I liked this book, and was only slightly miffed when ONCE AGAIN, I have read a great YA book that will be a trilogy or series. A co-worker was disgusted with how BEAUTIFUL these characters were, but honestly, I was so engrossed in the emerging mystery that I paid little attention to looks.

It’s sometime in the future. Day is a brilliant street criminal that thrives on reputation and destruction caused to the government. It’s the United States, but not really anymore. Apparently there was a civil war, and as a result the country has been divided. We don’t know much about the Rebels, other than that they are the enemy. It’s a world in which children are tested to determine their worth and usability to society. Individuality and defiance are death sentences, though the public is told that the children are sent to work camps. Brilliancy combined with blind obedience is a treasure, and one girl is treasured above all others. She’s gifted, loyal and undeterred. And she is after Day.

June is thrust into the spotlight with an early promotion into the service of the government, despite her young age. Her brother Metias has raised her to be a good citizen. After the deaths of their parents, the two siblings do their best to serve their superiors. Metias is a young Captain, and well respected in his field. When tragedy strikes, it is up to June to capture Day. Going undercover in the streets where he roams, June is caught in an ever-widening web of deceit. Not is all as it seems, and when she discovers Day, he is not at all what she expected. With a shift in perspective, June wages an internal war while remaining deeply entrenched in a conflict that goes far beyond one boy and one crime.

This is Marie Lu’s first novel. I look forward to the next in the series.



I am freshly done, having stayed up late to finish. I am just hanging on a cliff’s edge. What a book! What a ride! It just goes from bad to worse, yet I kept hoping, fearing for Alex, our brave heroine.
I ran across the term “unputdownable” when I read a blurb about this book. I have to agree. It is stuck. In. My. Head. WHAAAAAAAT happens next!?!?!?!

Here’s the rundown:

Alex has a terminal brain tumor. She’s been through treatments and is on a last round of experimental attempts to save her life. She can’t smell anything, feels terrible and is just ready to be done. So she takes a few meaningful items on a final camping trip. She won’t proceed with the experimental PEBBLES. She’s tired. She says good-bye to her aunt and goes on to say goodbye and battle some personal demons.

She meets an elderly man, his granddaughter Ellie and their dog, Mina on the trip. Like Alex, Ellie has lost her parents and her only tie to her dead soldier father is his bomb-sniffing dog, retired from the war. All is going well until something happens. Something terrible.

In the horrific aftermath of what appears to be an attack by EMP, all Alex can do is try to survive. It’s not the same world: modern electronics have been utterly destroyed, including medical devices like the pacemaker that killed Ellie’s grandfather. No phones, no iPod, nothing. Faced with keeping Ellie safe and enduring the wilderness on dwindling supplies, Alex makes a horrifying discovery. Hint: the kids are NOT alright. And few other people are. And Alex is not the same.

I don’t want to give too much away, but Ashes will be a trilogy. The second is Shadows and the third is Monsters. I. Can’t. Wait.

The Demon Glass

I discovered this book in a list of best adult books for teens in a magazine that arrived for me at my library. I was able to obtain a copy, and it did not disappoint! From the very start, I was hooked. The action begins early with the discovery of a body by Lin, our teenage protagonist. Her family is en route to a rental home for the coming months because her father failed to make professor in a disappointing and politically motivated act by his university. The only viable alternative is for him to study the Demon Glass in Germany. The only problem is that the glass hasn’t been seen for hundreds of years and might not even exist. Furthermore, the glass is rumored to be cursed, with the creator obtaining his skills through allegiance to demons, thus bringing one into our realm. After a series of bizarre and violent deaths involving those somehow connected to the glass, Lin is thrown into increasingly disturbing and secretive activities. Her only ally is Michel, the farmer’s son who lives nearby who also seems to know more than he’s letting on, like much of the village. When tragedy strikes close to home, Lin must choose to keep her secrets or make a stand. <br/><br/>I gave it a rare 5 stars. I stayed up loooong past my bedtime riveted to the narrative. The language is clear and the pace is just enough to make it impossible to put down. My day job seriously hampers this! However, as a librarian, I will gladly add this title to an upcoming book club discussion and recommend it to many. Helen Grant has a new fan.
<a href=”http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/998669-mandy”>View all my reviews</a>

Cinder (Book One in the Lunar Chronicles)

Cover image

By Marissa Meyer

I just finished Cinder and so if this review is a little exuberant, it is because I am fresh off the new-book-high. When I read advance praise for the novel, I was immediately intrigued. A cyborg Cinderella story? A future infected with the blue plague? Lunar mutants? Sign me up! I enjoyed this fun read by a new author.

As soon as my copy arrived to my library, I checked it out, proud to be first in the system-wide holds queue. I have to say, two days later, that I was not disappointed. In fact, I am eager to read Book Two in the Chronicles. Admittedly, I am a sucker for fractured fairy tales and fairy tales retold. However, I found Meyer’s universe to be creatively imagined, with a slightly familiar culture changed by the ravages of war, plague and increasing threats from a powerful and terrifying Lunar Queen.

Cinder is a teenage girl, like many others. Except she is 33% cyborg. Nearly killed in a childhood accident, she has been fitted with an artificial hand, foot and internal computer that controls some aspects of her biology. For instance, due to controls that keep her from overheating, she cannot blush. She cannot shed tears. Cinder cannot remember anything of her life before the accident and she cannot escape the cruel treatment of her legal guardian (the wicked step-mother figure) or society as a whole. As a cyborg, she is denied any recognition of humanity. She is a second class citizen, a slave to her guardian’s whims and unable to gain any kind of legal independence.

Relegated to working in a tiny shop in New Beijing as a mechanic, her earnings deposited into her stepmother’s account, she dreams of freedom. Her only constant companion is an outdated but endearing android, Iko. Her step-sister, Linh Peony is kind, but too soon tragedy strikes and she is sent to quarantine. A plague outbreak strikes the boisterous marketplace, prompting confinement of those affected and the destruction of infected booths. This takes place after the Crown Prince visits her booth upon hearing of her skills with his personal android that has mysteriously become inoperable. Assuring the Prince that it will be ready before the Ball to commemorate the anniversary of the end of the Fourth World War, she steals away from the panicked market square with Iko and the android in tow. When Peony takes ill, her stepmother blames Cinder and punishes her most cruelly. Determined to seize her freedom, Cinder defies logic when she escapes not only the ravages of the plague but manages to capture the Prince’s affections.

Her world is unraveled when secrets held deep within the Prince’s android come to light, and she must defy not only her society, but her entire planet, and the Lunar Queen.

This is Meyer’s debut novel.

MP 1/18/12

Weiner Wolf



Weiner Wolf by Jeff Crosby

As the owner of two dachshunds, I ordered this book to my library. When it arrived, I was charmed by the cover. A black and tan dachshund, resplendent in a hand knitted red sweater, trots alongside the gangly legs of wolves with his tongue flapping in the breeze. Of course, all we see is the legs, since our stalwart hero is a shorty-short-short.

The story is like this: life has gotten dull. Weiner Dog lives high on the hog with Granny, but he’s in a rut. As Crosby intones, “His toy had lost its squeak.” Epiphany arrives with the advantageous screening of a nature show where wolves howl in the great wide yonder. Weiner Dog is entranced. Weiner Dog is inspired. Weiner Dog is going to change his life! Arrrooooooooo!

Hightailing it (chuckle) out of Granny’s comfortable living room, he hitches a ride  to the State Park. The wilderness was wild and accommodating, and he noses around looking for… friends? His apprehension is palpable as he stares down a pack of snarling wolves. Tail tucked, Weiner Dog thinks it over, and understands their hesitation. Shedding the confines of civilized life (his comfy red sweater) he becomes more than a pet. More than a dog. He becomes…Weiner Wolf! He answers the call of the wild with a bold Arrrrooooooooooooo!

Though he dreams of Granny, he knows the wilderness will set him free. He has a new, bigger, wilder backyard. His water bowl is a cold mountain stream. His squeaky toys are real live wolf cubs. Life is good. Until he sees a side of nature he didn’t anticipate. Will Weiner Wolf stay the course, or will he answer the call of the Granny? Read and find out.

MP 1/18/12

About the Author: Jeff Crosby is an accomplished illustrator, with works appearing in the New York Times, the Village Voice, and Entertainment Weekly as well as seven children’s books. Partnering with his wife, Shelley, he has co-authored and co-illustrated the award-winning juvenile nonfiction book Little Lions, Bull Baiters & Hunting Hounds: A History of Dog Breeds. His website is www.jeffcrosbyillustration.com. And yes, he is the owner of two weiner dogs.

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)

Reviewed by Mandy

Written by Deborah Harkness (Goodreads Author)

As a librarian, I could immediately appreciate the major role that the library played in the book. Seriously, people, take care of ancient tomes!

Diana Bishop is a powerful descendant of a powerful familial line of witches. After the death of her parents, she shuns the art and practice of witchcraft, though the power courses through her veins, demanding to be released. Losing herself in history and scholarly research, she lives as human a life as possible. Everything is going well, until one day the air shifts around her as she opens a long-lost and enchanted book from deep within the library.

Suddenly creatures from all around are drawn to the library, and to Diana. She has unwittingly found a very powerful, very old and infinitely desired secret amongst creatures. The only person who makes sense to Diana is Matthew Clairmont, a gifted and well-respected geneticist and scholar at Oxford. He’s also the only person who SHOULDN’T make sense: he’s a vampire, and a natural enemy of witches, practicing or otherwise.

Thrown in to an ever more dangerous conflict, Diana and Matthew must fight against not only other creatures but their growing attraction to one another. As more secrets come to light, the danger mounts and both will have to challenge not only societal pressures from the magical community, but their own deepest feelings and fears.

Little Owl Lost- Chris Haughton

I won’t lie: I love owls. What’s not to love? They are incredibly trendy right now, and there is a slew of adorable picture books out now featuring these wide-eyed nocturnal characters. Fellow owl-aficionados of all ages will undoubtedly enjoy this picture book. The bold colors draw the eye and the story is simple, yet engaging. Little owl, in a fit of snoozing, falls out of his nest and bonks down to the ground below. Alarmed and alone, he does what any kid would do: he looks for his mommy. A squirrel with good intentions but questionable observational skills assists the young owlet in his quest. She’s big? Here’s a bear! She has pointy ears? Here’s a rabbit! Big eyes? Here’s a frog! Finally, frog helps and wait…there’s cookies! Hooray!

Children will enjoy the silly squirrel’s guesses as to who Mommy is, and adults will enjoy the retro illustration style. Young children enjoy repetition (as any parent or caregiver can attest) and the text is simple, yet predicative. It’s silly, and comforting to them when Mommy is at last found.

This is Chris Haughton’s first picture book.   

Stuck- Oliver Jeffers

I came across Oliver Jeffers when I selected his picture book Lost and Found as a read-aloud for preschool storytime. I was immediately charmed by the simple illustrations that could convey so much from a tiny penguin. When I saw the follow-up, Up and Down I think I was just as excited (if not more) than the children. I really love the pairing of a penguin and his friend the boy.  Now, I am excited about his book Stuck.

Anyone who ever got something stuck in a tree (in this case, a kite) can appreciate this book, as well as the increasingly silly reactions that follow the kite’s unfortunate entanglement. First, a shoe is thrown. Good idea, right? Nope. It joins the kite, followed by the other shoe and a wildly hilarious collection of other objects. Will the kite become unstuck? Read and find out!

Oliver Jeffers is an Irish writer and illustrator currently living in Brooklyn, New York. According to the author’s website (www.oliverjeffers.com) He is widely known for his picture books for children, published by HarperCollins UK and Penguin USA. How to Catch a Star debuted in 2004 to critical acclaim, and Lost and Found (2005), won the Nestles Smarties Book Prize Gold Medal 2006, the Blue Peter Book Award 2006 and was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal the same year. The Incredible Book Eating Boy (2007) won the Irish Book Awards Children’s Book of the Year. If all of this doesn’t convince you, then go find an orangutan and throw it in a tree. You’ll appreciate Stuck even more.

5 Reasons Why Bob Shea is Awesome:

1. His books never fail to make me laugh.
2. His illustrations not only captivate young minds, they relate to them.
3. His prose makes for fantastic read-alouds
4. Toddlers and preschoolers can act out and memorize the stories
5. His new book is about the library!
I really could go on. I was completely enamored with Mr. Shea after I read New Socks. I have read it multiple times in my storytime program at the library. (I make sure to wear my new socks every time!) Then, I ordered Dinosaur vs. Bedtime. After reading, I had a room full of roaring children. You might think that sounds like a nightmare, but as a “noisy librarian,” I think it was brilliant. I enjoyed reading Dinosaur vs. the Potty (oh no! A three-juice box lunch!) and as a mom experiencing the travails of potty training, I totally love it. I scored an autographed copy of I’m a Shark, which prompted me to jump up and down and snatch it up like I was in a Black Friday showdown. Forget that it was midday and no one was even on the book aisle with me. I still hurried to purchase. So I realize I have another author crush. I don’t care. Bob Shea’s books will appeal to grown-up types as much as it does to kids, and to me that’s a very special thing. Even my husband enjoyed his gift of Oh, Daddy! with our daughter on Father’s Day. If you haven’t tried his books, please do! I promise…you’ll enjoy every word!
In his newest addition, the lovable toothy red dinosaur is back, and he’s visiting a favorite place: the library! (yay!) Instead of going it alone, as he did with bedtime and the potty, dinosaur brings along a few friends. All is fine and dandy with this roaring group of pals, but how will roaring fit in at the library? Will Storytime win against this rambunctious little guy? Read and find out!

I Want My Hat Back

Poor Bear

by Mandy


When I saw this book, I was immediately drawn by the simple cover illustration that conveys a large bear’s utter melancholy. I immediately ordered it for my Children’s Storybook Collection at my library.
Jon Klassen, the author and illustrator, does a really fantastic job in this story with a twist. Like “Tadpole’s Promise” by Jeanne Willis, there is a wry ending that might not be for everyone, but possessing an off-kilter sense of humor, I loved both books.

I Want My Hat Back is Klassen’s first foray into the double-threat of writer and illustrator. I love his style! It’s so delightfully understated that is can really be a fun read-aloud with different voices and tones. While I am no artist, I can appreciate an artfully rendered book. His color palette is very neutral, almost devoid of colors other than brown. All is muted and very natural. What I’m trying to say is that his universe is completely realized and ever so sly. Adults will enjoy this book as much as the kids! Curious? Here’s the gist:

Bear has lost his hat. He really, really wants it back. Morose and oversized, he wanders from page to page, asking his woodland compatriots. The text is so minimal that you can’t help but draw your eyes back to the ever-despondent (but ever-so-polite) bear again and again. Repeatedly, bear is informed that his hat has not been seen, but wait! Look again! There’s a wily traitor in his midst. Who could it be? It is only when bear collapses onto the ground that he receives the right questions from Deer, and he is able to reunite with his (adorable) red pointy hat.

Copyright 2011.