Materials We Have

A Butterfly is Patient

As I read the April 8, 2014, article in the Lansing State Journal titled, "Butterfly House still a perenial draw at MSU," I was reminded of all the wonderful butterfly books for children that our library has, both fiction and nonfiction.

Lexicon by Max Barry

4/5 stars

Emily Ruff is a tough girl living on the streets who ends up at the unique school of the Poets. There she is taught the power of words, persuasion, manipulation, and the dangers of letting anyone get to know the real you. Wil Jamieson is a seemingly normal guy who winds up caught between rival factions of Poets not because of something he has, but because of something he doesn’t: the ability to be persuaded and controlled. Their two stories and lives eventually come together in a way that reveals all of the secrets the Poets tried to keep hidden.

I Am Number 4

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore was quite the novel. John is a member of an other-worldly race from the planet Lorien. The people of Lorien are peaceful and powerful. Some of their race develops super powers to protect the planet. Those without these powers are the beaurocrats that make everything run. Each person with powers is appointed a guardian that doesn't have powers to teach them and basically be their mentor. Their planet, however, was desolated by a rival race from the planet Mogadore. John, eight other children, and their guardians fled to Earth as the sole survivors of the attack. To help the children survive, a charm was placed on them that required the Mogedorians to kill them in numerical sequence. At the beginning of the book 3 was killed and John is number 4.

The first book in the Lorien Legacies brings us on a journey with John as he discovers more about himself and who his enemies are. I'm not a big fan of alien-y sci-fi books. This, however, is one of the few I enjoyed. I liked the overall story and am looking forward to the next one. The only thing that bugged me was that there were lots of little things I thought Lore could have done to make his writing better. For example, I remember thinking while reading, "If that character were real, they would never say something like that." He did a great job of telling the story, but not so great with all the little things that goes into a story. That's just my personal opinion though. All in all, it's a great book! 

Psych the Musical

Psych is an awesome TV show. So, when I saw they made a musical I freaked out a little. I was a little worried that it'd be super cheesy and lame-sauce. But, to my delight I loved it. Yes, it was cheesy, but hey, what do you expect from Psych. I do have to admit if you're not a fan of Psych you probably won't like this. You kind of have to be in the mood to watch something like this. I love musicals so the music didn't bother me. If you don't enjoy musicals it would be hard to watch. I did miss a little of the eccentricity of Shaun, but the music definitely made up for it. Of course it was overly dramatic, but that just made it funnier to me. If you enjoy Psych, or shows like Psych, I think you'll enjoy the musical as much as I did. 

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner

3/5 stars

In Gardner’s 2014 Printz Honor Book, Standish Treadwell lives with his grandfather in a country tightly controlled by a ruthless regime where citizens are expected to obey and rewarded for ratting out their neighbor. It isn’t a great life by any stretch of the imagination, especially when most people think Standish is slow and inferior, but Standish and his grandpa get by. However, everything changes when Standish and his friend Hector go beyond the wall and discover the massive secret the Motherland doesn’t want anyone knowing about. Now Standish is willing to risk everything to expose the country’s biggest lie and set the people free.

Not being the most well-versed in historical…anything, I’m not 100% certain if this story is historical fiction or represents more of the alternative-history genre. This is made worse by the fact that the country Standish lives in is only ever called “the Motherland.” At first I thought it was supposed to be Russia, but a few details thrown about made me start to think it was Germany. In the end it doesn’t really seem to matter (which really makes me think it’s alternative-history), but it left me wondering just the same as I read.

The book is written in 100 relatively short chapters which makes the pace of the book rather fast. Surprisingly, the author still does a really good job of developing the characters and laying the groundwork for a bleak, depressing setting that Standish lives in. You feel like you only see glimpses of his world, but the tone is ever-present and you can’t help but root for them to get through it all. Gardner’s keen ability to relay the characters and what they are fighting for in the short bursts of chapters is fully realized at the ending. You will get drawn in to Standish’s emotions and desperation and be surprised because you got there so quickly. It is rare that I’ve read a quick book that brought so much to the table.

Other Printz Honors:
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susan Cokal
Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

Printz Winner:
Midwinter Blood by Marcus Sedgwick

The Good Girls Revolt by Lynn Povich

In honor of Women's History Month, I decided to read The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued Their Bosses and Changed the Workplace by Lynn Povich (2012). The book begins and ends with the brief stories of three current female journalists at Newsweek who had been dissatisfied with promotions at Newsweek and had been completely unaware of what had transpired 40 years earlier at the magazine. Someone at Newsweek told them about a class action lawsuit and they eventually met with author Lynn Povich, one of the "ringleaders" of the 1970 lawsuit. This meeting prompted Ms. Povich to write the ensuing book.

On March 16, 1970, the same day as the weekly Newsweek magazine hit the newsstands with a cover story of the feminist movement titled, "Women in Revolt," forty-six women employees of Newsweek became the first women in media to sue for sex discrimination as they filed the first female class action lawsuit.

This is the story of the evolution of that first lawsuit and the effects it had on the lives of of the women (the "Good Girls") who filed the suit as well as the lasting effects on those who followed. A second class action suit was filed in May 1972 after the terms of the first agreement hadn't made the desired progress. The actions by the women at Newsweek also inspired other women in the media to file their own law suits. The "Mad Men" office culture of the 1960s was starting to crumble. 

Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3. What can I say about you. Well, first of all it was awesome. I loved the plot and of course I loved Robert Downey Jr. I liked him even better in this one than the other two. I think it's because in the other ones he's more of an arogant jerk. But in this one, he seemed to actually try to grow and learn something. He seemed more human, at least to me. Gwyneth Paltro, who plays Pepper Pots, did really great, as in the first two. She got to do a sweet action scene! I know some people didn't like it, but I thought it was sick. My favorite part of all of these movies, esspecially in the third one, is the relationship between Pepper and Tony. Robert and Gwyneth are so good on screen and their chemistry is almost palpable. Their relationship may not be very realistic, but it's still hilarious. Now, the story was a little different with a few plot twists I wasn't a huge fan of. I won't spoil it, but lets just say they killed the whole idea of the Mandarin. Was it an interesting twist? Sure. But, they didn't need to do what they did. Besides that, though, it was a great movie. Definitely watch it!

Spring Fever by Mary Kay Andrews

Although the weather feels like otherwise, the first day of Spring is just around the corner on March 20. As I am truly looking forward to Spring this year, with allergies and all, I typed in "spring fever" into Encore, the library's online catalog.  Lo and behold, there is a book with that exact title written by Mary Kay Andrews.  I have been known to read "chick lit" on occasion (ok, ok, more than occasionally) so I checked out the book that afternoon.  

I have never read anything written by Mary Kay Andrews as the romance/mystery fiction authors I enjoy are Nora Roberts, Kresley Cole and Edna Buchanan.  Spring Fever is about Annajane, her ex-husband Mason, his new fiancée Celia and Annajane's best friend and Mason's sister Pokey (Patricia).  The story centers on the family business of Quixie, a cherry soda that has been around for decades.  

I felt that Spring Fever lacked in "fever" and intensity.  It was a cute story with a little deceit, a little mystery and a little romance.  But, it never really grabbed you in, although I found myself wanting to see how it ended. All in all, I agree with the Booklist review that Spring Fever is "tailor-made for laid-back summer pleasure reading" as the book would be perfect to take on vacation sitting on the beach with a cold drink in hand. 

SYLO by D.J. MacHale

Sylo by D.J. MacHale was pretty good. The story was interesting enough. The characters were developed enough to connect with them. The writing was good too. I'd say this is your average teen series novel. Definitely not the next Hunger Games or anything, but still worth the read I think. The story left off at quite the cliff hanger and I want to know what's gonna happen! I guess that's what these kinds of books are supposed to do, make you want more. All in all, it's a great entertaining read to fill the time and perfect if you don't want to get super invested in a new series. 

When fairy tales don't follow the rules

What if Sleeping Beauty had never poked her finger on the spinning wheel? What if Cinderella never had lost her mother? These are questions that are explored in Mercedes Lackey’s book The Fairy Godmother. This is the first book in the 500 Kingdoms series, each of which looks at a different aspect of the fairy tale world put forth by the Brothers Grimm and asks, “What if?” Although classified under science fiction, there is definitely more of a fantasy element with hints of romance and mystery added in. If you’re thinking about dipping a toe into the sci-fi end of the swimming pool - and you’ve ever had any interaction with fairy tales - I would recommend The Fairy Godmother as a place to start.

If you like this one, be sure to follow up with the rest of the 500 Kingdoms novels.

Mad Hungry Cravings by Lucinda Scala Quinn

Loved this cookbook!  I have added it to my list of cookbooks to buy so that I'm not constantly hogging ELPL's copy.  I appreciate that she gives practical tips as to how to stock your pantry and refrigerator so that at a moments notice you can feed anyone, including three hungry male teenagers.  Her personal anecdotes and humor about food and cooking (her rant about the size of muffins is spot on) made me laugh.  I made her Italian Vinaigrette and Oatmeal Raspberry Smoothie and both were excellent.  This cookbook has healthy, flavorful veggie side dishes as well as heavenly-Oh-My-Gosh-we-can-only-eat-this-once-a-year-it has-so-many-calories splurge dishes.

If you check this out and like it try another title by Scala Quinn, Mad hungry: feeding men and boys: recipes, strategies and survival techniques.