Wednesday, May 29, 2013

My First Video Review

You've read my review for Dance of Shadows already - but how about a new format? 

Sneak Peak is a fun YA program at my library where the new books are all brought out at one time, red carpet style, with book talks as the entertainment. This year our super YA librarian, Joan, wanted to intermix some media into the program and asked me to film myself.
If I had more time to spend on this, it could have been really polished - but it turned out pretty awesome as it is! Stay tuned for more book talks and book trailers soon!!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Book Review: Dance of Shadows

Dance of Shadows
by Yelena Black

I read this without following my typical review format - so I thought I'd include my book talk on this here instead. This is a sneak peak because I won't give my book talk for a few more days.

The New York Ballet Academy. Dancers spend years dreaming of what it would be like to attend. They admit the most dedicated, talented, and graceful dancers each year. That was my sister – Margaret was amazing and dedicated and passionate. Which is why I know she didn’t run away like everyone has said. It is my turn to go, I’ve been admitted and it isn’t my passion for dance that brought me – but my dedication for finding my sister.

Before I can start looking I’m pulled out of bed in the middle of the night for what I thought was a hazing. The masked dancers hold out a scalpel that we are to slice into our own feet and drag a line of blood across the practice hall floor.
Barefoot, I stepped forward. The upperclassmen closed in around me, chanting in English. You’re not good enough. You’re not worthy. The words came out low and muggy through their masks. You will never be a dancer.

They’re right, I thought, searching their hollow faces. I gripped the knife and slashed the ball of my foot. The chanting grows louder all around me, words now in French that I do not understand. They grow louder, louder, until the words pounded through my head.
Later I discover their meaning, “Run Away, Flee for your life. Save your soul.”

Only a few days later my friend goes missing. A boy who is equal parts mysterious and dreamy starts seeking me out. Our instructor goes from demanding to sadistic. I’m cast in a lead role that seems cursed. First my sister, now my friend, maybe others have disappeared too - and instead of saving them, I might be next.

Check out the book trailer as well 

Book Review: Sisters Red

Sisters Red
by Jackson Pearce

May 23rd

This is one of the books I'll be book talking at an upcoming YA program. I totally "judged books by the cover" when I picked out my two books I was totally attracted to the covers. However, beyond the cover, Little Red Riding Hood is my favorite Grimm tale. It is dark and delightful. 

On to the book. It starts out with young Rosie and Scarlett March. Their grandmother is attacked (shocking), but on a delightful turn, a man doesn't show up to save them (Joseph Gordon-Levitt would approve). Now onto adulthood Scarlett carries the physical scars and Rosie carries the emotional burden as they band together with the help of  Scarlett's only friend, Silas, to fight the Fenris. 

Here are some problems: First, their names. Scarlett and Rosie? That is a little heavy handed with the red metaphor I think - couldn't one of their names been a French version of this? They are the March sisters, which in the literary world should only refer to the Little Women. Scarlett is covered with scars? That was just bad planning. The second problem? The pretty shallow development of Rosie's feelings toward Silas. Okay, so she likes the boy and knows she shouldn't. Now what? This has been going on for 147 pages now. Make a move or move on. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

New Graphic Novels

I've said it before, I'm not a graphic novel fan. However, as the collection developer for the graphic novel section at my library, I'm learning a lot. Additionally, I'm finding some things I really like.

First up, Hildafolk by Luke Pearson
a Norbrow Press Graphic Novel

You know how people (um, librarians?) are always saying you can't judge a book by its cover? Well, that should probably be that you "shouldn't" judge a book by its cover, because you totally can - and I do, often!
Hilda was so adorable with her bluish hair that I couldn't pass her up. However, not having done any research I didn't realize that this is book two, book one is Hilda and the Midnight Giant. There is also Hilda and the Bird Parade ... both of which I'll be ordering soon because this is a sweet book.
A mere 12 pages to tell an enchanting story about a girl and her adventures. Well, Pearson pulls it off. Between her desire to be cozy, her adoration of trolls, and the excellent artwork this story is one to read and re-read.
Struggling readers will enjoy the brevity of the story. Graphic art snobs will love Pearson's work, and anyone who likes a folky-fairy tale will be captivated by Hilda and Twig (a trusty sidekick). 

The publisher, who I gave some credit to above, hosts the 17x24 project, of which the Hilda series is a part, where up and coming graphic novelists can publish in a cost effective format. See more information on their website

Cardboard by Doug TenNapal

Cardboard was a book I picked up on a whim and decided to read. I had ordered it for the library and it had some great reviews. I decided to see what all the "fuss" was about. Now, this isn't my favorite art style and this adventure story isn't what I typically read. But this was fun and made me see why kids love a graphic novel. I liked figuring part of the story out for myself. 
When I'm reading in Story Time, I'm really picky about the kind of picture books I present. I like them to be witty and poignant, but they have to have EXCELLENT illustrations. Not art, not elaborate paintings, but great art! Great art is where part of the story is told in the picture. That is what a graphic novel does and I really saw that here.
The reason graphic novels are perfect for struggling readers is because they help to develop reading skills and interest, but they also promote reading comprehension in ways that I'm not sure teachers always understand.
I loved this story about a father and son and their adventures trying to make life happy for themselves. I'm not the only one, evidentially Tobey Maguire, Chris Wedge, and Fox Animation are interested in the book as well!

The Secret of Stone Frog by David Nytra

This book is a part of the "Toon Graphic Novel" series and is the reason I ordered it. Well, actually I read two different reviews that said if you liked Alice in Wonderland you'll love this. Seriously? Didn't I already face that disappointment in Coraline? When will I learn that nothing holds a candle to Alice?
Deep breath, vent over.
The illustrations remind me of The Littlest Prince and aren't something I cared for. However, the story captured me within the first few frames ... and then disappointment strikes. This isn't a story for Alice in Wonderland lovers - it is Alice in Wonderland. It is a cheep knock-off. Lost in a new land, strange creatures telling them which way to go, giant flowers, a huge headed evil woman, bee warriors rather than Card soldiers, talking animals, and magical rabbits and silly rhymes ... I could go on. 
In the end, I liked the book (didn't see that coming did you). The illustration style wasn't my favorite and the story has so many similarities to Alice that I was surprised it wasn't called Wonderland and the author didn't say Carroll was his favorite. However, the story was sweet and enchanting. Good enough for a second read I think.