boss’s notes, he changes her job to also include accompanying him on trips to examine disease cases.  When one case turns up a healthy cook who inexplicably makes people sick with the typhoid through her cooking, Prudence faces some of the toughest challenges of her life when her department wants to quarantine this lady—who comes to be known as Typhoid Mary.

I enjoyed this book very much and read it fast!  It’s written in a journal format, which gives the story an added dose of realism to this scary subject.  Those who enjoyed Fever, 1793 (Anderson) might want to give this book a try.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Search for Wondla by Tony DiTerlizzi

The Search for WondLaThe Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Centuries in the future, Eva Nine lives in an underground sanctuary with Muthr (her robot mother).  She has never seen another human being and doesn’t even know if humans still exist on the planet they live on, called Orbona.  In fact, Eva has never been to the surface.  She lives a peaceful life (if not a little boring, although they have all the technology one could ask for) until a hunter flushes them out into the open—he wants to capture them so that they can be added to the Queen’s museum as display items.

Never having been to the surface before, Eva must rely entirely on her Omnipod (her talking handheld device that is similar to a computer).  However, her Omnipod is having trouble identifying nearly everything she sees!  Since her underground sanctuary has been destroyed, she can’t return there, and she begins to despair.  Things get a little easier when she meets Rovender Kitt, a lanky creature who is out exploring on his own—he agrees to help her reunite with Muthr.  The whole time Eva is on the surface, she clings to a picture she found in the sanctuary (of a girl, a robot, and a man in a hat) and hopes that she can find some clues as to who they are: she calls this picture her WondLa.

This is a good book that I enjoyed very much.  The pictures are so interesting, plus there’s a website readers can visit ( with interactive maps and more!  Watch for a sequel, as readers are left with a lot of unanswered questions.

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Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt

Okay for NowOkay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Doug isn’t happy when his father is fired from his job, which forces the family to move from their home in Long Island to a tiny town called Marysville so he can get more work; in fact, when Doug first sees Marysville, he decides that he hates it and calls his new house ‘The Dump.’

Not surprisingly, Doug’s dad doesn’t like his new job and takes it out on the rest of the family.  Things get worse when his brother keeps getting accused of stealing…and things get even worse when his oldest brother returns home from Vietnam in a wheelchair.

However, there are some bright spots in Doug’s life in unsuspecting places: he realizes that he adores the Audubon prints on display at the library, and the librarian teaches him how to draw them; he meets Lil Spicer, the daughter of the town’s store owner, and she helps him get a job delivering groceries for her dad; and his grocery delivering job helps him to meet and get to know people in town.  After living in there for a few months, Doug thinks that maybe Marysville isn’t so bad after all.

Readers will immediately like Doug, who played a minor role in the companion novel The Wednesday Wars (Schmidt).  Doug uses a believable voice that will be sure to resonate with male and female readers alike.  This is an excellent book that I enjoyed so much, I didn’t want it to end!

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Friday, June 3, 2011

48 Hour Book Challenge

Okay, I've started reading!  Well, listening.  On the approximate hour commute to work, I listened to The Search for Wondla.

= 1 hour

With the office's permission, my coworker and I are listening to Heart of a Samurai while we work at our desks.


Well, my coworker and I did as best as we could while planning storytimes, working on other summer programming, working our reference desk shifts, and having lunch.  I think we averaged about 3 hours listening to Heart of a Samurai, which isn't too bad!

+ 3 hours = 4 hours

Now that it's nearing the end of my work day, I'll listen to The Search for Wondla on the commute home for another hour--so I think I'm doing pretty well so far, considering I'm working a full day!

Tomorrow, Saturday, will also be tough because I'm working the reference desk all day.  I plan to make a sign that explains why I'm reading all day long at the desk--I'll try to post it here afterwards.

*update # 2*

Here I am on Saturday, and I'm disappointed to say I'm not doing super-great with my reading today.  Here's where I stand as of 11:50am:

Last night visiting various blogs = 1 hour

Commute to work this morning, listening to The Search for Wondla = 1 hour

Visiting more blogs today = 1 hour

Total so far = 7 hours

I'll try my best to read a lot here at work!  We've been pretty steady with patrons today, so we'll see how far I get with my reading.  I am starting the book Seven Sorcerers.  And here is the sign I made to put out at the reference desk:

This image is from

*update # 3*

I must hang my head in shame, as the 48 Hour Book Challenge is over and I didn't do well at all.  :(  Here's where I stand:

Reading at work...probably only an hour and a half total with all of the interruptions, and that's being generous.

+ 1.5 hours = 8.5 hours

Then after work on Saturday, I drove from work to visit my parents (including picking up my brother from work, approximately 1 hour).  Then no reading there of course!  Then I drove my brother home before going home myself (another approximate hour) I can only add two more hours here:

+ 2 hours = 10.5 hours

And that's it, as I didn't read when I got home because it was already SO LATE.

I got a taste of just three books--and I didn't finish any of them!  I plan to, though, so watch for a review of each of these:

Thanks for all of the support, everyone!  I didn't beat my time from last year, but there's always next year!  (And hopefully I won't be working again those days!).

grand total for 2011 = 10.5 hours

Thursday, June 2, 2011

48 Hour Book Challenge!

The time has arrived for the 48 Hour Book Challenge! It takes place June 3--5, and I plan to read/listen to as much as possible within these 48 hours. I participated last year and was only able to get up to 11.25 hours! AND I'm working again this weekend,so it's going to be tricky. I suppose all I can do is try!

Here's what I hope to tackle:

The Search for Wondla by Tony DiTerlizzi in audio book format

Living in isolation with a robot on what appears to be an alien world populated with bizarre life forms, a twelve-year-old human girl called Eva Nine sets out on a journey to find others like her. Features "augmented reality" pages, in which readers with a webcam can access additional information about Eva Nine's world.

Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus in audio book format

In 1841, rescued by an American whaler after a terrible shipwreck leaves him and his four companions castaways on a remote island, fourteen-year-old Manjiro, who dreams of becoming a samurai, learns new laws and customs as he becomes the first Japanese person to set foot in the United States.

Aliens on Vacation by Clete Barrett Smith

Unhappy at being sent to stay with his grandmother at the inn she operates, The Intergalactic Bed & Breakfast, Scrub discovers that each room is actually a portal to space and the inn's visitors are aliens who are vacationing on Earth.

Seven Sorcerers by Caro King

When eleven-year-old Nin Redfern wakes up one rainy Wednesday morning to discover that her younger brother has ceased to exist, she must venture into a magical land called the Drift where she grapples with bogeymen, tombfolk, mudmen, and the spirits of sorcerers to try and rescue him.
The Secret Zoo by Bryan Chick

Noah and his friends follow a trail of mysterious clues to uncover a secret behind the walls of the Clarksville City Zoo--a secret that must be protected at all costs.
Wish me luck--and good luck to anyone else reading for these 48 hours!

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

One Crazy SummerOne Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

11-year-old Delphine has always watched out for her sisters, and she continues to do so during the summer of 1968 when their father decides that they should spend a month across the country with their mother Cecile—whom they barely know. Thinking that they’d spend their time at Disneyland having fun and getting to know Cecile, the girls are disappointed when they quickly learn that she wants nothing to do with them and that they’re visiting only because their father insisted on it.

Cecile doesn’t let them come into the kitchen because that’s where she does her poetry work. She
also doesn’t want them around during the day, so she sends them to the local Black Panthers’ Community Center. At first Delphine doesn’t pay much attention to the activists, but then she finds that the ladies there are actually very nice. She uses some of the strength she learns from them to finally stand up to Cecile.

This is a great book—readers will definitely like the girls: Delphine, who seems older and wiser than her years; Vonetta, the drama queen; and little Fern, who carries her (white) babydoll Miss Patty
Cake around with her everywhere. Those who enjoyed the setting of this book might also enjoy My Life with the Lincolns (Brandeis) or Sources of Light (McMullan).

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I, Emma Freke by Elizabeth Atkinson

I, Emma FrekeI, Emma Freke by Elizabeth Atkinson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

12-year-old Emma doesn’t feel like she fits in anywhere—even her name is strange (‘Emma Freke’ sounds just like ‘I’m a freak’). She stands out in her mother’s side of the family because they tend to be short with dark hair, while Emma herself is tall with red hair. She thinks this probably has something to do with her father, whom she’s never met.

When she receives an invitation to a reunion for her father’s side of the family, she’s shocked. Although Emma’s mother tells her that her father will likely not be there, Emma is curious about this group of people she’s never met who make up half of her DNA. She decides to make the reunion trip—alone—to Wisconsin from her home on the east coast. Will she fit in any better than she does with her mother’s side of the family? Will they be nice? Will she regret the decision to attend this reunion for the rest of her life? Emma has tons of worries about whether she made the right choice to go.

This is a cute story about fitting in that I enjoyed very much. Emma is a very likable character with whom young girls will surely be able to identify. Those who enjoyed this book might also enjoy The Last Best Days of Summer (Hobbs).

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