Wednesday, December 31, 2008


So one of my resolutions is to try and blog more. I have been sent a number of ARCs (Advanced Reading Copies) of books for 09, and I'll be reviewing them as I read them here. Unfortunately the first one I read, which has the great title "No More Us For You", was a little less than what I would want from a novel, but it had it's high points too. The possible cover art is cool. The descriptions of the exhibits at the art gallery are awesome. The characters are detailed and have good but not overwhelming quirks. But, David Hernandez, the author, does a little too much telling and not enough showing in his writing. And the ending feels sort of clunky and unresolved (not that all novels need to be resolved, but this one needed something more than what it gave me, though I did like the very last few pages.) The characters though, all the females seemed to be the same person and I forgot who was who. All the guys also seemed similar, but a little more varied, and actually fairly realistic in the way they handled the WAY TOO MANY BAD SITUATIONS THROWN AT THEM AT ONCE. Not that life is necessarily a series of good situations with one or two thrown in...but man, what a rough two weeks to a year for these characters. And the most interesting character, the mysterious "Vanessa" REMAINS ENTIRELY TOO MYSTERIOUS. Which, whatever, when you know someone for 2 weeks you don't necessarily know everything about them. But in books when stuff is hinted at like that it feels like someone is angling for a spin-off or sequel (or, perhaps this book is the spinoff or sequel, this thought just occurred to my tiny peabrain.)

Anyway, something I like is a blog/email that I follow called "I heart daily." I <3 I heart daily because it is all optimistic and upbeat, and about liking things. And sometimes when you read a bunch of stuff you don't really enjoy, and you find fault even in stuff you do enjoy, and then you write about it on the internet (and by you, I mean me) it can feel like you never have anything positive to say. But the world needs criticism too. So reading and promoting I <3 Daily makes me feel like I'm making a contribution to liking things. Like a giant hug through the internet from me and I <3 Daily to you.

So, happy New Year kids. Tomorrow I'm going to try and post the good, the bad, and the OMG of 2008 lists for you. Oddly, I realized that I can't think of a single album in 2008 that I loved and had to have. I also can't think of a single movie that made me want to go back to the theater again and again. But, books man. Books. I have a lot of those I loved, and some I liked, and some that made me go meh.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Battle of the Labyrinth or "Please hurray up with the next book Mr. Riordan."

The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 4) The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
I should mention that this review, like all my reviews, may contain spoilers. On the other hand I don't know what you know about the books and what you consider spoiling to really be at your own risk.

This book picks back up the pacing and adventure and general mythically proportioned deliousness of the earliest book. No big surprise there. What is surprising is the dark direction these books are taking. Each book has grown significantly more violent, scarier, and subsequently more interesting. Unlike Harry Potter, where there was no real death toll until the final book and even that seemed second thought and too strategic, these deaths are at random, and drive home that what these half-god mortals are doing is DANGEROUS. As you might expect, the Labyrinth plays a huge part in this book. All the while the Titan Kronos is growing in power and the monsters around the world are waking up and coming out to fight. Percy, Annabeth, Grover, Tyson, and a new totally mortal friend, Rachel Dare go into the depths of the Labyrinth to try and figure out a way to save Camp Half-blood, and to save the world from a destruction from the Titan who only seems to grow stronger and stronger. And the Gods are getting more and more directly involved. And it turns out that Hades has a son, and that son has some SERIOUS POWER. Lots of interesting new characters and ancient greek mythology keeps the last book just as much of a page-turner as the last. Well played Rick Riordan, well played indeed.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

4 of 5 Stars: A goodreads/readingsarah review of the 2nd book in Percy Jackson and the Olympians

The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 2) The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

Do you love greek mythology? Do you wish you could get apathetic youngins interesetd in it as well? The "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" series is perfect for all your Epic Mythological needs! The second book in the series follows Percy, Annabeth, Grover, and a new addition; the homeless outcast Tyson, befriended by Percy at his new school. On Percy's last day of an otherwise uneventful school year his gym class is attacked by monsters, and Tyson proves invaluable in the world's deadliest dodgeball game. Then when they get to Camp Half-blood, there is more trouble as an enchanted tree protecting the camp has been poisoned. Questing must ensue! And, with a little help from his powerful Dad, Percy starts to understand his powers as a half-blooded hero. These books have the Harry Potter perfection of well mixed characters (I just can't get over Percy, Annabeth, and Grover as Harry, Hermoine, and Ron, but in truth the formula works.) The adventure, the cleverness, the harrowing escapes works so well to bring the actual greek myths to life for kids, and updates the stories for modern kids perfectly. My favorite example is the Circe story (remember her from the Odyssey? Oh, and the cyclops Polyphemus)runs a health spa where she shows men their true selves (guinea pigs, because regular pigs were too problematic and guinea pigs are, let's face it, cuter.)

Anyway, quite generally this sequel makes me happy. There is no floundering, no running out of steam. It is obvious that Riordan planned this series out well, and he knows his stuff, and best of all he knows how to make it appeal to kids (and, well, adults.) I will admit that I like the more subtle or maybe just more obscure mythology in Neil Gaiman's American Gods and Anansi Boy's (both of which are for an older reader anyhoozle.) And, for bloodpounding nonstop adventure and acton, Percy Jackson will take on anyone in the arena.

Honestly, I don't know what to tell you about finding read-alikes for these, except that I was reading Edith Hamilton's Mythology like it was the newest Stephenie Meyer (had Stephenie Meyer been writing blockbusters back then) at age 12 and 13. Maybe the logical next step is to get them into accessible mythology, especially greek, but think of all the amazing stories from around the world. I can't imagine reading these books and not wanting to know where these fascinating monsters and long ago gods came from originally.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Genre study

I have belonged to a genre study group for a year and a half now. I joined the one at IU headed up by Phil Eskew in the summer of 2007 after taking his Readers' Advisory course. Now that I work at a Readers' Services desk I take part in my library's own genre study group that meets, and I'm being honest here, way too early for an awkward librarian to fight the awkward.There is not enough coffee in the world. At this morning's meeting I tried to give an overview of Goodreads, a web 2.0 RA tool that I'm superpassionate about using (please notice the widget, woo! widget!), but I managed to ramble the topic into the ground.

And while Goodreads is awesome, that's not what I'm here to talk about today. I'm here to talk about the book that I realized-in the middle of my genre study discussion- I'm never going to finish it. The book was "Finder" by Emma Bull. But as I was discussing (or again, rambling on about) it as a "book I'm currently reading" this morning, I realized I had nothing exciting or glowing to say about it and though everything on paper about the book seemed to match up with Things I Like In Books and it was recommended via one of the numerous listservs I desperately scramble to fail at keeping up with...I couldn't get into it. Why does it take me so long to realize I won't finish a book, and that I shouldn't have to do so? Do you force yourself to read material you don't actively want to read? Check out the clever poll I devised for you! And riddle me this Batman, how do you RA 2.0 tag those books you just can't finish?