Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Good Reads - Runemarks

Title: Runemarks
Author: Joanne Harris

Maddy Smith is an outcast in her village, primarily due to the odd mark on the palm of her hand. Sure, she comes in handy when they need her to clear goblins out of the cellars, but that is not really an activity that makes one popular. When the mysterious traveler, One-Eye, reveals the magic behind the mark, Maddy's world turns upside-down and she is thrust into a world that she believed was no more. She discovers her destiny is tied to magic and the gods that were seemingly forgotten.

Runemarks dives into Norse Mythology and tells a more modern tale of gods like Odin and Thor. Harris creates an elaborate story that send Maddy all across the mythological map and includes seemingly all the major figures from the Norse tales. Runemarks is a bit of a time investment - it weighs in at over 400 pages! - but for those who like the challenge and are looking for an entertaining fantasy tale, it is worth the effort.
Runemarks is located in YA Fiction: YA Harris

Wii Tournament - April update

Monday marked the first of seven Wii tournament dates that will be held at the library through October. We had a shorter time frame to work with yesterday so we squeezed in three games instead of trying for all five.

Super Smash Brothers Brawl will be scored the same as last year: victories result in increased points per round (i.e. Round One=1 point, Round Two=2 points, etc.). Ultimately, the more tournament dates you can make, the better chance you have of being crowned champion.
It is early yet, but winning tow tournaments has given Bryce a solid lead:

Super Smash Brothers Brawl
1. Bryce Williams 20 points
2. Danny Sharpe 9 points
3. Chang Vang 4 points
4. Donald Goeke 3 points
5. Sean Filipek 2 points

We also managed to get in a single round of Guitar Hero using the World Tour set list. In a slightly different approach from last year, we will be averaging together the best three scores that each player can post. The top average score will advance, though at least one of those scores must be posted at either the hard or expert level. In the unlikely event of a tie, the best note streak will serve as the tie-breaker. Since we only had time for one round, we only have one score per player, these totals are incomplete:

Guitar Hero
1. Matt Troyer 318,722
2. Danny Sharpe 207,688
3. Ben Rezach 153,021
4. Teresa Hurienne 95, 903
5. Malynnda Goeke 71,353

The last game we played was Mario Kart and everyone got in a couple of races. We will be tallying up single victories and Circuit wins as the year goes on to determine our champion. After the first day, we don't have enough races completed to provide any standings at this point.

The next tournament date will be Saturday, May 16 at 11:30 a.m. We will be able to get all five games in, including bowling and boxing, on that date!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Good Reads: Kingdom Keepers

Title: Kingdom Keepers
Author: Ridley Pearson

When Finn Whitman signed up to become a virtual tour guide through Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, he looked at it as a cool acting job that resulted in him getting a lifetime pass to the park. That all changed when he went to sleep and discovered that he was inside the park as his virtual self - he and the other four teens who signed up as well. Each night, all five of them appear in the park after it closes and are tasked with keeping the park safe by Wayne, a long-time Disney employee.

The five kids learn that the park is in danger from the Overtakers, evil forces from Disney films and parks that have come to live in order to take over the Magic Kingdom and eventually the world. Finn and the others have to follow clues that Walt Disney himself created to prevent the Overtakers from rising to power. It is a search that finds them going up against animatronic pirates, a giant dinosaur skeleton and an army of dolls from It's a Small World.

Kingdom Keepers is a fun, fast-paced story that doesn't break any new ground in adventure storytelling, but it is definitely a ride worth taking.

Once you finish with Kingdom Keepers, pick up the sequel, Kingdom Keepers 2: Disney at Dawn. The Overtakers are back, but this time they have the animals of Animal Kingdom on their side as they try to free one of the most dangerous villains Disney ever created. It is up to the keepers to stop their evil plans - but if they fall asleep, they may never wake up...

Kingdom Keepers and Kingdom Keepers 2 are located in YA Fiction: YA Pearson

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Music Spotlight: Franz Ferdinand

Artist: Franz Ferdinand
Albums: Franz Ferdinand, You Could Have It So Much Better, Tonight

Franz Ferdinand broke onto the American music scene in 2004 with the single "Take Me Out," a driving dose of power that featured an irresistible guitar hook. That led to the release of their self-titled debut which compiled enough gritty guitar riffs, synth undertones and driving beats to make for a fun, fast listen that make you go back and replay it immediately.

They followed up the success of the their first album with You Could Have It So Much Better. Instead of a departure from Franz Ferdinand, it was almost like a companion to it, keeping the same sounds and feel. Interestingly enough, the standout track, "Eleanor Put Your Boots On" is a fantastic ballad that strays the most in style from their previous efforts.

Tonight, their third offering, provides a slightly different look at the band as they move their way through 12 tracks, each one a little more exploratory than the previous. "Ulysses" kicks things off with a clearly different approach from the last album and just gets better with each listen. "No You Girls" will sound familiar with its tie to the iPod Touch commercial and is a catchy track all its own. Overall, Tonight is distinctly Franz Ferdinand, but it shows the band is willing to grow, even if it is a gradual process.
Franz Ferdinand is located in the Rock Music section: MR Franz

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Music Spotlight: Assorted New Stuff

It has been so long since I have done a music post, that I am actually going to phone this one in in order to give you a dose of some of the better discs that have come in recently. I don't want to skimp out too much, so I will post a link to the AllMusic.com reviews (an awesome source for music info, by the way) with a small sample from each. We'll start off with my personal favorite:

No Thanks! The '70's Punk Rebellion
Various Artists

This is almost a companion/forerunner to the previously mentioned Left of the Dial box because it gives such a solid, overall look at the great music that laid the ground work for so much New Wave, Rock, alternative and neo-punk music that continues to today.

According to AllMusic: "...The compilers have bent the rules of punk slightly, deciding to include proto-punkers like New York Dolls, the Stooges, the Dictators, and Jonathan Richman, and then to not present the cuts in a strictly chronological order. This benefits the album, since these artists are in the same spirit of the bands they inspired, and the sequencing plays like a great mixtape. Rhino has also evenly balanced the set between American and British punk, including both early hardcore punkers the Dead Kennedys and British pub rock renegades like Nick Lowe and Ian Dury in equal measure."

No Thanks! is located in the CD sets: MR NO

Keeping in the same vein:

The Clash: Live at Shea Stadium

Shortly before The Clash imploded and disbanded, they joined The Who for its farewell tour in 1982. The Clash was on the verge of huge mainstream success when things broke apart, but this live album give a peak at what they were capable of.

AllMusic says: "...when the group clicks, as they do on a closing stretch that includes "Career Opportunities," "Clampdown," "Should I Stay or Should I Go," and a furious "I Fought the Law," they sound like the greatest band on earth and a sure bet to have blown the Who off the stage. "

Live at Shea Stadium is located in the Rock music section: MR Clash

Title: Dear Science
Artist: TV on the Radio

TV on the Radio provides a brilliant fusion of nearly every music you can imagine on this album. No two tracks are even similar but it plays seamlessly from beginning to end.

AllMusic's take: "Dear Science, begins with an epic statement of purpose — although "Halfway Home" is as sleek as it is grand, sprinting towards its end with streaking guitars — and ends in an embrace with "Lover's Day."

Dear Science is located in the Rock music section: MR TV

That is probably enough to digest for one post. Later this week, I will have a few more new albums and artist spotlights to give you more to listen to.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Good Reads: What I Saw and How I Lied

Title: What I Saw and How I Lied
Author: Judy Blundell

Set in Palm Beach in 1947, What I Saw and How I Lied follows the life of Evie as her parents take her from her Brooklyn home to the Florida heat for a vacation. What follows is a mystery where various events transpire under Evie's watch and a resulting death may or may not be her parents' fault. After a business deal goes wrong, a hurricane passes through and a man winds up dead. Evie finds herself thrust into a murder investigation and surround by questions of what really has been going on around her. Through it all, Evie falls in love with the handsome Peter, gets a first-hand lesson in the harshness of dealing with racism and ultimately finds that her mother and step-father are not the perfect people she always thought they were.

Blundell creates a moody atmosphere and weaves together the various characters and their motivations smoothly, creating a fascinating historical tale that deals with growing up, racism, and sexism, among other things. What I Saw and How I Lied is a terrific story that is hard to put down.

What I Saw and How I Lied is located in YA Fiction: YA Blundell

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Good Reads: Evernight

Title: Evernight
Author: Claudia Gray
A teenage girl transfers to a new school where she feels like an outcast. She meets a cute boy who seems overly protective of her and seems to have secrets that he is withholding. Then there is the hint of vampires...
Though the premise is not too far from that of Twilight, Evernight throws a curveball into the mix that you probably won't see coming. In fact, there are a couple of turns that make this story all its own and make it worth the read.
Bianca is starting her first year at the prestigious Evernight Academy, where her parents are both starting as teachers. She quickly discovers that she is surrounded by wealthy, worldly students and those, like herself, that seem to stand out. She does meet the handsome Lucas and instantly falls for him. Lucas is set on being Bianca's protector, but who or what is he trying to protect her from?
Evernight is the first book of a new series (the second book, Stargazer, was just released so keep an eye out for it, as well) and clearly takes the feel of Twilight, then turns it on its ear. Definitely worth a look for Stephenie Meyer fans and the secrets of Evernight Academy will have you coming back for more.
Evernight is located in YA fiction: YA Gray

Battle Books Revealed!

The 2009 MCLS Battle of the Books is slated for September 9 and the following titles will provide the necessary reading ammunition:

*The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (YA Gaiman)
*The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci (YA 741.5973 Castellucci)
*Traitor by Gudrun Pausewang (YA Pausewang)
*The Trouble Begins at 8: a Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West by Sid Fleischman (YNF 921 Twain)
*Notes from the Midnight Driver by Jordan Sonnenblick (YA Sonnenblick)
*Generation Dead by Daniel Waters (YA Waters)
*Oddest of All by Bruce Coville
*Emperors of the Ice: A True Story of Disaster and Survival in Antarctica, 1910-13 by Richard Farr

As in years past, the battle will take place at Silver Lake College at 6:30 p.m. To sign up for the Manitowoc team you can email me or stop by the Reference Desk. Keep an eye out here for more info on the battle and team meetings leading up to the event!