Thursday, October 24, 2013

Zombie Display, October 2013

Zombie Displays

October 2013

Whether it's because I'm reading the last book in the Rot & Ruin series, or because I'm binge-watching the Walking Dead, I am OBSESSED with zombies lately.  Can you tell from these pictures?  
My students are really into any book dealing with zombies, so the displays have been very successful.  I had a ton of fun putting these together!!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Book Review: Game by Barry Lyga

  Game by Barry Lyga
  Review by Janine

   Game is the sequel to the book I Hunt Killers.  This book is a continuation in the life of Jasper Dent, better know to his friends as Jazz, and better known to the rest of the world as the son of one of the most notorious serial killers, Billy Dent.  Being raised by a serial killer has left Jazz with plenty to question in his life, but it has made him as invaluable resource to the law enforcement community.  You see, Jazz just wasn't raised by Billy, but was being groomed to be the next serial killer, which means that Jazz knows that elusive question, "What is the serial killer thinking"?  Jazz is being called upon to help law enforcement as another serial killer is on the loose in New York City.  This, however, will be unlike anything Jazz has faced before.  As old demons come back to haunt him, the questions remain: who are the players in the game, what are the rules, and what is the prize?
  If you read my review of I Hunt Killers, you will know that I LOVED that book and was anxiously awaiting the release of the next book.  I am here to tell you that I was not disappointed!!!!!! This book was awesome! You dive right back into the town with the same characters and some new, and let us say interesting, additions (like Jazz's aunt, who just for the record, I am on the fence about) and of course a new crime to solve.  This one is in New York City and is fairly gruesome ( I will not go into details but there were definitely a couple of ewwww parts!!!!).  Jazz, from the beginning, is suspicious that his father (who at the end of the first book escapes from jail) is involved in some way.  What I love about this book is the complexity of the Game.  Even at the end of the book, when we are given a better understanding of what the game is, it is still a little mind boggling and leaves questions unanswered.  I found myself as I was reading, marveling at how the author could come up with something like this..... the twists and turns, the rules and the players. I was in awe ( and to be perfectly honest, this makes me wish, for the thousandth time that I could write something this awesome!) Not only is the game quite complex but so is Jazz.  You have a boy who was raised by a serial killer, who was present and privy to some seriously life altering situations of which he can't forget.  He also can't forgive himself for what he believes is unwillingness at the time to stop his father, or to at least do something to help the victims.  Combine that with the fact that he still has Billy's voice in his head, "teaching" him what he needs to know to be just like him, and you have one conflicted and complex character.  One that is easy to like but would also be scary to know.  I will not give away any spoilers but the ending I swear that you could hear me scream into the next state.  Not because someone dies (after all it is a murder mystery) but because it just ends...... everything.  It is like the "to be continued" at the best part in a TV show... AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!! and then to top it all off there is this, no way moment RIGHT AT THE END!!!! and now the waiting will begin again for the next book because I must know what happens!!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Book Review: Born Wicked By Jessica Spotswood

            Born Wicked  Jessica Spotswood

               Review by Janine

 This is the story about the three Cahill sisters: Cate, Maura and Teresa, and they share a secret, one with fatal consequences. They are witches.  Witches once used to be everywhere, but the Brothers have come in and destroyed most of them.  Now that the Brothers have taken over, no one is above suspicion.  Those who are accused are sent to prison ships, an asylum, or are murdered.  No one takes this threat more seriously than Cate.  As her mother lay dying, she entrusted her oldest daughter to keep their secrets and, more importantly, to keep her sisters safe.  Cate must keep this secret from everyone including their father, housekeepers and servants--anyone who would potentially do them harm.  As things begin to spin out of Cate’s control, can she keep their secrets while still being true to herself?
   I will start this out by saying, that I LOVED this book!!!!! What initially drew me to this book was that it was about witches.  Any book with a supernatural element really appeals to me and has since the first time I read Anne Rice.  What made this book even better for me was the setting, it is set in the early 1800’s, which completely gives is another element for me, believeability (which I am not even sure is word!) While I know that a book about witches, isn’t necessarily believable, it is grounded in believable elements.  Those being time period, which we all know of the persecution of witches, whether real or not.  Another being the setting which is a town that you would consider to be typical, one with class systems, where girls are to be trained according their place in the town and behave in such a way that is above reproach.  At the beginning of the book, Cate is just another 16 year old living in her town trying to watch over and protect her sisters.  Protecting them from the Brotherhood, who would just as soon turn them in as witches and from being caught doing witchcraft.  When a governess arrives from the Sisterhood to train them to be proper ladies, Cate knows that something isn’t what it seems, and she is doing everything she can to figure out what it is.  There is so much underlying in this story, but to me is things aren’t always what they seem to be.  In this book, so much of what you first think of something or someone changes as you read further on.  That is what made me keep reading, the twists and turns just when you think you have figured one person out, they change.  I also love the complicated relationship of the sisters themselves.  That to me helped make the book, more “real” to me.  For as much as you learn in this book about the girls and their lives, is as much (as I think back) that I don’t know. This is one of those books that has it all: a love story, witches, complicated friendships, difficult siblings and a governess who is more than what she seems.  I am glad that I waited to read this because the next one is coming out soon and I can’t wait to read it!!!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Book Review: The List by Siobhan Vivian

The List by Siobhan Vivian

Review by Janine

The List is book based on one week at Mount Washington High School, the week before homecoming.  The Monday of this week brings the annual tradition of "The List".  This list contains the girls who are the prettiest and ugliest of each class.  We follow the girls on the list to see how each is effected by their nominations, either by being pretty or ugly.
I have to be honest, this book is not one I would have picked up on my own.  It is typically not the kind of young adult books I read.  I choose to pick this up because I have the privilege of listening to Siobhan Vivian speak at the Children's Literature conference at the University of Pittsburgh, Greensburg, and I really wanted to read one of her books before attending. She is a wonderful speaker and I highly recommend that if you have a chance to attend something of hers you do. Plus I am totally geeked because she lives here in Pittsburgh, which is so awesome!!!  I only wish that I could have stayed to get my book signed but I had to leave to get a tooth pulled (another story, for another day!!).  To my surprise, I really liked this book!  I LOVED how the book was set up.  It is divided by day (as the story is one week) and each chapter is a point of view of each of the girls on the list.  While there were a lot of characters to follow ( at the beginning I found myself flipping to the list as a reference for who each of them were) as the story continues it all flowed so well that it not longer became an issue.  What made this book for me, was the characters and not only how real they all seemed by how they developed, for good or bad.  You really got to see what goes on, how important perception is, either by themselves or from their peers and truly how complicated high school can be.  I don't want to give anything away but I think the best thing was really how we got past the surface of what was going on and really into the girls lives and what dictates how we behave, and why. It also shows that what think about a person and we know are often two wildly different things.  This also begs the question who is the victim? The pretty girls? The ugly girls? The ones who don't make the list? or the creator of the list?
  To say that I am surprised with myself for really enjoying this book, is an understatement!! I think I tend to shy away from the realistic teen fiction like this because it reminds me too much of high school, the awkwardness of it, the intensity of friendships and relationships (maybe it reminds me too much of MY high school experience) but this book is one I would recommend, highly!!!
My only wish is that there would be another book after this one! I really want to know what happens after the dance, after it all dies down..... I felt like each one of those girls still has a story left and I want to know more!!!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Book Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

Review by MaryAnne (guest teen blogger)

Fantastic!  I cannot even begin to describe this book.  Seraphina is an original take on the relationship between humans and dragons.  Seraphina, a sixteen-year-old girl, gets swept up into a political disaster that could tear the kingdom of Goredd apart.  Prince Rufus, Queen Lavonda's only son, is murdered, and the only plausible suspect is a dragon.  For the past forty years, dragons have taken human shape to keep peace.  With the help of Prince Lucian Kiggs and an interesting cast of characters, Seraphina investigates a potentially disastrous event.

From beginning to end, this book does not disappoint.  I could barely even put it down!  Seraphina is one of the best female heroines you'll ever come across.  She is real and develops as a person should.  The underlying plot of the book is self-acceptance, which I think adds something we can all relate to.  Serpahina is a strong female character who isn't close to perfect.  She is human and makes mistakes like the rest of us.  She learns from them and doesn't back down--the sign of true strength.  She is modest of her musical ability, and even shy.  Seraphina must deal with a dark lineage and a secret that could turn her world upside down.  When I was reading, I felt that her dialogue was real, as was every other character's.  Their personalities could make you love or hate them when hey wanted to.  Rachel Hartman brings such a solid plot filled with action, the hint of romance, and well-rounded characters.  I haven't read a book about dragons and humans as good as this in a long while.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Book Review : Unremembered by Jessica Brody

Unremembered  by Jessica Brody

Review by Janine

After waking up in an ocean and not remembering a thing, Seraphina is thrust into a world that she does not remember. The only survivor of a terrible plane crash everyone is trying to figure out who she is, there is no record of her being on the plane and with her memory gone she can not give any clues as to who she is.  Then a mysterious person shows up, one who claims not only to know who she is but that she is in danger.  The question is: can she trust him????

I was really excited to read this book.  I had seen people talking about it on twitter and various other people reviewing it (although I try not to read any reviews until I have read the book).  I loved the way the book began, which is Seraphina (Sera for short) floating on a piece of plane wreckage.  She has no memory of how she got there or even who she is.....which makes the creepy music start in my head! After being taken to the hospital to recover, she meets a strange boy who claims to know her and tells her she is in danger. From there the story really takes off.  You, the reader, come to know Sera as she relearns who she is and where she has come from.  I really liked the different approach to a dystopian-type novel.  The idea of time travel, while not new, was done in a really creative way,  which made it believable (at least for me!).  I will try not to have spoilers, but the relationship between Sera and "her father" was one I wasn't expecting, but it really added a humanity to the book that when you were reading and learning about her life, you would not have expected.  While I did like this book, there was something that bothered me..... the book seemed really short. I know you are thinking, "a book to short??????" I just felt like there was so much build up and when things start to really come together and questions are answered, it just ends. Now I know that there is going to be another book, but I don't know... it just felt as something was missing, or maybe the story should have continued a little more.  Now, with that being said, I will totally read the next book because, darn it, there are questions I want answers to!!

Monday, March 25, 2013


Book Cover Necklaces

I have 4 teams at my high school library who read and practice all year long to compete at a county-wide academic reading quiz competition.  To show them appreciation for all of their hard work and all of the hours spent reading, I wanted to do something for them.  After some quick research, I came across the WONDERFUL post on Marissa Fischer's "Rae Gun Ramblings" blog:  Marissa not only has created absolutely beautiful necklaces with the Divergent and Insurgent book covers, but she generously provides step-by-step directions on her blog.  

So... because each of my four team names/tee-shirts were based on a different book, I decided to make four different necklaces (one per team).  I solicited the help of a fellow teacher who is an experienced crafter.  We made one Harry Potter one, one Divergent one, a Fault in Our Stars one, and an Avengers graphic novel one.  

These were so easy to make, and I thought they would make a great book craft program for teens to do on their own!  My only warning is that they take some time to dry, so your patrons may have to leave them and pick them up later or another day, and then put the cord on their glass tile charm.  

Friday, March 22, 2013

Book Review: Straight Jacket by Meredith Towbin

Straight Jacket by Meredith Towbin

Review by Nicky

Meredith Towbin was gracious enough to send us a copy of her book to review.  When an author sends their book in for a review, it's a little nerve-wracking because you worry, "What if I don't like it?  What will I write?"  Luckily, this was not the case with Straight Jacket.

From the book's cover: Eighteen-year-old Anna has lived her whole life in shame, losing herself in books to cope with crippling panic attacks triggered by her abusive parents. Forced into a psychiatric hospital, she can’t imagine a future that’s anything but bleak—until she meets Caleb, a gifted, 19-year-old artist who insists he’s an angel.

He swears his mission is to help Anna break free from her parents’ control and fulfill a destiny that she can only dream of. The doctors, however, are convinced that Caleb is delusional.

Anna doesn’t want to be that girl who’s in love with the crazy guy, but when she sees his stunning portraits of her and the way he risks everything to keep her safe, she can’t help but imagine a new future for both of them, filled with hope. But just when it seems they’ve created heaven on earth, Caleb’s past emerges full force, threatening to destroy their tiny, blissful world. And Anna has to decide if she should follow her heart, or if Caleb’s really as troubled as his doctors say…
Some of the dialog (internal and external) seemed somewhat awkward to me.  It also seemed as though the relationship between Anna and Caleb formed way too fast.  However, I understand that was necessary to move the story along.  The other issue I had was how convenient some aspects of the plot were.  For example, the fact that, when Caleb and Anna decide to leave the mental hospital, they do so in Caleb's sports car, and his trust fund conveniently enables them to comfortably live on their own in a romantic lake-side cabin.  However, these few things are able to be overlooked when the story is an interesting, fast-paced one, and the characters are likable.  Anna is a strong female character who goes through a major transformation by the end of the novel.  Caleb's story is the one that is most puzzling to the reader.  The concept of his character was an interesting one... Is Caleb an angel or is he delusional?  That is the question that permeates throughout the story.  To Ms. Towbin's credit, she leaves the answer to the reader.  I definitely think this would appeal to teens, and I will be recommending it at the high school library.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Book Review: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion


As most of you know by now, I am a high school librarian.  Every month, I run a book club during lunch periods.  A few weeks ago, I had a student request that we read Warm Bodies for our next discussion.  I reluctantly agreed because, I mean--really--zombie falls in love with human girl; girl grows to love him back... yadda...yadda.  I thought, "Here we go--Twilight and vampires have kind of fallen out of popularity, and zombies are the NEXT BIG THING, so someone has obviously put two and two together to come up with the next hot book/movie combo."  I am happy to tell you: I was dead-wrong (pun intended).  

The first thing that struck me about the book was how well-written it was.  Marion puts words together in a way that truly impresses.  The narrator, R, is a zombie living among the undead in an abandoned airport of an unnamed city.  The thoughts that run through R's mind are quite complex and insightful for a zombie.  He's looking for more than just the silent wandering and the "food" runs into the city.  Then, during one attack on the human, he comes across Julie and something happens to him.  He takes her back to the airport, keeps her safe, and begins to feel a connection with her.  He begins to change.  Julie, for her part, can't figure out exact WHAT exactly R is.  She has  a hard time figuring out her own feelings, especially when she returns to "civilization," and realizes that a lot of the humans there, including her father, are actually more dead than R ever was.  She and R both have choices to make.  They know that something big, something involving both of them, is about to happen.  Unsure of what role they play in the big picture, both R and Julie are thrust into a war of unforeseen consequence.  

One of the things that struck me early on about this novel was how much I liked R.  In addition to being a rather deep-thinking zombie, the guy just had spark, something that saw how humans came to be in this end-of-days.  I also really appreciated Marion's attempt to theorize as to why something like a zombie apocalypse could happen... how the human spirit is slowly dying, and if something isn't done--if people don't change how they treat each other and what we value, something ugly is coming.  Despite this, the novel gives the reader hope in the end.  If a zombie like R can see the value and beauty if life, why can't we?

Featured Author Display: Sarah Dessen (March 2013)


 Featured Author Display: Sarah Dessen (March 2013)

This slat wall is a display in the area of the library where my study hall students usually reside.  A few months ago, I used it to create a Featured Author Display for John Green.  I rather like this idea, so I think I will feature a different author every month (or at least try to change it each month!).  Because a lot of my Sarah Dessen books were checked out, I made one side of the display "If you Like Sarah Dessen, Try..."  Thanks to all my fellow librarians on the yalsa list-serv for helping me brainstorm some ideas for this side!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Beautiful Creatures, Book vs Movie


I have been pondering how to write this since I saw the movie last week (since I have been most conflicted about it!) . I have decided to do simple pro and con list so that I can be fairly specific in what I have to say, sooo if you haven't read the book or saw the movie but are planning on it, you may not want to read the rest of this post as there will be spoilers for both!!!
  First let me say that I liked the book, it wasn't perfect, but I liked it.  I like the characters and I am a true sucker for paranormal romance so it was a no brainer for me.  I reread the book before seeing the movie since I read it when it first came out (I am now working my way through the rest of the series and if it is possible, I think the books are getting better!) and was foggy on some parts of the book. I have to admit that I was excited about the movie, from the previews it didn't look bad........ and I have to say that after seeing it, I am still not sure how I felt about it.

  So here is what I did like....

1.  I liked the casting.  I really did, I loved the characters and thought that they really did a good job in capturing the personalities that were so unique to a family of casters. Sarafine was just as crazy as I thought her to be, while Ethan was a simple southern boy on the outside but a much more complex character on the inside.  After a while I also grew to like Lena. I was not so sure at first but as the movie went on she grew on me.

2.  I also like the setting in the movie.  They did a great job capturing the essence of a small, southern town. 

3.  One of my favorite scenes in the movie had to be the Ravenwood family holiday dinner.  In it Ridley (who is a Siren) uses her powers on Ethan to be invited into Ravenwood.  The "fight" between Lena and Ridley was awesome (lets just say spinning tables were involved!!!!)

Here are something of the things that are making me unsure of how I felt about the movie.......

1.  KELTING!!!!!!! This was a MAJOR part of the story (if you don't know, kelting is where two can talk with out talking or being in the same place).  For me this helped with the connection between Lena and Ethan, you knew how they felt about each other, because they were connected through visions of the past as well they would kelt after they happened or during moments of major turmoil, which for Lena was often.
2.  They took out Marian Ashcroft.  She was also a major part of the story.  She was Ethan's connection to his mom as well to the Caster world.  She was also the caster librarian and the one to help Lena and Ethan understand better what was going on. Which leads me to another key character switch.......
3.  Amma! In the story she was more of a caregiver for Ethan especially since his mom died.  In the movie you never got that impression.  You saw her bring food over for Ethan and his dad but that was it.  Also  she was made into the librarian.  I can forgive certain casting changes as I understand that  a book can never be the same as a movie but this is not only slightly unforgivable (as I am a librarian) but it really turned into something I couldn't get past.
4.  The order. As someone who read the book, the movie was mostly out of order.  This wasn't always bad but I really felt that for this reason, the movie had huge gaps and things were not explained well at all.  I took a friend to the movies with me who also read the book and we both felt the same way about this (and very strongly as well!).  I would really like to know from the perspective of a person who has never read the book, how they felt. 
5.  This is the last one, I swear.....the ending!!!!! It was so different and to be honest, I hated it! Like almost to the point of standing up and wanting to yell in the movie theater "That's Not Right!!!" So as not to spoil it I will leave it at that but ARGGGGGG!

  For these reasons and others which I have chosen not to list, I am conflicted.  I liked the book, and I kind of liked the movie some of the time, but at other times the movie was a let down.  I guess this can be concluded with never judge a book by its movie!!


Friday, February 22, 2013

Oscars Display, February 2012

Oscars Display, February 2012

Okay, I will admit... I am a HUGE movie buff.  I even met my husband while we were working part-time at a movie theater.  In the days before babies, I would make sure I saw every film nominated for best picture, and then I would host an Oscars pajama party.  Now, I'm lucky to catch anything other than the latest Pixar release in theaters, BUT I do still LOVE MOVIES.  So... every year I make an Oscar display in my library.  One year, I hosted a contest: Kids could pick up ballots from my display, fill them out, and return them to a ballot box.  The student who had the most number of correct picks for the winners won a bookstore gift card.  This year, because I've started circulating DVDs, I placed the display next to my DVD rack and added some movies to the display as well.

Blind Date with a Book Display, February 2013

"Blind Date with a Book" Display, February 2013

At the end of January, one of my best student volunteers came to me with a picture she had seen online of a book display featuring covered "mystery" books for patrons to check out.  Maddie wanted to create the same kind of display in our high school library.  Excited to have such a motivated and creative library assistant, I put her to work!  She selected and covered the books.  I just assembled the sign and display and then added the balloon as a final touch.  Maddie then made a guest appearance on our high school's morning news show to promote the display.  
While we were getting this display ready, I was very excited to see a ton of other librarians sharing their own "Blind Date with a Book" displays on the YALSA listserv!  Feeling very lucky to be a part of a profession that shares their ideas with such generosity, I was inspired to create this display page on our blog so that display ideas could be shared.

Historical Fiction Display: Teens From Other Times

Historical Fiction Display: Teens From Other Times, November 2012

This display was inspired by YALSA's "Popular Paperbacks" list from way back in 1998.  We included some of their titles and then added some of our own.  There seemed to be a lot of historical fiction titles in my most recent book order, so I thought this would be a good way to feature them.


Title Twins Display, November 2012

Title Twins Display, November 2012

This display was sparked by a discussion and titles that were shared on the YALSA listserv.  The idea is to feature 2 separate (sometimes VERY different books) with the same title.  I was surprised by how many there were!  My library secretary is the genius behind all of my display signs, so credit must go to her.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

New Fiction Display, November 2012

New Fiction Display, November 2012

The first display that students see when they walk in my high school library is the round table on which I usually display brand new fiction titles.  This type of display was influenced by my years of working for a major bookseller.  New books were always merchandised on a round table at the front door, and so I use the same strategy in the library.  I use a box placed under the fabric to create a second tier in the middle of the table.  Stacking books underneath a displayed title allows me to display larger quantities of books.  When I stack them like that, I try to group similar titles together (mysteries, supernatural, etc.).

What's Cooking? Display, November 2012

What's Cooking? November, 2012

Our display sign and several "props"
We were inspired to do this display by one of the 2011 Popular Paperbacks lists on the YALSA's website.  We then added some of our own titles to fill the display.  We like to use fabric on our counter-top displays to add a little warmth.  We also always include a sign to describe the display and the types of books featured.  Occasionally, as in this example, we are able to add some fun props!  In this one, I brought in some measuring cups, an old-fashioned flour-sifter, and various other cooking tools.

Veterans' Day Display: War Stories (November 2012)

Veterans' Day Display: War Stories (November 2012)

This display was created for Veterans' Day.  Our high school hosts a wonderful Veterans' Day assembly, and we always try to create a display on conjunction with that event.  We used both fiction and nonfiction.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Featured Author Display: John Green (November 2012)

Featured Author Display: John Green (November 2012)

We have a slat wall above one of our computer sections.  Occasionally, we will feature an author on that wall.  We create a poster with a photo of the author as well as several of our favorite quotes by that author.  We, of course, include the author's books.  We also include a section of "If you like..." in which we recommend similar authors or titles.  November's John Green display was a HUGE hit!!

Banned Books Week

 Banned Books Week, October 2012

This slat-wall display was created for Banned Books Week, 2012.  The book titles were collected from various online lists.  The Caution tape was donated by a friend's husband who is in the construction business.