Wednesday, January 30, 2008

What Mrs N's Been Reading - The Faerie Path

Just finished Frewin Jones' The Faerie Path. It's another in the current flurry of fantasy books about a girl who discovers that she really belongs in another fairy world. This one has young Anita being pulled back into the fairy realm, from which she went missing 500 years earlier. There's some politics, betrayals, and of course a love interest. This one probably won't be around 20 years from now, considered a classic, but it's entertaining and pretty well written. I'll be getting the sequel. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

What Mrs. N's Been Reading - Notes From the Midnight Driver

Just finished Jordan Sonnenblick's Notes From the Midnight Driver. This one just came in a few days ago, and I was intriqued by the cover picture of a garden gnome in the driver's seat of a car. The book opens with 16-year-old Alex deciding that he's going to get back at his dad for walking out, by getting drunk (this is his first drinking experience), taking his mom's car (keep in mind that he doesn't have a license yet and has never driven) and storming his dad's house. He ends up careening into a neighbor's yard instead. Fortunately, the only fatality is the neighbor's decapitated garden gnome. Alex ends up with a community service sentence that he is to fulfill by working with Sol, a particular, crotchety resident of a nursing home. Along the way both Alex and Sol come to terms with some major issues in their lives. There are a number of coincidences that look like they came from the plot of a sitcom or a tv movie, so things come together much neater than they would in real life. It's a quick read, and despite some things being pretty obvious, I found myself wanting to keep reading to find out how some things were resolved. You also learn some good Yiddish insults, that could come in handy. Most of the book is pretty funny, but there are also some sad moments. All in all, a pretty good read that middle schoolers, especially, would enjoy. Check it out!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

DDR Tournament Results and Pics

We just wrapped up the first DDR tournament of the calendar year. About 26 kids ventured out on a wickedly cold day, with 18 entering the tournament. Brandon V was our first place winner, beating out Ben P with a very impressive round on expert level. Brandon also wowed the crowd with a demonstration of double play (for the uninitiated, that's playing both mats at once.) Unfortunately, I was in such awe that I completely forgot to take any pictures of that. I was, however getting pictures throughout the tournament, a few of which are below.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Withern Rise Finale, Camp Confidentials, and a Rum Running Story Now In

A few new books just hit the shelf, including The Underwood See, finale to the Withern Rise trilogy. For details see New YA Books: Camp Confidentials, the end of the Withern Rise trilogy, and a Rum Running Mystery .

What Mrs N's Been Reading - Larklight

I just finished Philip Reeve's Larklight. It's a fantasy set in an alternate Victorian period in space. Ok, just on that description, this book could have gone downhill really quickly. Not every author could pull it off without sounding really stupid, but I've found that Philip Reeve isn't just any author. One of his other books, Mortal Engines, is one that I always recommend to kids, but with the instructions that they not read the blurb on the back of the book until they've actually read the book. That's another one that, going by the description, could be really bad, but it's actually a very good book. Anyway, back to Larklight... Art and Myrtle (remember, it's Victorian) live with their father in a house that's floating in space near the moon, until they are forced to flee in a lifeboat after being attacked by giant spiders. They run into space pirates, as well as an assortment of creatures and aliens as they travel through the solar system and try to determine what exactly the key to Larklight, that the spiders are after, actually is and where it is. See what I mean? Starting to sound kind of dumb? Well I'm not Philip Reeve. When he writes it, it's quite good. I was a little disappointed in the ending - one of those "well we're out of pages, time to wrap it up" endings. But along the way it's a very entertaining book, that I'd recommend for middle schoolers. It's the first in a series, so look for sequels soon. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

2 New Fantasies and More

A few interesting looking things just came in, including 2 fantasies based on classic tales. For more details see New YA Books: Sonnenblick, Feddor and Martin Just In .

Thursday, January 10, 2008

New Teen Books By Some Favorite Authors Now In

We just got in a nice assortment of new books by some favorite authors, including Libba Bray, Margaret Peterson Haddix, and Philip Reeve. For more info see New YA Books: Reeve, Bray, Haddix and More . Check 'em out!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

What Mrs. N's Been Reading - An Innocent Soldier and Not as Crazy as I Seem

I've been reading faster than I've been posting lately so you'll get 2 books in one posting. I just finished Joseph Holub's An Innocent Soldier and George Harrar's Not as Crazy as I Seem. One gives you an inside look into either a time period that you don't usually read about and the other gives you an inside look into a type of person that you don't generally read about.

First, An Innocent Soldier. It starts as a young man is tricked by the farmer he works for, into being conscripted into Napoleon's Grande Armee in place of the farmer's son, and follows him through Napoleon's failed attempt to conquer Russia. The author does a wonderful job of letting you see things through the eyes of an incredibly naive and sheltered young man. (He had never even been to the nearest town, let alone another country.) Adam sees the gamut of humanity, from a sadistic sargeant who is out to get him, to a young nobleman officer who takes him in as his servant, to the looting and pillaging soldiers who are trying to avoid starvation. Historically, 450,000 men marched to Russia, with less than a quarter of them returning. Holub writes about a young man's views of war with some authority, since he was conscripted into Hitler's army as a teenager.

Not as Crazy as I Seem takes you inside the head of a teen with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Generally when you think of OCD you think of the people who are on the extreme end of the scale. In the book, though, you see a few characters who aren't specifically identified as OCD but you see that they fall at the milder end of the scale. It kind of got me thinking - if I eat the same thing for breakfast every day for several weeks does that make me slightly OCD or just really boring? Which makes you think, when you see someone at the extreme end, that you're probably not as different as you'd like to think. Devon has just moved and is trying to hide his OCD at his new school. Let's just say that things don't exactly go his way and he ends up getting expelled for something he didn't even do. In the course of sorting things out, events that may be at the root of his OCD come to light. You learn a good bit about OCD without it seeming like a textbook. And it would be a good story even if Devon didn't have OCD, which is part of the point.

I'd recommend both books. Enjoy!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Thank You, Gail Giles!

You gotta love the Internet! You never know who is going to be reading what you've just written. It was a very pleasant surprise to find a comment from Gail Giles herself, on my post about her book Playing in Traffic! Thank you! You made my day... week... probably the month. It helps that I'm pretty easily amused/impressed. Gail, if you are ever heading anywhere near Pennsylvania, I'd love to have you at the Fredricksen Library.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

What Mrs. N's Been Reading - Playing in Traffic

Just finished Gail Giles' Playing in Traffic. I like Giles' books (see my review of What Happened to Cass McBride? What Mrs. N's Been Reading - What Happened to Cass McBride? ) but I gotta wonder if she's ever met a somewhat normal, functional family. This one also has two kids from very different, but each messed up in their own sort of way, families. Matt is a high school senior who has spent most of his life trying to stay under the radar and be as invisible as possible. Suddenly, the school's goth, multitatooed, multipierced, wild girl is pursuing him, but insisting on keeping the realtionship a secret. As she seems to be opening up to Matt, you keep wondering if things are what they seem. This one is not for middle schoolers. There's some mature content, but it's handled well and isn't unnecessarily graphic. It moves quickly, with plenty of twists to keep you interested. If you ever know anyone who seems to be getting involved with someone that just sends up big, big red flags, give them this book. It gives you a look inside one really messed up kid, and serves as a warning to other kids who may, with the best of intentions, try to help them.