The Book Thief

As is the case with so many books, I’m late to the party on this one. The Book Thief has been in my I’ve-been-meaning-to-read-this-for-a-while-but-haven’t-gotten-around-to-it pile since I first became a school librarian (way back in 2005 when the book came out). Like Ender’s Game, it was the desire to see the movie adaptation that really spurred me to finally read the book…and I’m so glad I did.

I finished reading The Book Thief less than an hour ago, and I was so moved by the book that I was sitting in my library crying my eyes out. My students and my clerk thought I’d lost my mind. (By the way, I have no problem taking some time to read at school every now and then. How can I expect my students to learn to love reading if they don’t see me modeling it?)

Anyhoo, back to The Book Thief. This book tore me apart, and I can only hope that the movie will, in some small way, live up to its source material. I’m going to see the movie this afternoon, and I fully expect my heart to be in shreds by the time I get home tonight. Here’s hoping…

The Book Thief takes place in Molching, a small town outside of Munich, Germany, during World War II. It is told from Death’s point of view, and the story follows the journey of a young girl, Liesel Meminger, the the lives she touches, and the books she steals during this turbulent period.

I’ve read quite a few fictional accounts of WWII, but most of those tend to focus on the experience of Holocaust victims and survivors. This may be one of the first books I’ve read that details the experience of a German teen who has to at least pretend to tow the party line while quietly protesting the world around her. Liesel finds power in words, and she does everything she can to gain access to as many words as possible…and share those words with those most important to her.

From her foster parents to her best friend to community members to the Jewish man hiding in her basement, Liesel, through both words and deeds, touches every life around her and demonstrates how much one girl–a book thief–can impact so many lives…and can make even Death stop to take notice.

I’m not going to say much more about this book other than it is at once heart-breaking and heart-warming. I was pulled in by the unique way this story was told, and I stayed because I truly grew to care about Liesel, her family, and her friends. The Book Thief has more than its share of tragedy, but there’s so much more to take in here. Even in the midst of a war, people find ways to experience joy, peace, laughter, friendship, and courage. Some of those things may reveal themselves in unexpected ways…perhaps in the form of a stolen book.

If the movie adaptation is even half as good as the book, I think I’ll be pretty happy.  I guess we’ll find out at 4:25 this afternoon!

For those who haven’t seen The Book Thief yet, here’s a movie trailer to whet your appetite. It worked for me!

Published in: on December 5, 2013 at 11:41 am  Comments (2)  
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The Rise of Nine

Danger, Danger! This post will focus on The Rise of Nine, the third book of the Lorien Legacies. If you haven’t already read the first two books, I Am Number Four and The Power of Six, please do so posthaste! These books are pretty cool (much better than the horrid movie adaptation of the first book). Action-packed doesn’t even begin to cover it!

I started my journey with the Lorien Legacies series in 2010. Now, three years later, I’ve finally found time to read the third book, The Rise of Nine. This book came out last summer, and I’m not quite sure why it took me so long to get to it, but I’m glad I finally fit it into my reading schedule. (To be honest, the movie adaptation of I Am Number Four also put a sour taste in my mouth, and it’s been difficult to get into the rest of the series because of that. I hope Hollywood leaves the rest of this series alone!) It took me a little while to get into this third installment because it had been so long since I read the second, The Power of Six. Eventually, though, I was drawn back into the world of the Garde of Lorien and their quest to battle the evil Mogadorians and their leader, Setrákus Ra.

The Rise of Nine takes place immediately following the events of the second book, so it might behoove you to read the last couple of chapters of The Power of Six before starting book three. Like The Power of Six, this third installment is told in alternating viewpoints. Readers are privy to the thoughts of Four, Six, and Seven (better known as Marina). Each character’s “voice” is presented in a different font, so it’s fairly easy to identify who is “speaking.”

Six has finally found two other members of the Lorien Garde, so what’s next? How can she find the other members of the Garde, reunite with Four, and somehow defeat the Mogadorians and save both Earth and her home planet of Lorien? Well, it won’t be easy, and dangers are abundant, but Six is a fighter, and she’s determined to do everything possible to complete her mission. Luckily, she won’t have to face what’s ahead alone. She’s found Seven (Marina) and the unexpected Ten (Ella) in a Spanish convent, and they will join Six in her search for the other Garde members. First stop? India, where there have been reports of mysterious occurrences than can only come from one of them. Have they finally located one of their own? If so, what next? If not, what are they walking into?

Four, also known as John, has escaped a Mogadorian stronghold with another of the Garde, Nine, but he had to leave his best friend behind. Four is determined to mount some kind of rescue, but he must put those plans on hold for a while. He and Nine must work together–which is not exactly easy–to fight Mogs and their surprising allies, hide from enemies when they can, try to find the remaining Garde members, and train to destroy Setrákus Ra. Through everything, though, Four thinks about saving Sam, his best friend, and Sarah, the girl he still loves despite the knowledge that she may have betrayed him.

As the Garde members travel closer to each other, they’re also traveling closer to what may be their ultimate destruction. None of them truly realizes just how strong Setrákus Ra really is or what he is capable of. And when they discover just who is working alongside the Mogs, their journeys become even more perilous.

The Garde is stronger when united, but will their combined strength be enough to defeat their most dangerous and powerful enemy? What sacrifices will be made in the quest to save both Earth and Lorien, and what will the Garde discover about themselves and their abilities along the way? The road ahead is not an easy one, and the Lorien Garde will have to use every weapon at their disposal to get out of this one alive. The question is…will it be enough?

_______________________

To say that I enjoyed this book would be an understatement. While I was reading, I felt like an explosion-filled action movie was playing in my head. (This went well with the nearly constant thunderstorms and fireworks that have been going on around me lately.) I’m so captivated by this series that I plan to spend the rest of the day reading The Lost Files. (I’ve already read Six’s Legacy, but I’m eager to read the others:  Nine’s Legacy, The Fallen Legacies, and a few others. There are even more on the way! Check out Goodreads for a full list.) I probably won’t post about these, but I’ll most likely put my reaction on Knight Reader’s Facebook page.

The fourth and final (?) book of the Lorien Legacies will be out in less than two months. The Fall of Five (rather ominous title, no?) is supposed to be out on August 27th. Hopefully, I will be well past my back-to-school, Mortal-Instruments-movie-fog by then, and I’ll be able to dive into this book immediately. In the meantime, though, I can read The Lost Files and stay updated through the series website, http://iamnumberfourfans.com/. Join me, won’t you?

Published in: on July 7, 2013 at 11:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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Looking forward to 2013!

happy_new_year_KR

Happy New Year all!  I hope your 2013 is everything you want it to be! Now, though, it’s time to set those all important reading resolutions for the year.  This year, I’m going to up the ante even more and challenge myself to read 400 books.  Yes, that’s a lot…even for me.  I’m hoping to get around to reading several books that I meant to read last year, lots of great picture books, some long-neglected classics, more chapter books for upper elementary and middle grade readers, and, of course, the latest and greatest in YA fiction.

There are many, many exciting books that are supposed to be released this year, and I’ve done my best to narrow down the list of the ones I’m looking forward to the most. (You’ll see pretty quickly, though, that I wasn’t exactly successful in removing books from this list.)  January alone is going to break me. This month, there are fourteen new releases that I really want to get my hands on! (Thank goodness for libraries and Barnes & Noble giftcards!)

This list is as complete as I could get it this early in the year.  As I’m sure you know, release dates–and even titles–are subject to change. I’m sure I’ll be adding to my to-read list as the year progresses, especially since some 2013 releases don’t yet have an official publication date.

Without further ado, here is Knight Reader’s list of the most highly anticipated books of 2013!

January

  • 1 – The Essence (The Pledge #2) by Kimberly Derting
  • 8 – Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff
  • 8 – Just One Day by Gayle Forman
  • 8 – Rise (Nightshade prequel #2) by Andrea Cremer
  • 8 – Crash by Lisa McMann
  • 8 – Timekeeper (Timeless #2) by Alexandra Monir
  • 15 – Shades of Earth (Across the Universe #3) by Beth Revis
  • 22 – Ravage (Deviants #3) by Jeff Sampson
  • 22 – Everbound (Everneath #2) by Brodi Ashton
  • 22 – Boundless (Unearthly #3) by Cynthia Hand
  • 29 – Shadowhunters & Downworlders: A Mortal Instruments Reader by Cassandra Clare
  • 29 – Prodigy (Legend #2) by Marie Lu
  • 29 – Shadows in the Silence (Angelfire #3) by Courtney Allison Moulton
  • 29 – Stolen Nights (Vampire Queen #2) by Rebecca Maizel

February

  • 1 – Unravel Me (Shatter Me #2) by Tahereh Mafi
  • 1 – Sever (The Chemical Garden #3) by Lauren DeStefano
  • 5 – Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer
  • 5 – Perfect Scoundrels (Heist Society #3) by Ally Carter
  • 19 – Mind Games by Kiersten White
  • 26 – The Madness Underneath (Shades of London #2) by Maureen Johnson
  • 26 – The Goddess Inheritance (Goddess Test #3) by Aimee Carter
  • 26 – Fragments (Partials #2) by Dan Wells

March

  • 1 – Requiem (Delirium #3) by Lauren Oliver
  • 19 – Clockwork Princess (The Infernal Devices #3) by Cassandra Clare

April

  • 1 – Renegade (Ripper #2) by Amy Carol Reeves
  • 16 – Dead Silence (The Body Finder #4) by Kimberly Derting
  • 23 – Game (Jasper Dent #2) by Barry Lyga
  • 23 – The Elite (The Selection #2) by Kiera Cass
  • 24 – Towering by Alex Flinn
  • 30 – The Program by Suzanne Young
  • 30 – Chosen at Nightfall (Shadow Falls #5) by C.C. Hunter

May

  • 7 – Fall of Night (Morganville Vampires #14) by Rachel Caine
  • 7 – Icons by Margaret Stohl
  • 7 – Isla & the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
  • 14 – School Spirits (Hex Hall spin-off #1) by Rachel Hawkins
  • 28 – Goddess (Starcrossed #3) by Josephine Angelini

August

  • 6 – City of Bones graphic novel by Mike Raicht and Cassandra Clare

September

  • 26 – Divergent #3 by Veronica Roth (title not announced yet)

October

  • 29 – Horde (Razorland #3) by Ann Aguirre
  • ?? – The House of Hades (Heroes of Olympus #4) by Rick Riordan

November

  • 1 – The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White
  • 12 – Afterglow (Wildefire #3) by Karsten Knight
  • ?? – Shatter Me #3 by Tahereh Mafi (title not announced yet)
  • ?? – The Shadowhunter’s Codex by Cassandra Clare et. al.
  • ?? – Daylighters (Morganville Vampires #15) by Rachel Caine

As you can see, most of these books are part of a series. I’ve got to do some work to catch up on some of these! Also, the list gets a little skimpy after May. Part of this is probably because some release dates haven’t yet been nailed down, but it could also be because I’ve missed a book or two.  Can you think of any titles I need to add to this not-even-close-to-comprehensive list?  Let me know in the comments!

I hope you read as much as you want to in 2013! Have a great year, and check back here from time to time to see how I’m doing with my reading goal.  Happy New Year!

Published in: on January 1, 2013 at 11:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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Black Dawn

Spoiler alert!  This post is about the book #12 in Rachel Caine’s Morganville Vampires series, Black Dawn.  I know it’s asking a lot, but please read the first eleven books before proceeding.  Thanks a bunch!

So, it’s been a long week, and I haven’t been able to read nearly as much as I wanted to.  It didn’t help that some genius decided that she should schedule a third book fair three weeks before school gets out for the summer.  (For those that don’t remember elementary school all that well, book fairs are a BIG DEAL.  They’re also a ton of work.)  Anyway, I haven’t had a lot of time to read this week, but I did manage to finish one highly-anticipated book:  Black Dawn by Rachel Caine.  If you paid any attention to the warning above, you know that this is the twelfth book in the Morganville Vampires series, and Claire and crew are once again fighting for their lives…

The draug (water vampires, or at least something similar) have invaded Morganville.  Vampires and humans alike are disappearing, and Amelie, the Founder, has been infected.  After being rescued from the draug, Michael went all vampire-in-a-frenzy, and he fed off the love of his life—and a human—Eve.  Things are bad for everyone in Morganville, but those remaining are determined to fight the invaders that have all but taken over the town.  But are they prepared to pay the price of the battle to come?  Lives will be changed and even lost, and Claire, Shane, Michael, and Eve must decide if they’re willing to risk everything—even each other—to rid Morganville of the horror that is spreading.

The human and vampire residents of Morganville must work together and use some rather unconventional methods to destroy the draug.  Things don’t go well for everyone, and plans are being made to make things even worse for some—especially Claire.  She is the only person who can see Magnus, the master draug, so Oliver (the town’s second-in-command) and Myrnin (Claire’s mad-vampire-scientist boss and my personal favorite character) decide to use her as bait.  Unfortunately, they don’t exactly let her—or anyone else—in on the plan.

Will Claire and company be able to defeat the draug while remaining together?  Will this fight tear them apart?  And what will they do when the town they’ve worked so hard to save becomes even more dangerous than ever before.  They may be working to eliminate one enemy, but more may be stepping up to the plate, even those they once counted as friends.  Who is a friend?  Who is a foe?  It’s hard to tell in a town like Morganville…

So, yeah, I had high hopes that things would get a little better for Claire, Shane, Michael, Eve, and Myrnin in this book.  (They’ve had a rough time of it in the past eleven books.)  Well, it’s not looking good.  This book may have resolved one bit of drama, but several more are waiting to take center stage.  (Yes, I know I’ve used both baseball and theater metaphors in this post.  Just call me well-rounded.)  I did enjoy Black Dawn.  Like the other books in this series, it was full of action, humor, and a dash of steamy romance.  It’s also filled with angst, tension, and heartbreak.  It’s a bit like a vampire soap opera (but not a cheesy one like Dark Shadows). 

And like any good soap opera, the drama just keeps on coming.  The thirteenth book in this series, Bitter Blood, will be out on November 6th this year.  For more information on the upcoming book or others in this addictive series, visit http://www.morganvilletexas.com/The_Morganville_Vampires_series_by_Rachel_Caine/Banner.html.  You can also follow the author on Twitter @rachelcaine.  For those who are still paying attention to this rambling post, check out the official book trailer for Black Dawn:

Finally, if you’re still reading this and haven’t read the entire Morganville Vampires series, you might want to check out these posts on the series.  (Yes, they are in order.)

Happy reading!

Published in: on May 18, 2012 at 2:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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City of Lost Souls

Warning!  There may be City of Lost Souls spoilers ahead!

After work on Tuesday, I rushed to the closest Barnes & Noble to pick up a book I waited on for far too long—City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare.  I started reading it as soon as I got home, but, sadly, I wasn’t able to finish it until yesterday.  (Lots of things kept getting in the way—work, my regular TV schedule, meetings, and my need for naps.)  But finish it I did, and I was absolutely blown away.

Like the other books in Clare’s Mortal Instruments series (City of Bones, City of Ashes, City of Glass, and City of Fallen Angels) and her Infernal Devices series (Clockwork Angel and Clockwork Prince), City of Lost Souls had me hooked before I even opened the book.  And I think a part of me was reluctant to finish the book, partly because I wanted to prolong the time I spent with my favorite characters, and partly because I knew this book would end on a cliffhanger, and I’d have a long time to worry about how things would be resolved.  How right I was.

I’m not going to tell you much about what happens in City of Lost Souls because I don’t want to spoil things for you.  This series means too much to me to ruin it for other fans.  I will say, however, that I am an emotional wreck after reading this book.  Sacrifices and deals are made—or at least considered—that change the entire fabric of this world.  The relationships between the characters have me tied up in knots, and I’m hoping against hope that things get better for everyone in the next book, City of Heavenly Fire.  I even found myself hoping that there was some way to “fix” Sebastian.  When you read this book, you’ll see why that hope was rather short-lived. 

While reading City of Lost Souls, I was always for clues about what might happen in Clockwork Princess.  (For those that don’t know, Clockwork Princess is the third book in the Infernal Devices, the prequel trilogy to Mortal Instruments.)  I think I may have found at least one clue, but it’s so out there that I don’t want to say anything in case I’m wrong (but I don’t think I am).  I also looked for things we might see in the next Shadowhunter series, Dark Artifices, which will take place a few years in the future at the Los Angeles Institute.  Based on things I’ve heard from Cassie Clare and the YA blogging community, I encountered a few characters that I know I’ll see again.

In short, I LOVED this book just as much as everything else Cassandra Clare has written.  I am totally invested in what happens to these characters that I’ve come to love and think of as my friends.  (Most of my best friends are fictional characters.)  I am eagerly anticipating the final book in the Mortal Instruments saga, City of Heavenly Fire, which won’t be released until March of 2014.  (Yep.  You read that right.  Nearly two years away.  Let the temper tantrum begin.)  Clockwork Princess will tide me over for a bit, but it won’t be out until March 19th of next year, so I’ve still got about ten months to stew.  Curses!

There is, however, something I’m looking forward to that will ease the pain of waiting.  Cassie Clare is coming to South Carolinain November!!!!  I got to meet her late last year during her Clockwork Prince tour (and she’s as awesome as you’d think she would be), and I was thrilled this week when I heard she’d be coming back to my fair state.  She, along with dozens of other bestselling authors—including Holly Black, Stephanie Perkins, Gayle Forman,  Margaret Stohl, Andrea Cremer, Kim Derting, and too many others to name—will be coming to Charleston for YALLFest (http://yallfest.org/), the Charleston Young Adult Book Festival.  The event will be November 9-10, and I am so there!  I’m so excited about this that I can barely contain my joy!

So, while the wait to find out what happens to Jace, Clary, Simon, Alec, Magnus, Isabelle, and even Sebastian, is way too long for me, there’s plenty going on that will tide me over (including hearing more about the middle-grade series by Cassie Clare and Holly Black that’s currently in the works). 

If you’d like more information about all of Cassandra Clare’s amazing books, check out her website (http://www.cassandraclare.com/), her tumblr site (http://cassandraclare.tumblr.com/), Twitter (https://twitter.com/#!/cassieclare), and Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/Cassandraclare).  You may also want to check out my favorite fansite, Mundie Moms (http://mundiemoms.blogspot.com/).  Also, if you haven’t seen it already (I’ve watched it about five thousand times), here’s the official City of Lost Souls book trailer.  If this video doesn’t make you want to read this outstanding book, nothing will.  Enjoy!

Published in: on May 13, 2012 at 10:06 am  Comments (4)  
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The Serpent’s Shadow

Spoiler alert!  If you haven’t read The Red Pyramid or The Throne of Fire, turn back now!  If you don’t want to know what happens in the third book of Rick Riordan’s Kane Chronicles, The Serpent’s Shadow, turn back now!  This will be your only warning.

Last night, I finished reading the third and final book in The Kane Chronicles.  This book is The Serpent’s Shadow, and it’s already getting a lot of buzz at my school.  (Honestly, Rick Riordan could write a book about almost anything, and my students would have a fit over it.)  The book has only been out a week, and I’m already getting offers of food, school supplies, and money to have certain students moved to the top of the list to check it out.  (One kid offered up his dog.)  While I cannot be bribed (yet), I am thrilled that this book is so in demand.  Like Riordan’s other books, The Serpent’s Shadow is a great read and will appeal to readers from third grade on up.  It’s full of action, suspense, intrigue, humor, a heavy dose of Egyptian mythology, and even a little bit of romance.  Everyone will find something to enjoy.

Normal is not a word that the Carter and Sadie Kane are familiar with.  They are magicians descended from Egyptian pharaohs, and they often communicate and take on the forms of Horus and Isis, gods of ancient Egypt.  They run a school for young magicians out of their house in Brooklyn, their dad is Osiris (god of the afterlife), and their mom is a ghost.  Sadie has feelings for two different guys:  Walt, a descendent of King Tut who is cursed with a very short lifespan; and Anubis, god of the dead who tends to take on the form of a really attractive teenage boy.  Carter is enamored of a fellow magician, Zia, who spends most of her time babysitting Ra, a senile sun god.

As if life is not abnormal enough, add in a god of chaos, Apophis, who wants to swallow the sun and destroy the entire world.  The incredibly ginormous job of stopping him falls to Carter and Sadie and their merry band of misfits.  It’s up to them to unite magicians and gods in fighting Apophis and his minions, but how can they possibly destroy something so huge, terrifying, and powerful?  Well, they may have found a way, but it involves trusting an evil psychopath (not usually a smart move) and risking their own lives (also not preferable).  Carter and Sadie will have to face unbelievable horrors to save the world, and it still might not be enough.

Can the Kanes defeat the god of chaos without losing themselves?  Can they save those they love in the process?  Is there any hope for a normal life if their longshot of a plan actually works?  Probably not, but they have to try.  In a world that is falling into chaos, it’s up to two teenagers to restore order.  (I was laughing as I wrote that last bit.)  Read The Serpent’s Shadow to find out if their completely crazy heroic quest saves the world or destroys it forever.

Like The Red Pyramid and The Throne of Fire before it, I can’t say enough good things about The Serpent’s Shadow.  The humor alone was enough to keep me reading.  When you throw in a whole bunch of action and, you know, destroying stuff, I’m totally hooked.  This book was the perfect conclusion to The Kane Chronicles, but it definitely left the door open for more of Carter and Sadie Kane and friends.  (I’m hoping we’ll see them in some Percy Jackson crossover kind of thing…maybe in The Mark of Athena—the third book in The Heroes of Olympus series—which comes out this fall.)

To learn more about Rick Riordan, The Kane Chronicles, and Riordan’s other fabulous books, visit http://www.rickriordan.com/home.aspx or follow the author on Twitter @camphalfblood.  You may also want to check out this book trailer for The Serpent’s Shadow from Puffin Books.   It’s short, the cover is different (at least, it’s different from my copy), and the trailer gives nothing away, but it still may be worth a look.  Enjoy!

Insurgent

Warning!  Read Divergent by Veronica Roth before continuing!  (And, honestly, if you haven’t already read Divergent, I’m silently judging you.  Just kidding…but not really.)

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know that Veronica Roth’s Divergent was picked as my top read of 2011.  Well, it looks like the sequel, Insurgent, is in the running for the top book of 2012.  (The jury is still out on which book is better.  I’m still trying to decide.)  I finished reading Insurgent yesterday morning, and I was totally blown away.  The ending alone made me utter a few choice words, and I’m still processing a lot of what happened and what it could mean for book three.  This post will likely be a short one—for me, anyway—because I don’t want to spoil things too much for you guys, but I also don’t quite know how to put my feelings on this book into words…but I’ll try.

Insurgent picks up almost immediately where Divergent concluded.  (It might behoove you to reread the final chapter of Divergent before starting Insurgent, or just check out this link to Veronica Roth’s blog for a handy-dandy “guide to remembering stuff before you read Insurgent,” http://veronicarothbooks.blogspot.com/2012/04/but-i-read-divergent-year-ago-your.html.)

  
Tris, Tobias (also known as Four), and company are on the run after the Erudite attack on Abnegation (including the simulation that turned many Dauntless members into assassins).  Tris trusts Tobias with her life and her heart, but she knows that even he is keeping secrets from her.  Tris is crumbling from the inside out, overcome with grief and guilt over the deaths of her parents and the actions that led her to this point.  She wants to confide all to Tobias, but how can she when she doesn’t know how he’ll react to the heavy burden she’s carrying?  Especially since he’s got his own demons to overcome.

As Tris and Tobias are trying to figure out where they stand with each other—and with the remaining members of their factions/families—they must also worry about the war being waged all around them.  Who can they trust with the truth of their Divergence (aptitude for more than one faction)?  How can they combat the Dauntless traitors who have allied with the Erudite?  Can they convince Candor, Amity, the remaining Abnegation, and the factionless to join in their quest to overthrow the Erudite who wish to control everyone and everything?  What if these groups have their own agendas?

War has broken out between the factions, and no one knows who can truly be trusted.  Friends (and family) become enemies.  Enemies become allies.  And secrets are revealed that shake what little foundation is left in Tris’ world.  What does it really mean to be Divergent in this war-torn society, and why is the Erudite leader—and all-around evil genius—Jeanine so determined to wipe them out?  What is Jeanine trying to hide, and can Tris find out before everything she has left is destroyed?  The truth is out there, and it’s up to Tris to bring it to light…no matter what the cost.

I’ve tried not to give too much away here, and I’m pretty sure I’ve succeeded.  This is one book you really need to read for yourself.  Like I said before, the ending alone was enough to send me into a cursing frenzy.  (I just reread it a few minutes ago, and it managed to shock me all over again.)  Totally didn’t see that coming.  In my everyday life, I hate surprises, but I love it when a book manages to surprise me.  It doesn’t happen often enough.  If you can’t tell, I thoroughly enjoyed Insurgent, and I’m looking forward to seeing how this epic journey will end.  Now, the countdown is on to book three!  The title and cover are still TBA, and I’m assuming we can expect the book to be released sometime in May of 2013.

If you want to learn more about the Divergent trilogy and author Veronica Roth, visit http://veronicarothbooks.blogspot.com/, http://thedivergenttrilogy.com/, check out the Facebook pages at http://www.facebook.com/#!/DivergentSeries and http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Veronica-Roth/108433975887375, and follow the author on Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/VeronicaRoth. You may also like this book trailer from Harper Teen (that gives absolutely nothing away).

I would like to add that, even though the majority of them were the bad guys in this book, I still consider myself a member of the Erudite faction (as I’m sure most other librarians would).  I spend most of my life in the pursuit of knowledge, and I enjoy sharing my knowledge with others…sometimes even when they prefer me to shut up.  If you are a proud Erudite member, you may want to check out the Erudite Faction tumblr site at http://eruditefactionnews.tumblr.com/.

Published in: on May 6, 2012 at 10:52 am  Comments (1)  
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Take a Bow

If you had asked my eighteen-year-old self what I was going to be fifteen years later, I would have said “a musician.”  I originally went to college as a music major (tuba, specifically).  It was a pretty cut-throat world, even in a small liberal arts college in South Carolina.  After two years of nearly working myself to death, I was completely burnt out.  (At one point, I was practicing eleven different instruments during the same semester.)  I changed my major and began a journey that would lead me to my true calling—school librarianship.  Music, though, has always been and will always be a part of my life.  I still play occasionally, and I’ve even been known to write a piece of music when the spirit moves me.  (I even did a stint as a low brass instructor for a marching band when I still worked at a high school.)  It should come as no surprise, then, that I enjoy books that combine my love of music with my love of young adult fiction.  Take a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg is a wonderful example of this winning combo. 

Take a Bow follows four high school students as they navigate the tough waters of a performing arts high school.  Emme is a songwriter who seems content to play with her band and write songs for her best friend, Sophie.  Sophie is a diva of the highest order who will stop at nothing to become a star.  (She reminded me a little of Rachel Berry on Glee.)  Carter is a former child star who is struggling with who he was, who everyone thinks he is, and who he wants to become.  Ethan is a gifted musician and songwriter who can’t seem to stop himself from self-destructing…even though he’s damaging the only relationship that really means something to him.

Each of these young people is dealing with the pressure that comes with striving to be the best performer in their fields—auditions, college applications, and nerve-wracking performances.  They’re also discovering just what they want out of life, and what they’ll do to get it.  People will be hurt, friendships will end, delusions will be shattered, dreams will be crushed, and lives will change, but Emme, Sophie, Carter, and Ethan will learn a lot about themselves, music, and life on their roads to success…and success won’t mean the same thing to all of them.  They’ll learn that sometimes the spotlight isn’t all it’s cracked up to be…and that true friends are there whether you’re falling on your face or taking a bow.

I truly enjoyed Take a Bow, especially glimpsing what each character was experiencing.  I totally identified with Emme.  (I was a very shy performer unless I was with a group.)  I loathed Sophie, and I couldn’t wait for Emme to really see the truth about her.  I rooted for both Carter and Ethan to get what they wanted (especially Ethan).  This is a perfect book for music, theater, and even art nerds.  It provides readers with a fairly accurate look at the competitive world of the performing arts.  It’s a little like Glee, but a lot more realistic.  (I love Glee, but I have no illusions that high school students break out into song in the halls or that the same three teachers seem to be involved in absolutely everything.)

If you’d like to learn more about Take a Bow and author Elizabeth Eulberg, visit http://www.elizabetheulberg.com/.  You can also like the author’s Facebook page or follow her on Twitter @ElizEulberg.  I’ve read two of her books so far (Take a Bow and Prom & Prejudice), and I look forward to reading many more!

Whisper

If you haven’t already read the first three books in Alyson Noël’s Riley Bloom series (Radiance, Shimmer, and Dreamland), do that before reading this post about book four, Whisper!

Earlier today, I finished reading the fourth and final (?) book in the Riley Bloom series by Alyson Noël.  I found Whisper to be a quick, fun, engaging read that I just know will be a hit with many of my older students.  (For those that don’t know, I’m an elementary school librarian, and my fourth and fifth grade girls absolutely LOVE the Riley Bloom books.)  I also think teen and adult readers will enjoy this story.  I did.

In Whisper, Riley Bloom finds herself on her most difficult assignment as a Soul Catcher.  Riley, Bodhi (her guide), and Buttercup (her dog), travel toRome where it’s up to Riley to convince a ghostly Roman gladiator to cross over into the Here & Now.  There might be a couple of problems with this, though.  The gladiator, Theocoles, also known as the Pillar of Doom, is seemingly stuck in his last moments.  Riley doesn’t know how to get through to him, especially when she realizes that Theocoles can neither see nor hear her.  Riley isn’t sure what to do, but a girl she encounters in Rome may be able to help her.

When Riley first meets Messalina, trust doesn’t come easily.  She knows that Messalina is up to something, but she needs all the help she can get to convince Theocoles to cross over.  So Riley takes Messalina’s advice and immerses herself in the gladiator world.  Riley transforms herself into the young woman she’s always wanted to be and becomes a part of this strange life in ancient Rome.  She may have even found her very first boyfriend.  Riley, or Aurelia as she’s known in this new dream world, soon begins to forget why she was sent to Rome in the first place.  What was her mission again? 

Every once in a while, Riley/Aurelia gets a feeling that she’s supposed to be doing something important, but the answer slips away from her whenever Messalina is near.  Can Riley wake up in time to complete her mission?  Or will she be forever trapped within the world that has captured so many before her?  Can both Riley and Theocoles learn to ignore the cacophony around them and listen to the whisper of truth that will lead them home?  Read Whisper by Alyson Noël to find out!

This past week, I did a few lessons on genre with my second grade students, and we talked about books that fit into more than one genre.  In my opinion, Whisper, like Shimmer, is a good example of that.  Both of these books combine fantasy with a fair amount of historical fiction.  Shimmer, of course, explored what life may have been like as a slave—and even as a slave owner—in the 1700s.  Whisper delved into life in ancient Rome, particularly gladiator culture.  The Ludus Magnus mentioned in this book is real and was considered to be a very important training ground for gladiators.  I was especially interested in Noël’s descriptions of what the spectators of these brutal displays were like.  Even Riley got swept up in the hullabaloo.  I think it showed a disturbing side of human behavior, and it’s only too easy to imagine the world of gladiators rising in popularity in our modern culture.  (Just look at what we watch on television or read Girl in the Arena if you don’t believe me!)

As far as I know, Whisper is the final book in the Riley Bloom series.  (I hope I’m wrong.)  There’s no mention on Goodreads or the author’s website of another book in the works.  If this is the last I see of Riley, I want to say that the journey has been both fun and enlightening.  I hope I get to share this series with many readers in the years to come!

If you want still more Riley Bloom goodness, check out this book trailer for Whisper (produced by Macmillan Children’s):

Published in: on April 29, 2012 at 7:46 pm  Comments (2)  
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The Last Echo

Warning!  If you haven’t read The Body Finder or Desires of the Dead, please do so before continuing with this post about the third book in The Body Finder series by Kimberly Derting, The Last Echo.  Spoilers ahead!

I don’t know what it says about me that I’m fascinated with books about serial killers.  (Maybe it just means that I’m incredibly interesting.  Probably not, though.)  I don’t mean that I like true crime books.  I don’t.  In fact, if it actually happened, I want very little to do with it.  (Unless we’re talking about Jack the Ripper.  Fictional books based on his crimes are kind of awesome, especially Maureen Johnson’s The Name of the Star.)  I enjoy fiction that gives me a glimpse of what it *might* be like if a serial killer were running rampant.  I also like it when teenagers are the ones responsible for stopping the killer.  That explains why I’m such a fan of Kimberly Derting’s The Body Finder series.  In each book, the main character, Violet, uses her extrasensory ability to locate the bodies of the dead and match the echo attached to the body with the imprint left on the killer.  (If you’ve read these books, this needs no explanation.  If you haven’t, read the first book, and all will become clear…sort of.)  This unique ability is both a gift and a curse.  Sometimes Violet’s ability helps the dead to find peace.  But sometimes it puts Violet in a killer’s sights…

In The Last Echo, Violet is coming to terms with people finally knowing about her ability.  She’s working with a team of kids with their own psychic connections to the dead.  When she finds the body of a young girl, she’s drawn into the case of a serial killer known only as “the collector.”  This madman kidnaps young women and keeps them as his girlfriends…until they do something that upsets him.  Violet and her team, including the enigmatic Rafe (who shares an unsettling connection with Violet), are using all of their considerable abilities to find this killer.  They might even use a few less-than-legal methods. 

When one of these adventures gets them into a bit of trouble, Violet unwittingly becomes the target of yet another psycho, a gang member who has so many imprints attached to him that Violet wonders just how many people he’s killed.  In addition to tracking “the collector,” Violet is now working to put someone else, someone who may be even more dangerous, behind bars.

Violet’s life is more complicated than ever before.  Her work with the team, while it makes her feel like less of a freak, may be putting her very life in danger.  (And even though she kind of likes working with this special team, she’s getting a little sick of all the secrets being kept from her.)  Her parents and her boyfriend Jay want her to quit, but Violet has this need to help the dead find peace.  The only way to do that is to use her special ability to find their killers and bring them to justice.  Violet may be in more danger, however, than she ever thought possible.  She’s in the sights of not one but two killers.  One wants her to die.  The other wants to make her his…forever.

How can one girl cope with being a target?  How can Violet use her ability to stop more deaths—including her own?  Solve the mystery when you read The Last Echo by Kimberly Derting.

I know this is not my best review/recap, which kind of sucks since I enjoyed this book–the whole series, really–so much.  I totally downplayed the complicated connection between Violet and Rafe and its impact on Violet’s relationship with her super-supportive boyfriend Jay.  (No, that’s not sarcasm.  Jay is almost too-good-to-be-true in his support of Violet and her decisions.)  While I think this is a very important part of the book, I honestly feel that the story—the search for “the collector” and the other psycho fixated on Violet—is more important.  The Last Echo was all about Violet and her issues with her ability, whether it helps her or puts her in the line of fire.  In the end, it was totally up to Violet to save herself.  (Also, I fully expect that the next book in this series will delve even deeper into the connection between Violet and Rafe.  At least, I hope so.)

Speaking of the next book, there’s no word yet on a title, cover, or synopsis, but it is expected to be released sometime in 2013, probably in the spring.

For more information on The Body Finder series, the author, and other books by Kimberly Derting, visit http://kimberlyderting.com/.  You can also follow the author on Twitter @kimberlyderting. 

Still not enough?  Well, check out this book trailer for The Last Echo from HarperTeen.  It’s pretty cool.  Enjoy!

Published in: on April 28, 2012 at 1:37 pm  Comments (2)  
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