Oct 9, 2010

Matched by Ally Condie

Now that I have found the way to fly, which direction should I go into the night?”

Matched, first line

The book fair is over and I feel like I have a few moments to myself. For more than a week I have been dreaming about reading Matched by Ally Condie, but I haven't been able to find the time. I have set this weekend aside as a way to recover from the hours of work I put into the book fair. I am at a cabin on the lake to relax for a day or two. It is nice to feel apart from the world, to feel like I am getting away.  Especially since my dystopian reading has fallen to the wayside for a few moments while the rest of life frantically demands my attention.


It is interesting to be at a place like this and think about concepts like utopia and dystopia. When there are just a few people set apart from the world like we are here, it is easy to believe that utopia is attainable. Both utopia and dystopia play with the idea of hope, they both try an conceptualize hope for the future, one through the possibility of growth and change and the other by modeling this.

Oct 6, 2010

Scholastic Book Fair – Day Two

Well, I had a set budget for the book fair and I kind of splurged a little. All I can say for myself is that it IS a fundraiser so I it is going to a good cause. The hardest part about working at the book fair is that all the book lovers congregate around the cases and start reading the backs of books. You hear, “This sounds good!” “Did you see this one?” No, no, no! My budget doesn’t want to hear that!


My co-chair pointed out two books to me that I would have definitely looked over otherwise. We both love to read, especially YA and MG books, but we mostly focus on different genres. Which is nice, because we tend to fill in each other’s gaps. She like fantasy, ghost stories, and other Halloween/horror type books. I, on the other hand, focus on science fiction and more general fiction than she does. Overall, we generally end up looking at most of the books and know what they are about.  The two books in particular that she pointed out to me caught my eye as well, but looked a little too fantastical for my interest. I didn’t even bother reading the back of them.


This is not the cover that the Scholastic book fair has. The cover we saw just has a feather standing upright and some mist.  It is definitely more eye catching for me than this cover. This cover has almost no appeal to me. 


My friend picked up Kandide and the Secret of the Mists and started reading the back to me. It instantly connected with me. With ideas of dystopia, identity, vanity, self worth, and other elements of fiction that are interesting me right now.


“When a tragic accident leaves her less than perfect, her own mother casts her away to a treacherous world where strange beasts roam the dark, lifeless forest and even stranger Fae rule the land. Kandide must battle hideous creatures, as well as her own internal repulsion for the 'Imperfects' she is now like, if she is to survive.”


This world of the Imperfects fascinates me and definitely reminds me of some of the dystopian themes I have seen explored in other books. And even though this book wasn’t remotely close to being on my wishlist, it ended up in the stack of books I intended to buy.  I often struggle with fantasy books, though I have been pushing myself to try and read more of them and I really think this one is a perfect fit for me. I hope that the book ends up being as interesting as the premise sounds.


The next book that was pointed out to me is The Stone Child by Dan Poblocki. The interesting thing we discovered about this book was that it would really appeal to both male and female readers, but we felt like the cover would really alienate boys and keep them from even reading the back cover.  We both love the cover of this statue girl holding a book, but it is too soft and feminine to appeal to readers of both gender.


It can be frustrating knowing that boys generally will not even glance at a book that looks like it is for girls, while girls seem more interested in a broader spectrum of books.  Connecting with male readers seems to be a continuing struggle in education and with parents.  There are lots of great books out there that would probably interest boys if they were just packaged a little bit differently.


“Eddie Fennicks has always been a loner, content to lose himself in a mystery novel by his favorite author, Nathaniel Olmstead. That’s why moving to the small town of Gatesweed becomes a dream come true when Eddie discovers that Olmstead lived there before mysteriously disappearing thirteen years ago.”


My co-chair kept saying, “This is a boy book, this doesn’t look like a boy book. Why doesn’t this look like a boy book? Oh look! There’s a dragon on the front. You can’t even see it until you read the book. How am I going to get people to know this is a boy book?”  She is the mom of a now grown reluctant male reader, so she really connects with the need to find books that will not only interest boys, but will have the type of cover art that appeals to boys.


Michael Buckley, the author of the Sister’s Grimm series, has a new book series out that is very male oriented and appeals instantly to the majority of male readers. I am honestly surprised that we haven’t seem more books from this series in the checkout stand, but I heard of boys really enjoying them. The Nerds series starts with the aptly named NERDS: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society. And we are selling both books 1 and 2 at the book fair.  Although I have been trying to stick firm to my budget, I couldn’t resist the urge and both books ended up in my buy pile today.


These books look really fun to me. When I was flipping through them I loved the artwork done at the headers. It is similar to the circuit board motif you can see in the Nerds title on the cover.  This reminds me of another book I bought at a fair last year, Cyberia.  It also reminds me that despite my best intentions, I haven’t finished it yet.  I even saw that Cyberia was nominated for  an award recently. Hopefully I will get Cyberia, Nerds, and my other book fair selections finished in a timely manner. It is something I need to work on!


Would any of these books make it into your buy pile? I hope Wednesday ends up being another great day at the book fair!

Happy reading!

Oct 5, 2010

Scholastic Book Fair – Day One Favorites

I am sitting here at the book fair before another long day of work. We are having a very successful book fair so far this time and it is really exciting to see people buying books for their children.  I just wanted to write a quick post talking about some of our best sellers.  One of the best thing about book fairs is being exposed to new books and having conversations with other book lovers.


One of our teachers loves the Missing series and we have been able to use her endorsement to sell quite a few of the books in the series. The Scholastic book fair has the first three books in this series all in hardback. People seem to be


excited about buying them, but also about sharing the experience of reading with others. I haven’t gotten to read Found yet, I have been wanting to and this book fair has made me even more eager to do so.  Haddix is a really popular author around here and we spend a lot of time recommending books that aren’t even available at the book fair.


Of course I have been pushing The Clockwork Three by local author Matthew Kirby so we are sold out of those. It is nice to see that people are interested in the books I have to share with them.

I adore the cover to this book. The Scholastic book fair edition doesn’t have the three characters on the front. I think I like this other cover a little better, but the artwork is striking on both covers. Today we even brought in an article about the author and how he came to write the book.  Haven’t had a chance to glance at it yet, but hopefully I will soon.


Every year we have a new “There was an old lady who…” book out. At first I thought they were cute but they are getting kind of old to me, but not for the other people around here. There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves has been flying off the shelves. I can see the appeal of teaching with these kinds of books, but I am not dying to have them for my personal collection. I like the type of books that you can sing rather than read. My girls really love it when I sing them books. But it seems like the more Old Lady books there are the more lax they get about making the words fit into the original tune.  Do you like these kinds of books?



Do you know what scanimation is?  Even though one of my daughters got Gallop for their birthday, I did not know the moving images within had a special name. The best thing about Gallop is how durable the scanimation is to prying little fingers. Well, we have an amazing book at the fair this year and the expense isn’t keeping people away! “Twas The Night Before Christmas is our new holiday themed scanimation book. Unlike Gallop, this book has colored scanimations. The book is $18 but still flying off the shelves. People seem so excited to buy it that the price isn’t concerning them at all.

Oct 3, 2010

The Sunday Salon – Challenges

The Sunday Salon.com

It is being another lazy Sunday here for me. I have so much going on right now I am having a really hard time relaxing.  Even when things are lazy it doesn’t mean they are relaxed. I finally reached a true state of relaxation last night while catching up on some episodes from the last season of Bones. As nice as that was it also ate up a huge chunk of reading and cleaning time. Now Sunday is here and the weekend is headed out the door. I have so much left to do!


I am also trying to plan for the rest of my reading year and look at what I have already read.  This year I joined more challenges than I ever have before. I am taking today to check in on my progress with them and think about what I need to read before the end of the year to accomplish them.


The first challenge is the Support Your Local Library.  I will definitely not meet my goal of reading 50 library books this year because I have barely read 50 books TOTAL in 2010 so far, but also, I have decided to take a break from going to the library because I have so many wonderful books to read at home. I have read more books than I have listed on that post, so I would like to go back and update it. But I don’t expect to finish this challenge this year.


There is still a slim chance that I will read 100 books this year, but it doesn’t seem likely. As the year gets closer to ending I am putting more intentional focus on making time to read and sticking with my goals. It has been a bit of a meandering reading year for me. I spent a lot of time picking up books and not finishing them. I spent a lot more time away from home than I ever do. And I also ended up changing a lot of my other habits which made it harder to listen to as many audiobooks as I usually do. Of course, all the book I finish this year will be added to the list.


The Cybils Award Challenge is probably another impending failure! Why did I join so many challenges in 2010? I really thought that these challenges would refocus my reading and add some variety to my book choices, but life ended up getting in the way of all that! I joined the Cybils challenge at a level where I have to read 1/4th or 3/4th of the books nominated and I joined for two categories. That ends up being A LOT OF BOOKS!! There are about 140 books on the young adult science fiction and fantasy 2009 Cybils nomination list. To read a quarter of those would still be 35 books. If I count the books I read previous to the challenge starting and considering what I have on my TRB I *might* be able to make that by the end of the year, but I doubt I will be able to do it for BOTH young adult AND middle grade. Though, this challenge, more than any other, really did push me to read different books than I would normally select. Still to read for this challenge:


  • Middle Grade
    - Skeleton Creek
    - (possibly) Softwire #3 (have it and the previous books, but I would have to read all 3)
    - Sent (same as above, would have to read first and second book)
  • Young Adult
    - Bones of Faerie
    - The Carbon Diaries 2015
    - DupliKate
    - Fire
    - The Hunchback Assignments
    - Sacred Scars
    - Silver Phoenix
    - Zenith


Have you read any of these books from my TBR? Which one would you read first?


I joined the Terry Pratchet challenge and have not read a single book for it yet. Of course, in theory, there is still time. But how I am going to fit it in with my other intended reading, I am not quite sure. I was supposed to read 10 books written by Pratchet and unless something drastic happens I don’t seem me accomplishing that. I am also struggling with what Discworld book to read first. One person says this one, another says that one. I wanted to try and read them in order another person wasn’t sure that was a good idea. I am feeling a bit wishy washy about the whole thing.


The 42 Challenge was an exciting challenge for me to embrace. I have finally accepted that I love science fiction and this challenge was about just reading/viewing 42 separate pieces of sci fi. Originally I wanted to try and stick with books on this but I may have to include movies as well if I don’t get to my total by the end of the year. This is going to take sitting down with a notebook to really figure out what I want to list for the challenge.


The Young Adult reading challenge is an easy one for me since the majority of books I read are young adult. It is just a matter of going back and listing all the books that qualify for this! And most of my TBR for the rest of the year will fall into this category.


I was really excited about the PoC Challenge when it was first announced. But I kind of lost steam with it, as I did with reading in general and I really hope to finish strong and meet my minimum goal to read 7 books in 2010. So far I have read 2 books that classify and that leaves me with needing to read 5 more.

  • Mississippi Trial, 1955 (currently reading)
  • Green Boy
  • Silver Phoenix
  • Un Dun Lun
  • Nancy Farmer book, maybe The Ear, The Eye, The Arm


It is starting to occur to me that maybe I joined a few too many challenges this year. Does that happen to you? The worst part? I am not even done listing all the challenges! Do you ever join a challenge and wish later that you hadn’t? I am not sure I can think of a single challenge I wish I didn’t join but I do wish I joined a few less.  Next year I am going to try and join fewer challenges and focus on those with a specific focus or smaller time frame.


The final challenge I have to focus on this year is the YA D2 challenge which focuses on young adult dystopian books. Considering my recent book purchases, this should be easy for me. Now it is only a matter of finding the time. I only have to read 5 books for this challenge and some of them overlap with other challenges I am participating in. Even though this challenge has just started I have enjoyed it so much. I love going around seeing what everyone is reading and what they are excited about. I love how much exposure challenges like these bring to dystopia. Here are some of the books I have to read:

  • Bones of Faerie
  • Matched
  • Dead-Tossed Waves
  • Crashed
  • Green Boy
  • Clone Codes
  • Ransoms’ Revenge
  • Zenith

I have so many books for this challenge in my personal library it is insanely hard to choose what to read. I figure I can pick anything I want to read, I just have to stick with it and not jump from book to book as I have been prone to do lately. Going around and seeing other people’s lists has made me realize I forgot some books I really should have listed and are reminding me of other books I have been wanting to read. It is going to be a fast and furious few months when it comes to reading these books and visiting the blogs of the other participants.


The final challenge I joined this year is the Steampunk Challenge. It is less of a concern at this exact moment because it is a year long challenge and I have until next October to get everything read. But there are some books I want to get read this year! Here are some of the books I will be focusing on:

  • Boneshaker
  • The Windup Girl
  • Soulless
  • Clockwork Angel


As you can see I have TONS of reading to do. What about you? Are you planning on taking it easy for the rest of your reading year? It can get a little hard to find all the time that you need around the holidays. I am hoping to power through and get back to reading over 10 books a month until the end of the year. It is going to be a challenge for me, but I was there before and I can be there again. Sometimes it is hard to adapt your life to include all the things you love AND reading.


Today I am going to try and finish up The Clockwork Three.  The title and cover are great and I heard rumors that this book can classify as steampunk. I am not quite sure if that is the case or not but I will decide by the end of the book and it looks like an enjoyable read either way.

Bibliophile Exploring Dystopia | Food & Community | Utopian Projects