Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Top 10 Books I've Read In 2017 So Far


This has been a strange reading year for me so far.  I think it's fair to say that even books I liked, I didn't really like.  So many of them were hard, and heartbreaking, and frustrating.  I honestly don't think I've ever read so much back-to-back realistic, contemporary fiction as I have this year.  It has made me kind of moody :)  My escape activity hasn't felt like an escape, yet I'm drawn to these stories and the lives of these characters.  But I'm totally going to try to read more fantasy/science fiction  the second half of the year.

What have been your 2017 favorites so far?

The Last Time We Say Goodbye
1) The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand
"And I loved this book.  It was thoughtful, sincere, and genuine in its depiction of loss and regret."

 Goodbye Days
2 & 3) The Serpent King and Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner
"This one surprise me.  It was dark, and ugly, and gritty, but at the same time there was a beauty to it."

The Hate U Give

4) The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

"Thomas gets it right with a diverse cast of characters that you come to care about and a story that is difficult to read while remaining genuine."

The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn, #1)
5) The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
"There are a lot of plot elements happening at once, and yet [Ahdieh] manages to weave them together seamlessly."

 I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent, #1)
6 & 7) Bang and the I Hunt Killers Trilogy by Barry Lyga
"Lyga's characters are complicated, multi-faceted, and genuine, pulling you into the story and their lives."

8) Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
"Crouch explores concepts of destiny, fate, and regret.  If he had it to do over gain, would Jason choose the life with his family over the life where he discovered a scientific breakthrough, a breakthrough that could change the course of history?"

9) Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

City of Saints & Thieves
10) City of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson
"Anderson impressed me.  She wrote a sophisticated thriller led by teenagers in a country plagued by instability and violence.  And within all of that she has created characters that you come to care and worry about."

Monday, June 26, 2017

Library GrabBag: #GPLtalk Episodes 16 & 18

We've been having a lot of fun discussing very unique books on the #GPLtalk podcast.  Overall, the consensus has been relatively positive on the selections, but one or two of us might have developed strong feelings about a few of the titles.  If you're looking for something "different" to read, check out our conversations on Hag Seed by Margaret Atwood and The Comet Seekers by Helen Sedgwick.





Our July selection is The Valiant by Leslie Livingston.  Any suggestions on wha we should read this fall?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Summer of Dessen Pt. 2




Keeping the Moon
Speak, copyright 1999, 228 pages

Colie expects the worst when she's sent to spend the summer with her eccentric aunt Mira while her mother, queen of the television infomercial, tours Europe. Always an outcast -- first for being fat and then for being "easy" -- Colie has no friends at home and doesn't expect to find any in Colby, North Carolina.

But then she lands a job at the Last Chance Cafe and meets fellow waitresses Morgan and Isabel, best friends with a loving yet volatile relationship. Wacky yet wise, Morgan and Isabel help Colie see herself in a new way and realize the potential that has been there all along. 


~Goodreads Description

Colby, NC!  Now this is exactly what I was looking to read this summer - set in a beach-side community with a fun eating establishment and quirky characters.  That's the Sarah Dessen I love!  While not as fully developed as her later titles (there are definitely elements I felt were left unresolved or could have been expounded on), Keeping the Moon has the sincere, heartwarming look at self, perspective, and the past that Dessen does so well.





Dreamland
Speak, copyright 2000, 250 pages

Love can be a very dangerous thing.

After her sister left, Caitlin felt lost.

Then she met Rogerson.

When she's with him, nothing seems real.

But what happens when being with Rogerson becomes a larger problem than being without him?


~Goodreads Description

One of the more dark and frustrating of Dessen's library of titles.  Caitlin quickly becomes the center of her mother's world when her sister Cass abandons future plans and runs off to New York City to live with a boy she met on the beach the summer before her freshmen year at Yale.  Overwhelmed with the pressure, and looking to find a life that is the opposite of what Cass would have done, Caitlin falls for the mysterious loner boy, Rogerson, and quickly dissolves in a world of drug use and abuse.

The descriptions of justification for abuse are ones I've heard before, and I find them both heartbreaking and terrifying.  Her parents were rather obtuse which was extremely frustrating, and I'll admit I yelled at the book a time or two.  Dessen does an excellent job of portraying paranoia and fear as Caitlin becomes so fully dependent on Rogerson that she doesn't know how to save herself.  This was a much harder read the other titles we've read so far, but it could offer an excellent opportunity to discuss abusive relationships with teens.


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Top 10 Series I've Been Meaning To Start But Haven't


The number of series I need to finish is far bigger than the list of series I'm eager to start.  Several of my reading buddies refuse to start a series until it's complete, but not me.  No.  I like to start a series - forget about it completely - and then re-read it because I can't for the life of me remember what happened.  And then I like to complain about the not remembering and having to re-read.  In other words, I have a problem.  #Booknerdproblems.

All that being said, there are a few series out there that teens have recommended a time or two that I've meant to read.  Chances are slim for this year, but who knows...maybe I'll keep myself from getting distracted by the new, shiny titles and check one of these out.

What's on your list?

Pulse (Pulse, #1) Tremor (Pulse, #2) Quake (Pulse, #3)
1) Pulse by Patrick Carmen

Infinity (Chronicles of Nick, #1) Invincible (Chronicles of Nick, #2) Infamous (Chronicles of Nick, #3)
2) Chronicles of Nick by Sherrilyn Kenyon

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #1) The Evolution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #2) The Retribution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #3)
3) Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

This Savage Song (Monsters of Verity, #1) Our Dark Duet (Monsters of Verity, #2)
4) Monsters of Verity by Victoria Schwab

Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1) Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2)
5) Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Walk on Earth a Stranger  (The Gold Seer Trilogy, #1) Like a River Glorious (The Gold Seer Trilogy, #2) Into the Bright Unknown (The Gold Seer Trilogy, #3)
6) The Gold Seer Trilogy by Rae Carson

Lock & Mori (Lock & Mori, #1) Mind Games (Lock & Mori, #2) Final Fall (Lock & Mori, #3)
7) Lock & Mori by Heather W. Petty

The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds, #1) Never Fade (The Darkest Minds, #2) In The Afterlight (The Darkest Minds, #3)
8) Darkest Minds Trilogy by Alexandra Bracken

Talon (Talon, #1) Rogue (Talon, #2) Soldier (Talon, #3)
9) Talon by Julie Kagawa

A Thousand Pieces of You (Firebird, #1) Ten Thousand Skies Above You (Firebird, #2) A Million Worlds with You (Firebird, #3)
10) Firebird by Claudia Gray

Monday, June 19, 2017

Hearst & Other Body Parts

Author: Ira Bloom
Info: Scholastic Press, copyright 2017, 352 pages

A novel of love and monsters.

Sisters Esme, Katy, and Ronnie are smart, talented, and gorgeous, and better yet . . . all three are witches. They have high school wired until the arrival of two new students. The first is Norman, who is almost eight feet tall and appears to be constructed of bolts and mismatched body parts. Despite his intimidating looks, Esme finds herself strangely -- almost romantically -- drawn to both his oversized brain and oversized heart.

The second new arrival is Zack, an impossibly handsome late transfer from the UK who has the girls at school instantly mesmerized. Soon even sensible Esme has forgotten Norman, and all three sisters are in a flat-out hex war to win Zack. But while the magic is flying, only Norman seems to notice that students who wander off alone with Zack end up with crushed bones and memory loss. Or worse, missing entirely.

~Goodreads Description

After being thoroughly overwhelmed (yet impressed) with all of the contemporary fiction I've read this year, it was really nice diving into a fun fantasy novel that wasn't too heavy or too fluffy.

I'll leave you to read the summary above for this one (it explains things pretty well - I like it when that happens :).  Bloom re-imagines a few of our pop culture lexicon of famous monsters and sticks them in high school which is both hilarious and brilliant.  Esme, Kat, and Ronnie are witches who are also hormonal and catty, a combination that can't get very competitive and dangerous.  Norman, the gentle giant, chooses hope over despair despite the tragedies in his life, and Zack, the mysterious loner dude who is basically allergic to sunlight and all food, is seductive yet compassionate.  This character-driven story places real emotions (sometimes realistically exaggerated) in the hands of teens who are still trying to figure life out.  The fact that they also have supernatural powers just ups the ante.

Despite the "3 gnome" rating (3.5 stars is not an option on Goodreads), I really enjoyed Bloom's voice, and can't wait to see what she comes up with next.  There were moments when the story dragged a bit and felt redundant but was eventually saved by the fun, adventurous plot and entertaining characters.


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Murder On the Orient Express

Murder on the Orient Express (Hercule Poirot, #10)Author: Agatha Christie
Info: HarperCollins Publishers, copyright 2007 (first published 1934), 274 pages

"The murderer is with us - on the train now..."

Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift.  By morning, the millionaire Samuel Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside.  One of his fellow passengers must be the murderer.

Isolated by the storm and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer amongst a dozen of the dead man's enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again...

~Goodreads Description

Full disclosure - I had no idea there was an upcoming movie when I decided to download the audiobook.  I checked this out for one reason, and one reason only...Dan Stevens.  I've decided that I will listen to just about anything this man decides to narrate, especially if he has to do the voice of an elderly woman.

The story is pretty straight forward.  A train car full of seemingly unconnected world travelers find themselves stranded in a snow drift the morning after a rich American is found dead in his cabin, the door locked from inside.  With nothing really nothing else to do until the train starts moving, renowned detective, Hercule Poirot, agrees to investigate the crime and hunt down the likely culprit.

The story itself was okay.  I like the concept of the glamorous Orient Express and a group of travelers stranded, a murderer among them.  The weak spot, for me, was Poirot.  He seemed dry, lacking personality, and only around as a means to divulge information.  I do realize that this is not his mystery debut, with nine novels preceding this particular story.  Perhaps a bit more character development occurs in earlier books, but coming into this one cold, I found him unimpressive.

I think I was also expecting a little more tension and suspense.  There didn't really seem to be a whole lot of urgency.  I never felt the dread that their might be another victim like I did in And Then There Were None.

Overall, I highly recommend diving into the mysteries created by Christie.  They're fun, even if you're horrible (like I am) at guessing the suspect. I'm tempted to pick up the first Hercule Poirot mystery to see if I get a better feel for the character.  That might have to wait though, because I'm still determined to complete my summer reading list.





Any other Agatha Christie suggestions?

If you want to hear a fun discussion about the mystery genre, be sure to check out our latest #GPLtalk podcast!



And in case you haven't seen the trailer for the new movie yet, here you go!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Library GrabBag: August Programming Inspiration


Looking for some programming inspiration for this fall?  The August calendar is now available on DEMCO's Ideas & Inspiration blog.  Check out the STEM, book club, and after hours ideas that you can use as a jumping off point to plan awesome events specifically for your community of teens.

Have questions?  I'm happy to help you brainstorm the final touches.  Contact me at eellis@greenwoodlibrary.us or gnomegrlem@gmail.com!


I've also been creating the adult programming calendars for the last few months!  So if that's your wheelhouse, check out some adult and family friendly programming ideas to kick off your fall brainstorming.


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