Friday, September 30, 2016

Top Five Favorite Halloween Movies

September 30 to me is really October Eve! Just a whole month of all of my favorite things: Halloween, pumpkin everything, haunted houses, caramel apples, hay rides, bonfires, and movies! I am a child of the 90s and I can say without a doubt that we had THE BEST Halloween movies. Seriously. Here are my top five movies I always watch multiple times in October! What are yours?

PS-Look out for special spooky editions of the Top Five Friday countdowns all of October!

1) The Nightmare Before Christmas

Favorite Line: We can live like Jack and Sally if we want. Where you can always find me. And we'll have Halloween on Christmas. And in the night we'll wish this never ends.

Okay wait that's the line from a Blink 182 song, but perfectly sums up the dark weird love between Jack and Sally. And I'd love to live where the whole year revolves around Halloween.

2) Casper

Favorite Line: Can I keep you?

If you are of a certain age you can probably pinpoint your sexual awakening to a young Devon Sawa (as live Casper) whispering "Can I keep you?" to Kat while they slow danced and floated above the floor at the Halloween dance (in Kat's epically eccentric haunted seaside mansion).

3) The Addam's Family

Favorite Line: I'm a homicidal maniac. They look just like everyone else.

Yet another creepy, spooky, magically weird house I so badly wanted to live in as a child (and still do!).

4) Sleepy Hollow

Okay so this one isn't exactly one with a classic line, but if this isn't a feel good spooky movie I don't know what is. Late 18th century, upstate New York, and the Legend of the Headless Horseman. Oh and Johnny Depp. 

5) Halloween (1978. Don't you come at me with that Rob Zombie nonsense)

Once again, not one that's got a famous line. But probably the most iconic serial killer theme music! This movie used to scare me to death as a teenager, but now it's become the ultimate comfort Halloween movie. Plus there's a scene where two of the girls are driving around town and listening to "Don't Fear the Reaper" by Blue Oyster Cult. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Top Five Songs on My NaNoWriMo Playlist

Usually I post these on Friday, but I had an unusually busy weekend! My 10 year high school reunion was Saturday night (what? how? why? seriously?!) but it was a ton of fun! What does that have to do with a NaNoWriMo playlist? Every year for about four years now I've started a NaNoWriMo project. And every year I give up quicker than I give up on diets. But this will be my year! 2016 the year I actually finish a NaNoWriMo! 

Even if it's something that stays tucked away on a flash drive, it's still one of those bucket list things I'll be so thrilled to say that I did. The story idea I've been playing with has to do with that transition time when college is over but you feel like someone hit pause on your "grown up" life. Lots of laughs. Maybe some romance. We'll see. As I've been outlining and working on a rough draft, I put together a playlist that is a total throwback to my high school days that I listen to when my writing needs a boost.

Like any good early 2000s teen, I was super into the show One Tree Hill. And did you know that every episode was titled after a song that was often played during that show? Confession: somewhere there is a CD case with multiple One Tree Hill soundtracks most likely at my dad's house. No shame.

Anyway, here are the first five songs that inspired the first five chapters in my untitled and unlikely to ever be published NaNoWriMo project! Do you write to music? I'd love to hear what inspires you!! Comment below!

1) The Middle by Jimmy Eat World

Click here for the video!

2) Bouncing Off the Walls by Sugarcult

Click here for the video!

3) Say You Like Me by We The Kings

Click here for the video! 

4) I Wanna by The All American Rejects

Click here for the video!

5) Hands Down by Dashboard Confessional

Click here for the video!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Fighting To Be Free (Fighting To Be Free #1)

Author: Kirsty Moseley
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Publisher: Forever
Pages: 400
Genre: New Adult, Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary, High School, Suspense, Abuse

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


Jamie Cole has just been released from juvenile detention. Determined to go straight, he tried to cut ties with crime boss Brett Reye--but Brett has no intention of letting him go. Jamie's life is already more complicated than it needs to be, yet when he meets a beautiful stranger at a bar, Jamie knows he's in over his head.

Ellie Pearce has just gotten out of a terrible relationship and isn't looking for anything serious...until she meets Jamie. Their attraction is overwhelming and intense--she can't seem to shake her growing feelings for him, even though she's trying to keep it casual. 

But when fate goes horribly wrong and Jamie's family is faced with ruin, he's forced to strike a deal with Brett. Despite his struggles, he wants nothing more than a future with Ellie. That's until Ellie finds out that he's been hiding more from her than she could ever imagine...

The Rundown

Thank God this book is the first one and a sequel is in the works because my first thought was "NO!!! You can not end it like this!!!!" I can rest easy knowing that there's more to Jamie and Ellie's story.

This intense romance was nearly equal parts plot and character driven, which makes for the kind of love story that I just can't put down. I really enjoyed Jamie, who you root for from the very beginning for trying to rise above a childhood of horror to prove that your future isn't defined by where you came from. Ellie, who on the outside has a picture perfect life (suburbs, head cheerleader, traditional nuclear family) has her own struggles of an emotionally abusive parent, a controlling ex boyfriend, and finding her place in the world as high school comes to an end. 

Something I really enjoyed about their romance was the build up, especially Ellie asserting for quite a while that she just wanted to be single for a while to love herself again after leaving a bad relationship. Not that she wasn't attracted to Jamie, but she had no interest in diving in fast again. Jamie is extremely respectful of Ellie from how he treats her on dates to the physical aspect of their relationship, something I think is very refreshing in these stories that ride the YA/NA line.

My one gripe about this story is Jamie constantly calling Ellie "little girl." I can let a few pet names here and there go. I mean it's a love story after all, but gross. They're less than a year apart, and Ellie isn't described to us as short so stop it with this "little girl" nonsense. 

This is the perfect book to hand to readers who were fans of Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles or Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry! The ending will have you ready for the sequel like yesterday!

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars. It's not a life changing must read, but it's a good love and coming of age story.

*Side not for librarians: We mostly order from Baker & Taylor at my library and I don't agree that they recommended it for general adult audiences as opposed to older teen audiences. Theme, subject, language, and sexual content so strongly reminded me of works by Katie McGarry and Simone Elkeles that their suggestion surprised me. I truly think this is a find addition to young adult sections where romances are popular. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Librarian's File Cabinet Of Fun: Ice Cream in a Bag

Looking for an easy, cheap, delicious after school program for your teens? My friend, let me tell you about ice cream in a bag.

It's low cost and makes for a great drop in style program and for one glorious afternoon you won't hear the words "But I'm hungry!" come from any of your teens. If that's not winning I don't know what is!

1 cup whole milk (can use almond milk for teens with dairy allergies)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Optional: toppings such as chocolate syrup, candy, fruit, sprinkles, etc.

1 gallon sized zippered plastic bag
1 quart sized zippered plastic bag
1/4 cup coarse kosher, rock, or ice cream salt

What You Do

  • In quart sized bag, mix milk, sugar, vanilla, and any toppings if desired. Seal tightly and set aside.
  • In gallon sized bag, fill about 3/4 of the way to the top with ice and add in salt. 
  • Place quart sized bag inside of the gallon sized bag, sealing gallon bag tightly.
  • Shake vigorously for 5-10 minutes, pull out your bag of ice cream, grab a spoon, and enjoy!
**We learned a few years ago that having dish towels on hand is super helpful as that gallon bag with the ice and salt gets CRAZY COLD, like hurt-your-hands cold, but wrapping the bag in a towel helps keep the chill off of your hands.

1 cup of milk makes about one and a half to two scoops of ice cream, which totally hits the spot for hungry teens (and librarians) in the afternoon!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Top Five Books That Have Been on My TBR List Forever

Somewhere between having a full time librarian gig (sadly, I don't get to curl up and read all day at work. I've asked) and then going home to job number two (being a mama to my two year old mini me, Margot) my Goodreads list is like 400 deep. Here are my top five that have been hanging out on my TBR lineup for a minute (months...years...). 

What books are on your someday list? Comment below!!

1) Hollow City by Ransom Riggs 

I loved Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children! Why have I still not picked up the sequel??

2. Edge of Eternity by Ken Follett

One of the rare adult series I got hooked on. My reading range is typically middle grade to new adult because they're the best books anyway, right? I read the first two books in the series years ago and thought they were super cool. We follow these families from the US, Russia, England, Wales, and Germany through all of the major events of the 20th century. Maybe I've put this one off because they're crazy huge books, and this last one covers the 1960s-1980s so I think I've got a bit of a "too soon?" attitude.

3. Fall With Me by Jennifer L. Armentrout/J.Lynn

I fangirl Jennifer L. Armentrout hardcore. I flew through the first three books in this series when I was on bed rest before I had my daughter and each one was more swoonworthy than the last (especially Jase in the second book, Be With Me. Helloooo book boyfriend). Roxy was one of my favorite side characters in the third book and I can't wait to read her story (yet it's been on my TBR for two years now).

4. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews

Why? Why have I still not read this??? I've heard nothing but good things from other readers, yet here it still sits on my TBR list.

5. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Am I the worst YA librarian ever for not having read this? Probably. To be fair, I picked it up once while my daughter was in the NICU (she was fine, just a teeny little preemie) and just couldn't. Hospitals and sick kids just hit a little too close to home at the time. Then time got away from me, but I know I really need to read this!!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Built (Saints of Denver #1)

Author: Jay Crownover
Release Date: January 5, 2016
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Pages: 352
Genre: Romance, New Adult, Contemporary 


Sometimes you have to tear everything down to build something new...

Sayer Cole is frozen inside. At least, that's what it's felt like for as long as she can remember. She's yet to let anyone past her icy exterior--and the one guy she thinks might melt her heart couldn't possibly be interested in someone so uptight. 

Rough, hard, and hot-as-hell, Zeb Fuller has rebuilt his life and construction business since protecting his family sent him to jail all those years ago. His elegant client, Sayer, makes him feel like a Neanderthal in denim, but despite the many hints that he's been dropping to get to know her better, she seems oblivious to his charms.

Just as things finally start to heat up, Zeb's past comes back to haunt him and he needs Sayer's professional help to right a wrong and to save more than himself. As these opposites dig in for the fight of their lives, fire and ice collide in an unstoppable explosion of steam...

The Rundown

Jay Crownover you've rocked it yet again!!!

If you haven't picked up her Marked Men series (Rule, Jet, Rome, Nash, Rowdy, and Asa) you need to. Like yesterday. I seriously think she might hold the record for me for the author who has written the most of my book boyfriends (Rule, Nash, and Rowdy...ummmm....yes please. And now I'll be adding Zeb to that list!!!). 

I could fangirl all day. I mean she dreams up these deep, dedicated, smart, talented, caring guys AND then gives them modifies them with tattoos and piercings?! Then she pairs them off with equally strong, intelligent, creative, driven ladies for unforgettable, lasting romances. Tattoos and piercings are my weakness in real life, so I'm in book boyfriend heaven almost every time I pick up one of Jay's books.

And then Zeb comes along. Tall, muscular, tattooed, BEARDED Zeb. That puddle on the floor? Yeah that's me completely melted. Beards...sigh.

Built is the first in the Saints of Denver series, a sort of spin off of Marked Men. For those of you who have already read MM, you might remember meeting Zeb in Nash's story as Rowdy's contractor buddy who helps build the second tattoo shop that Nash and Rule bought. Zeb makes small appearances throughout the rest of the series, and is most memorable for the obvious sparks that fly when he meets Rowdy's half sister, Sayer near the end of Rowdy's story.

Could you jump into the Saints of Denver series without having read Marked Men? Absolutely! But why you'd want to miss out on Crownover's first batch of steamy dreamy stories is beyond me! Bonus for MM fans: there are cameos from the first cast of couples!

I really enjoyed getting to know Sayer more outside of being Rowdy's half sister. I mean she survived intense emotional abuse at the hands of her father to become a successful family lawyer, but the scars are still there and boy do they run deep. She feels like all she'll ever know how to be is professional, cold, and distant. Even her loosening up around her newly found half brother can't thaw her demeanor until she meets Zeb. 

Zeb is just a dream. He might be the most just like old school gentleman that Crownover has written. He's totally willing to put the work in with Sayer to convince her that he's falling in love with her right now, just as she is. And it scares Sayer how quickly she lets go of all of the careful control in her life the more she spends time with the bearded giant. In the end it's up to Sayer to choose love and warmth, to choose to let Zeb in and trust that together they can build a future that their pasts can't define.

You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll sigh. And you'll probably blush a little if you read this book in public! 

I can't wait to read Leveled, the second in this new Jay Crownover series!

Rating: 4 Stars. What a great, fun book!!!

Friday, September 2, 2016

Top Five Reasons Why Fall Rocks

Ah fall. The older I get, the more it rivals summer as my favorite season. Let's be real I'm happy as a clam from May through October, but those other months? thank you! For my first September Top Five Friday post, let me count down all of the best parts of fall! 

What are do you like about fall? I'd love to know!!

1) Halloween!!!!

I try to hold out until mid-September to start decorating at the library so I don't freak my director out, but the struggle! I was (and still am!) that kid who starts thinking about Halloween as soon at the last firework fades from the 4th of July sky. It's my favorite holiday and I can basically make a two month celebration out of it. My first love, Jack Skellington, gets it!

2) The Movies!!!

While I'm not a fan of new horror (I don't have the stomach for the Saw movies) I grew up on old school slasher flicks. Like to the point that the original 1978 Halloween is more like a comfort movie to me (I'm an odd duck, I know). If it's on TV I watch it. Not on TV? I have the DVD. Not to mention all of the sequels. And the box set of all the Friday the 13th movies. And the all of the Nightmare on Elm Streets. Need something a little more tame? I'm a child of the 90s and we had THE BEST Halloween movies for kids! The Addam's Family, Casper (can I keep you? sigh), Hocus Pocus, Halloweentown, and my all time favorite: The Nightmare Before Christmas!

3) Pumpkin Everything, Everywhere!!!

I love pumpkins! Roasting pumpkin seeds. Pumpkin spice frapps. Pumpkin pie ice cream. Pumpkin pie. Pumpkin smoothies. Pumpkin spice candles. And best of all: carving pumpkins! I've worked out a beautiful system with my dad over the years: I gut 'em & design 'em, he carves 'em. Our Jack & Sally pumpkins from Halloween 2013 were on point!

4) Heading to the Orchard!

Is there really anything better than taking a hayride out to pick your own apples and pumpkins? Only if it's a haunted hayride with a cup of hot apple cider!

5) Passing the Torch

Last year was my daughter Margot's first Halloween (seen here with my friend Kaci at our Halloween party). She's almost two now and is a red head with the personality to match. And with me as her mama I'm already planning a Chucky costume (not the Rugrats Chucky, but the killer doll from Child's Play). I loved letting her pick out her first pumpkin last year and try her first pumpkin pie ice cream and her first apple cider slushie! She sings and claps to The Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack and loves watching Mickey's House of Villains. I just love getting to share my favorite holiday and season with my mini me!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Memory of Things

Author: Gae Polisner
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 288
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Contemporary

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


The powerful story of two teenagers finding friendship, comfort, and first love in the days following 9/11 as their fractured city tries to put itself back together.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, sixteen-year-old Kyle Donohue watches the first twin tower come down from the window of Stuyvesant High School. Moments later, terrified and fleeing home to safety across the Brooklyn Bridge, he stumbles across a girl perched in the shadows. She is covered in ash and wearing a pair of costume wings. With his mother and sister in California and unable to reach his father, a New York City detective likely on his way to the disaster, Kyle makes the split-second decision to bring the girl home. What follows is their story, told in alternating points of view, as Kyle tries to unravel the mystery of the girl so he can return her to her family. But what if the girl has forgotten everything, even her own name? And what if the more Kyle gets to know her, the less he wants her to go home? The Memory of Things tells a stunning story of friendship and first love and of carrying on with our day-to-day living in the midst of world-changing tragedy and pain--it tells a story of hope.

The Rundown 

I really enjoyed this book! I've been in a bit of a reading rut lately but this moving story fit perfectly to pull me out of it.

If you're of a certain age I'm sure you vividly remember exactly where you were and what you were doing on the morning of September 11, 2001. I kind of giggled and got the "I'm getting old!" mentality when I saw that this book was tagged in the historical fiction genre. When I think historical fiction my mind goes to WWII, the Roaring Twenties, The American Civil War...not something that happened when I was fourteen.

As a teen librarian I get my mind blown a little more when I think "Whoa. Most teens I'll be book talking this to were either babies or not even born yet on 9/11." They'll read this book and hopefully appreciate the story and setting in the same way I would read a story about Pearl Harbor and the events that followed: you can appreciate the impact, but you won't feel, not really.

Okay now on to the review!!

Kyle was in class at his high school, just blocks from the World Trade Center, on that Tuesday morning. When his school was evacuated, he makes his way with so many others out of the city and across the bridge to his home in Brooklyn. On the bridge he comes across a girl covered in ash, wearing a pair of costume wings, and no memory of what happened, who she is, or how she got there.

Fearing for the girl and overcome with the urge to help her, Kyle takes her home with him. He's unable to reach his dad, an NYPD officer likely already responding at Ground Zero. His mom and younger sister are stuck in California after their flight was cancelled. That leaves Kyle to take care of his uncle, now living with Kyle's family after being disabled in a horrific motorcycle accident, and the mystery bird girl while watching his city struggle to find its way out of a devastating tragedy.

What unfolds over the next few days is such a beautiful coming-of-age story of first love and friendship and family coming together. It's teenagers still heading to Nathan's on Coney Island and holding hands. It's kissing and playing music. It's telling those closest to you how much you love them. It's everything from lives to city skylines forever changed, yet life going on. It's hope and unity. It's loving yourself before you can love another. 

All of this in the face of one of the darkest days in American history. Wow.

Kyle was such a great narrator and I really enjoyed seeing the events of 9/11 through his eyes. He felt like a friend from the very beginning, and it's rare I feel that kind of a connection to a character. 

The only thing that just wasn't my cup of tea, or maybe it just took some getting used to, was the way the alternating view points were. Though most of the story is told through Kyle, when we're with our mystery girl her thoughts come through as a kind of broken poetry. It made sense and by the end I felt helped me get a sense for her amnesia, but it felt super choppy at the start.

I feel like this will easily make my Top 10 YA Books of 2016 list!!

Rating: 4.5 Stars. Get this book in your life ASAP!

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,...