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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Trailer Tuesday: Graveyard Book

Halloween is just around the corner, so I thought I would post this trailer to get you in the mood. The Graveyard Book, written by Neil Gaiman, won the Newbery Medal in 2009. This trailer was conceived and narrated by the author, which really lends to the dark atmosphere. Enjoy! And Happy Haunting!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Review: Deadly Pink (Vande Velde)

Title: Deadly Pink
Author: Vande Velde
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Games/Gaming, Family, Sisters, Adventure, Science Fiction

Pages: 276
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Fourteen-year-old Grace has just been summoned from high school to rescue her older sister Emily from a virtual reality game. Turns out, the brilliant, popular, friendly older sister who has been away at college hasn't been honest about her new life. When Emily refuses to leave the virtual reality game world that she created, Grace is asked to go into the game and convince her to come out. A task that turns out to be much harder than it should be.

Grace's humor, wit, and sarcasm resonated with me, and will with teen readers as well. Fans of gaming will appreciate the action and hilarious characters that populate the sweet little princess game gone horribly awry. Fans of fantasy, gaming, and sci-fi will truly enjoy this and should also check out the author's other companion titles, "User Unfriendly" and "Heir Apparent."

Even if you are not a fan of video games, this is an adventure story with heart, and has Grace trying everything she can think of to understand and save her much beloved sister.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday 5

Time for another round of the Friday 5!

Here are some interesting facts about the library for the past few weeks:

(1) I think that the students are eating the bookmarks I put out for them to take. Or they've become a hot commodity on campus. Or they're trading them for Twinkies. I'm not sure which, but we have run through nearly 1,000 bookmarks in the last two weeks. Yikes! That was not really a line item in my budget that I had planned on.

(2) Turning books in on time seems to be a real problem this year. I hope this gets better SOON because we are going to have a lot of sad students when these overdues turn into lost book fines after 30 days.

(3) The hot book right now is "Mark of Athena" by Rick Riordan. No surprise there. The kids are reading through our 5 copies pretty fast, but the hold list seems to be at a constant 15 or 20 students. Also rans in the Top 10 this week include: "The Maze Runner" (Dashner); "Catching Fire" (Collins); "Chomp" (Hiaasen); "Dark Lord" (Thomson).

(4) Okay, so it's not really library-related, but our principal spent a day working from the roof this week to pay back a "bet" to the students made during our recent fundraiser. The school was challenged to raise $40,000 (which would have doubled last year's amount). Because they met that goal, the principal spent a cold, rainy Wednesday up on the roof conducting business.

(5) We had an AMAZING author visit a couple of weeks ago with John Stephens ("Emerald Atlas," "Fire Chronicle"). I wish I had pictures to post, but the school computers were attacked by a computer virus last week and the pictures are all gone. But I must give a "shout out" of thanks to Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, as well as the publisher (Knopf Books for Young Readers), for allowing Evergreen to be included on Mr. Stephens' book tour. I cannot recommend this author enough if you are looking to host a school visit. This was definitely one of our top 2 author visits EVER! I've included a video interview (not done by me, but can be found on the author's website) so you can get a better sense of the fun we had. THANK YOU Mr. Stephens!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Review: On the Day I Died (Fleming)

Title: On the Day I Died: stories from the grave
Author: Fleming
Genre: Fiction, History, Ghost Stories, Death
Pages: 199
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I've never been a fan of ghost story collections, but they are wildly popular in all the schools and libraries that I've ever worked in. I am, however, a HUGE fan of Candace Fleming and her writing, so when I found out that she was going to write a ghost story collection for teens, I had to get my hands on it.
Late one dark night, teenager Mike Kowalski drives to a deserted cemetery to return a pair of old-fashioned saddle shoes to a grave (don’t ask). Once there, he is horrified to find himself surrounded by the ghosts of the many teenagers buried there, all of them "dying" to tell him their stories.
This collection of ten ghost stories is sure to send chills up the spines of teen readers. Set in White Cemetery, an actual graveyard outside Chicago, each story takes place during a different time period from the 1860's to the present. Some teens die heroically, others ironically, but all due to supernatural causes. Readers will meet walking corpses and witness demonic posession, all against the backdrop of Chicago's rich history: the Great Depression, the World's Fair, Al Capone and his fellow gangsters.
Good stuff...just in time for the "dark and scary night" season!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Review: Dark Lord: the early years (Thomson)

Title: Dark Lord: the early years
Author: Thomson (or is it???)
Genre: Fiction, Identity, Magic, Fantasy, Funny

Pages: 290
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

The Dark Lord is confounded when he wakes up in the middle of a small town on a planet he's never seen before. Where is he, why do they keep calling him Dirk Lloyd, and why is he powerless against these earthlings who insist on finding his parents? Is Dirk Lloyd the human incarnation of the Dark Lord who, after a cataclysmic final battle with his arch nemesis, was hurled into the Pit of Uttermost Despair (Earth)? Or is he just a lost and confused boy?

What is not to love about this book? The writing is terrific, and the word choice adds so many layers to the humor. From the Iron Tower of Despair that he misses on his home planet, to the Black Diary of Doom that he writes in, I love Dirk Lloyd/Dark Lord's voice.

As an adult reading this book, I spent much of it thinking that the Dark Lord character was a coping mechanism for some tragedy that we were going to discover at the end. I'm not going to give away the ending at all, but I think that this book is a SPOT ON choice for middle school boys, especially those with a penchant for fantasy/gaming...or a quirky sense of humor.

Stay tuned for the book trailer on an upcoming "Trailer Tuesday."

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Trailer Tuesday: Forest of Hands and Teeth

Since I posted about scary stories on Friday, I thought I would post one of the creepiest book trailers I've seen in a long time. Great atmosphere! By the way, they are turning this book into a movie...due out in 2013 (hopefully). I'm sure this brilliant trailer inspired it! 

This book was one of the Evergreen Young Adult Book Award nominees last year, so I showed this trailer quite a bit in all our classes. It still gives some of the teachers nightmares...

Monday, October 22, 2012

Review: Secret Letters (Scheier)

Title: Secret Letters
Author: Leah Scheier
Genre: Mystery, Fiction, Family
Pages: 327
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Inquisitive and observant, Dora dreams of escaping her aristocratic country life to solve mysteries alongside Sherlock Holmes. So when she learns that the legendary detective might be her biological father, Dora jumps on the opportunity to travel to London and enlist his help in solving the mystery of her cousin's ransomed love letters. But Dora arrives in London to devastating news: Sherlock Holmes is dead.

This is a terrific period mystery, with all the tone and feel of a classic Sherlock Holmes mystery...but without Sherlock Holmes ever appearing in the story. Dora is smart and feisty, and there might just be an intriguing leading man and a little bit of romance. Secret codes, disguises, deception, and murder...everything we want in a mystery!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Review: False Memory (Krokos)

Title: False Memory
Author: Dan Krokos
Genre: Science Fiction, Fiction, Adventure
Pages: 327
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

17-year-old Miranda wakes up alone on a park bench with no memory about who she is or where she is from. In her panic, she releases an energy that creates terror and death in those around her. She knows that she's causing it, but she doesn't know why, or how to stop it.

And then she runs into Peter, who claims to know her, and know why she's causing this terror. But can she trust him?

In a publishing world where dystopian has taken over the genre, it is nice to see a straight up science fiction title. Miranda discovers that she is one of four (or are there more?) genetically altered teens who have been engineered to cause destruction by a mysterious company who wants to use them to rule the world.

This is non-stop action and adventure, with a little mystery thrown in. Loved the premise, and that is what makes this book so unique and will definitely be popular with fans of many genres.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday 15: Scary Stories

Though you haven't been able to tell it by the weather here in the Seattle suburbs lately, it is the season of scary stories. When October 1st rolls around, I start to get the popular question, "Where are the SCARY books?" Luckily, this is also the time of year, where I pull all the scary stories off the shelf and display them front and center at the library's entrance.

Unfortunately, "scary" is much like "humor," it's all subjective...and sometimes dependent on where and when you are reading the book. The middle of the night when you are home alone may make a book slightly scarier than if you were reading it during homeroom surrounded by 30 of your classmates.

But since I am often asked what MY favorite scary/creepy/horror books are, I thought I would make the first Friday 15 column of the year about my Top 15 Scary Stories, perfect for a dark and scary night! In no particular order:

(1) The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson. Rory is spending a year in a London boarding school when she witnesses a murder by a Jack the Ripper copycat...or is it a copycat?

(2) White Crow by Marcus Sedgwick. This is one of the creepiest books that I have ever read. Unfortunately, I don't have a copy in my middle school library because it is pretty dark, but oh soooo good if you're older. I can still see the scenes in my head. Some secrets are better left buried; some secrets are so frightening they might make angels weep and the devil crow.

(3) This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel. Victor and Konrad Frankenstein are twins who stumble upon The Dark Library where secret books are stored. 

(4) Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry. I am the first to admit that I do not like zombie novels, but this series starter had me hooked and I LOVE it. In a post-apocalyptic world where fences and border patrols guard the few people left from the zombies that have overtaken civilization, fifteen-year-old Benny Imura is finally convinced that he must follow in his older brother's footsteps and become a bounty hunter.

(5) My Swordhand is Singing by Marcus Sedgwick. In the dangerous dark of winter in an Eastern European village during the early seventeenth century, Peter learns from a gypsy girl that the Shadow Queen is behind the recent murders and reanimations, and his father's secret past may hold the key to stopping her.

(6) Unwind by Neal Shusterman. Set after the second Civil War in America, this is the story of three teens attempting to escape from a society that wants to salvage their body parts. 

(7) Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. Mysterious blood-thirsty horses that come from the sea once each year. Brilliant writing and sense of place.

(8) Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. Again, zombie novels are not my thing, but WOW does this book ever grab you! Mary wants to know what lies beyond her walled village and the surrounding forest, where the Unconsecrated, aggressive flesh-eating people who were once dead live.

(9) A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. 13-year-old Conor awakens one night to find a monster outside his bedroom window, but not the one from the recurring nightmare that began when his mother became ill--an ancient, wild creature that wants him to face truth and loss.

(10) Enemy by Charlie Higson. Roaming adult zombies out to kill the teen survivors of the Buckingham Palace. Non-stop action.

(11) Haunting of Alaizabel Cray by Chris Wooding. Thaniel, a wych-hunter, and Cathaline, his friend and mentor, try to destroy the terrible creatures that infest the alleys of London's Old Quarter, their lives become entwined with that of Alaizabel Cray, a woman who may be either mad or possessed.

(12) Book of Dead Days by Marcus Sedgwick. Sensing a pattern of this author here? You should...the man is an amazing writer! A magician named Valerian has only the days between Christmas and New Years to save his own life after making a pact with the devil years before and seeks the help of a servant boy and an orphan girl named Willow.

(13) Coraline by Neil Gaiman. Well of course you have to have a title by Neil Gaiman!

(14) Blood Red Road by Moira Young. Okay, maybe not the scariest story. But it does have "blood" in the title and is quite possibly one of the best dystopian books I've read. Saba is one of the strongest girl characters to come across my shelves. I truly believe that she could take Katniss in a battle. Saba sets out to save her twin brother in one of the bleakest, most desolate settings. Captured, she is forced to cage fight for her freedom.

(15) Ashfall by Mike Mullin. This was the scariest dystopian book for me, because it was the one most based on reality. After the eruption of the Yellowstone supervolcano destroys his city and its surroundings, 15-year-old Alex must journey to find his parents and sister, trying to survive in a transformed landscape and a new society in which all the old rules of living have vanished.

Enjoy...and you might want to keep the lights on!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Review: Almost Home (Bauer)

Title: Almost Home
Author: Bauer
Genre: Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Family, School, Dogs

Pages: 264
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I have long been a Joan Bauer fan...if she writes it, I will read it. This latest book about 12 year old Sugar Mae Cole is a great choice for young teens and tweens. And let's be honest, could that cover be any cuter??! (But look closely, you will see that everything is not all rainbows and puppy dogs...see the wear in her sweater? Big clue about what's to come).

When Sugar's grandfather dies and her gambling father takes off yet again, Sugar and her mother lose their home. They head to Chicago for a fresh start, only to discover that fresh starts aren't easy to come by for the homeless. Nevertheless, Sugar's mother has taught her to be grateful no matter what, so Sugar does her best. 

This is a book that will ring true to many students facing financial hardship in our communities. But more than that, it is the story of making your own way in the world and letting your attitude determine how things affect you. With the help of a rescue dog, Shush; a foster family; a supportive teacher; a love of poetry; and her own good humor, Sugar comes to understand that while she can't control the hand life deals her, she can control how she responds.

It is refreshing to read a book with a positive outlook on life, that's not all doom and gloom. This will find a wide audience of readers! After you've finished this, check out Close to Famous, also by Bauer. Another book you won't be disappointed by!

Trailer Tuesday: Relic Master series

This series by Catherine Fisher (author of Incarceron, Sapphique, and Darkwater) has a lot to offer! Fans of many genres (adventure, fantasy, and a little science fiction) are enjoying this series here at Evergreen. Here's a trailer by the publisher to entice you to become a fan too. And I love that the publisher chose to publish the series over the course of 4 months, rather than make us wait, and wait, and wait for each installment.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Review: Hope Solo: My Story (Solo)

Title: Hope Solo: My Story
Author: Solo
Genre: Autobiography, Non-Fiction, Sports, Soccer
Pages: 246
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Long-time fans of this blog, and any student that has had a conversation with me in the library, will know that I am a SPORTS JUNKIE! I'm not sure I moved during the recent Olympics (due mainly to the fact that my family was on vacation without me)...thank goodness for TiVo, some great take-out, and books to read during some of the less exciting action.

One of my favorite sports to play and watch is soccer. I love everything about this sport, especially the fact that women's soccer has become so popular since I played it in high school. If you've been paying attention at all, you will know all about Hope Solo (especially if you are from Washington...or even a fan of "Dancing with the Stars").

In this book, adapted from her adult title (Solo: A Memoir of Hope), the Olympic gold medalist and starting goalkeeper for the U.S. women's national soccer team gives readers behind-the-scenes details of her life on and off the field. Solo is a fearless female role model, driven to succeed on her own terms. You will be inspired by Hope's repeated triumphs over adversity, which will ring true with many teens and tweens in today's economy.

I'm interested to read the "adult" memoir to see what differences exist (most likely, what was left out). I'll admit that my rating probably is based on my love of the game and of good sports role models, but I think fans of soccer, or any other sport, will appreciate the honest look at how one athlete refused to take no for an answer. I will also deny that I may or may not have been reading this book over the weekend while watching my own kids play soccer...

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