College Majors 101

January 10, 2011

Sooner or later you’ll be faced with a few choices: 1) Are you going to college? and 2) Where are you applying? (Which you’ll get asked A LOT when you’re in the process of applying.)

So how do you make your college decision? Or if you’re in college, how do you choose a major? College Majors 101 has been created to help you with the “major” decision. The site first breaks the majors into categories, or schools. You can choose from Life Science/Medical, Art/Design/Performance, Liberal Arts, Engineering Technology, and Pre-Professionl. From there, you pick a topic you’re interested in (pre-med, graphic design, history, aviation, hospitality management) and the site will give you a blurb about the topic (which you must have some idea about if you’re looking into it), lists of accredited schools, associations, news, the opportunity to learn more about your topic, and what I think is pretty cool, links to different companies/organizations that hire people with that major.

In addition to finding information about different topics, there’s the option to “get recruited”, which you can use to get contact information for specific universities you are interested in. There are a bunch of videos from the different universities talking about their programs. I know there’s a bunch of college websites out there (including the few already reviewed) but this one is nice because it helps you focus your search based solely on your interest.

Just in time for Halloween: Which Team are you on? Zombies or Unicorns?
I am most fervently on Team Zombie. Though I have to say, many of the stories I liked best in Zombies vs Unicorns are unicorn stories. The book is a fantastic collaboration amongst popular YA writers who had a ton of fun writing the stories. I like that Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier prefaced each story with a discussion (though I would have liked to see stories by those two as well) and I could easily see they were enjoying the task of editing these phenomenal stories.
Some of my favorite unicorn stories are Naomi Novik’s “Purity Test”, the tale of a unicorn out to find a human to help save unicorns, and neither the human nor the unicorn are what one would expect; “The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn” by Diana Peterfreund, which asks what if unicorns were really dangerous, something which Peterfreund addresses in her novels Rampant and Ascendant (neither of which I’ve read); Kathleen Duey’s dark “The Third Virgin” tells the tale of a different kind of unicorn; and probably my favorite, Meg Cabot’s “Princess Prettypants”, in which a sixteen year old girl does not get the car she’s pining for.
On the zombie side of things, Alaya Dawn Johnson’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” is excellent, told from the point of view of the partially cured, lovelorn zombie; on the other side is Cassandra Clare’s “Cold Hands”, telling a love story from the point of view of the human in the human-zombie relationship; Scott Westerfeld’s “Inoculata”, about what the cure for zombies might be; Maureen Johnson’s humorous “The Children of the Revolution”, which you just have to read because trying to explain it, it sounds crazy; and the chilling “Prom Night” by Libba Bray, sharing what happens when it’s the adults that become zombies and how the kids take control (but still manage to have a prom).
All of the stories are excellent (to be expected from such wonderful writers) and I love that the book is set up with alternating zombie and unicorn stories. Also that there’s handy little zombie and unicorns pictures at the top of the page so you can skip the unicorn stories or the zombie stories, but I would suggest not skipping stories. Zombies vs. Unicorns is a entertaining, funny, chilling, amazing read. Also, I totally want a poster of the cover (showing the battle of zombies vs. unicorns). Although I love the unicorn stories as much as I love the zombie stories, when it comes down to it, it’s still zombies that will bring about the end of the world …. You can check out more at www.zombiesvs.unicorns.com, especially to find out where the debate began.

What Should I Read Next?

September 3, 2010

Are you a reader that devours books? Or are you the type who likes only one type of book, one certain author? If you read too fast for anyone else to keep up, or once you’ve read all the books a certain author has to offer, What Should I Read Next is a website that has recommendations for you.

It runs a little slow when waiting for the recommendations to load, but it has a pile of suggestions (even if some are a little off base: Fox in Socks for a suggestion for Twilight?).

But even with a few bugs and quirks in the system, it’s a quick way to get an idea for something new to read. I did a few searches (Stephenie Meyer, Incarceron by Catherine Fisher, Sarah Dessen, and Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta), and only one didn’t come up with any results (Finnikin of the Rock). So it’s not a perfect website, but if you don’t have a librarian handy, this site will work pretty well.

Let me know what you’ve found and loved (or hated) using What Should I Read Next!

Ten years after Phaedra escaped to the mountains with her young son Ambrose at the end of The Cup of the World, we find Ambrose a twelve-year-old, with little idea of the world beyond the mountains and the pool.
A stranger comes unexpectedly; Ambrose is fascinated by the young man and even watches entranced as he shaves. Raymonde has discovered the Book that has been in his father’s possession since the downfall of Tarceny ten years before, the Book with all of Tarceny’s discoveries about witchcraft. Raymonde has come to set the Prince Under the Sky free.
Phaedra discovers what he’s up to and tells Ambrose to run, to run to her friends Evalia and Adam diManey at Chatterfall. Ambrose starts to run, but doubles back to watch the confrontation between Raymonde and his mother. He sees Raymonde push his mother and she ends up in the Pool where the Prince Under the Sky lives. He also does not see his mother emerge from the pool.
Ambrose makes it to Chatterfall, but has to leave and travels with Baron Lackmere to the Court of Develin, where he lives in secret for the next six months. He feels awkward and constantly watched and followed by the Prince Under the Sky, and is visited by Raymonde, who continually tells Ambrose that he doesn’t want to kill him, but he will. It’s uncomfortable for Ambrose and not a happy time for him.
Of course, things can’t stay as they are, and the Prince Under the Sky has Develin attacked. Ambrose flees and finds Baron Lackmere and they travel to Tarceny, where Ambrose tries to decide who and what he is.
Like The Cup of the World, The Widow and the King is a thick, rich fantasy that moves at a steady pace but keeps you drawn in. Though there is lots of action and battles and chases, the important part of the book is the development of the characters and the changes that Ambrose goes through. Dickinson does a great job at making each book appear finished, but knowing there’s one more book I’m curious as to what will happen with Ambrose next. I look forward to the final book in the trilogy, The Fatal Child. Check the trilogy out at the library.

Claudia lives a privileged life as the daughter of the Warden of Incarceron, the great prison that keeps all the criminals and the poor out of the perfect kingdom. She chafes at her chains, at her expectations, at the frustrations of being stuck in a world where nothing ever changes–one of the kings decreed that the world be frozen in time (I think the late 18th century), that inventions and science and art and literature be hindered, that nothing move out of the time frame of the acceptable, of the Era.

Finn is a prisoner in Incarceron, who can’t remember anything before three years ago, but he is insistent that he is not one of the cell-born, one of the creatures born within Incarceron fully formed. When Finn comes into possession of a crystal Key he thinks he can use it to escape the hard dirty life of Incarceron. He is surprised when the Key begins to speak to him and he sees Claudia, who has a key of her own.

The Sapienti, the Wise Ones who entered Incarceron intent on watching over it, live both in Incarceron and Outside it. Jared is Claudia’s tutor and a Sapient and Gildas is a Sapient who is determined that Finn is his way out of Incarceron, a Starseer, the one who can follow the path of Sapphique, the only person known to escape Incarceron.

So Finn, Gildas, Finn’s oathbrother, and Attia a slave girl leave their Wing of the prison to find Escape. Once Claudia & Jared discover they can speak to Finn through their Key, Claudia promises to do all she can to help them escape. Claudia’s chances begin to run out when she is forced to the palace to participate in her wedding to the Heir to the throne–a young man who cares more for horses and games than Claudia, but she is not enamored of him either, having once been engaged to his half-brother, the true prince who died three years earlier.

As in most courts, there’s intrigue and plotting and scheming and Claudia does not want to be any part of it at all. She’s willful, headstrong and independent and does not want to be Queen, which is what the plot is between her father and the current Queen. Claudia tries to find privacy in the court, where everyone is watching her, is trying to stay out of the vast divisions within the court, and trying to help Finn and his friends escape.

Incarceron is a tale of danger, adventure, and suspense that keeps you guessing as to what surprise comes next. The characters are intriguing (I find the Sapienti the most interesting and the legend of Sapphique), the action is continual, the multiple plots are woven toghet well and if parts of the story are a little predictable, there’s a great deal of the story that is not.  There’s a second book that will be released in December, and as Incarceron ends on a very uncertain note, it will be exciting to see what happens next.

Matched by Ally Condie

July 20, 2010

One of the many benefits of being a librarian is ARCs–Advanced Reading Copies of books yet to be published. I was fortunate enough to receive one of Matched by Ally Condie, a new young adult novel that will be published November 30 (and which the library will be ordering, of course).

Cassia lives contentedly–the Society chooses your place of work, your home, your mate, even when you die (to maximize your life experience). Cassia has never questioned this and is looking forward to her Match Banquet, when Society reveals her ideal mate. She is very fortunate–and excited–to discover Xander, her childhood friend, is her Match. This is not at all typical in Society, as most people’s Matches are from other cities.

When Cassia has a moment to herself (with her ten year old brother Bram and her parents and even Society always watching) she looks at the flash drive (it’s essentially a flash drive, but all futuristic-like) she was given at her Match Banquet, which contains all the information about her Match. Of course, knowing Xander she knows much of information on it but is still very excited about it. Just as Cassia is about to remove the flash drive, she notices another picture pop up on the screen–that of another classmate, Ky.

Cassia is startled and shaken by this–the Society does not make mistakes. One of the Society administrators finds Cassia and explains what has happened, that Ky was not meant to be in the Match pool, that it is a cruel joke and that Cassia has truly been Matched with Xander.

Cassia begins to pay more attention to Ky; she’s intrigued by him, fascinated by him, and as the two spend more time together, they begin to fall in love, but they must keep it secret as they are forbidden to be together.

What I loved about this book is the fantastic way that Condie had Cassia evolve–Cassia went from fully accepting all of Society’s rules and actions to questioning them the more she understands and sees what’s happening. She begins to see that she–and everyone else–is being manipulated by Society all for the reason of keeping them “safe”. But what are the people being kept safe from? What’s happening in the Outer Provinces? There’s a war going on but no one knows who the Enemy is or why they are even fighting. Matched has great character development, a fabulous dystopia storyline, romance,  and I hope there’s another book coming because I’d love to see the development of Xander and more from his point of view (though I’m not sure that’s where the story is going). I highly recommend it and as soon as it’s available in the catalog, I’ll let you all know.

Phaedra is just 15 when she witnesses the court trial of a woman for witchcraft; she and the other young ladies of the court are not supposed to be there, but they see the proceedings nonetheless. The woman is spared and the young ladies are shooed out of the court. The young ladies are presented to the king by their fathers, officially marking their transition to womanhood. Phaedra then goes home with her father to Trant and the courting begins. For two years Phaedra is courted and refuses the young men of the Kingdom; she does not want to marry, she does not plan to marry.

Since she was a young girl, she has dreamt of a man and the two of them talk and have developed a friendship almost. When Phaedra discovers that her ability to refuse may soon run out, she speaks with the man in her dreams and he tells her to wait at a certain place. The man is real and takes her to his part of the Kingdom, against the wishes of Phaedra’s father, but she is happy and in love.

War breaks out in the Kingdom and Phaedra’s husband is gone for long periods of time, in which Phaedra is left alone in a castle that she is not familiar with. She makes discoveries about magic, about witchcraft, about her husband, her father, the King and herself that startle her, and Phaedra must keep going to understand her world and her place in it.

The Cup of the World is an intelligent, thick read. As most epic fantasies, it takes a little bit of reading to get into, but once the story picks up it does not let the reader go. Dickinson does not give anything away to the reader; much of what occurs the reader must puzzle together herself, and this is a rewarding read. This book is the first in a trilogy and is followed by The Widow and the King and The Fatal Child.