Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Plans for the 48-Hour Book Challenge

So, MotherReader announced the official date and rules for the Seventh Annual 48-Hour Book Challenge about two weeks ago. If you've never  heard of such a thing, here's the lowdown on one of the Kidlitosphere's tentpole events.

Basically, we pick a span of 48 hours within the selected weekend and read. Yep. That's it in a nutshell. We read for 48 hours, or as close to it as we can get without suffering hallucinations. We also blog about it. So, we read and we blog for 48 hours. If you read that description and went, "Ooo!", think about joining us. If you read that and went, "Wow, these people are cool but nuts" . . . think about joining us anyway. There are very few hardcore enough to actually read for 48 hours straight. I myself have never broken the 30 hour mark because, y'know, sleep. I like it.

(If you read that and went, "Why would anyone want to read for 48 minutes, much less 48 hours?" I don't think you're on the right blog.)

We also gab on Twitter, Facebook, and each others' blogs. And finally, we tally up what we've done and pledge money to various charities. This year, MotherReader has formalized it and asked us all to donate to Book People Unite for Reading is Fundamental, which has had its budget slashed like a cheerleader in a horror flick.

It's a community-builder (all that gabbing!), it's a marathon, it winnows down our TBR stacks, it flexes our blogging muscles, and it's a way of harnessing all that energy into doing good. How can you lose?

I've been contemplating my plan of attack. I tend to pick a theme and stick with it. I've done Books I Told Someone I'd Read, ARC-a-Palooza, and Books I Can't Wait to Read. I've had the best success with the last theme, so I'll go with that again. I'm already trawling through my LibraryThing wishlist and putting in my order at work for those books that make me do a little happy chair dance.

In past years, I've written each review and put them up immediately . . . then proceeded to let my blog stagnate over the summer, because a children's librarian during Summer Reading Program is analogous to a one-armed paper hanger. So this year, I'm still going to write the reviews, but what I'll post during 48HBC will be the bare-bones info about the book and the time, plus capsules or comments. Then I'll have a backlog of reviews to go up during the summer. This will be especially handy since many of things I already know I want to read are electronic ARCs from NetGalley, some many months out, and I prefer to post those as close to the actual street date as I can.

So that's my plan. What about yours? Will you join us? Will you cheer us on? What will you read? Share!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Book Review: Keeper by Kathi Appelt

Book: Keeper
Author: Kathi Appelt
Published: 2010
Source: Local Library

On Texas's Gulf Coast, a motley little family has assembled itself out of broken flotsam. But ten-year-old Keeper has never stopped yearning for her real mother, Meggie Marie, who swam away to be a mermaid when she was three. After her own carelessness and impulsive actions destroy a special day, Keeper feels as if she has likewise destroyed her makeshift family forever. But she just knows her mermaid mother will be able to fix everything.

Armed with offerings for the Sea Queen, Yemaya, she takes her beloved dog and sets off to sea. But the open ocean is a big and dangerous place for a girl and her dog. Will her true family find her in time?

Like Appelt's earlier book, The Underneath, this novel is firmly rooted in a place (in this case, the Texas Gulf Coast), and in the idea of family assembled rather than born. It's not an action-packed heart-thumper of a book, although there are certainly tense moments. It meanders, it daydreams, it wanders. It has that magical-realism-type acceptance of the marvelous and fantastical next to the everyday. You have to assemble the real stories from the crumbs dropped by the author.

But it will suck you in, this book, with its magical-realism tone and deep-running emotional themes that will resonate with anybody who's ever felt the power of love, no matter where it comes from.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Book Review: Dani Noir by Nova Ren Suma

Book: Dani Noir
Author: Nova Ren Suma
Published: 2009
Source: Purchased

Dani wishes that life were like the old movies she watches in the town art house. The good guys would be good, the bad guys would be bad, and she, Dani, would be Rita Hayworth, sexy, confident, and untouchable. In the movies, your dad never dumps your mom for a new girlfriend. Or if he does, you're not expected to make nice with them. No self-respecting femme fatale would make nice with the other woman.

That's why she's not about to take it lying down when she realizes that her adored babysitter's boyfriend may be cheating on her. By hook or by crook, Dani's going to find out if Jackson's a good guy or a bad guy.

But life's not like the movies. The good guys are sometimes the bad guys, and the bad guys are sometimes the good guys, and Dani herself is most definitely not untouchable.

I tried to read Imaginary Girls, Suma's YA novel, but I didn't finish it. Not only did I not finish it, I hurled it aside with great force, a la Dorothy Parker. And frankly, after that experience, I was stunned that this book charmed me so completely.

I'm not sure why I had such a bad reaction, but I know why I liked Dani Noir, and that's all down to Dani. She's a thoroughly real kid, just coming to the realization that the people she loves best aren't perfect. Smart, resourceful, and honest (sometimes to a fault). She makes mistakes, she doesn't know how to fix them. She's not always clear on who her real friends are, or what other people are thinking or feeling. But by god, she's gonna figure it out.

I truly hope that Suma writes more books like Dani Noir.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Reading Roundup: April 2012

By the Numbers
Teen: 15
Tween: 11
Children: 6

Review Copies: 5
Purchased: 6
Library: 19

Teen: The DUFF by Kody Keplinger
Hey, did you know teens handle sex about like adults do? They get with the wrong partners, they do it for the wrong reasons, it's all tangled up with their inner lives, and sometimes love (or serious like) comes as a total revelation. You didn't? Kody Keplinger does.
Tween: Dani Noir by Nova Ren Suma
Maybe if she had credits to refer to, Dani would know who she's supposed to hate and who she's supposed to like, and all the good guys would ride off into the sunset together. Unfortunately, life's not like the movies.
Children: Hamster and Cheese by Colleen A.F. Venable and Stephanie Yue
In the mood for a graphic novel? Something a little more challenging than an easy reader, but still conquerable? A quirky, funny tale? A story about a reluctant private eye? An animal book? In this first installment of the Pet Shop Private Eye series, Venable and Yue have gotcha covered.

Because I Want To Awards
Best First Line: The Exile of Gigi Lane by Adrienne Maria Vrettos
"I'm Gigi Lane, and you wish you were me." Seriously, put the book down after that. I dare you.
What Are the Odds?: This Means War! by Ellen Wittlinger and Countdown by Deborah Wiles
I had no idea I'd be reading not one but two great books this month about the Cuban Missile Crisis, seen through the eyes of kids on the perimeter of the military and filtered through their everyday hopes, fears, and struggles. I just wish the first had gotten a little more critical love.
Bring a Hanky: Dear Anjali by Melissa Glenn Haber
This book about a girl struggling to come to terms with her best friend's sudden death goes beyond "She'll always be with me" and into "You know, she wasn't perfect, but that's okay, because that's the way I wanted her." Man, you guys, I was a mess.
And Now, I Taunt You: Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
Complicated relationships, witty banter, a healthy dollop of supernatural hijinks . . . yep, sounds like SRB to me. You'll see the review on this one closer to its publication in September. Yeah, I'm evil.