Monthly Archives: November 2011

Alan in Chicago

No, I’m not going to meet a man named Alan in Chicago.  It’s the Alan  Workshop (Assembly on Literature for Adolescents); two blissful days filled with nothing but young adult authors speaking about their books and the teens (and not a few librarians!) who love them .  It’s such a fabulous experience for librarians and teachers to be able to connect with the authors and learn about what’s new, the future of the book, and much more.  The theme this year is Flash Back. Forge Ahead.  and I will be updating this blog with information I’ve gotten, materials from the vendor exhibition, and (best of all) the books I receive.  I will come home to many boxes of new books, galley copies of upcoming titles and, hopefully, a few autographs (though I do really hate waiting in line!).

One of my favorite YA authors, M.T. Anderson, will be the opening speaker!  It’s been a long while since I’ve heard him speak.  He will be expounding upon the future of books and written stories.  He is the author of The Game of Sunken Places, Feed and the Octavian Nothing series.

Check back for updates!!!  I tend to get very excited during these kinds of events!

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A Newish Twist

see citation below

Any Zombie fans out there?  I wasn’t, until the series Walking Dead came on and only then because one of my favorite actors was starring in it (Norman Reedus as Daryl…sigh).  The problem with zombies is that the gross factor is pretty high.  They are dead and their bodies are rotting.  Thinking skills are almost non-existent – except for the thought of the next (gulp) meal of flesh.  I mean really, there’s not much to like about them.  Still, I just read The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan, which is about the Unconsecrated or zombie infestation that has spread world-wide, wiping out most of the population.  The real story, though, is one of hope and  faith and dreams…with a really gross backdrop of moaning, thrashing, limb-dropping, decaying, smelly zombies.

Cover picture from VWL Catalog

All of her life, Mary’s mother had told her stories of “outside” and the ocean that waits for them.  The ocean is endless water as far as the eye could see with shining sands of the purest gold.  Mary sleeps dreaming of tasting salt and feeling the water wash over her feet.  When she wakes, however, it’s to a nightmare world where the Sisters and the Guardians fight to keep their small village alive and safe from the Unconsecrated.  Years ago, something horrible happened and a virus was let loose on the world.  In very short order, people who used to be living, breathing human beings were turned into walking corpses with a savage hunger for flesh and blood.  Small pockets of people dot the earth, completely cut off from one another.  Mary’s village is ruled with the iron hand of the Sisters.  Their stone cathedral is where all teaching and praying goes on.  One horrible day, Mary’s mother wanders too close to the fence meant to protect them and is bitten.  In a matter of hours, she dies then…returns.  Mary makes the desperate decision to release the creature who once loved and nurtured her to the forest.  After her brother rejects her for the decision she made, Mary is taken in by the Sisters, destined for a life of servitude.  The only problem was that Mary didn’t believe in God.  She couldn’t bring herself to pray or to forget the stories her mother told her.  She’s too curious and that unquenchable desire to KNOW changes the path of her life forever.

Reading about Mary’s unshakable faith that the ocean is out there waiting for her is what impressed me the most.  No matter what people told her or what secrets she found out about the Sisters, her conviction that, not only was the ocean out there but that one day, she would reach it.  Her belief transcends Religion’s view of faith.  Or maybe it embodies it?  I don’t know but I do wish with all my heart that I had an ounce of her faith and her strength to follow her beliefs no matter what!  Especially, in the face of such truly gruesome creatures as zombies!!!

My boss says that if you’re a zombie fan, you should definitely read Pride & Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith.  I’m going to give it a try, after I’ve finished the Forest of Hands and Teeth books (The Dead-Tossed Waves and The Dark and Hollow Places)

Night of the Living Dead. 1990. Columbia Pictures. Britannica Image Qust. Web.
14 Nov. 2011. <http://quest.eb.com/media/
image.htm?mediaId=144_1525642>.

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Endings

…they leave me feeling relieved, angered, joyful but, when it comes to the ending of an excellent series, it is bitter-sweet.  I know the story can’t go on forever but, when you’ve gotten to know the characters and fallen in love with their stories, it’s really difficult to say good-bye to favorites like Katniss and Gayle (The Hunger Games), Katsa and Po (Graceling), Gregor and Luxa (Gregor the Overlander), or, most recently, Deryn and Alek from Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan Trilogy.  However well (or, occasionally, frustrating) the author wraps up the story, I still hate to put them away.  Westerfeld’s steampunk (have I mentioned before how very much I love steampunk!!!) story starts out with a young girl and her dream to fly in the British Air Service.  Deryn Sharp was raised by her pilot father who died in a fiery crash while saving her life.  When her brother enlists in the service, they decide that she should disguise herself as a boy cousin of theirs and join up, as well.  Almost immediately, she makes a lasting impression on the crew and captain of Leviathan, a living breathing airship that looks much like a whale.  She is a Darwinist.  At the same time, Alek, a Clanker, is fighting his own battles.  His parents are murdered, bringing war to his home country, Austria-Hungary, and sending him into exile.  He is unprepared for his new life on the run but knows that he must survive if he is to return triumphant to his people.  Deryn and Alek are brought together when an accident threatens to destroy Leviathan and all who sail her.  The next book, Behemoth, takes the pair into battle in the Ottoman Empire, more Clanker technology and secrets that might just destroy their friendship.  Goliath brings revelation and strain to Deryn and Alek as they continue to fight to end the Great War.  In all three books, the histories are altered but many of the secondary characters and situations in which they find themselves are based in reality.  In Goliath, we meet Randolph Hearst, a conniving yellow journalist,  Poncho Villa, and Nicola Tesla, inventor and mad man.    As I read, I found myself going to the internet and looking up different people and events to see what the real story was! I do love how Westerfeld includes Author Notes where he explains the realities of his stories.  It’s almost as much fun to read as the rest of the book. So, while I’m sad that their stories are over, I bit a fond farewell to all of my favorite couples and hope “happily ever after” finds them all!!!

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