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!!