Monday, January 31, 2011

Celebrating diversity

Take a look: Diversity in YA has posted their monthly round-up of new diverse fiction.

Of the February titles, I've already read Orchards, which was an absolutely stunning verse novel that I want to run around recommending to everyone, and Owl Ninja, which will appeal to kids who love martial arts adventure stories. I'm currently reading Anya's War, Pink is in my to-read pile, and I was very pleased to meet Brent Hartinger and receive an autographed copy of Shadow Walkers at ALA Midwinter.

It's great to see these titles highlighted by such a cool site- I really applaud what they're doing over there at Diversity in YA. And how awesome is it that these books span such a variety of genres, from sports to fantasy? It's refreshing that diversity is just part of the equation in most of these books, that these aren't necessarily "problem novels" about diversity. Which isn't to say I don't enjoy a good book about a character struggling with their identity, because I do- especially when the character embraces their identity in the end. But the struggle doesn't always have to come from race or gender or sexual orientation. Because diversity is normal. And I love that!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Graphic Novel Review: Page by Paige, by Laura Lee Gulledge

Gulledge, Laura Lee. Page by Paige. 192 p. Amulet Books. 2011. Hardcover $18.95. ISBN 9780810997219.

Being the new girl in town is hard. In this charming graphic novel, sixteen-year-old Paige has moved from Virginia to New York in the middle of a school year, and isn't sure she's going to like it at all. A budding artist, she buys a sketchbook to help cope with the changes. While Paige navigates her new surroundings, the reader is treated to inventive visuals as she illustrates what's going on inside her mind- for example, taking mental snapshots of scenes around the city and filing them away in a cabinet that extends from the back of her head for artistic inspiration. As Paige faces her own weaknesses and challenges herself to open up to others, she discovers that self-doubt is universal, even among her cool new friends in the city, and learns that everyone needs a little help and encouragement.

Anyone who's ever felt like a fish out of water, anyone who's ever felt like they don't measure up, anyone who's ever felt alone will relate to Paige. She is so fully realized, with all of her teenage highs and lows, it makes you want to cheer when she ultimately works up the courage to share her art with the world. With appealing black-and-white art, sympathetic characters, and a plot that will feel familiar to any teen (or those who have already endured the teen years!), Laura Lee Gulledge has crafted an utterly heartwarming story about a girl finding her place in the world.

Look for Page by Paige in bookstores starting May 1, 2011. ARC for review provided by the publisher.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Shine, by Lauren Myracle

Myracle, Lauren. Shine. 376 p. Amulet Books. 2011. Hardcover $16.95. ISBN 9780810984172.

I couldn't put down this book about an innocent, small-town girl determined to solve the hate crime that victimized her estranged childhood best friend. The richly authentic Southern setting drew me in, and I loved the way the author structured the mystery around the main character's journey of discovery, as she finds surprising strength within herself and learns to see others in a new way.

Heavy issues such as drug use, homophobia, and abuse are faced with unflinching honesty, but there is a sense of warmth, too, and optimism. I could absolutely hear the Southern accents in the dialogue, and I have to say, Southern accents always endear a book to me. The characters are layered and the pacing is excellent, with a gradual increase in tension leading to an edge-of-your-seat pivotal scene once the pieces of the puzzle have fallen into place. An intense and satisfying read.

Shine was the first book I've read by Lauren Myracle, having only read a few of her short stories in the past. Let me tell you, this book makes me want to go out and read all of her books! Oh, and can I brag? I had the opportunity to meet her briefly at ALA Midwinter earlier this month, and she was such a doll! Funny, friendly, and just as awesome as you would imagine.

Shine hits bookshelves on May 1, 2011. ARC provided by the publisher.

Friday, January 28, 2011


I woke up this morning, and I was like: I KNOW WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS. ANOTHER BLOG!

Okay, not really.

But why not, right?

I've been reviewing books on Goodreads for several years now, and I decided that 2011 is the year I'm finally jumping on the blogging bandwagon. The world of book and library blogging is fascinating, active, and challenging- and I want to be a part of it.

So hello, blogosphere!

I’m a teen services librarian and I LOVE it. I love the literature, and I love working with the age group. It may be a challenge to get teens to come to library events- they’re so overbooked with sports and music lessons and SAT prep classes!- but the ones that do get involved in the library are totally enthusiastic. And teens can be so passionate about their reading. If they loved a book, you’ll know it. If they hated it? Ohhh, you’ll know it. They don’t hold back either way, which makes it super fun to talk books with them. My job is awesome.

I’m also the mother of an infant and a toddler, and I don’t have much time to curl up with a book the way I used to before having kids. So I find myself catching up with my reading in odd moments, anywhere and everywhere I can. I usually have a book at work for my lunch hour, a book on my nightstand for those few moments of quiet before I succumb to exhaustion, an ebook on my iPhone to read while I nurse the baby, and an audiobook in the car for my commute. And maybe a spare book in the car, in case I end up having to wait somewhere like the DMV or doctor’s office. Must have a book at all times! Hence the title of this blog: I read everywhere.
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