Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Dream Girl- Review

 For Christine, dreams have never meant much. Until she meets Gabriel. Everyone thinks Christine should stay away from her new coworker at the library—thanks to his bad reputation—but when her dreams grow more vivid and she becomes entangled in a dangerous dream world with Gabriel every night, she can’t stay away. Soon it’s clear there is far more to dreams than Christine ever imagined, and now she’s on the path to making the biggest, and strangest, decision of her life. (goodreads.com)

Let me just start by saying that I love the idea behind all of this. Gabriel has spent most of his life dream walking (against his will might I add), not only is he forced to stay in these dreams for a undetermined amount of time, but if he's hurt in them, he's hurt in real life as well. It makes the old superstition that if you die in your dreams, you die in real life, very scary. Right after she meets Gabriel, Christine begins to dream walk as well, only, she has no clue what's going on, until she meets Gabriel in a dream and he is forced to explain. Then we insert bad guys and government officials and we have a big mess on our hands.

As much as I love the idea of this story, the read was a little hard for me. I wish there had been a little more build up the the relationship between Gabriel and Christine. I feel like everything happened between them so quickly, that as it readers, it was hard to connect with them. One day they're meeting at work, the next day Gabriel is leaving stories (although it read more like poetry) in her locker, and then they're instantly connected and joined at the hip, it was just hard to get my head around. I also didn't really understand the government angle. I think it's cool that the government had this whole "dream department" that no one knows about, but what does the government want them to do, why are they important, do they go after terrorists? I assume these questions will be answered in book two, but I felt like it was worth mentioning.

I work with teenagers, I'm around them, literally, all day long, so I have a pretty good handle on teenage speech patterns, and Christine and Gabriel didn't quite make it there for me. It doesn't flow, it doesn't seem natural, kind of readers like an adult wrote it as opposed to a teen is saying it. For example "I thought things were beyond hope when Brett broke Leo's nose, but things managed to degenerate further" (p 223). I love that the chapters alternate between Gabriel and Christine first person POV, it allows us to connect with them (those poor kids go through so much), but some of the things that they say and think translate as if a teen was writing a graded paper, it's like they're trying to class up the way they speak for a better grade, so it doesn't flow as well as it could.

Other than those things, I really liked the story. It's not often that I read about dream walkers, and I've certainly never imagined anything like this. I look forward to reading book two.

I give this a 3 out of 5 stars.

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Statistical Probability of Love at First SIght- Review

Books like this ruin my life, because these things will never happen to me and I will always be sad about it. Hadley is on her way to London to watch her father marry another woman. She is prepared to be as disruptive and surely as possible and begins with accidentally missing her flight. When waiting at the gate becomes too much to bare, Hadley escapes and bumps into a British college student, Oliver. They spend the rest of the time in the airport and on the flight, where they are seat mates, talking about Hadley's dad and exchanging witty (adorable) banter. Hadley see's Oliver's garment bag and assumes he's going to a wedding as well, through the flight she tells him bits of information about what her life was like before her dad left and what it's been life since he decided to stay in London, but everything changes when Hadley gets to the wedding, and when she find out where Oliver was really going.

I'm not sure where to start. First I love the premise of this story. Most of us have done the airport thing, but I bet none of us have even fathomed that we could have an experience like Hadley's. I get a squishy feeling in my stomach when I think about it. I was to go book a flight somewhere :)

Seriously though, I also really liked that we got to see Hadley's character progression as she came to the realization that, although her father has a life somewhere else, it doesn't mean that he set out to hurt her. I loved watching her go from a slightly bitter and angry teen with thoughts of bringing her father and his new wife down, to someone who can take the high road and make the best out of a new situation (notice how I didn't say bad there).

Kudos to Jennifer Smith for not going overboard. Nothing upsets me more than two characters who make eye contact and fall madly in love with each other and other silly things ensue. I understand looking at someone and finding them physically attractive and looking at someone and feeling some "connection" and then everyone lives happily ever after without any of the problems and trials that real couples face. I was prepared for this to be one of those books because at this point the phrase "love at first sight" reminds me of Snow White or something (I mean really, one kiss, kill the bad guy, and you ride off into the sunset together, that's fine when you're five, but let's move on people).

I can't even get in to Oliver without giving things away, so I'm just going to say my heart goes out to him.

I will say that I didn't understand why the story wasn't told in 1st person POV, that kind of confused me, but other than that, I give this two thumbs up.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Hurry up 2014

The, no where near complete, list of what I want to read in 2014 (the full list is too long to think about).

Cress- Marissa Meyer
Ignite Me- Tahereh Mafi

(Can't find the cover)
The Infinite Sea- Rick Yancey
Panic- Lauren Oliver

Hollow City- Ransom Riggs
Lair of Dreams- Libba Bray

(Can't find a cover)
Darkest Minds 3- Alexandra Bracken

Monday, November 18, 2013

Teen Space

So here's the deal. I work in a youth room, so we have birth to seventeen materials on one floor (and it's not a very big floor). On the right side of the room we have children's, there are picture books, toys, puzzles, a large carpet for them the play on, and the little baby tables (you know what I'm talking about). In the middle of the room we have the circulation desk and five computers, and on the left side of the room has all of the juvenile books, non-fiction books, and one row of YA materials. Needless to say I've been a little obsessive with growing and updating the collection. In the middle of the four shelves that house these items there are three tables and some chairs. Where these tables and chairs are currently positioned, we have 0% visibility, none of the kids in that area can be seen from the circ. desk. I want to change absolutely everything. Well, rearrange it anyway. I want to shift the shelving units so that the sitting space that we have in the middle of our non-fiction section, will be where we have our YA books. I then want to add three study desk to the teen area, so that the study desks, the row of YA material, and the wall will create a teen corner.

I think it' so important to have a dedicated space that can appeal to the teens who are frequent library users, and the teens who are looking for a safe place to go after school. I think that it's so easy to overlook teen needs in library space, because they're such a hard demographic to reach out to, but when I read the YALSA Teen Space Guidelines it stated "Libraries are vital to today’s teens in order for them to achieve a successful transition from childhood to adulthood. They offer the resources and the environment that foster positive intellectual, emotional and social development of tomorrow’s adults. All of these factors contribute to the need for distinct teen spaces, both in-library and virtually." I couldn't agree more, I've sat and watched as seventeen year old's, twelve year old's, and five years old's, share seating space and study space, and it just doesn't work. Teens are on a very different level that tweens a children developmentally so we need to work to accommodate those developmental differences. My library isn't in a position where we can build on attachments, or add another floor so we have to do what we can with what space we have.

Creating a small teen corner may not solve all of our spacing issues, but I think it would be a great start.

Here are a few articles that I found while reading about teen space
 The Need for Teen Space in Public Libraries
YALSA Teen Space Guidelines 
Speaking up for Library Service to Teens 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Alienated- Review (First ARC!!)

Two years ago, the aliens made contact. Now Cara Sweeney is going to be sharing a bathroom with one of them.

Handpicked to host the first-ever L’eihr exchange student, Cara thinks her future is set. Not only does she get a free ride to her dream college, she’ll have inside information about the mysterious L’eihrs that every journalist would kill for. Cara’s blog following is about to skyrocket.

Still, Cara isn’t sure what to think when she meets Aelyx. Humans and L’eihrs have nearly identical DNA, but cold, infuriatingly brilliant Aelyx couldn’t seem more alien. She’s certain about one thing, though: no human boy is this good-looking.

But when Cara's classmates get swept up by anti-L'eihr paranoia, Midtown High School suddenly isn't safe anymore. Threatening notes appear in Cara's locker, and a police officer has to escort her and Aelyx to class.

Cara finds support in the last person she expected. She realizes that Aelyx isn’t just her only friend; she's fallen hard for him. But Aelyx has been hiding the truth about the purpose of his exchange, and its potentially deadly consequences. Soon Cara will be in for the fight of her life—not just for herself and the boy she loves, but for the future of her planet.

I've always been the first to say that alien books weren't my thing, I always found them cheesy and unbelievable. The stories just never seemed real to me. I began to change my mind back in May when I read The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, I found myself so unbelievable hooked and drawn into the story that I could hardly stand it. Alienated met all of my expectations. 

A race of aliens called L'eihrs made contact with Earth and two years later the L'eihrs and the people of Earth are embarking on a type of student exchange program. Humans want to learn more about the aliens who have DNA almost exactly the same as their own but have evolved so much they have obtained the power to speak telepathically and have created a cure for cancer. Without any spoilers let just say we're a bit fuzzier on what the L'eihrs gain from the alliance.

I was a pretty big fan of the characters from the beginning. I love that when we meet Cara she's reminiscing about how she beat out another kid for valedictorian. It would be easy to expect some condescending main character throwing around SAT words, and finding slick and sneaky ways to remind us of knowledge, but it was easy to forget. In addition to Cara's knowledge she's got snarky (and I mean that in a good way), witty, no nonsense attitude that allows her to push forward through the challenges that face her and her L'eihr exchange student Aelyx. In the beginning Aelyx has a cold robotic exterior that seems so at odds with Cara's outspoken and emotional personality. 

When HALO (Human Against L'eihr Occupation) made their appearance it was done in such a way that I was actually pretty sad and disappointed, but not in  Melissa Landers, I was disappointed because when I read about the group and their demonstrations, and prejudices my first thought was "yeah that seems about right," I had no problem imagining people reacting so violently against a type of people they didn't understand and feared.

As HALO began to gain confidence and act out in more violent ways Aelyx and Cara slowly and gradually grew closer. I LOVED the way Melissa Landers went about creating their relationship, it seemed very real, through Cara's blog posts, random questions, and never ending quest to find something that Aelyx could eat they learned about each other, and grew the care for each other and it was beautiful to watch. As nice as it is when the main characters fall for each other at first sight and fight to live happily ever after, it was refreshing to see a relationship grow.

The ending... I didn't know this wouldn't be a free standing book, so as it was ending and I began to see where it was going I just got frustrated because all I could think was, "Am I really going to have to wait another year to find out happens next???" I give this book four stars and I can't wait to get my hands on the next book! 

Eleanor and Park- Review

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under. 
I just finished this book and it was jaw dropping. I love that it took a while before Eleanor and Park were comfortable with each other and they way they began their relationship. Rainbow Rowell managed to take the teenage school bus experience and translate it into book form. On the school bus I, personally was more of a Park (Friendly but definitely not the life of the party), but I saw my fair share of Eleanor's and every school bus had a Steve.

My heart went out to Eleanor in more ways than one. Her family life broke my heart, it's never easy reading about things like that especially the toward the end *shiver*. However, I fell in love with Eleanor's personality, it was so real. She was smart, witty, self conscious, and kind of snarky, she's not stylish, she doesn't have a ton of confidence, and she made plenty of mistakes, in short, she's like a real person.

The story had an ending that was sad and realistic, so it makes you want to cry and hug Rainbow Rowell for being brilliant all at the same time.

Love this book!!!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Allegiant- Review

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

****fair warning, there will be spoilers*******

The conclusion to the Divergent series. I've been waiting for this since the series began.

In this book Tris, Tobias, and others from Chicago leave the city to see what awaits them on the city walls. Tobias's mom has taken over the city with the Factionless and have disbanded the factions. When Tris, Tobias and the others leave the city they learn that their city is nothing more than an experiment to correct genetic anomalies, and scientist have been watching and observing cities throughout the country for generations. Everything they've even known has been a lie.

This book was different from the beginning because it took a turn that I wasn't ready for. It was great to learn about Tris' mom and how she was integrated into the city, and learning about the results of the genetic differences, it began to change the way i saw characters like Caleb.

Without giving too much away this book tied everything together even though I was a little irritated that Tris and Tobias walked into another revolution. First we have issues with Dauntless and Eurdite, then Marcus and Jeanine, and then it was the GD's and GP's. As sad and annoyed as I was about it all, I wouldn't have changed anything about this book, not even the ending that seemed to shake the world.

****bigger spoliers*******

Sorry guys, it had to happen. She had to die. I know that there are people who thought there could have been a different ending but I disagree. If Tris had let Caleb sacrifice his self, she would not have been the character that we wanted her to be. Such a large conspiracy as the one this dystopian government had allowed to go on, could only have been resolved with large sacrifice. We all wanted a happily ever after with our favorite couple, but I picked up about 3/4 of the way through, that it just wasn't going to happen. (Brandon Sander's Mistborn series anyone!!)