Monday, October 31, 2016

Library GrabBag: December Teen Programming Inspiration

First things first... HAPPY HALLOWEEN!  Hope your day is filled with frightful (or not so frightful) awesomeness!

No worries!  I've got some AWESOMENESS for you if you don't have anything special planned!

It's that time of the month again!  The release of DEMCO's teen programming calendar.  Check it out for passive, after hours, STEM, and special programming just for teens - suitable for public and school libraries.


Friday, October 28, 2016

P.S. I Like You

P.S. I Like YouAuthor: Kasie West
Info: Point, copyright 2016, 330 pages

Signed, sealed, delivered...While spacing out in chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk.  The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk and added a message to her.  Intrigue!  Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters - sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other.  Lily realizes she's kind of falling for this letter writer.  Only, who is he?  As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can't always be spelled out...

~Goodreads Description

There was a lot about this book that I thought I was going to like.  It's a contemporary romance set in a high school with a a girl who doesn't run in the mainstream pack but prefers indie bands and consignment clothing.  And then you find out she has a secret pen pal.  I kind of like the secret pen pal trope.  But none of this really worked in the end which made me sad.

Lily is an aspiring song writer.  Instead of paying attention in chemistry class one day (well...really any day...not quite sure how she has a passing grade in chemistry) she daydreams and jots down the lyrics from a song by one of her favorite bands on her desk.  The next day when she takes her seat she notices that someone has finished writing out the lyrics.  Thus starts communication with a secret pen pal.

The premise itself isn't bad.  Unfortunately the character development doesn't support the storyline.  Lily complains often about her hectic family life, but it's not that bad or overwhelming.  She has two younger brothers that occasionally cause mischief and an older sister in college that she still shares a room with - nothing too extreme (there's also a rabbit and some weird competition between her parents, but both relatively harmless).  West also likes to point out that Lily is "quirky" (listening to indie bands and making her own clothes) but hardly any time is spent on those two aspects.  We're told about them but never shown the quirkiness, offhanded remarks trying to create a personality type.

Instead, Lily's unique personality traits come off as judgmental and wishy-washy.  I didn't not like Lily, but I also didn't want to become her best friend.  The story was also extremely predictable.  Sometimes I don't mind.  Sometimes I just enjoy the journey even if I know what the outcome is going to be if there is something new offered.  But this was a story I have read before.

I feel like this is harsh.  I don't mean it to be.  It was okay, just nothing special.  After reading some other reviews, other titles by West seemed to have initiated better reactions from readers.  I definitely think it's worth trying out one of her other books.  Contemporary fiction is always tricky because I'm constantly comparing it to Sarah Dessen, Morgan Matson, and E. Lockhart, three of my favorite authors.

Any suggestions on what other Kasie West title I should try?


Thursday, October 27, 2016

Library GrabBag: #GPLtalk Podcast Episode 2

Time for another podcast!  Aubrey, Valerie, Jessica and I sat down to talk about a great teen read (one of my favorite reads of 2016).  If you've read, haven't read, or want to read Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, check out #GPLtalk Episode 2!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Top 10 Halloween Edition

Top 10 Halloween Edition
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

I don't read a ton of scary books.  And I don't watch a ton of horror movies.  And I'm not really a super-Halloween enthusiast, so this list was a little tricky.  Instead of trying to find 10 items for one topic, I decided to just do a mashup of all things Halloween.  There's a little bit of this and a little bit of that, all coming together to form a decent Top Ten Tuesday.

Happy Halloween (and Reading!)  What's on your list?

Scary Books
1) Shutter by Courtney Alameda

Wait Till Helen Comes: A Ghost Story
2) Wait Til Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn

The Splendor Falls
3) The Splendor Falls by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna, #1)
4) Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Odd Thomas (Odd Thomas, #1)
5) Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz
Scary Movies
Image result for monster squad movie poster
6) Monster Squad
Image result for hocus pocus movie poster
7) Hocus Pocus
Image result for watcher in the woods movie poster
8) Watcher in the Woods

9) The Cabin in the Woods
Bookish Costumes
 Moaning Myrtle from Harry Potter  literary costumes vol. I
10) Moaning Myrtle - Harry Potter series

How cute is this ALICE IN WONDERLAND costume?!
11) "Big" Alice - Alice in Wonderland

Homemade Book Fairy! So doing this for Peyton next year!!!
12) A "Book" Fairy

How amazing is this Luna Lovegood Halloween costume?:
13) Luna Lovegood

Mary Poppins costume:
14) Mary Poppins

Where’s Waldo and Wilma? | Community Post: 24 Awesome Kids' Book-Inspired Halloween Costumes For Grownups
15) Where's Waldo

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Rithmatist

Author: Brandon Sanderson
Info: Tor Teen, copyright 2013, 378 pages

More than anything, Joel wants to be a Rithmatist.  Rithmatists have the power to infuse life into two-dimensional figures known as Chalklings.  Rithmatists are humanity's only defense against the Wild Chalklings.  Having nearly overrun the territory of Nebraska, the Wild Chalklings now threaten all of the American Isles.

As the son of a lowly chalk maker at Armedius Academy, Joel can only watch as Rithmatist students learn the magical art that he would do anything to practice.  Then students start disappearing - kidnapped from their rooms at night, leaving trails of blood.  Assigned to help the professor who is investigating the crimes, Joel and his friend Melody find themselves on the trail of an unexpected discovery - one that will change Rithmatics - and their world - forever.

~Goodreads Description

I had no idea that Brandon Sanderson was super popular.  And then I went to YallFest last year and was mesmerized by the long line of people waiting to get his autograph.  So I returned to my library and checked the circulations.  Nope.  The craze hadn't hit Greenwood yet.  And then BOOM everything started checking out.  Why?  Well, I'm not quite sure.  Maybe it just took a little extra time for word to spread throughout the Heartland, but I had to check it out for myself.

This particular title was recommended to me by a teen who assured me I would like it.  He was not wrong.  I did like it.  It didn't knock my socks off or leave me scampering to get my hands on another Sanderson title immediately, but it was imaginative, intelligent, and complex enough to keep me reading.

It's America...but not really.  What we know as states are islands, and on one particular island are wild chalklings, magical line drawings waging war against trained soldiers known as Rithmatists. Rithmatists can create wards and creatures of their own (made of chalk), and their sacrifice is helping keep the other islands safe.  Joel wants desperately to be a Rithmatist, but he wasn't chosen by "the Master" at the age of 8, so he is just a ho-hum regular boy studying at a prestigious academy, the custodians son among rich socialites.  When some Rithmatist students are violently kidnapped, Joel uncovers a dangerous conspiracy that puts him in the middle of the magical world.

I liked Joel's tenacity and loyalty.  While life had not turned out as he might have hoped, he continued moving forward, finding ways to study Rithmancy without abilities.  He utilized research to better understand.  He was a scholar.  A student.  And it was refreshing seeing a teen protagonist take that seriously.  There is also a strong message about power, courage, and teamwork throughout that I really enjoyed.  Like Harry Potter, the "magic" was secondary to the characters and their mission.

Four years is a long time to wait for a sequel.  Hopefully the Goodreads note that it's coming in 2017 is correct.  If there's time, maybe I'll try to tackle another Sanderson soon.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Thousandth Floor

Author: Katharine McGee
Info: HarperCollins, copyright 2016, 448 pages

New York City as you've never seen it before.

A thousand-story tower stretching into the sky.  A glittering vision of future where anything is possible-if you want it enough.

Leda Cole's flawless exterior belies a secret addiction-to a drug she never should have tried and a boy she never should have touched.

Eris Dodd-Radson's beautiful, carefree life falls to pieces when a heartbreaking betrayal tears her family apart.

Rylan Myer's job on one of the highest floors sweeps her into a world-and a romance-she never imagined...but will this new life cost Rylin her old one?

Watt Bakradi is a tech genius with a secret: he knows everything about everyone.  But when he's hired to spy for an upper-floor girl, he finds himself caught up in a complicated web of lies.

And living above everyone else on the thousandth floor is Avery Fuller, the girl genetically designed to be perfect.  The girl who seems to have it all-yet is tormented by the one thing she can never have.

Amid breathtaking advancement and high-tech luxury, five teenagers struggle to find their place at the top of the world.  But when you're this high up, there's nowhere to go but down...

~Goodreads Description

This was not my kind of book.  If I had actually read the blurb on the back or any reviews - at all - (especially those that compared it to Gossip Girl), I might have figured that out before starting, but I got sucked in by a pretty cover.  It has happened before, and I'm sure it will happen again.  There are A LOT of pretty covers out there.

It's a futuristic New York where the entire city is a tower.  Decent premise.  The higher up in the tower you live, the more affluent your life.  Okay.  Enter high school teens with too much money, too much time on their hands, no parental supervision and...two step siblings in love with each other.

I'm out!  In my humble opinion, incest (even step-incest) is NEVER an appropriate plot line.  Ever.  It's icky.  SO icky.  (The only argument that could possibly sway me is when grown adult become "step-siblings" because their parents fall in love, but only after the grown adults have already been together.  That is sometimes okay.)  It's just so weird.  And icky!

There is also the comparison that can be made to the recent Ben Wheatley film, High Rise, starring Tom Hiddleston.  The movie was crazy.  I only understood a smidgen of what was actually going on, and it kind of freaked me out to be honest.  It had a very similar premise.  There is a tower.  Everyone wants to live in the tower.  There is a hierarchy in the tower by floor.  No one is really happy.  And chaos ensues. (In the case of High Rise, chaos includes murder, adultery, really disturbing parties, no trash service, and the death of innocent animals.)  Here's the thing.  You don't have to live in the tower.  If you're unhappy, leave the tower.  McGee alludes to places outside of the tower to live in The Thousandth Floor.  New York City isn't the last city standing.

This type of "realistic" fiction just isn't for me.  The tower concept was cool (kind of made me think of The Jetson's Movie with public transportation and a mall in the same "building" where people live), and the writing itself was decent, but I just didn't care about any of the characters or their problems.  Or the incest.  Icky.

I don't think I'll be continuing on in the series, but I know there is an audience for this book.  There are countless teen readers who enjoy lots of drama, the rich and the famous, and tons of romance.  Those are the teens that would love this recommendation.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Top 10(ish) Favorite Character Names

Top Ten(ish) Favorite Character Names
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

While a character is never a make or break for me when it comes to a book, I do love a well thought-out or just nifty choice.  Some names just stick with you whether you like the character/book or not.  I stopped myself at "13".  You're welcome.

What's on your list?  Happy reading!

1) Perry and Roar
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

2) Blue Sargent and Richard Campbell Gansey III
The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

3) Scout Finch and Atticus Finch
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

4) September
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherine Valente

5) Poppy Paladino
Wax by Gina Damico

6) Thursday Next
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

7) Wade Watts
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

8) Karou and Akiva
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

9) Rafe
The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

10) Elvie Nara
Mothership by Martin Leicht and Isla Neal

11) Etienne St. Clair
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

12) Augustus Waters
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Tuck Everlasting
13) Winnie Foster
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

Monday, October 17, 2016

Library GrabBag: Library Services for Teens

I had the amazing opportunity to teach a workshop on Teen Services to a group of very kind, passionate librarians in Wisconsin last week.  I'll admit it...this was FAR outside my comfort zone.  While I've learned a thing or two about librarianship for teens, I'm not a born public speaker.  I was the young lady in her college Communications class who almost fainted every time she had to present.  The whole podium with shake, my white knuckles clutching the sides to keep myself standing.  I was in such a sad state that the class would volunteer me to go first so I didn't have to wait in agony.  "Please let her get it over without," they would say sympathetically.

It has been a hard fought journey getting comfortable enough to stand in front of people, but I do it because I love to talk about teens.  I love to talk about their passion for life, their curiosity in play, and their odd personalities and behaviors.  I love to talk about ways libraries and librarians can step up and be a positive influence in their lives, offering them opportunities to express themselves while carving out a spot just for them in their community.

While working with teens isn't always a great time, for every difficult afternoon full of nagging/begging/pleading for them to remember that they are in a library and not a living room, there are twice as many moments of laughter, genuine questions and conversations, and playful mischief.  And I am blessed to work with so many creative, inspiring librarians not only in my building but throughout Indiana who keep me planning and scheming for better ways to serve.

The organizer of the Wisconsin workshop asked me for resources, so I did my best to create a handout of reading suggestions, websites, templates, and programming ideas that we've used at our library.  And now I'm going to share it here...because it took me a long time to make so why not put it out to the world in case it can help someone else :)

If you have any questions or want additional info, let me know!

Library Services for Teens_handout_pdf

Included in the handout:

  • The Teen Room
    • Reading suggestions
    • Helpful websites
    • GPL's expectations for teens
  • Check This Out
    • Reading suggestions
    • Helpful websites
    • Book tasting sample
  • If You Build It, They Will Come
    • Reading suggestions
    • Helpful websites
    • Teen Services communities
    • Programming ideas
    • After hours permission slip sample
    • After hours Zombie Fest itinerary
    • After hours Minecraft itinerary

Thursday, October 13, 2016


EchoAuthor: Pam Munoz Ryan
Info: Scholastic Press, copyright 2015, 587 pages

Lost and alone in a forbidden forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and suddenly finds himself entwined in a puzzling quest involving a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica.

Decades later, Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California each, in turn, become interwoven when the very same harmonica lands in their lives.  All the children face daunting challenges: rescuing a father, protecting a brother, holding a family together.  And ultimately, pulled by the invisible thread of destiny, their suspenseful solo stories converge in an orchestral crescendo.

Richly imagined and masterfully crafted, this impassioned, uplifting, and virtuosic tour de force will resound in your heart long after the last note has been struck.

~Goodreads Description

As has often happened this year, I selected this book because of one of the readers...because, yes, I was in the mood for yet another audiobook (and I'm on hold, still, for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban).  The blurb for this one sounded sweet, and my Goodreads buddies seemed to like it so I gave it a whirl.

The blurb synopsis is pretty straight forward.  There is Otto who kicks off the story, stumbling upon three sisters after getting lost in the woods.  Then there is Friedrich, a talented musician growing up in Germany at the beginning of WWII; Mike, an orphan in Pennsylvania trying desperately to find a future for himself and his brother; and Ivy, a young girl facing prejudice in Southern California just after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  Weaving throughout each of their stories is a simple harmonica and the power of music.

The story is crafted beautifully.  Each story is cut short (at fairly decent cliffhangers) before being revisited in the end and coming together in a very hopeful, believable (if not overly tidy) way.  While on the outset I thought there was going to be a solid magical realism vibe with a witch and a curse, that storyline sticks pretty closely to Otto's initial introduction to the sister's at the beginning of the book.  There are touches of here and there as each child finds and plays the harmonica, but that only serves to tie them together and weave a reverence for music throughout.

This is definitely a children's book.  While the author is masterful enough not to condescend to younger readers, it is a very clean read with a bow tied neatly around the end.  While they face challenges along the way, every character has a very happy ending.  And that's okay.  I've made no secret of the fact that I tend to like people to die in stories (I'm really a very gentle person, I promise!), I was okay with this very pretty bow.

The audiobook is fantastic, by the way.  There is music played throughout and the narrators even do a little singing.  I'm a big fan of Rebecca Soler in particular.  She was fantastic narrating the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer and equally impressive in Echo.  It is very likely that I will explore the other offerings by Pam Munoz Ryan.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Library GrabBag: Teen Read Week 2016

It's Teen Read Week!  Unfortunately the fun week always lands during our community's fall break when the Teen Room is a ghost town.  Despite the disappearance of the teens, we try program at least one day.

Enter the annual Teen Read Week Read-In!

This year's line up of events included:

10-10:45am      Bookmark bonanza - Stations set up around the room with bookmark making
10:45-11am      Reading break!
11-11:45am      Trivia
  • Book Jeopardy (
  • Instead of playing like Jeopardy, we put (6) different colored paper squares on the ground.  Teens who answered correctly moved up a square.  They could stay on the square if they answered a bonus question correctly.  Incorrectly, they had to move back.
  • Teal (Name (2) fictional animal characters); Pink (Name (2) banned books); Purple (Name (5) Harry Potter characters; Blue (Name (2) Percy Jackson gods/goddesses); Green (Name (2) books to movies); Yellow (Name (2) imaginary lands)
  • An answer could only be given one time.
11:45-12pm      Reading break!
12-1:45pm        Lunch / Inkheart movie
1:45-2pm          Reading break!
2-2:45pm          Emoji pillows
We had twelve attend, so not too bad.  I doubt we'll do a movie next year.  They got super antsy and talkative about half way through.  

Monday, October 10, 2016


Author: Gina Damico
Info: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, copyright 2016, 368 pages

Paraffin, Vermont, is known the world over as home to the Grosholtz Candle Factory.  But behind the sunny retail space bursting with overwhelming scents and homemade fudge, seventeen-year-old Poppy Palladino discovers something dark and unsettling: a back room filled with dozens of startlingly life-like wax sculptures, crafted by one very strange old lady.  Poppy hightails it home only to be shocked when on of the figures - a teenage boy who doesn't seem to know what he is - jumps naked and screaming out of the trunk of her car.  She tries to return him to the candle factory, but before she can, a fire destroys the mysterious workshop - and the old woman is nowhere to be seen.

With the help of the wax boy, who answers to the name Dud, Poppy resolves to find out who was behind the fire.  But in the course of her investigation, she discovers that things in Paraffin aren't always as they seem, that the Grosholtz Candle Factory isn't as pure as its reputation - and that some of the townspeople she's know her entire life may not be as human as they once were.  In fact, they're starting to look a little...waxy.  Can Poppy and Dud extinguish the evil that's taking hold of their town before it's too late?

~Goodreads Description

Oh, Gina Damico, I heart you :)

I'm going to try to blurb this - and I FULLY understand it is going to sound ridiculous - but stay with me.  It shall all get explained in the end.

Poppy is a theater geek with dreams of making it big on Broadway.  Unfortunately for Poppy, an attempt at early fame on a reality TV talent show went horribly awry, leaving her the laughing stock of her small Vermont town - which just happens to be the home of Grosholtz Candle Factory (a.k.a. Yankee Candle on steroids).  After an especially humiliating prank (pulled by Blake Bursaw, the Mayor's son, and Poppy's mortal enemy) involving a wax sculpture, Poppy is determined to get vengeance.  So she does what any self-respecting teenager would do...she breaks into the candle factory looking for evidence of Bursaw's evil schemes, but instead, stumbles upon a long forgotten workroom inhabited by a strange woman with a strange warning and giant, wax sculptures.  That fateful afternoon sets off a series of mysterious, odd, downright weird happenings that include eternal flames (cue the Bangle's just for fun!), a living wax boy named Dud, and some REALLY old candles.

Maybe that didn't explain everything.  But that's the point with Gina Damico.  Her books always sound a little crazy, but once you're in them, you're on this wonderfully creative, unbelievable ride.  Plus you get some amazing wit and excellent dialogue.  Oh!  And you always get a flawed yet fantastic protagonist.  Poppy is a wee bit crazy, but she is fiercely determined and intelligent.  While her musical talent might not match her drive, she has the support of the "Giddy Committee", fellow theater fanatics who form an amazing posse.

Damico is my author spirit animal.  She writes the books that I wish I had in me.  They're a little off kilter, but wickedly amusing - as if she's just having fun writing.

I Love!  So Read!  And Enjoy!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Library GrabBag: GPL's New Podcast

Librarian's are thinkers, and dreamers, and schemers.  They're all of these things in the best way possible, because they are always thinking of ways to improve their community.  Not for the sake of the library, but to offer their patrons, their friends, their partners opportunities for success.

I work with some of the most amazing thinkers, and dreamers, and schemers, and so we find ourselves on the cusp of a Reading Revolution (go big or go home :) ).  We want to start a conversation in our community about the importance of reading.  We want to build advocates and champions who will spread the love of books wherever they go.

One of the MANY things we're doing to get the conversation started is a podcast.  We tried a podcast several years ago.  We've learned a few things since then.  And yesterday we released our first episode, an introduction to the fun that is going to be had.

We'd love it if you took 14 minutes out of your day to listen.  Our podcast goes really well with dinner cooking or dish washing.  And then we hope you'll join us for episode 2 where we launch our digital book club.

Join the Revolution and start a conversation about the joy of books today!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Top 10 Favorite Fictional Villains

Top Ten Favorite Fictional Villains
(Feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish)

This only took me a whole day (and two helpers) to put together.  I'm off my game...and I LOVE I'm not sure why I had so much trouble.  The topic was on villains in general, so my selection includes book, movie, and TV characters.  And to make things more interesting, I went ahead and separated them out by villains I'm a little bit in love with, and villains that terrify me.

Villains I Love

Image result for raymond reddington
1) Raymond Reddington in Blacklist
He would likely kill you in cold blood, but there is something so deliciously charming about this character.  Maybe it's the hat and suit...or just the fact that it's James Spader.

Image result for shadow and bone
2) The Darkling in Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Seriously, this character was SO much better than Mal.  He might have been borderline insane, but he was borderline insane in the most seductive, dangerous, wonderful way.

3) Loki in Thor and Avengers
The dude is Tom Hiddleston.  And the dude has some of the best one-liners.

4) Moriarty in Sherlock
The perfect villain to Sherlock's own villainy.  And played with such brilliance by Andrew Scott.

5) "Captain Hook" in Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell, and Once Upon a Time
and The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy
Dustin Hoffman also makes an excellent Hook, but I'm not really even a little bit in love with him.  But this guy. This guy pictured above.  This guy is the only reason I'm still watching Once.

Villains that Terrify Me

Image result for unhooked lisa maxwell
6) Peter Pan in Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell
This telling specifically.  The character was crazy pants.
Image result for shutter alameda
7) Luca in Shutter by Courtney Alameda
It was a character I wanted the protagonist to run from screaming...but she wouldn't.

Image result for bane the dark knight rises
8) Bane in The Dark Knight Rises
His voice gave me goosebumps, and I almost crawled underneath the theater seat to get away from him walking around holding his leather vest thingy.

9) Nurse Ratched in Once Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
I was not emotionally prepared for this movie.  I'm still not emotionally prepared for this movie.
Image result for immortan joe
10) Immortan Joe in Mad Max: Fury Road
He just creeps me out.  Completely.

And for those times when your hero is kind of a bad guy.
Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders
Because I haven't gotten to talk about Peaky Blinders in awhile.  And because I love Tommy Shelby.

Who is on your list?

Happy reading!
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