Friday, May 31, 2013

Armchair BEA - Blogging Ethics

Design Credit: Emily of Emily's Reading Room
Today's Armchair BEA Question: Do you have recommendations to new bloggers to ensure credit is given to whom/where credit is due?  Have you had an experience with plagiarism?  How did you deal with it?  What are the guidelines as bloggers that we must follow?

I don't have much to say on the topic. I don't think I'm popular enough to be plagiarized.  I am careful about pictures that I post -- I don't want to use other's work without permission.

I have used Creative Commons once in a while and I recommend checking it out.

Since I don't have much to add, I'll be interested in reading your stories! Thanks for stopping by.




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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Book Review: Room, by Emma Donoghue

Although well-written and well-paced, Room is not a book I enjoyed. Room is not the kind of book I usually read. So, why did I read it? Room is a nominated title on the Abraham Lincoln Illinois High School Book Award list for 2013-14. There are 22 books on the list, and Room is the last book on the list that I needed to read.

I don't like books about realistic suffering at the hands of a demented human -- especially when the victim is a young person. I'm probably one of the only people in the world who hasn't read A Child Called It. I don't want to. But when it comes to the Abe Lincoln list, I'm stubborn, so I read them all.

Room is about a 5-year-old little boy, Jack, and his Ma who are confined to a room. There'a bed, a toilet, a stove, sink, rug, TV, and table. Jack was born in this room. His mother has been here since she was kidnapped 7 years ago.

So, it's awful. Depressing. Heartbreaking. And, yes, I guess somewhat hopeful, but it takes a long time to get to that point. Ma is ingenious in raising Jack to be healthy and smart. He can read. But he doesn't understand that there is anything outside of Room. When his Ma begins to describe the outside, Jack is very confused.

As I said at the beginning, the book is interesting. Jack is telling the story, so he has a backwards way of talking and describing, but it's easy enough to understand and adds to the realism. I guess it's too real for me.

This is not a book I would have picked up, had I not had a reason. I know what kinds of books I like -- and this isn't it. But, if you like this sort of story, then Room is a great one. I'm not going to give the book a rating, because my discomfort is purely a personal thing and has nothing to do with the quality of the literature.

Published by Little, Brown, & Co., 2010
Copy obtained from the library
321 pages

Rating: N/A




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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Armchair BEA - Blog Development

Design Credit: Emily of Emily's Reading Room
Here's the assignment for today's post:  Tell us about things you've done to expand your blogging horizons, and the things you'd like to do but haven't managed (or figured out) yet. Come back here to link up your post, and then go see what other participants have to say. Let's foster our development as bloggers and learn from each other!

This is a real weakness of mine. I didn't start my blog to count followers. It was supposed to be a personal thing. And, my blog grows very slowly. I have over 500 followers, but I've been blogging almost three years. I actually have done LESS in the past year to attract people to my blog.

What do I do? I participate in a couple of memes on a weekly basis. I try to comment a lot (but never enough.) I mostly review books that are current -- either right before or right after they are published. I think my reviews are good. They are fairly short. They don't give away any spoilers -- actually I don't talk too much about the plot except in general terms. I concentrate on what I thought about the book. That's what I'm looking for when I read a review. I don't need six paragraphs on what happened in the book and then a two sentence, "I really liked it." That doesn't help me.

What SHOULD I do? I've wanted to update the design of my blog for a long time. Actually spend some money. I should be more active on Twitter -- but that takes away from my reading time. I should do more giveaways. I should post things besides reviews. Even though on other blogs I follow, I pretty much only read the book reviews, other people seem to like other stuff. Author interviews, book blasts, etc.

Will I do this? I might some day work on my blog design. I might try to have more giveaways. But other than that, probably not. My heart just isn't in the marketing aspect of blogging. I'm all about reading and reviewing. If I don't have many followers it's really OK.  Really.





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Book Review: The Testing, by Joelle Charbonneau @jcharbonneau

The Testing will keep you on the edge of your seat, rooting for these underdogs to overcome obstacles that seem to come at them one after the other.

Cia is very excited, because it's her graduation day, and she will finally be an adult. She is afraid to hope that she will qualify for The Testing, and eventually be able to continue her studies at the university.

The Testing takes place in a future United States that has been decimated by massive world wars. We are several years after the final event, and people are beginning to rebuild, and are developing plants and devices to make survival a bit easier. But there are still many challenges. The government has designed tests to decide which graduates will get to go on to the university and be the future leaders of the colonies. It is a great honor to be chosen for The Testing.

Cia does end up being chosen, but her excitement is short-lived. Her father, who also went through The Testing and attended the university, gives her some alarming warnings that make Cia very apprehensive. She also realizes that she will probably never see her family again.

First of all, let's get The Hunger Games comparisons out of the way. Yes, The Testing can be compared to The Hunger Games. We have teens against a corrupt government that doesn't play fair. Our main characters are resilient, courageous, clever, and tough as nails. They overcome impossible odds, and they make you want to root against the injustice. So the feel of the story is the same.

But that's a great thing! I loved The Hunger Games.  I loved The Testing too! It's a different story and very creative in its own right. The writing is excellent, the pace is spot-on, and I fell in love with Cia. The Testing kept me enrapt.

I don't want to tell you any specifics about the testing, but just know that this is good stuff. The Testing has an ending, but also we know there is more to come (for at least some of our characters.) I can't wait for the next book, Independent Study. I highly recommend The Testing and can't wait to get a copy for my library so next year I can give it to all my teens!

Published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, June 4, 2013
eARC obtained from NetGalley
352 pages (qualifies for my Books You Can Read in a Day Challenge!)

Rating: 5/5





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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Armchair BEA -- Let me Introduce Myself!

Design Credit: Emily of Emily's Reading Room
Today during Armchair BEA, we are supposed to tell you a bit about ourselves. So, here goes...

Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?

Hi! I'm Annette, and I'm a high school librarian. I've been blogging for about three years. I started blogging for a couple of reasons. I wanted to remember the books I read a bit better. I read fast, and I read a lot. Sometimes I can't remember what a book was about. And my job is all about recommending books to teens. So I thought if I wrote something about the books I've read, it would help me remember them. And it has. Also, I can't possible read EVERY book that my students might be interested in. So, I read a lot of reviews and I feel like I can get a good impression of some of the books I don't have time to read.

Where in the world are you blogging from? Tell a random fact or something special about your current location. Feel free to share pictures. 

I live in Illinois, close to St. Louis, Missouri. It's a very rural, small town, but in 30 minutes I can be in a big metropolitan area. I love that part about living where I do. As far as my current location, I'm going to leave that for another question below...

What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2013? 

2013 has been a great year for second books in a series! I've loved Dark Triumph, Days of Blood and Starlight, Fragments, and Rebel Heart to name just a few.

Tell us one non-book-related thing that everyone reading your blog may not know about you.

Armchair BEA always seems to take place while I'm on vacation. Last year I was in Florida. This year, tomorrow I will be leaving for a 17-day cross country camping trip. So, I hope to be posting some pictures of my "Armchair" in all the spots we are camping. You can follow my journey here and on the Instagram Challenge.

What literary location would you most like to visit? Why?

I really want to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I know, that might not be considered very "literary" but I need to go! I want to drink ButterBeer and buy myself a wand. Maybe a magic broom too. My husband has NEVER been to Disney World, so I think we need to go there too. I'm just not sure where to go first, or if we can go to both in one trip. Such dilemmas...

I hope you enjoy visiting all the blogs participating in Armchair BEA. Thanks for visiting, and I hope you come back soon.




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Book Review: Dare You To, by Katie McGarry @KatieMcGarry

Dare You To has everything that fans of Pushing the Limits are looking for.

Now we are focusing on Beth. She's a mess. Well really, she gets in a mess because of her drunken mom. Because her mother is on probation, Beth takes the rap for property destruction so her mom won't go back to prison. But, her Uncle Scott bails her out and makes her come live with him in exchange for not sending Beth's mom back to prison.

Beth isn't happy being torn from her friends and taken to an unfamiliar town. But really, it's not totally unfamiliar. She used to live in this town and even remembers some of the girls that were in her grade school class.

Uncle Scott is a major league baseball player, so when Ryan is asked to help make Beth comfortable at her new school, he's more than happy to. Ryan has every intention of playing professional baseball after he graduates, and already has scouts looking at him. Imagine his surprise when he realizes that he and Beth have already met -- and not on very good terms.

Ryan isn't leading the perfect life that everyone thinks he is. His family is hiding a deep dark secret, and it's tearing Ryan up and tearing his parents apart. He's also thinking about going to college, something his dad is adamantly against.

Dare You To follows the familiar pattern of forbidden love -- unlikely teens who can't deny their attraction to each other no matter how hard they try. But if McGarry is writing it, the "familiar pattern" is mesmerizing. She knows how to write flawed characters and painstakingly slow-building romances. The secondary characters are developed enough to make the story believable. Noah and Echo are on the sidelines here, and it isn't necessary to have read Pushing the Limits first, but why wouldn't you? Isaiah is front and center, and since we know the next book is about him, his pain is all the more heartbreaking. I can't wait for him to find happiness too!

If you enjoy an emotional, complicated, uneasy teen romance, Katie McGarry is your girl. Pushing the Limits hasn't spent much time sitting on my library shelves, and I highly recommend both it and Dare You To to teen romance fans.

Published by Harlequin Teen, May 28, 2013
eARC obtained from NetGalley
480 pages

Rating: 4.5/5





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Monday, May 27, 2013

Book Review: Night School, by C. J. Daugherty

Night School isn't a typical boarding school book. It's not a light-hearted teen spy book. It's not a paranormal. It's rather dark and mysterious and I enjoyed figuring it all out.

Allie has had many problems at school and with the law since her brother suddenly disappeared. As a last straw, her parents send her to a boarding school in the middle of nowhere called Cimmeria Academy.

From the moment Allie arrives, she feels like things are being kept from her. She knows the school has secrets and also feels like she doesn't belong with the type of students that attend.

She also begins a relationship with a boy and immediately makes enemies. She also makes a friend. But still, they are all keeping secrets.

So the thrust of the book is Allie figuring out the secrets. She has to be told some of them because the school is in danger. There are violent acts and dangerous people -- Allie just doesn't know who they are.

Night School is a bit slow getting started. We meet the characters and the bonds begin to form, but the mysteries aren't confronted until well into the book. Once Allie begins to question more and figure more things out, Night School got a lot more interesting. I did think the concept of the school -- the "secret" about Cimmeria Academy -- is a unique one, and I'd like to know more.

The "bad guy" didn't frighted me enough. I really didn't ever feel Allie was in that much danger. He didn't really even show his face very much.

There is a scene where Allie is almost taken advantage of by a boy and nothing happens. She doesn't tell anyone, and this is like a non-issue. I didn't like the way this was handled. I know there was a lot more going on at the time, but she actually forgives this person and it rubbed me the wrong way. I think he should have had to face some consequences.

I did become more and more invested in Night School as I went, even with the flaws mentioned.

Night School sure seems like the first book in a series, but I didn't find any specific information about a sequel. Night School wraps up fairly nicely, although the "big danger" is still out there, and many questions are unanswered. I would be interested in revisiting these characters.

Published by Katherine Tegen Books, May 21, 2013
Copy obtained from Edelweiss
432  pages

Rating: 3.5/5





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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Stacking the Shelves -- Surprises!

I found some books this week that I didn't know about, but I'm very excited to read.

For Review:

Rose Under Fire, by Elizabeth Wein from Netgalley

The 9th Girl, by Tami Hoag from NetGalley

Asylum, by Madeleine Roux from Edelweiss

Purchased:
Inferno, by Dan Brown

I hope you had a great week too! Let me know in the comments. Thanks for visiting. Make sure you go visit Team Tynga's Reviews, the hosts of this meme.





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Friday, May 24, 2013

Feature & Follow Friday - A Milestone!

Alison Can Read Feature & Follow
Welcome to Feature & Follow Friday, hosted by Parajunkee and Alison. Congratulations are in order, because this week marks the 150th week of Feature & Follow Friday! Here's the question:

Q: The #FF is 150 weeks old! And we want to hear from you! What would you change about the hop? What do you like about it? Or just suggest a question to be used for next week!

Well, I really like participating and I do almost every week. I'm sorry I don't have a question to suggest -- that's one of the things I like about this meme -- I learn a lot about other people and their blogs, but I can't think of that many questions. I don't know how you do it.  I also got to be the featured blog one time and that was very exciting!

What would I change? You really don't need to change anything, but if I had my wish, the questions would be posted in advance -- at least a few days or a week before. Like I said, it's certainly not a deal breaker, and I've been doing OK the way it is, but it would just help my scheduling to be able to think about the answer and write a post at my convenience.

Thanks for stopping by. Leave me a link and come back often. Have a great weekend!




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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Book Review: Sky on Fire, by Emmy Laybourne @EmmyLaybourne

Sky on Fire is an excellent second book in the Monument 14 series.

The group is split at the end of Monument 14. Sky on Fire is narrated from two perspectives: Alex, who is on the move, and Dean who is still in the superstore. Both groups are not having an easy time. They continue to encounter severe obstacles -- usually other people wanting to steal the few supplies they have.

Laybourne isn't afraid to kill off our heroes, so be prepared. But I really appreciate that in a story -- it makes it so real.

I'm giving Sky on Fire more "hats" than Monument 14 because of the ending. It's a great wrap up. All isn't perfect, but the kids are in a more stable situation, and there are some really happy reunions (which may be a little unbelievable, but I love it). However, the ending almost assures us there will be another adventure for at least some of these kids.

Sky on Fire is short and riveting. I would love to introduce some of my reluctant readers to this series. Boys will enjoy this survival story as much as girls -- there's violence and dirt, and the romance isn't too mushy. This series is definitely worth the short time it takes to read!

Published by Feiwel & Friends, May 28, 2013
ARC obtained from Around the World ARC Tours
224 pages (qualifies for my Books You Can Read in a Day Challenge!)

Rating: 4/5





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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Book Review: All I Need, by Susane Colasanti

 All I Need is a classic teen summer romance. And as far as that goes, it's a heartwarming story.

Skye and Seth meet when they are both at their summer houses -- and they only see each other a couple of times before summer is over. And through a mistake, they don't have each other's contact information. But they are both convinced they have found their soul mate.

It's very mushy. After spending two days with Seth, Skye says "How it felt to be with Seth was undeniable. After experiencing how amazing that immediate attraction was, there's no going back to mediocrity. Why should I have to settle for someone who doesn't understand me the way Seth did." After a couple hours together?? So, yea, there's instalove. Big time. So if you can't handle that, All I Need isn't the book for you.(quote is from the ARC, so might not be accurate.)

I also found both Seth and Skye (but especially Skye) to be whiny and complainey at times. Neither one has confidence in their long distance relationship. And they complain about their respective situations incessantly.

It is a cute story and a very quick read. It is very "happily ever after." And, they really are very romantic. It is what it is. If you like sweet, sappy, mostly predictable summer romances -- All I Need is a great one. I always recommend Colasanti's books to my teen girls who are fans of romances. All I Need isn't my favorite of hers, but I'm sure they will like it.

Published by Viking Juvenile, May 21, 2013
ARC obtained from LibraryThing Early Reviewers
240 pages (qualifies for my Books You Can Read in a Day Challenge!)

Rating: 3/5





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Monday, May 20, 2013

Book Review: Original Skin, by David Mark @davidmarkwriter

Aector McAvoy is at it again in Original Skin. As in Dark Winter, he is the best thing about these twisted crime thrillers.

Aector is a Scottish detective working in Hull, England. He has a wife and two small children. His wife was formerly a traveller (a nice term for gypsy). So you could say they have an unlikely and unusual relationship. But it's so sweet and romantic, you can't help but fall in love with these people. Aector is so genuine -- and he has such a knack for solving crimes.

This time there are two problems. The marijuana trade has turned particularly violent and it appears that a new person has taken over and is taking no prisoners. Some of the descriptions of the torture and violence dished out during this investigation really had me a little queasy. And some of the travellers seem to be in the middle of this mess too, which makes it a bit sticky for Aector.

Secondly, Aector finds a cell phone and after analyzing it he discovers it belongs to a man who committed suicide. But as he finds more and more information on the phone, he becomes convinced that it wasn't a suicide. This leads Aector and his boss, Pharaoh, down a twisted and unlikely path to the killer.

The path, in part, leads to kinky sex clubs and very promiscuous behavior, so this is an adult book for that reason (although the sex is not described in detail, just in general.)

Pharaoh is my other favorite character. You just can't help but be entertained during Aector's and Pharoah's scenes. Their non-verbal communication is as engaging as the verbal.

The setting is dreary, and not glamorous. These are just regular people in a regular town trying to make a living and keep people safe. There are many references to Brittish items and ideas -- most of which I could figure out from the context ("parking lots" are "car parks," and things like that.)

It's definitely the main characters that do it for me. The story, at times, gets a bit bogged down with lots of characters and subplots, but we soon return to the antics of Aector and all is well again.

If you enjoy a mystery that I think isn't too easy to figure out, and engaging and quirky characters, Original Skin is recommended. You have to be able to handle some pretty graphic violence too.

Published by Blue Rider Press, May 16, 2013
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
448  pages

Rating: 3.5/5





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