Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tiaras, zombies, and (yarn) sushi

I have a confession to make: I am a wanna-be crafter.

Wanna-be because a lot of the time I can't seem to get around to doing everything I want to do. Sometimes I manage to actually make something out of these books; a lot of times I want to mostly just look at the pictures and pretend like I'm going to make it. This, however, doesn't stop me from piling up DIY books to dangerous heights both at home and at work. It's sad, a little pathetic, but true.

It has made me a craft book expert though and there are some amazing ones, ranging from zombie felties to homemade bling to an Obi-Wan Kenobe cloak. Let me share the magic and the sparkly beads with you:

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Robin Hood Gets Angsty

Okay, I admit it.  Technically, the main character of Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen is Will Scarlet, who is actually a girl in this telling.  But Robin Hood is also a pretty big part of her story and he's a little more angsty than the Robin Hood we usually see.  And there's Little John and Much the Miller's Son and the evil Sheriff of Nottingham and Sir Guy of Gisbourne, who everyone loves to hate. 

I love Robin Hood tales.  They were some of my favorites as a child and I spent a lot of time running around the woods behind our house pretending to be an outlaw with a heart of gold.  So when I picked up this book, I was a bit skeptical that this retelling would hold up to my love of the classic tales.  But oh, it does.  I like Scarlet so much!  She's conflicted but tough, smart but still a bit naive, deadly but caring.  Also, she's an excellent pickpocket and she throws knives.  How badass is that?  And there's plenty of action as Robin and his crew struggle to do the right thing in a world gone wrong. 

My little kid self, who was constantly on the lookout for heroines, would have loved this story even more than I do now.  As it is, I think I know what my Halloween costume is for this year. 

~ Book Ninja

Monday, April 22, 2013

Angel of Death

Assassin nun.

Oh, yes, you read that right.

Assassin. Nun.

That's the character at the heart of Grave Mercy, by Robin LaFevers. Ismae had a fairly bad early life. Born in 15th century Brittany (a tiny European country, now part of France) to an abusive father and a mother who tried to abort her, she was married very young to an equally abusive husband. When she ran away, she discovered the convent of Saint Mortain, where nuns live in service to their patron saint and, by the way, also learn the arts of murder. That's because Saint Mortain is the new name for the old god of death, and he helpfully marks the people that he wants his nuns to kill.

After a few years and a lot of skills, Ismae is sent forth to the court of Duchess Anne, the very young ruler of Brittany. She is to assist the girl by killing off those who would do her harm. But the world outside the convent is new and frightening to Ismae, who is used to the safety and sisterhood of Saint Mortain's. The person who scares her the most is Duval, Anne's half-brother. All the men Ismae has ever known have been nasty and brutish, but Duval is intelligent, gentle, and awfully interested in her.

Complex, romantic, and action-packed, this book will stay glued to your hands. I mean, seriously. Assassin nuns!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Fable to end all Fables...

How does a book teeming with bratty fairies, naughty satyrs, magic milk, an ugly troll and a destructive witch sound to you?  Excellent, you say?  Well then Fablehaven is a must read.  Kendra Sorenson and her brother Seth don’t always get along, and have some pretty amusing spats to say the least.  But for the next 17 days they will have to put aside their differences, and their innate ability to get on each other’s nerves, to defend their grandparent’s property against evil forces.
Brandon Mull has written 5 books in this series, each one better than the next.  Take a chance and get to know the magical world of Fablehaven with Kendra and Seth as your guide.
The adventure begins once you drink the milk...

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Bullies and Selling Chocolate

Young adult literature is not always about feeling good.  It is also about seeking the truth, and stretching the boundaries of thought and belief.  Maybe it makes us see things in a new light, making us sad, happy, frightened, excited or miserable.

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier is not about the warm and fuzzy side of life.  This story portrays a side of life and people we would rather not know or think about.  It was written in 1974 about Jerry  a freshman who is angry and sad.  He tries out for the football team while trying to fit into high school. The students at Trinity are primarily from working class families so money is tight.  To help with the budget, the school holds an annual chocolate sale.

Archie is a member of the the Vigils, which in many ways controls the school or at least the students.  He enjoys being mean and assigns Jerry to refuse the selling of chocolates, which raises havoc with the school.

Cormier did not write this story to make its readers comfortable or happy but portrays a reality.  Books like the Chocolate War may help us to better understand this dark side of life and hopefully give us some insight to deal with it when we experience it firsthand.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Bad Impressions

When I was a kid I was rather creepily obsessed with serial killers. Some girls' fave movie involves a princess in a fluffy dress; mine involved Hannibal Lector and Jodi Foster. Interestingly enough, I've never been able to take the gruesomeness of those kinds of books so my reading in it has been limited so I moved on to slightly less creepy reading. This has been helped by the fact that not many teen books revolve around serial killers... until now. I discoverd Barry Lyga's "I Hunt Killers" on an award list and had to check out the serial killer book for teens. It's like Dexter when he was in high school.

Seventeen-year-old Jazz's childhood was filled with lots bonding time with dad, bed time stories, and toys. Except, his bonding time was cleaning up after his dad's kills, bed time stories of the murders, and his father's "toys" -- trophies stolen from the victims. When his father was finally caught, Jazz had spent his childhood being groomed to become a special kind of serial killer. He's spent the last four years trying forget, to have a normal life: he goes to public school, has a girlfriend, and spends his time hanging out with his best friend. Then the murders start. Now he has to accept the horrible gift his father gave him to track down the murderer: the ability to think like a serial killer. But what will that do to a boy raised to think of humans as prey? And now his memory is slowly bringing back horrible images, images that could lead to a terrible revelation....

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Cyborgs and Humans and Plague, Oh My!

It's the year 2076, and the human race has been decimated by an airborne virus known as RM. Women are mandated to become pregnant as often as possible in the hopes that a baby will be born immune--but it's been ten years and no infant survives more than 56 hours. Teenage medic Kira is convinced that the cure for RM lies with the Partials, a race of engineered cyborgs who were responsible for the release of the virus in the first place. In order to find the answers she wants, however, she has to capture a Partial first.

Half medical thriller, half dystopian, Partials by Dan Wells follows Kira as she tries to unlock the secret to curing the disease that has claimed so many lives around the world. The intrigue deepens when Samm, the Partial that Kira has captured, gives an entirely different perspective on the war that has dragged on for so long between the Partials and the humans.