Friday, October 30, 2015

Library GrabBag: Zombie Fest 2015

It's that time of year again...our annual Zombie Fest program at the library.  I was doing some hunting through a random drawer in my office today and came across the info for my very first Zombie Fest.  That was way back in 2010!  This will be my sixth annual event!

Crazy how time flies, and even crazier how the program has morphed throughout the years.  The first event was huge.  We had over fifty teens stay for the fun, and to be honest, it was too many.  Other programs work well with those kinds of numbers, but there's something about "zombies" that get kids super excited and ramped up.

We now hold the registration to 20 teens and the more intimate setting is much more enjoyable for both the teens and staff.  I'd rather do a couple more after hours programs than one huge one any day of the week.  Lessons learned (and I'm happy to elaborate why if you're curious!  Just send me a note!)

Anyhoo, here's what we have planned this year:

1) Group Picture (I actually put this in the itinerary now so I don't forget :)
2) Costume contest / Zombie walk contest
3) Zombie Survival Scavenger Hunt - downloaded this game.  We're going to give it a whirl.  We've paired it with activity stations.  They'll play in groups of five and complete the tasks.  Points will be awarded for speed and successfully completing each station.  Stations include

  • Spell BRAINS with your body
  • Cardboard cutout picture op
  • Which member of your team would survive the Zombie Apocalypse worksheet
  • ZOMBIE acrostic poem
  • Zombie birthday party picture op
  • First aid station
  • Zombie Shame sign station
  • Create a weapon station

4) Humans vs. Zombies capture the flag

  • Zombies collect brains and try to capture a human (flag)
  • Humans collect canned food items and try to save a human (flag)
  • (1) antidote hidden on each side that can be used if found to return to the game
  • 5 points for every canned food item or brain collection
  • 20 points for flag retrieved
  • Most points wins

5) Pizza & Zombie Dice tournament
6) Zombie party games

  • Musical Zombies
  • Legless Race
  • Life-size Plants vs. Humans

7) Human vs. Zombies survival game

  • Humans must find the hidden doctor, fighter, and scientist and get them safely to headquarters
  • Zombies are trying to turn humans.  Must find the zombie card with the humans name on it and tag them to turn them
  • Zombies win if all humans turned
  • Humans win if doctor, fighter, and scientist are found, taken to headquarters, and protected for 5 minutes
Should be fun!  We also have fun goodie bags to hand out at the end of the evening with zombie paraphernalia and candy.  We always like to send them home with a little something.

Did you plan anything fun for Halloween?


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Tiger Lily

Author:
 Jodi Lynn Anderson
Info: HarperCollins Children's Books, copyright 2012, 292 pages

Before Peter Pan belonged to Wendy, he belonged to the girl with the crow feather in her hair...

Fifteen-year-old Tiger Lily doesn't believe in love stories or happy endings.  Then she meets the alluring teenage Peter Pan in the forbidden woods of Neverland and immediately falls under his spell.

Peter is unlike anyone she's ever known.  Impetuous and brave, he both scares and enthralls her.  As the leader of the Lost Boys, the most fearsome of Neverland's inhabitants, Peter is an unthinkable match for Tiger Lily.  Soon, she is risking everything - her family, her future - to be with him.  When she is faced with marriage to a terrible man in her own tribe, she must choose between the life she's always known and running away to an uncertain future with Peter.

With enemies threatening to tear them apart, the lovers seem doomed.  But it's the arrival of Wendy Darling, an English girl who's everything Tiger Lily is not, that leads Tiger Lily to discover that the most dangerous enemies can live inside even the most loyal and loving heart.

~Goodreads Description

So after binge watching "The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy" on YouTube, I'm still on a bit of a Peter Pan kick.  Naturally this led me to Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson, a title that I've heard rave reviews about for years.

And if you're a fan of Neverland, this is actually a pretty faithful adaption of the world.  The story is narrated by Tinkerbell (which ended up being way less obnoxious than I imagined) and includes the mermaids, Lost Boys, and pirates.  There's not quite as much Hook as I would like (preferably one that looks a lot like Colin O'Donoghue's portrayal on Once Upon a Time).

Tiger Lily is an odd bird.  She doesn't really fit into her tribe, swims agains the stream (I originally had grain instead of stream written...which makes no sense at all.  I'm so very bad at sayings!).  She was raised by the tribe shaman who is a cross dresser and is promised to a real tool of a man.  Actually, "tool" is too nice a word for this man.  Oh, and she chose to go against the tribe's wishes and saved an Englishman who had washed up on shore.  Hint hint, bad idea.

One things leads to another and Tiger Lily finds Peter who brings adventure and affection into her life.  Peter isn't quite the jerk that the original story develops.  I really don't like the original Peter and his selfish overly self-confident ways.

This Peter is a bit vulnerable and unsure.  He still has a chip on his shoulder, but he also shows a weight as well keeping track of the Lost Boys.  When Peter finds out that Tiger Lily is betrothed, Wendy enters the picture and from the eyes of Tinkerbell and Tiger Lily, she's totally annoying :)

There's a big build up for a serious confrontation with the pirates (Mr. Smee has been stalking Tiger Lily throughout the whole book), and then...nothing.  My one pet peeve about the book.  I wanted more at the end.  I wanted someone dead (from violence.  I need to make that distinction).  I'm not morbid.  I promise.  It's a happy ending, and I actually liked the ending, but the final act just needed a little more oomph.

Still.  A fun read.  And if you do, let me know what you think.


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Halloween freebie - Ten Creepy Covers

Halloween Freebie - Ten Creepy Covers
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

I'm not a huge fan of scary movies...I prefer the tongue in cheek horror films to downright scary.  Cabin in the Woods - awesome.  The Conjuring - ridiculously terrifying and induced several hours of Friends binge watching to stop the "I'm being watched" feeling.

Books have never really given me that same feeling.  At least not the one's labeled "horror."  Thrillers, on the other hand, you know, the one's that could potentially be true, those cause the hair to stand up on my arms.

In the spirit of Halloween, and in case you're looking for something to read this holiday, here are my picks for 10 creepy book covers.

1) Shutter by Courtney Alameda
For some reason, when I first saw this cover, I thought it was a monster wearing a top hat.  I actually continued to think that while I read it, and when I was done, I actually asked myself what the top hat had to do with anything.  And then I looked at the cover again and realized there is, in fact, no top hat.  It's still creepy though.  And the book was awesome.

2) Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Old pictures always makes me think of the unbelievable pictures taken of the deceased a hundred years ago, posed as if they were still living and breathing.  The children are the worst.  I know the pictures are manipulations, but it's still totally weird.  And another awesome book.

3) Lockdown Escape from Furnace by Alexander Gordon Smith
Doesn't this remind you, just a little bit, of "The Empty Child" episode of Doctor Who?  "Are you my mummy?"  Creepy.

4) Bliss by Lauren Miracle
Blood.  Photos.  Blood.

5) The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
Anytime there are sharp objects hanging over a baby buggy, it's gives off a seriously creepy vibe.

6) Asylum by Madeleine Roux
The book is called "Asylum".  And there is a smudged face creature.  And I bet it could walk in the awful jerky, arms at weird angles,way that horror movies are in love with at the moment.

7) The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

8) Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge
No.  No, no, no, no, no.  Just, no.

9) MARY: The Summoning by Hillary Monahan
I've not read this one, but it gives me a bad feeling.  Don't summon Mary.  Why would you want to summon Mary?  Mary doesn't look like a nice girl.

10) Silent Night by R.L. Stine
And this one just because I love it.  And you should too.

Happy reading!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Bellybuttons and Miners

Last week was most definitely not one of my favorite week's ever.  You might have noticed that there was no blog posting.  We are blaming my gallbladder.  The evil little organ was given me quite the trouble, so last Monday it had to come out.

Some have heard me say this already, but in case we haven't had a conversation, no human being is ever touching my bellybutton again.  I never paid much heed to it before, but now I am oh, so, protective.  Other than that, and my incredible impatience when it comes to healing, all went well and I am very slowly mending.

Post-surgery meant sitting around a lot, and while I had the best of intentions to get a lot of reading done, the reality was that it was very difficult to concentrate on just about everything.

Except television :)

The highlights (in case you're looking for your next binge watch):


The Halloween season demands at least one viewing of Monster Squad.  A couple of years ago I wrote about why it's made of awesome.  You can check that out here :)

Then I watched Poldark, a PBS Masterpiece series.  And Oh. My. Goodness.  I LOVED it.  Set in Cornwall, England just after the American Revolution, it follows the story of a returned solider who finds his inheritance (a mine and farmland) in ruins.  It's a historical piece that is brilliantly acted, romantic, and will one day be added to my personal collection.

And finally I finished the first season of Outlander.  Despite the complaints I've fielded as a reference librarian about the "mature" content (to which I so desperately wanted to reply "turn the darn thing off then if you are offended"), the storyline often had me yelling at th screen.  It's gritty and brutal, but beautiful.  One day I'm going to make it the the Scottish highlands.  The scenery is absolutely breathtaking.

In between the binge watching, there was a lot of HGTV's Fixer Upper and the usual array of primetime television.

Are you powering through any television series at the moment?  Or do you have any suggestions on what I should tackle next?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Why Not Me?

Author: Mindy Kaling
Info: Crown Archetype, copyright 2015, 240 pages

In Why Not Me?, Ealing shares her ongoing journey to find contemned and excitement in her adult life, whether it's falling in love at work, seeking new friendships in lonely places, attempting to be the first person in history to lose weight without any behavior modification whatsoever, or most important, believing that you have a place in Hollywood when you're constantly reminded that no one looks like you.

Mindy turns the anxieties, the glamour, and the celebrations of her second coming-of-age into a laugh-out-loud funny collection of essays that anyone who's ever been at a turning point in their life or career can relate to.  And those who've never been at a turning point can skip to the parts where she talks about meeting Bradley Cooper.

~Goodreads Description

I've deemed this my last memoir of the year.  Two Mindy Kaling books, an Amy Poehler, Cary Elwes, and Felicia Day seems enough for a twelve month period.  But I'm really glad I read both of Kaling's books close together.

The Mindy of 2015 is much changed from the Mindy of 2011.  Why Not Me? is insightful, sincere, and, of course, hilarious.You can definitely see the way Mindy has settled into fame and adulthood.  She talks beauty secrets, office romances, and crash diets, but the cool thing about this lady is that she's comfortable in her own skin, which isn't an easy feat for any woman.   I can only imagine that struggle is multiplied when you're in the public eye.

As a thirty-something, she's a workaholic, awkward at times, and appreciates the importance of solid friendships.  And that's where I find the connection with this sassy lady.  She doesn't fit a stereotype and she has carved out her own career with determination and A LOT of handwork.  She's driven and fierce, and while I can't quite understand her love for getting naked on set, Mindy Kaling is someone I would want in my corner.  It's her humility and appreciation for the mentors and friends who have helped her along the way that is remarkable.  And then she makes you laugh, and you realize that television needs more wacky, authentic, creative minds making shows.

The essays are more cohesive this time around (with the exception of the rather long section where she discusses what her life would have been like had she become a Latin teacher.)  And of course, if you grab the audiobook, you get to hear Kaling narrate the entire thing.

A note on audiobooks.  When you have two going at the same time (one on your phone and another in your car), play them at the same speed.  I was listening to Felicia Day's You're Never Weird On the Internet on my phone at a super sped up rate, but when I got to my car (where speeding up the discs was not an option) it felt like Kaling was reading at a snail's pace.  Took me forever to get through despite the fact that I was enjoying it :)  Lesson learned.

If you're a fan of comedic essays and memoirs, this is a great read.



Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Shutter

Author: Courtney Alameda
Info: Feiwel and Friends, copyright 2015, 384 pages

Micheline Helsing is a tetrachromat - a girl who sees the auras of the undead in a prismatic spectrum. As one of the last descendants of the Van Helsing lineage, she has trained since childhood to destroy monsters both corporeal and spiritual: the corporeal undead go down by the bullet, the spiritual undead by the lens.  With an analog SLR camera as her best weapon, Micheline exorcises ghosts by capturing their spiritual energy on film.  She's aided by her crew: Oliver, a techno-whiz and the boy who developed the camera's technology; Jude, who can predict death; and Ryder, the boy Micheline has known and loved forever.

When a routine ghost hunt goes awry, Micheline and the boys are infected with a curse known as a solution.  As the ghostly chains spread through their bodies, Micheline learns that if she doesn't exorcise her entity in seven days or less, she and her friends will die.  Now pursued as a renegade agent by her monster-hunting father, Leonard Helsing, she must track and destroy an entity made powerful than anything she's faced before...or die trying.

~Goodreads Description

Do you remember the episode of Friends when Joey keeps his copy of "The Shining" in the freezer when it gets too scary?  If I had had a print copy of Shutter and not the eBook, this would have made my nights a little less terrifying.

Here's what Courtney Alameda did right (and people, it was almost everything).

- Character Development.  Alameda's ability to create well-rounded, thoughtful characters reminded me a bit of Maggie Stiefvater (which is a high, high praise :)  I really like strong female characters who can hang with the boys, and the boys respect them enough to go off and kick some butt.  Micheline wears the Helsing name proudly, despite the baggage that it also carries.  She loves what she does, and she's really good at it despite the very distinct possibility that she is going to die.

- People Die.  That sounds morbid, but stay with me here.  I'm not a fan of horror movies.  I watch them with my eyes covered peering between my fingers ready to scream at the slightest movement on the screen.  But by golly I hate clean, tidy endings.  If it's supposed to be horror than something terrible has to happen.  Alameda isn't afraid of a body count.  And it's messy, super messy, without being overly gory.

- Monsters that are legit.  By monsters I mean the undead and the wicked scary demon people who live in mirrors.  They could be lurking around every corner.  They are relentless and overwhelming.  And they scared me enough that I had to leave the light on a bit.

- And finally, she absolutely rocks at suspense.  She gives you just enough in a scene to keep you leaning in and then BOOM she throws something at the character (sometimes literally) that catches your breath.  So cool.

And here's my complaint.

Our intrepid heroes get themselves into some trouble, and there's a great likelihood that they aren't going to survive.  Time is ticking.  But of course there is time for some serious teen angst and a lot of "I love you, but I can't love you, but I love you..." and on and on.  I like Micheline.  And I like Ryder. And yes, I like romance and I want them to get together, but come on you guys!  Evil is invading the city and trying to kill you around every turn.   It's maybe not the time for that.  Some of Micheline's inner dialogue about Ryder got a little old.  Make your point but keep the story moving.

That being said.  Read.  This.  Book.  Courtney Alameda is a talent who understands the importance of mood, tone, and character development before plot.  And the plot is pretty awesome as well.

And it's the perfect month for a scary story.  Do yourself a favor and head to your local library and pick up a copy of Shutter.



Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Top Ten Author Duos I'd LOVE To See Write A Book Together

Top Ten Author Duos I'd LOVE to See Write a Book Together
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

This is tricky topic, one I've never really sat around and thought about.  I wrote and rewrote and and came up with these five pairings (which include ten author names, so I'm counting it :)

What amazing author duos are on your list?

1) Mindee Arnett and Ernest Cline
Take Ernest Cline's obsession with the 80s and gamer culture and Mindee Arnett's adventurous episodic writing style and you could have a story that would make a perfect TV show.  Now hold that thought in your head, and imagine that it doesn't get cancelled after the first season leaving huge fans every absolutely heartbroken :) Browncoat forever.

2) Elizabeth Wein and Ruta Sepetys
Both these amazing ladies know how to write historical fiction that leave you sobbing.  Truly ugly crying.  It's not pretty.  But it's beautiful and full of humanity.  If they wrote together, I'm pretty sure they could conquer the world.

3) Gail Carriger and Maggie Stiefvater
I love them both, so this is just pure selfishness, but imagine Gail Carriger's steampunk flare with Stiefvater's eloquence with words and genius at character development.  It's kind of beautiful, isn't it? It's alright.  Admit it.  Beautiful.

4) Gina Damico and Chris McCoy
They understand laugh out loud funny and snappy, witty dialogue.  Maybe a book where they take turns writing chapters?  I'd be first in line.

5) Erin Morgenstern and Rainbow Rowell
Maybe a seemingly odd pairing, but Rainbow is so good at writing emotion, and Morgenstern is so good at writing atmosphere, that put together they could write a compelling, whimsical fantasy that is both stirring and exciting.

Monday, October 12, 2015

You're Never Weird on the Internet


Author: Felicia Day
Info: Touchstone, copyright 2015, 262 pages

From online entertainment mogul, actress, and "queen of the geeks" Felicia Day, a funny, quirky, and inspiriting memoir about her unusual upbringing, her rise to Internet-stardom, and embracing her individuality to find success in Hollywood.

The Internet isn't all cat videos.  There's also Felicia Day - violinist, filmmaker, Internet entrepreneur, compulsive gamer, hoagie specialist, and former lonely homeschooled girl who overcame her isolated childhood to become the ruler of a new world...or at least semi-influential int he world of Internet Geeks and Goodreads book clubs.
Hilarious and inspirational, You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) is proof that everyone should embrace what makes them different and be brave enough to share it with the world, because anything is possible now - even for a digital misfit.

~Goodreads Description

Powered through this puppy in a day and a half via audiobook.  I'm loving the speed up option on Overdrive.  Plus it was just a really fun memoir, and Felicia Day is a crack up.

Unlike the books from comedians that I've been devouring lately (just finished Mindy Kaling's newest as well...review to come), You're Never Weird on the Internet is a true memoir.  Felicia Day recollects her days as a strange, isolated homeschooler with an UBER supportive mother and later her new isolation as a female gamer in a "man's" world crippled by fear and the overwhelming desire to create.

She's quick witted, insightful, and a bona fide genius.  Really.  The girl is wicked smart.  She enrolled into college at the age of 16 and majored in math.  You could be a 50 year old majoring in math and I'd think you were a genius, but a teenager?  Geez oh pete.

There wasn't nearly as much discussion about Dr. Horrible as I would have liked, but so it goes :)  As her gaming obsession intensified, I often wondered when she actually worked.  It made the timeline a bit difficult to follow, but it also made her emergence with the Guild and awesomeness with YouTube and the Geek and Sundry channel so very interesting.   So amazing to think that YouTube is only 10 years old.  Feels like it has been around forever.

Whether intended or not, I finished the book with a greater appreciation for those who are willing to put themselves out there and share their creative endeavors with others.  And for the weird and geeky who are just passionate about what they love unapologetically.

A great read that I highly recommend.


Thursday, October 8, 2015

A Completed Project

First things first!  We've uploaded our newest #TeenTalk video and a fun promo for National Novel Writing Month for your viewing pleasure.



And...

Back in July I introduced you to our new Teen Room.  As of Thursday of last week, the room was officially completed!  We have a ceiling; we have new lighting; and we have an interactive wall that rivals a museum's.  It's the coolest thing I've ever seen.

And because it's that awesome, a teen decided to review it for us...


"OH MY GIGGLY GOSH DANG DOORKNOB!! This is the horrible noise that first escaped my mouth when i saw these fantastically amazing new... wall... things. On the surface, which is just what our unworthy human eyes can see, they are already beautiful beacons of hope and love. however deep down in their core, they are so much more, happiness, truth, space, time, life, death. The walls are the only. They are all there is. They are Shrek.

As you may know, the Teen Room has a new feature. The Maker Walls. They come in three forms, Lego, Peg Wall, and Magnets. Each more beautiful than the last, yet the ones before them are more beautiful than that. They are an infinite cycle of unending greatness. My pitiful mortal words do nothing to describe their greatness. This is a spectacle you must witness for yourself."

Thank you again to the Johnson County Community Foundation for supporting Teen Services and funding this fun interactive wall, and to Ben Roberts for making our dreams a reality :)


 

 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Prom Goer's Interstellar Excursion

Author: Chris McCoy
Info: Knopf Books for Young Readers, copyright 2015, 272 pages

It's Superbad meets Spacebars in this hilarious extraterrestrial road trip!

Just a few days before prom, Bennett pulls off something he never imagined possible: his dream girl, Sophie, agrees to be his date.  Moments afterward, however, he watches Sophie get updated by aliens in the middle of the New Mexico desert.

Faced with a dateless prom (and likely kidnapping charges), Bennett does the only thing he can think of: he catches a ride into outer space with a band of extraterrestrial musicians to bring her back.

Can he navigate alien concert venues, an extraterrestrial reality show, and the band's outlandish egos to rescue his date in time for the big dance?

~Good Description

I. LOVED. THIS. BOOK.  It caught my eye while roaming around in Barnes and Noble one night waiting impatiently to get a seat at the Cheesecake Factory for 1/2 off cheesecake day.  Aliens?  Sold.  Fun font on the cover?  More sold.  Little human figures floating in the stars?  A bonus.

Bennett has been in love with Sophie for like, forever, despite the fact that he's pretty sure she has no idea he even exists.  While gazing through his telescope one night, and totally not stalking her, Bennett sees Sophie crying in her driveway, so gallant lad that he is, he treks on over to her house to see if she is okay.  A short conversation about Sophie's "sad" breakup leads to a road trip to Roswell to get her motorcycle fixed.  The New Mexico desert is a dangerous place, and while enjoying the evening together, Sophie is abducted by aliens, leaving Bennett in quite the predicament.

1) Stupid aliens just stole his dream girl and new prom date.  2) Said dream girl and prom date was now a missing person.  3) Bennett was the last person to see her alive, thus the lead suspect in the disappearance of Gordo, New Mexico's Ivy League to-be student. 

So Bennett decides that he only has one option.  Get himself abducted so he can save his lady love.

The description compares this to Superbad and Spaceballs.  I totally disagree.  It's more a mashup of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Spinal Tap.  McCoy uses long rambling sentences (which I adore) and quick snappy dialogue to bring this strange a kooky universe to life.  Bennett and Sophie's saviors come in the form of a dysfunctional rock band known as "Perfectly Reasonable."  The lead singer is a diva of an alien who likes to wear tight close and be all self-righteous about his music.  The two other members of the band include a womanizing human that has been in space too long and an alien who plays the drums but dreams of starting his own fashion line.

Genius.  The story is quick, hilarious, and amazingly adventurous.  Do you remember yesterday when I said that I'm over teen books to movies...well this is an exception.  I REALLY want to see this on the silver screen!

                           

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

10 Bookish Things I Want to Quit Or Have Quit

Ten Bookish Things I Want to Quit Or Have Quit
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

Want to Quit

1) Vampires and Werewolves.  I almost put down paranormal creatures in general, but I'm still a sucker for a good series about fairies or reapers.  What I really want more of is aliens.  Because I am that girl.  And you should totally read The Prom Goer's Interstellar Excursion which I will be reviewing later this week.  (Hint hint...it's going to have a very nice rating)

2) John Green.  This is not to say that I will never read another John Green book.  But I'm kind of tired of talking about him.  Yes, he's a really cool guy.  And yes, he totally has a connection to my garden gnome friend, Mike, but there are so many amazing authors on his level who are releasing books right now.  So for now, I'm quitting him...even though we all know I'll never really quit him.

3) Dystopias.  And I love dystopias!  But the shelves are saturated, and I need a break.

4) Teen books to movies.  This is a love/hate relationship.  But there it is.  I've only liked a couple.  Most I really feel they should have left alone.  And now the magic is gone because you can basically rely on the fact that anything remotely popular will be optioned.

5) Multiple perspectives.  I've been thinking about this a lot (because I can often be found pondering ridiculous, book related topics).  I can list on one hand the number of books I've actually thoroughly enjoyed with multiple perspectives.  It's used a lot, but rarely well done.

6) Issue books.  I'm over books that give characters soap boxes.  I don't mind at all if someone is dealing with something (even things that feel "trendy") but I'm tired of reading books where character development and plot fall to the wayside so that a point can be made.  Give me substance.  Make me care.  And then I'll care about the issue.

Have Quit

7) Feeling guilty about not finishing a book.  I've learned that life is too short.  If I'm not enjoying you, pretty book with a gorgeous cover, I'm going to break up with you.  And we don't have to be friends.

8) Feeling guilty about reading the last page first (on occasion).  Don't judge me.  I don't like surprises.  To each their own.

9) The Divergent series.  I was on this bandwagon for like, a second.  But no worries, the feeling has passed.

10) David Leviathan.  Have you heard that I'm not his biggest fan?  I've given several a try.  I'm okay walking away.

10)

Monday, October 5, 2015

Agatha Christie's Toward Zero

Author: Agatha Christie
Info:  BBC Radio Dramatization, 2 hours

An elderly widow is murdered at a clifftop seaside house...What is the connection between a failed suicide attempt, a wrongful accusation of theft against a schoolgirl, and the romantic life of a famous tennis player? To the casual observer, apparently nothing. But when a houseparty gathers at Gull's Point, the seaside home of an elderly widow, earlier events come to a dramatic head. It's all part of a carefully paid plan - for murder... 

~Goodreads Description

I've always been a sucker for radio dramatizations.  I remember checking cassette tapes of Cape Cod Radio Mystery Theater from the library when I was younger. Full cast narrators, dramatic stories, and always a little bit of intrigue is a great way to listen to a story.

Perusing Overdrive, I found a performance of Agatha Christie's Toward Zero.  I love Agatha Christie audiobooks, especially those read by Hugh Frasier, so I thought I'd give this one a whirl.  It couldn't hurt that Hugh Bonneville (Daddy Downton) voiced a character.

A breakdown of the story would be confusing, but the gist includes gilted love, hidden pasts, jealous rage, and hurt feelings.  Hard to imagine that all of that would end in murder! :) In typical Christie fashion, there are several red herrings that twist and turn the story until the truth is revealed, and while I definitely felt a bit of plot was substituted for dramatic storytelling, I was satisfied with ending.

If you're a fan of Agatha Christie or radio dramatizations, definitely give this a listen.


Friday, October 2, 2015

Five Summers

Author: Una LaMarche
Info: Razorbill, copyright 2013, 384 pages

Four best friends, five summers of camp memories

Emma, Skylar, Jo, and Maddie have all come back to camp for a weekend of tipsy canoe trips to the island, midnight skinny dipping in the lake, and an epic game of capture the flag—boys versus girls. But the weekend isn't quite as sunwashed as they'd imagined as the memories come flooding back...

The summer we were nine: Emma was branded “Skylar’s friend Emma” by the infamous Adam Loring...
The summer we were ten: Maddie realized she was too far into her lies to think about telling the truth...
The summer we were eleven: Johanna totally freaked out during her first game of Spin the Bottle...
The summer we were twelve: Skylar’s love letters from her boyfriend back home were exciting to all of us—except Skylar...
Our last summer together: Emma and Adam almost kissed. Jo found out Maddie’s secret. Skylar did something unthinkable... and whether we knew it then or not, five summers of friendship began to fall apart.

~Goodreads Description

Was in the mood for a lighthearted teen contemporary fiction title with maybe a little bit of romance.  I've been listening to a lot of heavy, rather depressing, adult titles and just needed a change of pace.  So I thought I'd give Five Summers a whirl.

It was okay.  It definitely wasn't anything new or fancy, and in typically Emily fashion, I about to compare it to a slew of movies...because that's just ow I roll.  Close your eyes, and imagine Now & Then, smashed together with Little Darlings, and Camp Takota.  You might not have seen the last one.  It was a fun find on Netflix.

So here's what we've got.  We've got four girls who met at summer camp.  Four girls who become best friends and are struggling with how to maintain a friendship with the summer ends.  We have four girls with four different possibilities, four different secrets, and four different understandings of love.

Summer camp.  Boys.  Alcohol.  Love triangles and enough angst to kind of make you yawn.

Here's my problem with this particular book (and it's going to include some spoilers so read accordingly), but the last summer the girls are all together actually participating at camp, they are thirteen.  It is revealed, later in the book during a camp reunion when the girls are 17, that Skylar slept with Adam that last summer.  WHAT?!  There's a problem with that!

Now I work with teenagers. And it's a sad reality that teens are having sex at a much younger age, but  thirteen is a middle schooler!  Thirteen is a baby!  Thirteen cries out serious psychological and emotional trauma.  And this was never addressed.

I'm a big fan of the summer - camp - friends kind of story, so I was able to suspend belief a bit to finish the story, and that's why it's "okay".  But really taking a look at the story, it was very familiar.  The story also skips between characters and summers which really hurts character development.


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