Thursday, August 30, 2012

Bear With Me

Sorry for the lack of reviews lately.

I've been reading a lot and most of it's pretty good, but I've hit some sort of reviewing block. I'm hoping to sit down and just bust through it this weekend, but until then, enjoy one of the greatest Sesame Street moments ever

Monday, August 27, 2012


You Guys, I am SO SAD about missing KidLitCon this year.

But... new job = extremely limited leave and with Yom Kippur earlier in the week, I just couldn't swing it. (Well, I couldn't swing KidLitCon AND Thanksgiving and as much as I love you all, Thanksgiving won.)

BUT! There'a s pretty good consolation prize for those of us left out of the fun. BLOGGIESTA! is the same weekend!

Have you guys done Bloggiesta before? It's a great weekend for bloggers.

Basically, it's a weekend to do all that blog maintenance and projects that you always *want* to do and never seem to get around to. I like it for several reasons.

1. I get a lot of stuff done. See how much I did last time?
2. It's not just for book/review blogs. Any blog can play. I think it's mostly (all?) book/review blogs that do it, but really, it could be ANY blog.
3. It's beyond the kidlit community. I feel that we're often in our own little corner of the book blogging world, which is why we're often like "what? people do what?" when the shit hits the fan. I like events like this where all the book people get together.

It's no kidlitcon, but I'm really looking forward to it. I'm already working on my list of goals...

How about you?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cryer's Cross

Cryer's Cross Lisa McMann

Kendall has spent her entire life in Cryer's Cross, Montana. It's a small town of mostly potato farmers (Kendall's family included.) There are 24 people in her high school.

Last spring, Tiffany Quinn disappeared without a trace. This fall, Kendall's boyfriend Nico, is also gone.

Kendall has OCD. Everything must be just so. It also means that all the horrific possibilities of what happened to Tiffany or Nico replay in her head over. and over. and over. and over. and over. and over. and over. and over. and over.

It also means that she knows the smallest details of everything. She knows that Nico was sitting at the same desk that Tiffany sat at last year. Kendall knows that the graffiti carvings that look like they've been there forever? They're new. And they're changing. She hears the voices calling to her.

Thirty five. One hundred. Thirty five. One hundred.

Overall, I liked the first 90% of it. It was spooky and tense. I loved how Kendall's OCD was a hinderance and a help. I also love that this book wasn't a book about Kendall's OCD. It was about something else entirely. I love that it's a small town that ISN'T full of quirky characters. The interjections of the desks in between chapters at first was really weird, but at the end added to the scariness. I loved the depiction of how hard small town life can be. With Tiffany and Nico gone, when the new girl Marlena breaks her leg, the soccer season is cancelled because even though it's a co-ed, there are no longer enough people to make a full team.

I'm not sure how I felt about Kendall's relationship with new boy (Marlena's older brother Jacian). On one hand Kendall and Nico were dating because they had been best friends since they were born and it just seemed natural and Jacian makes her heart race... after Nico's disappearance (and not only as her boyfriend, but also her oldest and best friend) it seemed a bit... fast.

My big beef though, is with the end. It's rushed and totally anti-climatic. What was going on was really cool and FREAKY, but how McMann lets the readers know is a let-down. It just falls apart a bit. Which is sad because it had such promise and the majority of the book was SO GOOD.

ALSO, THE COVER. The one at the top of the review is the paperback cover. UGH. It makes it look like a KISSING BOOK. This is not a kissing book. So, it'll disappoint those looking for a kissing book and it won't get picked up by a lot of people because of it. The original hardcover with the spooky desk? SO MUCH BETTER. I think it represents the book much better and will appeal to more readers. Ah well.

Book Provided by... the publisher at a lovely dinner with McMann, at ALA Midwinter a few years ago.

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Nonfiction Monday: So You Thought You Couldn't Cut It

So You Thought You Couldn't Cut It, A Beginner's Guide to Wood Carving Jim Calder with Jen Coate

Jim Calder is a Master Carver who teaches workshops to adults and kids using his triangle method to carve a face. While Carter usually carves wood, in his workshops and this book, he uses a sweet potato-- it's the right size, easier for beginners to cut through, and when it dries out and looks a lot like wood.

Steps are clearly explained and each step is accompanied by a large, clear, color picture showing Calder's method. I didn't try to carve a sweet potato, so I can't say for sure, but the book makes it look pretty straightforward and do-able. If I had proper carving knives, I might buy a sweet potato and try it out, but I don't have the right tools, so, alas.

An extra exciting part about this book is Jen Coate. This book was published by the Young Writer's Foundation, which mentors writers in K-12, so it's pretty cool that a high school student was paired with Calder and wrote this book.

Today's Nonfiction Monday is hosted over at Jean Little Library.

Book Provided by... the publisher for Cybils consideration

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Enchanted, Inc.

Enchanted, Inc. Shanna Swendson

Katie Chandler is from a small town in Texas, trying to make it in the business world of New York City. She lives with her friends from college (who all manage to have awesome jobs, even though they have the same degrees? But still can't afford anything bigger than 3 girls sharing a 1-bedroom?) She has a horrible job and no dating prospects. She's a plain-Jane normal boring every-girl. To the point, where her voice is kinda boring to read.


Katie's used to seeing weird things that she just assumes are the freaks and weirdos of New York City. It turns out that she's just completely immune to magic. Most people have a bit of magic in them, just enough to be susceptible to cloaking spells. Not Katie. It turns out this is a good thing. Magic, Spells, and Illusions quickly hires her as a verifier. She can see if the competition has slipped anything into contracts and hidden it and other things. At MSI, Katie's extreme normalness is an asset and that's where her voice and the action pick up. The boys are better, then romantic tension is better (although this is NOT a romance chick-lit type book) and the MSI world and corporate intrigue is pretty good, too.

It took my awhile to get into it, but once I did, I fell in love. I can't wait to read the rest of the series. I like the fact that it didn't end up being standard chicklit fare as far as the romance goes. I liked the corporate intrigue with the magical twist. I really like Owen. I'm excited to see where this one is going.

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Since the Surrender

Since the Surrender Julie Anne Long

OK all. This is the last Pennyroyal Green book (until the new one comes out in October) and my last romance for awhile. I know this is a genre that not a lot of my readers also read (although maybe you should pick one up to try?)

Captain Charles Eversea (Chase) literally and metaphorically carries the scars and weight left over from the wars and Waterloo in particular. Since the end of the war, he's had a hard time fitting back into life in Pennyroyal Green.

Rosalind March lost her Colonel husband at Waterloo. For once in her life, she doesn't have to work just to survive. But then her sister is arrested for petty theft and goes missing from Newgate. She's getting threatening letters and certain names keep coming up-- men who served under her husband.

There's only one person who can help her, but they have A HISTORY AND A PAST. It's very sordid*

The thing I didn't like about this-- when they finally get together they do it in the worst possible place and time. Not once, but twice. FOR REALZ?! How stupid are you? The answer to the mystery is glaringly obvious and right around you if you could just keep your pants on and skirts down for 15 bloody minutes. Also, some glaring plot holes in terms of the length of a tunnel and how far a giggle really would carry.

BUT I DON'T ACTUALLY CARE. Because I really liked this one. In fact, I think it's my favorite! Mostly, because it handles some BIG TOPICS that you don't see often in books that are pretty much escapist fantasy.

There are some deep, hard looks at:

1. The war. Both the lead up to Waterloo and the battle itself, but mostly at its effects on the survivors, both physical and mental. It's very well done.

2. Street urchins/London's urban poor. Heartbreaking. Soooooooo heartbreaking.

3. English justice of petty crimes during this time period. (Stole a loaf of bread? HANG! or be transported! Either way, a bit overkill.)

And, they mystery of Lucy and what's going on is super sordid and shocking and HOLY COW. I'm a bit surprised she went there but am glad she did. There's a depth to this on that I'm not used to in romance, or even in this series. In fact, the mystery/other stuff plot may have overshadowed the romance plot. I actually found myself skimming the kissing scenes (and I NEVER skim a kissing scene) to get back to the other action. While that's usually not good in a romance, it worked in this one. Trust me.

*not really, but kinda. They make it out like it's much more sordid than it actually is.

Book Provided by... my local library via ILL

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hark! A Vagrant!

Hark! A Vagrant Kate Beaton

Do you read Kate Beaton's most awesome webcomic Hark! A Vagrant? because you should.

In it, Beaton regularly makes history, Canadians, and classic literature hilarious. Often with a paragraph or two of commentary that is also hilarious. Listen to Charlotte and Emily Bronte tease Anne about her horrible taste in men. Doesn't she know that drunk losers who ruin everyone's lives are HOTTTTT? What if Ben Franklin's political cartoons had a modern editor? And, well, her retellings of Shakespeare just make me laugh a lot. I especially enjoy her comics where she sketches out the plots of books based solely on their covers. (In this collection, she has a series of books with covers by Gorey and some classic Nancy Drews.) Nothing is safe or sacred, but it's all hilarious.

Her comics are funny and awesome and hey look! There's a whole book of them! So you can read them when you're not on your computer. You should probably go read them.

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

What I Did for A Duke

What I Did For a Duke Julie Anne Long

Another entry in the Pennyroyal Green series!

In the sea of craziness and drama in her family, Genevieve Eversea is a sea of calm.

After he catches Ian Eversea in bed with his fiance, the cool and dangerous Duke of Falconbridge vows revenge. He gets his opportunity a few days later at an Eversea houseparty. He'll seduce, ruin, and abandon her.

But Genevieve has just had her house broken. She may be kind, she may be nice, but she's also smart. The Duke of Falconbridge is up to something. They quickly suss each other out and call each other out. He abandons his revenge plans and they strike up a friendship that's about to be derailed by their underlying passion and attraction.

It's another houseparty plot-- let's stick everyone in the same house for a week and see who gets their freak on! Historically, I know that house parties were one of the only ways to find a match outside the Season, but it can seem a bit contrived. Also, in a series that's six books long (so far) this is the third I've read that's a houseparty plot. Ugh. THAT SAID, I actually really liked this one. It's houseparty done right. (If nothing else, Falconbridge got himself invited to the houseparty not only to seduce Genevieve but also just to have his presence torture Ian, which is one of the reasons I love Falconbridge. He's not exactly wicked himself, but he's got a wicked sense of humor. I liked Genevieve. I loved how Long paints her-- she's smart and constrained by her time period without chaffing at it. We don't see that much in historical fiction. She's a heroine I believe could exist. I also loved the Duke. There was a lot of rumor and gossip surrounding him, but when it came down to it, he just cultivated aloofness. More importantly, I believed the sizzle and the sexual tension. I bought the relationship and enjoyed it.

It doesn't have some of the drama and antics of some of the other ones in the series, but it's still one of my favorites (no stowing away on to go hunting pirates).

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Rea
d my full disclosure statement.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012


Gilt Katherine Longshore

Henry the VIII's many wives are common fodder for books for adults, not as much for YA (and when it is YA, it's more the princesses who get coverage, as they're the teens involved-- are there any good ones on Lady Jane Grey?) ANYWAY. Even in the shelves of Tudor fiction, Catherine Howard doesn't get a lot of play.

When this book came out, I was surprised that we hadn't seen more about her for YA before. When you think about it, her story is *perfect* for YA-- politics, romance, sex, death, pretty dresses, a teen queen who doesn't grasp the political realities surrounding her and a doomed relationship.

This one is narrarated by Catherine's friend Katherine TInley. Cat and Kitty have grown up together in the house of the Dowager Countess of Norfolk, with other daughters of minor nobility who have been sent there to be ignored or forgotten. Cat is then chosen to be a member of the new queen's household. After Henry's marriage to Anne of Cleves dissolves, he marries Cat, and Cat brings Kitty and their friends to court, where they are thrust into Cat's dangerous games of lust and sex. They can see what Cat can't-- how very close she is to the edge. They all remember what happened to the former queen, Anne Boleyn--why doesn't Cat?

Those with even a glancing knowledge of history know that those who marry Henry VIII don't find success. It's not a huge spoiler to say that Cat and others will lose their heads by the end of the novel.

Despite knowing the ending, it's a great ride to get there. Kitty's torn between a few guys-- there's the one who parents have betrothed her to, the one that Cat's set her up, and the one that Kitty actually likes. It's a really interesting look at the lack of agency people had when it came to family and politics. In addition to all of the stolen moments in dark corners and the glittering wealth, Longshore does a great job of painting the tension and the danger. Kitty can see that the game Cat is playing won't end well. She keeps waiting for the shoe to drop, and when it does, it happens so slowly that Cat doesn't notice until they come to arrest her.

I also really liked the characterization of Lady Rochford. One thing I've learned from reading my friend's blog that looks at Anne Boleyn novels is that Lady Rochford is often a bit evil. In Gilt she's a survivor who is just trying to remain a survivor.

It was great that will appeal to historical fiction fans as well as "rich mean girl" fans.

ARC Provided by... the publisher at ALA.

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

What's Up?

Hey all.

I'm doing more reading than reviewing right now. Plus, binging on Olympic coverage.

Mostly binging on Olympic coverage. The drama! The pagentry! The Russian hair sparkles! The way they make everything seem so effortless. I could TOTALLY do uneven bars like Gabby Douglas, NO PROBLEM.

White water canoe slalom? SIGN ME UP! Never mind that I'm really bad at canoeing unless it involves flat water and a straight line.

Back to reviewing soon. In the mean time, USA! USA! USA!

Friday, August 03, 2012

Poetry Friday: XXXIV

I love Neruda, but haven't read all of his stuff. I was happy to come across this one a few weeks ago on a friend's food blog. You can find it in 100 Love Sonnets: Cien sonetos de amor (English and Spanish Edition).

(You are the daughter of the sea)
by Pablo Neruda

You are the daughter of the sea, oregano’s first cousin.
Swimmer, your body is pure as the water;
cook, your blood is quick as the soil.
Everything you do is full of flowers, rich with the earth.

Your eyes go out toward the water, and the waves rise; your hands go out to the earth and the seeds swell; you know the deep essence of water and the earth, conjoined in you like a formula for clay.

Naiad: cut your body into turquoise pieces,
they will bloom resurrected in the kitchen.
This is how you become everything that lives.

And so at last, you sleep, in the circle of my arms
that push back the shadows so that you can rest—
vegetables, seaweed, herbs: the foam of your dreams.

Today's Poetry Friday roundup is over at On the Way to Somewhere-- be sure to check it out!

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Money Boy

Money Boy Paul Yee

Ray Liu is having a hard time at home, living under the harsh thumb of his very demanding father. He struggles in school and with his English. Things are wrse because his step-brother easily meets the demands and expectations. Ray's only refuge is his online video games. When his father discovers Ray's been visiting websites for gay teens, he finds himself locked out of the house with his clothes and belongings all over the lawn. Ray ends up in downtown Toronto. He spends his days exploring the gay district, but his nights are a struggle finding someplace to sleep--sometimes a hostel, sometimes a shelter, sometimes the streets. After his wallet is stolen, he not only loses access to his bank account, but with no ID and limited English, he can't find work. He ends up on Boy Street, where the male prostitutes are.

I have very mixed feelings on this book. I picked it up because it was a Stonewall Honor book. On one hand, it's a wonderful, interesting, and very effective blending of an immigration story, a coming out story, and a blended and broken family story. Ray isn't your stereotypical gay kid, nor your stereotypical immigrant kid, nor your stereotypical gamer kid. He's just a normal guy, with a good group of friends, struggling with school and his father. His orientation is a complete shock to his friends and family. I really, really liked him as a character (even when his decisions frustrated me to no end.)

It's a short book and a quick read, and that's where my misgivings come in. THe entire action only takes about a week. Despite an early mugging, life on the streets is hard, but not too bad. Most of the drama is because Ray's led a very privileged life and has a hard time "slumming it." When he gets cash, he blows through it rather quickly. He finds a good community of gay Asians in a sushi restaurant and even when he's taken advantage of by a pimp, the action's a bit glossed. The ending is very swift and overly tidy, to the point where it's completely unbelievable. Had it been a bit longer, it could have been more fleshed out. As it stands now, it has a lot going for it, but falls apart a bit at the end.

Book Provided by... my local library

Links to Amazon are an affiliate link. You can help support Biblio File by purchasing any item (not just the one linked to!) through these links. Read my full disclosure statement.