July 2015 Books + Highlight

Hello! It’s been a while, almost a year, but I am back to this dusty blog. Granted I’ve been logging my books for my personal use on a word template, but I figure might as well head back to the inter webs.

Thus moving forward, in July I read 14 books. Those include Cat’s Eye by Margaret Atwood, Gotham Academy: volume 1: welcome to gotham academy by Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, and Karl Kerschl, Ms. Marvel: Crushed by Wilson, Miyazawa, and Bondoc, Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes, Lumberjanes by Stevenson, Ellis, Watters, and Allen, Chi’s Sweet Home vol. 1- 3 & 8-10 by Konami Kanata, Kiki’s Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono, translattion by Lynne E. Riggs, Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, and Rook by Sharon Cameron.

I’ve been diving in the comic and manga world again so a majority of my reads were that. I have to say that all of them were fabulous and I am eagerly awaiting the trade books for the next issues. My book highlight for the month would be Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes.

Genre: Thriller/Murder Mystery/Fiction Price: $26.99/ISBN: 978-0-316-21682-1/ Page Count: 436/Series: No

broken monstersBroken Monsters switches POV between the main characters as well as some side perspectives. The book follows Detective Gabriella Versado and her teenage daughter Layla. They have a strained relationship that is explored through the story, but it is not the main act. That would be the strange serial murders where the killer is fusing victims’ bodies to animal parts.

What I love about this book is the mixture of madness (serial killer), desperation, fantasy, and mystery. The characters are intriguing because they aren’t one thing. The relationships between them and how all of the characters’ paths come together in an explosion is fascinating. This is the second book I’ve read by Beukes and I really can’t wait to read more by her.

Childhood Favorites

As a librarian I am constantly encouraging other readers to try some of the popular stories from my childhood. The ones that I still have in my personal collection that I pick up when I want to revisit the familiar worlds and favorite people.

Science Fiction & Fantasy

Alien Secrets | Annette Curtis Klaus | 1999

aliensecretsAlien Secrets was one of my favorite science fiction adventures. It featured a young independent girl, Puck, who craved adventure, but also missed her parents. She had spirit and a lonely soul that allowed her to show kindness to another person who remained the ‘outsider’.

Puck meets a young alien on board of a space ship and decides to help him in his mission of finding his stolen property. It soon escalates into a dangerous adventure that touches upon slavery and appropriation of cultures.

Of course the adults can’t be trusted, but that’s part of what makes it a great novel for tweens and teens. I enjoy going back to re-read Puck’s adventure (and I still want a sequel).

Heir Apparent | Vivian Vande Velde | 2002

I will admit that a lot of my childhood reading was focused on Vivian Vande Velde. She was able to capture the strong female character that I wanted to be. They were always witty, vulnerable, and strong enough to reach their goals.

heir

Heir Apparent is more comedy laced with science fiction. Giannine has parents that are more wrapped in their own drama than their daughter so that’s how she ends up alone in a virtual reality arcade playing a game via that gift certificate her father had his secretary mail to her. It turns out that the protestors outside of the arcade have caused damage to the servers and now she has to beat the game or suffer brain damage due to overheating.

It’s fun. She deals with the situations with a  dry humor, but the frustration is there. I still find myself laughing at the jokes no matter how many times I re-read the book.

 

Dragon’s Bait | Vivian Vande Velde | 1997

baitI mentioned my love for Velde right? Dragon’s Bait was one of the books that first instilled my love for dragons. And really became the book that I compare all other dragon books to.

Alys is a teen who just wants her father to get better, their local village has been inflicted with a coughing sickness that has been a cause of recent deaths. She remains optimistic that their situation will improve. Of course that’s when a rival businessman calls a priest in to discredit Alys and make her to be a witch. Which is how she ends up tied to a stake and left out for a dragon to eat.

That’s when things get interesting. Alys makes a bargain with the dragon, who can shift shapes into all beasts (including humans), for revenge against those who have wronged her. It’s a short book, but fabulous.

Howl’s Moving Castle | Diana Wynne Jones | 2001

howl

This is the book that I stayed in the car to finish reading as my parents went into the restaurant to eat. This is the book that when it was over I immediately sighed with pleasure and went back to page one. I loved everything about this novel, from the sarcastic protagonist to the demon bound in the fireplace.

Which makes it all the worse by the horrible anime that happened. I felt like the anime just took tiny pieces of the book and then made it about anti-war. When I read the book I felt that the characters were the story. And how while me might think that because we are the oldest we have to take care of everyone, that those places that society has in mind for us aren’t true. And we can break social constraints to find our own paths. That’s what made me love the book and that’s why I still recommend it to people.

Companions of the Night | Vivian Vande Velde | 1996

night

When people ask me about good vampire books I always point them to this novel. It has a vampire that fully admits to killing people and enjoying it. While he is almost the anti-hero, the romance is secondary to what is happening in the story.

Kerry lives with her little brother and her dad. Her mother just left the family and took the washer and dryer which is how Kerry ends up the laundromat in the middle of the night, her young brother leaves his favorite stuffed animal there and though she just got her learner’s permit she goes to the laundromat to fetch the animal.

What should have been a simple task ends up with her being held hostage with a tied up college boy by people who think they are vampire hunters. Turns out the boy is actually a vampire and by helping him escape Kerry has put herself and her family into extreme danger. She pairs up with the vampire to help rescue her family.

Again short story, but beautiful. I wish Vivian Vande Velde wrote sequels!

Library Orientation

The first weeks of school are coming and thus begins the “Welcome to the Library” lessons. During the first two-three classes this is when I talk about classroom procedures and expectations. Lessons on how we take care of books, check out procedures, introducing the library website, etc. But also during these times I try to read one funny picture book that has the theme of library, books, school, or just plain fun.

I thought I would share some of the books from my personal collection that I enjoy reading aloud for my students.

For PK-1 students:

Grade 2-4 students

Grades 5+

Really though a lot of these books can be read across the board (maybe not Adventure Annie, but My Teacher is a Monster for sure).

5 Sequels I can’t wait to get my hands on

I’m a big fan of series. When I fall in love with a character and their world, I fall hard. And when I am really into a book series all I can think about is the next book (and re-reading the previous ones). So here are 5 sequels that I can’t wait to read, by release Date:

November 2014

Title: Reap the Wind/ Author: Karen Chance/ Genre: Urban Fantasy/Price: $7.99/ISBN:  978-0451419071/ Page Count: 432/Series: Book 7 in Cassandra Palmer Series

reapthewind

This series features a powerful young woman who was raised by vampires after her parents died. The vampire who raised Cassie used her for her powerful visions to make money off disasters (he is a vampire mob boss). It follows her through the journey of understanding her magic and family heritage.

I’ve been reading the series since it’s first publication and I can’t get enough of it. There are a few romantic interests but it really comes down to two male leads. One is an angry warrior magician the other a powerful and old vampire.

This is an adult series so there is sex, violence, and graphic material.

Title: The MissingAuthor:  Sarah Beth Durst/ Genre: Fantasy/Magic Realism/Price: $14.95/ISBN:  978-0778317128/ Page Count: 400/Series: Book 2 in Lost Trilogy

missing

I fell in love with this new series with her first book, The Lost. The books follow Lauren who is a young woman trying to understand the cards that life has dealt her.

The writing is almost like a dream which works perfectly with the mystical land that Lauren finds herself in. Where everything that has been lost falls to, including people, objects, places, and even oceans.

The people who are living in Lost can’t leave until they find what they have lost. This could be love, family, health, etc. Lost is like a holding town for people trying to make sense of of their life.

Gorgeous setting and character relationships.

January 2015

Title: The Mime OrderAuthor: Samantha Shannon/ Genre: Urban Fantasy/Price: $25.00/ISBN:  978-1620408933/ Page Count: 320/Series: Book 2 in Bone Season Series

mimeorder

The Mime Order is set in a futuristic London where all magic has been outlawed. If you are discovered using magic then you are hunted down where you can either be imprisoned, murdered, or worked as slave for the organization hunting others like you.

It’s not magic like wizards or witches, but more like psychics. Some people can control ghosts, others can go into dreamscapes and control you. It depends where you fall on the spectrum.

In the first book you meet Paige who hides her magical identity through the protection of a gang. However within the first part of the book she is captured.

I loved the first book, but I did notice on my re-read that there were some problems. The romance seemed to come from no where and while Shannon really seemed to want to develop her secondary characters they fell wayside once the action started picking up. However, the setting and main characters are very intriguing and I can’t wait for this sequel.

March 2015

Title: Vision in SilverAuthor: Anne Bishop/ Genre: Urban Fantasy/Price: $26.95/ISBN:  978-0451465276/ Page Count: 368/Series: Book 3 in The Others Series

silver

I talked about my appreciation for The Other’s Series in my January Books Highlight and I must say that book 2 in the series delivered just as well as book one.

What’s awesome about this series are the characters. Here you have the supernatural community living as a community and ruling the human kind. It’s a horrible tension of humans knowing that they are food to the “others” but wanting to live and thrive. The main character is working as a bridge between the two cultures and charming those around her.

Bishop is REALLY good at multiple povs. It’s rare to find a series where changing perspectives enhances the storytelling and relationships between the main protagonists. I will be reading this series for as long as Bishop continues to write it.

Title: Shadow ScaleAuthor: Rachel Hartman/ Genre: YA Fantasy/Price: $18.99/ISBN:  978-0375866579/ Page Count: 480/Series: Book 2 in Seraphina Series

shadow

I feel as if I have waited light years to read the sequel to one of my favorite books, Seraphina, but I am sure that it will be worth the wait.

What initially captured my attention for Seraphina was the dragon lore. I have a soft spot for dragons that I will credit Vivian Vande Velde’s book Dragon’s Bait for fostering in me as a young reader.

In Seraphina dragons and humans have an uneasy alliance. Dragons and humans have long waged war against each other, but through a truce they are now operating in a somewhat peaceful state. The dragons in this world can change into humans and live among them.

Seraphina is a young musician to the royal court and she has a dangerous secret (I’ll give you a hint, it deals with dragons) that she protects by secluding herself from all personal relationships. Needless to say this doesn’t work for long or there wouldn’t be a book.

I tell everyone I know to read this book, but also listen to the audio book. Since music is such a huge part of the storytelling it’s great to be able to hear the music that they talk about. I can’t recommend this book enough.

So those are 5 of the sequels that I am eagerly awaiting. Any on there that you are waiting for? Or is there a sequel that’s not up there that you can’t wait to talk about?