Friday, November 12, 2010

November YA Meeting Bits and Pieces

The Young Adult Council decided not to have the traditional holiday party. We are replacing it with a drop in story and craft time for ages 4-7, Tuesday, December 21st so that parents can do some holiday shopping.

National Gaming Day
is Saturday. Come and play video or board games with libraries across the nation.

Discussion was begun on how the library can become more of an online presence. Suggestions are welcome. The Creative Writing Club will begin the first Wednesday in January at 4 pm. Come in and fill out a YA Book Brawl Voting Form and receive a coupon for a free ice cream. The next YA Meeting is December 8th.

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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Behemoth by Scott Westerfield

This book is the second in the series by Scott Westerfield and lives up to the first one in every way. It begins exactly where Leviathan left off. That is, in this alternate history’s version of the start of World War I. The Leviathan is on its way to Constantinople (Istanbul) to return the world to peace with the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire who is raging because Churchill “borrowed” one of their warships. Because of this, the Ottomans have become ally’s with the Germans (Clankers).

Focusing on the two main characters, Deryn who is hiding the fact that he is a girl and Alek who is hiding the fact that he is the heir to the Austrian empire pretending to be a commoner have problems of their own. They are both on the Leviathan, at present, a combination of Darwinian and Clanker technology. Alek knows he has to escape or be held a prisoner of war and Deryn is busy on a mission to open the waterway for the Behemoth to join the war.

Behemoth explores friendships, ethics, patriotism and religion without losing the page turning action of this book. This book explores the differences in cultures as well as the differences in technology. This book is Steampunk at its finest. It gives many opportunities for lively discussions, especially for anyone who is a history buff.

When the third book, Golliath, comes out, it will be interesting to see how Deryn and Alek resolve their roles. . Behemoth shows them as true friends , and in Deryn’s case a bit more, who are loyal to each other. However, neither one every forgets their allegiance to the war and their respective sides. This can be a major conflict. Deryn is completely loyal to the Darwinists and respects her uniform and her superiors. But she doesn’t follow it blindly. If it were, she would never have joined the military impersonating a boy. Alek has the same loyalty to his beliefs, with less room for questioning perhaps because of his idea that fate guides everyone.

Finally the illustrations are just as charming as in Leviathan.

Rating 10 out of 10
Reading Next Black Hole Sun by Gill

Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

This review is from Opinionated Blog at

"Will Henry, orphaned by a fire and left to the hands of Dr. Warthrop, Monstrumologist, awakens one night to find an old graverobber at the door, with a strange and mysterious package for the doctor.


And that's exactly what it is: Gothic. From the scenery to the dark subject matter to the time period, and even to the characters. Everything screams of a young America, taking place in the (fictional?) town of New Jerusalem, in the dark basement of a man who studies monsters. I want to say this is told in the first person, but not until the last fifty or so pages does Will Henry--our protagonist--come in to play as an actual character. The rest, he seems to be just a fly on the wall to the ramblings and manic fits of his master. I suppose this is appropriate--it is, after all, named the Monstrumologist--but I'm kind of a character-driven gal, and there was a lot of info-dumping. Not to say this is a bad thing, but anyone looking for an Emotional Novel should best take their business elsewhere.

Now, for the rest of you:

This book reads like one written in the time period it's told, which is Yancey's biggest accomplishment by-far; a very refined, old-time voice that somehow stays readable for teens is no easy task. While, for those who have never read a Gothic novel, it may be slow-goings, it is definitely entertaining. In fact, I'm going to venture off and say that it is perhaps one of the most technically well-written, modern day novel I've read in quite some time.

Yancey definitely has a world-building quality about his writing that makes you feel like your actually there. His descriptions are so Dracula-style Gothic that it's not hard to believe these are the memoirs of a delusional old man recounting events that are real entirely in his mind (or are they...?).

Again, this is, first and foremost, a plot-driven novel. While there are some honest attempts at character depth thrown in, I was much more interested in the beasts then Will Henry. I guess the doctor is supposed to bridge the gap between monster and human, with his "holyshitimONTOSOMETHING!!" crazes and borderline-neglectful treatment of twelve-year-old Will Henry (who, by the way, your unlikely to forget his name--seriously, it's said about three times a page). It's kind of a co dependant relationship between Will and the doctor. Clearly neither enjoy their company, and it isn't until the last few pages is it evident that they even care for each other, but they both need each other.

There are certain times when a character is flash-backing, that's so long (albeit, entertaining) that it could warrant it's own novel. I think these parts are the most interesting, especially one involving a ship and some bored crew members. It perfectly demonstrates the idea that monsters are only monsters because we make them monsters...or that we are, in fact, the monsters.

Getting back to the characters for a moment , it's really only Will and Warthrop that stand out. They're co dependence is all at once heartbreaking and amusing. Both, in a way, need one another, but they also despise what the other means to them--to Warthrop, it's a vision of himself and to Will, it's a vision of what he owes.

Also: You can check out Yancey's website for some character profiles, as well as some info about his other novels (including the bestselling Alfred Kropp series)"

This was an interesting book that kept you turning each page. I enjoyed the review above, so chose to reprint this rather than one of my own.

My rating is 8 out of 10.
Reading Next: Behemoth by Scott Westerfield