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ALA 2012: Day Three

June 24, 2012

My hotel-mates and I slept in a little the next morning, and made it to the conference center in time to see the Alex Awards! We heard Ernest Cline (Ready Player One), Rachel DeWoskin (Big Girl Small), Brooke Hauser (The New Kids), and Erin Morgenstern (The Night Circus), talk about their experiences writing their books and how their work has been embraced by both adults and young adults.

I’ve decided that the awards programs are probably my favorite panels to attend. All of the authors are so generous and eloquent, and everyone generally seems to be having a great time discussing books and the way people connect with them. I think since I just recently graduated from library school, I was more inclined to visit the panels that were celebrations of books rather than topics I had just covered recently in school, but I can definitely see my priorities of panels fluctuating with each conference that I attend.

After the Alex Awards, I attempted to attend another Book Buzz panel…but was thwarted by a fire alarm! We were evacuated from the conference center, and since I’m a slightly anxious person, I wasn’t really in the mood to go back inside even after the all-clear was sounded. Apparently, the cause of the fire alarm had actually been the popcorn maker in the panel I was attending.

I visited the Passive Programming panel next, and got some great ideas for working with the middle schoolers in the fall. I’m excited to try and create a library space that really feels like they have some ownership of it, even though it is more of a high school space.

After that, it was time for the UCLA student reception at Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Co. While there were a lot of people packed onto a very small patio, it was nice to socialize with everyone who had just graduated and a few of our favorite professors.

After the reception, we went to hear the speeches at the Newbery Awards…and ended up meeting all of the authors and publishers in the receiving line afterwards! Apparently, Jack Gantos went through my bookbag while I wasn’t paying attention…hope he found something he liked!

Finally, we headed to the Mango party, and enjoyed a very loud and late evening at a bowling alley with many many librarians!

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ALA 2012: Day Two

June 23, 2012

After a late night, I was up early to make to the conference center in the morning. I had several things in my scheduler for the morning, but decided to go to the HarperCollins Fall Book Buzz from 8:45-10:00. It was a great program, and I got a lot of insight into upcoming adult titles for the fall. Since I’m a little removed from the adult book world most of the time, it was great to hear about the books people were excited about, since high schoolers are often interested in picking up adult titles.

After that session, I met up with my new coworkers for lunch! It was great to chat with them and talk about the new ideas we have for fall. We talked a lot about what system we will be moving to for e-books, and I’m interested to see what we end up doing in July.

After that, I wandered around the exhibit hall for awhile, looking at the vendors and the new books, before heading to the ballroom to hear Chris Colfer speak about his upcoming book The Land of Stories.

Now, I admit to being a little bit awful and assuming that like most stars who write books, he had either been ghostwritten, or it was going to be a book that I wasn’t really interested in reading. But I was proven completely wrong during his talk, as he discussed how he had been brainstorming and working on this book since he was 10 years old. After looking through the ARC we were given of The Land of Stories, I’m excited to read it!

We thought about going to one of the official ALA parties, but ended up retreating to downtown Disney for a quiet drink and some dinner. Although we did end up loudly explaining to our waiter why he was wrong in thinking that libraries were useless.

ALA 2012: Night One

June 23, 2012

Lesson learned tonight: always take your camera with a flash to parties!

 

A group of friends and I got to go to the Little, Brown party at House of Blues to celebrate Libba Bray’s new novel The Diviners. I was lucky enough to get an ARC earlier at the exhibit hall, and started reading it on the shuttle back to the hotel. Such a great setting and premise! I can’t wait to see how it goes.

The party was amazing, with great food and fabulous company. We danced the night away, and even got to dance with Libba herself. It was a late night, but worth it to start the conference off right!

Dancing!

ALA 2012: Day One

June 22, 2012

My first American Library Association conference has gotten off to an exciting start!

I made it into town just in time for the opening of the Exhibit hall this afternoon, and it was jam packed with librarians and book enthusiasts. This picture was taken about 20 minutes before the doors opened, and the crowds just got bigger!

Exhibit Hall Opening!

Once I got inside, I stuck to my strategy of looking for ARCs from 3 categories:

1. Middle grade fiction: to review for my students, and to give away!

2. YA fiction: same as the above, plus a few favorites for myself

3. Adult fiction: A few titles of interest to keep up with the adult reading world

The Exhibit Hall is a gigantic maze of vendors:

Exhibit Hall Map

 

I tried my best to be a good conference go-er, and avoided hitting, trampling, or otherwise mangling any other attendees. I felt that everyone was very well-behaved, and the booksellers deserve a huge round of applause for being so thoroughly knowledgeable and helpful. I’m really excited to start reading, and even more excited about my sessions tomorrow.

Books and Tote Bags

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

January 27, 2012

First Line: Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.

The Short Version: Tears! But not because this is a “cancer book.”

BOTBS (Back of the Book Summary): Hazel is a 16-year-old with terminal cancer. She’s used to everything that goes along with it – the oxygen tank, the medications, the hospital visits, the support groups, and even the perks (there’s a hilarious scene at one point where she shamefacedly explains that she “wasted” her wish from the book’s version of the Make a Wish Foundation on a trip to Disneyland). But this is not your average Lurlene McDaniels cancer book. Hazel is snarky, funny, and interesting, and her fellow cancer survivor Augustus is – well, quite simply, he’s hot in the way only John Green men are. Smart, interesting, quirky, and not too perfect.

Hazel and Augustus strike up a fast relationship, based around their shared experiences and their favorite books. One of those books, An Imperial Affliction (which isn’t real, don’t bother checking!) eventually leads them to an adventure in Amsterdam and some interesting revelations about themselves.

My Thoughts: I knew going in that I was going to be blown away by this book. I had read Looking for Alaska years ago, after I found it on the teen shelves of my public library, but I hadn’t really taken the time to really get into it. Last year, in my teen literature class for my MLIS, I had got my second pass at Looking for Alaska, and really loved it. I’m sure it didn’t hurt that I was in a class full of very vocal John Green fans, but I was hooked. I immediately went and found his other books. While I didn’t love An Abundance of Katherines, I sped through Paper Towns right around the time I heard about The Fault in Our Stars. After hearing the lead-up for months (John Green is signing the entire first printing, all pre-orders will be signed, it’s his first female lead character, it’s about cancer, what will the cover look like), I wasn’t disappointed.

This is definitely my favorite John Green book. The writing is smart, funny, and so extremely honest that it makes you feel like you’re inside Hazel’s head rather than reading a book about her. I didn’t cry, but the final page shattered me as much as any book I’ve read. In fact, I’d hold it up with The Time Traveler’s Wife as one of the most emotionally true books I’ve read. Hazel feels like someone I could know, and the observations she makes about life and the universe are somehow uncomfortable and comforting at the same time.

I can’t wait to see if this is a candidate for the Printz next year…I can’t imagine much else being better.

Who Would Like It: Fans of John Green’s other books, fans of Sarah Dessen, anyone who is looking for a thinky/funny teen book.

YA Highway Giveaway!

December 12, 2011

Just quickly popping in to say that YA Highway is running an AMAZING giveaway at http://www.yahighway.com/2011/12/ya-highways-third-annual-winter.html. You can win agent critiques, tons of ARCs, some book crafts,, and all you have to do is fill out a form. No commenting necessary.

I’ve got my eye on the copy of Insurgent by Veronica Roth. You know you want a chance to win!

Book Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

December 11, 2011

First Line: Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love. It did not end well.

The Short Version: This book rocks. You should read it immediately, and not be discouraged by the first few chapters (that move a little slowly for me).

BOTBS (Back of the Book Summary): Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky. In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low. And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherworldly war. Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages – not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

My Thoughts: (Side note: how cool is that first line?) I had heard a lot about this book before I picked it up. At the CLA (California Library Association) Conference in October, it was one of the only books people could talk about. Thankfully, they talked about it without spoilers. I got this copy from my internship supervisor, who got it as an ARC from the ALA (American Library Association) conference.

I felt like the first few chapters were slow, but were incredibly well-written. I wasn’t bored, but I wasn’t entirely hooked yet. That changed quickly, and soon I was wondering exactly how I could dress up as Karou for Halloween. Laini Taylor has created a completely badass heroine, who manages to be strong, independent, and unique. She also manages to pull off a magical world completely connected to our own – one of the best alternate world stories I’ve ever read.

I didn’t see any of the plot twists coming (and there are many – avoid spoilers if you can!), and I was almost moved to tears at several points. I kept growing more connected to the characters and the story, and I can’t wait for the sequel to come out.

Who Would Like It: Uh, everyone. I’d specifically recommend it to teens or adults who were looking for a fantasy fix, especially if they were into urban fantasy. Also, this book will appeal very strongly to fans of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series, as they have some similar mythological elements.