Monthly Archives: June 2011

The Battle for Skandia, The Ranger’s Apprentice #4

I recently finished The Battle for Skandia, the fourth book in The Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan. My only disappointment is the fact that someone else has the next book! So, while I wait my turn for The Sorcerer of the North, I will finish Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter (have I mentioned lately how much I love Ally Carter? Well, I do.).

The Battle for Skandia by John Flanagan 2006

Will and Evanlyn have escaped enslavement and survived the winter, but their troubles are far from over. Evanlyn is kidnapped by a group of Temujai warriors and Will must recall his Ranger training to save her. Weakened by warmweed and out of practice, Will quickly discovers he is no match for these skilled and brutal warriors. Luckily for both Will and Evanlyn, Halt and Horace arrive just in time. The joy of their reunion is short-lived when the Araluens discover that the Temujai army have breached the Skandian borders. If Skandia falls, their own homeland will be in danger. Faced with this threat, Halt and his young companions forge an unlikely alliance against a common enemy.

Once again, I found myself completely absorbed by Will’s story. After reading and enjoying the first three books, I do not know why I continue to be surprised by how much I enjoy this series. It turns out, I really do judge a book by its cover and I never thought I would be excited to get my hands on a book that looks like this (a big, hairy viking with a battle-axe? Love it!). It just goes to show how much I know! There is so much to love about this series. First and foremost, it’s good storytelling. It’s a timeless tale, with nothing to date it. Second, the series has strong, likeable characters. Halt continues to be my favorite, with his wry sense of humor and deep affection for the young people in his care. Will and Horace have grown into honorable young men, and Evanlyn continues to prove she is as clever and brave as the boys. Then there the fact that the really the characters learn valuable life lessons with each new adventure. I love how the author expertly provides positive messages without being preachy. Finally, I love the action and adventure. There are epic battles against seasoned warriors using really cool weapons. What’s not to love?

Fans of the series will not be disappointed with this installment. For those of you who have not checked these out, I ask you, why? What more do I have to say to convince you that these books will provide you with hours of reading enjoyment? This series has it all-action, adventure, humor, epic battles, friendship, survival, really cool weapons (but not a lot of blood and guts), the smartest horses in the world, and a princess.

If you like this series you may enjoy books by Cinda Williams Chima, Garth Nix, and D.J. McHale.

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Bookish Websites, Organizations, Apps

It’s time for another Top Ten Tuesday! I cannot thank the folks over at The Broke and the Bookish enough for this list-oriented meme. Gosh, I love a list. Anyway, this week book bloggers everywhere are compiling a list of their favorite bookish websites, organizations, and apps. Blogs are not allowed to be included on these lists. I am excited to see the lists and find a new bookish treasure or two.

1. Goodreads.com. I would be lost without this site. It helps me organize the books I read and want to read. I can also spend hours playing trivia and entering giveaways.

2. LibraryThing.com. Similar to Goodreads, but I do not use it to keep track of my books. I like to use this site for its tags and read alike suggestions as well as reviews. And, while this may not seem like a big deal to you, the pictures of book covers on this site tend to be a uniform size and are much easier to work with. I already loath trying to incorporate pictures into posts (thank you wordpress for making this task unbearable), but at least I don’t have to worry about them being weird sizes.

3. Teensread.com. Reviews, contests, author interviews, and the ultimate reading list, are just  a few of the fantastic features on this site.

4. Netgalley.com. I love this site! It is my biggest source of free advanced readers copies of books. Maybe someday I will find printed books in my mailbox…*sigh*

5. NoveList. This database from EBSCOhost is an essential tool at work. This readers advisory toolbox offers readalikes, book discussion guides, and tons of ways to search.

6. The Reading Room. I use this almost every day at work. Created by the librarians at Rocky River Public Library 25 years ago, this database has grown to include almost 7,500 titles. Full disclosure: I am now one of the librarians contributing to this awesome RA tool! You can search for books according to author, subject, setting, time period, or descriptors. Each book includes a summary, a critique, and a list of similar titles or authors. You can narrow your search by year, page length, or even by your favorite reviewer (I am MA ;)). We work very hard to maintain this database and we are very proud of it. I highly recommend you check it out!

7. Fantastic Fiction. This site tells the order titles in a series, offers pictures of the books and authors, and you can print neat lists without ads or pictures.

8. Facebook. I have found so many of my favorite authors on Facebook and most of them have kindly agreed to be my friend! This is a great way to find out what’s going on in the book world.

9. Teen Librarian Toolbox. I found this gem on Facebook too! I love her book posters and am looking forward to the program ideas that she has promised.

10. VOYA. I love both the online and print version of this publication. Full of articles, reviews, interviews, and pop culture gems, Voices of Youth Advocates is a must-have for me.

Next week:  Top Ten Rebels In Literature (characters or authors) — Those people who stood up for what they believed in despite the cost of doing so.

Stay tuned for some book reviews this week. Promise.

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

Mondays with Megan: My Super Summer Reading Weekend

Happy Monday everyone! First, a little boasting. Last week I said I wanted to get 100 teens signed up for summer reading by the end of the week. Mission accomplished-I started today with 102! Even more exciting is the fact that more than half the teens signed up have already read books and filled out entry forms. In the first two weeks of summer 58 teens have read a combined total of 165 books. I know this is a little obsessive of me (can’t help it), but it certainly makes me proud to see all this reading going on.

Ok, maybe a little more boasting. Like my summer readers, I was like a reading machine this weekend. I finished The Battle for Skandia (The Ranger’s Apprentice #4) by John Flanagan, I read Don’t Stop Now by Julie Halpern, and I got about 3/4 of the way through Forgotten by Cat Patrick. I am also minutes away from finishing the audio version of Bossypants by Tina Fey (with Two For the Dough by Janet Evanovich ready and waiting). I will work on reviews to post later (hopefully this week) but in 10 words or less, this is what I think:

The Battle for Skandia: Loved. The series keeps getting better and better.
Don’t Stop Now: Quick and engaging read, but not my favorite by this author.
Forgotten: WOW! Awesome debut.
Bossypants: Tina Fey sure is funny.

I think my next book will be Revenge of the Witch, the first book in the Last Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney. It appears they are making it into a movie. The movie title will be The Seventh Son and it is currently in pre-production (whatever that means). There is a writer and a director and Jeff Bridges and Julianna Moore seem to be connected to the project. After further digging around, I discovered that the movie has been under option with Warner Brothers for years. Maybe 2013 will finally be the year? Well, I for one, want to be ready for it! Book 1 of 9, here I come.

What are you all reading this summer?

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray Review

Here is a quick book review for you today:
 
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
 
When a plane full of teen beauty queens crashes on a seemingly deserted island the survivors are stranded without food, water, and basic beauty necessities. In true, unflappable, pageant fashion the girls set out to tame the jungle and perfect their talent. On the other side of the island, the pageant’s sponsor, The Corporation, has established a fortress and devised a plan to kill the girls for financial and political gain. Throw in some hot, teen pirate musicians, an insane dictator, and the deepest, darkest beauty queen secrets and hilarity abounds.
 
Please be advised, this book is a work of satire. Keep this in mind when you are deciding to read it and as you read it. While I am confident I know it when I see it, I still wanted to make sure I could define satire for you. I will let dictionary.com do all the work:
 
Satire
–noun
1. the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc.
2. a literary composition, in verse or prose, in which human folly and vice are held up to scorn, derision, or ridicule.
3. a literary genre comprising such compositions.
 
So, now that we are clear on the fact that Beauty Queens is full of irony, sarcasm and ridicule, let’s move on. On the surface this book is ridiculously fluffy. As in, “OMG, I like, totally broke a nail when that mean old plane crashed” fluffy.  Pretty, vapid girls kind of fluff. The entire premise is really quite insane. Libba Bray doesn’t pull any punches, nothing is off-limits, and just about every issue out there is touched on. There really is a lot going on here. Underneath it all, however, you will find a pretty cool, girl-positive message that encourages young women to defy stereotypes and social expectations and just be who they want to be. The book is heavy-handed with that message at times, but it’s an important lesson for girls to learns, so I am a-ok with that. It turns out these beauty queens are actually more than just a pretty face and an empty head. Who knew?  
 
This book is not going to be for everyone, especially younger readers. There is drinking, sex, homosexuality, transgender identity, corporate brainwashing, political corruption, and violence throughout. But, if you can handle all of the above and want a quirky, fun, read, Beauty Queens will not disappoint.
 
Happy Reading!
˜Megan
 
 
 
 

Top Ten Tuesday-Ten Reasons I Love Being a Book Blogger and Bookish Person

       

It’s time for another Top Ten Tuesday list, hosted by the bloggers at The Broke and The Bookish. They are celebrating their one year blogoversary (congrats) with lots of great interviews, cool giveaways, and this Top Ten topic: Reasons to love being a book blogger and/or a bookish person. Since I am both, this should be a piece of cake.

Reasons I love blogging:

1. Blogging has introduced me to other fantastic book blogs where I get reliable reviews, great program ideas, and chances to win cool prizes. I like prizes.

2. Blogging about books helps me to develop and refine my readers advisory skills. Sometimes I think I need all that help I can get. Honestly there are times when I wish “Read this, it is so awesome, trust me” was sufficient. But sadly, people tend to want to know why a book was so awesome…Fair enough.

3. I get to make fun lists. Seriously, this is a reason I love blogging. Lists. I am already planning my end of the year favorites lists. I am thinking top 11 in 2011, favorite debut authors, favorite…ahem. Focus.

4. Blogging, while difficult in the beginning, has become a creative outlet for me. I’ll never write the next Great American Novel, but you can be sure I will say something clever or funny in a blog every now and then. I am totally ok with that.

5. Readers. I love that people actually read this blog. I am always amazed and excited when I look (obsess over) at my site stats and see the traffic my posts get. I also love when people leave comments. I try to leave comments whenever I visit someone else’s blog because I always appreciate it when others do that for me.

6. Blogging about books challenges me to think critically, write clearly, and read outside my comfort zone.

Reasons I love being a bookish person:

7. I am never bored. I always have a book handy and a mountain of a TBR list!

8. I love discovering a new author, a new series, the next MUST HAVE read and then sharing it with others.

9. My bookish nature (thank you, mom) helped me finally settle on a career. After a lot of school, a lot of floundering, and many unfulfilling jobs, I finally found librarianship. Bingo.

10. My need to read constantly (while in the car, while walking the dog, while painting the bedroom…) led me to audiobooks and reminded me that children are not the only ones who enjoy listening to a good story.

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

Mondays with Megan-I am a Zombie Uprising Survivor

That’s right, zombies were on the loose in Brooklyn, Ohio this Saturday and Stacey and I lived to tell the story. Here is yet another reason why libraries and librarians are so totally cool: Zombie Walks. The teen librarian at a local library hosted a Zombie Walk on Saturday, in which people of all ages transformed themselves into the living dead and walked, crawled, shuffled, and moaned their way down the street, past city hall, and through a park. We did not get into make up (this time, but when I host one of these bad boys, you better believe I will be zombiefied) but we followed along, cleverly staying downwind. I took some pictures, but a low battery is preventing me from sharing them today. What a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon. I can’t wait to try one here in Rocky River!

Here in my own library I have an outdoor summer event planned too. Tomorrow I will be showing off our brand new cornhole boards (I need to read up on how to play). Please join us on the lawn (or auditorium if it rains) at 2pm. If you can’t make it tomorrow, don’t worry, we’ll be back out there in July and August.

Today I awarded the first summer reading basket! One lucky teen reader is taking home a basket of goodies and you could too. It’s so easy to do-sign up, read books, enter to win. So far we have 66 teens signed up, but I know we can do better than that! I would love to see that number up to 100 by the end of the week. This week’s basket has a bunch of books, a lava lamp, candy, and free Chipotle, among other things.

Ok, I just got a nice stack of new books to look at, so off I go! Welcome to Bordertown, edited by Holly Black and Ellen Kushner is at the top of the pile. Today also seems to be sequel day: The Saga of Larten Crepsley: Ocean of Blood by Darren Shan, Queen of the Dead by Stacey Kade, and The Royal Treatment by Lindsey Leavitt are all here, reminding me that I have not read any of the first books. Sigh.

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

Dear Caffeine, Thank you for making this Friday better.

Before my delicious (and upgraded to a large) coffee treat:

 

 

 

 

 

 

After:

Seriously. I must be sleepy. I am not a find and share cute pictures of cats kind of person, and yet…. Now that I am alert it is time to focus. Despite the fact that this week has been incredibly long, it is ending on a high note.

1. I won a signed book from Teen Librarian’s Toolbox. I will be anxiously checking my mailbox for my copy of  Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children signed by Ransom Riggs! Check out the creepy cover:

I can’t wait. I think I will read The Nightmary’s by Dan Poblacki to get myself in the mood for creepy.

2. I got new toys for the library. I picked up our custom-made cornhole boards yesterday and they are lovely. I should probably figure how to play before next Tuesday! Be sure to stop out on June 21 from 2-3 for cornhole on the library lawn.

3. I got to reread and discuss one of my all-time favorite YA books, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld) with my book club. The seven loyal readers in attendance gave the book an overall rating of 4.35 out of 5.

4. In just one week over 60 teens have signed up for Teen Summer Reading! And why wouldn’t they? They get gifts just for signing up and the weekly prizes are just awesome, if I do say so myself. Please be sure to sign up if you are in the library.

5. I am going to attend my very first Zombie Walk tomorrow. A fellow teen librarian at a different library will be hosting and I must see this. I think Rocky River needs a Zombie Walk…Stay tuned for photos!

6. I finished and really enjoyed a non-teen book. The Tiger’s Wife by Tèa Oberht is a beautifully written debut novel set in the Balkans. The story of the narrator’s grandfather slowly unfolds through the telling of the stories of The Deathless Man and The Tiger’s wife. This book has been highly praised and it certainly deserves the accolades.

Ok, friends, that is all for me. Have a great weekend.

Happy Reading!

˜Megan