Sunday, February 28, 2016

Jackaby

Author: William Ritter
Info: Algonquin Young Readers, copyright 2014, 299 pages

“Miss Rook, I am not an occultist,” Jackaby said. “I have a gift that allows me to see truth where others see the illusion--and there are many illusions. All the world’s a stage, as they say, and I seem to have the only seat in the house with a view behind the curtain.”

Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary--including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police--with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane--deny.

Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel, which features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre. -Goodreads description


The Rundown

I fangirl big time over good historical fiction. Add in a good mystery and a heavy splash of the supernatural and for me it's sold! This book was pitched to me as a twist on the classic Sherlock and Dr. Watson so naturally I was like "Yes please!" I finished it in just a few days (a feat when you have a one year old and your "quiet time" is manning the reference desk & teen department at a public library). 

Abigail Rook is just cool. She has a lust for adventure that simply wasn't allowed in this era for women, so she pockets her tuition money and heads off to explore. She leaves England, joins a failing and disappointing dinosaur dig, and uses the rest of her funds to board a ship bound for America. What she'll do when she makes port...well that's part of the adventure, right?

After spending her first day unsuccessfully looking for work, Abigail finds herself at the offices of one R.F. Jackaby, investigator of the paranormal. I loved Jackaby from the start! Imagine the detective version of Sheldon Cooper if you're a Big Bang Theory fan. Insanely intelligent and lovably awkward. He's in need of an assistant and she in need of work. From there the two set off as the town of New Fiddleham is rocked by a string of horrific serial killings that Jackaby is certain is the work of something inhuman.

Trolls, shape shifters, fairies, seers, and banshees all make appearances as the bodies pile up. It's a classic "who done it" mixed with humor, ghosts, and other creatures we believe only exist in our imaginations.

 Just shy of 300 pages it's a quick read for mystery, supernatural, and historical fiction fans. Encourage reluctant readers to give it 40 pages and they too won't be able to put this book down as they try to piece together the clues of a killer hidden in plain sight right along with Jackaby & Abigail. Fans will be happy to know that the sequel, Beastly Bones, hit shelves in September 2015, so no waiting for your next Jackaby fix!

Rating: 5 Stars. You totally must read this book!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Top Five Dreamy Steamy Quotes

Something my mentor taught me was to always keep a reading journal to organize my thoughts, remind myself of a question, and my favorite part: writing down my favorite quotes! 

I'll never turn down a good romantic story, so as we close out the month with all things hearts and love, here are my top five dream, steamy love quotes!





1) “I’ll remind you every day how amazing it feels when your body touches mine. I’ll remind you of the good times, and help you forget the bad. I’ll remind you who you are when life has beaten you down and made you doubt it. I’ll bust down your door in the middle of the night and kiss you until you remember that your fears are just that, and they can’t control you. I’ll take my chances against your fickle heart if it means it’s mine.”
Faking It (Losing It #2) by Cora Carmack


2) “It’s always been you even when I didn’t want it to be, even when it broke my heart over and over again. It’s just always been you.” 
Rule (Marked Men #1) by Jay Crownover
Read my book review here!


3) “That must be love: when everything else in the world could implode and you wouldn't care as long as you had that one person standing beside you.” 
Dare You To (Pushing the Limits #2) by Katie McGarry



4) “I kissed her because I had to. I kissed her because I wanted to. I kissed her because kissing her was starting to make me feel like I had found something I wasn't really aware I had been looking for. Mostly I kissed her because every time she kissed me back I felt her settling a piece of herself even more deeply inside of me.” 
Rowdy (Marked Men #5) by Jay Crownover


5) “Eleanor was right. She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn't supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

What are your favorite romantic book quotes???





Thursday, February 25, 2016

Teen Times Spring 2016

I borrowed this idea from another teen librarian and put my own spin on it. After nearly three years as a teen librarian I was to an almost burnt out point with programming. I was in a total rut. And the epic endless possibilities of teen programming is one of my favorite parts of my job! 

Thankfully, I was mid rut around the time of the annual CYPD conference (a yearly conference in Indiana that gathers all levels of youth librarians from both public & school libraries). One of the breakout sessions I went to was focused on teen programming, and by the end of it I was convinced I saw a little halo above the presenting librarian.

At the time, I was planning out after school programs about 2 months ahead of time and felt like it was the most stressful and time consuming part of my job. I'm the only staff in my library's teen department, so effective time management crucial in keeping things going. 

What did I learn?

1) Keep things consistent. 
     If you have clubs (Teen Advisory Group, book club, movie club, gaming club, etc.) set aside one afternoon that's "club day." For my teens, Monday worked out. 
     Tuesdays became the day I alternated between a food, game, or craft program. 
     I left Wednesdays open (with passive programs, board games, and maker kits available) to give me a day to focus on other tasks. 
     Thursday is volunteer day. I have teens who need hours for various school groups or clubs, so I set aside small projects I haven't had time to get to (even shelving or shelf reading).
     Fridays is when our Gamer's Guild meets. Also known as intense, loud, Wii Sports & Just Dance time.

2) Embrace passive programs.
     I completely copied her boredom cart idea. I keep a few shelves of crafting supplies, coloring pages, puzzles, and the like that are always available. Perfect for the days I don't have active programs going on! 
     There's also a passive "program of the week" on a cart in my teen room. It could be a word search. Could be a craft. Could be a soduku puzzle. Something easy that they can complete once a week for a piece of candy (I'm not above bribery). 

3) Divide up your year.
     Think of this as meal prep for your programs. Invest a chunk of time and then hit the cruise control as you've got your programming set for several months out. What worked for me was dividing my year up into Spring (Jan-Apr), Summer (May-Aug), and Fall (Sept-Dec). Do what works for you & your teens! 

Click here for a link to my spring pamphlet! 

Breaking The Rules

Author: Katie McGarry
Info: Harlequin Teen, copyright 2015, 423 pages

For new high school graduate Echo Emerson, a summer road trip out west with her boyfriend means getting away and forgetting what makes her so . . . different. It means seeing cool sights while selling her art at galleries along the way. And most of all, it means almost three months alone with Noah Hutchins, the hot, smart, soul-battered guy who’s never judged her. Echo and Noah share everything—except the one thing Echo’s just not ready for.
 
But when the reason behind Echo’s constant nightmares comes back into her life, she has to make some tough decisions about what she really wants—even as foster kid Noah’s search for his last remaining relatives forces them both to confront some serious truths about life, love, and themselves.
 
Now, with one week left before college orientation, jobs and real life, Echo must decide if Noah's more than the bad-boy fling everyone warned her he'd be. And the last leg of an amazing road trip will turn . . . seriously epic. -Goodreads description


The Rundown
I love love love Katie McGarry! Every time she replies to me on Twitter I geek out and am so beyond not cool. I even chickened out of going to her table at ILF this year because I was afraid of being the a hot mess of a fan girl like "I do a happy dance whenever I see you have a new book coming out!" Like I said, weird librarian struggles. 

Pushing the Limits is one of my all time favorite contemporary YA reads! It doesn't matter how many times I've read it or listened to it (or prayed for a movie!) I never fail to fall head over heels for Noah. If you haven't read it, read it now. Read it like yesterday. Just read it! I promise if a good romance is your thing this book goes above and beyond! 

Now that I've gotten that out of my system, to the review!

Breaking the Rules is falls in between Pushing the Limits (the first time we meet Noah & Echo) and Dare You To (Beth & Ryan's story). The story follows Noah & Echo through their first summer together after graduation. They're camping and art gallery hopping from Kentucky to Colorado as Echo tries to sell her paintings and make a name for herself in the art world before she starts college. Noah, the awesome and devoted boyfriend that he is, comes along on the journey in search of answers after learning that he has living relatives he never knew about after a fire orphaned he and his brothers. 

Can their love survive as life gets more real when they make the transition out of high school and into college? The summer will tell! 

McGarry has this incredible way of writing that has you feeling all of the heartache, the laughs, and everything in between right along with her characters. I feel like the overall theme of this story for Echo and Noah is making peace with the past and having a hope for the future. If you've read Pushing the Limits, the wounds both struggled with then are caught in a tug of war between healing and reopening. It makes for a great feeling that real, honest love can overcome life's damages. The end had me in happy tears that Echo and Noah have finally found a home, not in a walled structure, but in each other.

Rating: 5 Stars! You totally must read this book!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Healthier Single Serve Mac n Cheese

Ah mac n cheese. The ultimate comfort food. And what have most of us done when we're craving a snack of cheesy, noodley goodness? If you're like me, you've reached for the instant microwave version with the weird orange powdered cheese more time than you'd like to admit.

I love using my food program days to teach teens how to make easy, healthier after school snacks. With just a few ingredients & a microwave, you've got a single serving of mac n cheese. Great to pass on to college students stuck with limited dorm room cooking!

Ingredients
1/2 Cup Elbow Macaroni 
1/2 Cup Water
2/3 Cup of your favorite shredded cheese (We used fiesta blend)*
Splash of milk*

*Cheese & milk can be adjusted to your liking. If you like it creamier, add more milk. If you are a cheeseaholic, sprinkle away!

Place water & macaroni in a microwave safe bowl or mug. Microwave on high for 4-6 minutes (cook time will depend on the wattage of your microwave), stopping to stir every 2 minutes to stop the noodles from clumping. 

The water should be nearly or completely gone and noodles should be al dente. Add your milk & cheese, stir, and microwave for another 1-2 minutes. Stir & enjoy!

Get creative with this flexible recipe! Add in crumbled bacon, ham, or even crushed Doritos! Your healthier mac n cheese possibilities are endless! 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Madness So Discreet

Author: Mindy McGinnis
Info: Katherine Tegen Books, copyright 2015, 376 pages

Grace Mae knows madness.

She keeps it locked away, along with her voice, trapped deep inside a brilliant mind that cannot forget horrific family secrets. Those secrets, along with the bulge in her belly, land her in a Boston insane asylum.

When her voice returns in a burst of violence, Grace is banished to the dark cellars, where her mind is discovered by a visiting doctor who dabbles in the new study of criminal psychology. With her keen eyes and sharp memory, Grace will make the perfect assistant at crime scenes. Escaping from Boston to the safety of an ethical Ohio asylum, Grace finds friendship and hope, hints of a life she should have had. But gruesome nights bring Grace and the doctor into the circle of a killer who stalks young women. Grace, continuing to operate under the cloak of madness, must hunt a murderer while she confronts the demons in her own past.

In this beautifully twisted historical thriller, Mindy McGinnis, acclaimed author of Not a Drop to Drink and In a Handful of Dust, explores the fine line between sanity and insanity, good and evil—and the madness that exists in all of us. -Goodreads description


The Rundown
I'm a historical fiction junkie and a sucker for a good thriller. I couldn't wait to snatch this book up after I read the summary! 

Familiarity with the history of American asylums will help ease a reader into the difficult reading that is the first 100 pages of this book. It's good writing but one has to understand that many asylums in this era were far less than humane. Mental illnesses were only beginning to be seriously studied and the commonly accepted treatments at the time were more torturous than helpful. One Grace and Dr. Thornhollow arrive in Ohio the pace of the story picks up significantly.

Dr. Thornhollow was a great character. Imagine a Sheldon Cooper meets Sherlock Holmes type. I chuckled more than a few times at his reactions and dialogue, despite this book having very dark subject matter. 

I struggled with the lack of flow in the story. For me the transitions were really sharp. The first third of the book we're looking at the tragic story of an incest victim forced into an asylum, and then all of a sudden she's freed and turns into the Dr. Watson to Thornhollow's Sherlock. Huh? 

Once in Ohio, Thornhollow makes Grace his apprentice in the new field of criminology. They almost too conveniently arrive near the time that a string of serial killings pop up through the city. The revelation of who the killer is, their motive, and how they're served justice were ultimately underwhelming.

Grace did develop some good relationships within the walls of the new asylum in Ohio and becomes very "take charge" in embracing and making the most of her new life there. Which is pretty much the only redeeming part of the book. The rest of the time I was mostly confused. It's like the book was trying to fill too many categories (mystery, historical fiction, thriller, abuse...) and didn't do any one of those enough justice to make it believable.

This book will do best in a collection where mysteries or historical fiction are popular, or for a teen who likes a thriller without romance.

Rating: 3/5 Stars



Monday, February 22, 2016

Looking For Jack Kerouac

Author: Barbara Shoup
Info: Lacewing Books, copyright 2014, 184 pages

The Rundown
It wasn't Duke Walczak's fault that I took off for Florida, like Kathy thought. The truth is, we started getting sideways with each other on our class trip to New York and Washington D.C. nearly a year earlier—which, looking back, is ironic since she was the one dead set on going.

In 1964, Paul Carpetti discovers Jack Kerouac's On the Road while on a school trip to New York and begins to question the life he faces after high school. Then he meets a volatile, charismatic Kerouac devotee determined to hit the road himself. When the boys learn that Kerouac is living in St. Petersburg, Florida, they go looking for answers.           - Goodreads description


What Rocked
This is a very quick read! I was able to knock it out in a few hours. I read Jack Kerouac's On the Road in high school, then again in college, and probably a dozen other times. It's one of my favorite books of all time! So when I see a book about a young man being so moved by Kerouac's work that he sets off on a road trip to meet him my thoughts are "Yes please give me this book like yesterday!" It's a great ride with Paul and Duke from Northern Indiana to Florida with all of the interesting characters and experiences you find on a coming of age journey. I loved that it becomes far more about the journey itself and not the end result for Paul, which is such a great reminder to embrace how you get to where you're going. Probably the biggest thing a reader will take away from this book is the question, "If you had a chance to meet your hero, would you?"

What Wasn't So Rockin'
Paul isn't very likable at first. Honestly, he's kind of jerk. He's awful to his girlfriend and is a huge downer. As with most coming of age tales, stick with it and watch Paul grow up over the course of the story. Some understanding of the historical context in which the story takes place may enrich the reader's experience with this book (the year after Kennedy's death, the Civil Rights Movements, and the Baby Boomer generation, for example) but isn't a must. 

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Sunday, February 21, 2016

These Shallow Graves

Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Info: Random House Delacorte, copyright 2015, 488 pages

Jo Montfort is beautiful and rich, and soon—like all the girls in her class—she’ll graduate from finishing school and be married off to a wealthy bachelor. Which is the last thing she wants. Jo secretly dreams of becoming a writer—a newspaper reporter like the trailblazing Nellie Bly.

Wild aspirations aside, Jo’s life seems perfect until tragedy strikes: her father is found dead. Charles Montfort accidentally shot himself while cleaning his revolver. One of New York City’s wealthiest men, he owned a newspaper and was partner in a massive shipping firm, and Jo knows he was far too smart to clean a loaded gun.

The more Jo uncovers about her father’s death, the more her suspicions grow. There are too many secrets. And they all seem to be buried in plain sight. Then she meets Eddie—a young, brash, infuriatingly handsome reporter at her father’s newspaper—and it becomes all too clear how much she stands to lose if she keeps searching for the truth. Only now it might be too late to stop.

The past never stays buried forever. Life is dirtier than Jo Montfort could ever have imagined, and the truth is the dirtiest part of all. -Goodreads description


The Rundown
How far would you go to uncover the truth? That's the dilemma seventeen year old Jo is facing after the death of her father. While it's written off as an accident in the official reports, she knows that her father was too smart to clean a loaded gun. Her desire to break the traditions of her class and society by longing to be a reporter helps her start digging deeper into what she believes was a murder. 

With the help of Eddie, Jo's investigation takes her to morgues, asylums, and the dangerous streets and docks of late 19th century New York City. In an era where young ladies of her standing were set to marry well and produce the next great generation of high society, Jo defies all in her quest for the truth. But some people will go to any lengths to keep the truth buried...

What Rocked
The pace of this book is amazing! Don't let the near 500 pages turn you away. With short chapters and a cliff hanger at the end of each one, you'll fly through this book! I remember when I was reading this I'd look over at the clock and think "Just one more chapter!" and an hour later...well I'm sure you've been there with a book too! This book is a must if you like a good mystery or historical fiction. I promise this a read that will have you on the edge of your seat!

Jo is such a likable and realistic character. Set in 1890s NYC, you have to put yourself there to realize what an incredible girl she is. America had a strict class system then (Timeline: we're still 20 years away from the sinking of the Titanic and 30 until women voted in their first presidential election) and we had a society which celebrated male achievement while women were meant to be wives and mothers. We're also at an age where women are realizing, and acting out on, the idea that they can be more. Jo wants to be a reporter. She's questioning everything about things that are just a given in her world, like marrying for a good match over love. Her father's death, sadly, is the catalyst that sets her on a path toward her own destiny. 

What Wasn't So Rockin'
The end of this story may be too neat for some who may struggle with every single one of the loose ends in this mystery getting tied up before the end. This book appears to be a standalone though, so I can't fault Donnelly for not leaving her readers with a ton of questions and what ifs. 

Rating: 5/5 Stars


Saturday, February 20, 2016

Until Friday Night

Author: Abbi Glines
Info: Simon Pulse, copyright 2015, 336 pages

To everyone who knows him, West Ashby has always been that guy: the cocky, popular, way-too-handsome-for-his-own-good football god who led Lawton High to the state championships. But while West may be Big Man on Campus on the outside, on the inside he’s battling the grief that comes with watching his father slowly die of cancer.

Two years ago, Maggie Carleton’s life fell apart when her father murdered her mother. And after she told the police what happened, she stopped speaking and hasn’t spoken since. Even the move to Lawton, Alabama, couldn’t draw Maggie back out. So she stayed quiet, keeping her sorrow and her fractured heart hidden away.

As West’s pain becomes too much to handle, he knows he needs to talk to someone about his father—so in the dark shadows of a post-game party, he opens up to the one girl who he knows won’t tell anyone else.

West expected that talking about his dad would bring some relief, or at least a flood of emotions he couldn’t control. But he never expected the quiet new girl to reply, to reveal a pain even deeper than his own—or for them to form a connection so strong that he couldn’t ever let her go… -Goodreads description


The Rundown
Maggie has already faced a horrific tragedy after witnessing her mother's murder. West is in a private hell watching his father lose his battle with cancer. Maggie moves to Lawton, Alabama to live with her aunt, uncle, and cousin. It's there one night at a field party where she meets West, one of her cousin's football teammates. West has heard all of the rumors and knows that Maggie won't talk, so he takes a chance and spills his family's secret to her to voice his pain to someone. Instead of staying mute, Maggie speaks. Gradually they find themselves opening up to each other. Only she knows his secret, and only he can hear her voice. What starts as friendship grows into an intense connection that is so much more, but can they hold on when the odds seem stacked against them?

What Rocked
The setting! I may be a rock n roll, tattooed girl on the outside, but my heart will always be small town Midwest. The fondness for Friday night lights, a pick up truck, a bonfire, and Tim McGraw playing on the radio is deep in my soul. Add in some drama, likable main and supporting characters, and a good love story and this is a hit for any YA contemporary fan! I love that just because Maggie and West find themselves able to share with one another rather quickly, the romance builds at a believable pace. A must add to any collection where contemporary romance in YA is popular. It's also the first in the author's newest series, Field Party, with the sequel expected to be published in summer 2016. 

What Wasn't So Rockin'
West is a hard pill to swallow at first. He's not the nicest guy to most girls and it makes it hard to be sympathetic with his situation. Maggie, on the other hand, almost seems too ethereal at times. This may be a turn off for readers who've grown tired of seemingly formulaic contemporary teen lit. Yes, West is the hot football star who's a jerk to everyone but his mama and Maggie. Yes, Maggie may be damaged and a mute, but of course she's beautiful and will speak to West. It's feel good. It's tear jerking. It's predictable. But hey, that's okay sometimes, and this is one of the okay-est of them all!

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

The Diviners

Author: Libba Bray
Info: Little Brown Books for Young Readers, copyright 2012, 578 pages

Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened. -Goodreads description


The Rundown
Evie is simply too big for small town Ohio. After a little too much gin and showing off her power of object reading at a party, her parents felt it best to get her out of town for a while until her most recent escapades are mostly forgotten. Her punishment? Spend the fall with her academic, museum curator Uncle Will in NYC. With all the excitement the city has to offer Evie sees her "punishment" as a blessing. 
However, there's an evil lurking in the shadows of New York, and when a string of serial killings crop up over the city with a connection to the occult, Evie begins to assist her uncle with the investigations. An eclectic band of characters weave their stories together as the bodies pile up, but are their gifts enough to stop an otherworldly killer?

What Rocked
Basically everything! Libba Bray paints such beautiful images with her words that reading this book makes you feel like stepping into a time machine and landing in 1920s New York City. Dream come true? If you're a history nerd like me, yes! From speakeasies to Grand Central Station to dance halls and speakeasies it's a jazz age tour to the fullest. 

Let's talk characters. You know how sometimes when a book is told from multiple points of view, there tends to be those one or two characters that when you see the next chapter is through their eyes it can be like pulling teeth until you're back to a better character? None of that here! No matter if you're at the Globe Theater with Ziegfeld girl Theta, a Harlem speakeasy with Memphis, or at the museum with Evie and Jericho you're pulled into the way their lives and interactions flow toward the bigger picture. 

When I book talk this to a teen I have a hard time putting it into a definite genre, and that's great because this is one of those rare books that has something for everyone! Mystery. Fantasy. Supernatural. Paranormal. History. Romance. Plus there are moments when things are so downright creepy you'll want to turn on extra lights!

What Wasn't So Rockin'
This is a huge book. I get bummed sometimes because I feel like the size turns readers away before they give it a chance. I admit I was almost one of them! There's a lot of 1920s pop culture references that some readers may struggle with understanding, though it really doesn't take away from the story as a whole. If you don't know much about 1920s America, or New York City, I suggest reading the author's note in the back of the book before starting. 

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars



Friday, February 19, 2016

Rule

Author: Jay Crownover
Info: William Morrow & Co., copyright 2013, 426 pages

Shaw Landon loved Rule Archer from the moment she laid eyes on him. Rule is everything a straight-A pre-med student like Shaw shouldn’t want—and the only person she’s never tried to please. She isn’t afraid of his scary piercings and tattoos or his wild attitude. Though she knows that Rule is wrong for her, her heart just won’t listen.

To a rebel like Rule Archer, Shaw Landon is a stuck-up, perfect princess—and his dead twin brother’s girl. She lives by other people’s rules; he makes his own. He doesn’t have time for a good girl like Shaw—even if she’s the only one who can see the person he truly is.

But a short skirt, too many birthday cocktails, and spilled secrets lead to a night neither can forget. Now, Shaw and Rule have to figure out how a girl like her and a guy like him are supposed to be together without destroying their love . . . or each other.

 -Goodreads description

The Rundown
Shaw really did fall head over heels the first time she met Rule. In the years since his twin brother, Remy, passed away tragically she's been the only one who can almost keep Rule in line. Shaw is the one who acts as a shield for Rule against his parents who are still grieving over their lost son and can't seem to understand the wild, tattooed twin. It's not the Rule isn't attracted to Shaw, but love 'em and leave 'em is more his style when it comes to girls. He doesn't feel he could ever measure up to all of the standards an uptight goody goody like Shaw would have. After a few too many shots on her birthday, Shaw shares her heart (and a steamy night) with Rule. Can their love endure long buried secrets, family drama, and Shaw's abusive ex?

What Rocked
The characters! Not just Shaw and Rule, but everyone! This is the first book in Jay Crownover's six part Marked Men series that follows this group that's as endearing as TV's Friends but with a lot more ink, punk rock, and a great Denver setting. I found myself falling for Rule right along with Shaw. I mean come on a guy who's described as tall, lean muscled, ice blue eyes,  covered in tattoos & piercings with a blue mohawk (my favorite of his ever changing hair styles) that's a tattoo artist? Seriously? Yes please! And Shaw was just so sweet you were rooting for her to win Rule's heart once and for all. 

As heartbreaking as they were to read, I loved the scenes where Rule and Shaw had to deal with their family drama. Rule's parents are still so caught up in the grief of a lost child that it takes them a while to see how bad they're hurting and pushing away their living sons (Oh yeah there's another Archer brother. Rome! Book three!). Shaw's parents are just awful. Wealthy, divorced, selfish jerks who use their daughter as a pawn in games against each other or to get ahead. It's almost a miracle, and a huge credit to the positive role that Archer family played in Shaw's life, that she's as kind as she is. 

Aside from writing amazing characters, Crownover cooks up some STEAMY love scenes. Like hot. Super crazy hot. When you're as attached to the characters as I got it makes everything about the romance that much better. I also love how much music she incorporates into her novels. Killer soundtracks!!!

What Wasn't So Rockin
I order and review New Adult books for my library, but they're not housed in our YA area for a reason. Romantic scenes in this genre are typically more R rated compared to the PG 13 level you see in most teen lit. This isn't a criticism of Crownover's writing at all but rather a warning to other teen librarians who may also be ordering New Adult for your library. These works are directed toward the 19-27 age group. 

5/5 Stars

Hot Reads for Teens Spring 2016

With the start of this new year I began publishing a pamphlet called "Hot Reads for Teens." I wanted to highlight some of the new books getting good buzz in the YA genres that are popular at my library. I also wanted to have a quick blurb about using the Novelist database and what I've been reading. It's been a great tool as a passive book talk/reader's advisory for when I can't be in the department to help teens find new books! For now I plan on doing this three times a year to coordinate with my programming sessions.

Below is the link if you'd like to check it out! 

Hot Reads for Teens Spring 2016

Top Five YA Books I Wish Were Movies

Welcome to my very first installment of "Top Five Fridays"! Because who doesn't love a good countdown?!

I love movies almost as much as I love books. So many times after I finish a YA book I find myself wishing someone in Hollywood is already working on the script. Sometimes I get my wish, like with Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, due out later this year (and directed by Tim Burton!! Yes!). Other times I find myself hoping and waiting like with these five here.



#1 The Diviners by Libba Bray

First off, this book reads like a movie! Set in 1926 New York City we meet Evie, exiled from drab Ohio to the city that never sleeps amid speakeasies, show girls, jazz music, and a string of serial killings connected to the occult. Evie's supernatural powers tend to cause trouble, but when they start bringing her closer to the killer she's the city's only hope. Flappers? A serial killer? NYC? The Roaring 20s? And a huge splash the paranormal? Midnight showing please!

Read my book review here!


#2 Until Friday Night by Abbi Glines

I'll never turn down a good romance! West & Maggie are dealing with difficult heartache in private and end up finding a friendship in each other that gradually builds to an explosive romance. Add in great friends, good drama, lovable lead characters, and Friday night football games and this is one I'd curl up to watch with plenty of Kleenex & cookie dough!

Read my book review here!




#3 Rule by Jay Crownover

Ah love stories. 'Tis the season! Jay Crownover is one of my favorite new authors of the past few years as the New Adult genre exploded onto the book scene. A book about a sweet, All-American good girl falling and a rebellious tattoo artist falling for each other against the odds? You had me at tattoo artist. Rule & Shaw's love story was so steamy and passionate that it stuck with me long after I finished the last page. I'd love to see these two (and the rest of the Marked Men) on the big screen! 

Read my book review here!



#4 These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

Another set in New York City, but this time we're in a good old fashioned murder mystery in the 1890s. Jo Montfort, the daughter of one of the wealthiest businessmen in the city, knows her father was too smart to clean a loaded gun. The more she uncovers with the help of news reporter Eddie, the more she suspects foul play in her father's death. This was a serious page turner that would keep movie goers on the edge of their seats!

Read my book review here!


#5 Looking for Jack Kerouac by Barbara Shoup

If you don't remember the first time you read Jack Kerouac's On the Road...well, you've probably never read it. Talk about a classic that sticks with you. This is a book about a guy who finds that book and the journey he feels compelled to take. It's 1964 and Paul Capetti feels restless with his life after high school in Northern Indiana. When he meets another Kerouac fan at the steel mill where he works, the two take off on a road trip to Florida to meet their hero. Truck drivers, old rock n roll in Nashville, and even mermaids await! I love early 1960s fashion when America still had one foot in the 50s and every girl wanted to dress like Jackie Kennedy. The soundtrack to this movie would be sweet nostalgia for the Baby Boomer generation and just pure wishful thinking for old souls like me! A classic!

Read my book review here!




  

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Nowhere But Here

Author: Katie McGarry
Info: Harlequin Teen, copyright 2015, 496 pages

Seventeen-year-old Emily likes her life the way it is: doting parents, good friends, good school in a safe neighborhood. Sure, she's curious about her biological father—the one who chose life in a motorcycle club, the Reign of Terror, over being a parent—but that doesn't mean she wants to be a part of his world. But when a reluctant visit turns to an extended summer vacation among relatives she never knew she had, one thing becomes clear: nothing is what it seems. Not the club, not her secret-keeping father and not Oz, a guy with suck-me-in blue eyes who can help her understand them both. 

Oz wants one thing: to join the Reign of Terror. They're the good guys. They protect people. They're…family. And while Emily—the gorgeous and sheltered daughter of the club's most respected member—is in town, he's gonna prove it to her. So when her father asks him to keep her safe from a rival club with a score to settle, Oz knows it's his shot at his dream. What he doesn't count on is that Emily just might turn that dream upside down. 

No one wants them to be together. But sometimes the right person is the one you least expect, and the road you fear the most is the one that leads you home. -Goodreads desciption


The Rundown

Emily really loves her simple, happy life. She's accepted a lot of things as "that's just how it is" like her mom being loving but a bit of a drama queen, her biological dad being mostly absent thanks to his motorcycle gang, and her stepdad being awesome for taking it all in stride. What should have been a quick visit to her real dad, Eli, in Kentucky ended up with her stuck there all summer. She's suddenly faced with a glimpse at what her world could have been with a family she barely knows. Secrets kept about her past, new friends, and a cute guy named Oz on a motorcycle add up for a wild ride!

What Rocked

First off, I was obsessed with the TV show Sons of Anarchy! I grew up in a motorcycle family and got hooked on the show with my dad when I was in college (PS-If you're familiar with the show you'll understand why I had so many moments thinking "Well, dad, we can't unsee that together."). What's a girl to do when she finds out one of her favorite authors is writing a new series with guys part of a motorcycle club? Rejoice! I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book! It's packed with all of the drama and swoon worthy scenes I've come to love Katie McGarry for. One thing I love about McGarry's writing style is how well she researches the settings her characters are in along with their interests and issues they face. She actually spent time with a real motorcycle club to get it right! The other thing I love her for: she really knows how to write great male characters. Oz is just a stud. He's sweet, smart, and devoted wrapped in a tough, bad boy exterior. This is the first book in the author's newest series, Thunder Road, so there's a lot of great setting and character description going on to get readers geared up for Razor's story in Walk the Edge, which is expected to be published in March 2016.

What Wasn't So Rockin' 

It's a really big book. This usually never puts me off when I pick up a Katie McGarry book because I usually fly through them they're so good, but parts of this story could get slow or seem repetitive. My real problem throughout much of the story was Emily. She's the first one of McGarry's female leads that I just didn't like. She's not easy to relate to, she can be a little immature, dramatic, and kind of a brat. I could pick out a lot of great qualities in Oz in his actions and dialogue, but failed to do so with Emily. Emily was such a difficult character for me that it made me struggle with the romance that develops between her and Oz. However, stick with Emily the brat for the first 65% of the book and then she starts to really pull out of her old ways and have some great interactions with her dad, family, and Oz. By the end, you're rooting for everyone!

Rating: 4/5 Stars 

Winter Reading Bingo

Getting teens to participate in winter reading isn't always easy. Smack in the middle of the school year in the yuckiest months after the holidays and I'm supposed to find a way to encourage teens to read...for fun? I'm supposed to do that all year long, but something about these winter months makes that task a struggle. 

I turned to my trusty pal Pintrest for ideas and came across several versions of Winter Reading Bingo. The best part? No sign ups. No set amount of reading. All teens have to do to is complete a Bingo by doing the activities in that row (or column or diagonally!). And the free space is "Do Your Homework." Other activities include: Read a graphic novel or manga, check out a book on display, read anything for one hour, and watch a movie based on a book. 

Winter Reading at my library lasts from January 11 to March 12 this year, and I'm allowing teens unlimited play for the entire program with only one Bingo per sheet. Each completed sheet becomes their ticket in the prize drawing at the end of the program. The more plays, the more chances! I also give them a piece of candy for each completed sheet. Tootsie rolls make great bribes. 

I made my Bingo sheets in Publisher, then moved and switched the tiles around to create four different sheets so teens weren't stuck with the same things to do or read every time. When the program kicked off this year I was handing a Bingo sheet to every teen as they were hanging out in the department or when they were checking out. Now that we're a month into the program they've been grabbing up a new sheet as soon as they turn one in! I've added link below to one of my Bingo sheets. 

Now let's talk prizes! This is where knowing your teens helps (and sparks intense competition!). I based my prizes off of what my most popular programs tend to be: movies, food, and make up. The Hollywood Pack: popcorn, candy, a soda, & a Hunger Games DVD. The Coffee House Pack: coffee drinks, cookies, a nice journal & pen set, & a book of their choice. The Beauty Pack: Everything for a DIY pedi! I also threw in a gift card for another option.

Winter Bingo Sheet

Words in Deep Blue

Author: Cath Crowley Release Date: June 6, 2017 Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers Pages: 273 Genre: Young Adult,...