Friday, May 24, 2013

Closed for Memorial Day

Burbank Public Libraries will be CLOSED in honor of Memorial Day: Central will be closed on Monday, and Buena Vista will be closed both Sunday AND Monday. We'll see you on Tuesday!

Here's the guy I'm remembering on Memorial Day: My dad, Major Joe Crawford Wilmeth (U.S. Air Force, Retired) , 1923-2011, Navigator/Bombardier, World War II and Korean War.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Books we read

Here is a list of the books we read in our three book clubs this year, along with their ratings:

6+7 Book Club
Summer series -- Tamora Pierce's Circle of Magic Series, including Sandry's Book, Tris's Book, Daja's Book, Briar's Book
(forgot to rate)

Elsewhere, by Gabrielle Zevin: 7.5
Mortal Engines, by Philip Reeve
     (forgot to rate)
I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You, by Ally Carter: 6.8
The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkien: 8.5
Reckless, by Cornelia Funke: 9.45
A Wizard of Earthsea,
     by Ursula K. LeGuin: 7.9
Incarceron, by Catherine Fisher: 8

8+9 Book Club
Summer series -- Scott Westerfeld's Midnighters series, including The Secret Hour, Touching Darkness, Blue Noon: 6
The Maze Runner,
     by James Dashner: 6.5
You Killed Wesley Payne,
     by Sean Beaudoin: 6.8
Human.4, by Mike Lancaster: 6.2
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams: 8.5
The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak: 9
Little Brother,
     by Cory Doctorow: 8.9
Getting Over Garrett Delaney,
     by Abby McDonald: 7.4
The Name of the Star,
     by Maureen Johnson: 8

10-12 Book Club
Summer series -- The Thief, The Queen of Attolia, The King of Attolia, A Conspiracy of Kings, by Megan Whalen Turner
(forgot to rate) (but it was awesome, IMHO)

The Lock Artist,
     by Steve Hamilton: 9.25
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer,
     by Lish McBride: 8
Daughter of Smoke and Bone,
     by Laini Taylor: 8.1
Pregnant Pause, by Han Nolan: 6
The Book Thief,
     by Markus Zusak: 8.85
Wake, by Lisa McMann: 8.25
Scarlet, by A. C. Gaughen: 6.5
Divergent, by Veronica Roth: 7.75

Over the summer we will be reading:
Reckless and Fearless, by Cornelia Funke (all three clubs)
Dealing with Dragons, by Patricia Wrede (6+7)
The Name of the Star, by Maureen Johnson (10-12)
8+9 hasn't picked yet.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

What we're reading: Misfits

When you were a little kid, did you ever go to the supermarket or the mall with your mom and get lost? Maybe your mom was only one aisle over, or just around the corner, but suddenly you looked up and she was gone, and you were terrified. Did she forget you? Did she leave without you? What will you do now? Movies have been made about this very thing (remember poor Kevin in the Home Alone movies?).

Books have also been written and movies have been made (think John Hughes's The Breakfast Club, or The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky) about so many teenage misfits--those kids who, try as hard as they might, just can't figure out popularity--what to wear, how to act, how to get friends and keep them so that there's someone to sit with at lunch or on the bus to protect you from the judgment and ridicule of being alone and different.

In grabbing two novels from the teen "New Books" shelves to read over the weekend, I coincidentally picked up very different treatments of these themes: Eleanor and Park, by Rainbow Rowell, and Nobody, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes.

Eleanor and Park reminds me a bit of another book I reviewed here last year: I'll Be There, by Holly Goldberg Sloan. That's a big compliment, since I chose that one as my best book of 2012. In this one, the cultural differences between the two protagonists aren't quite as extreme, but they still live in different worlds that are bridged by their attraction for one another. It's 1986. Eleanor is the new girl at school, and she's the epitome of a misfit: weird clothes, wild, uncombed red hair, and attitude. Park isn't a popular kid, but he has connections to some of them from his neighborhood that keep him mostly out of the line of fire; his claim to fame is being the only half-Korean kid in Omaha, Nebraska (or at least in this school and neighborhood). Their first encounter is on the school bus, a classic horrifying first-day scenario from which Park reluctantly rescues Eleanor; and after that initial save, neither can get the other one out of his or her head. Eleanor's difficult home life makes her reluctant to involve anyone else in that drama, while Park is handicapped by his mother's desire for him to fit in by dating a "nice" girl, and while Eleanor is smart and funny, she doesn't quite fit into that parameter. But despite everything, these 16-year-olds have a connection that can't be denied, and you root for them all the way through.
"Bono met his wife in high school," Park says.
"So did Jerry Lee Lewis," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be," she says, "we’re sixteen."
"What about Romeo and Juliet?"
"Shallow, confused, then dead."
''I love you," Park says.
"Wherefore art thou," Eleanor answers.
"I’m not kidding," he says.
"You should be."
If you like smart dialogue and sweet, genuine relationships, this one's for you; and if you're a fan of books with playlists, there's also a lot of talk about music as Park introduces Eleanor to his favorites from the '80s. (Oh, and John Green loved it. I know that's the ultimate recommendation for some of you!)

Nobody takes the concept of unpopular to a new extreme: If you are that kid who sits alone with a book at lunchtime, who can't seem to make or keep a friend, who has trouble getting the teacher to acknowledge your raised hand in the classroom, you will relate to this one. Claire is that kid, but as you read along, you realize that her situation goes beyond just being ignored: Her parents act like they don't remember they have a daughter, she has no friends, and people mostly don't even look at her--she might as well be invisible. For 16 years, she has made the best of it and tried to stay positive, until one day when she looks out of her window and sees a boy aiming a gun right at her. Why would someone want to kill her? Who would send an assassin after an ordinary (and apparently unremarkable) 16-year-old girl? And why does the assassin seem so stunned when she looks him right in the eye and starts screaming? Let's just say that the most dangerous people in the world are the ones you don't even see--and Claire is about to meet another one: Nix, 17-year-old Nobody, an assassin looking to make her number 12 on his list. This book comes with secret societies, special powers, and nefarious plots--it takes the theme of feeling like a nobody to new heights!

I have to say that both the romance and the self-loathing were over the top for most of the book, and the identical interaction took place too many times between Nix and Claire--I groaned (and skipped) a bit here and there. I also thought the end solution was a little too easy. But I did love that the author would take something that's such a common feeling to such an extreme, and I was entertained throughout.

A 5 for Eleanor and Park, and a 3.5 for Nobody. Ages 14 and up for both of them.

Guest Review: Dark Triumph

Dark Triumph
by Robin LaFevers
385 pages
Historical Fiction
Sequel: 2nd book of the His Fair Assassin series

Reading Level:
High School
Reviewed by:
Kelcey S., library page

S U M M A R Y :
Rumored to have been fathered by the god of Death himself, handmaidens are trained at the convent of Mortain to be instruments of justice for the god. Already twice rejected by death, Sybella arrives at the convent of Mortain weary of life and tortured by despair. Only the promise of vengeance against those who wronged her steels her resolve as she enhances her natural gifts in the arts of seduction, intrigue, and assassination through the convent’s training.

However, as she begins to find healing and friendships among her sisters in Mortain, the convent requires her to return to the life that nearly drove her insane. In her own household, she must constantly walk the edge of a knife as she undermines the brutal plans of her father and avoids the monstrosities of her own brothers. As she begins to once again lose her slippery hold on her sanity, will an unexpected ally turn up in the dungeons? Will a handmaiden to Death find a reason to truly live?

R E V I E W :
I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in the series, and found myself even more enthralled by the second. Sybella’s story is so personal and raw. She is an engaging narrator; her jaded voice accurately reflects her life and persona, which developed in response to her difficult upbringing. The reader sees Sybella’s inner turmoil seething, but other characters see nothing, because she never reveals anything that could compromise her. You also celebrate with Sybella the small victories that bring a feeling of joy despite knowing that things will only grow darker immediately after.

There were fewer of the historical events and details that seemed to slow the reader in Grave Mercy. The plot focuses on Sybella and the untangling of the events within one household rather than the fate of a country. I found this to be an extremely compelling read, full of intrigue and danger; this is for anyone with a passion for excellent historical fiction.

Editor's note: Just to give a little context for this review (since it's a sequel), here is a summary (from Goodreads) of Grave Mercy, the first book in this series:

"Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?"

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully underprepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?