Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top 10 Books I Read in 2013

Top Ten Books I Read in 2013
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

It's hard to believe that it's already time for this particular post, and it's never an easy post to write.  Thank goodness for blogging.  I couldn't for the life of me remember what I ready in the early months of 2013.  This year was filled with book greatness and disappointments.  After much inner-debating, I settled on these ten particular titles that stuck with me long after I finished them.

1) I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga (My review)

2) Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys (My review)

3) Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson (My review)

4) For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund (My review)

5) Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas (My review)

6) Enchanted by Alethea Kontis (My review)

7) Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi (My review)

8) Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater (My review)

9) Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (My review)

10) Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (My review)

But then there's Heist Society by Ally Carter, Just One Day by Gayle Forman, Croak by GinaDamico, Sabriel by Garth Nix, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell...and yes, I'll stop there.  Yes.  It was a good year :)

Can't wait to see what's on your list!

Happy reading!

Monday, December 30, 2013

A visit from Santa and a few days off

Hi all!  How are you?  It's been awhile!  So...really, how've you been?  I hope you had a relaxing holiday filled with family, food, fellowship, and fun.

I took a bit of a break from reading...and writing...and well, just about everything for a week or so, and I'm feeling much better.  Organized.  Ready to take on the another year. I always tend to start out that way, but then it all falls apart about January 15th or so :)  Here's hoping I've got some will-power in 2014!

My Visit From Santa

I'm thirty-one, but I love toys.  I love walking through the toy section of stores oohing and aahing over the latest gadgets and gizmos.  I love building things out of Legos and putting together puzzles detailing some scene from a Disney movie.  I collect Mr. Potato Head figurines.  They're sitting on a shelf in my office. (It's a really grown-up office with toys, zombie figurines, and a Nathan Fillion poster)

Typically, however, thirty-one year olds don't tend to get toys for Christmas.  You know you're officially a grown up when receive a cordless drill with all the accouterments, and a twelve pack of beer. Very hand and very tasty.  I did get a Dalek Mr. Potato Head though (thanks Linda!!), so it wasn't all power tools and adult beverages.

Oh!  In case you're on the look-out for something retro and fun to watch, check out  Bells Are Ringing, starring Dean Martin (sigh ;) and Judy Holliday, tells the story of a telephone operator who falls in love with the gentleman on the other end of the line.  Then there's The Honeymoon Machine with Steve McQueen and Jim Hutton.  Some navy men get into some serious high-jinks when they use military equipment to predict the spinning of a roulette wheel.  Of course hilarity and romance ensue.  (Thanks Mom and Dad!)

Was there something special waiting for you under the Christmas tree?  Or do you have a weird toy collection?  Please say yes, so that a I'm not the only weirdo on the block!

Happy belated Christmas!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Changeling: A review

Author: Philippa Gregory
Info: Simon Pulse, copyright 2012, 256 pages
(Order of Darkness  #1)

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): A perfect example of why I could not have lived during the middle ages.

Italy, 1453. Seventeen-year-old Luca Vero is brilliant, gorgeous—and accused of heresy. Cast out of his religious order for using the new science to question old superstitious beliefs, Luca is recruited into a secret sect: The Order of the Dragon, commissioned by Pope Nicholas V to investigate evil and danger in its many forms, and strange occurrences across Europe, in this year—the end of days.

Isolde is a seventeen-year-old girl shut up in a nunnery so she can’t inherit any of her father’s estate. As the nuns walk in their sleep and see strange visions, Isolde is accused of witchcraft—and Luca is sent to investigate her, but finds himself plotting her escape.

Despite their vows, despite themselves, love grows between Luca and Isolde as they travel across Europe with their faithful companions, Freize and Ishraq. The four young people encounter werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers as they head toward a real-life historical figure who holds the boundaries of Christendom and the secrets of the Order of the Dragon.

~Goodreads Description~

The Breakdown
Luca has been accused of heresy and cast out of his religious order.  Than this well-to-do, mysterious man comes and finds him and tells him about the Order of the Dragon, a secret society of men who seek to protect Christendom and seek out would be evils.  After recruiting Luca into the order, he sends him on a mission to a country Abbey that is experiencing weird phenomenon.  Luca and his posse quickly find out that more is going on beyond the walls of the religious institution than meets the eye.

The Awesome
The book is based on any real historical event which is extremely refreshing.  It's set realistically in a time period and the characters build upon the setting, but Gregory has created a new, unique story that maybe could have happened.  This totally destroys my usual pet peeves with historical fiction...the destruction of actual history.  There's plenty of intrigue, action, and humor blended in with cultural details to really round out the story.

The Not-So-Awesome
This is coming strictly from a teen librarian viewpoint, but this book would be a hard sell.  Historical fiction doesn't fly off the shelves, and this is sophisticated historical fiction to top things off.  Not so impressed with the cover either.  Not an "oohhh shiny" cover.

I listened to the audiobook, which was fantastic, but I'm not sure I would have enjoyed the story as much if I had read it.  It's not really an easy read.  Changeling is my first experience with Philippa Gregory.  She's fantastic.  She gives just enough detail to make things interesting and to really set the scene, but doesn't bog you down in unnecessary descriptions. The character building was pretty fantastic as well.  It's just a more sophisticated read than I'm used to in teen historical fiction.  Several times I forgot it was considered a teen series.  I'm not sure I would necessarily categorize it as such.  

I'll definitely be continuing though!  Probably not on audiobook...they switched readers.  Why do they do that?!  Just when you get settled in with certain voices and intonations, they go and through in someone new...of a different gender no less.  That changes everything!  Oh well.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Librarian Way: 2013 Book Recap

Happy Holidays!  For the public school crowd, we know that break is just around the corner. Congratulations on making it through first semester :)  For the public library crowd...you might be on your way to a lull, or you might be gearing up for a chaotic rush.  Either way, tis' the time of year for end of the year reports, and we wish you all the luck.

Before we take our holiday break, we thought we'd do a book recap for 2013.  Of course, we want to hear what your favorites were and what you are super excited for in 2014.

Leave your comments below!  We'll be back here and there over the next couple of weeks at TheLibrarianWay.com with book related posts.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Attack On Titan: A manga review

Author: Hajime Isayama
Info: Kodansha Comic, copyright 2012, 208 pages

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): Pretty sure I'd be running the other way if giant naked androgynous men were chasing me through the street.

For one hundred years, what's left of mankind has lived in the city on earth, protected by walls that tower over even the Titans. Untouched by the Titans for a century, humanity has become complacent. But Eren Jaeger has had enough. While his fellow citizens are content to hide, Jaeger has the passion to take action to not only protect the city, but to learn what the Titans actually are. But on his first mission he comes face to face with horrors beyond his imagination... and secrets from his own past that could shift the tides of war. 

~Goodreads Description~

Back to the "this reminds me of" game.  This time, it's Warm Bodies.  What's left of the human race is living behind a wall.  Just on the other side of the wall are these scary monster things that apparently don't have any skin.  A kid who dreams of living on the "outside," away from the wall, decides to join the army of sorts to fight these giant scary monster things and hopefully save mankind.  Substitute zombies for titans, and it's a very familiar story.

I'm only one volume in, and I'm still debating whether or not I'm going to continue.  I'm not a huge fan of the artwork.  The titans are adequately terrifying, the the action scenes are difficult to follow and the general population more American manga-ish than Japanese manga-ish.  But the titans are coming, and it seems kind of wrong to not find out what happens next...

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Top 10 New-To-Me Authors of 2013

Top Ten New-To-Me Authors of 2013(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

Some new...some old, but all fantastic.  To be honest, I'm a little embarrassed that I've only now been formerly introduced to a few of these superb authors.  Better late than never!

1) Ruta Sepetys
Out of the Easy, Between Shades of Gray

2) Barry Lyga
I Hunt Killers

3) Alan Moore
Swamp Thing, Watchmen

4) Gina Damico
Croak, Scorch

5) Garth Nix

6) Leigh Bardugo
Shadow and Bone

7) Rainbow Rowell
Eleanor & Park

8) Juliet Marillier

9) Jojo Moyes
Me Before You

10) Alethea Kontis
Enchanted, Hero

Monday, December 16, 2013

Comic #11: Bayou Vol. 1

Author: Jeremy Love
Info: Zuda, copyright 2009, 160 pages

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): A story of hatred and love, history and legend, and inner strength that conquers.

South of the Mason-Dixon Line lies a strange land of gods and monsters; a world parallel to our own, born from centuries of slavery, civil war, and hate.

Lee Wagstaff is the daughter of a black sharecropper in the depression-era town of Charon, Mississippi. When Lily Westmoreland, her white playmate, is snatched by agents of an evil creature known as Bog, Lee's father is accused of kidnapping. Lee's only hope is to follow Lily's trail into this fantastic and frightening alternate world. Along the way she enlists the help of a benevolent, blues singing, swamp monster called Bayou. Together, Lee and Bayou trek across a hauntingly familiar Southern Neverland, confronting creatures both benign and malevolent, in an effort to rescue Lily and save Lee's father from being lynched.

~Goodreads Description~

Not sure how I came across Bayou.  I'm sure it was on a list somewhere of must-read comics/graphic novels as it well should be.  I've only tackled volume one, but I can tell it's going to be a loving relationship. The artwork is absolutely beautiful and the story lines meshes history with folklore in a creative, heartfelt way.

The history part is painful and frustrating, as it should be.  A peak into a southern mentality, an American mentality, that was a foundation of hatred and bigotry is always hard, but author Jeremy Love inserts a hopefulness and courage into his characters that really brings the story to life.

Lovin' it, and I will definitely keep reading to see what happens to Lee and her new friends in the bayou.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Comic #10: Watchmen

Author: Alan Moore
Illustrator: Dave Gibbons, John Higgins

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts):  Are they superheros, or vigilantes?  Are they trying to save the world, or destroy it?  What in the world is up with Nite Owl's costume?

This Hugo Award-winning graphic novel chronicles the fall from grace of a group of super-heroes plagued by all-too-human failings. Along the way, the concept of the super-hero is dissected as the heroes are stalked by an unknown assassin.
Who watches the Watchmen. Someone does. Someone who's trying to kill them all, one by one. Time's running out for the Watchmen...
~Barnes and Noble Description~

To be honest, I can't seem to get over the ridiculous costume of the Nite Owl.  For some reason I found that terribly distracting, especially when his back was turned.  Killed me!

Overall, a pretty decent story.  Aging, long forgotten superheros are slowly being killed...the United States is on the brink of war...and general dysfunction is rampant.  Moore provides generous back story to flush out the characters and weaves in enough action to keep things moving.

Interestingly, one of the most ruthless characters ends the story as one of the most redeemable.  And I did genuinely like the characters, even the ones I probably shouldn't have.  While I feel like it took me FOREVER to read, I thoroughly enjoyed this classic of a comic books, and I'll definitely be exploring the movie again (which I completely deleted from my database of movie watching experiences)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Top 10 Books On My Winter TBR

Top 10 Books On My Winter TBR List
(Feature Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

Here's ten...of over 200 on my Goodreads list :)  Now let's cross our fingers for a snow day or two.

1) Between Shades of Gray
By Ruta Sepetys

2) Siege and Storm
By Leigh Bardugo

3) The River of No Return
By Bee Ridgeway

4) Grave Mercy
By R.L. LaFevers

5) Somebody Up There Hates You
By Hollis Seamon

6) Curtsies & Conspiracies
By Gail Carriger

7) Sin City Vol. 1: The Hard Goodbye
By Frank Miller

8) Unspoken
By Sarah Rees Brennan

9) Rogue
By Gina Damico

10) Born of Illusion
By Teri Brown

Happy Reading!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Library GrabBag: Movie Trivia (Twitter Style)

"By providing passive programming, teens experience something novel each time they return to the library, encouraging them to continue coming back." ~ The Programming Librarian

It's not the first time I've mentioned this, but I think it bears repeating.  We've been using passive programming in my Teen Room for the last couple of years and the teens love it. They know that each week we'll be offering something new, and they come in asking what we're doing immediately after school.  And it doesn't have to be big or fancy.  We set out coloring pages, word searches, and quizzes.  We've also had some fun ones like creating a zombie apocalypse plan and drawing the idiom.  The self-service programs keep them engaged and encourage communication and relationship building.

Here is this week's offering.  How many can you answer?

Here's the link for printing!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Shadow and Bone: A review

Author: Leigh Bardugo
Info: Henry Holt and Co., copyright 2012, 358 pages

A review in 10 words (or thereabouts): As if being an orphan and hopelessly in love with her best friend isn't enough of a rocky road, Alina discovers she is the only person who can save the kingdom from darkness.

The Shadow Fold, a swathe of impenetrable darkness, crawling with monsters that feast on human flesh, is slowly destroying the once-great nation of Ravka.

Alina, a pale, lonely orphan, discovers a unique power that thrusts her into the lavish world of the kingdom’s magical elite—the Grisha. Could she be the key to unravelling the dark fabric of the Shadow Fold and setting Ravka free?

The Darkling, a creature of seductive charm and terrifying power, leader of the Grisha. If Alina is to fulfill her destiny, she must discover how to unlock her gift and face up to her dangerous attraction to him.

But what of Mal, Alina’s childhood best friend? As Alina contemplates her dazzling new future, why can’t she ever quite forget him?

Glorious. Epic. Irresistible. Romance

~Goodreads Description~

The Awesome
Sometimes I like the characters but not the world in fantasy novels.  Sometimes the setting is vivid and complete, but I don't really like the storyline or care whether someone lives or dies.  In Shadow and Bone, I enjoyed it all.  The Grisha, these magical men and women, are beautiful, and terrifying, and interesting.  Alina's back story is heartbreaking but powerful, defining who she has become as a fierce, stubborn , resilient young woman.  The Darkling is charming and mysterious.  His power is frightening, but he moves with graceful flare.  The land is filled with tradition and familiarity from the palaces of the king to markets of peasants.  It has it all in an extremely well-written package.

The Not-So-Awesome
Sequels!  The bane of my reading existence!  I need to take a sabbatical so I can catch up on reading.  (A personal not-so-awesome)  When I read, my imagination goes into overdrive.  I don't imagine myself in the story.  Instead it is a movie playing out in my head.  I couldn't quite get there with this story.  Many of the story's cultural influences are Russian (just take a look at the cover), and my unfamiliarity with Russian clothing, food, and tradition got in the way a little bit.  I couldn't picture the world as clearly as I would have liked.

I couldn't put Shadow and Bone down.  Couldn't.  Twenty pages until the end and I had to go to work.  I considered throwing a tantrum...or calling in sick.  While I'm always a sucker for a good love story (which this has), Bardugo has created a complete world filled with action and danger.  I really connected to her storytelling.  Her writing style was familiar.  That's the only way I can describe it.  It wasn't predictable or redundant.  Reading Shadow and Bone just felt like I was settling down with a book that I'd read and love before.

If you like fantasy, adventure, romance, and thrills, definitely check out Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Take That Pinterest! Redemption

It finally happened!  I saw something on Pinterest...thought "Hey, I can do that," and it actually looks very similar to the original!  They're super simple eReader covers!  So far I've tackled Harry Potter, an Ewok, and the Tenth Doctor (oh David Tennant, how I heart you :)

All I did was sketch out the idea on paper, used that as a template, and traced it onto pieces of felt from my local craft store.  A little sewing, a little ironing, and voila!  Super cute eReader holders!  I did put a second layer of fleece/fabric on the inside to avoid scratching and give a little more structure.

This project cost me all of $10 for all three which is pretty awesome!  I saw them on Etsy and the talented crafter was charging close to $30 dollars each.  Not sure I totally understand the Etsy markup.  Don't you want to actually sell your items?  Anywho, I'm very proud of myself, and now I have an easy, fun DIY gift for the holidays.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Strobe Edge: A manga review

Author: Io Sakisaka
Info: VIZ Media LLC

Being in love can light up your life… A sweet love story that will warm your heart!
What is love, anyway? Ninako Kinoshita’s friends tell her it’s one thing, but Ninako wonders what this mysterious feeling really is. When she meets Ren Ichinose, the handsome, enigmatic guy that all the girls worship, her life takes an unexpected turn. With just a few words and a smile, he changes her world...

~Barnes and Noble Description~

I breezed through the first three volumes of this shojo manga.  The story is sweet.  A young girl is trying to figure out the difference between love and friendship.  On one hand, she has the the boy who has been her friend for years.  She knows his story, celebrated his highs and lows.  On the other hand is the cute boy in school.  The boy who is sweet and thoughtful.  So, sure, it's a sweet story...maybe a little too sweet.  It's definitely missing some of the humor I've become accustomed to in shojo manga.  There are no wacky characters.  No hilarious situations.  Just a lot of pining for a boy.

The artwork is decent.  Each character is unique; I can actually tell them apart which is a plus.  I'm not, however, overly fond of how the lips are drawn, especially on Ninako, our lady in love.  It looks like she's always puckering.  Kind of annoying.

It looks like there are ten volumes currently available.  Not sure if I'll continue.  I'd kind of like to see who she chooses, but three volumes might be enough.  If you're a fan of cutesy, sweet manga this might be the right choice.  I prefer a little action with my love story. (Okay...that sounded a little weird, but you know what I mean...don't you:)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Top 10 2014 Releases I'm Dying to Read

 Top Ten 2014 Releases I'm Dying to Read
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

I didn't want to put this list together because my current list is still soooo long, but now I've got a little motivation to hurry up and get ready for these bad-boys :)

1) Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

2) Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi

3) The One by Kiera Cass

4) Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray

5) What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick

6) The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

7) A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller

8) Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

9) The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton

10) This Side of Salvation by Jeri Smith-Ready

Happy Reading!
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