Sunday, September 28, 2008

Banned Books Week

This week--September 27 through October 4,2008-- is Banned Books Week, a week set aside to celebrate the freedom to read.

The freedom to read ANY and EVERY Book we wish to pick up and enjoy.

So, in celebration of this week, I would like to encourage you to check out this list of the Top 100 Banned/Challenged Books of 2000-2007, pick one out that looks interesting and read it.

While you're at it, why not leave a comment sharing what you are reading?

If nothing else, please just check out the list...I think you might be surprised of some of the titles on there...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Upstairs Room by Johanna Reiss

This is the story of a Dutch-Jewish family in Holland during World War II, specifically the story of Annie, the family's youngest daughter. Through Annie's eyes, the audience lives the harsh reality of having the Nazi Army invade their country. The family has heard the news of what is happening Jews throughout Europe, and realizes that they are in grave danger.

As the Germans begin to implement more and more restrictions on the Jews in their city and begins to take the Jews to "work camps," Annie's father arranges to have the family sent away and into hiding. Unfortunately, Annie's mother is very sick and must stay in the hospital during this time. Annie's father goes to one part of Holland while Annie and one of her older sisters (Sini) head to a different area to stay with another family. The oldest sister, Rachel, opts to stay behind with her mother and eventually finds safety with yet another family.

The first family that is hiding Annie and Rachel must move them for their own safety, so the girls move in with the Oosterveld family for two weeks. Two years later, the Germans are defeated in Holland and the girls are freed and allowed to safely return home and are reunited with their family.

This book is Annie’s description of what life is like living basically like a prisoner in a stranger’s home as she is not allowed to be seen by anyone. She cannot go outside, she rarely gets to visit other children her age, and her life is put in danger often. However, she makes some lifelong friends in the Oosterveld family, for without them, Annie’s story may have been much different.

What I Thought:
What a powerful story! I could not imagine being a young girl and trapped in a small house for years, not to mention rarely getting to go outside or socialize with my peers.

While my favorite kids book about this time period is Lois Lowry's Number the Stars, I think this book is another excellent addition to literature dealing with WWII, the Holocaust, and those who lived through the nightmare.

This book is a Newbery Honor Book and an ALA Notable Children's Book.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: The Upstairs Room by Johanna Reiss.

Monday, September 22, 2008

New Book Day!

On the days when a book I have ordered for my personal library arrives, I will post a picture and explain why I just HAD to have it for my very own.

Being a librarian, I'm a firm believer of not purchasing books but using the resources available for FREE!

But there are just some books I have to have. (Besides books for school, although some of those are quite awesome.)

New Book Day is very exciting. It is like Christmas, my birthday, and every holiday rolled into one as I open the box and find a wonderful new adventure. Even if I've already read it. My husband totally makes fun of me, but I don't care. It's New Book Day.

So, without further ado, here the first installment of NEW BOOK DAY! (YAY!!!)

Today's arrival is My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult.

I read this book a few years ago, and have since read it again AND listened to the audiobook. It is my all time favorite Jodi Picoult book and is definitely in my top ten of all time favorite books ever. I will post a proper review at a later date, no time to do it justice right now!

I have been wanting to purchase this book for a while, but it was not being printed in hardcover, only softcover. And I really wanted a hardcover version. Plus, the movie is coming out in 2009, so I imagine there will be a run on this wonderful novel and I wanted to be SURE to get it just like I wanted it. I finally broke down and ordered it through and now proudly own my very own copy!

Hurray for New Book Day!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

Colin is a child prodigy who just graduated from high school and has just had his heart broken by his girlfriend-Katherine. He only dates girls named Katherine and has the same result eighteen previous times-the relationship never works out. He is also disappointed that he is now an adult and never did anything outstanding to prove that he was a true child prodigy.

Colin and his best friend Hassan head out on a road trip to clear their minds and figure out life when they end up in a rural West Tennessee town called Gutshot. (Gutshot claims to be home of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the person responsible for the first shot of WWI). Here they meet Lindsey and her mother Hollis, whose family runs the local textile factory that produces tampon strings and is the major employer of this tiny town.

Hollis invites the boys to spend the summer in Gutshot and employs them to visit various community members to record their personal memories of the town and factory. Colin is also busy working on his relationship theory that will predict the outcome of all relationships. He uses his past relationships with the many Katherines and with a little help from Lindsey and some realizations of the truth-Colin figures out the theorem. (Which is explained in the appendix, and is actually quite fascinating.)

Not only do Colin and Hassan have an interesting summer making new friends (and girlfriends!) and have all kinds of new adventures, but they both make some important personal decisions and learn a lot about themselves.

What I Thought:

I am never disappointed when it comes to John Green’s books. This is an outstanding work, and I found myself pondering this book for days. I actually found this summary very difficult to write, as so much good stuff going on I had trouble making it short enough for a short summary. (And I probably did not do such a great job summarizing, but hey…I’m still learning!)

I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a great story and great literature. (I think this book is also slated to be a movie sometime in the future.) A plus for some may be the use of anagrams and math. (I enjoyed the anagrams, not so much the math…..that would not be surprising to anyone who knows me!) It was a Printz Honor Book.

In the meantime, I will continue to anticipate the release of Green’s next book Paper Towns due out in October. (And if you have not read Looking for Alaska-Green’s first work- you should RUN to the nearest bookstore or library and read it today. It is that good.)

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: An Abundance of Katherines by John Green.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dirty Little Secrets from Otherwise Perfect Moms by Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile

This book reveals the confessions of moms from all over in this short book that was born from the research the authors conducted for their first book, I Was a Really Good Mom Before I had Kids.

This book is super short, each page holds one confession, but it is very sweet and very humorous.

I am not a mom myself, but can am very sure that the confessions are the thoughts of many moms worldwide.

What I thought:

This book is super cute and a very fun read. It won't take long, I read it in about 20 minutes and just had to share some of the quotes with my husband. I think any mom, anyone who wants to be a mom, or even anyone who works with children would enjoy this book. (And dads would probably get a kick out of it as well!)

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Dirty Little Secrets from Otherwise Perfect Moms by Trisha Ashworth and Amy Nobile.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Nick and Norah are two strangers who are both recovering from recent break-ups. Nick is in a queercore band (but is not gay) and Norah is there with her best friend. When Nick’s set is over and he is mingling in the crowd, he sees his ex-girlfriend Tris, the girl that broke his heart. In an attempt to save face, Nick turns to the girl closest to him and asks if she will be his girlfriend for five minutes. Norah agrees and proceeds to kiss him, mainly hoping that he has a car and can take her and her best friend home.

But Nick’s friends have other plans. They give Norah $50 to take Nick out on the town and show him a good time. The guys will take her friend home, they just want Norah to take Nick’s mind off Tris. Until Norah sees her ex, Tal and her world is turned upside down. But off they go on a wonderful adventure!

The night continues and the relationship has its ups and downs as it begins to blossom. Both Nick and Norah have some personal issues they must work through before they feel comfortable with the other. They both have to learn to let the past go and look towards the future.

This story is told in alternating viewpoints, Nick and Norah’s, each voice written by a different author and takes place over the time period of one night. And it is one crazy night!

What I Thought:

I was a bit apprehensive of this book, but I enjoyed it thoroughly. It is a purely an older teen book (and up) because of the language and use of alcohol and may be easily challenged by parents in both school and public libraries. The "F" word is used freely and very often. A plus for Nick and Norah is they refrain from using drugs or alcohol while everyone around them are. Some sexual references are included, and one scene is a bit graphic.

This book has been very highly acclaimed, it was named an ALA Best Books for Young Adults 2007 and was also an ALA Quick Pick for Young Adult Reluctant Readers 2007.

The movie is being released on October 3, 2008 and I am anxious to see how the book and movie correlate. It appears that they will be very different.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Have you ever been tired of your life?

Sixteen year-old D.J. Schwenk sure is. She’s practically running her family’s dairy farm in Wisconsin while her dad is recovering from surgery, her older brothers are off playing college football, and her mom is too busy with her jobs at the local elementary school. Her only help is her younger brother Curtis, who is often too busy with his own athletics or driving their dad around to help out. Plus, he rarely talks, so he’s not much company anyway.

She begins to think that her life, and the lives of some of her family and friends, is very similar to the life of a cow. They do the same thing, day in and day out, being herded along in the crowd to daily life.

When Brian, the quarterback for the rival high school’s football team shows up to help out, D.J. is shocked. Eventually, she becomes his personal football trainer, only to realize that she wants to break the mold and try out for her own school’s football team, all while falling for Brian. No surprise, D.J. makes the team, but she never got the chance to tell Brian – and when he finds out, he is very angry…he even sues the school! To make matters worse, her best friend makes a shocking confession and D.J. can’t (or won’t) go to her for support.

Will D.J. step it up and be a vital team player as they battle it out against Brian’s team? Will she come to terms with her parents and learn to balance her life? Most importantly, will D.J. break the mold and make her life worth more than a cow’s?

D.J. finds her identity in this coming of age story and realizes that she does not have to follow the crowd. All while proving that girls can be stronger, faster, and more determined that a lot of the boys!

What I thought:
I love this book.

DJ is such a strong female character who is NOT your frilly "I gotta have the latest clothes and most popular boyfriend" kind of girl. She is discovering herself while pulling her family through a difficult time. The sequel, The Off Season, is great too. (Watch for my review of that book coming very soon.)

This book is appropriate for the middle to high school crowd, and while girls will probably be drawn to it more than guys, I think if they give it a chance-the guys would like it too.

Want to see more? Check it out on Amazon: Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock.

Friday, September 12, 2008

A New Page....

Hello Friends!

(Which I realize I am speaking to myself as anyone who ever followed this site gave up on it a LONG time ago as I stopped posting...)

But today is a new day and I'm starting something new.

If you know me at all, you know that I "heart" books. I love to read, which is good because I am a librarian! A children's librarian, which is seriously, the best job in the world.

Also, I am in graduate school diligently working on a MIS (Master's in Information Science), sometimes also called Information/Library Sciences. Many of the classes I have taken/am taking/will take require me to read lots of great books and write summaries for them.

Which is actually quite fun.

So, in a feeble attempt to be technological savvy and to keep the practice alive of writing book reviews, I have changed the content of this blog to just reviews.

Hopefully you will find them interesting and it will encourage you to pick up a great read.

Please understand that I am a novice, and learning the fine art of writing superb reviews. I promise to do my best. And to update as often as possible! (Really.)