Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Another year down...And a very happy birthday!

Have you ever had a project you absolutely loved doing, but you are always sooo relieved when it's actually done?  That's the annual Teen Film Festival for me.  We're in our fifth year, and the entries keep getting better.  But it's an exhausting task.

I wanted an event that would celebrate the passions and interests of young filmmakers.  After spending two years marveling at the talents of a local high schools media class, I knew that I wanted to recognize their achievements when I moved into the public library realm.  Thus the Teen Film Festival was born.  Not only has it created a platform for up-and-coming film, but it has also allowed me to build and foster some pretty awesome community connections.

If you know a teen who loves film, help them find an outlet.  Who knows, maybe the next Spielberg is in your own backyard.  And if you have the time, definitely check out the entries from this year's festival (

Congratulations to the student filmmakers of the 2014 Teen Film Festival!

And a very happy birthday to my little brother!  It's hard to believe you're 27...only because that makes me really old :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Top 10 Female Characters Who Totally Kick Butt

Top Ten Female Characters Who Totally Kick Butt
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

Today is a bit of a freebie.  It's our top ten whatever characters.  All I had to do was fill in the blank! I was leaning toward fictional boyfriends, but that gets a little weird, so I decided to take another route.  In no particular order, here are a few of my favorite kick-butt female protagonists.  Sometimes these ladies literally kick butt.  Sometimes they're just fierce women who know who they are and live life according to their own rules.  Either way, they're ladies that every contemporary teen should get to know.  There's a lesson or two to learn along the way.

1) Caelena Sardothian
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Literally kicks butt and doesn't let anyone push her around.
2) Liesel Meminger
The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
Liesel is a survivor.  She finds her way through each tragedy.

3) Finley Jayne
The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross
Finley is a force to be reckoned with.  She's her own woman.
4) Sophronia Temminick
Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger
Sophronia is clever, quick witted, and extremely mischievous.  My kind of girl.

5) Lex Bartleby
Croak by Gina Damico
She's a reaper, saving souls, but, good or bad, she's a fighter.
6) Sabriel
Sabriel by Garth Nix
She might have an unexpected destiny, but she faces it with courage.
7) Puck Connolly
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Puck is terribly stubborn and fiercely courageous.

8) Josie Moraine
 Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
She never gives up and dreams big.  And she's stubborn.  Love a stubborn girl.

9) Nancy Kington
Pirates! by Celia Rees
She wants more than her station in life will allow, and she sails the seven seas to find it.

10) Queenie
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
The definition of kick butt.  

Katniss Everdeen (before she gets SUPER whiney), Sunday Woodcutter, Hermione Granger, Katarina Bishop, Hazel Grace Lancaster...there are so many kick-butt female characters

Friday, April 18, 2014

Dogs of War

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): A love story for man, and soldier's, best friend.

Author: Sheila Keenan and Nathan Fox
Info: GRAPHIX, copyright 2013, 208 pages

Hub Challenge Read: Great Graphic Novel #hubchallenge

Some war heroes heard the wind whistling over a hidden trip wire.
Some war heroes sniffed out a sniper 1,000 yards away.
Some war heroes stood tall . . . on four legs!

DOGS OF WAR is a graphic novel that tells the stories of the canine military heroes of World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War. This collection of three fictional stories was inspired by historic battles and real military practice. Each story tells the remarkable adventures of a soldier and his service dog and is rendered with fascinating and beautiful detail bringing to life the faithful dogs who braved bombs, barrages, and battles to save the lives of countless soldiers.

~Goodreads Description~

Confession...I only picked up this particular title because it was on the Hub Challenge reading list.  And another confession...I'm slowly making my way specifically through the graphic novels on that list because they're quick to read and my only chance of reading 25 titles.

But I loved it, and it most assuredly deserves the accolade of "Great Graphic Novel." Three stories, three time periods, three tales of heroic men and canine companions in the midst of war, Dogs of War is touching and exciting.  Everyone loves a touching, heartfelt story about the relationship between man and dog, and this small book has it in abundance.  The story weaves its way from an orphaned kid in Word War I surviving the trenches, to a young man in a frozen tundra looking for adventure, and a soldier returned home from war finding it hard to leave the battlefield behind.  It's an interesting take on the armed services and love story to the animals that have helped in the war efforts.

A must have for library shelves.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): Growing up is hard...letting go is even harder.  And all's fair in love and scavenger hunts.

Author: Tara Altebrando
Info: Dutton Juvenile, copyright 2012, 239 pages

An all-day scavenger hunt in the name of eternal small-town glory

With only a week until graduation, there's one last thing Mary and her friends must do together: participate in the Oyster Point High Official Unofficial Senior Week Scavenger Hunt. And Mary is determined to win.

Mary lost her spot at Georgetown to self-professed "it" bully Jake Barbone, and she's not about to lose again. But everyone is racing for the finish line with complicated motives, and the team's all-night adventure becomes all-night drama as shifting alliances, flared tempers, and crushing crushes take over. As the items and points pile up, Mary and her team must reinvent their strategy--and themselves--in order to win.

~Goodreads Description~

I SO wanted to fall in love with Tara Alterbrando's The Best Night of Your (Pathetic) Life.  It has tons of my favorite story elements.  An epic night...scavenger hunts...the end of high school and the fear of college...secret crushes.  But I just didn't love it, and I've been trying to figure out why.

This is what I've got...I'm too old.  I think I'm too old to appreciate the nostalgia or sense of place that this book might bring to a reader.  There were too many love woes (Mary loved Carson...who loved Winter...who was in love with Carson...but knew Mary loved Carson...and Patrick loved Mary...but Mary just wanted to be friends...and Dez was pretty much in love with himself...and messy).

Drama, drama, drama.

And after reading some exceptionally well-written books over the past few months, this particular story and writing style fell short.  I kept going to the mantra I've heard so many creative writing teachers preach, "show me, don't tell."  I want to feel the angst instead of heaving you tell me it's there.  I want you to give me enough credit as a reader to know who is speaking at any particular time with out constantly being told that "he said" something or "she asked" something.  Really.  I'm good.

The book has potential.  It just fell short of my expectations.  But, with all of that being said, there is definitely a lot in the book that might attract the attention of a teen reader.  If you know a teen who is worried about what's next, figuring out the college thing while having to let go of high school...this might be the right choice.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Top 10 Bookish Dream Items

Top Ten Bookish Things (That Aren't Books)
That I'd Like To Own
 (Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

Oh that I could afford all the bookish items I want.  Here are just a few...

1) A Wrinkle in Time T-Shirt
 2) Book Text Scarf

 3) Book Stairs!!!!!

 4) This Room in my house...

 5) A Literary Tattoo

 6) Tolkien phone case

 7) Narnia Lamp Post Pendant
8) LOTR Doormat
9) Diagon Alley Legos

 10) Alice in Wonderland Mad Hatter Mug

What's on your bookish item must-have list?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Boxers & Saints

Author: Gene Luen Yang
Info: First Second, copyright 2013, 325 pages, 170 pages
YALSA Great Graphic Novel

Hub Challenge Read - #hubchallenge

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): The Boxer Rebellion through the eyes of a young warrior and saint.

Boxer: China, 1898. Bands of foreign missionaries and soldiers roam the countryside, bullying and robbing Chinese peasants.

Little Bao has had enough. Harnessing the powers of ancient Chinese gods, he recruits an army of Boxers--commoners trained in kung fu--who fight to free China from "foreign devils."

Against all odds, this grass-roots rebellion is violently successful. But nothing is simple. Little Bao is fighting for the glory of China, but at what cost? So many are dying, including thousands of "secondary devils"--Chinese citizens who have converted to Christianity.

Saints: China, 1898. An unwanted and unwelcome fourth daughter, Four-Girl isn't even given a proper name by her family when she's born. She finds friendship--and a name, Vibiana--in the most unlikely of places: Christianity. 

But China is a dangerous place for Christians. The Boxer Rebellion is in full swing, and bands of young men roam the countryside, murdering Westerners and Chinese Christians alike. Torn between her nation and her Christian friends, Vibiana will have to decide where her true loyalties lie...and whether she is willing to die for her faith.

~Goodreads Description~

I've been a fan of Gene Luen Yang for quite some time.  I was first introduced to his style of storytelling in American Born Chinese.  He introduces the reader to Chinese culture in an accessible way, telling history through beautiful artwork and folklore.

In Boxer, we see the rise of western religion in rural China with the introduction of missionaries into the countryside and the inevitable backlash from local resistance.  Then we also get to see the flip side, in Saints.  A young girl, a convert, is looking for a way to belong in late 19th century China, and she finds it with the ghost of a saint and the acceptance of a foreign faith.

I'm usually not a fan of historical fiction, but Gene Luen Yang manages to make it thrilling and engaging.  I know very little of Chinese history, but I might just have to read a little more on the Boxer Rebellion.

Friday, April 11, 2014


Author: Marissa Meyer
Audiobook Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Info: Macmillan Young Listeners, copyright 2012, 8 CDs

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): 

Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . . 

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

~Goodreads Description~

Don't you hate it when you read a story you really like, but then you forget nearly all of it before the sequel comes out?  I've been wanting to finish this series, but knew I wouldn't have time for a Cinder re-read, so I decided to give the audiobook a shot. accented reader, but for once, that was just fine.  Rebecca Soler does an excellent job bringing Cinder to life.  The story, just as I remember it now, is creative, clever, and a lot of fun.  Aliens, cyborgs, magic, has it all.  And now I'm ready for Scarlet!  I think I'm going to have to continue with the audiobook now that the voice of Cinder is clear in my head.

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