Friday, May 31, 2013

Library GrabBag: A Twist of a Drawing Contest

Thank goodness I hired a creative, fun person for Teen Services!  Go Emily (and Becky of course)!  So Becky came up with another fantastic passive program last week.  It definitely gave me a good chuckle.  We hosted a "Draw the Idiom" contest.  All you need is a flyer listing the idioms (which I've included below), a stack of blank white paper, and a container of pencils and markers.  Voila!  Free, cheap, and fun program for any size teen room.  And to top it off, you might just get some cool artwork for your walls.  I'll try to post some of our entries later this week.  But for now, enjoy the idioms!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Waiting: A review

Author: Carol Lynch Williams
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster
Info: Copyright 2012, 335 pages

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): A beautiful story of grief and life in verse.

Growing up in Africa and Latin America as the children of missionaries, London and Zach were as close as could be. And then Zach dies, and the family is gutted. London’s father is distant. Her mother won’t speak. The days are filled with what-ifs and whispers: Did Zach take his own life? Was it London’s fault?

Alone and adrift, London finds herself torn between her brother’s best friend and the handsome new boy in town as she struggles to find herself—and ultimately redemption—in this authentic and affecting novel from award-winning novelist Carol Lynch Williams.

~Goodreads Description~

The Breakdown
It has been nine months.  Nine months since London Castle had a brother.  Nine months since her mother had talked to her.  Nine months since the world seemed right.  London feels as if she's lost everything.  Her friends at school have stopped talking to her, her dad works long hours to avoid coming home, and she's lost, empty.  And then a new family moves into town.  And an old friend tries to reconnect.  And the courage London has needed to slowly wake up from the nightmare she's been living starts to creep into small moments each and every day.

The Awesome
 At first I had trouble with the novel-in-verse structure.  I couldn't find a rhythm.  The words felt disjointed and choppy.  And then I realized the brilliance of this structure.  It mirrored London's pain.  Only a few words escaping at any one time.  London chocked on words.  She couldn't find them.  Had no reason to talk.  So the novel-in-verse structure was absolutely perfect.

The Not So Awesome
Worst. Mother. Ever.  Before the incident.  Before the grief.  She still was awful.  What kind of mother openly admits and flaunts favoritism toward a child.  She was just...ick.

I've never known grief like London's.  I've never lost anyone unexpectedly.  I've never felt crushing sorrow.  I can't imagine losing a best friend, brother, or son before his time.  I truly hope I never have to.  So it was difficult for me to grasp what London was experiencing.  Beyond the grief, Carol Lynch Williams has told a story of faith, of love, of hope, and of friendship.  That's what I loved the most about this book.  Faith is hard, but can heal.  Loneliness can be easier, but friendship can heal.  Hatred can consume, but love can heal.  Hope can feel impossible, but it can be real.   Just a beautiful book.

Similar Titles The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen, My Sister Lives On the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher, Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Arata: A manga review

Author: Yuu Watase,On Goodreads
Publisher: Viz Media
Info: Copyright, 208 pages

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): A plot to kill a princess backfires when Arata turns out not to be the girl he seems.

In a mythical world where humans and gods co-exist, Arata has the unfortunate honor of being the successor to the matriarchal Hime Clan. This means he has to pretend to be a girl or face death if his true gender is discovered! On the day of his inauguration, an assassination plot forces him to flee—and he somehow winds up in modern-day Japan! Meanwhile, a boy named Arata Hinohara gets sucked into the first Arata’s world and finds himself dealing with people after his life!

~Amazon Description~

Okay.  So in volume one, this is where we're at: There are two young men named Arata.  Arata #1 lives in a world in which humans coexist with swords that are actually gods.  The princess of the land keeps things in order using her special mumbojumbo.  When a plot to kill the princess goes awry and Arata is the main suspect, he flees into the forest and away from these warrior guys.  In the forest he falls through...something...and ends up in modern day Japan.

Arata #2 is a young boy starting a school in modern day Japan.  He's starting in a new school after being bullied at the last.  Everything is going great until the bully enrolls in his new school and things start to unravel.  As Arata #1 enters his world, Arata #2 is sent spiraling into a past land with weird magic where he is now being accused of murder.

Then there's volume 2.  Arata #2 has been captured and thrown into a jail, of sorts, where there is a daily reckoning...two inmates are sucked into tubes and mysteriously disappear.  Arata and Kotoha must find a way out of the prison to return and help the princess.

And volume 3...well, we see Arata #1 at school, not fitting in, but thankfully dealing with Arata #2's bully situation.  Now out of the prison, Arata #2 and some new traveling companions are crossing the lands of a Sho (who wants the throne from the princess) to get back to the capital city.  So things are progressing!

So things are progressing nicely, and I'm really starting to enjoy the story, even if I'm not completely sure what's happening...completely.  I can, however, tell you there is time travel, ailing princesses, magical sword things, mean bullies, and brave heroes.  Check it out!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Top 10 Books I wish I could read again for the first time

Top 10 books I wish I could read again for the first time

Today's a freebie, meaning I get to pick the topic!  I thought it would be easy, but I ended up starting three or four lists and failing.  Apparently I need guidance.  Finally I picked a topic that I managed to finish.

There's nothing quite like finding a book that immediately sucks you in and leaves you wanting more.  Some books stay with you for a long time after the last page.  You think about them, revisit certain sections, and wish you could have that same excitement again.  Not that the book is ruined, but it's never the same the second or third time you pick it up for a quick read.  Here are a few books that I wish I could revisit again for the first time:

1. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Magic, romance, intrigue, and the coolest circus ever.

2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
It was a bittersweet reading, but one of anticipation and emotion.

 3. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
While Wade was searching for the easter egg, I was searching for great pop culture references.
4. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
A story that equal parts creeped me out and kept me on the edge of my seat.

5. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
I know.  But it was fun!  
6. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
You don't often find a book that leaves you crying inconsolably
and laughing hysterically at the same time.

7. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
So romantic.  So heartbreaking. So perfect.

8. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
To step through the wardrobe with Lucy for the first time again would be magical. 

9. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
No surprise mysteries aren't the same the second time around,
but this sure would be a fun one to work through again.

10. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
It sort of feels like I'm reading it for the first time whenever
someone new discovers it, but still not the same.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Q & A Bloopers

It's bloopers time!  Our last Q&A was all about our process on making YouTube videos.  Here's just a few of the moments left on the editing floor.  For more things library related, be sure to check out

Happy Memorial Day and a HUGE THANK YOU to all of the men and women
who have served and who are serving in our armed forces!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Take a Bow: a review

Author: Elizabeth Eulberg
Publisher: Point
Info: Copyright 2012, 278 pages

A review in 10 words (or therabouts): Drama, drama, drama, music, and learning to live in the spotlight.

Emme, Sophie, Ethan, and Carter are seniors at a performing arts school, getting ready for their Senior Showcase recital, where the pressure is on to appeal to colleges, dance academies, and professionals in show business. For Sophie, a singer, it's been great to be friends with Emme, who composes songs for her, and to date Carter, soap opera heartthrob who gets plenty of press coverage. Emme and Ethan have been in a band together through all four years of school, but wonder if they could be more than just friends and bandmates. Carter has been acting since he was a baby, and isn't sure how to admit that he'd rather paint than perform. The Senior Showcase is going to make or break each of the four, in a funny, touching, spectacular finale that only Elizabeth Eulberg could perform.

~Goodreads Description~

 The Breakdown
 It's senior year at CPA (Creative Performing Arts) which means senior showcases and increased competition between students vying for a spot in front of important college recruiters.  Carter, the child movie star, just wants to be normal for a change.  Sophie, the would-be diva, is still waiting for her break out moment.  Ethan, the musical genius, is fighting insecurities.  And Emme, the composer extraordinaire, is holding them all together.

The Awesome
I love stories centered around music, probably because I don't have an ounce of musical ability in my body and I'm completely envious.  Eulberg does a fantastic job detailing the competitive nature of specialized schools.  The story is told in multiple perspectives which makes it a quick, easy read.

The Not So Awesome
The multiple perspectives have a tendency to take away from character development.  Why I enjoyed the story (despite the immense amount of high school drama), I never really felt attached to any of the characters.  The story was really about Emme, and while it was interesting gaining different perspectives of the story unfolding, you lose some of the emotion that more time on one perspective would have given.

Overall, an enjoyable read.  If you're looking for something fun and light...or you love "I love you"..."I hate you"..."I love you"..."I hate you"...then pick up Elizabeth Eulberg's Take a Bow.

Similar Titles:  Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg, The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Cardboard: A graphic novel review

By Doug TenNapel
On Goodreads
Graphix, copyright 2012

When cardboard creatures come magically to life, a boy must save his town from disaster.

Cam's down-and-out father gives him a cardboard box for his birthday and he knows it's the worst present ever. So to make the best of a bad situation, they bend the cardboard into a man-and to their astonishment, it comes magically to life. But the neighborhood bully, Marcus, warps the powerful cardboard into his own evil creations that threaten to destroy them all!

~Goodreads Description~

Unable to afford a birthday gift for his son Cam, Mike stumbles upon a side-of-the-road salesman who offers him an unusual present idea, a cardboard box.  Mike and Cam quickly find out that this is not your usual, run-of-the-mill kind of cardboard and the imagination can be a powerful, and terrifying, thing.

Loved Ghostopolis...LOVE LOVE Cardboard.  Doug TenNapel is a genius.  He crafts an amazing story and follows it up with beautiful illustrations.  The "villain", Marcus, reminds me a lot of Sid from Toy Story.  He's a little demented and creepy, but, unlike Sid, he's not sadistic.  And Cam is full of heart and spunk.  I liked everyone including the amazing cardboard creatures that fill each page.

If you're looking for a truly fun story with a lot of heart, check out Cardboard by Doug TenNapel.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Top 10 Book Covers of Books I've Read

Top 10 Book Covers of Books I've Read
(Feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish)

For a girl who judges a book by its cover...this was so easy!  There are some fantastic (and fantastically cheesy) book covers on the shelves today, but here are a few of my favorites.


Monday, May 20, 2013

Library Shorts: Emily's Decor Style

Library Shorts: Emily shares some home decor

So, as you can see, I have a pretty eclectic style!  What I failed to mention is that not all of my pop culture paraphernalia was relegated to the red two sets of Star Trek drinking glasses are proudly on display in my kitchen!  Let's face it, I'm not that grown up.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Emily Gets Crafty

As a book nerd, I'm always on the look out for crafts that involve re-purposing some of the "older" books I find in book sales.  Not only do they add a personal touch to my home, they are also just totally awesome.  I have no qualms about tearing up a book.  It's had a good life.  Now it can remain beautiful as a picture or flower bouqeuet.  Usually the vision in my head is much different than the final product, but this particular craft turned out okay!  Thanks to and for their great tutorials on printing onto book pages.  I decided to add so of my favorite book quotes and images to make it super special.

 "I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it.  I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia." ~The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis

 "Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy.  They don't eat up people's gardens,
don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. 
That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."  ~To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly.  What is essential is invisible to the eye."  
~The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

"We're all stories in the end.  Just make it a good one, eh?"
~Doctor Who

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Great Gatsby: A book review

Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Publisher:  Scribner
Info: Copyright 1925, 180 pages

Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald's--and his country's--most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings. Gatsby's rise to glory and eventual fall from grace becomes a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream...It's also a love story, of sorts, the narrative of Gatsby's quixotic passion for Daisy Buchanan.

~Goodreads Description~

The Breakdown

Nick Carraway escapes to Long Island as he starts a new job in New York city.  After visiting his uber-wealthy cousin and her husband one beautiful day, Nick learns that he is living next door to the also uber-wealthy, mysterious Jay Gatsby.  When a formal invitation arrives at his home one day, Nick attends one of Gatsby's lavish parties, and thus begins a friendship that will change Nick's life forever.

The Awesome
I loved it.  Much of this has to do with Fitzgerald’s conversational writing style and my fondness for tragic love stories, but I was pleasantly surprised by this heart-wrenching American classic.  Nick Carraway is a strong, descriptive narrator and Jay Gatsby, despite his tendency to embellish the truth, is endearing and likeable.  I really wanted to take them by the shoulders and shake them into common sense during their doomed summer as neighbors, but alas, I could not.

I am ashamed to say that I only read the book because of Leonardo Dicaprio, which, I am not ashamed to say, is an excellent reason to read a book.  My rule, book first, than movie.  So many years after choosing a different book over Gatsby in my sophomore English class, I picked up the classic and sped through it.  My appreciation for the novel increased after watching John Green's "Crash Course" videos followed shortly after by Baz Luhrman's artistic depiction of this American classic.  It was a full Gatsby weekend.

Sure, Daiy Buchanan sucks, Tom Buchanan is a racist, and Jay Gatsby teeters on unsympathetic through all of his lies, but I still enjoyed them all.  If you're looking to tackle a classic that isn't painful to read, look up The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Friends With Boys: A graphic novel review

By Faith Erin Hicks
FirstSecond, copyright 2012
On Goodreads

A coming-of-age tale with a spooky twist!

Maggie McKay hardly knows what to do with herself. After an idyllic childhood of homeschooling with her mother and rough-housing with her older brothers, it’s time for Maggie to face the outside world, all on her own. But that means facing high school first. And it also means solving the mystery of the melancholy ghost who has silently followed Maggie throughout her entire life. Maybe it even means making a new friend—one who isn’t one of her brothers.

~Goodreads Description~

It's Maggie's first day of high school, and after being homeschooled most of her life, it's an adjustment.  Sure, her three brothers are there as well, but they've got their own lives and don't have time to walk her to class or sit with her at lunch.  Enter Lucy and Alistair, two loners who take Maggie under their wing.

I liked this one!  Not only did it show a previously homeschooled teen as an intelligent, socially capable individual, there's a positive discussion about bullying and forgiveness and a strong family unit.  Funny how the simplest of things can be refreshing!  And there's a ghost, which I'm not so sure about so I assume there are more stories to come.

The artwork is fantastic as well.  There was definitely more of a comic strip vibe which was visually appealing and easy to follow.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Top 10 Books Dealing With Touch Subjects

Top 10 Books Dealing with Tough Subjects
(Feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish)

This was a tough one.  I don't generally "like" the books that deal with tough subjects.  I appreciate their literary quality and determine that some authors tackle hard subjects better than others, but I don't necessairly "like" them.  Sometimes they're too real, too hard, and too heart-wrenching to really enjoy, but here we go...because it's Tuesday, and Tuesday means a list.

1) Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

2) Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

 3) Sold by Patricia McCormick

 4) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

 5) Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork

6) Evolution, Me, & Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande

7) Day of Tears by Julius Lester

8)  Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

9) The Chosen by Carol Lynch Williams

10) Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Monday, May 13, 2013

Q&A: How to make a YouTube video

How to make a YouTube video


Sure, thousands of viewers and subscribers would be nice, but filming and uploading is about so much more than a huge number of views.  It's about creation.  You're taking the time to express yourself and share your passions.  You're entering an online conversation that might reach one or one hundred thousand people.

Are you sharing one of your passions on YouTube?  Let us know!  We'd love to come and visit!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Sabriel: A review

Author: Garth Nix
Publisher: HarperCollins
Info: Copyright 1995, 292 pages

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts) :  I see dead people.  Watch out dead people, girl with wicked bells and sword coming.

Sent to a boarding school in Ancelstierre as a young child, Sabriel has had little experience with the random power of Free Magic or the Dead who refuse to stay dead in the Old Kingdom. But during her final semester, her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, and Sabriel knows she must enter the Old Kingdom to find him. She soon finds companions in Mogget, a cat whose aloof manner barely conceals its malevolent spirit, and Touchstone, a young Charter Mage long imprisoned by magic, now free in body but still trapped by painful memories. As the three travel deep into the Old Kingdom, threats mount on all sides. And every step brings them closer to a battle that will pit them against the true forces of life and death—and bring Sabriel face-to-face with her own destiny.

~Goodreads Description~

The Breakdown

Sabriel is a necromancer.  Raised as a Charter Mage to respect and wield Free Magic, Sabriel enters the Dead to return lost souls to their proper place.  But when her father, the Abhorsen, goes missing, Sabriel realizes how much more she has to learn and how dangerous the forces of evil in the Old Kingdom can be for the living.   She must travel through the Old Kingdom to find his body and bring him back to life before he is lost forever.

The Awesome

For the longest time I couldn't put my finger on why I loved this book so much.  Then, while perusing reviews on Goodreads, I better understood.  One reviewer discussed the importance of magic in the book, beyond just a secondhand plot point.  Magic is the core of the story, weaved very intricately into the history and legacy of the people that populate the pages.  It's not just a plot is the plot.  And this is make some things float around magic.  This is dark.  And evil.  And powerful.  Nix doesn't hold any punches with his magic which gives the story depth and originality.

While I hate talking animals, I'm giving Mogget a pass because he's only disguising himself as a cat.  He's snarky, stubborn, completely pessimistic, and a whole lot of fun.  His inner-demons are truly horrifying and spectacular.

The Not So Awesome

I had some trouble visualizing this particular book.  As much as I loved it and was completely engrossed int he story, I felt like my imagination was broken.  I couldn't picture scenery and faces.  The story seems both old world and new.  Sabriel goes to a boarding school, but people carry around swords.  Offices have metal filing cabinets but people wear robes and cloaks.  It seemed the story was set in two times which was a bit unsettling.

I loved this book.  I've been glancing over Sabriel on the library shelves for years, giving it a glance but never really getting an urge to check it out.  Thank goodness for book club!  This was simply a great fantasy novel.  It's is stuffed full of tense, harrowing moments that leave you on the edge of your seat, reading as quickly as possible to make sure the characters are okay.  The characters are memorable and sympathetic and the evil is tense and terrifying.  If you're a lover of fantasy, adventure, coming-of-age, magic  awesomeness, check out Sabriel by Garth Nix.

Favorite Quote “Our parts now -- which perforce we must play -- are not father and daughter, but one old Abhorsen, making way for the new. But behind this, there is always my love.” 

Similar Reads Hold Me Closer, Necromancer  by Lish McBride (necromancy), Howl's Moving Castle by Diane Wynne Jones (magic)

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