Thursday, July 31, 2008

New(ish) JK Rowling book Dec. 4!!!

On the author's website:

"'The Tales of Beedle the Bard' will now be widely available to all Harry Potter fans. Royalties will be donated to the Children's High Level Group, to benefit institutionalised children in desperate need of a voice. The new edition will include the Tales themselves, translated from the original runes by Hermione Granger, and with the illustrations by me, but also notes by ProfessorAlbus Dumbledore, which appear by generous permission if the Hogwarts Headmasters' Archive.'"

According to the email I got from B&N:

"It contains all five wizarding fairy tales left to Hermione Granger by Albus Dumbledore in the seventh and final Harry Potter series. Only one, The Tale of the Three Brothers, is recounted in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows. The other four are reveled here for the very first time."

Well, while I knew it HAD to be released EVENTUALLY, I wasn't expecting it. And am curious. You?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Yes. Rebel.

Every year there are books I can't wait to get other people to read. Usually those are the ones I blog right away. Imagine my shock when I realized the book I've recommended to more teens than any other this year (a wider, more easily pegged audience than Little Brother and Jenna Fox?) has not appeared here. Now, it's not like you've not heard of it from every other blog you read, (or from my very mouth, b/c I talk a lot) but all the same, just in case I've missed a couple of you, or you've been hiding somewhere. Plus, it's waaay overdue at the library and there are holds. I'm irritating the very girls I tell to read it by keeping it (I don't like to write about books unless I've got a copy near. Hence, I am a terrible library patron. Luckily, my library doesn't charge fines. Seriously. No one gets fines. Course, if you keep the book a month overdue, you get charged for it. Until you return the book. I'm hoping to, um, clear my account I can check out more books...).

Anyway, some are turned off by the subtle (or not so) feminist undertones in The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. I am not. Why? Because I think it's new information to Frankie, and let's be honest, the intended audience, and because the info was given in annoying lectures by Frankie's older sister. Was her older sister simply a tool for that purpose and not fleshed out enough beyond that? There, you may have an argument, but in the context, I'm ok with it. What with sis off at college, and Frankie at the swank school alone for the first time - she makes her own interpretation of the feminist ideal. A funny, clever, action-prone, make-you-want-to-cheer interpretation.

Frankie's dad was a member of the Secret Order of the Basset Hounds. She's known OF them, but they've never been anything more than a name to her, what with them being a secret society and all. But the summer between freshman and sophomore year Frankie grew up. She goes back to her swanky and competitive boarding school a total knockout. And now people notice her. Now the most popular boy at school notices her. When the call goes out recruiting new Basset Hounds (all boys) and she begins to suspect that her boyfriend is the leader of the pack (vroom-vroom), Frankie decides she will show them that Girls are just as good as boys. Even if it means she has to go behind all of the boys' backs.

Favorite quote:

"...Frankie remembered how Matthew had called her a 'pretty package,' how he'd called her mind little, how he'd told her not to change -- as if he had some power over her. A tiny part of her wanted to go over to him and shout, 'I can feel like a hag some days if I want! And I can tell everybody how insecure I am if I want! Or I can be pretty and pretend to think I'm a hag out of fake modesty -- I can do that if I want, too. Because you, Livingston, are not the boss of me and what kind of girl I become.' But most of her simply felt happy that he had put his arm around her and told her he thought she was pretty" p 79-80.

Notice something a little different with that bit? It's 3rd person omniscient. It's unusual to find it in teen novels, and it lend an equally unusual, almost voyeuristic, tone to the title. There's a touch of distance between the reader and, well. Remember those nature movies Disney used to make? The narration in Frankie sometimes reminded me of those. It absolutely works, in fact, it makes it stand out. I also adore the duality of desire there - she wants to be recognized as an independent woman while still getting to be told she's pretty. All girls, no matter what, want to hear they are pretty once in a while (hear that Kyle?). All girls should demand both.

It shoots out to the front when we speak of my favorite of E. Lockhart's (displacing Dramarama - though I've not read Fly on the Wall, and that's frequently other people's favs. According to my sources.).

Will there be a sequel? I don't know, but it wouldn't surprise me. There's definitely an open window. I'll read it. I think it will appeal to the general girl audience, but especially to those who like Ally Carter's Gallagher Girls books.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

We're not talking about hair.

I will admit that when both Little Willow and Sarah Miller are proclaiming the wonders of a book, I do take note. The two of them generally gravitate toward very different types of books, so I figure, if they both love it? Well, it's unlikely I'll regret reading it.

And so with Feathered by Laura Kasischke. I think that had I any clue whatsoever of what this was about before I cracked it open, I probably wouldn't have read it. I don't really go for the "kids in peril" books, well, unless they're fantasy. And then what's the point of creating a whole world if there isn't some danger in it?


Spring break in Cancun is going to rock. At least that's what Michelle and Anne think, and for one perfect day they are right...

There's an ominous tone from the very first sentence, and to tell you the truth, it just plum wore me out, worrying about how those girls were going to run into trouble, and when, because there's a heck of a lot of build up. They all make some very questionable decisions - only one of which proves truly dangerous.

The book was told by both girls in alternating chapters - in different tenses AND POVs, which I found a little jarring, to be honest. Michelle (3rd person, present) is understandably in third - the distance from the character is necessary, and I liked her sections where it was in poetry; I thought that was just right. Anne was more run of the mill, but more compelling since she's telling it first person past - so she already knows what happens.

I didn't have any problem getting through the book, but I'm not going to proselytize about it either. I just feel pretty lukewarm about it in general; mostly, I think, because it's very clear that something bad will happen, but it takes So Very Long to actually happen that you aren't left with enough time for resolution, or even to get an accurate feel for what exactly happened in the interim to the affected girl, things I need and want as a reader. However, I know just who to give the book to. It will be a very easy sell.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Trend?

So there haven't been a ton of free ebooks for teens, but now in the last few months there have been two that have come to my (admittedly, sparse) attention. First it was Doctorow's Little Brother, which continues to be free, and now, the well-reviewed (and well-buzzed) Savvy by Ingrid Law. I first heard about Savvy from a librarian friend over dinner who was shocked at my ignorance (they set the bar high for me, I'm telling you.) The difference between this one and Doctorow's is that Savvy is only available free online until July 20th.

I still haven't read it, but I'll probably take a gander at the first 20-odd pages. If it hooks me, I'll probably get the book from the library, as I'm not one who likes to curl up in bed with my computer for the nightly bedtime read. Are you? What do you think about ebooks in general, and free ones at that? Who's got the better deal? Doctorow's all free all the time, or Law's all free for a short period? Personally, I'm more of a some free all of the time. I think, marketing-wise, give 'em enough to hook em. But maybe that doesn't have a great track record. Let me know what you think.

Read Savvy here.

PS-- Um, is it just me, or do you guys have Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow flash before your eyes every time you come across the word savvy?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Asking the Universe

At what point do I get to sit around and read all day? Isn't that what librarians are supposed to do?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

I must admit, the wallpaper would be awesome.

There is something quiet and wonderful about Shooting the Moon. The plot isn't earth-shattering or thrilling. There isn't non-stop action or gut-busting humor, but all the same it is compelling, endearing, and smart. It's timeless.

I haven't read any of Frances O'Roark Dowell's other work, despite the fact that my mother loves both Dovey Coe AND Chicken Boy (can we say unappealing cover on that one? yes? I don't care that there is both a chicken and a boy - or even chicken wire.). Shooting the Moon isn't a teen book - I'd say it's solidly in the 9-12 age range, thus marking it the youngest book I've read in ages. And I couldn't tell you what made me pick it up, but I certainly didn't want to put it down - not even when at dinner with friends as waiting for some of the best Indian food in the greater Seattle area. I even got a little misty at the end - convincing one of my friends, Jay (not a librarian, an important distinction since, let's face it, most of my friends are), that he needed to read the book. Which he did - and declared it wonderful, too.

Jamie Dexter loves the Army. The Colonel (her father) can do no wrong, and since his way is the Army way, Jamie wishes nothing more than to be able to go off and fight in the Vietnam war. Her big brother does just that - and therein lies the heart of the story. TJ enlists, against his parents' wishes. Jamie can't wait for his letters home, but when they arrive, she's disappointed by the boring tales he tells their parents - but that letter isn't for her. TJ doesn't write to Jamie - he sends her film, and with those visual tales, one roll after another, she slowly begins to realize that TJ just might be telling her more than he tells their parents, and that war might not be quite what she always thought it was.

It's off a sort that you know pretty much as you start the book what's going to happen. But it doesn't matter - Jaime and all of the people around her are entirely lovable. And the how matters far more than the what. The subtle reminder of the realities of war are certainly relevant to today's audience. They're well done without being a fierce anti-war indictment (as so many are).

I think it shares a tone with Pictures of Hollis Wood - more than just the cover, I should add, upon looking THAT up...hee. I'd also suspect that fans of Because of Winn-Dixie, and Olive's Ocean (although that skews a tad older) would love it.