Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Annotation 5: YA, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games (Book 1)
by Suzanne Collins

Genre: Young Adult Dystopian/Science Fiction
Setting: What used to be North America
Time Period: Post-apocalyptic future after society has been reformed
Tone: Bleak
Storyline: Character-driven
Writing Style: Compelling
Pacing: Fast-paced


District 12, or what used to be part of Appalachia, is on the very outskirts of Panem, the country encompassing what was once North America, produces coal for the other 11 districts and The Capitol. Even though all the coal passes through their hands most residents do not have enough to keep warm nor enough food to eat to sustain them. Everyday Katniss, along with her friend Gale, illegally hunt in the forest to feed their families as the Peacekeepers make it rather difficult to get by. They do this in part to build excitement for the Hunger Games. Each year a boy and girl, ages 12-18, from each district are randomly chosen lottery-style to participate in the Hunger Games. There can only be one winner, one survivor, as the twelve contestants fight to the death in order to be set for life. When Prim, Katniss's 12-year-old sister's name is drawn there is only one thing she can do: volunteer to take her place.

Other books in this series:
  • Catching Fire (2009)
  • Mockingjay (2010)
Series Read-alikes:
  • Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer (dystopian/survival)
  • Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (dystopian/fast-paced)
  • Morning Glories by Nick Spencer (similar storyline, graphic novel)
Other books by this author:
  • Gregor the Overlander, series (2003)
  • When Charlie McButton Lost Power (2005)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Annotation 4: The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette

The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette
by Carolly Erickson

Setting: France
Time Period: Leading up to the French Revoloution
Genre: Historical Fiction
Tone/Mood: Varies, light-hearted, passionate, grieved, bleak
Writing Style: Character-driven, diary style
Pacing: Fast-paced, engaging, quick read


Delve into the mind of Marie Antoinette from age 13, just before she is married off to King Louis XVI, up to the day she is beheaded. While the diary and many characters are fictitious, the reader gets a sneak peak at what Marie Antoinette may have been thinking and feeling as she led her trying life and made incredibly difficult decisions and some less than savory choices. Diary-style writing allows the reader to see the humanity of the author, this story is no exception. No matter how you feel about Monarchy and the French Revolution this book reminds the reader that Marie Antoinette was a person too, with her own struggles, however different from her subjects.

This book is a great choice for any lover of royal historical fiction who wants something fast to read on the weekend.

Other titles by this author:
  • The Last Wife of Henry VIII (2006)
  • The Secret Life of Josephine: Napoleon's Bird of Paradise (2007)
  • The Tsarina's Daughter (2008)
  • The Memoirs of Mary Queen of Scots (2009)
  • Abundance by Sena Jeter Naslund
  • The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn by Robin Maxwell
  • The Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George
  • The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory

Annotation 3: Fantasy--Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

~Seven Waters Trilogy, Book 1~
Daughter of the Forest

by Juliet Marillier

Setting: Ireland and England
Time Period: Ancient/Medieval
Genre: Historical/Dark Fantasy, Fairytale (Re-telling)
Tone/Mood: Bleak, Strong sense of place
Writing Style: Engaging, Character-driven


The youngest of seven and the only girl in her family, Sorcha is a great story-teller and well-versed in herb lore, making her a fantastic healer. When a new stepmother, the Lady Oonagh, arrives on the scene everyone but Colum, Sorcha’s father, and one of her brothers sees how evil she really is. Shortly after Oonagh's arrival Sorcha finds herself in a fairytale. Sorcha discovers just how frightening and uncomfortable enchantments and tasks given by the Fair Folk can be. Loosely based on the Grimm Fairytale The Six Swans, Sorcha’s six brothers are transformed into swans and she must weave a shirt for each made from Starwart, a prickly and painful plant, in order to change them back.

As a retelling of a classic fairytale this story could also qualify as high fantasy for the following reasons (which could also be appeals):
  • Hero/Herione's Quest, returning home
  • Magic
  • Mythical creatures
  • Good vs. Evil
Daughter of the Forest is a good choice for anyone interested in Ancient Ireland, Paganism, Druids, Fairytales, or the idea that love conquers all.

Marillier, J. (2000). The Sevenwaters Trilogy: Daughter of the forest (1st US ed.). New York, NY: Tom Doherty Associates.

Other titles in this series:

  • Son of the Shadows (2001)
  • Child of the Prophecy (2002)
  • Heir to Sevenwaters* (2008)
  • Seer of Sevenwaters* (2010)

*has expanded beyond trilogy status

Other titles by this author:

  • Heart's Blood (2009)
  • Wildwood Dancing (2006)
  • The Dark Mirror (2004)
  • Wolfskin (2002)


  • Hallowed Isle by Diana L. Paxson
  • Tir Alainn Trilogy by Anne Bishop
  • Tamir Trilogy by Lynn Flewelling
  • Grimm’s Fairy Stories

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Annotation 2: Mystery/Classic—Sherlock Holmes: A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of the Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

~Sherlock Holmes~

A Study in Scarlet


The Sign of the Four

by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Complete Sherlock Holmes (Barnes & Noble Leatherbound Classics)

To buy this swanky edition click here

A Study in Scarlet

Setting: London, England and Salt Lake City, Utah

Time Period: 1880s

Genre: Detective Mystery, Classic

Tone/Mood: Suspenseful

Writing Style: Varies. Highly detailed, compelling, and (at times) faster paced.

Series: First Sherlock Holmes novel. Published in Beeton’s Christmas Annual, 1887.


Part 1-London, England

It is here in this story that we read how dynamic duo of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson meet and become not only roommates but also forensic scientists solving murders. Dr. Watson, a surgeon in the British Army has just been discharged due to injury. He returns to London only to find he has nowhere to stay. Upon running into an old friend he discovers that another man, Mr. Sherlock Holmes, is in need of a roommate in order to split the high cost of a flat in London. Not long after this unlikely pair move into their famed flat on Baker Street than Watson learns just how peculiar Holmes really is. Having no formal training or degree as well as not being employed by anyone in particular, Holmes somehow has organized a group of less-fortunates as his network of spies while he gathers key evidence no one else seems to see to solve a strange murder.

Part 2-Salt Lake City, Utah

Beginning in what seems a hopeless situation we find a man and a small child, the only two survivors of their traveling party, on the edge of death in the desert. Out of water and food the man believes he will soon be dead and the girl after him. They fall asleep, the man believing to never wake up, when suddenly they see thousands of settlers on their way through the desert who have stopped to assist them. His fateful decision to go join their party has devastating consequences years down the road that provide our murderer from Part 1 with his motive. Will you empathize or wish him punishment? Read to find out!

The Sign of the Four (also, The Sign of Four)

Setting: London, England and various places in India.

Time Period: 1887

Genre: Detective Mystery, Classic

Tone/Mood: Suspenseful, begins a bit Darker and Bleaker than Doyle’s first story.

Writing Style: Varies. Highly detailed, compelling, and (at times) faster paced.

Series: Second Sherlock Holmes novel. Published in Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine, 1890.


Sherlock Holmes is a broken man with no new cases to occupy his mind he has turned to drugs. After months of watching Holmes’ decline, the irritated and uncomfortable Dr. Watson finally decides to confront him. During the conversation while Holmes demonstrates his incredible gift of observation, a new client, Miss Mary Morstan, arrives with an intriguing case. The elated Holmes jumps on the case which involves a missing father, strange letters in the mail containing pearls, treasure from India, a wooden-legged man, and poisoned blow-darts. Full of action and intrigue, this Sherlock Holmes installment does not disappoint.

Other works by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle:


The Great Shadow (1888)

My Friend the Murderer and Other Mysteries and Adventures (1893)

The Lost World (1912)


The War in South Africa—Its Cause and Conduct (1902)

The Coming of Fairies (1921)

The Edge of the Unknown (1930)

Sherlock Holmes by other authors:

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Holmes by Loren Estleman (1979)

Sherlock Holmes, My Life and Crimes by Michael Hardwick (1984)

Sherlock Holmes: the Unauthorized Biography by Nick Rennison (2006)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The (book) love of my life...

Title: Sabriel (book 1 of The Old Kingdom [AKA: Abhorsen Trilogy] Series)
Author: Garth Nix
Genre: YA Gothic Horror/Fantasy
Tone: Bleak
Appeals: Strong female character, magic, zombies (yes, ZOMBIES!!!)
Publication Date: 1995
Publisher: HarperCollins (Australia)
Page Count: 491

Sabriel, only 17 and merely three weeks away from the end of her last term at her all-girls boarding school in the country of Ancelstierre (something like the U.S. or England may have looked like in the 1920-30s) is the daughter of the most important man in all of the magical Old Kingdom separated from Ancelstierre by a wall that runs from coast to coast and guarded by the Ancelstierrian army. Sabriel's father is the Abhorsen, one who polices necromancers and keeps the balance between the living and the dead, and Sabriel will be the Abhorsen upon her father's death which may come sooner rather than later. Sabriel receives a disturbing message forcing her to leave immediately on her own for the dangerous Old Kingdom, the forbidding home her father tried to protect her from. This dark yet sometimes humorous tale will have your head spinning and your heart racing as Sabriel along with the family’s cat-shaped familiar, Mogget, and a mysterious stranger she picks up along the way battle in both life and the nine gates of death to save the entire kingdom from certain doom as well as trying to save her father, providing that he has not slipped so far into death that she cannot save him.
Nix’s Sabriel is a strong heroine who does not let anything get in the way of her fulfilling her duties and commands respect from all, including the reader. A far cry from the co-dependent Bella of Twilight, readers wanting a more positive female character will fall in love with Sabriel’s charming wit, tenacity, loyalty, as well as her ability to stay calm in the midst of battle.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

What I like to read and why:

I have never really thought about why I like the books I do and why I dislike the books I don’t until I read chapter three of Sarick’s Readers’ Advisory Service in the Public Library. I have read books, supposed “good” books, that I just couldn’t tolerate and never understood why until now. I prefer books that are great in detail with well-developed characters preferably in series books rather than fast-paced psychological thrillers and what I would call “fluff.” I want to know who I am reading about, what that person(s) looks like, their personality, where they live, what things look and smell like and so on. I love for the author to paint a picture that I can imagine in my mind as I read.

My favorite books to read are Young Adult (YA) High Fantasy Fiction with the occasional Steampunk or historical fiction. Generally I try to stick to series books as I feel single works do not normally satisfy my curiosity. My ultimate favorites are the Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling, The Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, and more recently, the Leviathan Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld (audiobook version—Alan Cumming is an amazing narrator!) and the Curse Worker Series by Holly Black. High fantasy is my favorite because of the magical element as well as the plots and frames normally associated with this genre. I am excited about discovering fantasy books for adults this semester.

Saricks, J. (2005). Articulating a Book’s Appeal. In Readers’ Advisory Service in the Public Library. Chicago: ALA. Pp. 40-7