Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Interview with Cindy Callaghan

Earlier today, I reviewed Lost in London by Cindy Callaghan, as part of her blog tour.

Now that we've had time to have our tea, she's stopped by for an interview!

Jordan visits a lot of London's famous sites, as well as some places where students just like to hang out. What's your favorite place in London?

I love love love the Tower of London. It is historic and spooky and beautiful all at the same time.

Jordan is on a mission to de-borify her life. What's the craziest thing you've ever done to de-borify yours?

Let's see... there was leaving NJ to go to college in LA. A streak of wild concerts. Then nothing de-bored-i-fying for a lot of years. More recently, there was Cindy's Adventures in ZipLining.

Jordan's first night in London, she gets locked inside the worlds biggest and best department store, one that is, sadly, fictional. Where would you like to be accidentally locked in overnight?

Haunted mansion! The bigger and scarier the better!! I love spooky.

If you could go back in time and talk to yourself when you were Jordan's age, what would you say?

It's all going to be fine. Tween and teen years can be long and tough, but you'll come out the other end one strong and fab chick!

You're the author of 3 books, all for tweens. Why do you write for this age group?

Maybe because I am surrounded by inspiration. Maybe because my voice lends itself to that age group.

Tweens are often misunderstood by adults--what's something you wish that adults understood about them?

The things that they think are a big deal are A REALLY REALLY BIG DEAL to them. We have to accept that.

What's one place in the world that you haven't visited, but really want to?

Italy! And Hogwarts.

What are you currently reading?

Hidden Order, Brad Thor

What are you currently watching?


What are you currently listening to?

Seriously Sinatra!

Thanks for stopping by Cindy!

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.

Lost in London

Lost in London Cindy Callaghan

Jordan Jacoby has a boring life in a boring town. She lives next door to her school--and her father works there. She wants to try something new, so her parents let her go on a school trip* to London, where she’ll be staying with her mother’s old sorority sister, who has a step-daughter Jordan’s age.

Only once she gets there she finds that Caroline and her friends are much richer and cooler and mature than Jordan. And Caroline really doesn’t want much to do with Jordan, especially if it means hanging out at tourist sites instead of shopping.

But then Caroline and Jordan get locked into Daphne’s overnight (think Harrods, but bigger. And cooler, as if that were possible!) The same night there’s a major break in. Now they’re being blackmailed, unless Jordan can stop it-- and win over Caroline in the process.

There are some Brit-picky things about this, but once I got over myself, this was an enjoyable middle-grade/tween caper. I appreciated that although Caroline was snotty and spoiled, she wasn’t vicious or overly poorly behaved. Her friends are nice, and each have their own personalities. I really liked Jordan. Even though she was pretty out of her depth, she kept her head for the most part, and stood up for what was right. This is one I really would have loved when I was 10.

Check back later today for an interview with Ms. Callaghan!

*It’s a school trip in that she has to do a project, but she seems to the only one going and she and her parents organize everything.

Book Provided by... the publicist, for a blog tour post

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Thursday, October 31, 2013


Nightshifted Cassie Alexander

Edie Spence is a nurse who’s left her cushy private clinic job to work the nightshift on Y4. Y4 is County Hospital’s supernatural ward. If she works there, the Shadows (the things that help hide supernatural activity from normal people) will keep her junkie brother clean.

This isn’t a light-and-fluffy paranormal romance. This is much grittier and more a mystery than anything. When a vampire dies on Edie’s watch, his dying words are “Find Anna.” And when she does, she gets pulled into some serious bad vampire stuff. There is a lot of action, a lot of blood, and a lot of nurse straight-talk (Alexander is a nurse when she’s not writing and it really shows and adds a lot to the book.)

Plus, there’s a were-dragon, a hot shapeshifter, and Edie has a zombie boyfriend. Plus, a possessed CD player that speaks only in German.

But it’s also full of lonely, broken people. Working the nightshift for low pay in order to save your brother is hard (and Edie has issues.) Being a zombie and over 100 years old is hard. Having to give up control to the moon is hard. Different characters handle it differently. There is sex, but little romance. There is A LOT of blood.

But guys!! So Awesome!! Alexander has really built this world. The characters have issues, but they’re mostly great people that you can’t help but love and root for. Their issues are so real and not easy to resolve-- many don't get resolved. Also, the action and politics are intense.

I found out about this book from Clear Eyes, Full Shelves, and it doesn't undersell.

Lucky for us, this is the first in a series, because you won’t want to leave Edie and Y4 behind.

Book Provided by... my wallet

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Awaken Meg Cabot.

Things aren’t going well in the Underworld-- the boats are late, it’s very hot, and there are swarms of birds coming. The hurricane is above land and below, and the tension and release is real and metaphorical. Only, right before the storm breaks, John somehow dies. And none of the souls can move on, unless Pierce and crew can find the spirit of Thanatos on land, in the middle of a hurricane.

Do me a favor-- read this trilogy at once. I mean, it starts with a hurricane warning and the storm doesn’t really hit until the climax of the third book. It’s a very compressed timeline and would just flow better if you read it all in one go. (And now that all three books are out, it's easy-peasy to do that.) And here lies one of the problems-- I like John and Pierce. John’s an ass, but Pierce can handle it. It makes sense how their relationship unfolds over the 3 books, but when you think about the actual timeline involved, it’s pretty quick.

Over the series, Pierce really grew on me, and I loved the visual of her running around in a hurricane, in her fancy dress with an old school whip, kicking some serious ass. I loved the cultural slice-of-life of what life in the Keys is like when a storm hits (something I trust Cabot to be very familiar with, as that’s where she lives).

It’s not my favorite of Cabot’s works. But it was very enjoyable and I did like reading it. I also liked her take on daily life in the Underworld, and how mythology might still work in our modern time frame. I also appreciated that Pierce demands that Queen of the Underworld = Co-Regent, and how she really dives in and takes charge in this one.

Book Provided by... my local library

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

School Spirits

School Spirits Rachel Hawkins

This is a companion novel the Hex Hall series, and takes place after that series wrapped up.

Izzy Brannick is used to moving around, not having friends, and hunting monsters who make trouble. But now everything is different-- six months ago her sister Finn went missing on what should have been a routine mission. Izzy knows she’ll never live up to Finn’s skills or her mother’s expectations.

So now Izzy and her mom have moved to Ideal, Mississippi to take care of a simple school haunting. The ease of the mission is almost insulting. The hard part isn’t the ghost-- it’s the fact that to investigate, Izzy needs to enroll in high school and blend in. Izzy can handle monsters, but can she handle friends?

LOVE this. I love Izzy’s relationship with Torrin-- the evil warlock trapped in her mirror. It’s a great friendship full of screwball comedy banter. I also like that Izzy comes to town and immediately has 2 boys like her and I can see why. Izzy isn’t very confident, but Hawkins often shows us how awesome she is, and I can see all the guys falling over her and her mysterious ways. I also liked how it was there, but it was a pretty minor part of the plot, because Izzy doesn’t have the time or energy for such nonsense. I loooooooooooooooooooooooved Izzy’s new ghost-hunting friends and how they dealt with the high school crap.

And oh my, Dex. An asthmatic Prodigium who wears a lot of purple and has a smart mouth? Can we get more romantic leads like this? Seriously fun to read and swoon over.

Fans of Hex Hall will like this one and should get it.

Sadly, Rachel Hawkins told me on twitter that this is a stand-alone and not a series. While the plot is resolved, there is SO MUCH MORE to explore-- especially with Finn’s disappearance and Torrin. (I want so much more Torrin. Someone should write me some torrid Torrin fanfic. I would love you forever).

Book Provided by... my local library

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Monday, October 07, 2013

Nonfiction Monday: Hacking Your Education

Hacking Your Education: Ditch the Lectures, Save Tens of Thousands, and Learn More Than Your Peers Ever Will Dale J. Stephens

Stephens (founder of UnCollege) lays out his manifesto on why college isn’t the best option for most people and instead offers a new template on how to learn, grow, and find gainful employment.

Stephens was an unschooler and carries that mentality into higher education.

It’s a compelling case-- basically college is crazy expensive and the higher earnings degree holders used to see are shrinking. When you look at how much money you had to put into college in the first place-- it’s not necessarily at great ROI.

In the words of Good Will Hunting (and this quotation opens the book) “You wasted $150000 on an education for $1.50 in late fees at the library?”

Now, personally, I would have been a horrible uncollege student. I didn’t have the personal drive necessary to be successful at it.

But one thing I love about this book is it’s not just for college-- Stephen’s plan for life-long learning is great for learning at any point in your life--high school, college, post-college. He has a lot of really useful exercises to get you started and great ideas to get up and go.

It’s an quick and easy read and a very interesting look at education and how we can, and need to, make it work for us.

Today's Nonfiction Monday is over at Shelf-Employed.

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.

Monday, September 23, 2013

History of English in 100 Words

The Story of English in 100 Words David Crystal.

Mead is an uncommon, old-fashioned drink. Back in its heyday (the 9th century) it was so popular, it permeated the English language. You would rest on a medu-benc (mead-bench) or medu-setl (mead-seat). You might live in medu-burh (a place known for its mead drinkers). You’d walk on the medu-stig (path to the mead hall) and maybe, you might even get medu-dream (mead-joy.) Not only does this tell us of the role Mead played back in the day, remnants still remain (or do you not use a whiskey glass for what comes out of the whisky decanter?)

Is Garage pronounced “garahge” “GArahge” or “GARridge”? Part of it is location, part of it is social class, but the accepted pronunciations have shifted over the years. A look at the BBC list of “standard” pronunciations makes that clear.

Crystal looks at 100 words, their history, and how they stand-in for larger trends in the development on English as a language.

I liked how he broke it up in 100 words, making it more manageable, using certain words to speak for larger trends and issues. I also really liked the parts on how history changed the language--the Norman conquest did a lot, as did globalization, and, of course, American English and our cultural exports have radically changed it as well.

Overall, a fun and short look at our crazy language.

Book Provided by... my local library

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Friday, September 20, 2013

Poetry Friday: October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard

What You Can Do in Eighteen Hours

Write a term paper
Cram for a final

Fly across the ocean
Drive cross-country

Scale a mountain
Run a marathon

Deliver a baby
Read War and Peace

Fall in love
Fall out of love

See the moon disappear
Watch the sun rise and set

Wait to be discovered
lashed to a fence

Shivering under a blanket
of stars

October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard Leaslea Newman

On October 6, 1998, Matthew Shephard was kidnapped from a bar, beaten, tied to a fence, and left to die. 18 hours later he was discovered. 5 days later he died. He was murdered for being gay.

The week he died was Gay Awareness Week and Newman was the keynote speaker for the activities that the University of Wyoming’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered Association were hosting. Shepard was part of that group, had helped plan the week.

It took Newman years to process this horrific crime and what resulted is this collection of poetry.

We can argue it’s an important book because of the subject matter. And it is. But HOLY SHIT is it just an amazing work of poetry.

Newman writes poems from multiple perspectives, both people and inanimate objects, and general poems, interspersed with quotations from the sheriff, the news, the murderers, and judge, and others.

Only Matthew’s voice is missing.

She plays with form to an amazing effect, each one carefully chosen to match the narrator and the content. It's more a chronological collection of poems rather than a cohesive verse novel.

The pure artistry makes this one a total gut punch. You will cry.

I was hesitant to pick it up. I’m so glad I did. I hope you do, too.

Today's Poetry Friday roundup is over at The Opposite of Indifference.

Book Provided by... my local library

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Lean In

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg.

After all the hype and controversy, I thought it would be good if I actually read this one for myself. I'm glad I did. I think I'll have to reread it annually. It was that good.

Sandberg's basic points are that women have been conditioned to keep our heads down, be nice, and if we work really, really hard, we'll be rewarded. But, the data doesn't support that. If we want to succeed, we need to take chances, raise our hands, and toot our own horns. (Women often feel that have to be 100% qualified for a job before applying. Men only feel they have to be 60% qualified.)

But she also recognizes the world we live in-- tooting your own horn is valuable if you're a guy, but often penalizes you if you're a woman. She also knows this weird chicken/egg world we live in--workplaces are hard on women with families and many women leave instead of fighting to the top, but you need women at the top to get change, but you can't get to the top if your workplace won't help you support your family and round and round it goes.

Sandberg also recognizes her own privilege and the book is really for white-collar jobs.

BUT it is a stellar call to action for women AND men to step back and look at the gender imbalance, why its there, and what we can do about it. I do like the cold truth that no one's going to hand out a better job and situation, you have to go grab it, or at least ask for it.

Not all of it applied to me-- public librarianship, especially youth services, is female heavy. My boss is female, as is her's, as is her's up to the director (also female.) But I still found advice to take to heart, and a different way of looking at things.

I think it's a very strong (and quickly readable) call to action. It points out a lot of hard truths about what's going on, and hwy, but also offers solid suggestions on how to fix them, not just in your personal job, but in society as a whole.

It's an important book and you should probably read it.

Book Provided by... my local library

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Bitter Kingdom

The Bitter Kingdom Rae Carson

Elisa, Mara, Belen, and Storm are on Hector’s tail, ready to rescue him, and then to save Elisa’s crown.

But saving Hector isn’t enough--something isn’t right in Invierne and Elisa continues into the capital city to discover what. She does discover it, and with it some horrifying truth about Godstones and those who bear them.

And that’s only the first half!

Guuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuys. It’s soooooooooooo goooooooooooooooood. I love this series. I love this ending. I love Elisa and how much she’s grown and how she’s so strong and scared at the same time. I love how the action is the perfect mix of fighting and politics.

Also, um, Hector. There’s a romantic lead I can get behind. Someone who’s worthy of the girl, who knows when to support, when to lead, and when to get out of her damn way and doesn’t turn all of her issues into reasons to whine about himself. Instead he just knows and appreciates how awesome she is.

While this is the a wonderful end, it’s still a heartbreaking one, because I’m not ready to say goodbye to these characters and this place yet.

PS-- if you haven’t yet, be sure to check out the e-only short stories: The Shadow Cats, which is about Elodia, (I reviewed it here), The Shattered Mountain, which is about Mara, and The King's Guard, which is about Hector.

ARC Provided by... the publisher at ALA

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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

ARCs and Relationship Building

There was a great panel on ARCs at ALA this year. I was unable to attend because of a committee meeting, but presenters Liz B and Kelly have some great recaps of what they covered.

While I was at ALA there are a few ARCs I was really excited about to pick up. Some were BIG ones, some were novels I didn't know existed but was excited to see.

A comment on Kelly's post struck me though-- a midlist author was very worried about handing out "a lot" of ARCs at a smaller local conference and that every ARC = a lost sale. Which made me think about how I use ARCs.

There's a lot in how librarians use ARCs behind the scenes--blogging about them, sharing them amongst ourselves to build internal buzz that we can then turn to external buzz, etc.

But I think many authors worry about when we share ARCs with teens. When we give this unfinished copy away to non-professionals, what are we doing, and why?

Relationship building. It's all about relationship building, and that's important for teens, and it's important for book sales.

Many people question why libraries have video games programs for teens. (Bear with me--this'll get back to ARCS). At my last library, we had a group of teen guys who used to hang out at the library all the time. They didn't necessarily like the library, but it was a place to be with computers and air-conditioning. They weren't horribly behaved, but they weren't model library users, either. We often had to remind them to keep their voices down, to not run, to turn down their music (it would bleed through their headphones and I could hear it 30 feet away.) The gaming program (1) gave them something to do. It made things a lot nicer for everyone because it gave them their own space, and a place were they could play and be a noisier and, etc. (2) Relationship building.

I had to cover the gaming program one day. I played against the boys. I engaged in some competitive trash talk, and I won big on Wii bowling. And EVERYTHING changed. They saw me totally different after that. The next day, they stopped by to say hi and make some small talk when they got to the library. When they got loud and I had to remind them to quiet down, instead of arguing with me about it, as soon as they saw me walk up they said "Oh no Miss Jennie! Did we get too loud? We're sorry!" And then they stayed quiet. Winning certainly helped, but the main thing was that I tried.

So, what does that have to do with ARCs? Everything. When you have an actual relationship with teens, everything's easier.

Let's take what happens when there's a big book. At ALA, I picked up an ARC of Cress. The Lunar Chronicles are very popular with my teens and this one doesn't come out until February. Sharing this ARC with my teens now builds excitement for the series (because the few that get to read it will talk it up for the next 6 months.) But the fact that I could get an early copy of the book is BIG in their eyes. It's almost like a magical power. And suddenly, they realize that I know my stuff. I have major street cred. It gives me instant trust in the world of books. If I'm cool enough to get an early copy of something like Cress, maybe my other book suggestions are worth listening to. It's instant relationship building.

And what about ARCs of smaller releases? Just as important, for different reasons. There's something special about an early copy, even if it's of a book by an author you've never heard of. I can get teens to take a chance on a book or author they don't know if it's an early copy. It's a great way for midlist authors to gain new fans. And fans that come to something from an ARC tend to be the most vocal about it. They'll tell EVERYONE. When the actual copy comes in, they're the ones who will pull it off the shelf and shove it into someone's hands. If they like it, the teens who read it in ARC form will be the biggest cheerleaders for the finished product.

And what about relationship building?

For the big release book, the library is going to buy that anyway. We don't really need the ARC to make a purchasing decision. The midlist book though, we may or may not get. We have to look at that one more closely to see if it's something we think our teens will like. We let the teens read the ARC and then demand feedback. Is it any good? Will it circulate? Should we get it? Should we get 1 copy for the system, or a copy for every branch? Not only is that feedback crucial for us, but it empowers the teens. It gives them a say in their collections, it lets them know that we take them and their ideas seriously. It's a pretty easy way to really show them that we respect them.

And, if they know that we respect them and their ideas, they're much more likely to respect us and our ideas.

And we become trusted adults. And the more trusted adults a teen has in his or her life, the stronger safety net he or she has, and the chances of success in life become that much greater.

In a reader's advisory context, this is crucial. We don't have to work as hard to hand-sell a book. If we already have a relationship, they're much more likely to take a chance on something.

Here's the ultimate outcome-- I had a teen at my old branch. Over the years, we had built a strong relationship. It got to the point where I could just hand her a book and say "you should read this." And she would. I didn't have to tell her what it was about. It didn't have to be in her favorite genre or format-- it could be something completely different than what she would normally pick up. And she'd read it. And if she liked it-- watch out. If she liked it, she would hand-sell it to everyone. There were midlist, backlist titles that were about to be weeded out of the collection because they didn't circ. I had a very strong relationship with her and could give them to her. The ones she liked? She could spread the word so effectively that instead of weeding the title, we bought additional copies.

There's a lot of work that goes into building a relationship like that. ARCs won't instantly create it, but they're a very helpful tool, in more ways that many people realize.

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.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Exclusive Editions = Bad News for Libraries

Today Ally Carter announced that if you buy a hardcover edition of United We Spy from Barnes and Noble, you'll get an exclusive epilogue. It's only available from Barnes and Noble, and only in print (it won't be in the Nook version.)

My first thought was all about me-- I tend to chafe at being told where I HAVE to buy something. I buy at several different book sellers, but I don't have that option for this one. Plus, Ms. Carter has done several events with Politics and Prose bookstore (my local indie fav.) over the years-- how much does this screw them (and other indies) over?

But my second thought was for the library users. And I tweeted back that exclusive content like is a bummer for libraries and the people who use them.

Ms. Carter tweeted back

Ah. Yes. Libraries can choose to buy that edition. Which highlights some stuff a lot of people don't know about the backroom workings for libraries.

I tweeted back:

After tweeting that, I did some research to get some numbers. Buying the exclusive Barnes and Noble edition at a brick and mortar store would probably cost list price-- $17.99. Ordering online is currently $14.29.

But libraries don't buy from bookstores. Libraries buy from distributors-- the same people who sell to bookstores. And for a new YA hardcover, libraries typically spend $9.01. So yes, a library could choose to buy the exclusive edition. If they do it at the store, though, it's twice as expensive. Libraries could get 1 copy of the exclusive edition, or they could get 2 copies of the regular one (or 1 of the regular, and a copy of something else entirely.) If libraries order online, it's a bit cheaper, but it's still significantly more expensive. (Libraries can buy 1.5 hardcover books for the price of the Barnes and Noble version if they order online.)

In this time of super-tight budgets, that's not a hard decision to make.

But, it's also not a decision that can be made-- most libraries are government entities. Most governments have very strict rules about who you're allowed to do purchasing from-- this is why no-bid contracts are always a local scandal. So, even if libraries had the money to spend on the exclusive edition, many are not allowed to buy books from anyone outside their regular vendor.

So yeah, it's not actually a choice. Libraries do not have access to this content.

Which means that the only way teens can get this is if they can get their own copy at Barnes and Noble. Which means they need access to a Barnes and Noble (to read in the aisle or purchase) or a credit card (to buy online).

I spent almost 7 years working in an underserved community. We had a TON of Gallagher Girl fans who used my library. Many came from homes that, even if they had the extra money to buy a book, they didn't have a credit card to do it. The closest Barnes and Noble is only 4 miles away, but it's across state lines. To get there on public transport will take 70 minutes, will cost $7.90 and involves walking half a mile, two buses and two trains.

So... it's not really an option for them.

Ms. Carter's response was to my above tweet was:

Yep, it's an extra. A bonus. One that libraries can't offer their users. One that only certain fans can dream of having access to. (Ok, let's be honest-- it's one that is just begging to be downloaded illegally. I'm against that professionally and personall, but in cases like this, I do understand it.)

So, here was the last tweet of the conversation:

I feel like a jerk for calling Ms. Carter out like this because it's not like Gallagher Girls is the first series to do this. And I'm pretty sure a lot of the decisions were done by agents and publishers, not by her personally. (And because of the politics of how national chain bookstores work, Barnes and Noble in particular, there's probably a lot at play here to get better display space and placement for all Disney-Hyperion books or other considerations.)

I'm a huge fan of her work, and I once had a lovely conversation with her at a Printz reception here in DC a few years ago and she was really nice and wonderful.

But when I talk about the teens who can't access this exclusive content, they're not hypothetical. I'm talking about specific people. I have faces and names in my head as I write this.

Exclusives like this might be good for bookstores and publishers, but they're pretty shitty for actual teen readers.

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.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Poetry Friday: The Holy or the Broken

Now I've heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this the fourth, the fifth,
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

You'll say I've took the name in vain,
But I don't even know the name,
But if I did, well, really what's it to you?
There's a blaze of light in every word
It doesn't matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you.
And even though it all went wrong,
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of "Hallelujah" Alan Light.

It’s the song that’s always playing in the background when a movie or TV show is sad. It’s the one that everyone always sings when auditioning for American idol. But when “Hallelujah” came out in the early 80s, it was a forgotten track on an album the label refused to release. As soon as it was recorded, Leonard Cohen started changing the words.

But then John Cale covered it on a Leonard Cohen tribute album (Cale’s version is the one at the end of Shrek) and then Jeff Buckley learned the Cale version and worked it into his set (his version is the one from West Wing.)

Cale and Buckley mashed together the original version and Cohen’s new version. The lyrics I quote above are the original version-- pay attention to the last two verses, as they're often not sung anymore. I think Cohen is the only one who does that last verse.

Everyone sings it. They sing different versions. They take different meanings. It’s holy and profane at the same time and, despite the fact it’s overdone, it’s still a damn good song.

Light does a great job of tracing the history of the song and how it suddenly exploded into this major thing, while at the same time examining how and why we respond to it and why it works so well in so many different contexts.

Bonus-- QR codes in the back take you to all the different versions discussed in the book-- VERY helpful.

Side Note-- I had forgotten the audio details of Cohen’s original version. I listen to a lot of Cohen, but mostly his earlier stuff. Oh my, I had forgotten the synthesizers in all of his stuff from the 80s. THE SYNTHESIZERS. Listening to the version on Various Positions (and then the entire Various Positions album) and I was immediately back in the backseat of my parents car. It was crazy.

Today's Poetry Friday roundup is over at Today's Little Ditty.

Book Provided by... my local library

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Clementine and the Spring Trip

Clementine and the Spring Trip Sara Pennypacker

It’s Spring! It’s Spring! Margaret is happy because that means Spring Cleaning. Clementine is happy because that means field trip.

But Clementine’s field trip may not be all it’s cracked up to be. Clementine thought she’d be ok even though the 4th graders have RULES about silent eating. Margaret is in 4th grade and they’ll be partners-- Margaret knows all about silent eating and Clementine can do all the dirty stuff.

But then Olive comes. Olive doesn’t mind having a food name. Olive has her own language, but Clementine can’t figure it out, unlike the other kids. Olive doesn’t understand about silent eating and then Clementine’s required to be her partner! What will she do now?

Oh Clementine, still such a great series! I love Margaret and her excitement over spring cleaning and her horror at dirt floors (how do you sweep a dirt floor to keep it clean? It’s dirt!)

I also really like that Clementine’s mom is still pregnant and she and her dad are still working on the table--it really shows the long-range time of these projects.

I also really liked her reaction to Olive-- Clementine’s really taken aback that Olive doesn’t mind having a food name the same way she does. And when Olive’s secret language takes off and Clementine can’t manage it-- hoo boy. Clementine gets jealous. It’s a really well-done plot line.

All in all, I still love this series and can’t wait for the next installments!

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.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Nonfiction Monday: Little White Duck

Little White Duck: A Childhood in China Na Liu, illustrated by Andres Vera Martinez

So, I may have been a little over-excited about this one. There aren't a lot of books about post-Mao, pre-Tiananmen China. Let alone for kids. Let alone in comic book form. Na Liu was a small child when Mao died and everything changed. In a series of short stories, she shows glimpses of her childhood, comparing it with how her parents grew up during the Great Leap Forward and Great Famine. In one memorable story, she accompanies her father to his country home and sees how privileged her life really is. This will be enlightening to American readers, as Na Liu's life isn't easy compared to modern American standards-- I don't know of any America schools where kids are assigned the duty of killing rats, and have to bring in the tails as proof.

That said, I wanted more. I wanted more context and more history for these stories. I don't think that will turn off of confuse the intended audience-- if nothing else more context might overwhelm the younger readers this is aimed at. There's enough her to understand what's happening, and I think it's great for children. But, as an adult reader, I did want something more than a few childhood vignettes--especially because this is a time period SO unexplored across all age-ranges, formats, and genres. It's a great book for kids, but it left me a little underwhelmed.

Today's Nonfiction Monday is over at Abby (the) Librarian.

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.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Nonfiction Monday: SuperPop Blog Tour

Super Pop!: Pop Culture Top Ten Lists to Help You Win at Trivia, Survive in the Wild, and Make It Through the Holidays by Daniel Harmon.

Do you love Top Ten Lists? You know I do.

SuperPop is a super-fun book full of top ten lists on all sorts of topics-- Songs Guaranteed to Get you Pumped (highlights include Livin' On A Prayer, Call Your Girlfriend, and Bohemian Rhapsody, Explorers Who Can Take You Into the Unknown (highlights include The Travels of Marco Polo, The Undersea World Of Jacques Cousteau and DuckTales) and Geniuses Willing to Talk to Non-geniuses (highlights include Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character), Bossypants, and Neil deGrasse Tyson's twitter feed.)

The best part of this book isn't that it draws items from multiple formats (books, movies, YouTube videos, video games, songs, tv shows...) or that Harmon really makes an effort to inclue a wide spectrum of content and genre, but that he spends 1/3-1/2 a page explaining and justifying each choice. If you want to know WTF Ducktales is doing on a list of great explorers, don't worry-- he'll tell you. ("In addition to traveling all over the animated world, they also pop into other centuries and other cultures at the drop of a hat.")

For a taste of the book, check out the Essential Literary Adaptations--for both Information and Inspiration and Eat, Pray, Love, Spelunk: Tag Along on a Life-Changing Vacation lists. Both excerpts give you a good taste to the book-- Harmon's style and the wild mix of thing included. But, these are not the full lists-- the explanation section for each item is actually much longer (and funnier) in the book.

It's a fun and interesting read-- a great one that you can dip in and out of (but be careful-- once you dip  in, it will be really hard to dip back out-- very addictive.) Plus, it will add greatly to your to read/to watch/to listen list. Be prepared and forewarned.

And, of course, in that vein, I have my very own Top Ten List!

Capture the Flag at the Arts and Crafts Cabin: Summer Camp Hijinks.

In Arlington, school goes pretty late. As in, this is the first week of summer break. (Don't worry about the kids though-- they don't go back until September.) When I was growing up, I went to summer camp every summer over the week of the 4th of July. It was a big and important part of my childhood--lots of arts and crafts, rope adventure courses, swimming, dancing, and running around and getting horribly sunburned. So, here are my top ten Summer Camp things:

Addams Family Values (movie) because nothing is better than Wednesday and Pugsley at summer camp. That's some hilarious stuff, especially in the final scenes when Wednesday ruins the camp play about the first Thanksgiving with some stone cold historical fact.

Camp Cucamonga (made-for-TV movie) It's a classic camp story-- girl who doesn't want to be there resists making friends and is therefore bullied by the mean girls, nerd boy tries to hard to get accepted, and a case of mistaken identity means the camp doesn't pass inspection and will be shut down unless the kids can band together and save the day. It's also awesome because it stars every late 80s/early 90s tween TV star (guys-- Winnie Cooper AND Urkel are in this one.) Even better? Upon rewatch you realize that the camp counselor is a pre-friends Jennifer Anniston.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (book) Four friends find a magical pair of jeans that fits them all. They send the pair of pants around to each other as the girls spend their summer in different places. Serena's off to soccer camp as a coach, where she must inspire her team to victory and deal with a relationship where she's quickly in over her head.

OyMG (book) Ellie is very excited to get into the Christian Society Speech and Performing Arts Summer Camp and is sure that if she wins the final debate, she can get into the country's top speech school. Only problem? She's Jewish and the person in charge of the scholarship that would let her go to the school? Anti-Semetic. Can she hide her identity for a summer? Is it worth it?

Dramarama (book) Sayde and her best friend Demi are off to performing arts camp, finally busting out of their small town and spending the summer being stars with people who understand them. The only problem? Demi is a star with the love-interests to match and it turns out that Sayde isn't as talented as she thought and doesn't have the right attitude for the stage.

Nothing But the Truth (and a few white lies) (book) Math camp may seem super-geeky, but Patty likes geometry and it's a good chance to get away from her over-bearing mother. Even better, turns out that there are some pretty hot math geek boys there, too, and people who have a much more positive outlook on Patty's half-Asian/half-white background than she does.

Meatballs (movie) Do I really need to explain why this classic is on this list? Tripper is either the world's best or worst camp counselor-- best if you're one of his campers, worst if you're anyone else.

Withering Tights (book) Theater Camp sounds great, until you realize that it is in a teeny tiny village in Yorkshire and the family you're staying with is super-obsessed with owls and other woodland creatures and you have no special talents. The local boys are straight out of Bronte, but at least there's a boy's reform school down the way?

The Parent Trap (movie) Camp movies are full of hilarious pranks and cabin wars-- but what happens when you discover that your camp nemesis is actually the twin sister you never knew you had? I spent a lot of time going back and forth on remake vs. original and I went with remake because, well, making one of the twins British means there are excellent accents involved. Also, it lets us go back to a more wholesome time when Lindsey Lohan was, well, wholesome.

Wet Hot American Summer (movie) This one owes a lot to Meatballs, is hilarious, and stars all my favorite people. What's not to love?

Check out the rest of the SuperPop! blog tour here.

Today's Nonfiction Monday round-up is over at Playing by the Book. Be sure to check it out!

Book Provided by... the publisher, for blog tour and review.

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, June 11, 2013


Snow by Tracy Lynn

Ok, I read this one a REALLY LONG time ago and have never gotten around to reviewing it, despite how much I liked it.

This is part of Simon and Schuster's wonderful Once Upon a Time... series (I wish they'd do more of these!) and takes on Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.

Jessica's father is devastated when his wife dies in childbirth. Not only is he heartbroken, but the surviving baby is a girl, leaving him without an heir.

When he remarries, the new duchess comes to hate her step-daughter, driven to madness by the fear that her only value to society is her beauty--something that's fading as she ages.

Jessica flees to London where she meets up with an unlikely band of creatures-- humans that are part animal, and a Clockwork Man, and it takes a pretty awesome turn to steampunk. But even in London, she is not safe from her stepmother or the allure of the comforts of her old life.

This is what I remember about the book-- the "dwarves" are super cool. I love Victorian Steampunk London as a setting. I loved the way the Duchess's treachery manifested itself-- very, very cool.

Book Provided by... my wallet

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, June 10, 2013

Nonfiction Monday: Relish

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley

This comic-book memoir focuses on Knisley's relationship with food, and how the turning points of her life were connected to food. Even better is that each chapter ends with a recipe related to the chapter-- and, because this is a full-color comic book, it's an illustrated recipe.

Knisley was raised by foodies-- her mother's a chef, her father a gourmand. Some of her biggest issues with them stem from her love of McDonald's. She's worked in farmer's markets and high end food stores. She's eaten fabulous meals around the world and straight from her garden.

She examines how her mother uses food to show love, her parents marriage and divorce through the lens of food, today's food culture in New York and Chicago, and her own relationship with food-- both as sustenance and as shared experience.

Knisley's work is honest and funny. I loved that the was some back matter of family photographs.

I can't wait to make some of these recipes. Before reading, I'd flip through to see what food she's going to make you crave, so you can have some on hand-- this is a book that will make you super hungry.

This is a book for older teens/adults and some of the recipes involve alcoholic beverages, although she offeres non-alcoholic substitutes. She also offers vegetarian and vegan substitutes in some recipes, to cover multiple diets.

Today's Nonfiction Monday round-up is over at: Practically Paradise.

Book Provided by... a coworker, who lent me her copy.

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, May 21, 2013

Much Ado About Magic

Much Ado About Magic Shanna Swendson

Hi All. This is the fifth book in the Katie Chandler series, so there are some spoilers for the other books. 'Tis the nature of the beast.

The first four books in this series were published by Random House. Swendson wrote the 5th book for her Japanese publisher, but it never came out here in the States until she decided to just go ahead and self-publish it. (And I am SO GLAD she did!) I asked my library to buy it, and they did, and if the holds list is anything to go by, I'm not the only one who was excited to read it.

Back in New York and back with Owen, Katie's also back on the job, this time as the Head of Marketing at MSI. But, the bad guys have turned up the juice not only with their marketing (and actual stores!) but they have a more sinister plot in mind. They're creating mischief and bad spells and also selling amulets to "protect" magical beings from them. The MSI crew is up against a lot, and no matter what they do, they're playing right into the hands of a plot that's been brewing for a long, long time and will end with Owen in jail.

Another great addition to the series. I really like how we see more of the Spellworks plot and how much higher it goes, and why it's happening at all. There are a lot more magical world politics, which is something I always enjoy. Owen's always been this super-powerful orphan mystery, and his backstory gets fully explained, which is nice. I also like the other side of Gloria that we finally get to see. AND! I almost forgot, now that Katie's the Head of Marketing, she gets her own assistant. I love Perdita. She's not a great assistant, but still useful. PLUS, she knows what magic can really do-- she's been working on perfecting all of Starbucks's seasonal beverages so she can have one (or zap one for Katie) anytime of year. Now there's a power I can get behind!

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, May 16, 2013

Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.

So, I finally read this. FINALLY.

Good lord people. I know you said it was good, but HOLY MOLY it's amazing. I was worried because I knew some stuff going into it. Like, I didn't know any plot twists, but I knew that there were a lot of them. I knew the narrator wasn't totally reliable. I was worried that knowing this would somehow lessen the impact when I came across them in the narrative.


Queenie is a British spy, caught behind enemy lines after her plane crashes into German-occupied France. She's in prison, regularly interrogated by the Gestapo. She is a coward and has caved. If she tells them everything she knows, she can survive a little while longer. If she tells them everything, hopefully she will only face the firing squad instead of being sent to Ravensbruck to be worked to death. If she is lucky.

In addition to her guilt at collaborating, there is the guilt over the death of the pilot of the plane and Queenie's best friend. Her confession tells their story of friendship and loyalty and ultimate disaster over French skies.

The fact that Queenie is not entirely reliable should be fairly obvious-- the text of the book is her written confession (and Gestapo notes). She includes things meant to poke fun at her interrogators and get them into trouble.

It is a very hard book to talk about without just spilling EVERYTHING about it.

It is exquisitely and precisely crafted, yes. But it is also a wonderful story of friendship and adventure. Lots of talks of planes and flying (Wein herself is a pilot and it shows). Parts of it are very, very grim. I mean, it takes place in a Gestapo prison, it's going to be very, very grim.

I love that a spy book for teens can also be this literary. I love that the historical fiction doesn't seem very olden timey, while still being accurate.

This has won a million awards so far, and it deserves them, and I think its one that teens will also enjoy.

I love, love, love this book and can't wait for Wein's next, Rose Under Fire, which is about a female pilot that does end up at Ravensbruck, and comes out in September.

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.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Ghost Map

The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic--and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World Steven Johnson.

When I was reading this, Dan asked me what it was about. I was only a few pages into it, so my response was a pretty basic "Cholera. London." And he immediately came back with "Oh, Broad Street Pump?" Granted, he does have a graduate degree in Modern British History, but that fact that "Cholera. London." is enough for him to know which outbreak is pretty amazing. As he explained to my shocked face "It's the outbreak where they discovered what causes it."

And it was. Not that anyone believed it for awhile, but.

In the summer of 1854, a cholera outbreak hit London. While not unheard of, this was a pretty severe one, decimating a neighborhood. When a scientist and the local clergyman teamed together to investigate the outbreak, one's knowledge of science and one's knowledge of the neighborhood and patterns of daily life led them to conclude something earth-shattering-- Cholera lives in the water, and all the cases stemmed from one pump, the Broad Street Pump.

Johnson does a wonderful job of tracing many threads of this story-- the dramatic rise of London as metropolis and the changes it was undergoing at the time, the reality of the working poor, the theories of science and disease at the time, the science of cholera, and the outbreak itself. The plot most closely follows the outbreak and investigation (which started before the outbreak ended) with the other threads woven in to help paint a complete picture.

The title refers to a map that John Snow made of the outbreak, clearly showing the deaths radiating out from one point, the pump. The Map is what helped convince the establishment that Snow's theory was correct.

Fascinating and readable.

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.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Don't Hex with Texas

Don't Hex with Texas Shanna Swendson

This is the 4th book in the Katie Chandler series, so there will be spoilers for the earlier books.

At the end of Damsel Under Stress, Owen had a choice between saving the world and saving Katie. He chose Katie.

Katie needs to keep Owen out of danger, to keep him from having to make the same decision again, so she’s left New York and moved back home to Texas. Life is pretty boring as she works in her family’s farm supply store. No magic wars, just wars with her brothers and sisters-in law. But then her mother starts seeing weird things and Katie sees all the markers of magic brewing.

Turns out, Irdis is now recruiting people online and teaching them magic, including someone in Katie’s own backyard, and Owen’s on the case.

LOVED this one. The change of scenery works really well, and I love how much more we learn about magic and immunity and how it all works. Most of the important characters are still here, but we get some great new ones (especially Granny. I LOVE Granny.) I also really enjoyed seeing Katie on her home turf and how she reacts when her New York life and Texas life collide in a major way.

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.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Nonfiction Monday: Charles Dickens and the Street Children of London

As many of you know, last year I was lucky to serve on YALSA's Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. (Sometimes ENYA for short). ENYA is a fun award, because in December they announce their shortlist and then the winner is announced as part of the Youth Media Award announcements in January. In addition, they release a long-list of nominations. In the past, this list was every book the nominated. This year, the list became vetted-- so it's not every book we looked at or nominated, but rather, after discussion, every book we felt was excellent (just not as excellent as our winner and shortlisted titles.)

Personally, I really like this change. The best way to get the committee to discuss a book was to nominate it-- but what if, after discussion, you realize that a book is seriously flawed? Then it still goes on the list! (And there is an ALA seal that long-list titles can use.) I know I was hesitant to nominate a title because I was afraid of accidentally putting an unworthy title on the list. The freedom in knowing that it could get taken off the list if it didn't hold up to group scrutiny was useful cover!

Anyway, I've been covering the long list since the list was made public this winter. This is the final title from the list...

Charles Dickens and the Street Children of London Andrea Warren

This biography of Dickens ties his life story in with the plots of his books, showing how his real-life experiences inspired his work. It especially focuses on his work with England's poor and disenfranchised, showing how he used his wealth and fame to help and draw attention to the major social issues of the day.

I think this book stands apart for a few reasons. For one, it's one of the best that I've read in fully describing what life was like for the poor of Victorian London. It does an excellent job of explaining what life was like in debtor's prison and the workhouses and why these institutions were to be avoided at all costs. One of the other reasons is that it does an excellent job of showing what a major celebrity Dickens was in his time and why his work was so important. It hink it also makes a good case for why Dickens is, and should be, read today and studied in school.

It's also heavily illustrated, using artwork from the time period to help convey the life of Dickens and the poor. Surprisingly, many of the pictures are colored-- a nice touch.

Overall a great book that will appeal to the Dickens fan sure, but will also turn many other readers into fans of Dickens.

Be sure to check out today's Nonfiction Monday roundup, over at Instantly Interruptible.

Also, as a reminder, please check out my other project, YA Reading List, where I post a themed and topical reading list

Book Provided by... the publisher, for award 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.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Etiquette and Espionage

Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger.

In her mother's eyes, Sophronia is a failure. She's way too interested in mechanics, spying, and climbing and things just happen around her that tend to end with flying desserts landing on honored house guests. She's particularly dismayed when she discovers that a rather meddlesome honored houseguest has recommended her to attend Mademoiselle Geraldine's Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality.

But Mademoiselle Geraldine's is not what one would expect-- first of all, it's a flying school, so it's harder to find. Second of all dance lessons also include lessons on how to pass messages back and forth without being noticed. Then there are the classes in fighting. And poisons. In the middle of this educational intrigue, there is real intrigue-- flying highway men are attacking the school, after something the school has, and hidden. What is it? And where? Secret late-night trips to the boiler room, mechanical dogs and more...

This is the first book in Carriger's new YA series, set in the same world as Parasol Protectorate. It's set several years earlier, but there is a bit of character overlap-- most noticeably one of Sophronia's classmates is Sidhaeg and the little boy running around helping Sophronia--you'll recognize that one, too.

This is a fun series, with fewer vampires and werewolves and more steampunk technology than Parasol Protectorate. There is no romance in this one, which on one hand-- YAY! A YA book with girls and no romance! On the other hand, BOO! Carriger writes romance so well!

I missed the paranormal politics of the first series, but enjoyed the quick adventure of this one and want to delve more into this part of this world and see how it develops.

Book Provided by... my wallet

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, April 30, 2013

Damsel Under Stress

Damsel Under Stress Shanna Swendson

This is the 3rd book in the Katie Chandler series. Obviously, there are some spoilers for earlier books

Wahoo! Katie and Owen finally got their act (and themselves) together. But, of course, in the world of corporate magic, it all goes to hell in a handbasket immediately.

Ari’s escaped from MSI’s holding cells and it quickly becomes apparent that Irdis is a puppet in a larger plot to bring down Merlin and the MSI team.

Plus, every time Katie and Owen do get a moment together, Katie’s fairy grandmother tries to “help” with disastrous consequences.

Poor Katie and Owen! Owen just gets more and more adorable and Katie’s determination to keep her magical and non-magical lives separate gets harder and harder. I also love how the Irdis plot continues to deepen and thicken, giving it more teeth. Owen also takes Katie home for Christmas, and finally meeting his foster parents explains a lot.

Not my favorite book in the series, but a good bridge novel for the later part of the series.

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.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Crowd-Sourced Sequel-- YES PLEASE

Ok Guys, I loved loved loved loved loved Sucks to Be Me: The All-True Confessions of Mina Hamilton, Teen Vampire (maybe) and Still Sucks to Be Me: The All-true Confessions of Mina Smith, Teen Vampire.

Kimberly Pauley is writing a 3rd book in the series, but only if you read it. See here for details.

Basically, sign up for the newsletter, she'll email you out the book so far, and then you vote on what should happen next! When she gets enough votes, she'll write the next chapter. And then you vote again, etc.

The thing is-- she needs enough voters/readers to make it worth her while (apparently she has a life outside of writing books that make me happy.) SO! Go sign up! Read! Vote!

It's fun and awesome. (And a really fun book so far.)

She even has a Pinterest board!

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.

Nonfiction Monday: Their Skeletons Speak

Their Skeletons Speak: Kennewick Man and the Paleoamerican World Sally M. Walker

We're almost done looking at the long list for YALSA's Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. Sally Walker had two books on the list this year-- big congratulations to her!

Like her Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland, Walker looks at the history and science and significance of several sets of remains. This time, she focuses on the oldest skeletons found in the Americas.

The book mostly focuses on 9,000 years-old Kennewick Man, how we was discovered on a riverbank in 1996 and how much we have discovered about where we came from.

I'm a huge fan of Bones and so I love of Walker shows us how the reconstruction and renderings work in real life. I find such things fascinating. I also like how Walker looks at a range of finds and how they all relate to each other in forming a unified theory of early human life in the Americas. I hope Walker continues to write books on using forensic science and history-- wonderful stuff.

Today's Nonfiction Monday round up is over at Stacking Books. Be sure to check it out!

Book Provided by... the publisher for awards 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.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

White Bicycle

The White Bicycle by Beverley Brenna

Taylor Jane is living in the south of France for the summer, with her mother, her mother’s boyfriend, and his two sons. The youngest son has cerebral palsy and Taylor is employed as his personal care assistant (that sounds better than babysitter.) She hopes that her mother and Alan Phoenix don’t get married this summer, because then they’d be family, and it wouldn’t be a real job she can put on her resume.

Taylor wants a professional resume so she can lead her own lie, without her mother’s constant watching. She yearns for the independence and freedom that most girls her age have, but Taylor doesn’t. Yet.

Taylor is autistic but by this point in her life she has learned many ways to cope with her anger and frustration. She uses a lot of these ways very consciously and walks us through such things as sending her anger through her feet. She also looks back on her early childhood to see if there are connections that can be made between then and now, but it gives the reader great insight into her mindset, but also her growth as a person.

This is the third book in a series and while it completely stands alone and you don’t need to read the other books, I fell so in love with Taylor that I can’t wait to read the other two to see where she was before France.

I love this book because while Taylor has autism and that causes some of the obstacles to her independance, it’s not really the focus of the story. Trying to break away from home while still loving your parents is a fairly universal story and delicate line to walk for every young adult. Taylor’s mom uses the autism both as part justification, part excuse for holding Taylor too close. (But not in an overbearing way-- Taylor’s mom is also trying to find that balance of wanting your children near you forever and letting them go. The autism is an added complication, but, once again, universal story.)

I'm so glad this was a Printz honor. It's such an amazing book and if it hadn't won, I would have never known about it, let alone read it.

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.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Quintana of Charyn

Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta

After everything Lumatere has been through, it looks like it's on the brink of another war. Tensions have been rough with the Charynites in the valley ever since Phaedra's death.

Isaboe and Finnikin hear that Froi might have turned against Lumatere.

And Quintana is still on the run, trying to find safety, and everyone's after her, some who wish her to find safety, and many who do not.

When Quintana ends up in the valley, she's in the safest and most dangerous spot she can be. Everything depends on Isaboe's capacity for forgiveness, and to trust.

But everything's falling apart. Friends and families are fighting, and bickering. No one dares trust, and this is a plan that depends on trust, and faith.

Oh my. So many threads to follow as this trillogy comes to it's most perfect (oh, so perfect) conclusion. I like how we get little bits from Quintana's voice, in first person narration (although she's always talking to Froi during these parts.)

It's hard and it's messy, and it's utterly perfect. Because it's Marchetta, and it's a messy, brutal land that she's created. So, so heartbreaking. And perfectly wonderful

I don't want to say too much, I don't want to give it away. I couldn't even try to do it justice. If you've read the other two, don't worry-- this is an ending that's worthy in every way. If you haven't read them, go. Go now. Lumatere grows on you and sticks to the corners of your brain. I've read and reread these books, looking the devastation and beauty.

Australian copy of the book provided by... a super awesome friend

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, April 08, 2013

Nonfiction Monday: Blizzard of Glass

Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917 Sally M. Walker

As regular readers may remember, last year I was on the committee for the Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. In addition to our winners and finalists, the committee also publishes a list of vetted nominations (what I like to call the "long list.") I'm in the process of highlighting these titles during Nonfiction Monday.

In December 1917, war was raging in Europe. In Halifax Harbor, two ships were on their way to the action, one on it's way to pick up relief supplies, the other full of munitions. The two ships collided, causing a fire. As the munitions ship drifted, fire on its deck, it crashed into the pier and exploded, leveling most of of the harbor area and creating a shockwave that blew out almost every window in Halifax proper. 2000 people died, 9000 more were injured. Rescue and relief efforts were further dampened when a blizzard blew in the next day and dumped over a foot of snow on the area.

Until the advent of nuclear weapons, the Halifax explosion was the largest man-made explosion ever.

Walker tells this story (one that's very well known in Canada, but not so much in the US) through the eyes of children who lived around the harbor at the time. Children getting ready for school, running errands, and going about their day. She weaves these daily accounts in with the context of shipping lanes and traffic, and what was happening in the Harbor. Walker also covers the communities on the other side of the Harbor who were affected by the explosion, resulting shock wave, and tsunami. The book is also very good at detailing what happened after the explosion to everyone.

Fun fact: The Halifax coroner's office had a tested system in place to deal with a mass casualty event like this. It had been developed 2 years earlier, when they brought in the bodies from the Titanic.

Today's Nonfiction Monday roundup is over at a wrung sponge. Check it out.

Also check out today's YA Reading List post, in honor of Yom HaShoah.

Book Provided by... the publisher, for award consideration

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