Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Review - What Happened to Goodbye

What Happened to Goodbye, by Sarah Dessen

Sarah Dessen has quickly become one of my go-to, contemporary YA authors. When I'm in the mood for a story with heart and humor, and a story with characters that you grow to love, and a romance that feels real and honest, I reach for a Dessen book. What Happened to Goodbye is her newest release. Since her parents divorce, Mclean has lived mostly with her dad, moving around every few months with his job as a restaurant consultant. She uses these moves as a chance to reinvent herself. New name, new girl. A way to avoid her anger and inner turmoil after her parents divorce; a way to avoid getting too close to people. She doesn't have to be real, she just has to slide into her role. But Mclean's walls start crumbling when she and her dad move to yet another town, and Mclean makes some friends that force her to be genuine, make connections, and work through her past.

Again....I loved, loved, loved this book. My only "complaint" -- if you can call it that -- is that Dessen just leaves me wanting more. More Mclean, more Dave, more Riley, more Deb.

Bottom line: pick up this book when you're looking for a comfort-food kind of read.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Giving Books a Chance

How much of a chance do you give a book before you put it to the side as "not for me." Do you commit each time you open the pages of a book, slogging your way through if necessary because you can't bear to not finish it once you've started? Or are you like me -- giving a book maybe 50 pages to become at least minimally appealing. I used to stick with my reading commitments more strictly, but in recent years, I've realized I just don't have time to read a book I'm not enjoying.

But here's where my habit becomes a dilemma: what do you do when a friend hands you a book saying "this book is amazing! You have to read it!" And then you just don't like it. Or can't get into it. Do you hand it back with a simple "I couldn't get into it." Or do you persevere because of your regard for the friend?

For me, I think it depends on the friend, knowing them well enough to know what they would do in the same situation. Knowing them well enough to know if their feelings would be hurt by casual disregard of the book. And knowing them well enough to know how important the book is to them.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Review - Demon Trapper's Daughter

Demon Trapper's Daughter, by Jana Oliver

(This may be a first! A review written and posted immediately after finishing the book)

Riley Blackthorne just needs a chance to prove herself – and that’s exactly what the demons are counting on… Seventeen-year-old Riley, the only daughter of legendary Demon Trapper, Paul Blackthorne, has always dreamed of following in her father's footsteps. The good news is, with human society seriously disrupted by economic upheaval and Lucifer increasing the number of demons in all major cities, Atlanta’s local Trappers’ Guild needs all the help they can get – even from a girl. When she’s not keeping up with her homework or trying to manage her growing crush on fellow apprentice, Simon, Riley’s out saving distressed citizens from foul-mouthed little devils – Grade One Hellspawn only, of course, per the strict rules of the Guild. Life’s about as normal as can be for the average demon-trapping teen. But then a Grade Five Geo-Fiend crashes Riley’s routine assignment at a library, jeopardizing her life and her chosen livelihood. And, as if that wasn’t bad enough, sudden tragedy strikes the Trappers’ Guild, spinning Riley down a more dangerous path than she ever could have imagined. As her whole world crashes down around her, who can Riley trust with her heart – and her life? (summary from GoodReads)

The Demon Trapper's Daughter
was a quick, action-packed read. I liked Riley, and believed that she was a 17 year old girl. In some ways an adult, and in some ways still young (and stubborn and impetuous and emotional). She's brave, but at the same time scared. I also liked Beck, Riley's father's trainee and Riley's former-crush-now-kind-of-big-brother-but-not-really. Although at times, I felt his character fell a bit into too much of a cliche. And I look forward to seeing if some of the other secondary characters - Peter, Simon, Oli, and even Martha - are fleshed out a bit more in the upcoming books. I hope they are. I also liked the concept of the book -- it made me nostalgic for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, and would definitely appeal to fans of those shows (like me!) The only real hangup I had with the book, is that the world building was lacking for me. The setting - urban Atlanta - was spot-on. I could see Atlanta around me. But the foundation of this alternate reality just wasn't developed enough for me. What are the rules of this world? Why are things the way they are?

Maybe not the best book I've ever read, but over all an enjoyable book. A nice quick read if you're in the mood for action and butt-kicking.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Review - The Grimm Legacy

The Grimm Legacy, by Polly Shulman

Elizabeth has a new job at an unusual library— a lending library of objects, not books. In a secret room in the basement lies the Grimm Collection. That's where the librarians lock away powerful items straight out of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales: seven-league boots, a table that produces a feast at the blink of an eye, Snow White's stepmother's sinister mirror that talks in riddles.

When the magical objects start to disappear, Elizabeth embarks on a dangerous quest to catch the thief before she can be accused of the crime—or captured by the thief.

This was a fun book to read, and partly because as I read it I thought "it would be so cool if this was real!" I love working at a public library...but working at a lending library for objects (especially if some were magical) would be pretty awesome. The book started out a little clunky for me, but I realized that if I started reading it as though I were reading a fairy tale -- not just reading about fairy tales -- then the writing style fell into place. For example, the simplistic reveals and the willingness to accept magic felt more natural once I read the book as a fairy tale. And that's not to say that the story was lacking in depth. The characters, for example, were very well-drawn and lent a richness to the book.

Bottom line, a fun, enjoyable, magical read.

Review - Please Ignore Vera Dietz

Please Ignore Vera Dietz, by A.S. King

Vera's spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she's kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.

So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to? (summary from www.goodreads.com)

I LOVED this book. The characters are solid and clear and ring true; the story is simple, yet deep and complex at the same time; and it's just quirky enough. I love that the author is able to take a sad, tragic moment in a girl's life and write a story that isn't melodramatic and isn't too dark and full of despair. At the same time, she doesn't make light of the major things going on in Vera's life. You feel her heartache, but the author paints a picture of life as being more than just heartache. There is love and hope and humor mixed up in there too. I loved Vera's journey through the book, and getting to see her relationship with Charlie, even knowing the bittersweet nature of that relationship. I also really loved Vera's dad and her relationship with him. Again, it's such a reflection of a true relationship: realistically imperfect. But still a solid relationship. These two need each other, and it's great to see them work through that as they both work through personal trauma as well.

Bottom line: excellent book.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Weeding the collection

It often falls within my job to weed the Young Adult collection in the library where I work. Sadly, we are at a great need for space in the library, so I have to weed often (and often brutally). I am always torn by some books that are borderline YA and Middle Grade. If they aren't being read in YA, do I delete them, or try them out in the JF (Middle Grade) section? How do you decide which books go where?

This weeding cycle I'm also facing the reality that I may walk home with quite a few books today. Some of these books look good! Maybe they just need a good home, someone to love them.