December 1st, 2009

wings, believe

The Morgan Books by Maryrose Wood

Imagine taking a trip halfway around the world, then finding out that you're half-goddess. What would happen when you went back to your normal life in your boring American town with your non-magical family and friends? Meet Morgan, Connecticut teenager and unlikely half-goddess, as created by author Maryrose Wood.

Morgan was first introduced in Why I Let My Hair Grow Out, which detailed her magical, memorable trip to Ireland. Her story continues in two more books: How I Found the Perfect Dress and What I Wore to Save the World. The follow-ups are just as wacky and fun as the first book.

Maryrose Wood's offbeat contemporary YA fantasies are fun. These quick reads offer plenty of comedy, romance, and magical mischief. While Wood uses elements of classic fairy tales and Irish mythology within the stories, she always keeps things light and funny. Lewis Carroll's Alice would definitely like the scene in the second book in which Morgan follows a sales clerk through a dressing room mirror. I know I did.

Most of all, I enjoy the characters. In addition to the mere mortals, Wood has populated her stories with goddesses and gods, royal faeries, garden gnomes, talking dolphins, and even a snarky leprechaun. Leading lady Morgan is more punk-rock than princess, more comfortable in funky boots than high heels. Morgan's conversations with her wide-eyed little sister Tammy are classic. In fact, most of my favorite moments in the second book are scenes with the sisters. With her energy and insatiable curiosity, Tammy jumps right out of the book and into your heart. I think she'd be friends with Charlie from My So-Called Family by Courtney Sheinmel because he could answer all of her questions, and Batty from The Penderwicks books by Jeanne Birdsall because both girls are happily hyper. Of course, I also approved of kind, collegiate Colin.

My favorite quotes from Why I Let My Hair Grow Out include:

Snip, snip. You never realize how long your hair is till you chop off a piece right next to your scalp, smooth it out and hold it in your hands. - Page 1

"There was this episode of Buffy, when she and Angel are about to say good-bye, and he gives her a ring exactly like that, because it's an old Irish tradition, and now, look -- it's all starting right here, and here we are, how cool is that?" - Page 178

I put the book away. I'd read it later, but not now. For what could be more magical than to fly across the sea? To get on a plane and then off again, a world away and back in time from where you began? - Page 217

How I Found the Perfect Dress is summed up perfectly in this quote:

With only ten days left before the junior prom, this is how things stood: I had a guy I was crazy about who couldn't take me to prom because he was leaving the country (if he didn't end up in the hospital first), another guy who wanted to take me but I wouldn't let him, a pair of stinky sneakers to steal, a fabulous dress on layaway, and a crabby leprechaun who had to be convinced to escort a pair of excitable plastic gnome sisters to the Spring Faery Ball.

I can so totally make this work. - Page 140

My favorite quotes from How I Found the Perfect Dress include:

"Tinker Bell pajamas!" - Tammy, Page 1

Mom slammed her lips shut, but I could tell what she was thinking. She was thinking that Tammy wouldn't grow up to be president now because her plastic princess tiara was slowly turning her brain into glitter. - Page 7

"Morgan!" Tammy ran into my room and started jumping on the bed. She was wearing a pink poofy princess skirt over her grass-stained soccer uniform. "Get dressed and come outside. I want to practice my new soccer moves!" - Page 98

Tammy shrugged. "He said that the Day of the Gnomes came early because of a 'girl bull warning.' But I don't believe that. There are no girl bulls. Bulls are boy versions of cows."

I had to think for a minute to decode that one. "Global warming, Tam. That's what he meant."

"Bulls don't glow either." - Pages 98-99

I did so many rainbow checks I gave myself a stiff neck from looking up, but it was a beautiful sunny day, with a cloudless blue sky overhead. - Page 103

As soon as the Subaru was parked Tammy jumped out, dressed in her soccer uniform and shin guards, with twelve sparkly barettes in her hair. - Pages 128-129

Colin showed up an hour later, frazzled and pale, but putty in the hands of a cute, manipulative kid. [ . . . ] Reluctantly Tammy changed out into her soccer clothes too and went outside, where she promptly starting chasing imaginary butterflies. - Page 155

I kept folding Colin's clothes, trying to fill each T-shirt and pair of chinos with all the stuff I felt but couldn't say. - Page 181

Boy, this is definitely a different spin on the "Heather has two mommies" concept, I thought. - Page 228
readergirlz, postergirlz

Readergirlz: December 2009



December Duo

This month, we're spotlighting two books at readergirlz: Trickster's Choice and Trickster's Queen by Tamora Pierce.

Alianne, sole daughter of Alanna the Lioness, does not want to become a knight like her mother. She's more like her father, George, "the king of thieves." After a fight with her mother, Alianne attempts to run away but is kidnapped and sent to the Copper Isles to toil as a slave for an exiled royal family. Alone in a foreign land, Aly will need both her father's wit and her mother's courage to navigate a royal court rife with political intrigue and murderous conspiracy.

Aly's adventure continues in Trickster's Queen, when she must keep the potential teenage queen and her younger siblings safe. But Aly, who is usually adept at anticipating danger and changes, is in for a few nasty surprises.

To learn more about the author and her stories, check out the December 2009 issue of readergirlz as well as our roundtable discussion of the Trickster books.

Want to join our book group? Pick up the books at your local library or bookstore, read 'em, and then join our discussions at the readergirlz blog. We'll be talking about the book all month long, and we always welcome new readers to our book group.

Download this month's bookmark.

Download our winter books poster.

Join the readergirlz

readergirlz is an online book group that's open to everyone - the only requirement is a love of reading! Every month, we discuss a different book, ranging from historical fiction to contemporary fiction, from fantasy to comedy to drama to comedy. All of our spotlighted books celebrate gutsy girls, and we hope they inspire readers to become active not only in book groups but also in their communities. Every issue of readergirlz features additional information about the books we're discussing, exclusive author interviews, playlists, outreach programs related to the book of the month, and other recommended reads.

Browse through our archive and discover our previous book club picks.

postergirlz picks
Recommended by postergirlz, the readergirlz advisory council:

Fiction
His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman
Sphinx's Princess by Esther Friesner
The Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix
Flora Segunda and Flora's Dare by Ysabeau S. Wilce
The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede

Non-Fiction
Teens Cook: How to Cook What You Want to Eat by Meghan & Jill Carle with Judi Carle



rgz LIVE!

Tamora Pierce will be chatting live at the readergirlz blog on Wednesday, December 16th. The chat will begin at 6 PM PST/9 PM EST and last for about an hour.

Author-in-Residence

Our first Author-in-Residence at rgz, Beth Kephart, has spent the fall with us. She's wrapping up her visit with a very cool writing contest. Check it out!

Learn more about Beth Kephart and our author-in-residence position.

Read, Reflect and Reach Out

Since 1961, Amnesty International has made a world-wide effort to stop the abuse of human rights. In their own words, Amnesty International is "a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights for all. Our supporters are outraged by human rights abuses but inspired by hope for a better world - so we work to improve human rights through campaigning and international solidarity."

Want to start up a chapter of Amnesty International at your school? Check out the Student Center at the Amnesty International website, where you may register your AI student group and receive an activist toolkit for your group.

For more information, visit amnesty.org

Recent readergirlz Reads

Last month's featured book: Sweetgrass Basket by Marlene Carvell

Get ready for our upcoming book discussions and featured authors!

January: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

February: Copper Sun by Sharon Draper

March: The Uglies books by Scott Westerfeld

Visit the readergirlz archive.

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Related Posts
Meet the readergirlz divas and the postergirlz advisory council
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View all of the readergirlz-tagged posts at Bildungsroman

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books

Prince of Stories: The Many Worlds of Neil Gaiman by Wagner, Golden, and Bisette


Prince of Stories: The Many Worlds of Neil Gaiman
by Hank Wagner, Christopher Golden, and Stephen R. Bisette

Over the past twenty years, Neil Gaiman has developed into the premier fantasist of his generation, achieving that rarest of combinations - unrivaled critical respect and extraordinary commercial success. From the landmark comic book series The Sandman to novels such as the New York Times bestselling American Gods and Anansi Boys, from children's literature like Coraline to screenplays for such films as Beowulf, Gaiman work has garnered him an enthusiastic and fiercely loyal, global following. To comic book fans, he is Zeus in the pantheon of creative gods, having changed that industry forever. For discerning readers, he bridges the vast gap that traditionally divides lovers of "literary" and "genre" fiction. Gaiman is truly a pop culture phenomenon, an artist with a magic touch whose work has won almost universal acclaim.

Now, for the first time ever, Prince of Stories chronicles the history and impact of the complete works of Neil Gaiman in film, fiction, music, comic books, and beyond. Containing hours of exclusive interviews with Gaiman and conversations with his collaborators, as well as wonderful nuggets of his work such as the beginning of an unpublished novel, a rare comic and never-before-seen essay, this is a treasure trove of all things Gaiman. In addition to providing in depth information and commentary on Gaiman's myriad works, the book also includes rare photographs, book covers, artwork, and related trivia and minutiae, making it both an insightful introduction to his work, and a true "must-have" for his ever growing legion of fans.

"Hard to imagine it being better written. This tribute is a tremendous gift to Neil Gaiman fans . . . Well-written, well organized, and fun to peruse, this book can be enjoyed as a cover-to-cover read or a random browse . . . A book you can get lost in, it will appeal to Gaiman fans of all ages . . . Impressive."
- Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA)

My Review
Prince of Stories is the essential, definitive Neil Gaiman bibliography and biography. This book is truly a must-have for all Neil Gaiman fans. It has information on every single project Gaiman has ever touched: every novel, every short story, every comic, every film, every song, every everything is detailed. And by detailed, I mean detailed. Instead of being mere one- or two-paragraph summaries, the entries are packed with character profiles, plot, and publishing info as well as trivia, quotes, and more.

Everything you ever wanted to know about Gaiman's life and writing is contained in this book. The men who collaborated on Prince of Stories - Hank Wagner, Christopher Golden, and Stephen R. Bisette - are published authors as well, and I recommend their novels and comics, too. Their respect and admiration for Gaiman is apparent throughout Prince of Stories, especially in the section which is an in-depth exclusive interview with Gaiman himself.

Publishing Information
Published by St. Martin's Press

560 pages, including 52 halftones throughout plus one 16-page black & white and one 8-page color photo insert

Hardcover released October 28th, 2008
ISBN-10: 0-312-38765-2
ISBN-13: 978-0-312-38765-5

Paperback released October 29th, 2009
USBN-10:
books

Best Books of November 2009

November 2009: 44 books read

Picture Books
Wag by Patrick McDonnell
Hello My Name is Bob by Linas Alsenas

Juvenile Fiction
Girls Acting Catty by Leslie Margolis (sequel to Boys Are Dogs)
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
The Rule of Three by Megan McDonald (sequel to The Sisters Club)
Cinderella Cleaners #1: Change of a Dress by Maya Gold (coming out in April 2010)
After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick (coming out in February 2010; companion to Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie)

Teen Fiction
Riding The Universe by Gaby Triana
Hold Still by Nina LaCour
Reality Check by Jen Calonita (coming out in June 2010)
Sphinx's Princess by Esther Friesner
Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern
Peace, Love & Baby Ducks by Lauren Myracle
The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott (coming out in April 2010)
In a Heartbeat by Loretta Ellsworth (coming out in February 2010)