Sunday, July 31, 2005

Clemency Pogue: Fairy Killer

...there's a title that will grab your attention!

Surfing around the net today, I came across this title and was intrigued. Since my kiddo is over at her nana's today, I decided to go out and give this a read in hopes of finding more tween stuff.

This book is fun, fun, fun!

Clemency is minding her own business, collecting sassafras, when she is stung by a bug. At least she thinks it could be a bug. This bug, however, is relentless. No matter how quickly she runs, or how powerfully she smacks, she cannot get away. Right at the point when she is about to fall into a gorge, she sees that this is not a bug, but a fairy. Having listened closely to her father's stories, Clemency knows what to do. She utters the fateful words, "I don't believe in fairies!" It doesn't work. At least not the first time. It does work the seventh time. So what happend those other six times?

Six other fairies died. Including the fairy of noninvasive surgery, and the tooth fairy. Clemency Pogue is a fairy killer.

With the help of a hobgoblin, enslaved to her by a bit of rumplestiltskin type luck, Clemency sets off to travel the world to try to make things right.

JT Petty uses some fun and fantastic wordplay, and the vocabulary is fairly sophisticated. I breezed through the 120 pages in less than a couple of hours, and this novel should prove super appealing to emerging fantasy fans.

Saturday, July 30, 2005


Back on the hunt for tween titles, I started and promptly left 2 in the dust. One I had high hopes for (an adult author who I now think should stick to adult!), and another with too many sex references for my age group.

Happily, I picked up Sharon Creech's new book, Replay. I absolutely love Ruby Holler, Heartbeat and Love that Dog, so I was hoping that this title would fall into my parameters. I already knew the writing would be good.

Meet Leo and his big Italian family. Sibs Contento, Pietro, Nunzio, and mom Mariana and dad Giorgio. Don't forget Grandparents, The Aunties, The Uncles and The Cousins.

Leo is a dreamer. Those around him actually call him fog boy because more often than not he is in the middle of a day dream, where he is no longer the youngest and forgotten one, but rather the star! One day up in the attic he finds his father's old tap shoes and journal from the age of 13. Leo starts to open up a mystery about his family that he never knew existed. Tie that in with a big, bold family unit plus the lifestyle of a very innocent 12 year old, and what is left is a sweet story.

The end of the book has the play that Leo is involved in at his school, leaving the perfect opportunity for theatre geek readers to act it out.

Again, this is an arc due out in September. I would recommend this for Creech fans, young actors, and the more innocent reader. It is truly a sweet family story.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince

So I have always had a bit of a crush on Severus Snape (at least as played by Alan Rickman), but now I don't know if I can carry my torch any longer! Sniff.

I ordered my copy of HP6 after the release date, and I got it sent by Amazon UK. It's hard for me to read a "revised" version for Americans. I don't really get it. I mean, context will help a reader out any day.

I knew that this was going to be the last lengthy book that I read for a while, and I was looking forward to it. It was a MUCH easier go than The Historian, but it was just as enjoyable.

Harry and the gang are coming up on 17 years old now and are in year 6 at Hogwarts. This is the year that they finally get to apparate, Harry is the head of his house quidditch team, and there is still good old Voldemort to hunt down.

I found this a much more enjoyable read than the Order of the Phoenix. The kids are older, the plot moves along effortlessly, and even as an adult reader, there was only one instance when I already knew what was going to happen. As I have written before, sequels tend to scare me, but I am amazed at how Rowling has managed to move this story along in a real time fashion without trivializing her characters.

All I can say is that I hope Snape has something up his sleeve for me next book!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Historian

I admit, that I am not usually a fan of the bestseller. This book only came to my attention because my friend Jen was doing a tandem reading with her friend Lynne. She knows my gothy past, so she gave me a quick plot synopsis. I thought I might read her copy when she was finished. Alas, when I was shopping in Costco, I saw the book for 1/2 price and I picked it up. I started reading that evening and I was hooked.

Now you need to understand that I spend lots of time reading children's and young adult's literature, so whenever I dive into the adult world, it takes a bit longer. Also Kostova did an amazing job weaving fiction and nonfiction together. I found myself underlining places and dates and then going online to do a bit of background reading. (That's the librarian in me!)

The plot starts quickly, which left me a bit worried about being interested for the entire 642 pages, but I was not disappointed. We start with a young woman finding a book containing a bunch of letters that begin, "My dear and unfortunate successor...." The book itself is blank save a woodcut of a dragon in the centre. The book is in her father's study and she asks him about it. Here begins the history told orally and through documents of hunting for Vlad Dracula.

The reader is taken to Istanbul, Budabest, Romania and Bulgaria, as well as Amsterdam and France, Greece and Crete. The descriptions are lush and realistic. The reader truly gets a sense of place and culture through Kostova's words.

My friend told me that the last 50 pages were a big payoff for all the time put into the reading. I have to say, however, that I enjoyed the reading. There was only one section where I had to put it down because my mind felt too full of "facts", and I needed a break. I also could have done with out the epilogue, because when the chapter before it ended, I exclaimed out loud, "Oh my way!". Which in my mind is always a great way to end a book!

Apparently reviews are running either hot or cold. All I can say is that I enjoyed this book tremendously and have been recommending it to my friends.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Out of Order

So, I have been trolling the arcs I got at BookExpo looking for reads that may be appropriate for the younger tween set. Since I am due to have a kid in 3 weeks or so, I am trying to get as much reading in as possible. I have a presentation to make in October on the tween subject, and I know how quickly time will pass, and how little sleep I will be operating on once this kiddo arrives.

So I picked up Out of Order, by Betty Hicks.

I had never read this author before, but the cover is appealing and the publisher recommendation (which I know tends to run low), says ages 8-12. I am really looking for some newer stuff for the 8-10 range.

I was pleasantly surprised. This book is presented in 4 voices. The voices are of the kids in the now blended family. We have Parker, the youngest, who now wants to be referred to as "Mud Boy". Then we have Lily...former oldest, now second youngest. She used to be opinionated, but now that she has older stepsisters and brothers she is shutting down. Then there is "V". "V" is for's fav (or at least former fav) who is a girlie girl, smart and Lily's nemesis. Then there is Eric...the aspiring writer who can't seem to get out of his dead brother's shadow.

This is a blended family story that isn't too preachy or too sappy. Younger readers will get into the sibling dynamics as well as the rock, paper, scissors theme, and older readers will enjoy the issues that are effecting both Eric and V. The content is totally appropriate for the younger reader, and the voices of the characters ring true.

I read this arc in a day, and I really did enjoy it. I know that I will be recommending it to the occasional 3rd grader and well as 4th graders at my school.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The Orpheus Obsession

I try to get everyone that I know to read Johnny Vodoo, by Dakota Lane. It was one of the books that I read while I was a YA librarian in a public library, and it totally captured me. The essence of Louisiana, as well as Johnny himself just drew me in quickly and kept me there the whole time. Imagine my surprise when my fellow librarian Karyn told me that Lane's newest book had just been nominated for BBYA.

Jen and Karyn just got the book in, and I had the pleasure of reading it over the past couple of days.

I wasn't quite sure what to think at first. I kept Johnny Voodoo too close to my mind and this is a very different book. I couldn't help thinking of Francesca Lia Block when I started to read about Anooshka and her sister Moon. The story starts with a very trippy sojourn to Brighton Beach culminating in a chance meeting with rock star Orpheus while he is on a photo shoot. Originally Moon had introduced Anooshka to his music, and Anooshka ends up struck by Orpheus in a way that develops into the type of obsession that only teen girls can cultivate.

We watch Anooshka fall for, follow, and enter Orpheus' world. Is she the angel that he tells her she is, or simply another delusional, teen fan that would make for an easy lay?

The language is poetic, and true to form, Lane's descriptions are lush and leave the reader with a real sensory feeling of being there. I feel like I have a real picture of Moon and of Anooshkas's friends, as well as the East Villiage through Anooshka's eyes. It's just Anooshka herself that remains partly mysterious to me.

To Kill A Mockingbird

I know, I know. "How could you never have read To Kill a Mockingbird?"

My stock answer is, "I'm Canadian. Have you read Fifth Business?" That usually will stop them in their tracks.

I try to read at least one classic a summer, and since I am working in an American school now, I thought, I had better bone up on my American Classics. So I polled some colleagues of mine, and once TKAM came up, everyone said that was the one that I had to read.

Boy I'm glad that I did.

There is no real reason to give any plot synopsis since it seems like everyone has read it, but wow. A friend at work said to me, "Atticus Finch is the perfect man", and I am inclined to agree. Scout, Jem and Dil are all such authentic characters, as is the illusive Boo Radley. We all had a Boo on our streets growing up, didn't we? Our street definately had a haunted house with a mean old lady living inside. Noone went there on Hallowe'en except on a dare.

It only took me two days to read Mockingbird simply because the story was so compelling. Eventhough as an adult, I knew what was going to happen, I kept hoping that the ending would turn out differently. Amazing writing.

So if any of you out there would like to recommend an American classic to me, feel free to post a comment.