Book Review: The Book Thief

The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak

SUMMARY: Death is the narrator of this lengthy, powerful story of a town in Nazi Germany. He is a kindly, caring Death, overwhelmed by the souls he has to collect from people in the gas chambers, from soldiers on the battlefields, and from civilians killed in bombings. Death focuses on a young orphan, Liesel; her loving foster parents; the Jewish fugitive they are hiding; and a wild but gentle teen neighbor, Rudy, who defies the Hitler Youth and convinces Liesel to steal for fun. After Liesel learns to read, she steals books from everywhere. Then the book thief writes her own story. The astonishing characters, drawn without sentimentality, will grab readers. More than the overt message about the power of words, it's Liesel's confrontation with horrifying cruelty and her discovery of kindness in unexpected places that tell the heartbreaking truth. (adapted from the Booklist review)

OPINION: Recently, many books have been narrated by dead people. For example, The Sledding Hill by Chris Crutcher, Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin, and The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. But this book is narrated by death himself, and it stands out from the crowd. This is a story about war, horror, and survival, just as you would expect. It is also surprisingly moving and beautiful. Death doesn't want to be involved in the way that Hitler forces him to be, but he finds solace in the life of Liesel Meminger. She, in turn, finds solace in words, some stolen and some hand-written. This unique book, although long, is an amazing perspective on a dark time in history.


New Stuff Redux

Yup, I'm back again with another list of new books.
  • Diva by Alex Flinn
  • Street Love by Walter Dean Myers
  • After by Francine Prose
  • The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 2) by Rick Riordan
  • Rainboy Boys by Alex Sanchez
  • Rainbow High by Alex Sanchez
  • Endymion Spring by Matthew Skelton
  • What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones
  • Truesight by David Stahler, Jr.


Book Review: Out From Boneville

Out from Boneville (Bone, Volume 1) by Jeff Smith

SUMMARY: A whimsical journey, cunningly told. It combines fable with American legend in a tale of greed, friendship, and struggle. The story follows three cousins who have been thrown out of their town for cheating the citizens. Shortly thereafter, they are separated. Each Bone stumbles into a mysterious valley full of odd creatures that reveal strange happenings. The story is well paced with smooth transitions. It is dark, witty, mysterious, and exciting. The full-color art reflects that of classic comic books; one glance at the comic cels and one is reminded of old Disney and "Peanuts" cartoons. However, the animation and fresh story line put Smith in a league of his own. (from School Library Journal)

OPINION: This fall, we had a six-week comic book discussion group, and this was everyone's favorite. It is really funny, but also full of adventure, mystery, and danger. The newest editions of Out from Boneville are in full color, which is fantastic. And, best of all, it is the first in a nine-volume series, so you can keep reading about the characters! I am not the biggest comic reader in the universe, but this series has something for everyone. I would totally recommend it, and plan on reading the other volumes! We have most of them at our library.


It's a Full House

No matter how many books you all check out, there are always new ones arriving. Here's what we got this week:

  • Sharp North by Patrick Cave
  • The Loud Silence by Karen Cushman
  • An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
  • Wish Riders by Patrick Jennings
  • Voices by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Black Duck by Janet Taylor Lisle
  • Sold by Patricia McCormick
  • Alice in the Know by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  • Bread and Roses, Too by Katherine Paterson
  • Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett
  • Confessions of a Hollywood Star by Dyan Sheldon
  • Notes from the Midnight Driver by Jordan Sonnenblick
  • Trigger by Susan Vaught
  • All Hallows' Eve: 13 Stories by Vivian Vande Velde
  • The Unresolved by T. K. Welsh
  • The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin


Book Review: Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

SUMMARY: What happens when two witty, wise, but vulnerable teens meet by accident at a chaotic punk rock club? They fall in love, of course. While both are dealing with the fallout of failed relationships and the infinite hurt that accompanies them, they are questioning everything about themselves, their friends, and their future paths. The passion and intelligence of these characters, along with the authors' intimate knowledge of and complete respect for their audience, make this novel unique. Told in alternating chapters over the course of a single night, the narratives create a fully fleshed-out picture of both teens, informed by their love of music, their devotion to their friends, and their clear-eyed view of the world. There are many heart-stopping, insightful moments in this supremely satisfying and sexy romance. A first-rate read. (excerpted from the SLJ review)

OPINION: This story perfectly captures the start of a relationship, with all of its uncertainties, revelations, and, yes, passion. The story has no middle school cheesiness about it ("Do you like me? Circle yes or no.")! It is very intense, and very real. The authors wrote this book chapter by chapter, with no advance planning. The characters (and their dedication to music) control the action from the start. If you are a music fan, this is a great f***in read! I'm not just saying that for effect...I think this book might set a record for use of the F word. So, as long as you're not fussy about language, check it out!

OTHER BOOKS: A third book about Cyd Charisse, Cupcake, will be released in January. And see Amy's post below about another collaboration between David Levithan and Rachel Cohn!

WEBSITE: Check out the official Nick and Norah website. It has playlists, downloads, blogs, author info, and more!


Word Game Night!

Last night, 11 teens came to Word Game Night. It was so much fun, and not much work to plan! Different groups played Scattergories, Apples to Apples, and Mad Libs. We didn't even get to play Scrabble, so there has to be another event like this again soon. We had snacks too...props to Caitlin for making brownies!

And for the record: Caitlin beat me at Scattergories, 56 to 54. Grrr. I'll get you next time!


Teens' Top Ten

Earlier this week, YALSA's Teens' Top Ten list was announced. During Teen Read Week, teens all over the country voted for these ten books as the best of 2005. I've read six of them! How many have you read? Look for them at the library!!

(PS--some of the the titles are linked to my reviews on the blog.)

1. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
2. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
3. Eldest by Christopher Paolini
4. Rebel Angels by Libba Bray
5. Peeps by Scott Westerfeld
6. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
7. Poison by Chris Wooding
8. Captain Hook: The Adventures of a Notorious Youth by J.V. Hart
9. If I Have a Wicked Stepmother, Where’s My Prince? by Melissa Kantor
10. Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin


Fanboy Friday!

Last Friday, 32 people came to hear Barry Lyga talk about The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl. It was fun, with a great reading from the book and a lot of time for Q and A. It's always cool to hear about the creation of a good book. For example, in the original drafts, Kyra was a really minor character. Later, she took over the story and got her name in the title!

Everyone asked thoughtful questions, and Barry was impressed with how many of you had already read the book! My favorite question was from Kara, asking Barry about the craziest thing he has ever seen at a comic book convention. Other memorable questions were about his favorite books and movies, and whether this book will have a sequel (the answer: maybe). And one exciting thing we learned is that he was recently on an author panel with John Green and Stephenie Meyer! After the talk, 17 people bought books to get signed. ( I still have a few more, unsigned but a deal at only $11!)

We found out that his next book, Boy Toy, will be released in October 2007. This is a story, told in flashbacks, of of 12-year-old boy who has a relationship with his teacher. It sounds pretty depressing, but everyone was very interested in reading it. Barry is planning to send us an ARC when one is printed, and there is already a waiting list!

And the coolest thing...Barry said we were his best public library event ever. Oh yeah!!!


You CAN Judge A Book By It's Cover!

Amy said it, and I agree. In the case of The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl, it's actually true! The cover is not some marketing trick...it's a book worth reading.

Incidentally, just in case you forgot, author Barry Lyga will be here TOMORROW NIGHT AT 7 PM to talk about his book. Be here!!!


Newest Teen Nonfic

Just went on the shelves today...
  • All Made Up: A Girl's Guide to Seeing Through Celebrity Hype...and Celebrating Real Beauty by Audrey D. Brashich
  • In*jean*uity by Ellen Warwick and Bernice Lum