Monthly Archives: April, 2012

A Monster Calls

  I purchased this book for our library shortly after it was published on the strength of the Chaos Wallking trilogy. I didn’t have a chance to read it, however, as life got very complicated with my father and father-in-law struggling with some health issues. They died recently within a month of each other.

I finally read it last night. Perhaps it would be better to say I sobbed through it last night. All I can say is that reading A Monster Calls was an exquisitely painful and, ultimately, cathartic experience. I will be adding to my own collection of must reads.

I hope it gets all the attention it richly deserves.

A Monster Calls book trailer


2 free audiobooks each week this summer

I have noticed that many of you like to listen to your books. Here’s an opportunity to listen to new books all summer long! Each week from June 14 – August 22, 2012, SYNC will offer two free audiobook downloads. I have copied their newsletter below:

SYNC YA Literature into Your Earphones

2 Free Audiobook Downloads Each Week

June 14 – August 22, 2012

Teens and other readers of Young Adult Literature will have the opportunity to listen to bestselling titles and required reading classics this summer.   Each week  from June 14 – August 22, 2012, SYNC will offer two free audiobook downloads.

The audiobook pairings will include a popular YA title and a classic that connects with the YA title’s theme and is likely to show up on a student’s summer reading lists.  For example, Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone, the first book in a new series about a girl who opens a door to two otherworldly cities at war, will be paired with Charles Dicken’s A Tale of Two Cities.

To find out when you can download titles to listen to on the run this summer, visit or text syncya to 25827.  Subscribers to the SYNC text service will receive a free download of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, read by a Full Cast (L.A. Theatre Works).

SYNC Titles

Summer 2012


The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch, Read by Dan Bittner (Scholastic Audiobooks)

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, Frank Galati [Adapt.], Read by Shirley Knight, Jeffrey Donovan, and a Full Cast (L.A. Theatre Works)


Irises by Francisco X. Stork, Read by Carrington MacDuffie (Listening Library)

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, Read by Wanda McCaddon (Tantor Media)


The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud, Read by Simon Jones

(Listening Library)

Tales from the Arabian Nights by Andrew Lang, Read by Toby Stephens

(Naxos AudioBooks)


Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake, Read by August Ross (AudioGO)

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, Read by Ian Holm (AudioGO)


Guys Read: Funny Business by Jon Scieszka [Ed.] et al., Read by Michael Boatman, Kate DiCamillo, John Keating, Jon Scieszka, Bronson Pinchot (Harper Audio)

The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and Other Stories by Mark Twain, Read by Norman Dietz (Recorded Books)


Cleopatra’s Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter, Read by Kirsten Potter (Oasis Audio)

Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare, Read by a Full Cast (AudioGO)


Pinned by Alfred C. Martino, Read by Mark Shanahan (Listen & Live Audio)

TBA (Brilliance Audio)


Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, Read by Khristine Hvam (Hachette Audio)

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, Read by Simon Prebble (Blackstone Audio)


Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy, Read by Rupert Degas (Harper Audio)

Dead Men Kill by L. Ron Hubbard, Read by Jennifer Aspen and a Full Cast

(Galaxy Press)


The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera, Read by Jay Laga’aia (Bolinda Audio)

The Call of the Wild by Jack London, Read by William Roberts (Naxos AudioBooks)

Daughter of Smoke and Bone

 by Laini Taylor

What an interesting and compelling fantasy. Angels and demons are definitely on the rise in young adult literature these days but this author has taken the time to develop a compelling back story that becomes the plot for this tale and the ones to come.

The story of Karou’s search for who she is takes the reader into the fantastical world of chimaera, wishes, and what ifs left me wishing I didn’t have to wait so long for the sequel. This is one I will twist a few young men’s arms to read.

Scorpio Races

 I loved the way Stiefvater took the legend of the water horse and breathed new life into it. A student was complaining today that authors “cop out” when they simply retell a myth or legend. He wouldn’t be able to complain about this tale. Stiefvater has built on the past but brought her tale firmly into the present with a strong female protagonist trying to save her family and a young man trying to save himself.

The speed of the story and characters may appeal to the guys. It may, however, be difficult to get them to give it a try.

YALSA Best of 2012 challenge

Now that the MYRCA list has been picked for 2013 (stay tune) and summer is around the corner, I have decided to take the YALSA Best of 2012 Challenge. The challenge is to read or listen to 25 of the 80 titles on the YASLA Best of the Best List by the end of June. I am going to give myself until the end of the summer to finish. I am not going to stick to the June finish date since I am starting late. I am going to include the books I read in April, though, since that is, technically, in the challenge period.

I will write my thoughts and reviews and post them here and on the YALSA 2012 challenge page.

On your mark, get set….READ!

April is Fantasy month

Fantasy is one of the oldest and largest genres of fiction. In a very broad sense, any book with a fantastic element fits into this genre. Its focus on other worlds, magic, and mythical creatures often results in a blurring of the lines between adult and children fiction. Many fantasy books which were originally intended for a younger audience have subsequently been published for adults. The opposite is also true.

The problem with this is that, in the past, fantasy fiction has not been taken very seriously because it was for kids. Recently, however, fantasy has had a massive jump in popularity and has seen a variety of sub-genres, which vary greatly. For this book list we are going to focus on high fantasy primarily, although I have included a few titles in the other sub-genres for variety.

A large number of the current fantasy novels being published today could fall into the paranormal and/or contemporary sub-genre. Think Twilight – vampires in the real world. We are going to skip this sub-genre for now because I can see us creating a whole booklist just for it.

Due to the epic nature of many fantasies, it is not uncommon for fantasy writers to create series. For this list, stand-alone titles are in bold.

High Fantasy (heroic, quest):  Plots occurs in a different world. Hero fighting against monumental odds (evil going to destroy the world) and learns about himself in the process.

  • Sabriel – Garth Nix
  • The Lord of the Rings – J.R.R. Tolkien
  • His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman
  • Wheel of Time – Robert Jordan
  • Lightbringer – Brent Weeks
  • Pendragon – D.J. MacHale
  • Eragon – Christopher Paolini
  • The Liveship Traders – Robin Hobb
  • The Earthsea – Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Dragonriders of Pern – Anne McCaffrey
  • Death Gate Cycle – Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman
  • Sword of Truth – Terry Goodkind
  • Magician – Raymond E. Feist
  • Tigana – Guy Gavriel Kay
  • American Gods – Neil Gaiman
  • Tears of Artamon – Sarah Ash
  • Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone – Greg Keyes

Comic/humorous fantasy: these titles will often fall into any of the other sub-genres

  • XanthPiers Anthony
  • Myth Adventures – Robert Asprins
  • Discworld – Terry Pratchett
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
  • Fluke Christopher Moore
  • Low Fantasy/Contemporary Fantasy: Set in the real (could be modern) world but with magical elements.
  • The House of the Scorpion Nancy Farmer
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde
  • The Dark is Rising – Susan Cooper
  • The Green Mile – Stephen King
  • Black – Ted Dekker
  • White Cat – Holly Black
  • Harry Potter – J.K. Rowling
  • Reckless– Cornelia Funke
  • The Replacement – Brenna Yovanoff

Retold fairy tales or mythology remixes: the author revisits a tale or legend and updates it.

  • Princess BrideWilliam Goldman
  • Dealing with Dragons – Patricia C. Wrede
  • The Summer Tree – Guy Gavriel Kay
  • The Sandman –Neil Gaiman
  • Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister – Gregory Maguire
  • The Alchemyst – Michael Scott
  • Percy Jackson and The Olympians- Rick Riordan

Science fantasy: hybrid of fantasy and science fiction. To fit into this category there must be an element of magic or the supernatural.

  • A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle
  • Doctor Who – Paul Magrs and Jeremy Hoad
  • The Chrysalids – John Wyndham
  • Star Wars


Historical fantasy: can include alternate history and parallel universes that do not include the magical element, although most do have magic or elements of the supernatural.

  • Island in the Sea of Time: S.M. Stirling
  • Belisarius: Eric Fint and David Drake
  • American Empire:  Harry Turtledove
  • A Crack in the Line: Michael Lawrence
  • His Majesty’s Dragon: Naomi Novik


  • Epic of Gilgamesh
  • Odyssey
  • The Book of a Thousand Nights and a Night
  • Le Morte D’Arthur
  • Through the Looking Glass

Ship Breaker

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Set in the future, the story starts on an island with the protagonist, Nailer, living in poverty and working the extremely hazardous job of scavenging scrap metal from old oil tankers. After a hurricane, when he discovers a modern luxurious yacht with a beautiful wealthy girl called Nita still alive, he is left with a difficult choice. Kill her, strip the yacht, and live as a king among his impoverished community, or let her live, and see what adventures she will lead him to. Well-written, with great character depth and full of suspense, this book will leave you wanting its sequel immediately.

written by Vilok


Paladin Prophecy by Mark Frost

I finished reading The Paladin Prophecy over Spring Break; a difficult task as my son kept beating me to the Kindle – a sure sign that a book will be successful. I think I won this race because I am a faster reader. I can’t arm wrestle him for the books anymore –  he’s as big as me.

As the cowriter of the screenplay for the film Fantastic Four, Mark Frost knows how to create a fast paced, action filled plot with more twists and turns than a rollercoaster. In this modern fantasy, Will West has been taught to stay in the middle of the pack by his careful parents. In fact, rule number 3 in “Dad’s List of Rules to Live By” is: Don’t draw attention to yourself. When Will scores unexpectedly high on a nationwide test he suddenly learns why he should always live by Dad’s rules.

Now as Will is hiding from the men in black who kidnapped his parents in an exclusive prep-school, he finds himself in the middle of an out-of-this world plot involving a secret society, guardian angels, computer games, and creatures from the Never-Was. Lucky for Will, he has found a cadre of friends as unusual as he turning out to be.

Frost has created a superhero plot worthy of any Marvel comic. What saves this story from being too excessive is Frost’s use of humor and the central focus on Will’s struggle to understand the bizarre world he is now part of.

If the reader is willing to suspend his disbelief long enough to be caught in the suspense he will enjoy the ride – and look out for the sequel.

For ages 12 and up. 3/5 stars.

The Paladin Prophecy will be in stores in September 2012

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