Saturday, December 29, 2012

Read-a-thon Update 2

Okay, I'll admit I am pathetic. I haven't read anything except for the two chapters of The Wizard of Oz that I am currently reading to the kiddo. So for the second update--no progress.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, December 28, 2012

Read-a-thon Update 1

I am sorry to say I haven't had much time for reading.  So, unfortunately, I have progressed as much as I had hoped.

Reading progress:

Dodger by Terry Pratchett  (Two Chapters)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Read-a-thon Starting Line

I signed up to participate in the end of the year Read-a-thon with Squeaky Books! I know I am no where near the goal I set for myself this year. Like last year, I had hoped to finish 100 books, but as of today I have only read 68. I know I will not make my goal, but I had hoped to pump up the number a little before the end of the year.

Here are some of the books I hope to read during this read-a-thon.



  • Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Lani Taylor (Already Started)
  • Dodger by Terry Pratchett (Already Started)
  • Scent of Power by Maria V. Snyder (Already Started)
  • Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
  • Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes


  • Wish me luck. I am going to need it. I don't have much time and my attention span is lacking.

    - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

    Thursday, December 20, 2012

    Audiobook Review: Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr

    Title: Carnival of Souls
    Author: Melissa Marr
    Genre: Teen Fiction, Paranormal Fiction
    Publication Date: September 4, 2012
    Publisher: HarperCollins
    ISBN-13 Book: 9780061659287
    Audiobook Publisher:  Harper Audio
    Length: 8 hrs and 5 mins (Unabridged)
    Disclosure: I purchased an audio download from Audible.  This is my honest review!



    Carnival of SoulsCarnival of Souls by Melissa Marr
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Summary:
    For her whole life, Mallory and her father have moved from one place to the next always in fear that the daimons would find them and take back what her father Adam stole from their leader, little does Mallory know, that she is the item Adam stole. Her father’s powers as a witch have always kept them safe until now.

    Aya and Kaleb have chosen to compete in competition that would allow them to move up in the rigid class system of their city. Aya longs to rule, and become more than a wife and a mother as she is expected. She longs to be free and hopes that winning the competition will allow her to hide her deadly secret. Kaleb has always belonged to the lowest class in their society, and sees winning the competition as his opportunity to join the ruling class. He doesn’t plan on Mallory changing his life.

    Review:
    I know part of my burn out with teen books lately has been the lack of anything original on the market. Oh, I know it is out there (this novel is proof of that), but it seems like lately everything is the same old story being rehashed. What I liked about this novel is that while it involved witches and daimons, it did it in an original and somewhat gritty manner.

    The story of a girl not knowing her parentage is not new in YA lit, especially in the paranormal genre, but this fact didn’t stop me from liking Mallory. Mallory has been raised by the witch Adam since she was a baby. He has protected her and kept her safe, and ignorant of what she really is. She has been carefully trained to fight off any daimon that gets near her, but she didn’t count on being attracted to one.

    Kaleb is the typical bottom of society boy, who wishes to be more than the status he was born to. He hopes by joining the fights he can rise to the ruling class and make the world better. Then he meets Mallory and his whole life changes.

    While not terribly original, I found these characters compelling. I couldn’t wait for Mallory to discover who she really is, and determine what her life will be like. She is a pawn in a greater game, and I hope that before this series is over (yes, I said series) she will show all the other characters, that she can take care of herself and most importantly make decisions for herself.

    The setting is really what makes this novel shine. The Carnival of Souls is gritty, and dangerous. It is a place of mystery and hidden traps. It definitely isn’t a place I would want to find myself in, but I think that is what makes it so intriguing. Our characters wander around the Carnival of Souls with purpose, and fear. I want to know more.

    As I said earlier, this novel is the first in a series. It is a different take on witches and daimons, and I admit to some curiosity as to where this series may lead. I will definitely be giving the next book a chance, because I long to see Mallory come into her own strengths.

    Audiobook Review:
    I purchased the audiobook from Audible. It is narrated by James Masters, who did a wonderful job with the narration. I was able to lose myself in this audiobook, and I consider it a good narration when I am so wrapped up in the story, that I cease to notice the narrator. His narration never pulled me out of the story, which is the mark of a good narrator. The audio is 8 hours and 5 minutes long and is produced by Harper Audio. I highly recommend listening to this book on audio.

    Overall:
    I was in the mood for something different, and I would say that Melissa Marr delivered with this novel. True you will see some of the motifs in other novels, but this novel feels different and has enough gritty details to keep the pages turning. I will definitely be seeking out book 2.


    View all my reviews

    Wednesday, December 19, 2012

    Audiobook Review: My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent [Including a Mini Review of the Novella My Soul to Lose]

    Title: My Soul to Take
    Author: Rachel Vincent
    Genre: Teen Fiction, Paranormal Fiction
    Publication Date: August 1, 2009
    Publisher: Harlequin Teen
    ISBN-13 Book: 978-0373210039
    Audiobook Publisher:  Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
    Length: 8 hrs and 31 mins (Unabridged)
    Disclosure: I purchased a copy of the audiobook from Audible.  This is my honest review!


    My Soul to Take (Soul Screamers, #1)My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    Summary:
    Kaylee just wants to be a normal girl and date a normal attractive guy, but it is hard to get a guy when you are a freak. At least that is what Kaylee believes she is, because every time she is around someone who is about to die, she starts screaming and can't stop. When classmates start dying, Kaylee can't help but scream, literally.

    Review:
    I put off reading this series for quite a while. Mostly because I don't have much interest in bean sidhe (banshees). Still, I purchased the audio from audible when it was on sale, and thought that sometime I might listen to it. For a long time, that didn't happen, until one day I found myself short on listening material and decided to give this one a go. And you know what? I liked it!

    I loved Kaylee's character. She believes she has some sort of anxiety disorder at first, and everyone is keeping something from her. Turns out she is a bean sidhe. She knows when someone is about to die, and it causes her to scream.

    Like I said earlier bean sidhe aren't really my thing, but I liked how Vincent built her story around the mythology, and expanded it. The toying with death (and the reapers) did seem a bit bothersome to me, but it did make for an interesting story.

    The plot is good, and the characters are interesting. I am glad I gave it a chance, and would consider reading the next book in the series. It didn't create the intense need to read the next book some series do, but I would say this one is worth a go if you are in the market for a different type of paranormal type book.

    Audiobook Review:
    As I said before, I purchased the book from Audible. It is narrated by Amanda Ronconi who does an amazing job with this book. I loved her narration and found it believable. The download is 8 hrs and 31 mins in length, and the production seems well done. I would not have read this book if it hadn't been for the audio, so I am definitely grateful for this format. I should mention I had started the book a couple times before and put it down--audio was definitely the way to go for me.

    Overall:
    This was something different. I don't think there is a lot of bean sidhe's in teen lit, so it is a welcome change from the typical paranormal I have been seeing. I would definitely say give it a shot.


    View all my reviews


    Title: My Soul to Lose
    Author: Rachel Vincent
    Genre: Teen Fiction, Paranormal Fiction
    Publication Date: July 7, 2009
    Publisher: Harlequin Teen

    Audiobook Publisher:  Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
    Length: 1 hr and 48 mins (Unabridged)
    Disclosure: I purchased a copy of the audiobook from Audible.  This is my honest review!


      My Soul to Lose (Soul Screamers, #0.5)My Soul to Lose by Rachel Vincent
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This novella was an interesting addition to this series. It was nice to see how Kaylee first discovered her "talent." While her abilities are not fully explained here (that is covered in the first full length novel), this story, which is briefly referred to in book 1 gives us insight in the character. A quick read, definitely worth picking up for fans of the series.

    View all my reviews

    Tuesday, December 18, 2012

    Audio Book Review: Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick

    Title: Finale
    Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
    Genre: Teen Fiction, Paranormal Fiction, Angels Fiction
    Publication Date: October 23, 2012
    Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
    ISBN-13 Book: 9781442426672
    Audiobook Publisher:  Simon & Schuster Audio
    ISBN-13 Audio:  9781442352933
    Length: 8 CDs (570 minutes) Unabridged
    Disclosure: I received a copy of the audiobook for review from the publisher through Audiobook Jukebox.  This is my honest review!


    Finale (Hush, Hush, #4)Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Summary:
    Nora is now the leader of the Black Hand’s Army, and is expected to lead the Nephilim to war against the fallen angels, but really all she wants is peace and a chance to lead a normal life with her boyfriend, the fallen angel Patch. Everyone is out to get her—the nephilim because they believe she doesn’t want to lead them and they wish to supplant her with a leader who will destroy the fallen angels, the fallen angels because they want to make an example of her, and suddenly an Archangel is after her to get to patch. Worse yet, Marcie Miller her longtime nemesis has decided to move in with her and her mom. What’s a girl to do, but learn how to use her Nephil strength and kick some bad guy butt!

    Review
    When I read the first book Hush Hush I honestly wasn’t certain I was going to read the rest of the series. It was intriguing, but fallen angels really aren’t my thing. After the second book came out I did pick it up and read it—actually I listened to it on audio, as I have for the entire series. While it didn’t hook me at first, I have to admit, throughout the series I found myself becoming more invested in the stories of Nora and Patch.

    What I really like about this series is that they didn’t play around with the love triangle motif. Yes, Scott and Dante were introduced into Nora’s life, but they never had a chance next to Patch—she never really even considered them. In this book Nora was supposed to make the Nephilim believe that she was dating another Nephilim, but even then her heart belonged solely to Patch.

    This novel was a great conclusion to the series with a lot of action. I liked that Nora was learning to use her own strength and rely on her own instincts instead of relying on the guys around her to protect her. Even when she made poor choices or decisions, at least she was the one making them. I also liked that she finally got to be the hero.

    Audiobook Review:
    This entire audiobook series is well done. Finale was read by Caitlyn Greer who does an excellent job narrating Nora and all the other characters. Greer also narrated the other books in this series, so this kept a wonderful continuity for listeners. That is a big plus when I listen to a series. The audiobook is produced by Simon and Shuster Audio and consisted of 8 CDs. The total listening time was 570 minutes. The production was clean and free of any noticeable flaws. I loved listening to this series on audio and would definitely recommend it.

    Overall:
    Overall, this novel was a great conclusion to this series. It is nice to know how it finally ended. I am definitely not disappointed.


    View all my reviews

    Wednesday, December 5, 2012

    Book Review: Possession by Elana Johnson + Giveaway Win the Whole Series Below

    Title: Possession
    Author: Elana Johnson
    Genre: Teen, dystopian, science fiction
    Publication Date: June 7, 2011
    Publisher: Simon Pulse
    ISBN-13 Book: 9781442421257
    Disclosure: I received a copy of the e-book from the author and CBB Book Promotions for review.  This is my honest review!

    Possession (Possession, #1)Possession by Elana Johnson
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Summary:
    In the Good Grounds, even touching a boy you are intended to marry is against the law, and when Vi is caught with her future intended Zenn breaking those rules she is incarcerated. But the Thinkers who control her society by brainwashing the population have special plans for Vi. Vi is a free thinker, someone who can’t easily be controlled, now they want her to become one of them. Vi doesn’t want to control people, but she is not sure about joining the handsome Jag in rebellion against the Thinkers either. Vi has to choose between saving Zenn who is being brainwashed, or saving herself.

    Review:
    Let me start off by saying that I love dystopian stories, and this one was an interesting one. There was danger, adventure, and an uber controlling society—everything that makes dystopian novels so interesting.

    I loved Vi’s character, and you sympathize with her as she is incarcerated for such an innocent offense. You know she doesn’t deserve the punishment she is getting and you long for her to be free. Jag was enigmatic, and charismatic. I loved Jag. I wish he would have come out and told Vi more, but he definitely kept things interesting.

    One thing I wish I the book went into more detail about was the details surrounding how their society became the way it did. You do get some explanation, but I would have loved to know more—maybe that is something I will find in the sequel. It was also frustrating at times, not understanding exactly what was going on because the action was too fast.

    Overall, this book was a fun read. It hooked me right away, and left me wanting more at the end. Will I read the sequel? I think so—I really want to know what will happen to Vi next, and I hope that the sequel will fill in more of the blanks.

    The sequel Surrender came out in hardcover on June 5, 2012.


    View all my reviews

    About The Author:
    Elana Johnson’s work, including Possession, Surrender, and Regret, published by Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster), is available now everywhere books are sold. Her popular ebook, From the Query to the Call, is also available for download, as well as a Possession short story, ResistSchool teacher by day, Query Ninja by night, you can find her online at her personal blog or TwitterShe also co-founded the Query Tracker blog, and contributes to the League of Extraordinary Writers.

    Giveaway:
    Hardcover of Surrender, a Possession paperback, an ecopy of Regret, bookmarks for both books, stickers for both books, and a Jag-inspired necklace.
    Open to US/Canada
    Ends 12/9/12


       a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Wednesday, November 28, 2012

    Thinking of Giving or Asking for an E-reader this Christmas? Here are some tips!

    I wrote this post almost exactly one year ago, because I had a number of library patrons asking me about e-readers as gifts for the holidays.  It is important to like the e-reader you choose, and below are some things you should know before you make that purchase. 

    Every year in the ads I see advertisements for inexpensive e-readers and tablets.  Do your research--sometimes you get what you pay for.  I have had so many people tell me that they wished that they had spent more and gotten one of the big name tablets, or e-readers.  My one piece of advice is go somewhere where you can play with the device and hold it in your hand--many stores have them out so you can see them and play with them.  If you only see it in the box, then perhaps you should move on.  If you are paying less than $100 for something they are calling a tablet be careful!  I have seen several of these inexpensive tablets frustrate owners.  

    Last year, I received an iPad for Christmas and I couldn't be happier.  Sure even the iPad has its flaws, but it does almost everything I want it to do, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.  Still if it is out of your price range, look at the Nooks and Kindles.  My mother just got a new Nook HD with the bigger screen and I find myself drooling over her new device from time to time.  Apple, Amazon (Kindle), and Barnes and Noble (Nook), have put a lot of effort into their devices, and in my experience the devices from these three companies have been the easiest to deal with and the least buggy when we try to get library books for the devices.

    I am not claiming to be an expert, and I am not paid by any of the companies to sell their products, I am just speaking from personal experience.  Hope this helps!

    ---

    Originally Published as E-readers: Before You Buy Buying Tips on 11/30/2011


    I can't believe that December is almost here!  This year is flying by.  Once again at our library's reference desk we are having concerned family members seeking our advice about which e-reader they should buy their loved ones for Christmas this year.  Being a librarian, I really have no vested interest in what readers you buy, but I do know what works with the library's Overdrive program, and the readers that are the easiest to use with Overdrive.  I am not trying to sell anyone anything. I have a nook and I love my nook, but I am also extremely impressed with the Kindle.  While I will focus on Kindle and Nook in this post, many of these questions will be relevant to any e-reader you are looking at.

    Even if you are buying for yourself or someone else, these questions and tips will hopefully help you select which device will suit you or the person receiving the gift best.

    E-reader Buying Tips and Questions to Ask Yourself:
    • Cheaper isn't always better.  There are a lot of cheap readers on the market, some of them are exceptional, while others are not.  Make sure you know you like the device you are buying because if you don't it wasn't really a bargain.
    • Where do you like to buy books?  Do you like buying books better from Amazon (Kindle) or from Barnes and Noble (Nook).  Whichever device you buy, you will be required to register your device with their website before you can buy books.  This means giving your credit card number to that company.  Your buying preferences figure heavily here keep this in mind when you choose your device--make sure you are comfortable buying from that company.
    • Go somewhere that has the device out where you can touch  it and play with it.  I can't emphasize this enough.  Even though there is no Barnes and Noble where I live, I can go to Books a Million and hold a Nook if I want to see how the device looks, feels, and works in person.  The same is true for Kindle.  Find local retailers that have the devices out where  you can touch them, read on them, and try to navigate on them.  Look for these things as you handle the device:
      • Weight and size.  Although most ereaders are around the same size and weight, there are subtle differences that can influence your decision.  Hold the device in your hand, does it feel comfortable to hold, or is it too bulky (my reader an original nook is kind of heavy, and sometimes makes me wish I had purchased a newer lighter one), do you like the size and and shape of the reader?
      • Read on it!  This is probably the most important tip I can give you.  Whatever one you choose you need to actually read on the device.  Read at least three pages on the device.  
        • Can you read it easily? 
        • Does the glare bother you? 
        • Do you prefer your screens to be backlit? 
        • Adjust the font type--does that make it easier to read?
        • Adjust the size?  Do you like how the font changes with size? 
      • Turn the pages.  This is another important one.  Some e-readers have a really slow page turn.  While some of you may think that is no big deal, let me tell you a slow page turn can be extremely frustrating when you are reading.  Think about it...you finish a page and can't wait to see what happens next, but for some reason your e-reader is taking its own sweet time turning the page.  You are so excited you hit the button again and suddenly your e-reader flips ahead two pages.  Now you have to hit the back button and wait for it to flip back.  I am really not exaggerating here--I have seen this happen and have seen some very upset people trying to navigate on their readers.  Make sure the reader you choose is responsive.  By this I mean the e-reader turns your pages smoothly and quickly--you should not have to wait.  
    • Look for e-reader reviews! Not sure what you are looking for when you handle an e-reader?  If you do a google search, you can come up with a multitude of reviews from various sources.  If you are more traditional and prefer paper publications, you can find reviews from Consumer Reports and various electronics and computer magazines and journals.  You can also ask your friends if they have one what they like or dislike about their reader.  Make sure you are asking someone who actually uses the reader though!

    The next part is some things you should consider if your library has Overdrive and you want to get free e-books from the library.

    Getting Books From Your Library Through Overdrive:
    Overdrive is a wonderful service, and I love getting free ebooks from my library.  Check with your library to see if they subscribe.  Each library has different lending rules--for ours we get the books for two weeks and then they stop working and we delete them off of our devices.  The one thing first time users, or anyone buying an e-reader, should know  is that how you download books from your library will vary from device to device.  If you are considering buying an e-reader, you should make sure that you are comfortable with how this will work for your device.  Most of this information will probably be available on Overdrive's website, or your library's, and if you have a Kindle you can find the information for you on Amazon.com.  Here are some things you should know about how Nook and Kindle downloads differ (keep in mind I am not covering specifics here--for details ask your library):
    • Nook
      • Nook Color and the Nook Tablets now have an app that makes Overdrive so much easier to use.  Simply shop for the Overdrive Media Console in apps, download it for free, and then register your app with adobe.
      • If you have a nook that isn't a nook color or tablet (i.e. original nooks, or the simple touch) you need a computer to do the download.
      • You need to have Adobe Digital Editions downloaded to your computer.  Don't worry, Adobe is free, but you will have to register the software with Adobe and Authorize both your computer and your nook.  You only have to do this once, but set up can sometimes be daunting for people who aren't comfortable around computers.  Here is the link to Adobe Digital Editions for more info about the software.
      • You will search for books, check out books, and download the books to a computer before you will even touch your nook.
      • Once you download the book to your computer it should download it directly to Adobe Digital Editions.  Then you plug in your Nook.  Once your Nook appears on the Digital Editions page you click and drag the book to your Nook.  It really is as simple as clicking and dragging.  
      • You can delete the books (both library and purchased books--so be careful) off your device using Adobe Digital Editions, and you even have an option to return a book early using Adobe Digital Editions.  
      • When the book is on your Nook you will probably find it under My Files, or My Documents--my one wish is that Barnes and Noble would use consistent terminology, but alas no luck there.  Once you find it though you are ready to read.
    • Kindle
      • Kindle Fire owners now have an app that they can get for their Kindle Fire.  Just simply search for the Overdrive Media Console app.
      • If you don't have a Kindle Fire you need a computer to access Overdrive.
      • You will search for and check out books from a regular computer before you will do anything with a device.
      • Once you have found a book and checked it out, you will click on a button in your Overdrive account that says "Get for Kindle."  
      • At this point you will be redirected to the Amazon page where you will log in with your Amazon account.  
      • Follow the instructions, select the device you want the book delivered to, and then sync your Kindle.  
      • Some books will only transfer to your computer via the USB cord.  If you are checking out one of those books, follow the 3G instructions below.
      • If you have 3G you will need to download the book using your USB cord.  There are instructions for this on Amazon's website including a video, but here is the gist: Save the book to the external drive that your Kindle is on (:E or :F)  Once you save it, you will have to copy the title and paste it into the Kindle’s “documents” folder.  After you eject the Kindle from the external drive, the book should be on your Kindle.
      • For more details visit your library's website.
    On the surface both sound complicated, but they really aren't that bad once you get used to it. I hope I am not scaring anyone away from library books from Overdrive. Just remember, talk to you librarians--they can help you with this. At my library we even have one on one trainings that you can schedule to learn how to get e-books from the library--ask your library if they do this.

    The #1 thing to remember before you purchase an e-reader--test it out!

    Monday, November 26, 2012

    Adult Book Review: Justice Hall by Laurie R. King

    Title:Justice Hall
    Author: Laurie R. King
    Genre: Adult Mystery
    Publication Date: August 29, 2003
    Publisher:Bantam
    ISBN-13 Book: 9780553381719
    Audiobook Publisher: Recorded Books (Audible Edition)
    Length: 16 hours 28 minutes
    Disclosure: I purchased my copy from audible.  This is my honest review!


    Justice Hall (Mary Russell, #6)
    Justice Hall by Laurie R. King
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I love this series and this book did not disappoint. It started out more than a bit slow, as it did take us a while to find out what exactly the mystery was, but it was fun to reunite with characters from O Jerusalem. Something is wrong with the succession at Justice Hall. The current Duke longs to return to his nomadic life, but is bound by duty, while a killer lurks in the wings. I love Mary Russell who is both smart and strong. The addition of Iris to this novel, made it all the better for readers who enjoy strong female characters.

    I purchased the audiobook from Audible. The unabridged recording was approximately 16 hours and 28 minutes, and published by Recorded Books. The audiobook is narrated by Jenny Sterling who does a superb job giving voice to the characters in this novel. The audiobook brought so much more life to the book than when I read it the first time, and I would definitely vote for giving this one a go on audio.

    An enjoyable reading experience.

    View all my reviews

    Monday, November 19, 2012

    My Life Since 10/12/12 And Some New Resolutions!

    Busy Time at the Library
    Fall is always one of my busiest seasons at work. First we have the annual book award committee meeting where we spend the whole day at a library arguing (we librarians tend to get a bit invested in our books) to see that our favorite books make the list for the following year. After the list is finalized it is hush hush until the big reveal at the ILF Annual Conference in November. While we all get the list of books in March, there is that inevitable rush at the end to cram in those last minute titles. During this time all of my reading is devoted to this committee, and trying to read as many of the books on the list as I can possibly manage.

    After the committee meeting is over (actually before the committee meeting is over) I turn my attention to our annual One Book One Community project. October is usually the month when we are focusing on our one book, but the work starts months earlier. While I am not in charge of the program I am on the committee, and have to devote time to the project. This year I helped coordinate the essay contest that went along with the program.

    While One Book One Community goes on, life at the library doesn't stand still. I have my regular teen programming and this year I added an additional aspect. My teens (please note this was a group of all boys) created Steampunk Notebooks this month while we discussed our mutual fascination with all things steampunk--one of the boys even brought his steampunk goggles, and boy did I have goggle envy. The additional aspect I added to my programming this year was the implementation of a Redesign a Book Cover Contest. We contacted the schools, the community art organizations, and a number of other art supporters to help us promote this program to our teens. The contest deadline was October 19th and we had 80 entries. We were amazed at the talent we saw.

    The next program is the program that takes up the most time each year, and that is our annual Battle of the Books program. Each year I choose 10 books. Five of them new books and five of them books we have used in years past. Then I write 500 questions. 100 questions per book. Let me tell you this is time consuming and you better love the books you choose because you will be spending a lot of quality time with these books! On November 10th of this year teams from the area schools battled it out to prove who knew the books the best, and who would win the 2012 Battle of the Books Trophy. Surprisingly, the program ran like clockwork, and we were ahead of schedule all day. Why was this so surprising? Read on...

    And Then I Got Sick
    On my last post in October I mentioned I had been sick. Actually, I spent the entire month of October sick. I ran a fever for over 30 days before they finally figured out what was causing my bronchitis--a sinus infection. After 3 rounds of various antibiotics, and the equivalent of 3 rounds of prednisone, I found myself lacking any immune system at all. The Monday before Battle of the Books had me in the ER with a stomach virus, that dehydrated me so bad they had trouble getting a good blood draw and had to try multiple times to get in the IV. It all came down to not having any resistance to whatever virus I got--a consequence of all the antibiotics, which I had finished taking the previous morning. After the CAT scan came back (did I forget to mention that the day before I had suffered a head injury--yeah, I'm lucky like that) the doctor comes in and informs me that my head is just fine, but oh yeah--he can definitely see that I have a bad case of sinusitis--oh joy. Needless to say I still have my sinus infection because I am afraid more antibiotics too soon will have me laid up again. I don't think I will be able to wait much longer because I am afraid the fever will come back.

    As I said, I am not sure how it all happened, or how I managed to get through it, but I am slowly recovering. The big programs for the year are over and I barely survived. I think next year, I am going to have to plan better, and find a way to stay healthy!

    Reflections on Lessons Learned
    All this hasn't left much time for reading, but has left me with a lot to think about. Sometimes I even came close to giving up the blog for good, but I believe that I need to keep blogging for myself and for my love of books. Yes I still love them, but I definitely need to pace myself. Sometimes when I find myself rushing through books, trying to beat deadlines, that I lose the enjoyment of the books, and so much of it becomes more like work. I need to find my enjoyment and love of reading again. This may mean that my reviews will be less frequent, but let me tell you they will be more true to myself and the works I read. I want to take time to savor and reflect on what I am reading. Last year I set a Goodreads goal to read 100 books and I did achieve that. This year I had planned to do the same, but after the year I have had, I have had to come to terms with the fact that sometimes it isn't meant to be.

    Resolutions
    I know it isn't the end of the year yet, but I think I am ready for some new resolutions. I need to start listening to myself and my body. I need to take time to savor and appreciate both the world around me and the literature I read. Most of all, I need to read for me.

    What does this mean? First I am going to be a lot more selective about the review requests I take. I need to make sure it is one I want to read. I am also giving myself the okay to put down a book I don't enjoy. No offense intended, but not every book is right for everyone. I am giving myself permission to walk away from the books that don't hold my attention. It isn't a crime if I don't finish a book.

    Next I think I am going to revisit my roots. I am going to go back and perhaps reread some of the books that stimulated my love of reading, so if you see some retro reviews in the future you are forewarned.

    I am also going to actively seek out and pursue the books I want to read. How many times have I set aside books I really wanted to read because I had others that had deadlines waiting. Does this mean I will be doing fewer prepub titles? Probably, but I need to read for me. It probably also means that I may not be accepting as many review requests. Deadlines are killing me. I have them all the time at work, and this is something I do as a hobby, for fun. Lately the deadlines have been taking the fun out of it.

    I needed time for reflection. What I got was a lot of sick time, but when you feel crappy, sometimes you have a lot of time to think. I have written this post a million times in my head, but what it comes down to is that I started this blog for me, and if it is going to be work, stress, and no fun, it is time to walk away. I am determined to make it fun and recapture my love of both reading and blogging. What will happen? Only time will tell...

    PS
    If anyone has a good cure for a sinus infection, I am all ears! I don't want any more antibiotics! :)

    Reviews to come.... :)

    - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

    Friday, October 12, 2012

    Where Have I Been?

    Yes, I am still out here and still reading, but right now I am a little behind in my posting.  Work is keeping me busy, and to add more problems to the pot, I have had bronchitis for the last two weeks.  Things probably won't slow down for me until after November 10th (AKA Battle of the Books), so please be patient with me these next few weeks. 

    I miss blogging, so I promise not to stay away long!  Be back soon with more book reviews. 

    Tuesday, October 2, 2012

    Audio Book Review: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

    Title: Beauty Queens
    Author: Libba Bray
    Genre: Teen Fiction, Humorous Fiction
    Publication Date: May 24, 2011
    Publisher: Scholastic Press
    ISBN-13 Book: 9780439895972
    Audiobook Publisher:  Scholastic Audiobooks
    ISBN-13 Audio:  9780545315388
    Length: 12 CDs (14.5 hours)
    Disclosure: I received a copy of the book for committee work and checked out the audio book from my public library.  This is my honest review!



    Beauty QueensBeauty Queens by Libba Bray
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    Summary:
    A plane full of teen beauty queens crash on a “deserted” tropical island. Will they survive the giant man-eating snakes, the pirates, the secret agents, and each other? Find out in this wild, laugh out loud funny, romp through the wilderness.

    Review:
    First off let me say that this book isn’t exactly what I expected. When I first heard about this book I was expecting something a little more Lord of the Flies with girls. Of course I expected the comedy, but what I didn’t expect was to find myself laughing out loud at some of the outlandish situations in this book.

    First I loved the characters—every single quirky, bizzare, odd, and insane one of them. You even have to love the villains while at the same time hating them. The girls each have their own flaws and insecurities, and I liked how each girl discovered her inner strength before the end.

    Bray decided to take on every cliché of the YA genre in this novel, and she couldn’t have done it better. You could have picked up a list of teen issues, and checked them off as you read—I don’t think Bray missed any, and her handling of these controversial “teen issues” was priceless. This novel is so sarcastic and tongue in cheek at times you can’t help but admire how Bray does it.

    Typically at the end of my Goodreads reviews, I include a section called “Cautions for Sensitive Readers.” Today I am going to include it in the actual review. Is there sex in this book? You bet every type. Is there drinking in this book? Yep, what is a pirate and stranded girls without some Rum. Is the swearing in this novel? Yes dammit, there is. But you know what? I didn’t care! This book is too good, too funny, to miss.

    Despite this book’s levity and somewhat irreverent handling of the issues, it does pack a powerful punch. At the heart of the book you are discovering what it means to be a girl, and what it means to be true to yourself, no matter what that self may be. This book is empowering because it allows the girls to accept who they are without being judged. To finally be at peace with what makes them who they are, and to accept that they are relevant, important, and beautifully unique.

    Audiobook Review:
    Oh boy, the audiobook! Where do I start? WOW!!! WOW!!! WOW!!! This amazing audiobook is produced by Scholastic Audiobooks and read by the author herself, Libba Bray. I have heard author’s read their works before, but nothing like this. Libba Bray is an excellent audiobook narrator. I have no idea how she kept all the characters straight, and I think there was one little bobble with a character’s voice, but with the multitude of characters it was impressive that she did. Her voices were hilarious, and the audiobook itself was truly well done. If you have a chance, I think you should definitely pick up the audio version of this novel. The unabridged audiobook consists of 12 CDs or approximately 14.5 hours of listening time. The audiobook also includes an interview with the author at the end that is definitely worth listening to. Highly recommended!

    Overall:
    This book is AWESOME!!! Read it if you dare!

    Cautions for Sensitive Readers:
    This book would be better suited to older, mature teens, who can handle the subject matter.
    Sex: yep it’s in there
    Drinking: yep it’s in there
    Swearing: you betcha


    View all my reviews

    Friday, September 28, 2012

    Audio Book Review: Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando [Plus Book Trailer!]

    Title: Dreamland Social Club
    Author: Tara Altebrando
    Genre: Teen Fiction,
    Publication Date: May 12, 2011
    Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
    ISBN-13 Book: 9780525423256
    Audiobook Publisher:  Recorded Books
    ISBN-13 Audio:  9781461813026
    Length:  9 CDs (10 hr., 15 min.)
    Disclosure: I received a copy of the book for committee work and checked out the audio book from my public library.  This is my honest review!


    Dreamland Social ClubDreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Summary:
    When Jane, her brother, and her father move to the house they inherited from a maternal grandfather Jane has never known, she begins to find out all sorts of interesting facts about the grandparents she never knew, and the mother she lost so long ago. Her grandfather’s house in Coney Island is a museum of Coney Island memorabilia, and so much of Jane’s life before her mother died revolved around this place she has never seen. Yet Coney Island is a place of controversy, where they try to merge the past with the present, and with hard feelings on all sides. Can Jane find herself, her mother, and her place to belong in the childhood home of a parent who died years ago?

    Review:
    I love books with a strong sense of setting and this book definitely falls into that category. Of course I have heard of Coney Island—who hasn’t, but that doesn’t mean I really knew what Coney Island was. In this novel and in reality Coney Island is a battleground where the past clashes with the present, and Altebrando has done an amazing job teaching us to appreciate Coney’s history, and hope for the best for Coney’s future. In this novel, Coney itself was almost a character. It was vividly depicted and a place I felt myself longing to explore.

    At first you aren’t sure what to make of Jane. She is a nice enough character, but she is also kind of a blank canvas. She is a girl who isn’t sure about who she is. All she knows is she is moving into the childhood home of her mother. The home of a deceased grandfather she never met. She isn’t sure what to make about her unusual relatives, or about the unusual group of characters she meets as she gets to know more about Coney.

    Jane herself is torn, she wants to remember the past, remember her mother, but at the same time she wants to get on with her life and feel like she belongs somewhere. The irony being she is a perfectly normal girl who shouldn’t have trouble fitting it, but can’t seem to find her place with the oddities of the characters around her—normal as abnormal.

    Audiobook Review:
    The audio book is produced by Recorded books and read by Erin Moon. I loved Moon’s nartion of this novel. She does a great job with the voices and especially pulling you into Jane’s story and Jane’s voice. The CD book is 9 discs long roughly 10 hrs and 15 minutes. The beginning of the novel is a little slow, so the audio is a good way to get yourself into the action of the novel. It is a clean production and a pleasant listening experience. I would definitely recommend the audio.

    Overall:
    This was a wonderful novel about a search for identity and belonging. What the future may bring, no one knows, but you want to remember where you came from. I love learning about Coney and really had trouble putting this one down because I always wanted more of this great setting.


    Book Trailer:
    I love listening to authors talk about there books, but what is even better about this one is that I can see some of the places she mentions in the books--great for visualizing!

    Thursday, September 20, 2012

    Thursday Thoughts: Sometimes Life Interferes

    I love blogging, really I do.  I know it seems like I have been absent or even a bit distant the past few weeks, but I am still around.  Fall is my busiest time of year, work wise.  We have conferences, library programs, fall sports, and a whole host of other things going on. 

    A few weeks ago, I attended the annual CYPD (Children and Young People's Division) conference.  I love going to that conference because I come away with such wonderful ideas.  Right now I am wondering if I will be able to convince my bosses and the custodians that I can do "Peep Wars" and an egg drop with out messing up the library too badly.  Wish me luck, because I really want to try. 

    After the conference I was supposed to enjoy a week off.  The only problem was that I booked it full of doctors appointments.  I had an MRI on my knee, and ended up with a cortisone shot and a boot for my bad ankle--unfortunately the knee and the ankle are on different legs, so I was jokingly saying I didn't have a good leg to stand on.  Sad but true.

    The boot came off last Thursday (yeah, it was only a two week stint in the boot thank goodness), and on Monday I started physical therapy for the knee.  After therapy on Monday, I found walking a little on the difficult side Tuesday and Wednesday--I felt like I had been worked over by a meat mallet.  :) 

    Meanwhile at the library we are kicking off our "Get Graphic" program for our first ever "Redesign a Book Cover Contest" and preparing for booktalks at a local middle school.  I also am desperately trying to finish up my reading for the Rosie Committee--I hope I can finish 5 books by October 1st.  Did I mention the 500 questions I have to write for Battle of the Books???

    So what's all this got to do with books and blogging.  Well, these are the reasons that I currently have two unwritten reviews, and have been neglecting my blog.  Sometimes finding time to blog isn't a problem, but lately I have so much to do I am working even when I am home.  Wish me luck--hopefully my sanity, and regular blogging will return after mid-November.

    Friday, September 14, 2012

    Book Review: The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey


    Title: Monstrumologist
    Author: Rick Yancey
    Genre: Teen Fiction, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Horror
    Publication Date: September 22, 2009
    Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
    ISBN-13 Book: 9781416984481
    Audiobook Publisher:  Recorded Books
    ISBN-13 Audio:  9781440735646
    Length:  10 CDs (11 hr., 45 min.)
    Disclosure: I purchased a copy of the book from Barnes and Noble and checked out a copy of the audiobook from my public library.  This is my honest review!


    The Monstrumologist (The Monstrumologist, #1)The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

    My rating: 3 of 5 stars


    Summary:
    When Will’s parents die, he takes over his father’s job as an assistant Monstrumologist.  A job that entails dark stormy nights, blood, gore, and creatures that are the stuff of myths and legends.  When a gravedigger finds evidence that New Jerusalem may have an infestation of monsters, he brings the evidence to the doctor Will serves.  What they find will haunt your dreams and lead Will on an adventure that will take him into the bowels of the earth.

    Review:
    A friend recommended this book to me, I know she loved it.  While I can appreciate the writing, and the gruesome horror of the book, I really had a hard time getting into this book.  Maybe it was the topic, maybe I wasn’t in the mood, or maybe the book just wasn’t for me.  I can’t be sure, but I will say it wasn’t a favorite.

    I liked Will our young protagonist, but hated the doctor—that is until another character came along who earned my complete animosity and made the doctor look good by comparison.  Yancey’s characters are very well drawn, and some so deplorable in their moral standards that I felt myself physically disgusted by them.  It is a sign of a great writer, when you find yourself really wanting to slap (or in some cases feed them to a monster) the characters of his novel.

    The settings were well drawn and the book really sets a mood that is reminiscent of classic horror literature.  It was dark and stormy and what they were doing was even darker.  Yancey, completely pulls you into his world and makes you squirm.  He certainly knows how to make gore come alive on the page.

    The pacing of this novel is pretty quick, but the details can slow you up a bit.  Only a short amount of time passes from the beginning of the book to the events in the final chapters, but so much happened in that short amount of time that it felt longer.

    Audiobook Review:
    The audiobook for this novel was produced by Recorded Books and read by Steven Boyer who does a fine job with the narration.  The CD book is well done, but there is nothing remarkable about it that sets it apart from other audiobooks out there.  It is a pleasant way to experience the book.  I had trouble starting this novel, so the audio kept me going, I probably wouldn’t have finished the book without it.  The CD book consists of 10 CDs and while it wasn't the longest book I have read, it felt pretty long to me.

    Overall:
    While this book is extremely well written, I didn’t find myself really getting into the book until the very end.  I don’t know if I am curious enough to move on to book two in this series, only time will tell.  Overall though, I think readers who like creepy books with lots of gore, and violence will find this book to be very interesting.

    Cautions for Sensitive Readers:
    Violence and gore—lots of it.




    View all my reviews

    Tuesday, September 11, 2012

    Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry Booktrailer

    I really enjoyed this book, and thought I would share this fantastic book trailer. Seriously, if you haven't picked up this book yet you must. I couldn't put it down! Better yet, you can enter my giveaway and win a copy! Win Pushing the Limits.

    Enjoy the trailer!

    Friday, September 7, 2012

    Q & A with Pushing the Limits Author Katie McGarry

    I loved the book Pushing the Limits and I was thrilled to find out more about the author.  So here is a Q & A with Katie McGarry.  Don't forget to enter to win a copy of Pushing the Limits!




    Q&A With Katie McGarry

    Q: What was your inspiration for writing Pushing the Limits?
    A: I had two main inspirations: One, I knew from the beginning that I wanted to write a story in which my characters felt strong enough to leave their pasts behind and create new futures for themselves. The first scene I ever saw in my mind was Echo and Noah leaving town after graduation. Two, I wanted to write two characters who were facing over- whelming issues and who, through battling these issues, found hope at the end of their journey.

    Q: How did you come up with Echo’s name?

    A: Echo went through several name changes as I wrote the manuscript. For a while, she had a very normal name, but it always felt off. It wasn’t until I looked at Echo from her mother’s point of view that I found her name. Echo’s mother loved Greek mythology so it made perfect sense that she would name her children after the myths. I read several Greek myths and the moment I found Echo’s, I fell in love. Echo, to me, was the girl who lost her voice. Thankfully, she finds it by the end.

    Q: Which character is the most “like” you?
    A: All of them. I gave each character a piece of me (though some have larger slices of me than others). Overall, I’d say I’m a strange combination of Echo, Lila and Beth. Echo has my need to please, Lila has my unfailing loyalty to my friends and Beth encompasses my insecurities.

    Q: Did you experience friendships with Grace types when you were in high school?
    A: Yes. And the more people have read this story, the more this question comes up. Grace has struck a stronger nerve in people than I ever would have imagined. It seems most of us have un- fortunately experienced a relationship where a person wants to “like” you and wants “be your friend,” but only if it serves their needs. In case anyone is wondering, that isn’t friendship.

    Q: Are there any parts of the story you feel particularly close to?
    A: Yes. The relationship between Noah, Isaiah and Beth. Beyond my parents and sister, my nearest family members were over fourteen hours away. My friends became my family. The people I grew up with were more than people I watched movies with or talked to occasionally on the phone. These were people with whom I shared life’s most devastating moments, but also my hardest laughs. These were people who I would have willing- ly died for and I know they would have done the same for me. They shared my triumphs with smiles on their faces and congratulatory hugs. They held me when I cried and offered to beat up whoever hurt my feelings. These were also the same people who were more than happy to get in my face if they thought I was making a wrong decision.

    Q: Did anything that happens to Echo happen to you?

    A: Sort of. I was bitten by a dog when I was in second grade and repressed the memory. It felt very strange to have no memory of an incident that other people knew about. It was even stranger to have injuries and not have an inkling where they came from. In college, I finally remembered the incident when a dog lunged at me. I relived the horrible event and sort of “woke up” a few minutes later to find myself surrounded by people I loved. Even though I “remember” the incident, I still don’t remember the whole thing. I only see still frames in my mind and there is no blood in any of the memories.

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

    Giveaway! Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry


    Pushing the Limits


    I am not really a realistic fiction fan, but this book hooked me from the start.  Don't believe me?  Check out my review!



    About Pushing the Limits (Harlequin TEEN, August 2012, $17.99 U.S. / $19.99 CAN.):

    "My father is a control freak, I hate my stepmother, my brother is dead and my mother has...welll...issues.  How do you think I am doing?"  - opening line of Pushing the Limits

    No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that  horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal. But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude  and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. Echo and Noah couldn’t be more different, but they find themselves united by a common goal: to sneak into their court- ordered social worker’s case files in order to learn the truth about themselves and their families. What they didn’t count on is falling in love -- and now Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the  limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

    About author Katie McGarry:


    Katie McGarry was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and she remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings and reality television, and is a  secret University of Kentucky basketball fan.

    Writing has given Katie an excuse to pursue her passions. Research for her books has provided her with the amazing opportunity to train with baseball players, ride along in a drag car at ninety-six miles per hour  and experience boxing and mixed martial arts. Katie loves to visit schools and talk to teenagers about her research, writing and the truth that no dream is out of reach.


    Giveaway:

    To win enter using Rafflecopter below!

    Terms and Conditions:

    *Contest will run from 12:01 am September 6th through 12:01 am September 13th.
    *US and Canada Only
    *Must be 13 years of age or older.
    *Winner will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.
    *Winner will be announced on this blog on 9/13/12.
    *Book will be mailed to you from the publisher. 


    a Rafflecopter giveaway  
    Thank you to Harlequin Teen and Media Master's Publicity for this giveaway.

    Pushing the Limits is currently available at a bookstore near you.  Order your copy of Pushing the Limits from any of these retailers.
     

    Wednesday, September 5, 2012

    Book Review: Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

    Title: Pushing the Limits
    Author: Katie McGarry
    Genre:  Teen Realistic Fiction
    Publication Date: July 31, 2012
    Publisher: Harlequin Teen
    ISBN-13 Book: 9780373210497
    Disclosure: I received a copy from the publicist for review.  This is my honest review!


    Pushing the LimitsPushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Summary:
    Echo doesn’t remember what happened on that night two years ago that left her scarred, and when she tried to remember in the past, it lead to a psychotic break. All she knows is that it had something to do with her mother, and that it was bad, very bad. Noah is a foster kid growing up in a system that could care less about him. They have separated him from his only family and labeled him a loser and a stoner. When these two damaged teens meet, it isn’t love at first sight, but they both need something and are willing to work together to get it. In the process they will discover who they really are, and what they really want, even if it is each other.

    Review:
    McGarry does an excellent job pulling the reader into this novel. Right from the start she hooks you, and makes you want to know more about her characters. You start caring for them and their situations right from the beginning. The pacing doesn’t slow, and the tension keeps building, making this a book you will loath to put down.

    I love her characters. She did such a nice job making both Echo and Noah seem like real people with real pain. Noah was so much more than the bad boy stoner, and McGarry makes you see that. She makes you see who he was before his parents died, and even makes you think about who Noah might have been had his parents lived. I couldn’t get over how real these characters were—even the secondary characters have dimension, and realistic actions and characteristics.

    The plot to steal their files seemed a bit extreme to me. Echo is such a “good girl” it did seem out of character, but that particular plot device did make things interesting.

    Overall:
    Overall this was an enjoyable book. I couldn’t put it down and absolutely loved the characters (even Beth). If you like realistic fiction this would be a great addition to your collection.

    View all my reviews

    Wednesday, August 29, 2012

    Pushing the Limits Read-Along Part 5

    Pushing the Limits Read-Along is hosted by Candace's Book Blog, Natalia @ Dazzling Reads, The Page Turners, Mary @ The Book Swarm and The Bewitched Bookworms.  If you are interested in joining the fun, grab a copy of the book and go here to sign up.  

    1. ­­­  By finally returning to her art, Echo is working through her issues and taking control of her life. While she’s not ever going to return to her previous “normal”, she uses her art as a way to work her way to a place where she’s more comfortable with herself. How do you deal with the issues and stresses of your life?


    I am a traditional escapist.  When my life has issues and stress I try to find comfort and sanity in the pages of a book.  Sometimes, when I am really troubled I go to my  "comfort reads" usually books by Tamora Pierce.  If I am so stressed that even books don't help, or I can't focus on books, I pull out the X Box 360 and start playing some Resident Evil--shooting zombies usually makes me feel a little better.

    2. Once Noah gives his brothers and their soon-to-be adoptive parents a happy ending, he decides to get his own by winning Echo back. Why does he think stealing her file is the best way to do it? Any other (better) suggestions for the poor boy?

    I think he could have simply tried talking to Echo, rather than breaking the law to steal her file.  I think by that point they were both ready to talk and they could have worked it out.  Still, his method kept me on the edge of my seat as I was reading, hoping and praying he didn't get caught.

    3.  Echo finally uncovers the terrible truth of what her mother did to her. Now that we know the truth, do you think Echo’s father did the right thing by covering up the incident and keeping it from her? How do you think he should have handled it?


    I know he tried to hide it from her to protect her, but I think the truth is so much more liberating for both of them.  They could have prevented so much anger and resentment had they been honest with each other, and it might have helped her recovery too.
     
    4.  Mrs. Collins plays an integral role in helping Echo and Noah find a new normal and happiness in their lives. Tell us about someone in your life who helped you, someone who changed your life, was there for you, or offered help/comfort when you most needed it (or when you didn’t know you needed it).

    I have been blessed with both a wonderful husband and a wonderful family.  My family has helped me shape my life in so many ways.  No matter how bad the situation, they were there holding my hand and helping me through the whole thing--especially my mother and my husband.

    5. Another major truth is revealed when Echo’s father finally opens up to his daughter and tells her about her mother and how his relationship with Ashley evolved. Knowing this, how do you feel about Ashley now? And what did you think when you learned the name of the baby?

    I kept wishing her father had told her the truth sooner.  Ashley isn't the opportunist that Echo made her out to be, but someone who could be the mother that Echo needed when her own mother wasn't there.  I loved the name of the baby--it tied the past and the future together. 
    6. Echo and Noah ride off into the sunset together. *happy sigh* If you had the chance, who would you ride off with and where would you go?
     
    I know this is going to sound corny, but I would ride off into the sunset with my husband because he makes me happy, and I know he loves me no matter what.

    Thursday, August 23, 2012

    Thursday Thoughts: It's CYPD Time!

    CYPD is the annual Children's and Young People's Conference from the Indiana Library Federation.  Being a young adult librarian in Indiana, this is a big thing.  This is our major conference of the year, and a whole lot of fun.

    I am really excited this year for our speakers.  The lineup of speakers include the incredibly talented Emily Ellis, a librarian who focuses on Teen Services.  Other speakers include Thaddeus Rex, Katherine Applegate, and Lauren Myracle.  Can I tell you how excited I am to meet these folks and hear them speak!  This may be one of the best line ups we have ever had at CYPD.  You can see our Conference Brochure.

    The conference is a Sunday / Monday event, and I can't wait until it starts.  I just hope I have my craft done in time! :)  I have been working on a Steampunk craft for my library and I think I have an idea that might work--I want to share it with my fellow librarians.  Let's hope I get it done on time. 

    Anyway, I have a lot to look forward to this weekend.  Anyone out there going to CYPD this weekend?  Hope to see you there!

    Wednesday, August 22, 2012

    Pushing the Limits Read-Along Part 4

    Pushing the Limits Read-Along is hosted by Candace's Book Blog, Natalia @ Dazzling Reads, The Page Turners, Mary @ The Book Swarm and The Bewitched Bookworms.  If you are interested in joining the fun, grab a copy of the book and go here to sign up.  

    1. ­­­ At a certain moment, Echo tells Noah that she feels safe with him. Echo thinks that because of this comforting feeling, she may be able to finally have a full night of peaceful sleep. Why do you think it is important for Echo to feel Safe and why no one else but Noah has been able to provide this to Echo?

    Echo has been through so much, and there is so much that she doesn't remember.  She needs to feel safe because so many people have let her down.  Noah has been up front with her, he has looked out for her needs and she trust him. 

    2. Beth, Noah's friend, also have a very complex life situation, plus she also does drugs. However, what grabs my attention is her mean behavior towards Echo. Why do you think Beth hate/dislikes Echo so much?

    I think Beth's behavior towards Echo could be caused by several reasons.  First, I think she dislikes what she believes Echo represents.  The popular crowd who have perfect lives, but pity themselves because they think they have it hard.  She doesn't know what has happened to Echo, so she believes that Echo is playing the poor little rich girl.  She doesn't see the pain Echo is really in.  Secondly, I think she has feelings for Noah.  I could be off on this, but I think she sees Echo as a threat.

    3.  At some point, we finally get to know how Noah's parents died at the fire and how it started. Unfortunately, this is something that has happened before. What tips to avoid a fire (specially when there are kids at home) do you now about? List a few! recommendations to avoid tragedies are very valuable. :)

    Keep anything flammable away from young children.  Put matches and lighters in places where children can't get them.  Don't leave candles or anything with a flame burning unattended. 
     
    4. Echo finally discovers more about what really happened to her the day she got her scars at her mother's place. Unfortunately, this also involved Echo's father and Ashley. What do you think about them and to what point do you think it makes them responsible to what happened to Echo?

    This is a tough one.  Yes, they bear responsibility for what happened to Echo.  If her father knew how unstable her mother was, she never should have been left with her unattended.  Her father should have answered his phone, even if it would have interrupted his evening with Ashley.  Ashley and Echo's father, were supposed to be responsible adults.  They were supposed to protect Echo, and her father knew her mother was unstable--she should not have left Echo. Still, he also probably couldn't believe that her mother would hurt her own child, but ultimately her father should have been there.

    5. On p.303 (from arc) Echo said to Noah: "I love you...[y]ou love your brothers more. I'm okay with that. In fact, it's one of the things I love about you. You were right the other day. I do want to be part of a family. But I'd never forgive myself if I was the reason you didn't get yours... I love you enough to never make you choose." What do you think of Echo's decision to break up with Noah? What does it mean to you?

    First of all, I hated seeing them break up, but I could understand where she was coming from.  She understands that Noah's brothers mean the world to him and she doesn't want to be an obstacle for him reuniting with his brothers. 

    Friday, August 17, 2012

    Audio Book Review: Wicked Business by Janet Evanovich

    Title: Wicked Business
    Author: Janet Evanovich
    Genre: Adult Fiction, Mystery
    Publication Date: June 19, 2012
    Publisher: Bantam
    ISBN-13 Book: 9780345527776
    Audiobook Publisher:  Random House Audio
    ISBN-13 Audio:  9780307932587
    Length:  5 CD (360 minutes)
    Disclosure: I purchased a copy of the book from Barnes and Noble and checked out a copy of the audiobook from my public library.  This is my honest review!



    Wicked Business (Lizzy & Diesel, #2)Wicked Business by Janet Evanovich
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Summary:
    Lizzie and Diesel are back in this second installment of the Wicked series. This time, they are trying to find the lust stone, and all the while being pursued by the villainous Anarchy. Will they beat both Wulf and Anarchy to the prize, or will the fire prove too hot for the duo?

    Review:
    I certainly think that I enjoyed this book better than the first. The first book felt like it had a lot of waiting and filler. The second book, jumps you into the action and doesn’t slow the pace at all. This book felt like a scavenger hunt of sorts, with the characters traipsing around Boston, trying to fit clues together to find the stone.

    The pacing in this novel is spot on. Evanovich’s momentum never falters during this novel, and rushes you clear through to the ending. I really like books that can keep up the pacing throughout, and this one does just that.

    Evanovich’s greatest strength as an author lies with her ability to create wonderful characters. While some of them may be a bit odd, she has a knack for making them believable. I love the characters in all her novels, with their flaws and idiosyncrasies, they are dynamic, fun, and ultimately wonderful.

    Audio Book Review:
    The audio book is produced by Random House Audio and read by Lorelei King. King does a wonderful job producing voices for all of the characters and is an excellent reader. The audio production is clean and free of flaws. The audiobook is unabridged, but with only 5 discs (approximately 360 minutes), is a quick listening experience. Evanovich on audio has always been a hit for me, and this book is no exception. I definitely recommend the audio if you get the chance.

    Overall:
    Overall this was a fun addition to the series, and possibly even better than the first. I love Evanovich’s quirky characters and her wonderful stories. If you are looking for humor and fun, with a good mystery, this would be the place to go.


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    Thursday, August 16, 2012

    Thursday Thoughts: Counting Blessings

    I have worked at my library for almost ten years now, and it has to be one of the best work places around.  Even when the library politics get me down, I am reminded that I am not in this alone, my coworkers are with me.  I am fortunate to work here, in that my coworkers are like an extended family.  When one of us is sick, they rally around them and do everything they can to help.  This week we are deeply saddened by the loss of two of our library family members.  They will be missed.

    On Monday evening one of our beloved custodians lost her battle with cancer.  She was a remarkable lady who had the most magnificent smile.  She was dedicated, hardworking, but most of all she was a friend.  I will miss her laughter and her beautiful smile.  She was so much fun to work with, and always someone you could count on. 

    On Tuesday evening we lost our former YA Librarian.  In December of 2003 I was hired to replace this gentleman who had worked at our library for 37 years.  It was a large pair of shoes I had to fill, and I doubt that I will leave the same type of legacy he left.  For 27 consecutive years we have hosted a program here at our library that he started in 1985.  While he did retire, he remained a patron of the library who would often stop by to say hello and pick up more books.

    My work family is grieving these two wonderful people, but we are also counting the blessings they brought to our lives.  For Judy, I will remember her smile and laugh that would light up whole rooms.  For Jerry, I will remember his legacy, a contribution to this library's teen programming that has lasted 27 years and hopefully much longer and his incredible love of movies.  

    Today I say goodbye, to two wonderful people.  You will be missed, but thank you for all the wonderful memories.  I have been truly blessed to work with and know such wonderful people.

    ETA:  We received more bad news today.  Another of our former coworkers is seriously ill, and her family has been called to the hospital to be with her.  We pray for her, and hope she finds the strength to defy odds and pull through.  Kathleen we pray for you, and I want you to know how grateful I am for your insistence that I go to the doctor four years ago--Zachary and I may not be here today if it wasn't for your insistence that I see the doctor that day I came into work. 

    Wednesday, August 15, 2012

    Pushing The Limits Read-Along Part 3

    Pushing the Limits Read-Along is hosted by Candace's Book Blog, Natalia @ Dazzling Reads, The Page Turners, Mary @ The Book Swarm and The Bewitched Bookworms.  If you are interested in joining the fun, grab a copy of the book and go here to sign up.  

    1. ­­­ In the beginning of this section Noah decides to ignore Echo because he's angry and hurt.  What did you think of this?  Have you ever experienced a friendship that went awry and they started ignoring you?

    It seemed like a perfectly natural response.  What she said hurt him, and his solution was to put some distance between them.  I have done that when someone has hurt me, and have had that done to me when I hurt them.  Sometimes the distance is better than saying something you might regret and making everything worse. 

    2. Noah has a bit of a false reputation.  Everyone thinks he's a big druggie and a guy that just randomly hooks up with girls.  While some of it is true to a certain extent, we see it's not really him.  Have you ever had a false reputation where people draw their own conclusions?  Do you think Noah should do something to make people not think that about him?

    I think Noah lets them think of him that way because it is a shield.  It keeps people at a distance and keeps him from having to reveal too much about himself.  Unfortunately, since his reputation isn't a good one, people often draw the wrong conclusions and think of him in a negative way.  I don't know if I have every been falsely perceived like Noah, but I can imagine how difficult it would be knowing you are one thing, but having people think you are something completely different.

    3. Ashley finds out she's having a boy and informs Echo she will have a brother 'again'.  Echo took this very personally and was extremely upset.  Do you think Echo overreacted?  Do you think Ashley meant that the new brother would replace her brother?

    I don't think that is how Ashley meant her statement to be taken, but I can also see how Echo would react that way.  Did she overreact, yes.  I do think it is important to understand that her brother's death is one of Echo's many open wounds.  Although Ashley didn't mean to hurt or upset Echo, saying anything about her brother is like poking at that open wound--it's going to hurt Echo, and cause her to react. 

    4. Echo doesn't remember what happened with her mother and for this reason she has troubles seeing her the way everyone else does.  She can't seem to not miss her and still wants to talk to her.  Do you think she should pursue finding her mom?  Do you think it will help her or do you think she would be in danger?

    Echo keeps remembering all the good things about her mom.  Sometimes when we are too close to a situation, we fail to see the situation clearly.  Echo is too close.  She needs to step back, and get a clearer understanding of what really happened so that she can make an informed decision.  Unfortunately, that is going to be hard for her to do until she can remember the events that led up to the incident with her mother.

    5. Noah doesn't trust the people who have his brothers because of his own past situations.  He decides to seek out a lawyer himself and try to get custody.  Do you think this is his best move?  Do you think there are some other options he should consider?

    Noah is in a tough place, and he really wants to protect his brothers.  He doesn't want his brothers to end up in a situation like he did, and he believes that he is the only one who can keep them safe and make them happy.  Noah is so young though, and to support two young boys, himself, and provide both food and shelter for all of them is going to be a challenge.  He needs to sort his own life out first before pulling the boys into it.  I also think he needs to see more of Carrie and Joe--before he decides that they are mistreating his brothers. 

    6. Echo finds out that Noah and his parents built houses for Habitat for Humanity.  Have you ever volunteered for something like that?  What is a cause that you feel strongly about?

    I honestly haven't volunteered for Habitat, though I love what they do.  This year several people I know have been battling cancer.  One friend just finished her chemo, and yesterday we received news that another friend had lost her fight with cancer.  I support relay for life, and the American Cancer Society. 

     

      

    Friday, August 10, 2012

    Audio Book Review: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys


    Title: Between Shades of Gray
    Author: Ruta Sepetys
    Genre: Teen Fiction, Historical Fiction
    Publication Date: March 22, 2011
    Publisher: Philomel
    ISBN-13 Book: 9780399254123
    Audiobook Publisher:  Penguin Audio
    ISBN-13 Audio: 9780142428979
    Length:  8 hours (7 CDs)
    Disclosure: I was given a copy of the book for committee work and checked out a copy of the audiobook from my public library.  This is my honest review!


    Between Shades of GrayBetween Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    Summary:
    The Soviet secret police came in the night, pulling fifteen year-old Lina, her mother, and her brother, out of the house and placing them on packed freight cars like animals. In 1941 Soviet secret police came for families like hers, tossing them onto trains, and sending them to Siberia to die in prison camps. Their crime, was merely being Lithuanian, and the daughter of a professor. Separated from her father, taken from her comfortable home, forced to work for the NKVD, and living on scraps, Lina struggles to survive and pass on her story using the one thing they cannot take from her, her art.

    Review:
    You hear about the victims of the Holocaust all the time, we know about the atrocities of Hitler, and there have been many novels written for teens about those events. Sepetys has managed to write a novel for teens about a not so well known event where people are taken from their homes and treated like animals. In 1941 the countries of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania were annexed by the Soviet Union. During that time, Stalin had citizens of those countries deported to Siberia where they were forced to work in labor camps.

    Lina’s tale is a heart-wrenching one, but one with hope. She is a talented artist who loves to draw, but most of all she is an ordinary girl with a loving family. She is child who has committed no crime, but is sent to a forced labor camp. I think what Sepetys does so brilliantly is draw the reader into Lina’s life and convey to us how normal she was. Throughout the course of this book I kept thinking about how ordinary Lina was, and how one night the government storms in her home and sends her away. You can clearly understand her emotions, her horror, fear, despair, and ultimately through it all her hope.

    The novel is beautifully written. Lina is a likable girl, whose feelings and actions seem realistic. She does what she has to do to survive, and keep both her brother and her mother alive. I love Sepetys writing style, she draws you quickly into the story and makes you see Lina as a real girl. The pacing is spot on, never slowing down or losing the reader. The chapters are short, but not too short, which helps keep the pacing swift.

    I loved Lina, but the other characters are well written too, including some of the Soviet soldiers. Most of the characters have depth, and are more than what they merely appear to be. Good people do bad or selfish things, and bad people aren’t wholly bad—they have other sides and motivations that Sepetys makes certain the reader can see. In essence, all these people felt so real to me, they could be my neighbors.

    Audio Book Review:
    The audiobook is produced by Penguin Audio and read by Emily Klein. Klein does an excellent job with the narration, and differentiating between the voices. The production quality is well done, and quite enjoyable. The author’s note at the very end is read by Ruta Sepetys, and it was wonderful to hear her talk about her book—it even brought tears to my eyes.

    The audiobook consists of 7 CDs and is approximately 8 hours long and a very enjoyable listening experience. My only caution would be for those listening in cars—I found myself almost crying at a drive through last week, it does bring tears to your eyes.  Otherwise the listening experience is highly recommended.

    Overall:
    This is an amazing book. Whether you choose to read it or listen to it on audio, I highly recommend that you pick up this book. It is a story that is enlightening and ultimately hopeful. I sincerely wish that everyone could read this novel, it is a story of endurance, hardships, and ultimately the strength of the human spirit.

    Cautions for Sensitive Readers:
    This novel can be rather grim at times, and has content that is similar to what you might find in a novel about the holocaust. These people were brutalized, some were shot, some died of illness, and in some cases even the children died. It is a difficult and sometimes violent read, but an important one. The Lithuanians were treated like they were animals, less than human. One woman is forced to prostitute herself to save her child. In one scene Lina is touched inappropriately by a soldier. There is no sex in the text, though there are references to what is happening to the mother.


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