Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Saga of Larten Crepsley: Birth of a Killer

by Darren Shan 
New York: Little Brown and Company
ISBN: 9780316078634
272 pages
4 out of 5

Before Cirque Du Freak...
Before the war with the vampaneze...
Before he was a vampire...

Larten Crepsley was a boy.

As a child laborer many centuries ago, Larten Crepsley did his job well and without complaint, until the day the foreman killed his cousin as an example to the other children.

In that moment, young Larten flew into a rage that the foreman wouldn't survive.  Forced to live on the run, Larten now sleeps in crypts and eats cobwebs to get by.  And when a vampire named Seba offers him protection and training as a vampire's assistant, he agrees.

This is his story.

After the incident in the factory, Larten Crepsley is a lost, scared kid when Seba finds him.  He is given the choice of joining the vampire in his travels, and possibly in his lifestyle, and Larten accepts. He cannot return to his home and family and finds a purpose as a vampire's assistant.  What follows is the story of how Larten Crepsley the boy becomes Larten Crepsley the vampire in Cirque Du Freak.

I devoured this book.  It's well-written, fast-paced, and engaging.  In this first installment, Larten doesn't seem nearly as nasty as he does in the first Cirque du Freak novel, but he has quite a story to tell.  Fans of the series will enjoy learning of Larten's beginnings.  I think the series will also find new fans through this book.  As someone who has only read the first of the original series, you can start in either place.  In fact, reading Cirque Du Freak after Saga of Larten Crepsley will give you something to do while you wait for book two.

This title is available October 5, 2010.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

New in October (Part 1)

So this time I'm just covering titles from September 30 - October 7 because I have a lot of titles for October.  I'll do another post for the rest later in the month.  Hope you see something you like!

Dust CityDust City by Robert Paul Weston
(September 30)


Havoc (Malice)
Havoc by Chris Wooding 
(October 1)


Annexed by Sharon Dogar
(October 4)

Behemoth (Leviathan)
Behemoth by Scott Westerfield 
(October 5)

Ranger's Apprentice, Book 9: Halt's Peril
Halt's Peril by John Flanagan 
(October 5)

Birth of a Killer (The Saga of Larten Crepsley)

Birth of a Killer by Darren Shan 
(October 5)

DC Super Heroes: The Ultimate Pop-Up Book

DC Super Heroes: The Ultimate Pop-Up Book by Matthew Reinhart
(October 5)


Bloodthirsty by Flynn Meaney 
(October 5)


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tween Tuesday: Football Hero

Tween Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at GreenBeanTeenQueen.  The purpose is "to highlight great reads for tweens!"

Football HeroFootball Hero by Tim Green 
New York: HarperCollins, 2008
ISBN: 978006112767
304 pages
4 out of 5

Ty Lewis can't believe it when Coach V recruits him for the football team.  This is Ty's big chance to prove how fast he is on the field, get a fresh start in a new school, and be like his older brother, Thane "Tiger" Lewis, who's about to graduate from college and is being courted by the NFL.
But Ty's guardian, Uncle Gus, won't let him play.  Uncle Gus needs Ty to scrub floors and toilets for his cleaning business while he cooks up gambling schemes with the local mob boss, a man called "Lucy."

When Lucy hears just how famous Ty's older brother is, he becomes suddenly friendly.  Are the questions Lucy is asking Ty really about fantasy football...or is the Mafia using Ty to get valuable insider info from his superstar brother?  Desperately worried, Ty must come up with a plan to save Thane's football career--and, ultimately, his life.

Author of the New York Times bestselling Football Genius, former NFL player Tim Green will have you on the edge of your seat rooting for Ty--and enjoying an upclose look at what it's like to be inside the NFL.

So Ty is this ordinary, poor, scrawny kid who gets invited to play football.  He's super-fast and has great hands.  Uncle Gus has other plans for Ty's hands--he has Ty join his cleaning business and Ty gets bathroom duty (no pun intended).  When Lucy takes an interest in Ty and the information Ty has access to, Ty is able to bargain for the opportunity to play but gets mixed up in more than he ever imagined.

Ty is only kid I can think of who actually measures up to his older sibling.  Most titles with this story line are about discovering how special they are in spite of a successful sibling, but with these two, football is in their genes.  Even though I'm not the world's biggest football fan, I enjoyed Ty's successes and felt empathy for his troubles.  

Even though this is a football book there are many other things that go on.  Yes, there are games and practices and football jargon, but there's also the story line with Lucy, Thane's entrance into the world of celebrity as a starter for an NFL team, and the two brothers are still coping with the loss of their parents.

Overall this is an enjoyable read and the next time I get asked about a good book for middle grade, I'll lead the parent to the Tim Green books.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

In My Mailbox (5)

IMM is a meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.  She was inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie. Since the idea is to share titles, I'm including everything.  Sorry once again for no pictures; sometimes I'm just a slacker. 


Cirque du Freak: A Living NightmareCirque du Freak: A Living Nightmare by Darren Shan


I completely goofed on my last IMM post.  I'm dying to get my hands on Rise of Renegade X but, alas I don't have it.  I borrowed a different book with x in the title last week: X-Isle by Steve Augarde.


The UnidentifiedThe Unidentified (ARC) by Rae Mariz -- Thanks to Jessica over at I Read to Relax for sharing some b-day love.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Banned Books Week

Today marks the beginning of Banned Books Week 2010.  In our department we have two different displays for banned books: one in the children's area and one near the young adult area.  They've only been out for a few days but we've gotten comments and surprised questions about some books that have been banned or challenged.

Those of us who truly love books understand how important it is to keep the freedom to read alive which is why we celebrate the freedom to read during banned books week.  It's a reminder that, by speaking loudly our favorites are available for others to choose and to love or to hate and disagree with.  But the fundamental element of freedom to read is the freedom to choose. 

Below are a few of my favorites:

Speak - Laurie Halse Anderson
A Light in the Attic - Shel Silverstein
The Harry Potter Series - J.K. Rowling
The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things - Carolyn Mackler
Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
James and the Giant Peach - Roald Dahl
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
King and King -  Linda da Haan

There are many more that I've read and/or enjoyed that I didn't add.  But it's safe to say I read banned books.  Do you?

Banned Books Week runs from September 25 - October 2, 2010.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

New York: Atria Books, 2004
ISBN: 0743492811
342 pages
4 out of 5

One of the most extraordinary survival stories ever told--Aron Ralston's searing account of his six days trapped in one of the most remote spots in America, and how one inspired act of bravery brought him home.

It started out as a simple hike in the Utah canyonlands on a warm Saturday afternoon.  For Aron Ralston, a twenty-seven-year-old mountaineer and outdoorsman a walk into the remove Blue John Canyon was a chance to get a break from a winter of solo climbing Colorado's highest and toughest peaks.  He'd earned this weekend vacation, and though he met two charming women along the way , by early afternoon he finally found himself in his element: alone, with just the beauty of the natural world around him.

It was 2:41 p.m.  Eight miles from his truck, in a deep and narrow slot canyon, Aron was climbing down off a wedged boulder when the rock suddenly, and terrifyingly, came loose.  Before he could get out of the way, the falling stone pinned his right hand and wrist against the canyon wall.

And so began six days of hell for Aron Ralston.  With scant water and little food, no jacket for the painfully cold nights, and the terrible knowledge that he'd told no one where he was headed, he found himself facing a lingering death--trapped by an 800-pound boulder 100 feet down in the bottom of a canyon.  As he eliminated his escape options one by one through the days, Aron faced the full horror of his predicament: By the time any possible search and rescue effort would begin, he'd most probably have died of dehydration, if a flash flood didn't down him before that.

What does one do in the face of almost certain death?  Using the video camera from his pack, Aron begins recording his grateful goodbyes to his family and friends all over the country, thinking back over a life filled with adventure and documenting a last will and testament with the hope that someone would find it.  (For their part, his family and friends had instigated a major search for Aron, the amazing details of which are also documented here for the first time).  The knowledge of their love kept Aron Ralston alive, until a divine inspiration on Thursday morning solved the riddle of the boulder.  Aron then committed the most extreme act imaginable to save himself.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place--a brilliantly written, funny, honest, inspiring, and downright astonishing report from the line where death meets life--will surely take its place in the annals of classic adventure stories.

So Aron Ralson is pretty cool guy.  His life is about adventure and being outdoors.  The book outlines his life before the accident and it's a life many guys (and perhaps some ladies) undoubtedly dream of.  What could be better?

This book happens to be about what could be worse.  But this isn’t exactly a book with spoilers: Ralston’s story was all over the news in 2003, the book was published in 2004 and now in 2010, Ralston is being played by James Franco in the upcoming movie 127 Hours

But sometimes it’s not about the ending; it really is about the journey.  The mental and physical difficulties of what Ralston went through during his week trapped by the boulder, his recovery, and his return to the outdoor life.  His story is about bravery, determination, and ultimately the will to survive. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

In My Mailbox (4)

IMM is a meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.  She was inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie. Since the idea is to share titles, I'm including everything.  


You Killed Wesley Payne by Sean Beaudoin

Dark Song Dark Song by Gail Giles


Birth of a Killer (The Saga of Larten Crepsley)

The Saga of Larten Crepsley: The Birth of a Killer by Darren Shan


JaneJane by April Lindner



The Rise of Renegade XThe Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea M. Campbell

Thursday, September 16, 2010


SplitSplit by Swati Avasthi
New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010
ISBN: 9780375863400
288 pages
4.5 out of 5

Sixteen-year-old Jace Witherspoon arrives at the doorstep of his estranged brother, Christian, with a re-landscaped face (courtesy of his father's first), $3.84, and a secret.

He tried to move on, going for new friends, a new school, and a new job, but all his changes can't make him forget what he left behind.  His mother is still trapped with his dad.  And his ex-girlfriend is keeping his secret--for now.

Turns out there are some things you can't just walk away from.

Swati Avasthi gives us a riveting portrait of what happens after.  After you've said enough, after you've made the split--how do you begin to live again?  Readers won't be able to put this page-turner down.

This book had me from the first line, "Now I have to start lying."  Going into a novel cold and catching that line is as close to magic as you can get.

Jace has lived his entire life in a home where his father took out his aggression on his wife, on his oldest son, then finally his youngest.  But this is not the story you'll be reading.  As the description says, this is a novel about what happens after. Usually when someone finds a way out, that's the end, but this novel reveals that there is so much more.  Even Christian, who escaped years before, continues to struggle with his former life. 

Jace's voice is honest and open. The greatest part of this perspective is that it allows the reader to know not only what he does and says, but what he thinks and feels.  This, to me, is one of the most important aspects of this novel.  It's clear that his experiences forced him to grow up too soon, but it's also clear that he's still just a kid trying to figure it all out. 

Split takes a serious look at what it's like to be trapped by domestic violence even after you've escaped.  I highly recommend it.

Split is the second novel I've read for the Debut Author Challenge.
A "booktalk" version of this review will appear on my library's website.  I can't help but share great books!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tuesday Mash-Up

I'm starting to have a few ideas of what to do on Tuesdays, but they aren't fully formed so today's a mash-up of things.

First up I found a new book!  Dust City by Robert Paul Weston. It's available Sept. 30!
Dust City

Next, here's the trailer for The Magnificent 12: The Call by Michael Grant.  You need sound for this one.

Finally, Jessica over at I Read to Relax has a fun little give-away going on.  Click to take a look.

That's all for Tuesday! 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Morpheus Road: The Light

New York: Aladdin, 2010
ISBN: 9781416965169
341 pages
3 out of 5

Marshall Seaver is being haunted.

It begins with mysterious sounds, a fleeting face outside a window, a rogue breeze--all things that can be explained away.  That is, until he comes face-to-face with a character who only exists on the pages of a sketchbook--a character Marshall himself created.

Marshall has no idea why he is being tormented by this forbidding creature, but he is quickly convinced it has something to do with his best friend, Cooper, who has gone missing.  Together with Cooper's beautiful but aloof sister, Sydney, Marshall searches for the truth about his friend while ultimately uncovering a nightmare that is bigger and more frightening than he could ever have imagined.

Number one New York Times best-selling author D.J. MacHale launches his eerie new trilogy with a story so packed with chilling suspense, readers will want to sleep with the light on.

I disagree.  Each ghostly episode feels like a carbon copy of the last, except the setting is different.  I never felt myself get nervous for the characters when they were in danger.  This is either the result of scenes not actually being frightening (at least from my point of view) or my not having concern for the characters (or both).  Either way, it's not how I like to feel about a novel.

Basically, I feel the plot was not as strong as it could've been.  There is a mystery element, which I admit it added up for me as the characters figured it out (a plus).  But overall it felt weak.  Some elements seemed tied in at the last minute that seemed they could have played a larger part.  Perhaps these elements will be fleshed out further in the remaining titles, but it seems they could have had higher prominence at this point.

Another issue I had with the novel was the narrator.  Most of the time Marsh's voice was consistent and believable.  Occasionally it seemed like there were "oh yea, he's a teen" moments added in and it always threw me off the story.  I like to get lost and getting tossed out makes it hard to do so. 

So far this sounds like a not-so-good review, so why would I give it three stars?  Two reasons: I kept reading and the ending.  Although I encountered problems throughout the novel, it intrigued me enough to continue reading, and the ending sealed the deal.  The next novel will not be at the top of my must read list, but I'm curious enough to take a look. 

Sunday, September 5, 2010

In My Mailbox (3)

IMM is a meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.  She was inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie. Since the idea is to share titles, I'm including everything

Sorry for the lack of photos.  It's been a long week.


The Hunger Games , Catching Fire, and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
(apparently I'm a freak for not reading these earlier)
Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Slant by Laura Williams
The Thin Executioner by Darren Shan
To Heal the Heart of a Child: Helen Taussig, M.D. by Joyce Baldwin
Phineas Gage: A Gruesome but True Story About Brain Science by John Fleischman

And WON!!!  (So exciting!! I never win anything!)

Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri
Thanks so much to Ari of Reading in Color and Lee and Low Books!