Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Kiki Strike: The Empress's Tomb by Kirsten Miller

I really liked this book. It is definitely not a stand alone, so make sure you read Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City before you delve into this one. I know that I should probably start reviewing books I don't like so that my readers don't start thinking I am a chump that likes anything with pages...

The Empress's Tomb is a great sequel to Into the Shadow City. In this new book, Kiki Strike and the Irregulars battle to save one of their members from snobbery and death. When Oona Wong is courted by her long absent and criminal father, the rest of the group knows it is bad news. When several secrets being kept within the group come to light, the friends struggle with issues of distrust. As with the first book, there is adventure and intrigue all the way through.

I recommend this book to 12 and up. It does seem a little unlikely that Ananka's parents are so forgiving and lenient of her skipping school, sneaking out of the house and other bad behavior. Otherwise this one is as good as the last. Read it up!


Monday, October 29, 2007

King City

Can I just say that I am feeling very powerful right now? As you might have seen, I am planning a comics event. I have managed to get two local comics artist, along with a rep from the local comic book store to come and represent. While lining up these comics artists, I realized that we didn't have one of the comics, and it seemed like it would be a good addition to our collection. I have put in purchase requests before (Blood and Chocolate DVD...) and no go. This one was added to my hold list in 3 DAYS! Awesome!

Guess I just needed to ask for something that was rated more than 5/10 stars... (but I thought it was a good movie...~blush~)

And yay! The Wired magazine article about the evolution of manga in the US posted online! Read it! It is entertaining! Remember to read it left to right...

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Le Guin Again

Going to Ursula K. Le Guin's author event was like a blast from the past for me. Not only because I have seen her before, but because her author visit was so much like the author readings of old. When I first moved back to the Seattle area from Tulsa, OK, I was thirsty for literary entertainment. I so wanted to be smart and well read! I enrolled at Shoreline Community College, I joined a book group and I went to author readings. Most of the readings were from authors I didn't know, but I didn't care. I saw Ursula Hegi and Arthur Golden before I even read Stones from a River or Memoirs of a Geisha. There was a certain cadence to author visits then--they were definitely "readings." The author would read a chapter of their book, then answer a few questions from the audience--who were usually older folks with a lot of writers looking for tips--then sign books at the end of a very long line.

I have recently started going to author visits again and without even noticing the difference, been very happy with the changes that I have seen. Authors are not necessarily reading passages of their books at the beginning. Scott Westerfeld did not read ANY of his book to the audience at all! He just answered questions--it was more like a lopsided conversation. Other authors are doing theirs more like a lecture, giving information or background, talking about their subjects with enthusiasm and using their books as punctuation marks. I also like that the audiences have become more diverse--young and old, fewer writers asking their usual ~groan~ questions about how the author came up with a plot or how they do revision. Read a frickin interview why don't cha? Or better yet, one of the many books that authors write about writing: Steering the Craft, Anyone?

Ursula K. Le Guin read a section of Powers then answered those ~groan~ questions. Despite the celebrated book of the evening being a YA book, the youngest people I saw there would have been freshmen in college (aside from the smaller children being hushed in the corners). When I asked what inspired her to write a series for young adults, she told me that it was her agent's idea--they told her it would be easy to get teens to read anything. That is when I really groaned... It really isn't! They are picky! Le Guin is just lucky that she already writes amazing books! I did like hearing her and I enjoyed the poetry she read as well. I have read almost every book she has written and loved almost all of them. I keep her short stories around for when I am feeling stressed out and need a little literary pick me up. But man, is she behind in the author visit times...

And yes, I do realize that most of my complaints aren't caused by the author. She is awesome. Maybe it is just that the same people go to see her every time and ruin it for the rest of us? My main point is that I appreciate those authors that are doing more with their time, thinking innovatively and attracting more than the traditional fan.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Extra! Extra...

As promised, a review of Extras by Scott Westerfeld.

I don't know if I can gush enough about this one.

Set in Japan, many eons into the future, Aya Fuse just wants to get noticed. After the mind-rain wiped out all the brain damage forced on citizens of Earth at the age of 16, Aya's city turned to an economy based on fame and merit. In order to make "money" a person either has to do good for society or become famous. Aya definitely prefers the latter, finding the adventure of kicking the latest story a necessity of life. In her quest to do so, she infiltrates the Sly Girls clique--a clique so secret the members change their nicknames periodically to keep off the feeds. Their latest derring-do is surfing on top of ultra fast meg-lev trains. It doesn't take them long to figure out that Aya is not really one of them, but the story they have stumbled on is too city-damaging to keep under cover. More adventure follows, so make sure to check it out!

This book is great for ages 12 and up. I recommend it to anyone who likes a good story. It is fast paced--everything happens in less than 2 weeks--and we get a return performance from Tally Youngblood, the protagonist from Westerfeld's other books in the series. Although Uglies, Pretties and Specials sets up this book well, I don't feel that you have to have read them to enjoy Extras.

Have I mentioned that it has hit #1 on the New York Times Children's Chapter Books best sellers? Oh yes, yes it has! :)

Yay! Ursula K. Le Guin in ... 2 hours!

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

My Runny Nose and Other Items of Interest

After attempting to go see Oliver Sacks: "Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain" at the Central Library, only to find out it was full, I got stuck in a downpour on my way back to the bus stop. I am a little sniffly today, but holding up well. I stopped by the Pharmaca Intagrative for some vitamin love. I had to steer the woman away from the $21 wellness vitamins (I already take daily vitamins, I don't need any more of those), so she helped me settle on some Wellness Fizzies instead (only $7, what a steal!). Of course, this alternative is not as likely to keep me well, she told me...

In other news, my sister has been making friends in Nevada. Not the right kind of friends though. Turns out he was flim-flamming everyone. Maybe gambling should be illegal everywhere. Funny he should make friends with a new lawyer who wants to be a prosecutor.

I am reading a very cool article in Wired's November issue on the history of manga. I would link it, but it is so new it isn't online yet. I guess they have to give people some incentive to buy the magazine. It is by Jason Thompson author of Manga: the Complete Guide and The Stiff. The art is by Atsuhisa Okura who is an artist/illustrator and co-author of books on sudoku and manga. I wish I could have found more info on him, but he isn't in Wikipedia or any other online resource that I could find. There is a ton of info out there on Jason Thompson, though.

The article is fun and written in manga style, with big eyed characters and bound on the right, rather than on the left. I found it interesting how we Americans had to be eased into reading Manga in the traditional left to right fashion before manga could really make it big in the US. I learned about Shojo (girl) Shonen (boy) and Seinen (men/explicit) manga; divisions I never really got before--I know, I just wasn't applying myself. There is a lovely depiction of Pikachu glutting himself and getting milked to show how lucrative the Pokeman manga, anime and collectibles became in the US. All of The Boy's favorite characters are in the article: Naruto, Dragonball Z. And one I remember from my (different than above) sister's fan art: Sailor Moon. Manga infiltrates my life even though I don't usually read it myself.

Hoping to see Ursula K. Le Guin while she is in town. Wish me better luck than last night...

Some of the article information was updated, because I can't seem to read yellow text...

Monday, October 15, 2007

Opening Day(s)!

Opening a branch is both exhilarating and exhausting. Our team came together and got the library in ship shape before the staff party on Friday night. We barely got the lights on though--at the last minute a bank of lights in the Juvenile room went off and only some fancy switch flicking got them back on in time. Our collections look beautiful. The butter colored interior paint makes the place glow warmly. All of our favorite people came and filled the place with laughter and smiles.

The next day was our reopening for the public. The ones that noticed the changes were impressed ;) The most popular item (aside from the computers) was the skylight that had been there since the original building went up in 1910. It was painted over during WWII to protect against flyovers and was only scraped clean during this renovation--there have been several since WWII. There are lights above the glass that give it a soft glow at night. There were lots of people from the neighborhood and a lot of new library cards issued. There was a band that kept people dancing, an improv group and a couple of local authors that spoke. Folks seemed to have a good time and I know we did.

Having today off is a bit of a let down after the wonderful weekend. I will be glad to get back to my teen collection tomorrow and see what has been checked out and what flyers have been taken. The first book gone was Extras by Scott Westerfeld--which I haven't even gotten to ready yet. Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer was a close second with James Patterson's recent addition to the Maximum Ride series a close third. The graphic novel section is about 2/3's what it was before opening, and I am sure that will go down even more soon. It is a little like having a blog and checking to see how many visitors you have had. Exciting and a little addictive.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Night of Bubbly Goodness

One of my favorite YA authors (ok, one of my favorite authors, period) was in Shoreline tonight and I got to see him. I wanted to giggle like a girl--and maybe I did a couple of times. Scott Westerfeld was as smart and interesting in person as he is on his blog. I was really impressed. The teens in the audience asked a lot of good questions and kept him talking at least 20 minutes over and he wasn't protesting at all even though this is not the first stop on his tour. One of my favorite quotes of the evening came up when he was talking about the many ways that teens are put down by society. When he was a boy he and his friends started skateboarding and a month later the "no skateboarding" signs popped up. When he was in the UK a few months ago, there were signs in the restaurants that said "we will not serve people wearing black hoodies." The quote was (and I know I don't have it word for word...) "when ten 40 year olds come into your store you say 'good for business', when ten 4 year olds come into your store you say 'how cute' and when ten 14 year olds come into your store you say 'call the cops.'" So true :( He was funny and quick, very in tune with the audience and very giving of himself.

I got a book signed by him and he wrote "Srcsmgrl, thanks for being a librarian." I like it. Much better than Terry Brooks signing "sparks of angel fire, always" in my Angel Fire East book. I have seen Terry several times and gotten a few books signed by him and it is usually something pretty corny. I don't want him to pretend to know me or anything, but I don't want to feel like a total sci-fi geek (I don't think I would make much of a groupie). I would have liked a "thanks for reading" message better. Anyhow, Scott!!!! Thank you so much. I only wish I had had a copy of Peeps or So Yesterday for him to sign... but all I had was Pretties, which is the middle book of a series. Uglies would have made more sense. I will cherish the book forever :) I think I will always be a teen girl at heart, with all the giggles and angst that goes with it.

I also ran into a school librarian that I used to work with at my old post and a teen librarian who used to work with my new boss. It was nice talking to both of them. I realized how rusty my networking skills were when my face started to feel like it was going to crack from all my smiling. Is it that I was smiling too much or that I haven't been smiling enough lately in normal life? I guess I will never know....

OMG, library reopening Saturday!!!

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

My most recent love affair with a book has involved Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr. This comes shortly after reading Tithe: a Modern Faerie Tale, Ironside; a Modern Faery's Tale and Valient: a Modern Tale of Faerie, three books by Holly Black which I should also review. I just noticed how all the subtitles are very similar, but are not quite the same. Holly Black is also the author of the Spiderwick Chronicles, which I haven't read but have heard good things about. Enough ramblings and on to the review!

I loved everything about this book, from the quotations at the start of every chapter (which I barely remember to look at in other books) to the protagonist's relationship with her best friend and boyfriend. Aislinn is everything that Isabelle in Twilight should have been, and more. This book has all the adventure and tension that Twilight had, but also gives a strong female role model that girls can admire.

Aislinn has seen the faerie world all her life, and if the faeries ever found out, the nicest thing they would do is put out her eyes. Now she has been chosen by the Summer King to be his queen, a role most girls would love to fill, but Aislinn has already found the love of her life and the offer of queenship is not as light and summery as Keenan would lead her to believe. How will Aislinn keep all the things she loves in her life without letting both Faerie and the mortal plane fall to wrack and ruin?

Melissa Marr's writing is both both beautiful and dark. Her research into the history of faerie shows through-out the book, woven into the story making it a highly believable world. I would recommend this book to age 16 and up, maybe younger if they are advanced readers. There is no explicit content, although Aislinn does stay over at her boyfriend's house with the permission of her grandmother at one point. The only thing I would say is missing is a strong female friendship for Aislinn. All of her friendships feel very shallow aside from the one with her boyfriend.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

A Long Way Gone

This morning I hosted a presentation by Gansango Music and Dance at Garfield High School. It was amazing! The dancers were energetic, vibrant, and able to draw out the students. Many students got up on stage and danced with them. The music was both melodic and rhythmic; I don't think my feet stopped moving once during the performance.

If you get a chance, go to their LaCalabasse performance at the Seattle Art Museum. They will be there Friday 10/5 at 7pm and Saturday 10/6 at 2pm. Tickets are $12 at the Sam box office.

Prior to the dance performance, Josh Fields got up and talked about the correlation between hip hop and everyday life. He tied this in with the 2011 Reads book that Garfield's 9th grade is focusing on this year: A Long Way Gone, Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah. He was a great warm up for the dance performance and really caught the students attention by representing popular artists such as 2 Pac and Grand Master Flash, playing snippets of music and showing clips of Ishmael Beah speaking. It really brought the subject of Sierra Leone's rebel war home for me, which I hadn't give much thought to before.

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Monday, October 01, 2007

Books and Other News...

With everything else that has been going on, I forgot to be excited about Kirsten Miller's new book:

I was lucky enough to be one of the first holds on this one, even though it is coming out tomorrow and I put the hold on it today. If you liked Kiki Strike: inside the Shadow City, you should really check out this one, too. I will post more about it later, after I have actually read it ;) (notice that I said "check out" and that the link goes to the library catalog...)

In other news, I did not get the job that I interviewed for last week. I am not very upset about it, because I got good feedback on the interview and I still have my position to apply for--which is the one I want anyway. Also, I heard that one of the other people that applied was very qualified--so much so that they would have been crazy to pass her up. Ach well, das tut mir leid.

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