Thursday, July 28, 2016

It Wasn't Always Like This

Author: Joy Preble
Release Date: May 17, 2016
Publisher: Soho Teen
Pages: 245
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Thriller


In 1916, Emma O'Neill is frozen in time. After sampling an experimental polio vaccine brewed on a remote island off St. Augustine, Florida, she and her family stop aging--as do the Ryans, her family's business partners. In a way, this suits Emma fine because she's in love with Charlie Ryan. Being seventeen forever with him is a dream. But soon a group of religious fanatics, the Church of Light, takes note. Drinking the elixir has made the O'Neills and Ryans impervious to aging, but not to murder--Emma and Charlie are the only ones who escape with their lives. 

On the run, Emma is tragically separated from Charlie. For the next hundred years, she plays a cat-and-mouse game with the founding members of the Church of Light and their descendants. Over the years, a series of murders--whose victims all bear more than a passing resemblance to her--indicate that her enemies are closing in. Yet as the danger grows, so does Emma's hope for finding the boy she's certain is still out there...--Goodreads

The Rundown

At a glance, this book has everything I love: romance, history, and splash of suspense/thriller thrown in.

What I got was...not what I expected? Anti-climatic? A big dose of "hmmm..."?

The thing is that it started out great. Two teens, Emma and Charlie, hopelessly in love and immortal at seventeen, a year before the US enters World War One. I mean, how cool would it be to go through the 20th century together? The fashion eras, the cars, the topic. 

They were tricked into drinking a tea made from flowers growing in the Fountain of Youth of legend, told it was a natural cure for polio. Right about the time both families realize that something is wrong, that they're not aging, so does a fanatical church group. Their immortality becomes the evil the Church of Light is committed to exterminating. 

And they succeed in burning both families alive--all except for Emma and Charlie. Charlie encourages Emma that they need to go in different directions to confuse the murderous congregation. Emma is very much against this, but Charlie leaves her standing in a road alone all the same. 

From there, the story goes back and forth between past and present following mostly Emma. Charlie's journey over the last century gets some page time about halfway through the book. 

At this point, I was still hooked. I loved seeing what Emma and Charlie had done with their endless days since 1916. I wanted to know what the Church of Light had morphed into and the significance of girls who looked just like Emma found murdered (and so did Emma, who is a licensed PI in the 21st century). Would Emma and Charlie ever find each other? How would they reunite?

So I'm edge of my seat with an honest to goodness page turned when we get to the big moment. What all this was building up to, the final showdown with what's left of the Church of Light and an end to the murders. And instead of an explosion of a climax, it was more of like throwing one of those snap poppers on the ground. Not even a sparkler's worth of excitement for all of that buildup. 

All of that build up just to end in blah. 

Majorly bummed.

This was such a fun, twisting, totally plot driven book that tapered off to the equivalent of being at an ice cream sundae bar and walking away with just a bowl of vanilla. No sprinkles. Not even a cherry. Just...hmmm...

For two people who loved each other for over a century and faced down a murderous cult, I expected a sizzle of and ending and instead just got a fizzle (I'm rolling my eyes a little for typing that, but hey, my blog my rhymes).

Rating: 3 Stars. Just meh, but if you're looking for a quick read thriller, give it a go.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Connecting Teens to Local History

     Before I started in teen services a little over three years ago, I worked in my library's Heritage Center. Our local history and genealogy department resides in the original Carnegie portion of the Lebanon Public Library (we've had a few renovations and additions, but we've managed to build off of the original 1905 structure). For me, a loud and proud history geek, it was an awesome experience. 
     Even though I love my teens and youth services in general, there are times I miss it. My family has been in the Lebanon or Boone County area pretty much since the county was founded in the early 1830s and the work I did as the local history specialist really made me appreciate my hometown's history and how it fits into my own history. 

     I loved getting to pour through photos of days gone by in Lebanon. Old businesses, Fourth of July celebrations, prominent citizens of older generations, the courthouses, the 4H fair, the schools, the library...why does everything look cooler in black and white? And the yearbooks...we have every LHS yearbook all the way back to the very first one in 1904. I loved looking at my grandmother's senior photo in 1951 (I'm still jealous of just how glamorous she looked), my dad's senior photo in 1979 (Parents in the 70s. Enough said), and even my own from 2006 (I still had braces. We'll just leave it at that). 

      The whole time I worked in the Heritage Center it was very rare for me to see any teens wander back to check it out. When I became the teen librarian, I wanted to change that. But how? I'd hear my teens after school studying or doing homework and complain how much they hated history. That it was boring. To be fair, I cried about math just as much at their age (and now. Numbers are hard). 

      How do we even begin to mesh teens and local history? Can it be done? That's what our Heritage Center head and I wanted to find out! 

      In trying to think of a way to tie in history and the get out and active tone of this year's summer reading program, we came up with Operation Exploration at Oak Hill Cemetery. We're lucky that our local cemetery is about half a mile from our library (totally in walking distance. Get active? check!) and that it's steeped in way cool history (plug teens into the past? check!). 

     The program consisted of a brief presentation on the cemetery's history, notables buried there, interesting markers, mausoleums, and statues, as well as how one can use cemeteries to research a family tree. Then we set off on our walk for a guided tour of the cemetery! The teens had a map of the cemetery with a list of things to look for and their locations. I also took one of the plot records books from the library in case teens wanted to look for their family name or ancestors. We spent a little over an hour at the cemetery (time cut short by looming thunderstorm clouds in July in Indiana of all things!).

     The teens asked lots of great questions both at the cemetery and when we returned to the library. Since the program last week it's been great to see younger faces head back to the Heritage Center to use microfilm, look at the yearbooks, or see old pictures of their house. I've even received emails from a few parents saying that their teens have asked to go back to the cemetery! How cool!

     Cemeteries don't have to be sad or scary places. They can be an interesting and hands on look at the past!

     Want to connect your teens and local history? If you have a history & genealogy department, consider pairing up with them for a teen program. If not, try connecting with your town or county's historical society. Together you can come up with an awesome program to put teens hands on with the past right in your area!

     Here are some other ideas or places to consider for a teen history program: 
1) A local museum
2) The courthouse
3) A visit to or from the local historical society
4) See if there are any homes on that are historical landmarks that allow tours
5) Host an activity from the past event (like afternoon tea)

     **Never fear shameless bribery with teens. I promised ice cream when we got back from our walk. I don't know about you, but I'll walk anywhere for ice cream!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Ugly Love

Author: Colleen Hoover
Release Date: August 5, 2014
Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 324
Genre: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance


When Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she doesn't think it's love at first site. They wouldn't even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn't want love, she doesn't have time for love, so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her. 

Never ask about the past.
Don't expect a future.

They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately that they can't handle it at all.

Hearts get infiltrated.
Promises get broken.
Rules get shattered.
Love gets ugly.
-Goodreads summary

The Rundown

So I'm getting more and more excited for Colleen Hoover's latest release, It Ends With Us, due out August 2, 2016! Like any good fangirl, I decided to go back and reread one of my Hoover faves to review before her next book birthday!

This book has everything. Seriously! Fun, multi-layered characters, humor, love, sorrow, life lessons, and a wise old elevator operator named Cap (who is still to this day one of my favorite side characters).

I remember going into this book when I first read it a few years ago thinking it was going to be kind of a ho hum new adult romance. What I got was anything but! 

Readers will root for Tate and Miles from the very beginning. It goes way beyond that friends with benefits vibe that the description puts out. Told in alternating POVs we get Tate's thoughts on the present while we travel back six years with Miles as we try to unravel the past of this sexy, mysterious, broken guy right along with Tate. 

Tate never meant to fall for Miles, and Miles was terrified of loving Tate. But she sees the good in this guy so much that she rides it out to show him that love and time can heal so much.

And when we learn why Miles is holding back from loving Tate...just go on and grab the tissues. 

If you like contemporary romance or new adult and you're not reading Colleen Hoover, pick up this title and prepare to have your world rocked! I can't wait for the movie to come out!

Rating: 4.5 Stars! Loved it!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Crow Mountain

Author: Lucy Inglis
Release Date: May 31, 2016
Publisher: The Chicken House
Pages: 414
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, American Western, Romance


A sweeping tale of love, legacy, and wilderness set between present day and 1866 in the dramatic landscape of modern-day and territorial Montana. 

While on a trip to Montana with her mom, British teen Hope meets local boy Cal Crow, a ranch hand. Caught in a freak accident, Hope and Cal take shelter in a cabin, where Hope makes a strange discovery in an abandoned diary. More than a hundred years earlier, another British girl--Emily--met a similar fate. Her rescuer, a horse trader named Nate. In this wild place, both girls learn what it means to survive and to fall in love, neither knowing that their fates are intimately entwined. -Goodreads description

The Rundown

I really liked this book! It was such a wonderful, feel good story that I barely put it down!

You probably get tired of hearing me say how much I love historical fiction, but when it's done well, you not only get to visit a new place but you also get to time travel! How cool are books?! 

This is a place and time I haven't seen a lot of in recent YA historical fiction, but I'd love to see more! America in the immediate years following the Civil War had a lot going on, particularly west of the Mississippi River. The real, old, wild wild west! Pioneers pushing west over the Rockies. Ranchers and farmers settling over the Plains states. Native American tribes still trying to hold on to their lands and way of life. Buffalo were being killed off at an alarming rate. Outposts and army camps the only specks of civilization in some parts. 

I could ramble on (I watched an alarming amount of Clint Eastwood movies with my dad as a kid) but let's talk about this book!

The story alternates between Hope and Cal Crow in the present day and excerpts from Emily's diary detailing the story of herself and Nate Crow in 1867 Montana. Both girls are strong, smart, and at an age where they're trying to find a voice and footing in their own lives as they near adulthood. 

Both girls are also less than thrilled to be in first. Emily is passing through en route from London to Portland, where her parents have arranged her marriage to a young railroad tycoon. Hope is accompanying her mother, a scientist, to a remote Montana ranch to study the ecosystem there. 

History has a way of repeating itself as Emily and Nate, and later Hope and Cal, find love and themselves as they survive in the Montana wilderness. 

Give yourself over to a little bit of fantasy with the experiences both couples share, and this story will captivate you from beginning to end. It also paints an accurate picture of racial tensions between natives and settlers, as well as the horrors of the buffalo hunted to near extinction on the Great Plains.

And if you don't fall in love with Nate...sigh.

This may be the top of my list of 2016 books I'd love to see made into a movie! 

Rating: 4.5 stars! So good!

Top Five Books on My Nightstand Right Now

I read a lot. Now I know you're thinking "Well duh. You're a librarian." The thing is that even if I had another job my book addiction would still be going strong. Nearly every week I add a few more to my to my already precariously stacked tower of books on my nightstand. Why the nightstand? I have a very grabby, tall toddler who, like her mom, loves books. But does she want the board books designed for the rough and tumble toddler life? Negative Batman. She goes straight for the easily ripped pages of my books. She hasn't discovered the nightstand stash yet! 

Here are the top five books in my tower-o-literature that I can't wait to read! What do you have in your book line up right now?

I'm a sucker for any twist on Sherlock Holmes!

Eternal life, the legend of The Fountain of Youth, a conspiracy, and a love that spans decades? Yes please!

I mean...uhhh...ha...yeah...he has a beard and tattoos so umm yup! And Jay Crownover is amazing! 

I've been putting this one off for longer than I meant, but given that the story follows a rape victim through high school after she was attacked as a freshman, I know it's going to be a heartbreaking read. And I'm still trying to recover from E.K. Johnston's Exit, Pursued by a Bear (read my review here!). 

I love Colleen Hoover! And casting has started for the movie version so I want to dive into this like yesterday!

Saturday, July 2, 2016

The Problem With Forever

Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Release Date: May 17, 2016
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Pages: 480
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance


For some people, silence is a weapon. For Mallory "Mouse" Dodge, it's a shield. Growing up, she learned that the best way to survive was to say nothing. And even though it's been four years since her nightmare ended, she's beginning to worry that the fear that holds her back will last a lifetime.

Now, after years of homeschooling with loving adoptive parents, Mallory must face a new milestone--spending her senior year at public high school. But of all the terrifying and exhilarating scenarios she's imagined, there's one she never dreamed of--that she'd run into Rider Stark, the friend and protector she hasn't seen since childhood, on her very first day. 

It doesn't take long for Mallory to realize that the connection she shared with Rider never really faded. Yet the deeper their bond grows, the more it becomes apparent that she's not the only one grappling with lingering scars from the past. And as she watches Rider's life spiral out of control, Mallory faces a choice between staying silent and speaking out--for the people she loves, the life she wants, and the truths that need to be heard.

The Rundown 

A book hangover is a condition in which attachment to a book or series that has ended causes the reader traumatic emotional stress. It usually lasts for one or two weeks until a new book of higher-than-average quality enters the reader's life. (Definition courtesy of a Google search. Don't judge me.)

Hi. My name is Nicole and I'm a reading addict. And every so often a amazing book enters my life and I get a serious book hangover. 

This is one such book.

I'm book hungover. 

Thanks Jennifer L. Armentrout.

Seriously though guys! Ahhh!! Where do I even begin?! I loved this book! Now I'm a huge Jennifer L. Armentrout fan (and if you've never read any of her New Adult books that she writes under J.Lynn...well umm check them out or hit up your local book store like yesterday!) and I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book! My anticipation was totally rewarded!

Mallory is such a wonderfully and realistically drawn character. She's the most memorable character I've met in 2016, and I have a strong feeling that she'll be with me for years to come. She's constantly growing and gaining strength and finding her voice that I didn't want the book to end because I just wanted to see where life would take her next.

Gah and Rider! *Sigh* I can't even. A smart, hot artist?! His devotion to Mallory and the way he grows as he faces down his demons had my little heart all a flutter. 

And then there's the love story that's a complete swoon-a-thon! With the past and deep connection Mallory and Rider once shared, I thought going into this that like the second their paths crossed again it'd be this instant head-over-heels thing. Wrong! They actually take time to get to know each other again as friends. After being apart for four years when they were separated in the foster care system after a really tragic event I'm glad that it wasn't a love at first sight whirlwind kind of relationship. 

They were friends first, and for the first part of their lives, they were all each other had. The pace at which they went from friends to boyfriend and girlfriend felt so real. They have this shared past, but they've changed. They're still changing. But the fact that by the end they both realize that they don't have to stay stuck, that they're not lost kids anymore, but loved and treasured not just by each other but also by their new families and friends...all the feels. 

This book also touches heavily on child abuse and the darker side of our foster care system. As someone who suffered abuse at the hands of a parent from a very early age, I can tell you that the author nailed the long-term effects that abused children carry. There were times I would have to put the book down and have a cry as the hell that Mallory and Rider went through felt so real. 

There's a great message that our past is forever a part of us. That certain people are forever a part of us. But it's up to you to define how your past and others play into your right now and your tomorrow, into your forever. 

Rating: 5 Stars! Highly recommended for fans of Katie McGarry and Simone Elkeles! 

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,...