Sunday, October 11, 2015

In Cold Blood

In Cold BloodIn Cold Blood by Truman Capote

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In 1966, In Cold Blood, a quasi-true crime novel about a brutal Kansas mass murder in 1959, was published as the result of six years of interviews and research by Truman Capote. While presented as fact, the novel presumes an insight that would be impossible without some fictional elements in the account.

The story is of the Clutter family from Holcomb, Kansas, and how they came to be slain in their home by two men who never even knew them. Though often long-winded in the telling, Capote successfully enables the reader to understand the crime from the point of view of its victims, perpetrators, and the community.

While this is a novel about a true crime, its purpose goes beyond telling a tale. The reader is coerced into trying to find some tangible reason as to why two men would wish to destroy an entire family. Was it for money? Sex? Revenge?...As if any of these reasons could justify or make sense of the act. Why do we ask ourselves these questions? What does it matter why someone commits an act of heinous violence, when it neither rationalizes nor excuses the act?

There are times throughout the novel when Capote tries to make the reader pity the killers. Stories of unfortunate childhoods and head trauma are spun to help the reader to better understand the killer's minds. This extensive back story almost succeeds in dulling the memory of the violent murders, until Capote shares another macabre detail to slap the reader out of their stupor.

Ultimately, this is a book about the inexplicable, irrational, incomprehensible act of murder. This is a book that dares to declare that we should not bother seeking motive or reason or logic when we examine murder. The act of taking the life of another is a separation from logic and reason. It is the ultimate act of isolation.

All murder is done in Cold Blood- because it is never about the victim. Murder is about power, control, and simultaneous narcissism and self-loathing.

Capote's message is this: The Clutter family died because...I'm sorry- but there is no answer to that question.

Ages 17+

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Darkest Part of the Forest

The Darkest Part of the ForestThe Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Holly Black is always at her best when she is in Faerie.

The Darkest Part of the Forest is a modern faerie-tale about two siblings whose hometown and Faerie are somehow commingled, making for a magickal and dangerous existence.

Official Trailer

Young Hazel, a sort-of neglected child of hippy-ish parents, dreams of being a knight...a bad-faerie-slaying knight. Her brother, Ben, has a unique faerie-bestowed gift, which he often views as a curse.

To make her brother happy, young Hazel makes a deal with a faerie King (something one should never do) and unwittingly changes her destiny forever.

It is only when she is old enough to understand the folly of her deal that she finds out the truth of its consequences.

Love, sorrow, and faerie mischief abound in this tale which warns that to tarry with fey is to risk your life and freedom.

Ages 13+.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Lost Children of the Far Islands

Lost Children of the Far IslandsLost Children of the Far Islands by Emily Raabe

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My 10 year old son purchased this book on one of our visits to the bookstore. He had a few books to finish before he could begin it- so, I scooped it up. I had never heard of Emily Raabe but I am always cozy within a book about children who discover they have magical abilities.

Raabe introduces her readers to a fantastical world like none that has appeared in the more recent fantasy books for children. Her Selkie-Lore is beautifully spun with a modern twist, making her story both approachable and mysterious.

Taking place in the northernmost part of Maine, "Lost Children of the Far Islands" is a book of rocks, and sea, and folk tale. Twins, Gustavia and Leomaris, and their intentionally mute little sister, Ila, are the children of a Physical Oceanographer father and an Artist mother who only paints the sea.
They are a loving family who nurture and support one another. Which is why, when some unfathomable events begin to happen, the children do not understand why their parents become so secretive.

Their father is looking into the possible reasons why several fishing ships in the area have gone missing along with their crew. Their mother has suddenly become inexplicably ill and weak and withdrawn. As if this isn't frightening enough, strange and enormous paw prints are appearing outside their home.

In conversation with their parents, the children share that they have noticed a disturbingly increased aptitude for being underwater. This alarms their parents, who decide the children must go and stay with their grandfather for a while. There is a lot of whispering behind closed doors between their mother and father. The children are frustrated because they know they are being kept in the dark about something serious and unusual.

When an impossible visitor comes in the night and introduces himself to the children with the promise to be able to explain everything to them, they embark on a dangerous and magical adventure.

This is Raabe's first children's novel and it is well executed.

My only criticism is that I think fewer pages could have been used describing the mystery behind Ila's lack of speech. There were six pages about it but, when the "explanation" for her purposeful muteness is given, it lacks proper development. Other than that, this is an engaging, exciting, endearing story that will interest both boys and girls alike.

Recommended for ages 8+. 4 stars.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Howl's Moving Castle

Howl's Moving Castle (Howl's Moving Castle, #1)Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Howl's Moving Castle has been my first introduction to the writing of Diana Wynne Jones and I am thrilled to have fallen in love with such a prolific author. I plan to devour everything she has written.

This story of a transient magical castle which houses an unlikely group of wanderers is a must-read for anyone who claims to be a fan of fantasy. The tale includes magic spells, enchanted objects, jealous lovers, mistaken identities and flamboyant displays of emotion. It reads like a Shakespearean story that journeyed into into Narnia via the Tardis (and that is an extremely well-paid compliment!).

As for the characters: Howl (a Wizard) is a dashing, charming, narcissistic leading man who will steal your heart (maybe literally!) as he travels through dimensions wooing beautiful women. Sophie (a hatmaker??) is a talented, sassy, ever-evolving leading lady who is unwittingly sent upon a journey of self-discovery with Howl. Michael (a wizard's apprentice) is the "boy next door" whose cheeks you just want to pinch. And Calcifer (a fire demon)- oh what a layered, endearing, wonderful character he is!!!

This book has the intelligence of a Gregory Maguire novel, the approachability of Young Adult literature, and the spunk of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Also- it is the first of a trilogy which makes it even more worth reading!!!

Read this with my blessing as a fantasy-obsessed librarian! You will not be disappointed!

Five stars. Ages 10+.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Summer Reading check in...

SUMMER!!!  So much time to read!

I am currently reading The Darkest Part of the Forest, by Holly Black, and Unnatural Creatures, edited by Neil Gaiman.  

16248246The Darkest Part of the Forest

Make the most of your summer and READ.  

On the beach...           At the pool...

During a Florida summer thunderstorm...
(my favorite!)

Now is the time to read what YOU want to read! 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Sky is Everywhere

The Sky is EverywhereThe Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cried like a baby!

It isn't that this book is so sad- I mean, yes, it is sad but that isn't why I cried. This book makes you FEEEEEEEEEEEEL. If you can remember just a drop of what first love is like, this book will kick you in the feels.

Also, Nelson gets bereavement. People have a preconceived notion about how the process of mourning should play out- but unless you are the one mourning you can never judge. Nelson portrays the cloudy haze of grief with realistic accuracy.

When someone close to you dies, you seek out ways to feel like you are with them. If that means doing things you would never have done when they were alive, that's okay. It is okay to smell their weeks old dirty laundry just to sense them. It is okay to want to wear their clothes to be nearer to them. It is even natural to want to be close with those who were close to them- even if that gets confusing.

Grief is a process of redefining what life means without someone who was central to your life. Part of that means redefining who you are because you cannot be the same person without them. There is no predetermined way to do this.

Lennon Walker is a teenage girl with RAGING hormones, superb musical talent, and a recently deceased sister (Bailey) who was her best friend. Her life has been upended.

Joe Fontaine is the GORGEOUS new kid at school who is part French, a musical genius, and never knew Lennon's sister. He is never not smiling (especially at Lennon).

How could Lennon possibly allow someone into her life that never knew Bailey? How can she allow herself to be happy when Bailey is gone? Why would she rather be around Bailey's boyfriend, Toby, than face her emptiness? God, she must be selfish...or maybe, she is alive despite the fact that so much of her has died. Life continues with the living.

Jandy Nelson writes beautiful, emotive, novels which capture the heart. You will fall in love with every character in this book and weep for them.

PERFECT for high school libraries.

Ages 14+

Mister Monday

Mister Monday (The Keys to the Kingdom, #1)Mister Monday by Garth Nix

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Anything written by Garth Nix is golden. The Keys to the Kingdom series is perhaps based off of Matthew 16:19 in the Bible: “To you I shall give the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven; everything that you will bind in the earth will have been bound in Heaven, and anything that you will release in the earth will have been released in Heaven.”

This is a deeply spiritual adventure/fantasy story about a young asthmatic boy named Arthur Penhaligon (Assumedly in honor of Arthur Pendragon?) who narrowly escapes death only to be awarded a partial key to the Kingdom. This key grants him access to the "House" of the "Architect" which has fallen into disarray since the Architect's disappearance.

Upon her depature, the stewards of the house disobeyed the Architect and locked her Will away in seven different places. There are seven stewards, all named for a day of the week, and all have fallen prey to one of the seven deadly sins. The "House," as a result, is suffering.

This first book "Mister Monday" is about the portion of the "House" that has succumbed to Sloth. A portion of the Architect's Will has escaped from Mister Monday's prison and is trying to regain control of Monday's Key through a natural heir- Arthur Penhaligon. Monday has illegally entered the Secondary Realms (our Universe) and has brought a plague upon Arthur's town. It is up to Arthur, and the friend's he makes along the way, to find a cure for the plague and discover how to defeat Monday without getting killed.

While this series is deeply layered with spiritual symbolism and moral ideology of an Agnostic and Humanistic nature, this doesn't detract at all from the excitement of the story. This series has been written for older children yet holds enough depth to interest teens and adults. There are seven books in the series which will keep readers engaged from "Monday" to "Sunday."

I highly recommend this series for Middle School Libraries. 

 Ages 10+.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue

Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle, #3)Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Just when you think you have this series figured out, Maggie Stiefvater adds another layer. Originally, this series is about a rich boy who is running from death and obsessed with a dead Welsh King. But now... Now, it is clear that Richard Gansey III is just a player in a much more complicated game of which Blue Sargent is the epicenter. Adam, Ronan and Noah also have more important roles to play in this story as magician, dreamer, and spirit of the ley line. Blue Lily, Lily Blue is darker and more magickal than its predecessors. It answers some questions but creates many more. There is great loss and great joy and LOTS of mystery. I am looking forward to the concluding novel which comes out in March 2016.

Eleanor and Park

Eleanor and ParkEleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Eleanor Douglas is a thick-set redhead with a bizarre style of dress and a quirky way about her.

Park Sheridan is slight and dark haired, loves comics, Tae Kwon Do, and is the only Asian kid in his school.

Eleanor Douglas comes from a broken home, has been kicked out in the past, and recently moved back in with her mother, her a$$hole stepfather, and her four little siblings.

Park Sheridan comes from a loving bi-racial family, with only one sibling, two parents who adore one-another, and grandparents who dote on him.

Eleanor Douglas wears men's clothes from goodwill, doesn't have a toothbrush, and sometimes has to wash her hair with dog shampoo. She also lives in constant fear of her stepfather's temper.

Park Sheridan has a water bed, a walkman with the latest tapes, and cool clothes like band t-shirts and black jeans. He lives in the constant security of knowing he is loved.

Eleanor loves books and music- so does Park. Eleanor is fierce, so is Park.

Eleanor needs a place to sit on the bus on the first day of school. Park offers her a spot.

Enter destiny...

Eleanor and Park is equal parts true love story and tragic reality. This book is pure emotion. 5 stars.

Ages 14+ for content.

Monday, May 18, 2015


MagoniaMagonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Let me begin by saying that I enjoyed reading this book immensely. The characters are easy to become attached to and the story is unique.


I struggled with the plausibility of this fantasy simply because it takes place in modern society. If Magonia, a country that exists in the sky, was, perhaps, in a parallel dimension or hidden by magic, I could more willingly suspend my disbelief. BUT! In our world of Global Positioning Satellites, there are no more hidden places- especially not the entire sky! Magonia couldn't become invisible to us simply by hiding within storms- despite the fact that they are quasi-magical storms. I am curious to see if Headley can better convince me of this plausibility as the series continues.

THAT being said...

This is a love story of the truest kind. From the moment he laid eyes on Aza Ray in preschool, Jason has loved her. Despite the fact that she was emaciated, gasping, and near to death, Jason always saw the power and spark within her. Aza Ray has loved Jason since she was small as well. His genius, his anxiety, his insatiable need to know things has been the epicenter of her universe forever.

So, when Aza Ray dies, Jason knows the truth when no one else does. Jason knows about Magonia.

Headley expertly develops her characters. Jason is even more lovable than Augustus Waters from The Fault in Our Stars (and he is super-lovable). Aza Ray starts out powerful and admirable, wavers in her resolve midway through the novel (and you kind of want to shake her)- but her power returns.

This may prove to be a wonderful far 4 out of 5 stars.

For ages 12+

Friday, May 8, 2015


I'll Give You the SunI'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is almost impossible to discuss this book without spoiling one of the intricate layers built into its weaving. This is a story about love persevering despite the rules we often force ourselves to live by. This is a story about being brave enough to pursue happiness. This is a story about passion, loss, betrayal, forgiveness, evolution, and joy.

I will not unravel any of Ms. Nelson's gorgeous plot tapestry by giving you a synopsis- every discovery in this book should be yours to savor.

Know this- I'll Give You the Sun is a young adult book that needed to be written. It is beautiful and you must read it.

I will leave you with this quote:

“Or maybe a person is just made up of a lot of people,” I say. “Maybe we’re accumulating these new selves all the time.” Hauling them in as we make choices, good and bad, as we screw up, step up, lose our minds, find our minds, fall apart, fall in love, as we grieve, grow, retreat from the world, dive into the world, as we make things, as we break things.” ― Jandy Nelson, I'll Give You the Sun

~Ages 14+ for content.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

The Golem and the JinniThe Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What defines life? I would argue that Helene Wecker defines life as "Having Free Will." To be alive but to be enslaved, physically, mentally, emotionally, is to be nothing but a walking corpse...a puppet.

A Golem is just that- a clay puppet created to do the will of its master. A Jinni is a transcendental being, untethered by the laws of physics. However, an enslaved Jinni is also a puppet.

Every puppet has a master.

What happens when the masters are gone?

This fantasy novel spans hundreds of years and three countries. We begin in Poland, travel to Syria, and then on to New York City as we follow the paths of Chava and Ahmad.

Chava is a Golem, originally created to be a man's wife- which is a blasphemy. Ahmad is a Jinni, freed from his copper prison but still trapped in human form. Both magical creatures possess abilities that are superhuman. Both must pretend to be human in a world that would never believe them to be otherwise. However, despite their not being human, they experience human life with its joys, pains, and choices.

They possess Free Will but are, unknowingly, in constant threat of losing it.

This is a beautifully written tale that is part historical fiction, part folk tale. The characters are not only developed, they breathe actual breath. Brava Ms. Wecker!

For ages 15+.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot SeeAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

All the Light We Cannot See is the power of the love that lives within us...connecting us to the universe...tying together the fates of complete strangers in the midst of a cruel and evil war. All the Light We Cannot See is the joy within our own minds...our perception of the world from its sounds, smells, vibrations...our memories and our and words traveling through time and space.

World War II:

France- a blind child and her locksmith father, living in Paris...a love that transcends everything...forced to flee for safety...carrying a priceless treasure.

Germany- an orphan boy and his sister, living in a Children's Home...a bond that has survived loss...separated by opportunity...the boy a scientific genius.

Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See is a masterpiece of historical fiction. We follow the lives of Marie-Laure, a blind French girl forced to leave her home and take up residence with a mentally fragile great uncle, and Werner, an orphaned German Boy who is recruited by the Nazi Army because of his talent with radio waves. The difference between these two children is that one is ruled by fear while the other is empowered by chooses to be blind while the other cannot help but see.

Strength and justice exist in the most unlikely places in this novel. It is the damaged, the broken, and the weak who behave righteously and make positive change. Good and evil blur and we witness the power of choice in defining who people are.

This novel is a journey back and forth through is the death of innocence and the birth of principles.

Zach Appelman gives an amazing performance in the reading of this audiobook. This is a must read (or listen to) for anyone who has pondered how humanity survives the malice of war and can still find the light.

Ages 17+

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Raven Cycle, Book #2

The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle, #2)The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What began as a story about a rich teen obsessed with the legend of a Welsh king has now become so layered that there truly is no main character- they are all essential. The Raven Boys was Gansey's book and the Dream Thieves belongs to Ronan.

Ronan, the edgy bad-boy who attends Aglionby Academy, is so much more than that. He has the ability to manifest anything he dreams into reality- a power his father also possessed.

Ronan is also a truly benevolent human being with a powerful set of values. Despite the pain he has endured in his life and the confusing abilities he is learning to control, his core is good. Ronan's exterior hides a lot of secrets- some of which are slyly revealed in this second volume of The Raven Cycle.

This volume also brings us closer to Maura, Calla, Persephone and all of the psychics at 300 Fox way.

We learn more about The Gray Man and find it a bit harder to despise him.

Adam uncovers the mystery of his sacrifice.

Blue honestly faces her feelings.

The magic is kicked up a notch in Dream Thieves inviting the reader into the world of dreams and the delicate balance that exists there.

This is another beautifully written Stiefvater novel with excellent character development and impeccable setting. I am very much looking forward to reading book 3, Blue Lily, Lily Blue.

Ages 14+.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station ElevenStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Imagine a flu so powerful that 99% of the world's population is annihilated in weeks. Then, imagine surviving that.

Today, we live in a privileged, hyper-communicative, overdeveloped, technologically dependent society. So, what happens to that society when the power runs out and the infrastructure falls apart? What is left?

Survivors: People who, through sheer luck, manage to escape the plague and are left to pick up the pieces.

Station Eleven takes place both before and after a catastrophic pandemic- but it isn't really about the disease. It is concerned with the before and after. Station Eleven is a novel dealing with people and how their actions define who they are. It is about choosing to be humane in a world that has almost lost humanity.

More specifically, Station Eleven is about a circle of people whose lives are unknowingly intertwined both before and after.

This novel left me feeling invested. Brava Emily St. John Mandel.

Suggested for ages 15+. Written for adults.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Guardian of Tarnec, Book One, Lark Rising

Lark Rising (Guardians of Tarnec, #1)Lark Rising by Sandra Waugh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sandra Waugh's debut novel, Lark Rising, is a typical story of good versus evil, light versus dark. It is like a simplified Tolkien story complete with little people, a quest, and magical artifacts that impact the balance of the world. That being said, I found myself missing Lark and her companions when I wasn't reading their story. 

While I feel as if it is the kind of tale that has been told before, there was enough about it that was unique and endearing to keep me glued to the story. Waugh's writing is warm, full of imagery, and more approachable for teens than Tolkien and other adult fantasy series. Her characters are lovable, if a bit predictable. 

For those who love a good fantasy tale, Lark Rising beautifully fits the bill. I am looking forward to the books that follow.

Suggested for ages 11+.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Scorpio Races

The Scorpio RacesThe Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Scorpio Races is a gorgeous novel which is set on a fictitious Celtic Island, called Thisby, in what seems to be roughly 1917 or, at least, mid-suffrage-movement society.  Thisby is a small, close-knit island with a strong tourist industry based around its unique horses called the Capall Uisce (capul ishka).  The Capall Uisce are fantastical water horses that migrate out of the sea and onto the Thisby beaches each winter.  They are strong, beautiful, fast and extremely carnivorous.  They will and have eaten men.

 Each year on Thisby the people hold Scorpio Races in which they ride and race on the Capall Uisce.  The races draw spectators from all over the world.  The races are always deadly.

Sean Kendrick has won the Scorpio Races four times.  Puck Connolly has not only never attended the races but both her parents were killed by Capall Uisce.  Sean Kendrick has a magical bond with the Water Horses.  Puck Connolly has never even ridden one.  Yet, this year, both Sean and Puck (Kate) will be riding in the races, each with their future happiness depending upon a win.

Stiefvater creates a rich and lovely world on Thisby.  Her characters are full and believable. Their lives are interesting and engaging.  This is an indisputable success for Maggie Stiefvater.

Recommended for ages 11+.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

Sinner (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #4)Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I began this book hoping for the closure that Forever did not bring to me.

This, again, is a love story that happens to involve a young man who can shift into a wolf.

This is a story about addiction, self-loathing, discovering your truth, and self-acceptance.

This is a story about letting go of the past and forgiving yourself.

Cole St. Clair, rock-star werewolf, evolves more in Sinner than in any of his metamorphoses from man to beast.

Isabel Culpeper, gorgeous ice-queen, spends most of this novel running from herself and from the potential of happiness, fearing the inevitability that life might be wonderful.

This tale is beautifully spun and it depicts a love quite different than the simple, pure love of Mercy Fall's Sam and Grace. Isabel and Cole are all fire and chaos and tumultuous energy. They are passion and need and truth.

Sinner is an excellent addition to the Wolves of Mercy Falls.
However, if you are still wondering how Sam and Grace are dealing with a lifetime of seasonal shifts, you do not get much in the way of answers.

This is Cole and Isabel's story.

Ages 15+ for content. Not suitable for a Middle School Library.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

A Book Fair for a Good Cause

I am so excited for this year's Book Fair!  We are raising money for a local private Foster Care program and the funds will directly impact these children in a positive way.  The students in my Library Media Club assisted with set up and will help me to run the fair.  Here are some photos of our setup event last night:

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Shiver (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #1)Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a love story. It just so happens that some people in this story turn into wolves in the Winter. Don't let that distract you from the fact that this is a love story. This isn't a Werewolf Thriller, or even a Paranormal Romance. It is a love story between two young people who belong together- Sam and Grace.

Ages 14+ due to content.

Linger (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #2)Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Just when you think the love story has its happy ending- that pesky Wolf disease starts to show its ugly face again.

Grace always thought her dad inadvertently "cooked" the Wolf toxins out of her when he negligently left her in a hot car as a child. Unfortunately, those toxins were just temporarily dormant. So now, after Sam is supposedly "cured," Grace faces the oncoming wolf...

Ages 14+ due to content.

Forever (The Wolves of Mercy Falls, #3)Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If this is the final book in this series, then I am very frustrated. NOT ENOUGH CLOSURE! Too many loose ends!! OMG- Isabelle and Cole? The rest of the pack? The cure? The new house? I feel undone!!! I need more Wolves of Mercy Falls!

Ages 14+ due to content.

BOOK 4!!!! Thank Goodness!! CLICK HERE!!!...okay, I feel better.  There is one more Wolves of Mercy Falls books left to read.  This better answer my questions!!!

14+, READ THIS SERIES!  You will love it! 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Creating Our Very Own READBOX!!!

So, you have all heard of the quick video rental system called Redbox...

Well, our Library Media Club is going to create a book recommendation display called a READBOX!

With the school's permission, and with my father's expertise, I purchased the raw materials for our new display...

Within a day, my amazing father built us a gorgeous READBOX display...

Now, the Library Media Club will paint it, decorate it, and fill it with their favorite books and book reviews...

Stay tuned to see the final product...

Speed Dating with Books!

This past week in Library Media Club,  We had a Speed Dating activity.  We had six books and a stack of DATE CARDS at each of the five tables.  Students had 3 minutes per table to peruse the books and rate them on the DATE  CARDS.  The books were rated from 1-10 (10 being the highest) based on how much the students would like to read them.  After the 3 minute timer went off (we used ), students moved to the next table.  

The 5 tables were: 

  1. Biography 

  1. Nonfiction  

  1. Graphic Novel Fiction and Nonfiction 

  1. Realistic Fiction and Adventure 

  1. Fantasy 

Upon the sounding of the final timer, the students circled their three top-rated books on their cards.    I drew names from a cup to determine who was able to check out their book first.  

We had a lot of fun and the kids went home with books they were really excited to read!!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Raven Boys

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1)The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The audiobook version of The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, read by Will Patton, was an amazing listening experience. I enjoyed this book so much, I immediately purchased the text version so I could read it again myself. Stiefvater is a writer- wholly and truly. This story flowed flawlessly and I was captivated by Stiefvater's wit, humor, and talent for detail.

The Raven Boys takes place in a modern day Henrietta, VA. Blue Sargent, the female protagonist, is the only child of a for-real psychic and the only non-psychic member of an all psychic family. Every member of Blue's family has foreseen that if Blue ever kisses her true love, he will die. Trippy.

The Raven Boys are a group of (mostly) wealthy high school boys who attend an exclusive and prestigious college preparatory school called Aglionby Academy. These are the kinds of boys Blue avoids like the plague. However, not every boy at Aglionby fits the shallow, egotistical stereotype that Blue has boxed them in to.

Gansey, Adam, Ronan, and Noah are Raven Boys who have a very strange passion. They want to discover a spiritual ley line in Henrietta and wake the spirit of a dead Welsh king. That doesn't exactly sound like a typical Country Club activity. So, of course, a group of boys obsessed with the paranormal will cross paths with the daughter of a psychic...especially when they seek out psychic advice for their supernatural quest...

The Raven Boys is the first of a quartet called The Raven Cycle. Stiefvater weaves a tale full of mystery, emotion, and wonder. You will fall in love with the exquisitely developed characters in this well-told story.

Five out of five stars. Ages 14+ because of language (but I would let MY kids read this in Middle School).

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

The Iron Trial (Magisterium, #1)The Iron Trial by Cassandra Clare

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Twelve years ago, Callum Hunt was born to powerful Mage parents. As an infant, he was crippled in a Mage war which also claimed his mother’s life. His father, who blames magic for the death of his wife, was left to raise Call alone.

The rule in Callum’s home is that Magic is evil and should never be performed, but Call has been born with magical skill. Call’s father is adamant that he is never to use this power and wants him to go so far as to purposely fail his Iron Trial, which is the admittance test to magic school at the Magisterium. However, certain destinies cannot be thwarted.

Let me say first that I did enjoy this story. However there are some definite similarities to Harry Potter that are hard to see past.
1. Two boys and a girl are the main characters.
2. A child survives an attack in which everyone else dies, leaving that child with an injury and strange powers.
3. A former magic school student grows up to be the most evil mage in history.

However, I think there are enough differences to make this a series worth reading. Take the Harry Potter plot and scramble it up in a blender- and there you have the Iron Trial. Clare and Black keep you guessing and competently maintain the mystery throughout the book. By the end of the story, I was very engaged and ready for the sequel.

Four out of five stars. Ages 11 and up.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire

Egg and SpoonEgg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Gregory Maguire writes as a part of the universal weaving of folklore. His tales are spiritual and surreal as they spin the web of the human experience through adventures of evolution and magic. You don't just read a Gregory Maguire book, you surrender to it- literally cozying up to its warmth and mysticism. His stories are microcosms in which one willingly gets lost in order to feel something otherworldly.

Egg and Spoon is a gorgeous tale of the human condition and the power of love to motivate one's goodness. Told in Russia near the end of the Romanov Dynasty, Egg and Spoon paints a picture of the extreme socioeconomic inequities and the beautiful folklore tradition of the time. This is a child's story told with such mastery that anyone willing to apply their mind, and capitulate their imagination, will be drawn into its power.

Elena Rudina is a peasant girl from a starving village. Her father has died, her mother is deathly ill, and her brothers are taken away for servitude and soldiering. She has completely run out of food and hope when a luxurious train filled with nobility is forced to station in her village.

Ekaterina is a wealthy girl from a noble house. Her parents rarely see her. She has been pulled from her boarding school in London to make a journey to St. Petersburg with her Great Aunt to meet the eligible godson of the Tsar. She wishes she had just been left in England. She doesn't think much of anything about peasants, until the day her train breaks down in a destitute village.

Baba Yaga, The Firebird, and the Icedragon are storybook characters in the folklore of Elena and Ekaterina's world. Believing in witches, dragons and wish-granting birds means giving into fancies and acting like a child. When one is starving to death or journeying to meet the Tsar, one doesn't have time for such childish nonsense.

But sometimes, one lightning strike can change everything you thought you knew and one adventure can change everything you thought you were.

Cue trading places.

Maguire maintains the standard of his mastery in this tale of children, and magic, and what makes life worth living.

Five Stars. Recommended for ages 11 and up.

Children, keep a dictionary next to you as you read this, it is worth the journey.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Fortunately the Milk by Neil Gaiman

Fortunately, the MilkFortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One thing this small book proves as true is that Neil Gaiman has not forgotten what it is to be a little boy.

I decided to read this book (which was a gift for my son) after I witnessed something rather miraculous. My son likes to read, but usually requires some encouragement to keep at it for more than 20 minutes at a time. Upon opening Fortunately the Milk, my 9 year old boy became glued to the spot and did not close the book until it was completed. His face was pale and his eyes were large (as it was past his bedtime) but he insisted upon relating his favorite parts to me before going to sleep.

I promised him I would interrupt the other books I was reading in order to read this one right away.

Fortunately the Milk (FTM) is a little over 100 pages, many of them being illustrated. It reads a bit like a Roald Dahl book that married a Dr. Seuss story. Specifically, I was reminded of Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator and To Think that I Saw it on Mulberry Street. FTM is chock-full of nonsense and stream of consciousness story-telling. It has the ridiculousness that young children find completely diverting.

When a boy and his little sister discover that there is no milk for their cereal, their father goes out to buy them some...only he is gone for "ages and ages." As explanation for why he took so long, their father relates a fantastical tale involving aliens, dinosaurs, pirates and time-travel.

FTM is perfect for elementary-aged children between ages 7 to 11 (give or take). The humorous illustrations help to keep hesitant readers engaged in a fast-paced adventure story. FTM is actually a short story, as it isn't divided into chapters, and is too long to be a picture book. It is the perfect length for the wiggly, squirmy type that don't often sit still long enough to read. Gaiman accurately captures the spirit of a child's imagination while the illustrator, Skottie Young accentuates the story with images that are humorous while not being cutesy.

If I were a 9 year old boy, I would probably give this tale 5 stars. However, having read almost all of Gaiman's works and knowing what he is capable of, I gave this book 4 stars. I am sort of like that professor that only gives an A- because to give an A would mean perfection.

I HIGHLY recommend this book for any children's or elementary school library.