Cybils 2009: Get Ready to Vote!

Cybils20092It’s that time of year!  That’s right, the Cybils awards are are kicking into high gear.  I’m happy to announce that I am going to be a final round judge for the graphic novels category this year.  I’m excited to get started and I’m hoping for a good group of GNs to choose from.  A good selection starts with you.  Head over to the Cybils Blog starting tomorrow, October 1, through October 15 and nominate your favorite book published in 2009 for each category.  Easy peasy, so I hope you’ll help us celebrate great kid and teen lit.

Library Loot: September 16-30

Library LootLibrary Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

Sorry I’ve been MIA for the last few weeks.  I went on a much needed beach vacation (very relaxing but lacking internet, which was probably a good thing) and now I’m playing catch up.  Here’s my large haul:

  • Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (which my husband read but I did not and now I have to return it because of a hold…but it’s ok, unlike 90% of the population I’m not dying to read it so I can wait to get it back)
  • The Splendor Falls by Rosemary Clement-Moore (which I’ve already read so review at some point)
  • Magic and Misery by Peter Marino
  • Rage: a Love Story by Julie Anne PetersRage
  • Hate List by Jennifer Brown
  • As You Wish by Jackson Pearce
  • The Fat Boy Chronicles by Lang Buchannon
  • Blue Plate Special by Michelle Kwasney
  • The Silver Blade by Sally Gardner (!!!! Yeah! I LOVED The Red Necklace so I’m really excited to read this!)
  • Intertwined by Gena Showalter (a little iffy on the multiple souls in one body thing but most of the reviews I’ve read have been positive so we’ll see)

Plus a few recheckouts:

Currently Reading: Sea Change but that could change at any moment because I’m having trouble getting through books lately.
Current Checkouts: 55
Current Holds: 11, and a few exciting new titles are ready for pickup so next weeks loot is going to be pretty good!

Update: I forgot to mention, I bought a book awhile ago that I don’t think I’ve listed on any of my loots:

Waiting on Wednesday: Hush, Hush

Hush HushHush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Romance was not part of Nora Grey’s plan. She’s never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how hard her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch comes along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Patch draws Nora to him against her better judgment.

But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora’s not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is and seems to know more about her than her closest friends. She can’t decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For she is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those who have fallen — and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost Nora her life.

I honestly had little interest in this novel until I read this review over at Shelf Elf. Her comments about the atmosphere and the suspense sold me.  Now all I have to do is wait until October 13, 2009 to pick up my own copy.

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine.  What are you waiting for?

Library Loot: September 9-15

Library LootLibrary Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

Loot time!:

Currently Reading: Vampire Knight but in general I’m in a reading slump.
Current Checkouts: 50
Current Holds: 8

Graphic Novel Round Up, Part 1

Recently I’ve read several graphic novels.  I’m not great at writing full-length, in depth reviews for them as I do for novels, so I thought I would do a compilation post, despite there being no real theme between them.  Here it goes:

Rapunzels RevengeRapunzel’s Revenge
by Shannon and Dean Hale
Illustrated by Nathan Hale (no relation)

A girl-power retelling of Rapunzel.  Rapunzel lives inside the walls of a beautiful, lush castle but cannot help but be curious about what lies beyond her gilded cage.  Going against the wishes of the only mother she’s ever known, Rapunzel scales the castle walls and gets a peak at the other side.  Outside the wall is a vast wasteland of people treated like insects and worked to the bone in the mines.  It is there that she meets her real mother, a woman she remembers to be kind and loving, a woman who is now one of Mother Gothel’s slaves.  Back inside the castle, Rapunzel confronts Mother Gothel with the truth and gets taken to the far reaches of the land and locked in a room atop a very tall tree.  Rapunzel’s story has only just begun.  When she escapes her treetop prison, she is determined to make it back to the castle to save her mother and the slaves.  She meets a handsome thief along the way and they decide to team up, but Rapunzel has a thing or two to teach him about the difference between right and wrong and helping other people.  Will they be able to make it to the castle without getting caught?  Will they be able to make a difference once they get to the castle?

A great graphic retelling of Rapunzel.  I enjoyed Rapunzel’s strength and goodness, and enjoyed when some of the traditional elements of fairy tales were upended.  For example, after saving herself from her treetop prison, she meets a self-proclaimed hero who tells her he is going to go rescue the girl trapped in the tower…well, not actually rescue her because he doesn’t want to incur Mother Gothel’s wrath but he’ll just tell her he’s going to rescue her and she’ll be too dumb to know otherwise.  Rapunzel happily points him to her now vacant tower and tells him to yell really loud since the girl in the tower is hard of hearing.  Full of humor, parts of other fairy tales thrown in (such as Jack and the Bean Stalk), and pretty color illustrations, it is a fun read for fairy tale lovers.

Black BirdBlack Bird, volume 1
by Kanoko Sakurakoji

Misao sees things that others can’t, spirits who constantly trip her or mesmerize her making her a bit of an oddity at school.  The only person she’s ever known who could also see the spirits was her childhood friend Kyo.  He was a bit older than her but she still has very fond, if not vague, memories of him.  He left ten years ago and told her he would be back for her.  While she really wants a boyfriend, no one can stand up to her memories of Kyo.  Now Kyo is back but he is not exactly what Misao remembered; he is a demon.  It turns out that Misao is the bride of prophecy.  Demons who drink her blood are granted a long life, those who eat her flesh gain eternal youth, and those who marry her will ensure prosperity for their people.  Misao just turned sixteen and that is the age the prophecy takes effect.  Now demons will be after her to injure her or kill her just to gain power.  Kyo is a demon and he wants to marry Misao.  Though she has feelings for him she can’t stand the thought that he only wants to be with her because of the power she could give him.  But as he continually saves her from other spirits and demons, even putting his own life at risk, she begins to wonder if he really is only doing it for power, if maybe he feels something else.

For the most part, I really enjoyed the first volume in the series.  My two main issues were: 1. I thought the translation seemed a bit choppy at parts making for unrealistic sounding dialogue and 2. Kyo’s obsession with getting Misao to sleep with him came up at the most awkward times.  The first got better the more I read.  The second continued to jar me out of the story.  I get that he’s trying to persuade her to marry him and the power that both the marriage and their coupling could give him would be great, but he comes across as pretty suave and then all of the sudden he’ll be like “OK, time for sex”.  There were better ways, it seemed, to introduce that topic.  I can definitely see why this one was rated T+.  Overall, though, I got sucked into the story and am looking forward to the release of the next couple of volumes. Go Misao and Kyo!

Review: Tripping

Trippingby Heather Waldorf

Rainey is excited about her summer away on an educational tour of Western Canada called WESTEX.  She and five other teens will hike, camp, and learn about survival and Canadian history for eight weeks.  Rainy is looking to get away from her father and his new wife for awhile.  Looking to leave the city that is very different from the small town she grew up in, where she has no friends except a goofy gold retriever named Simon.  Looking for answers about what exactly she wants to do with her future.  What she is not looking for is a meeting with the mother who left when Rainey was only six months old, but she might get that too.  Rainey was born without part of one of her legs due to a condition called amniotic band syndrome.  No matter what her father says, Rainey can’t help but think her mother left because she didn’t want to deal with a “crippled” child.  When Rainey learns her mother lives in a town near one of the stops on the WESTEX tour, she has to make a tough decision about whether or not she wants to meet the woman who gave birth to her then abandoned her.

Reaction: First of all, I would like to say that this book had one of the best first paragraphs I’ve read in awhile:

The night before I embark on my “Wild West Summer,” I split up with Carlos Aroca.  Of course, he didn’t know about the breakup anymore than he knew we were once a hot item.  Sad but true, our torrid six-month romance had been just a figment of my imagination.  An optimistic delusion.  A lavish dinner-for-one buffet, satisfying my appetite for adventure and craving for a little affection.

I loved it.  I thought it was a great hook and it is such a wonderful example of Rainey’s voice.  Her humor, her feelings, and her needs in one small opening paragraph.

Moving on, the rest of the novel remained equally compelling and was quite absorbing.  Rainey is a complicated girl with a complicated life.  She obviously has trust issues due to her mother and she’s constantly trying to overcompensate for her leg to prove to everyone that she isn’t “wimpy gimpy girl.”  She has quite a temper and has trouble with “compassionate verbal strategies” her father, whom she calls Greg, is always telling her to use instead of force or angry outbursts.  Also, she’s a passionate artist but her father, despite what a great father he is, doesn’t want her to “paint herself into a corner” by pursuing art as a career, so she’s determined to find something else she can get excited about before applying to colleges in the fall.

All of the other characters are well-drawn and two dimensional.  Each WESTEXer has his or her own issues that add depth to the stereotypes they seem when first introduced.  The setting is gorgeously described and Canadian history is interesting without being overbearing or preachy, though the reader gets subjected to the WESTEX teacher/leader, Dan’s, “Did you know…” factoids just like the students.

A few complaints, though minor.  It seemed a bit unrealistic that everyone on the trip had a problem.  I think the only one that hadn’t had some major life crisis (or two or three) was Dan, and he was just too jolly to let on if he did have one.  Also, I think sometimes the teens were a bit too self-realized.  For example:

The joy of being seventeen was having the vocabulary to make incredibly mature-sounding speeches — even after spending the preceding half hour shouting and whining like a pissed-off preschooler — without having the experience to know what I was getting myself into. (162)

I loved this quote because it was so true but I do not see a seventeen-year-old actually acknowledging or thinking it.

Complaints are minimal and the overall writing and characterization made it an engrossing read.

Waiting on Wednesday: Soulless

SoullessSoulless: The Parasol Protectorate by Gail Carriger

Soulless, book the first in the Parasol Protectorate Series, is a comedy of manners set in Victorian London: full of vampires, dirigibles, and tea.

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she is being rudely attacked by a vampire to whom she has not been properly introduced!

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire, and the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate. With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible.

Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

Soulless will be released on September 29, 2009.

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine.  What are you waiting for?