Starting a New Hobby

I write a lot of Goodreads reviews.  Like a lot.  So, I figured I would take some over the over to YouTube.  I’m not sure if it will stick, but I’m curious to share my reviews and TBR list the way cool kids like JesseTheReader and PadfootAndProngs07 do.  I figure, at the least, it will give me some ideas about making book trailers with my teens this coming summer.

 

In the meantime, here is my recent review of Allegedly by Tiffany Jackson.

Holy Jeez! I don’t even know where to start with this one. If you’re a fan of We Were Liars , Orange is the New Black , or books with drama and “whodunnit,” this is a good choice.

1 star – I loved the back and forth of story and interview/documentation. Sometimes this doesn’t work, but this is one of those stories where it was super important for us (as readers) to understand the depth of what was going on. It was interesting to read these excerpts (including one of Mary’s crime biography) that were written during and after her initial manslaughter sentence.

2 stars – This book is deep. Not only is race a part of the discussion, but there is a greater discussion about kids in the prison system and kids aging out of the prison system. We find out early on that Mary is pregnant and this adds an entirely new level to an already awful situation. I would be interested in reading this story again through Ted’s perspective (Mary’s beau), if only to gain a greater perspective on a male poc in the system. But from Mary’s perspective, it definitely causes us to think a bit and cringe a whole lot.

3 stars – I love the character type of an unreliable narrator. From the very beginning, we wonder “Did she do it?” which is what everyone else Mary meets has been asking. And while you can relax in knowing that we do discover the truth, the way we get there is what will keep you speeding through the pages. I had my guesses and (view spoiler)

4 star – While I was a a teeny bit unsatisfied with the ending, the set up is definitely there. I was also interested in the other girls though, after reading the book, I can’t help but wonder (view spoiler) I do wonder about how so many of the adults were so checked out, but I think that’s why adults like Ms. Claire and Ms. Cora were so important. I want to see supportive figures like those in more YA books.

The only reason I didn’t give this five stars was because I could feel the hand tip in the “whodunnit” and wasn’t that surprised. There were also a few elements that I felt were mentioned and then quickly dropped, not to be entirely resolved. And, while this didn’t detract from the story, it did distract me as a reader. That being said, this is still really good. As a YA librarian, I recommend this as an older teen read and I would note a few trigger-worthy moments (mental/physical abuse, implied rape & stories of rape, and implied molestation to name a few.)

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Why is my TBR Pile So High?

It’s a new year and I have books from last year’s TBR pile to be read.  I’m not really sure why because they are all books that I bought and loved the idea of reading.  That’s generally how a TBR pile works, but in this case it’s something like Vicious by V.E. Schwab was going to tide me over until I got to A Gathering of Shadows or Our Dark Duet.  And then there was Glitter because vive la France!  Let’s see… then there’s Boy Robot and Our Chemical Hearts, which were Secret Santa Christmas gifts.  Those were technically gifted after midnight on 12/31, so maybe it’s not as bad? I definitely still want to get around to all of these.

I’m currently being sidetracked by The Hate U Give, an awesome YA book inspired out of the Black Lives Matter movement.  Having grown up in a small town in Maine, this book is really enlightening.  In the book, Starr lives in what she calls “the ghetto” but goes to school at Williamson, an elite (mostly white) prep school.  Leading sort of a double life, it makes things complicated and often raises issues for her about her ‘true self’.  While I can’t relate to Starr on a racial level, I did go to a school a lot like hers.  It was a public school and, while we weren’t shipping the black kids together (a joke/jab Starr makes about her), I could count the kids who weren’t white.  (Fun fact: Anna Kendrick makes a similar nod in her new book Scrappy Little Nobody.)  To be fair (and sound way less racist), my graduating class had 86 kids- so I probably would have known everyone anyways, including most of the kids above and below my class.  But while I could count everyone, I can’t necessarily relate to everyone- and that’s why I turn to books.  Much like Symptoms of Being Human should not be considered the bible for all kids on the gender spectrum, The Hate U Give shouldn’t be considered the bible of race- but it’s a hell of a start.

Since I serve a broader community than the one I grew up in, this is a great book to come into existence.  I find myself caught up in the action and the heartbreak, and I feel it is very well written.  While I look forward to reading something like and fluffy after this, I think I know this book is going to stick with me for a while.

In continuing to serve a diverse community, I am theming this month’s Art lab around the Chinese New Year.  I’m going to have my teens create from several options and mix-n-match as they please.  For starter crafts, I have Cherry Blossom paintings, Fortune Cookies, and Zodiac Bookmarks.  I’m excited because I planned it to fall on this year’s actual Chinese New Year.

So, here’s to hoping I have time to post more often.  I was aiming for once a week last year, but that can be really tricky.  I will at least post reviews more often, but I want to share my program ideas (successes and failures) more often as well.

Happy New Year!

I Haven’t Finished the Book Yet…

I apologize for anything I might have done. I was not myself.

I apologize for shooting you in the leg. I was myself entirely.” ― V.E. Schwab, A Darker Shade of Magic

I talked about Six of Crows and A Darker Shade of Magic a little bit last week.  I made two plans for November- do some writing for NaNo and read some fantasy.  November always feels like a month to strive for creativity.  While I haven’t been able to muster the 15,00…150,000? ...its really 50,000 words for adults, but feels like a butt tons more during National Novel Writing Month (a fantastic thing if you haven’t found out about it yet), I have been doing quiet well in the fantasy department.  It’s mostly in part of the brilliant audio cast behind Six of Crows.

If I haven’t mentioned this before (though I think I have) fantasy is my weak link.  I’d say I’m weaker on nonfiction, but I’m more likely to pick up a nonfiction book, flip through it, and at least feel like I understood something.  And besides, I currently have Hannah Hart’s Buffering and My Drunk Kitchen, as well as Anna Kendrick’s Scrappy Little Nobody on my library TBR pile at home- meaning that I’m still more ahead on nonfiction than fantasy right now.

Fantasy is brilliant because, like fiction as a whole, we can easily get swept away and taken somewhere foreign.  From Ketterdam to Red London, Hogwarts and back again; everywhere in between can be entirely fascinating.  But it can also be entirely daunting.  I will be the first one to admit that I haven’t finished George RR Martin’s epic series (what’s published anyway) of A Song of Fire and Ice (I have read the first two books in Martin’s series, even tried the third on audio, but it wasn’t enjoyable.)nor the full Lord of the Rings series.  But I’ve seen both the TV show and the films and I enjoy both.   Am I the largest fan?  Heck no!  I watch Game of Thrones on a weekly basis during the new seasons, but couldn’t tell you half of the names half of the time.  And places?  I’m bad on this with both GoT and LoTR.  It’s just how my brain perceives fantasy I think.  And it’s weird too because, if you ask me anything about Harry Potter I likely have the answer.  Maybe that’s the difference between Magical Realism and High Fantasy.  I’ve never been interested in what Sarah J Mass has going on, nor Victoria Aveyard, but I know both get checked out quiet well with my teens.  And this is weird too because I played Dungeons & Dragons in college (which is cool again with today’s teens, as I am currently DMing with some of mine on Tuesdays) and loved it.  I find the races and classes fascinating, and often still make jokes about my personal alignment (I’m a Hufflepuff, so I’ve got to be lawful good, right?).

I think that’s why I like Six of Crows, it very much reminds me of a D&D campaign.  You won’t find trolls and winter wolves, but there is magic and there are thieves, rogues, mages, and knights of sorts.  And again, I give a huge shout out to the audiobook because there are at least 7…lemme check on that…yes, there are 7 brilliant people (Jay Snyder, Brandon Rubin, Fred Berman, Lauren Fortgang, Roger Clark, Elizabeth Evans, and Tristan Morris) that spin the story in the best way.  I can visualize many more details than I could trying to read it.  I tried reading this story when it first came out, as it was very popular (and still is), but the first chapter was very difficult and I spaced out a lot because we were just sort of thrown in with someone that I didn’t care about and nothing really made sense.  And I know stories do that, I am fans of some of the others that do, but this felt a little intimidating- did I need to read her other series?  What was I missing?  But it wasn’t until  the audio that I was able to focus in.  All of these voice actors are so good (and I am very picky with audiobook narrators) that the story just pops and sticks with my brain.  I look forward to my work commute.

Anyways, praise and side tangent aside, I was going to say 2 things: 1, that I want to try to use every November to give a fantasy novel a try.  And 2, that I’m glad I gave these books a shot because I now can link them into one of my programs.  In two weeks, the teens and I will be discussing the 5th edition of the Dungeons & Dragons Player Handbook and Six of Crows.  A seemingly odd pair, but they really compliment each other well.  The idea is that, for the teens who want to learn more about D&D so they can play a campaign, we will spend a few Book Socials talking about D&D.  And for the teens who might not have interest but like fantasy, I can use D&D terms when talking about both.  Since D&D is popular in my library right now, but not many teens know how to play or that we circulate the handbooks, this is a big win-win.  And Six of Crows has a pretty diverse cast (my take: race and an LGBTQ+ character) which makes it perfect for the needs of my community.  Now more than before.

I might not be wanting to write like I thought I did, but I’m diversifying myself in other ways.  Fun fact- A Darker Shade of Magic is the first adult book my adult librarian coworker and I have read!  Like, we’ve read/are reading the same book.  That never happens!  And I thought it was YA, which made her laugh but then she said she could see how I might think that.  It’s neat, to me anyways.

I’m hoping to post more after the holidays, either a book review or a recap on some successful programming I have done recently.  I want to share more about my Art Lab bath bomb class and the evolution of my Teen Tuesdays program.  But I’m out of time and will hopefully be posting on a more regular basis.  So, cheers and go eat some turkey!

 

Diversify Your Reading

Many boys will bring you flowers. But someday you’ll meet a boy who will learn your favorite flower, your favorite song, your favorite sweet. And even if he is too poor to give you any of them, it won’t matter because he will have taken the time to know you as no one else does. Only that boy earns your heart.” ― Leigh Bardugo, Six of Crows

 

This month instead of writing like I wanted to, I changed my mind and focused on reading more broadly.  Specifically fantasy.  I’m a huge fan of the Harry Potter series ( who’s ready for Fantastic Beasts?!) but, other than that series, I haven’t really found another fantasy series that took my breath away or made me an avid fan.  I could argue that HP is more magical realism than fantasy, buuut I won’t. Though it totally is.  So, in an effort to keep reading what my teens are reading and continue making diverse suggestions for diverse readers, I decided to dive into the audiobook for Six of Crows and the paperback for A Darker Shade of Magic.  Two things on DSoM, a previous library I worked at (where I was not in charge of ordering) placed this series in YA and it was sold for signing at the Teen Author Fest in Cambridge, MA (which made me think it was a YA series) which is the copy I’m reading.  Turns out, it’s not exactly a YA series.  Nowadays, it’s more New Adult.  Here’s how to tell, according to Victoria Schwab (the author), when she writes as Victoria Schwab her books are for YA and when she writes as V.E. Schwab her books are for adults.  Straight from her Twitter.  However, I didn’t realize this until I was already 50 pages in (my marker for whether or not I will keep reading a YA book) and pretty smitten with how different this series is.  It’s a little hard reading 2 fantasy series at once, but they’re not High Fantasy, so I’m keeping up pretty well.

Can we just take a moment to appreciate how awesome This Savage Song is?  I read it months ago, thanks to OwlCrate, and cannot wait for Our Dark Duet…in June 2017…Maybe she will be at BEA?  *sigh*  Guess we’re just going to have to wait…But…Image result for i want it now gif

So, that’s my advice for this week.  When working with teens, try to read broadly- even if you can’t finish the book, the first chapter will give you a lot to go off of.  And occasionally reading adult books is okay.  If you’re looking for programming, try a passive writing .  Pull out some YA friendly nonfiction books on writing to get them going, and maybe provide a poster with some ideas of “How to Be Creative”.  Mine includes things like ‘just because there are a ton of green books, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write a green book’ and ‘If you’ve never been to Hawaii, it doesn’t mean you can’t set your book there, but you may have to do some research.’

Happy writing month!

Review: Anne & Henry

My new world is etched in diamonds and sealed in gold, drowning in pretension.”
― Dawn Ius, Anne & Henry

So, I’ve been busy reading a few newer reads as well as some older ones.  I don’t usually backread (read something that’s from an older year) but a few have come across my path, and now my book order is all wonky.

So I just finished Anne & Henry, which you can find 2 reviews for here and here.  I’m excited because the WordPress one was retweeted by Dawn Ius herself 🙂

Currently I paused reading Replica so that I could read my ARC for Diabolic, mostly because I hadn’t realized that November 1st was right around the corner and really wanted to stay on top of things.

After I read those two I am going to start my tiny backreading trip with The Night Circus and end with House of Leaves.  I’m pretty sure I started both during college and gradschool, but had way too much homework to actually appreciate them/dive into them and therefore stopped.

After those, I’m reading my October OwlCrate Vassa in the Night, which I previously had no intention to read.  Then I can dive into my remaining ARCs from BEA.  I can’t believe there are still 5 or so really good ones I haven’t read yet, including HeartlessRani Patel, and History is All You Left Me (sorry Adam!  Even though I can’t wait to get into it, it’s not due out til Janaury *phew*)  However, those backreads are long…so I may change the order a smidgen more as November lurks closer…

Program-wise, I just ran a very successful costume makeup class.  I brought in a friend of mine to put together kits (that the teens could keep) and show them several ways to paint their faces for Halloween.  We were ambitious and planned 4 designs, but only got to 2 due to a 2 hour time constraint.  The designs varied in difficulty, but some teens found themselves caught up in doing everything exactly as the teacher did and that cost them time.  It was hands on and super fun, both for us and the teens, and they asked if we could do more of that in the future.  I had 2 spare kits left as well as the mirrors for the program, so I’ll see what I can do!

Where I’ve Been

I’d rather die on an adventure than live standing still.
― V.E. Schwab, A Darker Shade of Magic

Hello guys and ghouls!  It’s October!  It’s not early anymore 😉

movies lily the munsters harp classic television

Anyways it’s not like I decorated my house in September.

The last few weeks of September have been super busy.  Between work, keeping up on reading, and several conferences- it’s flown by.  And now October is here.

One of the first things I did was finish Dawn Kurtagich’s other book The Dead House, a sort of diary entry twist of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde (with a lot of other elements).  She will be visiting a store nearby me next week, as well as being one of the speakers for Boston’s Book/Author Fest in two weeks.  I look forward to meeting her, getting my paperback signed, and picking up a copy for my friend- whom also reads spooky books!  To me, this sounds awesome.  While it might not sound like much to you, finding spooky/weird/creepy book readers in my social circles is rare.  Most prefer realistic fiction or lighter YA.  Anyways, it will be awesome to have someone speculate the horrors of both books soon.

I also went to the Cambridge/Boston Teen Author Festival.  It was such a great event.  For a free event, I was super impressed with how organized everything was and how easy it was to connect/talk to the authors that were there.  My one complaint is small, and it is that there was not enough time to sit in on every panel.  I had to pick and choose- and chose unwisely once- and tried to go to ones where I loved the author or had at least read the books.  The friend that went with me and myself agreed- if we haven’t read the books, attending that panel won’t do us any good.  Authors were lovely, trying not to spoil things for those who hadn’t read their books, but that meant sacrificing some content which meant losing some of the important discussions to be had.  There were so many authors there, some of which I had met previously (Lori Goldstein) or had/am-planning-to-have at my library (Zoraida Córdova )  The list of authors I met or sat in on a panel for is impressive- I met Kate Scelsa (lovely woman with an awesome story for where she wrote her book), Jeff Zentner, Victoria Schwab, Daniel Jose Older, Roshani Chokshi (who will forever stand out in my mind as the author whom gave me a lovely compliment about my eye makeup being fierce ❤ ), Kim Savage, Erin Bowman, and SO many more!  The poster that I had all 35 authors sign is waiting to be framed at the moment.  I have a huge TBR pile now- thank you lads and ladies!- and look forward to placing holds at my library once my spooky reads have concluded.  I think I will start with Fan of the Impossible Life and move to A Darker Shade of Magic.

And then there was the 8th Annual Teen Summit, a conference for New England librarians to get together and thing about some bigger issues.  This year was my first year and I will definitely go again next year.  Topics included sexual violence, inclusion of LGBTQ+ culture/what you say making a difference, the brains of teens and their developmental stages (i.e. why they’re loud and don’t even realize it), and our end of the day keynote- Tara Sullivan, whom talked about global issues and shedding light on those that aren’t seen.  She was so funny and I look forward to reading her books very soon.

Let’s see, what am I missing that has already happened.  I’ve been very focused on October, due to personal plans as well as fun new library plans.  I’m doing the Halloween movie series again and then trying out at Art Lab on stage/costume makeup.  So far we have 8 signed up, and there are 15 spots total!  I’m anticipating a waitlist 😀

I’ll post a book review soon, but for now I just wanted to touch base on all of the awesome events that have been going on in my area.  I’ll be in touch soon!

Review: And the Trees Crept In

*thwack* That’s the sound of this book hitting you in the face with its ending.

I had my questions all along, mostly where someone went or how reliable everything was/n’t. I didn’t really dig too deep to figure it out (not sure I could have) and I loved the twisty bits at the end that kept me guessing until Kurtagich laid everything out for me.

1 & 2 stars –  Because the narrative kept me hooked and pouring over the pages from beginning to end. There were some mixed media pages thrown in (like journal pages) that I had to read several times, trying to be satisfied with its meaning and just further throwing me off the trail. To be surprised, I think this was important. And because the characters were likable. I don’t mean they’re cutesy but, for most of the story at least, they’re realistic kids and teens going through hard times at home. The UK setting might snag you for a minute or two, but very quickly the setting feels like it could be here in New England.

3 stars –  It was beautiful and gothic. Our narrator was doing her damnedest to keep everything together. Her love for her sister and eventual love for herself was really sweet.

4 & 5 stars – Because tone is everything. Kurtagich struck a tone in the beginning and kept it throughout. I’m not talking about tension, though there were several tense moments in the book. I’m talking about atmosphere, making things creepy then homey and then something else entirely. The audio and visuals were really something as well, I could really picture/hear this place and all the events that happened inside or around La Baume. I was constantly torn between wanting to read this slowly, and savor it, and pouring over the pages to solve all of the many questions I was left with.

A definite must read for those eager to get into the Halloween spirit.

 

Sidenote, I cannot WAIT for Dawn Kurtagich to come to Massachusetts!