Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Teen Times Fall 2016



And with the crisp days, colorful leaves, and pumpkin spice everything comes a new round of teen programming! 2016 was my first year of breaking my programming year up into spring, summer, and fall and planning out everything for four months (and if we don't call a session "winter" it's like that awful season never happened, right?). 

I'm sharing my September to December calendar here for you to check out! The link is to a Publisher document, so you may not be able to view it from your mobile device. Feel free to steal it, tweak it to your library, or send me some feedback on what works in your community with your teens please! I love talking teen programming!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Author: J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, & Jack Thorne
Release Date: July 31, 2016
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Pages: 328
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Plays

Summary

The eighth story. Nineteen years later. 

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London's West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn't much easier now that he's an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children. 

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present refuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.
 -Goodreads

The Rundown

Hmmm....alrighty let us just get right to it.

I don't know what to think. Which has never happened to me with what I'm now calling the Canonical Seven Potter books (I really may never be able to bring myself to think of this as Harry Potter 8. I don't care what you say Goodreads.) It feels more like a series spin off rather than a continuation of the original. Which is probably a good thing, because the end of The Deathly Hallows felt so perfect and like everything had come full circle to me.

Maybe because I was so excited for this, to see some of my all time favorite literary characters all grown up, that I felt such a letdown. Maybe on stage (it's a play) it comes across differently, as something more? Alas I may never know. I didn't love it. I didn't hate it. It was just...yeah.

The teen angst got a bit much for me at times when it came to how Albus related to Harry. I was having major flashbacks to The Order of the Phoenix, which is still the hardest Potter for me to deal with (Harry was just so emo haha sorry early 2000s kid term...he just had a lot of feelings that year). On the flip side, I loved how Wizard or Muggle, there's no magic spell for parenting and Harry is just figuring it out as he goes along.

Character standouts were definitely grown up Draco and his son, Scorpius. Much like Snape won my heart in The Deathly Hallows, the Malfoys found a place in my heart thanks to this. Harry, Hermione, and Ron (my fictional character soul mate) seemed somewhere between caricatures of themselves and dull. Then again, maybe they'll just always be eternally 17 to me. And that's okay.

Overall, I missed the magic that came to define the series for me. And I'm not talking just spells, but the overall magic that you can't help but feel when you're truly captivated by a story. 

How many times have I read the Canonical Seven Potters? It's well over 10 times. How many times will I reread The Cursed Child? Probably just this once.

What about you? I geek all things Potter! Leave a comment!

Rating: 3 Stars. Meh. 


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Nailed

Author: Opal Carew
Release Date: August 23, 2016
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 288
Genre: Romance, Adult, Contemporary, Erotica

*I received this book as a NetGalley ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. All opinions are my own. Thanks NetGalley!*

Summary

When River set up a fundraiser to kick start her nail polish business, she never expected someone to pay five thousand dollars just to have dinner with her. But when she meets her mysterious benefactor, he turns out to be billionaire Kane Winters--the one man from her past who she never wanted to see again. 

Kane is determined to right the wrong that happened to River in college--because of him. She's been an obsession he can't escape...and Kane wants River more than he's ever wanted anything. So he offers her a deal she can't refuse: marry him and her business will be a success. But River's knight in shining armor isn't looking for a platonic business deal. He wants their marriage to be real...in every way. 

The Rundown

Well...hmmm....

I guess I should say Warning Warning! I requested this ARC from the New Adult genre dashboard, though I really feel like this one is erotica all the way. Totally fine, but not my typical go to read. But hey, I'm just about the only one at my library willing to read & review erotica, so this was definitely a sexy fun something new.

With a story line like this, the reader needs to give themselves over to an almost fantasy sort of Pretty Woman meets Shark Tank vibe. I had some problems with the plot the whole time though. I mean, they spent only two days hanging out with each other before an awful bullying event happened in college (which, by the way, was majorly downplayed. I mean, what happened to River was the kind of "boys will be boys" prank that is exactly where our rape culture spawned from) yet when they're back in each other's lives a handful of years later they suddenly know each other's favorite desserts and entrees? 

 Kane comes off as a man who feel like he's rich enough to take anything, even love. And River...I'm exhausted by the secretly hot weirdo heroine. Be hot. Be weird. Be artsy. Be quirky. I wish we saw more heroines embracing who they are instead of feeling like it makes them into an instant outcast. 

I usually fall hard for romances like this one: they guy who made some bonehead mistake in his youth returning to redeem himself and love the girl right. But this one just hit middle of the road for me, probably because of all of the angst and frustration with me wanting to yell at the main characters for most of the book "Just say I love you!!"  

All in all this was a short, sweet, steamy read perfect for the beach or pool!

Rating: 3 Stars. Just okay. 


Monday, August 15, 2016

You Before Anyone Else

Author: Julie Cross & Mark Perini
Release Date: August 2, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 400
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, New Adult

*I received this book as a NetGalley ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. All opinions are my own. Thanks NetGalley!*

Summary

Model Finley needs someone to help her shed her "good girl" persona, so she'll try Eddie on for size.

New York City model Finley is fed up of hearing the same feedback at castings: she needs to take some serious action to wipe the "good girl" stamp from her resume if she wants to launch to stardom.

Enter Eddie Wells. He's shallow, predictable...and just as lost as Finley feels. Deep down, Finley is drawn to Eddie's bravado, his intensity. Except Eddie is hiding something. A big something. And when it surfaces, both loving and leaving Finley will become so much harder. 

The Rundown

Oh boy. I really wanted to like this book. I'm a sucker for a good romance, but everything about this fell apart for me real quick. I didn't even get to the romance before I gave up (if a book is 400 pages long and at page 100 I ask "Why am I still reading this?" I'm done. Life is too short for a book that doesn't pull you in.)

Here's why I wanted to like it: New York City. Models. Haunted pasts. Two people coming together against the odds. From my brief stint trying to get into modeling in my younger days, I know it's hard work and not just pretty people posing for pictures. Well it is. But it's harder than that! Anyways, I was super excited to see how love and real life worked in a world I once dreamed of being a part of (other than Hogwarts, of course).

What I got was flat, predictable characters and almost nothing happening. One hundred pages in and I'm just waiting for something, anything, to hold my attention. Neither Finley nor Eddie held my interest enough for me to even care what the big mystery surrounding Eddie is. 

My reading list is a mile long, and my ARCs in waiting seem even longer. I just didn't have time for this dud. 

If you're looking for YA to NA contemporary romances that will make you swoon, check out Jennifer L. Armentrout (or her books she writes under J.Lynn), Cora Carmack, Katie McGarry, and Jay Crownover instead. 

Sigh. 

Rating: 2 Stars. Just not for me.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Top Five Favorite Mysteries to Book Talk

Who doesn't love a good mystery? A real page turner that has you playing detective and reading late into the night? I certainly do! This week's Top Five Friday features a roundup of my favorite mysteries! 

What are yours?? Leave a comment! I'd love to hear!


1. The Diviners by Libba Bray

So this book is a lot of things at once: mystery, historical fiction, paranormal. It may fall into several genres, but I can't talk mystery without talking The Divners! 1920s NYC with a serial killer on the loose? Yes please!

Check out my review here!


2. These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly

Set in 1890s New York, high society Jo dives into the investigation of her father's death...which she believes was no accident. And the twist at the end...whoa!

Check out my review here!


3. The Devil You Know by Trish Doller

What starts as a road trip adventure turns into a nightmare when eighteen-year-old Cadie realizes that one of the guys she's traveling with is a killer...but which one? Seriously a fun book that will keep you guessing!

Check it out on Goodreads here!


Jackaby by William Ritter

4. Do you like twists on the classic Sherlock & Watson characters? Do you like a bit of fantasy mixed with a murder to solve? Start this series like yesterday!

Check out my review here!


5. This is another one that falls into that is it a mystery or is it historical fiction? Both!! Set in 1943 Amsterdam, Hanneke is used to being asked to find rare items on the black market for her high paying customers and smuggling them in plain sigh of the Nazis. But when a client asks her to find someone, a Jewish teen that seemed to vanish into thin air from a hidden closet in her home, Hanneke finds herself going deeper into the Dutch Resistance as she tracks the girl. (Probably one of my favorite books of 2016!)

Check out my review here!







Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Gilded Cage

Author: Lucinda Gray
Release Date: August 2, 2016
Publisher: MacMillan Children's Publishing Group, Henry Holt & Co. (BYR)
Pages: 256
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery

*I received this book as a NetGalley ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. All opinions are my own. Thanks NetGalley!*

Summary

After growing up on a farm in Virginia, Walthingham Hall in England seems like another world to sixteen-year-old Katherine Randolph. Her new life, filled with the splendor of upper-class England in the 1820s, is shattered when her brother mysteriously drowns. Katherine is expected to observe the mourning customs and get on with her life, but she can't accept that her brother's death was an accident. 

A bitter poacher prowls the estate, and strange visitors threaten the occupants of the house. There's a rumor, too, that a wild animal stalks the woods of Walthingham. Can Katherine retain her sanity long enough to find out the truth? Or will her brother's killer claim her life, too? -Goodreads

The Rundown 

Who doesn't love a good ol' tale from Regency England? Plus the cover alone was enough to have me all "yes please!" at reading the ARC!

After finding that Katherine and her older brother, George, are sole heirs to a large estate left to them by a grandfather they've never met, they leave America for England to assume their birthright over Walthingham Hall. One night Katherine is trying to remember all of the dos and don'ts of high society at their first ball held at the estate, and the next morning her brother is found dead in the lake of an apparent accidental drowning. 

Nothing about her brother's death adds up to Katherine, and so begins her quest for the truth. But few are who they seem to be at Walthingham, and the deeper she digs for answers, the more she puts herself in danger.

The book does a great job of highlighting just how little rights women had in the early 19th century, and how much of their care made them rely on fathers, husbands, and brothers. Especially husbands, as this was an era where unmarried women of a certain age held little value in the high social circles Katherine now moves in. Fear not modern feminists! Remember, Katherine was raised a Virginia farm girl and is a strong character throughout the book.

Now I don't know about you, but when I dive into a good mystery, I suddenly turn into Sherlock Holmes and try to solve the case right along with the protagonist. I like to think I missed my calling as a detective...off topic! But the plot is fast paced as you cross off suspects and new ones are introduced! And the story doesn't get bogged down with endless descriptions of gowns and tea time and tapestries (and all the other descriptions of finery that can sometimes drag historical fiction to a snail's pace). 

I did feel like the romance triangle (even with a plot twist around it) was a little forced to a bit unrealistic, but maybe that was just me being too caught up in wanting to know who killed George. After all that Katherine went through, I wanted the ending to be a bit happier. Not that it was totally unhappy...I guess I just wanted to end the story with more joy. But hey, gray and rainy English manor. What can you do?

Glad I picked this one up just for the classic "who done it" tale. I'd recommend this for mystery fans who don't mind a historical fiction setting!

Rating: 3.5 Stars!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Gemini

Author: Sonya Mukherjee
Release Date: July 26, 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 336
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction, Coming of Age

*I received this book as a NetGalley ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. All opinions are my own. Thanks NetGalley!*

Summary

Seventeen-year-old conjoined twins Clara and Hailey have lived in the same small town their entire lives--no one stares at them anymore. But there are cracks in their quiet existence, and they're slowly becoming more apparent. 

Clara and Hailey are at a crossroads. Clara wants to stay close to home, avoid all attention, and study the night sky. Hailey wants to travel the world, learn from great artists, and dance with mysterious boys.

As high school graduation approaches, each twin must untangle her dreams from her sister's, and figure out what it means to be her own person.

The Rundown

This book could easily be written off as a campy and cliche high school drama with the exception that the main characters happen to be conjoined twins. All in all it was a light and fun, well researched view of life with this rare disability as two girls, joined at the back, face the "what comes next?" with high school ending.

Clara and Hailey felt really stereotyped to me, like how some say that twins are day and night different. Clara is the quiet scientist. Hailey is the pink haired, tattooed artist. While I feel that their story could only be told in alternating views, there were several times that I couldn't remember who was narrating. Maybe that's what the author intended though, to let the reader see how quickly these two individuals could be blurred into one? 

They have caring, devoted parents who advocated for them from day one by refusing to separate them and later making sure they felt normal and like everyone else. I wish we could have dived into their relationship with their mom a little more, who was the clear ruler of the house (especially when it came to all things twin related). I would have liked the ending to have had some sort of resolve with their mother as they strive for independence away from their parents. 

I think the biggest struggle for me with this book was the romance. Now I love a good romance. I guess what left me scratching my head was that they've lived a relatively secluded life. Same small town. Same classmates. But it wasn't until this year that they suddenly had love interests? Granted, one of them falls for a new student, but the other falls for a guy who has been a classmate for a while. As a teen librarian and someone who was a teen not long ago, I had a hard time believing that (conjoined twins or not) hormones were suddenly a factor senior year.

There were some high points though! I felt like the author researched and gave an accurate portrayal of everyday life as a teen who happens to be conjoined. The girls had great relationships with each other, their parents, and their friends. 

Mukherjee's coming of age story of striving to be your own person with your own future while forever being tied to another will have readers riding the emotional roller coaster that comes along with your first kiss, first disappointing crush, picking a college, surviving a formal dance, and leaving all that you've ever known. It's a little cheesy and predictable, but not bad!

Rating: 3.5 Stars


Roar (Stormheart 1)

Author: Cora Carmack Release Date: June 13, 2017 Publisher: Tor Teen Pages: 352 Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy *I received this bo...