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a flurry of announcements. April 14, 2010

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In lieu of an apology post for not updating more recently, I’ll just run down a catch-up of what’s been going on in my life/blog these past few weeks!

Nerds Heart YA

I’m really excited to be a bracket judge this year for “Nerds Heart YA.” This is a bracket-style competition to recognize under-appreciated/unknown YA books released the previous year. For this year, the books nominated (nominations are over) had to feature characters or were penned by authors in the following categories: Person(s) of Color (POC), GLBT, Disability/Mental Illness, Religious Lifestyle, or Lower Socioeconomic Status. Stay tuned here for my post or check out Nerds Heart YA for more info.

Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-Thon

I completely slacked this time on the 24-hour read-a-thon. Didn’t post my start post, had to work during the time, wound up having to go car shopping right after work, and only put away four books. Thanks, as always, to the organizers of the event and to the cheerleaders who still commented even though my blog looked a bit dead!

Read: “The Sky Is Everywhere” by Jandy Nelson, “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret” by Judy Blume, “The Daughters” by Joanna Philbin, and “The Reckoning” by Kelley Armstrong. Page count: 1103. Reviews to come.

John Green and David Levithan

Last Tuesday night, I had the pleasure of going and seeing both authors on the release day of “Will Grayson, Will Grayson.” It was a great signing — John and David both read from WGWG, answered questions, and talked about the process of writing the book. I laughed so hard that my stomach hurt. And it is definitely worth noting that there was a Stormtrooper in attendance. Also worth noting was meeting up with Drea and Kristen — it is always awesome to see friends!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Yes, that is a “Very Hungry Caterpillar” feltboard. I made that at work this past week for my Eric Carle preschool program next month. I just had to show it off!

National Poetry Month

And my attempt at celebrating National Poetry Month at my Teen Book Display!

So, all in all, a busy few weeks at work (we were on spring break too!), but I should be back into the blogging swing now.


review: “bloom” March 2, 2010

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Bloom by Elizabeth Scott.
Simon Pulse // Paperback // 240 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

Lauren’s got a great life — super talented at clarinet, she’s got an awesome best friend, and the perfect, popular boyfriend, Dave — what more could a girl want? But Lauren’s life is far from perfect. Her father’s a workaholic, her mother abandoned them, and maybe that perfect boyfriend isn’t exactly what Lauren needs. When Evan comes back into Lauren’s life, she’s forced to reevaluate the life that she has and the life that she wants.

I read this book on a pretty fall morning in bed during Dewey’s 24-Hour-Readathon and after a long day of reading, this was a perfect (haha) book to read.

Lauren was a flawed realistic teenager, conflicted between the image that she shows to the world and what she really wants. After years of neglect (from her father) and abandonment (from her mother), she wants to be accepted — Dave’s popularity ensures that she is accepted. This complexity to her character really intrigued me and I urged Lauren to figure out that she didn’t want what she had. Lauren could be annoying at times (she makes some poor decisions), but I felt that she was so real, she really reminded me about the uncertainty of being a teenager.

Evan was a great YA romance lead. And the romance was such a refreshing slow build-up. The characters had previous history and the relationship was completely believable.

I’m not sure that teens will want to see themselves in Lauren’s shoes, but they will be able to relate to a lot of what she goes through in the book — especially those unsure feelings.

And it must be said that the writing is simply superb. I cannot believe that this was Scott’s first novel. Like my jaw dropped when I found that out.

Definitely recommend this book for public libraries — great romance. (And it’s a shorter read, which will also appeal to reluctant readers!)

SWAN catalog
Elizabeth Scott


review: “ballad” March 1, 2010

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Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater.
Flux // Paperback // 360 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

After the events of “Lament,” James and Dee begin their school year at the prestigious Thornking-Ash Conservatory — a school for only the most talented musicians. While Dee is struggling to make sense of recent events — James is trying to get over Dee. But the faeries aren’t ready to leave James alone. When Nuala arrives, attracted to James’s musical gift, James is in danger all his own — especially when he begins to care for Nuala.

First of all, I will not call this book a sequel — it is a companion novel. Think “Ink Exchange” to Melissa Marr’s “Wicked Lovely.” Dee is there, but this is not her story — it is James’s.

I really enjoyed this novel, but I enjoyed “Lament” more.

Don’t get me wrong, I love James. I think he is absolutely fabulous as a character and I would *definitely* read more books about him.

Part of the reason that I didn’t enjoy “Ballad” as much is because I was expecting a direct sequel instead of a companion novel. (Which is my fault, and not the book’s.) But, the other reason is because I never connected with Nuala. It makes sense that I would difficultly connecting to Nuala because she is a faerie, but I didn’t have nearly as good as a grip on her character as I did with Luke in “Lament.”

Other highlights: James’s roommate and teacher. I loved the new supporting characters we were introduced to and I hope to see more of them. I absolutely loved how Stiefvater explained why the faeries were drawn to the students because of their musical talent. (I don’t remember if this was explained in “Lament” or “Ballad,” honestly, but I still love it.)

Nuala’s history and faerie destiny were simply fabulous and I love the way that the book ended. It left me with a wide smile on my face and fingers crossed that Stiefvater would be writing another faerie tale after finishing up the “Wolves of Mercy Falls.”

Definitely recommended, but make sure you realize this is a companion novel and not a direct sequel.

SWAN catalog
Maggie Stiefvater


review: “lament” February 24, 2010

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Lament by Maggie Stiefvater.
Flux // Paperback // 336 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

Deirdre has played the harp for years, despite her fearsome stage fright that has her throwing up before every performance. And while she’s preparing for a music competition, she meets Luke Dillon — a flautist. Together, they play an amazing memorable performance right before Luke disappears again. Mysterious people, four-leaf clovers, and powers start appearing in Deirdre’s world and she knows just two things. One, that Luke is somehow involved and two, that’s she in some kind of danger. The problem is that Deirdre doesn’t realize just how much danger she’s in.

I absolutely loved both “Lament” and its sequel “Ballad” (review coming right after this one).

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of paranormal/urban fantasy/supernatural romance, right? So, this book was basically a no-brainer for me — I knew I had to have it the second I heard about it. (And for the sake of this minor discussion, I’m just going to keep calling the genre “supernatural romance” like I have it in my tags.)

Anyways, this genre has a basic formula: girl meets guy, there is romance, there is supernatural happenings. No one gets to credit inventing the genre. And no one is ripping off the basic formula from another author. What really sets supernatural romance apart — good writing, relatable character, mythology research, strong world building, non-stalker boys — is what I found in “Lament.”

(Yeah, you thought I had disappeared on a tangent, admit it!)

I immensely related to Dee — I used to have the worst stage fright in the whole orchestra! And let’s not talk about my first and only vocal solo where I promptly finished my part and ran off the stage to use the facilities.

And as amazing as the faerie world is (and it is!), what really and truly impressed me about “Lament” was Dee’s human life, particularly her family. There is an excellent backstory that would be really spoilerish to talk about, so I’ll just say that it serves as such a great underlying backbone to the story and I would really like to hear more about those events.

I would be remiss not to mention Luke (Dee’s love interest) and James (Dee’s best friend). Luke was a bit more developed, but since I knew James would have his own story in “Ballad,” I overlooked James’s lack of development in “Lament.”

Near flawless writing and a great story makes this a perfect buy for libraries with supernatural romance fans.

SWAN catalog
Maggie Stiefvater


review: “diary of a wimpy kid — dog days” February 17, 2010

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Diary of a Wimpy Kid — Dog Days by Jeff Kinney.
Amulet // Hardcover // 224 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

Greg Heffley is back for a fourth installment of the very popular “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series. But for the first time, school’s out for the summer and so are Greg and his friends. Of course, Greg wants to spend his summer hanging out at home playing video games. But his mother has ideas of her own about how Greg should spend his summer — with his family.

I think we might be losing steam with this series. When I finished the third volume “The Last Straw,” I immediately shared it with co-workers to read. When I finished “Dog Days,” I closed the book and wasn’t too thrilled with it. Months later, I can’t remember a single stand-out scene. (And I absolutely remember the Shel Silverstein moment in “The Last Straw.”)

Still, I don’t think this is a bad series by any means — this is one of my favorite recommends for reluctant readers and especially for reluctant boys. A great read for tweens and public libraries should definitely stock up on copies. (We have three of each book and they are never on the shelf!)

The movie adaptation will be coming out on March 19th and already my kids and tweens are talking my ear off about what they want to see on the big screen. Expect a run on the books when the movie hits theatres.

SWAN catalog
Jeff Kinney


read-a-thon wrap-up. October 27, 2009

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Totals for the October 2009 Read-a-thon:

Books Read: 7
Books: “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days” by Jeff Kinney, “Lament” by Maggie Stiefvater, “Ballad” by Maggie Stiefvater, “Story of a Girl” by Sara Zarr, “Bloom” by Elizabeth Scott, “Good Neighbors 2: Kith” by Holly Black, and “Vladimir Tod: Eighth Grade Bites” by Heather Brewer.
Totals: Four novels, two graphic novels, one audio book.
Pages Read: 1704 pages.
Hours Read: About fourteen hours…not particularly sure.

Listened to on and off all day; finished it around 12:45 a.m.
“Story of a Girl” by Sara Zarr.

I liked the story of the book and I liked taking a break from reading. (My eyes, my eyes!) But I still had a lot of trouble keeping my mind on the book while listening. Honestly, it worked better for me if I was doing a mindless task (ie typing, or folding laundry) than just listening. And it was really bad in the car. Way too many distractions (squirrels, traffic lights, my own mind, turn on the wipers, turn off the wipers…) maybe I’m just too new of a driver for audio books. I will try another couple of audio books before I wipe them off my radar…but I much prefer having a physical book in hand.

…I have no idea. This was the book I wound up taking three short cat naps through.
“Bloom” by Elizabeth Scott.

Awwww, what a sweet book. I really liked this one — it was the perfect length for the read-a-thon. It was weird though, because I’ve only read Scott’s heavier titles — “Love You Hate You Miss You” and “Living Dead Girl,” so this was a departure from what I’m used to. The cover of the book did tip me off (it’s really a very crisp green in real life), so I was prepared for the lightness of the book. Be careful giving to fans of the darker stuff without explaining that it’s light.

This was somewhere between 3:30 a.m. and 4:30 a.m.
“Kith” by Holly Black.

This is the second book in the “Good Neighbors” series by Black. Really like the story, and I think the graphic novel aspects (illustrations? art? drawings? I don’t know the right terminology here) is such a wonderful compliment to the characterizations and the world that Black has created. I needed a graphic novel here in my reading schedule. After that I went to bed.

Waking up somewhere after 8:00 and finishing just before my cut-off time of 10:30 a.m.
“Eighth Grade Bites” by Heather Brewer.

I am so thankful for this series in my library. My teen boys just flock to it (like the girls do with “Twilight”). I really enjoyed the new take on the vampire world. And I’m very eager to discuss the next installment (“Ninth Grade Slays”) with Teen Book Club later on this month.

And that was my read-a-thon. I decided to spend most of my time off the computer, reading and the like. I did wind up regretting that decision. I really feel like I missed a lot of the camaraderie. I really enjoyed the read-a-thon though, and I already have some goals for next time. (Don’t schedule a big event with friends in the middle of prime reading time. Spend some time cheerleading for others. Visit other participant’s blogs!)

read-a-thon update (1). October 24, 2009

Posted by Katie in shoptalk.

Well, I’m at the twelve hour mark. I thought I would pop back in and update y’all on my status. (And I’m listening to an audio book, so I am still reading at I’m typing this, haha! Win!)

Read from 10:30 to 11:15ish:
“Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Doys” by Jeff Kinney.

Mini-review: I like these books a lot. My kids at the library LOVE them and I swear, I put more holds on these books than all my other holds combined. This installment of series felt like stretching it to me. I don’t know if the series is getting old, or if I’m just not liking Greg being out of school. It will be interesting to see reactions from the kids. But I didn’t laugh out loud this time.

Read from 11:20ish to 11:45ish (then drove so switched to audio book); read from 1:30ish to 3:00ish.
“Lament” by Maggie Stiefvater.

Mini-review: I think I would definitely make a faerie deal to be friends with Maggie. She amazes me. Although, I wish I had some Irish music to listen to while reading it. My OCR of “Bright Lights, Big City” was a little bit of an odd accompaniment. [Yes, my beloved iPod is currently broken…I’m back to CDs, old school style.]

Then, I met up with my two best friends from college and we carved pumpkins while watching “Hocus Pocus.”

Picture 027
Jessica’s, Kim’s, and mine.

Read from 8:15ish to 10:15ish.
“Ballad” by Maggie Stiefvater.

Mini-review: Still love Maggie. Still think this series might be some of my favorite reads of the year. Still wish I had proper music to listen to. [Would it be possible to package a CD with the book? That would rock.]

And lastly…my first ever audio book.

Listened to on and off all day; still listening to it.
“Story of a Girl” by Sara Zarr.

Can’t review it cause I’m still in the middle of it. But I have to say that my mind wanders way more than it should during audio books. I hear something that Deanna says (and I hate not knowing if that’s the spelling from the book…) and then I go on a tangent and forget that she’s still talking. Just a split second, but enough that I feel like I’m missing something.

But I’m off to go lie down and listen to it with my eyes closed. (But not sleeping!)

Happy read-a-thon guys! Your comments have made/are making my night. <3.

it’s read-a-thon day! October 24, 2009

Posted by Katie in shoptalk.

I must admit that I am the worst morning person ever. I knew if I got up at 7:00 a.m. to start the read-a-thon that it would wind up being a miserable experience for me.

So, I’m just going to be a rebel, kay? And I’m starting in two minutes!

I still don’t know what book will be first!

friday morning surprises & catch-up! October 16, 2009

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Today, I’m being featured as a Fresh Face over at The Story Siren! I’m so excited. (And I’m in such good company!) Thanks everyone for popping over here, although I know I missed a bunch of you already.

My morning has been crazy (we had 50 second graders visiting the library — yesterday we had another 50!), but I’m on lunch now so I can do a quick post.

Wanted to talk about a few of the things coming up on the blog and in my life. Things are about to get crazy here.


For starters, next weekend I will be participating in Dewey’s 24-Hour-Readathon. I am so excited for this event and challenge and I can’t wait to spend an entire day devoted to reading and blogging. I have no idea what I’ll be reading during the Readathon. When I did the 48-Hour-Readathon, I wound up throwing out my whole plan midway through the weekend and running to Borders to get a fresh book. Who knows what will happen this time! Hopefully I’ll be able to store up enough reviews to get me through November because…


I am also participating in NaNoWriMo. This will be my eighth year — I’ve done this since I was a teen! This year I had a lot of good company. I have, of course, my friends from years past (shout-out to y’all here!). But I also have a new group of NaNo people in authors (Maureen Johnson and John Green, guys!) and bloggers.

Anna of Book Nerds let me know that Emilee of Penultimate Page is running a ning group for authors and bloggers working on NaNo this year. I immediately jumped in. (And you should too, if you’re participating. Let Emilee know you’re interested to get an invite!)

So…things are about to get crazy over here and I am so excited about it!