Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tornado Alley!

No new review tonight. Today was a bit of a trying day. We had tornado warnings all over the state basically. I live in a suburb of Kansas City and our tornado sirens were running for at least and hour and a half today. Very scary stuff!

I work in an elementary school, so we were all ducking and covering the whole time. I felt bad for the kids who were scared once they knew it wasn't a drill. We were getting reports of possible tornadoes all around our district, but we lucked out. Some areas were not so lucky. Another small town, Sedalia, which isn't too terribly far from here was hit, but luckily no one was injured.

Honestly, I don't know how much more Missouri can take. I feel so badly for the folks down in Joplin. I don't know how you even begin to pick up the pieces. We here in KC got our own taste of the tornado terror today, and it wasn't even a fraction of what they experienced in Joplin.

For now, I'm happy to be home and to know that all of mine and theirs are good. That's all we can hope for this spring.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Graveminder by Melissa Marr

Release Date: Available Now from William Morrow

Source: Personal Kindle Copy


The New York Times bestselling author of the Wicked Lovely series delivers her first novel for adults, a story about the living, the dead, and a curse that binds them.
Rebekkah Barrow never forgot the tender attention her grandmother, Maylene, bestowed upon the dead of Claysville, the town where Bek spent her adolescence. There wasn't a funeral that Maylene didn't attend, and at each Rebekkah watched as Maylene performed the same unusual ritual: three sips from a small silver flask followed by the words "Sleep well, and stay where I put you."

Now Maylene is dead and Bek must go back to the place--and the man--she left a decade ago. But what she soon discovers is that Maylene was murdered and that there was good reason for her odd traditions. It turns out that in placid Claysville, the worlds of the living and the dead are dangerously connected. Beneath the town lies a shadowy, lawless land ruled by the enigmatic Charles, aka Mr. D--a place from which the dead will return if their graves are not properly minded. Only the Graveminder, a Barrow woman, and the current Undertaker, Byron, can set things to right once the dead begin to walk.

I love Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely series, so it was a no-brainer when it came to buying her first adult release. This was a good way for Marr to enter into the adult market, but I have to say, I didn't like it quite as much as her YA books. It was a good book and I enjoyed it, but what I enjoyed was how the voice was so reminiscent of her YA series. I could totally tell I was reading a Melissa Marr book from page one and I liked that about the book.

It's a completely different look at the zombie novel. It has a lot more humanity than your average zombie novel. It's a really original idea and a realm of paranormal that hasn't been done yet. These are all things I did love about Graveminder.

Now, what didn't I love? It started off really strong. I read at least half of it in one sitting, but them it seemed to flatten out a little in the middle. It did pick up in the end, but by then, the ending felt a little rushed.

Overall, though, I did enjoy it. I mean, it's Melissa Marr. I'm always going to show up for anything Marr has to offer. I just wanted a little more, but I know she'll totally bring it next time.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

Release Date: Available Now from Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Source: Checked out from school library.


The movement of the train rocked me like a lullaby. I closed my eyes to the dusty countryside and imagined the sign I’d seen only in Gideon’s stories: Manifest—A Town with a rich past and a bright future.

Abilene Tucker feels abandoned. Her father has put her on a train, sending her off to live with an old friend for the summer while he works a railroad job. Armed only with a few possessions and her list of universals, Abilene jumps off the train in Manifest, Kansas, aiming to learn about the boy her father once was.
Having heard stories about Manifest, Abilene is disappointed to find that it’s just a dried-up, worn-out old town. But her disappointment quickly turns to excitement when she discovers a hidden cigar box full of mementos, including some old letters that mention a spy known as the Rattler. These mysterious letters send Abilene and her new friends, Lettie and Ruthanne, on an honest-to-goodness spy hunt, even though they are warned to “Leave Well Enough Alone.”

Abilene throws all caution aside when she heads down the mysterious Path to Perdition to pay a debt to the reclusive Miss Sadie, a diviner who only tells stories from the past. It seems that Manifest’s history is full of colorful and shadowy characters—and long-held secrets. The more Abilene hears, the more determined she is to learn just what role her father played in that history. And as Manifest’s secrets are laid bare one by one, Abilene begins to weave her own story into the fabric of the town.

Powerful in its simplicity and rich in historical detail, Clare Vanderpool’s debut is a gripping story of loss and redemption.

I'm trying to be better about reading the award books, so I can share them with my students, so when this book was announced as the Newbery winner, I immediately checked it out. First of all, I have to admit, I love stories that take place during the Great Depression. My grandparents are in their late 80's, so I grew up hearing about their lives during the depression. They had two vastly different experiences during that time, so I feel like I've grown up with both sides of the story. Every time I read a book that takes place in the '30's, I feel like I'm sitting with my grandparents and listening to them reminisce.

This was an amazing book. I really can't praise it highly enough. I can see why it was chosen this year, and the Newbery title is well-deserved. It's hard to believe this is Vanderpool's first book, because the storytelling is incredible, the characters are so real, and the history is flawless. I'm a big fan of the writer Fannie Flagg, who wrote Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe,and this book really had the same feel to me. It's just an honest story about life in a small town where everyone knows everyone's secrets, and yet they really don't know one another at all.

If you want a great story with a huge helping of heart, then check this one out. I can't wait to see what Vanderpool comes up with next, but I'd be perfectly content if she just returned to Manifest again and again.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


So, those of you still out there reading may have noticed I'm trying to get back into the swing of things. My research paper is very nearly finished. It's currently with my second reader, so within the month, I should have my Master's in Library Science. Awesome!! That's the main reason I didn't blog for oh-so-very long. It was just too much. I also stopped, because it ceased being fun. I still love to read and kept right on reading, but I needed a little break. So, no promises, but I'll do my best to keep on keepin' on with the blog.

One big change coming my way is that I'm switching school districts. I love the school I've been at for the past two years, but there were threats of cutting Media Specialists, and I need a job to keep myself in books. I sought employment elsewhere, and got the first job I interviewed for. Thanks goodness!! It's a great school, another elementary, in a neighboring district. It's more money, more chance for growth, and just a new exciting move.

My hope is to share some ideas on the blog when I start in the fall. Sometimes sharing ideas makes them happen.

Okay, so I'll blog as much as possible, except for about 10 glorious days in June when I will be in sunny Florida, basking in the awesomeness that is Disneyworld!!! Can't wait!!

See you all soon, I promise this time. :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

Release Date: Ummmm, yeah....this has been out since '83, but I'm just now hopping on board. Currently available from Atheneum.

Source: Personal Kindle Copy.


"From now on I'm Alan of Trebond, the younger twin. I'll be a knight."

And so young Alanna of Trebond begins the journey to knighthood. Alanna has always craved the adventure and daring allowed only for boys; her twin brother, Thom, yearns to learn the art of magic. So one day they decide to switch places: Disguised as a girl, Thom heads for the convent; Alanna, pretending to be a boy, is on her way to the castle of King Roald to begin her training as a page. But the road to knighthood is not an easy one. As Alanna masters the skills necessary for battle, she must also learn to control her heart and to discern her enemies from her allies. Filled with swords and sorcery, adventure and intrigue, good and evil, Alanna's first adventure begins -- one that will lead to the fulfillment of her dreams and make her a legend in the land.

I'm a little late hopping on the Tamora Pierce bandwagon and I'm not sure what finally made me decide to read her books, but I started at the beginning. My first foray into the world of Tortall was Alanna, book one in the Song of the Lioness quartet.

I've never considered myself a fantasy fan, although I don't know why, because I've read my fair share. This book, though, captured me from the very beginning and made me wonder why I waited so long. The character of Alanna really made this book for me. She's so strong and self-assured and yet has some of the same fears and faults that we all do. She's incredibly likable, because I saw in her some of the courage that I wish I'd had at that age, and really, that I wish I had now.

Pierce's world is flawless. Everything just moves so smoothly from page to page, chapter to chapter, and before I knew it, the book was done and I was hungry for more. I finished all four books and each one instantly became my favorite.

If you haven't read the Song of the Lioness books, I urge you to do so. Even if you don't consider yourself a fantasy fan, this book would appeal simply because of the beautiful writing and the masterful characterization. And Alanna totally kicks ass!

Check it out!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (79)--Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Release Date: May 24, 2011 from Scholastic Press


From bestselling, Printz Award-winning author Libba Bray comes the story of a plane of beauty pageant contestants that crashes on a desert island.

Teen beauty queens. A Lost-like island. Mysteries and dangers. No access to emall. And the spirit of fierce, feral competition that lives underground in girls, a savage brutality that can only be revealed by a journey into the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Oh, the horror, the horror! Only funnier. With evening gowns. And a body count.

What's not to love?! I can't wait for this one!!

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong

Release Date: Available Now from HarperTeen

Source: Personal Copy

My name is Chloe Saunders. I'm fifteen, and I would love to be normal.

But normal is one thing I'm not.

For one thing, I'm having these feelings for a certain antisocial werewolf and his sweet-tempered brother—who just happens to be a sorcerer—but, between you and me, I'm leaning toward the werewolf.

Not normal.

My friends and I are also on the run from an evil corporation that wants to get rid of us—permanently.

Definitely not normal.

And finally, I'm a genetically altered necro-mancer who can raise the dead, rotting corpses and all, without even trying.

As far away from normal as it gets.

When Armstrong's new book The Gathering came out recently, I was reminded that I'd never finished the Darkest Powers trilogy. I had to search my bookshelf to find it again, but it was worth the hunt.

I'm a big Kelley Armstrong fan. I love her adult Otherworld books, but I think her YA works are my favorites. It's everything I love about the Otherworld, but even more fast-paced and fun. Chloe is awesome and while I love her character, what I love even more is that this isn't just Chloe's story. I found myself just as interested in the other characters as I was with what would happen to her. Derek and Simon are fabulous, too. Their story is so intertwined with Chloe's that you can't have one without the other. That's what I love so much about Armstrong. She's a master of characterization. She paints such realistic portraits of characters that don't exist in our world, but it feels like they could and should.

This is a great end to the series, although I feel like there's still a lot of story left to tell. I haven't read The Gathering yet, but after finishing this one it's moving up in my list. I'm interested to see where this new series takes us and I'd love to see a return to the storyline of Chloe, Simon, Derek, and Tori. Here's hoping we'll see more of them in the future.

If you haven't read any Kelley Armstrong books....well, what are you waiting for?!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Release Date: Available Now from Katherine Tegen Books

Source: From Publisher


In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Debut author Veronica Roth bursts onto the literary scene with the first book in the Divergent series—dystopian thrillers filled with electrifying decisions, heartbreaking betrayals, stunning consequences, and unexpected romance.

I was completely blown away by this book. I had heard all of the hype from various sources comparing it the The Hunger Games, so when I got the book in the mail, I was almost weary of reading it. I didn't want to be disappointed, nor did I want to read a carbon copy of Hunger Games. I'm so happy that I gave Divergent a chance.

It's a beautifully written book, first of all. Roth has created such a vivid dystopian landscape that while reading it, I almost expected to wake up and have to choose my faction. From page one I was drawn into the world she'd created and into the life of Tris. Tris is such a fantastic character and it was amazing to see her grow as she works her way through this whole new experience. As the reader, I just wanted so much to see her succeed and I almost wanted to jump in there and start working alongside her.

I love dystopias and with so many coming out on the market, it is hard to find an original idea and to create an original world, but Roth has done that and more. Will there be comparisons to The Hunger Games? Of course, and there were moments when I was reminded of Katniss, but this book is so much more than that. I can't wait for the next book in the series. Tris' world is dark, violent, and more than a little scary, but I would gladly return there again and again.