Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Adult Book Review: Smokin Seventeen by Janet Evanovich [Out of the Box Reviews]

Although I love YA fiction, on occasion I feel the need to pick up something from the adult shelves.  On those occasions I will do an "Out of the Box Review" for an adult novel.  These reviews may not be as long or as detailed as my normal reviews. 

Title: Smokin' Seventeen
Author: Janet Evanovich
Genre: Adult Fiction, Mysteries
Publication Date: June 21, 2011
Publisher: Bantam
ISBN-13 Book: 9780345527684
Source: I purchased the e-book from Barnes and Noble. This is my honest review!

Smokin' SeventeenSmokin' Seventeen by Janet Evanovich
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Stephanie and friends are back in this Seventeenth installment of this fantastic series.  This time around dead bodies keep turning up in the bonds office lot, and a couple are specifically addressed to Stephanie.  While tracking down skips, including one who thinks he's a vampire, Stephanie is also on the lookout for someone who is killing people and dumping them at the bonds office.

The last few books of this series left me feeling a bit frustrated.  I thought it might have been time to move on, because the jokes were old, and the story was getting predictable.  While I had the murderer pegged at the beginning, the rest of the romp made the story worth it.  Once more Evanovich had written a novel with moments that are just plain laugh out loud funny.  Her characters are priceless and entertaining.  Just when I thought I was getting tired of this series, Evanovich goes and proves me wrong.  I love Grandma Bella, and I love Ranger.  This novel was great!

View all my reviews

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

This or That with YA Author Eileen Cook [Teen Book Scene Blog Tour]

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Eileen Cook to my blog!  Eileen's two most recent teen novels include The Education of Hailey Kendrick  and Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood.  I want to thank Eileen for stopping by and sharing her preferences with us today!

Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood         The Education of Hailey Kendrick

This or That With Eileen Cook

1.       Dogs or Cats
While I like both cats and dogs, my two dogs would never forgive me for choosing the neighborhood cat over them.
2.       Outdoors or Indoors
Reading and watching movies are my favorite things to do, so indoors is where you are most likely to find me. I do love walking on the beach and the dogs love rolling in stinky dead things they find on the sand, so everyone is happy.
3.       Traveling or Visiting Relatives
I love to travel. If my relatives would live in great places like London or New York then it would be to visit them, alas they don't.
4.       Plane, Train, or Automobile
Plane first class, tragically this almost never happens. Most times you’ll find me driving my bright orange Volkswagen Bug around.
5.       Coffee or Tea
Tea! I am possibly the only person on the West Coast who doesn’t like coffee. Not even coffee flavored ice cream.
6.       Milk Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, White Chocolate, or I Don't Like Chocolate
I don’t understanding this concept you call “I don’t like chocolate.”  Who doesn’t like chocolate?  Dark chocolate is my favorite.
7.       Health Food or Junk Food
I like healthy food, but can’t say no to the junk food.  When choosing between broccoli or pizza, the choice seems easy.
8.       Books or Movies
Ooooh hard question, this totally depends on what kind of mood I’m in. If I have to choose, I would go with books.
9.       Public Library or Book Store
Gah! Another hard question. I grew up going to the library every week and love it, but I buy more than my fair share of books.
10.   First Person Narration or Third Person Narration
Depends on the story. I tend to write more first person, I like the idea of being in someone’s head.
11.   To Read: Fiction or Nonfiction
I read both, but typically read more fiction than non-fiction.
12.   Morning Person or Night Owl
At last an easy question!  Total night owl. I would make a lousy farmer, mornings are not my most productive time.
13.   Books that are light and funny or books that have a more serious outlook
Depends on my mood, but I love books that make me laugh.
14.   Do you prefer to read Young Adult Novels or Adult Novels
Again it depends on my mood, but when I look at my current stack of books the majority of them are YA. So many good books, too little time.
15.   Finally, you are walking in a dark ally and discover you aren't alone.  Which type of paranormal would you prefer to meet in that ally? Vampires or Werewolves or Zombies
I’m going to go with zombies because generally speaking they move pretty slow. I’d have a decent chance of out running them, whereas the vampire and werewolf are almost certainly going to catch me.

Thank you so much Eileen for joining me today! I think I would have picked the zombie too!

Don't forget to check out The Education of Hailey Kendrick and Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood

Monday, June 27, 2011

Book Review: The Hollow by Jessica Verday

Title: The Hollow
Author: Jessica Verday
Genre: Teen Fiction, Paranormal
Publication Date: September 1, 2009
Publisher: Simon Pulse
ISBN-13 Book: 9781416978930
Publisher CD Book: Blackstone Audio
ISBN CD Book: 9781441751980
Source: I purchased the book from my local bookstore and checked out the book on CD from my public library. This is my honest review!

The HollowThe Hollow by Jessica Verday
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
After the supposed drowning of her best friend, Abbey struggles to deal with the tremendous loss she is feeling.  One day down by the bridge where Kristen disappeared Abbey meets Caspian, a boy with mysteries of his own.  As the two of them become closer, and as Abbey discovers the secrets Kristen kept from her, Abbey begins to suspect that not everyone is who they really seem.

Okay, I admit that isn't my best book summary, but it was the best I could do.  See the Goodreads blurb, it is better.  I think the reason I found writing this blurb so hard is because I am really not sure what to say about this book.  To me, it felt like a lot of time spent going nowhere. 

The Hollow has a great premise, and a great title.  I love the fact that she tried to set a somewhat creepy mood, a mood that might imitate the one set by Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, but beyond that the book fell flat.  I expected so much more from a novel that was using such a spectacular American story. 

My biggest complaint is that I felt like the novel didn't go anywhere.  By the time we even begin to explore some the paranormal aspects of the story you are already in the last 100 pages.  Most of the book is focused on Abbey dealing with her grief over Kristen's loss and her trying to avoid her mother's pushiness.  I think we just spent too long rehashing the same emotions, feelings, and ideas over and over again. 

The audio version of this book is very well done and I fell like I wouldn't have finished it without the audio version.  The unabridged audio book is produced by Blackstone Audio and read by Cassandra Campbell.  At first I thought Campbell sounded too old to be the voice of Abbey, but after settling in an listening to it I found her to be quite believable as Abbey.  The audio was essential to me finishing this book.

Overall, this book did a great job with setting and mood, but the story only really started getting interesting at the end.  It was a long book where nothing really ever seemed to happen.  I have a sneaking suspicion that this book was just laying the foundation for the next books in the series.  Am I curious enough to continue?  I might, but not without the audio. 

View all my reviews

Friday, June 24, 2011

Book Recommendations Do You Ever Feel Guilty?

As a librarian I give out several book recommendations everyday.  I don't pressure anyone, but when they ask for a recommendation I give them several books to choose from and then let them find the ones they like.  They can take my recommendations or leave them--that is completely up to them.  I also encourage them to tell me if they didn't like a book I recommended because next time it might give me a better idea of what they do want. 

With some library patrons, I have developed a relationship where I can easily recommend books I think they might like.  They come in and tell me what they thought of a book I recommended and then I will recommend a new one for them.  I keep an eye out for books they might like and try to remember them when they come in.

But as theses relationships have developed and as we get to talking books, I find that more often than not, they are recommending books to me.  While this isn't a bad thing, I often feel guilty because I know that I won't be able to get to the book they recommend to me--my to be read list is simply too long.  I feel guilty because they have taken the time to read books I recommended to them, yet I don't have the time to do the same.  I always feel guilty when this happens.

Does this ever happen to anyone else?  How do you deal with it when this happens?

My Weekend Reading Plans

I know I have been a little bit delinquent with my posts this week.  I am recovering from audiobook week and catching up on some reviews that I can't post until a later date.  I am also attempting to get over one of those awful summer colds--for some reason I think those are worse than the winter ones.  Maybe it is because the weather is so nice and I feel miserable, or maybe they really are worse--who knows.  All I know is that I can't hear anything  out of my right ear and it is driving me nuts!

Okay enough excuses.  Since I haven't posted much this week I thought I would share my weekend reading plans.  These are the two books I plan on working on reading this weekend:

The Girl in the Steel Corset (Steampunk Chronicles, #1)

I am about 119 pages into this one, and can't believe that I have read so much of it already.  It is really fast paced and interesting.  I hope it continues to be this fun and exciting.

The Hollow

I started listening to this audiobook last week.  The audio is well done and the narrator is great, but I find myself getting a little impatient with the story.  I am a little more than half way through the novel, and I still don't know where it is going.  I think this weekend I may have to pick this book up and see where this story is going to go.


What are your weekend reading plans?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Little Late Spring Cleaning

Since summer starts at 1:16pm today, I thought I should hurry up and finish my spring cleaning.  What this meant for me was finally catching up on my review page.  So now if you look at my 2011 Reviews and my View All Review pages they are now up to date.  Sorry about being such a slacker on those--sometimes it is all I can do to keep up with my reviews.  Hopefully I can keep them up to date in the future! :)

Monday, June 20, 2011

Spring Into Summer Read-a-thon Finish Line

I realize I am a little late getting this up.  I participated as much as I could since I worked on Friday and was out of town on Saturday--I took my books with me.  Ultimately though, my performance was pathetic.

Books Read:

The Hollow (The Hollow, #1)
The Hollow by Jessica Verday (78 pages--audio version)

The Faerie Ring
The Faerie Ring by Kiki Hamilton (200 pages)

Books Finished:


Friday, June 17, 2011

Spring Into Summer Read-a-thon!

Click the image to learn more!

Today is the first day of the Spring into Summer Read-a-thon hosted by Squeaky Books.  While I have to work until 5:45, I am going to squeeze in as much reading as I can today.  I plan to listen to my audio book at lunch and I have books to read for work that I am adding to my pile.  Tomorrow I plan to indulge in some serious reading. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Book Review: Dead is Just a Rumor by Marlene Perez

Title: Dead is Just a Rumor
Author: Marlene Perez
Genre: Teen Fiction, Paranormal
Publication Date: August 23, 2010
Publisher: Graphia
ISBN-13 Book: 9780547345925
Publisher CD Book: Brilliance Audio on CD
ISBN CD Book: 9781441871602
Source: I checked out the both the book and the book on CD from my public library. This is my honest review!

Dead Is Just A Rumor (Dead Is, #4)Dead Is Just A Rumor by Marlene Perez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Daisy and her sisters are back once more in Dead is Just a Rumor.  This is the start of Daisy's senior year in high school, but her dad, newly returned from six years in the captivity of the Scourge, still sees Daisy as the twelve-year old girl he was stolen away from six years ago.  While trying to understand that he has an adjustment to make, Daisy is frustrated because his restrictions and his obvious dislike of her boyfriend are ruining her senior year.  When the paranormal members of the town start getting mysterious letters sealed in red wax blackmailing them, Daisy jumps in to investigate.  But how can she investigate when her dad is always hovering over her shoulder.

I love this series and book four was as much of a treat as the rest.  Daisy is smart, sassy, and a lot of fun.  While the other books allowed Daisy to freely investigate the mysteries around town, Daisy's father coming back into her life made that a challenge for her in this novel.  But Daisy doesn't let that stop her as she tries to solve the crimes in Nightshade.

Once more this was a welcome addition to the series, and the characters are all charming.  This one leaves you with a small amount of unfinished business so I hope we can see it wrapped up in the next novel.

The audio version of this book is superb.  Brilliance audio brings back Suzy Johnson to narrate and she does a great job giving Daisy a voice.  This is a fun series to listen to as well as to read.

Overall this series is the perfect series to read in the summer.  Fun, light, and entertaining.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Book Review: Dead is So Last Year by Marlene Perez

Title: Dead is So Last Year
Author: Marlene Perez
Genre: Teen Fiction, Paranormal
Publication Date: May 4, 2009
Publisher: Graphia
ISBN-13 Book: 9780152062163
Publisher CD Book: Brilliance Audio on CD
ISBN CD Book: 9781441871756
Source: I checked out the both the book and the book on CD from my public library. This is my honest review!

Dead Is So Last Year (Dead Is, #3)Dead Is So Last Year by Marlene Perez
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is book three in the Dead is series which starts with the book Dead is the New Black. Once more, Daisy and her sisters are back using their psychic skills to solve the paranormal mysteries in the creepy little town of Nightshade. It's summer in Nightshade and Daisy and her sisters have gotten summer jobs. But strange things, stranger than usual that is, are happening. Doppelgangers of local residents are appearing all over town and the football team seems to be bulking up overnight. Trust Daisy and her sisters to get to the bottom of the town's mysteries.

I actually think this series gets better with each book. Be sure you have read the first two before tackling the this third novel or you might have some difficulty following along. I love the summer job aspect of this novel, and absolutely adore the characters. There is humor, fun, mysteries, and a lot of quirky happenings in Nightshade. I will definitely be coming back for more.

The audio is produced by Brilliance Audio and is read by Suzy Jackson who read the other two books as well. The production is very enjoyable and a great way to enjoy this series.

Overall, I love this series. These books are light, fast, reads, that are perfect for summer and will appeal to readers looking for something fun this summer with a touch of the paranormal.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Book Review: Dead is a State of Mind by Marlene Perez

Title: Dead is a State of Mind
Author: Marlene Perez
Genre: Teen Fiction, Paranormal
Publication Date: January 1, 2009
Publisher: Graphia
ISBN-13 Book: 9780152062101
Publisher CD Book: Brilliance Audio on CD
ISBN CD Book: 9781441871701
Source: I checked out the both the book and the book on CD from my public library. This is my honest review!

Dead Is a State of Mind (Dead Is, #2)Dead Is a State of Mind by Marlene Perez

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In this sequel to Dead is the New Black Daisy Giordano and her psychic sisters are back.  Rose is dating a werewolf, Poppy falls for a ghost, and Daisy has problems of her own because as prom approaches Ryan hasn't asked her out yet.  Worse than that, Ryan seems to be keeping secrets from her.  When a teacher ends up dead, possibly a victim of a werewolf attack, Daisy jumps in to investigate, and finds out more than she bargained for.

I love, love, love, love, love this series.  Okay, I realize I am gushing, but I can't tell you how much I have needed a book (or in this case series) like this.  These books are light and funny and have a touch of the paranormal.  They don't take themselves to seriously and make for a great summer read.

As with Dead is the New Black I listened to the audio as well as read the book.  The audio is produced by Brilliance Audio and read by Suzy Jackson who does an excellent job producing voices for the characters and making Daisy sound like a real teen. 

Overall this is a great series.  I would recommend starting with the first book because you might need some of the background info to figure things out in the story.  These are fun books for fans of both paranormal stories and mysteries who love quirky towns and fun characters. 

View all my reviews

Friday, June 10, 2011

Follow Friday!

Come and join the fun of the Friday Follow hosted by Parajunkee's View. You can find the instructions and rules on Parajunkee's Follow Friday post. Happy Hopping!

Question of the Week: The magic book fairy pops out of your cereal box and says "you and your favorite character (from a book of course) can switch places!" Who are you going to switch with?

Wow!  This is a tough one.  While there are many characters whose stories I love, they have had to face hardships I don't want to think about!

I am really fond of Tris from Veronica Roth's Divergent.  I am not sure that I would want to go through what she did, but she is one tough cookie and I admire that.

Divergent (Divergent, #1)

I just finished Dead is the New Black by Marlene Perez last night and I loved Daisy.  She is smart, sassy, and funny.  I think it might be fun to be her for a while!

Dead Is the New Black (Dead Is, #1)

Who would you be?

Book Review: Dead is the New Black by Marlene Perez (Audiobook Review)

Title: Dead is the New Black
Author: Marlene Perez
Genre: Teen Fiction, Paranormal
Publication Date: September 1, 2008
Publisher: Graphia
ISBN-13 Book: 9780152064082
Publisher CD Book: Brilliance Audio on CD
ISBN CD Book: 9781441871657
Source: I checked out the both the book and the book on CD from my public library. This is my honest review!

Dead Is the New Black (Dead Is, #1)Dead Is the New Black by Marlene Perez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Daisy Giordano is the only one in her family who hasn't inherited psychic abilities, but being a "norm" isn't going to stop her from trying to help her mother solve the case of the teenage girls who are being attacked all over town. With the help of Ryan, the son of the local police chief, and possibly her new boyfriend, Daisy is going to put everything on the line to figure out what is happening to these girls.
This novel was simply charming. I love Daisy and loved her sisters. The characters were fun and felt like people you wanted to know even the Divine Devereaux. Daisy is a fun, likable, teenage girl who wants to prove that she is as talented, just in different ways, as her two psychic older sisters. Ryan is a good guy who will do just about anything for Daisy.

While Nightshade has always been a bit of a mysterious town, it really gets creepy when a girl turns up dead and her body disappears from the morgue. Suddenly other popular girls from the cheer leading squad start getting sick, Daisy knows she needs to stop the culprit before someone else dies.

The audio version of this book is produced by Brilliance Audio and performed by Suzy Jackson. Jackson was a superb narrator for this book. She sounds convincing as a teenager and made the listening experience an exceptional one. I would recommend this audio experience to anyone. It is a great book to listen to.

Overall, this is a remarkably fun book. While I was getting out of my car today, I was thinking about how much this novel reminded me of reading the adult Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. This is just a fun light-hearted read like those, and the books keep me smiling. I recommend this book to anyone who loves a good, light-hearted, fun mystery, with laughs and charming characters.

View all my reviews

Audiobook Week: Audiobook Resources

So where do I go to find great audiobooks?  My library of course!  My library has a great selection of audiobooks and downloadable audiobooks through Overdrive.  Check your local library to see what you have available!  (Also ask if your library does Interlibrary Loans for titles that aren't available locally!)

Okay, so you can get them at your library, but how do you know they are good?  One of my favorite review sites for audiobooks is Audiobook Jukebox.  It is a wonderful source of reviews of great audiobooks.  The reviewers are other bloggers like yours truly and other avid listeners.  Other review journals are available from SLJ and other professional reviews, but I like to hear what other bloggers have to say at Audiobook Jukebox. 

When I am searching for what audiobooks are available to purchase for my library I look in a number of places.  If there is an audio publication of a book you will usually see it on ( or my favorite database FirstSearch which is available at my library.  Amazon will usually let me know if the audiobook exists, unless it was published by Recorded Books.  If it was published by Recorded Books you will either have to use the Recorded Books catalog or FirstSearch to find what is available.

The reality is that so much is now available in audio that you can find almost anything you want. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Audiobook Week: Audiobooks for the Uninitiated

It took a lot of convincing to get me to listen to my first audiobook.  Even though I am a librarian, order them, and am surrounded by them at work, I still was hesitant to pick up my first audiobook.  To me it didn't seem like reading, and I always though it would be dull, monotonous, and boring.  Somewhere down the line, I had forgotten what a joy it was to be read to as a child.

I remember by grandmother, my mother, my teachers all reading to me as a child and loving it, but somehow I thought audiobooks would be different.  In some ways they are, but in the most important ways they are the same. 

To this day, I can remember my first audiobook; it was One for the Money by Janet Evanovich and read by C. J. Critt.  It was unabridged (I dislike abridgements) and I listened to it in my car while I was traveling up to visit my parents.  I still remember how I was loathing to stop the book and get out of the car, because I was so interested in what was happening.  And while I have read other audiobooks that I think were better, I still remain fond of this one for setting the hook.

I don't go anywhere in the car without an audiobook these days, and I am often trying to convince patrons at the library how wonderful they are.  You can listen while you do housework, cook, drive, or do any number of things.  I also encourage teen reluctant readers to try audiobooks.  They can sit down listen and follow along with the book.

I started out as a skeptic, but now I am an advocate.  Give an audiobook a try.  Who knows how it will change your reading experience!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Book Review: Wake by Lisa McMann (Audiobook Review Included)

Title: Wake
Author: Lisa McMann
Genre: Teen Fiction, Paranormal, Fantasy
Publication Date: March 4, 2008
Publisher: Simon Pulse
ISBN-13 Book: 9781416953579
Publisher CD Book: Brilliance Audio on CD
ISBN CD Book: 9781441819895
Source: I checked out the both the book and the book on CD from my public library. This is my honest review!

Wake (Dream Catcher, #1)Wake by Lisa McMann
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Janie has a problem, actually several.  She has an alcoholic mother, not enough money for college, but most importantly she can't stop getting sucked into other people's dreams.  Whenever anyone around Janie falls asleep she is immediately transported into their dreams.  Janie has managed to keep her ability hidden from everyone around her, but now it seems to be taking over her life.  When an especially disturbing nightmare sucks Janie in, she must try to find a way to stop being a participant in everyone else's dreams.
This is a hard one for me to review.  Friends of mine have recommended this book to me because they loved it.  Perhaps I need to give it more of a chance and read the next two volumes, but this wasn't a favorite of mine.

First, I have never been a big fan of third person narration.  I like to be in the head of the characters I read about.  I like seeing through their eyes.  While there are some advantages to telling a story in third person, one of the disadvantages is that it can cause of bit of a disconnect with the characters.  I really didn't connect with Janie.  In a sense I felt like I was an observer in Janie's life--watching her go through the motions.  Maybe that was the author goal--the reader like Janie is an observer not a participant in the story.  Whatever the reason though I just felt like I couldn't connect as a reader to Janie and at points I just didn't care.

Secondly, I had problems with the style of the novel.  It felt a little disjointed to me.  This was further emphasized when I was listening to the audiobook version.  It didn't flow and was jarring at times.  I understand that McMann's writing style is spare, but sometimes it was a little too bare bones for my taste. 

Now for what I liked:  I really liked the potential of the story.  The concept is intriguing, and has many fascinating possibilities.  It has me curious, and while the first book isn't my favorite, I find myself wanting to find out more in the sequels Fade and Gone.  I think I will definitely be reading on. 

The ending was a bit abrupt, but it has intrigued me enough to make me want to keep going with the series. 

The audio version of this novel is produced by Brilliance Audio and read by Ellen Grafton.  To be frank, audio is not the best version for this novel.  It reads easier than it is to listen to.  While the novel itself is a bit jarring and abrupt, this is only emphasized with the audio and makes for a bit of a frustrating and sadly flat performance.  This is not a commentary on Grafton's skill as a narrator, I think she is talented and would do well in other audiobooks.  In fact I would be happy to attempt listening to her other performances.  I think the format and disjointedness of this novel prevents it from being a smooth listening experience.  In my opinion this book is better off read than listened to.

Overall, while this wasn't one of my favorite books, I think I am willing to give the rest of the series a try.  I believe it has potential and perhaps there will be more insights into Janie's character that will help me connect with her better.  It is a fast read and definitely a unique concept. 

View all my reviews

Audiobook Week: Mid-week Meme

To join this meme and include a link to your post, visit Devourer of Books!

Current/most recent audiobook: I just finished Wake by Lisa McMann and started on Dead is the New Black by Marlene Perez this morning.

Impressions: I will post the review for Wake later today so I will skip to Dead is the New Black.  My first impression is that I like the narrator.  She sounds like she could be a teen and her narration is clear and crisp.  I haven't heard her do many other voices yet, so the jury is still out.  But so far so good!

Current favorite audiobook: My favorite audiobook hasn't changed since last year.  It is still Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher read by Debra Wiseman and Joel Johnstone.  If there was ever a book written to be perfect on audio it was this one.  Audio suits the book because the main character is listening to tapes of a dead girl--this book was meant for audio.

One narrator who always makes you choose audio over print: I really don't have any favorite narrators.  In fact I am more likely to remember them if they were not good.  If I were to name a favorite, I think I might choose Jim Dale.  I love listening to the Harry Potter audiobooks and those are one of the few that I will go back and listen to over and over.

Genre you most often choose to listen to: Almost all of my listening is teen lit.  I love teen lit and it is my job to know those books.  As far as what genres do I listen to inside of the teen lit category--just about anything.  Really, if I want to read it, I pop in the CD--it doesn't matter if it is fantasy, realistic, humorous, mystery, etc... I will listen to it.  Actually, sometimes I get books I am hesitant to read on audio because it helps me get through them.

If given the choice, you will always choose audio when:  When there is a book I am not sure I want to read. Every now and then, there will be a book that I must read for work, committees, etc...  I can force myself to read the book, but that is always so much harder, and I am always so tempted to put it down and do something (anything) else.  Audiobooks make me listen, and they help me get to a point in the book where I am ready to sit down and finish the book.  There have been several books I never would have read if it hadn't been for the audio.

If given the choice, you will always choose print when: I will choose print when I know it is something that I want to read.  One downside to audio is that it takes longer to finish than it would if I were sitting down with a print book, so when I am excited about a book, I have to have it in print.  Sometimes though, I go back and listen to the audio later, and savor what I rushed through on the first reading.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Twitter, #yasaves, WSJ, and Librarians

I have read the article (you know the one) in The Wall Street Journal and I think what struck me the most were the opening lines.  You know the ones where the mom couldn't find an appropriate book for her daughter because everything was vampires and suicide.  My first thought was "that mom needed a librarian."  I don't care if she wanted to buy the book at the bookstore, or check it out from the library, I am happy to recommend books for either.

I have been a teen librarian now for 8 years.  I love my job, I love the literature, and I love helping teens and parents find books to suit their tastes.  To get my job I had to have a Masters in Library Science, and during the coursework for that degree I chose classes that were specific to the people I wanted to serve: Teens.  As you have seen from this blog, I read teen literature and love it.  I do this not just because I enjoy it, but also because it makes me a better librarian. 

I have teens who have come to me and asked me for books like Twilight, books like Thirteen Reasons Why, and books that are perfectly clean with no sex, violence, or foul language.  I help them all, that is my job.  Some teens need those dark books and there is nothing wrong with that.  In fact, I had one teen once tell me that she loves Ellen Hopkin's books because "Ms. Hopkins knows, she gets me, and this is my story."  When she told me that I almost cried, but she had found that yes, YA books can save you no matter how dark they appear.

My point is that with help, teens and parents can find books that suit them.  Books that they need and appreciate.  It isn't all dark, some can be funny, some can be touching, some can be heartbreaking, and some can be healing.  YA books come in all shapes and sizes, and in all genres.  Lets not forget that when you can't find a book to suit your tastes, don't just assume it isn't there--ask someone, like a librarian.

All over the country you see where both public librarians and school librarians are losing their jobs.  What this article in the WSJ proved to me is how desperately people need information professionals who can help them find the right books.  Yes, I have been to the bookstore too and seen the many vampire and "dark" books, but there are many, many other books that don't fall into that category.  There are happy, fluffy, and yes safe books out there too.  That is where trained professionals come in, we can help you find those books.  We can help you find the right book for you.  So when your community talks about cutting funding to your library and your school systems talk about cutting school librarians, remember what you will be losing; trained experts who love books and can help you find the right book for the teens in your life.

Audiobook Week: Sound Effects in Audiobooks and Narrators

This week is Audiobook Week at Devourer of Books and today we are talking about sound effects in audiobooks and narrators.  Personally, I haven't been a big fan of sound effects in audiobooks.  I find them distracting rather than enhancing.  Perhaps I haven't found the right one yet, but the books that I have listened to with sound effects, I have always found the sound effect to be a bit distracting.  I remember this really bothering me when I read Witch and Wizard by James Patterson last year (review). How do you feel about sound effects in the audiobooks you listen to?

While I prefer my audiobooks sans sound effects, I can tolerate books that do have sound effects.  One sound effect that I appreciate is when they play music to let you know the disc is ending.  It gives me time to locate the next disc. 

While sound effects don't matter to me, narrators do!  A narrator can make or break an audiobook in my opinion.  Of all the audiobooks that I have listened to, the only ones that I have ever ejected and refused to finish have been ones where the narrator bored me.  I don't mind if the book has multiple narrators or if it is a full cast audio.  Whoever narrates the book must be interesting and not monotone.  What are your preferences for narrators?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Bitter End by Jennifer Brown Character Interview with Alex

Last year when I read Hate List by Jennifer Brown, I couldn't believe how real she made her story and her characters feel.  Once more she has created a similar realistic feeling in her newest book.  Bitter End is a remarkable story.  It exposes you to the harsh reality of an abusive relationship and leaves you raw.  (Check out my review.)

Bitter End

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing the main character from Jennifer Brown's book Bitter End.  Alex is a senior in high school who happens to fall in love with someone who  hurts her.
Character Interview:  Alex from Bitter End

1.  Your trip to Colorado seems very important to you.  What do you hope the trip will reveal about your mother?

I just want to understand. I want to know what it was out there that was so important to her she was willing to leave us all to get there. There had to be something, you know? It couldn’t have just been a road trip. There had to be something important.

I hope I feel her out there. Like, in the air or something.

2.  What first attracted you to Cole?

Everything. He was so cute and vulnerable, and he was nice to me. We seemed to have a connection right away. The poet in me and the artist in him just really clicked. And I know this is going to sound strange, but…he was so gentle. Even during the bad times, he was incredibly gentle. You know…afterwards. When I was with Cole, from the very beginning, it always just felt right. Like we were meant to be together. Like we were worth fighting for.

3.  For someone who has never experienced an abusive relationship, their first question is usually why did you let him do that, why didn't you walk away? They always make it sound like leaving would be easy, but it often isn't.  Can you tell us why you stayed with him as long as you did?

This is going to sound really cliché, but…I loved him. I still do love him. He was so good to me all the other times that we were together. He was like, perfect for me. He just had this one thing that he did that was really horrible, and I guess I always felt like if we could fix that one thing, we’d have the perfect relationship. I also felt like it was my fault sometimes. Like if I could just stay away from Zack, or if I could just make Cole understand that Zack and I were just friends, he wouldn’t get so mad at me. And I thought our relationship was worth trying to make that happen.

4.  You mention that you and your sisters were once close, but now it seems like you have drifted apart.  What would you say has caused the distance between you and your sisters?

My sisters just kind of moved on with their lives. They never even seemed to care about Mom being gone or about Dad being so broken. I love my sisters, but we just don’t see life the same way anymore. Maybe someday.

5.  What would you like other girls to take away from you story with Cole?

If you would’ve told me I’d end up with an abuser, I would have never believed you. But by the time I realized that’s exactly what happened, and I was way too far into it before I realized that’s what had happened. If it could happen to me, it could happen to anyone. It doesn’t make you messed up. It just makes you in a bad situation. One you can get out of, though. One that you have to get out of.

Book Review: Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare [Audiobook Review}

Title: Clockwork Angel
Author:  Cassandra Clare
Genre: Teen Fiction, Steampunk, Paranormal, Fantasy
Publication Date: August 31, 2010
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
ISBN-13 Book: 9781416975861
Publisher CD Book:  Simon & Schuster Audio
ISBN CD Book:  9781442334601
Source: I received a copy of the book from the publisher for committee work and I checked out the Book on CD from my public library.  This is my honest review!

Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices, #1)Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When Tessa's brother Nathaniel summons her to England after the death of their only remaining relative (their aunt), Tessa looks forward to reuniting with her brother.  When she arrives however, she finds herself in the hands of the Dark Sisters, two mysterious women who insist that Tessa is more than she appears to be.  Tessa discovers that she is a Downworlder, a person who has magical abilities and that there are many people in London who are seeking her because of her unique abilities.

When I first started this novel I thought that I wasn't going to like it.  It starts off incredibly slow, and takes more than half the book before it finally picks up pace.  Part of the slowness to the beginning is Clare's meticulous attention to detail and plotting which sets the stage for later events.  Up until the halfway point, however, I would have found the book easy to put down and forget about.  I am glad I didn't though.

Clockwork Angel takes us back to a steampunk version of London.  I have recently discovered that I have a fondness for Steampunk, and this story was a perfect example of the genre.  I loved the gritty nature of London in that era and the danger that lurks around Downwold and the Nephilim alike.  Clare does a remarkable job setting up the novel and her attention to detail is exquisite. 

Once you reach the halfway point of the novel the pacing accelerates, and the story really starts to hook you.  You will be eager to see how it will all turn out in the end.

I listened to this book on audio.  The audiobook is produced by Simon & Schuster Audio and read by Jennifer Ehle.  I wouldn't have finished this book without the audio version.  Although the audio does fall flat in some places, Ehle's narration keeps you listening.  She does an admirable job with all of the voices and definitely helps the reader through the slower first half of the novel.

Overall I highly recommend this book.  It gets off to a bit of a slow start, but really picks up momentum and interest in the second half.  Clockwork Angel is the first the the Infernal Devices series which is a prequel to the Mortal Instruments series.  You can read this one without having read the Mortal Instruments series and still enjoy and follow this remarkable book.  The second book, Clockwork Prince comes out December 6, 2011 and I can tell you right now that I already have my copy pre-ordered.  The ending of this one leaves the reader with some unfinished business, so I can't wait to see where that goes in the next book.     

View all my reviews

Audiobook Week: 2010-2011 My Audiobook Year

June is Audiobook Month and to celebrate Jen at Devourer of Books is once again hosting Audiobook Week on her blog.  Go on over and check it out at Devourer of Books!  I can't tell you how excited I am to participate in this event again.  I love audiobooks and believe they need more recognition in the reading community.

2010-2011 My Audiobook Year

I am an "in the car" audiobook listener.  I don't listen to the radio or music in my car, I listen to books.  Reading this way utilizes that time when I am driving to work and back and occasional lunches where I just sit in my car and listen.  I find listening in my car gets me ready for the day, and helps me unwind after a stressful day.  At lunches it provides an opportunity to escape from the pressures of work.

In the last year I have read (or listened to rather) some remarkable audiobooks. Here are a few of my favorites:  

I am a huge fan of Rick Riordan, but his stories simply come alive in the audio versions of his book. (My Review
The Lost Hero (The Heroes of Olympus, #1)

I love fantasy, but sometimes starting it can be a bit tedious.  Fantasy usually involves a lot of world building, and getting past that to the action can sometimes cause me to put the book down before I get to the good part.  Audio keeps me interested and keeps me listening.  Without the audio, I doubt I would have enjoyed this gem of a book.  Excellent narration and believable voices.  (My Review)

The Demon King (Seven Realms, #1)

There are some books out there that audio just makes better.  In truth, I didn't care for the characters in Jumped all that much.  They were selfish and very self centered.  When I first read the book I really didn't enjoy it all that much.  When it became assigned reading for one of my committees I knew I was going to have to read it again, so I picked up the audio.  The audio for this book is outstanding--one of the best.  (My Review)

Those are my favorites of the last year.  What were yours?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Book Review: Bitter End by Jennifer Brown

Title: Bitter End
Author: Jennifer Brown
Genre: Teen Fiction, Realistic Fiction
Publication Date: May 10, 2011
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
ISBN-13 Book: 9780316086950
Source: I received an ARC for review from the publisher.  This is my honest review!

Bitter EndBitter End by Jennifer Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
As her senior year of high school passes, Alex and her two best friends (Zack and Bethany) plan the trip to Colorado they have been waiting for since they were little.  Nothing will stop this dynamic trio from going to Colorado, until Alex meets the hot new guy at school.  Cole is charming and attractive.  Best of all he shows an interest in Alex.  Unfortunately, he doesn't approve of her friends, and really dislikes her relationship with Zack in particular.  As their relationship progress and Cole pulls her farther and farther away from her friendships with Bethany and Zack, Alex begins to notice a dark side to Cole.  Soon love turns to worry and fear, as she attempts to deal with the secrets of her relationship with Cole.

Jennifer Brown is a talented author.  When I read her Hate List (Little Brown, 2009) last year, I couldn't believe how realistically she delves into the minds of her characters.  In some ways she reminds me of reading Jodi Picoult who has a talent for making the reader see all sides of an issue.  In Bitter End Brown's talent for capturing real feeling and real issues shines through.

Like Hate List Brown shines a light on an issue that affects today's teens.  While perhaps not as dramatic as the school shooting in Hate List, abusive relationships among teens are a prominent problem. 

The beauty of this book is it addresses the question so many people ask about victims in an abusive relationship; "why didn't she just get out?"  Alex must deal with both the cycle of abuse including Cole's remorse and his promises to never hurt her again, as well as dealing with her heart.  She loves Cole and wants to believe that he loves her too. 

Overall this book is a stunning read.  Brown's characters are so realistic they could be people you know.    This is a heart wrenching read that focuses on a topic that needs to be discussed.

Cautions for sensitive readers:  This novel centers around dating violence, so you will find some disturbingly violent scenes.  I would hope that this violence would not keep potential readers from picking up this novel, however, because this it is topic that should discussed with all teens.  There is also some foul language in the book.

View all my reviews

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Into the Past With Barbara Quick Author of A Golden Web

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Barbara Quick to my blog.  Barbara is the author of several books.  Her most recent novels include her adult novel Vivaldi's Virgins (which I can't wait to read) and her newest novel for teens A Golden Web.  I recently read and reviewed A Golden Web and loved it. (My ReviewA Golden Web is an historical fiction novel based on the life of Alessandra Giliani, the world's first female anatomist.  Today, though, Barbara will tell us about her own past.

Into the Past with Barbara Quick

Age 5:  I loved fairytales!

My mother was reading Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairytales for the first time when she read “The Little Mermaid” to me. (This is so not the Disney version, anyone out there who’s not familiar with the original story!) Mom read the ending (where the Little Mermaid loses everything and dies) kind of slowly, not quite believing that this tragic tale was meant to be read to children—still hoping, I think, that some miracle would happen and everyone was going to live happily ever after, after all.

When my mother finished reading the story’s last words, I looked at her with a horror-stricken face—and then started sobbing. She told me I didn’t stop crying for about two days.

Even though that fairytale kind of traumatized me, I was hooked, from then on, on the power of books to crack our hearts open.

Age 11:  I loved Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. What a delicious and satisfying novel that was for me! The March family had everything I longed for in my own life: closeness, reliability and a huge amount of fun. Each character was so distinct and so appealing. I had a beautiful illustrated cloth edition, I think from Grosset & Dunlap. I wish I still had it!

Ages 14-16: At about 14, I remember being enthralled by Herman Hesse’s novels, Siddhartha and Demian. I was so hungry for wisdom—and these books seemed so chock full of it. I did what I didn’t do again until I started writing book reviews professionally: I underlined passages I wanted to remember—and wrote notes in the margins. By age 16, I was completely under the spell of D.H. Lawrence’s novels—especially The Rainbow. I dreamed in Lawrencian sentences.

Age 20: As an English major with a minor in French at UC Santa Cruz, I was reading so many novels—several every week. I loved all of them! They were food for me. They seemed more real than the real world.

If I had to choose one novel that I particularly loved from that period… How can I choose? I loved Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce. I loved Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina! Virginia Woolf’s The Waves! I read all of Henry James’ novels—and, by the time I got to his “late period,” I had the completely delusional impression that he was writing in a secret language that only he and I understood.

Time has already done the work of deciding these books are the real thing, the right stuff: Works of Art. I’m sure my 20-year-old self would have said what I’m going to say now: Read the great authors of the past—and look for the great authors of the future, the ones whose work will last!

Thank you Barbara for stopping by today and telling us more about yourself!

You can find out more about Barbara Quick by following her on her website, blog, or on twitter!  Don't forget to pick up a copy of A Golden Web.  It is a fantastic historical novel you won't want to miss!

Spring Into Summer Read-a-Thon: I'm Signing Up! Are You?

This post is to announce to the world that I'm participating in the Spring into Summer read-a-thon hosted by Enna Isilee of Squeaky Books!

This read-a-thon is going to be so great! It's two days where you try do NOTHING but read. It's a great chance to get rid of some of those books that have been sitting on your TBR pile forever.

But that's not all! There will also be awesome mini-challenges and a TON of giveaways! In fact, just for signing up you are entered to win a $25 gift card to Amazon! SO GO SIGN UP! And if you say that Melissa @ Mel's Books and Info sent you, you'll get 5 extra entries to win that gift card! CLICK HERE to enter to win, and know all there is to know about the read-a-thon.

Here's my goal:

I plan to participate on: Both Days (But I will miss some time on Friday because I do have to work that day.)
I plan to read: 2-3 Books (I know, not breaking any records here, but I am a slow reader.)
I hope to read: Books to be determined on the day of the read-a-thon.

Well, have you signed up yet? DO IT NOW!


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