Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Holy Cliffhanger Batwoman!

So I'm listening to The Summoning on CD and I feel yet another cliffhanger coming on. I have to say that I like this series better than I thought I would, but I really feel like The Awakening wasn't a complete book. The author didn't even feign a resolution to the story; it went straight to groan inducing cliffhanger. I understand that the publisher wanted to make sure kids read the next installment, but shouldn't all books have resolution even if they're part of a series?! In my opinion they're just two volumes of the same book... though the second is better than the first so far. :)

PS The covers are lame!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Good books, bad audio

I'm in the final chapters of listening to Carrie Ryan's The Forest of Hands and Teeth. I started it maybe a week or so ago, listening in the car on the way to and from work, and at first I wasn't sure I was going to get into it. Eventually the plot won me over, but it took some doing, because the audio version of this? Ugh.

The narrator, Vane Millon, has a somewhat choppy way of speaking, and so her lines. Pause every few words. For no reason. It's like she’s been taking diction lessons from William Shatner. (Those who have heard me speak know that I have similar problems, putting long pauses in my sentences, but then I don't make a living recording audiobooks, so.) But as the plot moved forward and Mary and her friends struggle to survive amidst hordes of the unconsecrated, I forgave this flaw.

The more egregious flaw, though, is that she never stops sounding like she's reading me a book. I've run into this with other audio recordings from time to time, and it's always jarring. A good audio recording sounds like someone recounting a story, or even telling their own story. (The Bloody Jack series is a great example of this; Katherine Kellgren becomes Jacky Faber so convincingly that even reading--physically reading!--the latest book in the series has her voice in my head.) But here, I never lose the sense that Millon is reading me a book. All that's missing is the sound of a turning page. It keeps me from fully engaging with the story, from falling into the world that's created and the lives of the characters. It's a disservice to the author, who probably did a bang-up job of world-building, but I just can't connect with it.

There’s a part of me that irrationally worries that teens might be turned off to audio books entirely if they encounter a poor recording like this before they've gotten hooked on the form. I don't think I'm being entirely Chicken Little to think that that could happen. But I say that my worry is irrational because, really, is it so different from a teen encountering a bad book? (And we all know there are plenty of bad books, and many of us have them in our collections anyway.) Or is it different because a teen might be turned off to even a good book because of a bad performance?

Monday, November 16, 2009

boy books galore

So I went on vacation and somehow I managed to read 3 boy books in a row. Naturally, I counteracted with a girl book on the plane ride home... 4 books = good vacation. :)

Slam cracked me up. I love Nick Hornby's writing. It's dry and irreverent and hilarious. I know this was his first crack at YA but I'm on the fence about whether or not to move it to the adult stacks. I think people who read his other novels would love this one but I'm not sure I could sell something like this to my teens. The whole time travel thing was especially odd. And the subject matter is very mature. There are other more teen-friendly books on teen pregnancy and fatherhood, such as The First Part Last. Either way, I liked it.

I love Patricia McCormick but Purple Heart wasn't my favorite. I liked the rehab and rehash quality of it but I think it would really lose the interest of teen readers. Like Sunrise Over Fallujah, this book deals with the murky nature of friend and foe in the midst of the Iraq war. But this one is more about the trauma and memory issues that come along with recovery rather than the actual events of the war.

My kids have been harassing me to read Gym Candy for months. I read it cover to cover on the plane and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. The ending completely shocked me, but I think it was a good, realistic cap to the story. I have to say that I skimmed most of the details about the football games because I have no understanding of the game, but it didn't hurt the story at all.

Alyson Noel is one of those authors I save for girly moments when I need a dose of fluff. Evermore does not disappoint. I actually really liked this story. It's kind of Wicked Lovely light but with the added sweetness of Ever's family. I especially love the little sister!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I've got plenty to be thankful for

Each month I write a monthly newsletter promoting books, programs, library resources, etc. This month my lead article was "books to be thankful for"- honoring the books in my life that I am thankful for because they have touched my life in some way, whether it changed the way I thought about something, or was a book that I needed to read at that particular time in my life. Here is my by no way complete list- what books are you thankful for?

Laurie Halse Anderson- Speak *ok, really anything by LHA falls onto this list
Jay Asher- 13 Reasons Why
Cherie Bennett & Jeff Gotesfeld- A Heart Divided
Ann Brashares- The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Suzanne Collins- The Hunger Games
Kate Coombs- The Runaway Princess
Chris Crutcher- Whale Talk and Deadline
Nancy Garden- End Game
Pete Hautman- Invisible
S.E. Hinton- The Outsiders
James Howe- The Misfits
Angela Johnson- The First Part Last
David Lubar- Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie
Carolyn Mackler- The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things
L.M. Montgomery- Anne of Green Gables
Catherine Gilbert Murdock- Dairy Queen
Walter Dean Myers- Fallen Angels
Susan Beth Pffeffer- Life As We Knew It
J.K. Rowling- Harry Potter series
Carrie Ryan- The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Terry Trueman- Stuck in Neutral
Wendelin Van Draanen- Flipped
Carol Lynch Williams- The Chosen One

Monday, November 2, 2009

Strange Angels

I just finished this one. I despise the cover, but it's a classic Buffy the Vampire Slayer type story with wonderfully graphic descriptions. I read an excerpt to a group of 8th graders and they were entranced.