Friday, December 21, 2012

Holiday Reading

Every time I get a break from school, I make sure I have plenty of reading material to keep me entertained.  This is the stack I'm taking home with me over the break.  It wouldn't be a holiday with several hours spent snuggled under a blanket with a good book while the chill wind blows outside.  I know I probably won't make it through all these (and the three or four more I already have at home), but I'll do my best and let you know what I think.  

Notice, there is a sports book in that stack.  I'm going to read that one first for all your sports fans!  Becoming a librarian has forced me to go outside my reading comfort zone and try new things.  There are books I definitely would not pick if I were simply engaged in casual reading, but they have expanded my reading experience and my view of the world.  

I don't have personal experience living in a post-apocalyptic world or a fantasy kingdom or a segregated school in the 1950's or even on the field in a high stakes football game, but I can get a little taste of it when I read a book.  And in that taste, I can see things from another point of view and just maybe learn how to empathize a little better with other people.  Everyone has a story with good parts and bad, and I believe a good book can help those stories converge.

Read something great during your break.  Read something cozy and familiar you know you'll love, but consider trying something new.  You never know, you might find a new love or a deeper understanding. 

What's on your reading list for the next few weeks?  Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments! :)

The Humming Room

In Ellen Potter's update of The Secret Garden, Roo Fanshaw is a quiet girl who is more comfortable alone in dark quiet places where she can be close to nature, but now that her father is dead, everything will change for her.

Her life in the trailer wasn't perfect, but it was familiar.  Now, she is sent to live with an uncle she's never met on an island called Cough Rock so named because her uncle's house was once a hospital for children with tuberculosis.

This creepy former hospital is filled with the ghosts of the dead and provides a mysterious atmosphere for the story.  There are moments of intensity and oddity in this book that I really enjoyed, but I wanted a bit more characterization and plot, especially at the end.  Still it does have great atmosphere and mood, and if that's what you're looking for, you'll be satisfied with this one.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


I love this book!  It's more than just good science fiction; it's a great story about friendship and loyalty.  Plus, there are moments of laugh out loud humor.  You must read it ASAP!  You might have to wait a while, though, because I've been booktalking it to people as I read.  S.J. Kincaid's website says it will be a series, so there are sure to be more!  Hooray!

Tom Raines is a nobody, a skinny kid with acne and an alcoholic father who is also addicted to gambling.  He's not good at anything except playing video games.  Tom Raines is destined for failure.  All that changes when the military plucks him from obscurity in a run down casino in Arizona to join other trainees in the Spire.  Once there, Tom gets a neural processor installed in his brain that makes him smarter and faster, but it also makes him susceptible to viruses and other dangers just like any other computer.

His ultimate goal is to join CamCo, a team of elite fighters that control the robots in space that fight earth's wars.  Tom will get physical, mental, and technical strength in the Spire, but he will also find real friends for the first time in his life and uncover conspiracies and dangerous enemies.

You won't be able to put this SciFi thriller down!  Again, you must read it NOW!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Last Dragonslayer

I cannot tell you how excited I am about this book.  I have been a Jasper Fforde fan for several years, so I couldn't wait to get my hands on his first book for young adults.  It was published in the UK a couple of years ago, but it is finally available in the US.  Friends, I was not disappointed!  Why do I love Jasper Fforde?  He puts fantasy elements in a contemporary, if slightly skewed, world.  His writing is clever, his characters range from completely sincere to completely ridiculous, and his books always surprise me!  I can't wait for the sequel!

Jennifer Strange, orphan and acting manager of Kazam's Magical Arts, has her hands full.  Magical power is on the wane, and it takes the combined effort of multiple wizards just to unclog a drain.  Her boss, the Great Zambini, is missing, and there's a new prophecy that the last dragon is going to die on Sunday at noon.

Jennifer doesn't want the dragon to die; he's the last of his kind, and the dragonlands are a beautiful natural landscape that will be eaten up by developers when the dragon goes.  But Jennifer seems to be the only one on the dragon's side.  With a warmongering king anxious to snap up the dragonlands and vanquish his neighbors and greedy corporations eager to create new shopping malls, there seems to be little hope for the last dragon.  In spite of all this, other forces are at work.  The wizards can feel it; Big Magic is coming, and no one can predict what will happen next!

Double Identity

This month's book club selection is a science fiction thriller by Margaret Peterson Haddix.  Bethany's parents have always been overprotective, but now her mother is weeping, and they are driving through the night like they are running away from something.  When they leave her at the home of an aunt she's never met, she begins to question everything about her life.

People in this small town are startled when they see Bethany, remarking on her resemblance to someone named Elizabeth.  Who is Elizabeth, and why does her name make Aunt Myrlie so sad?  Why have her Bethany's parents seemingly abandoned her, and who is the dark shadow dogging her footsteps?

You'll have to read the book to find out!  This one will keep you on the edge of your seat as try to figure out the answers.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Lions of Little Rock

Marlee is afraid of everything from the high diving board at the pool to talking to kids at school, but this year will be different.  To start, all the high schools in Little Rock are closed because people don't want to integrate, so Marlee's older sister isn't even going to school.

The junior highs aren't trying to integrate yet, so Marlee is back at school going through her days in silence until Liz shows up.  For some reason Liz latches onto Marlee, and Marlee eventually realizes that Liz could be a real friend.  As their friendship grows, a revelation about Liz threatens to tear them apart forever.

Liz is "passing."  That means she is a black person pretending to be white, so she can get a better education.  People are already upset about integration, and this just makes things worse.  Marlee knows she should leave Liz alone, that it would be better for both of them, but she's never had a friend she could actually talk to before.

Can Marlee find her voice when it really counts?

I loved this book!  It's great historical fiction, and a great book about friendship and bravery.  It's a powerful reminder of the evils of racism and the beauty of friendship.  It is a reminder that sometimes the true heroes are ordinary people who decide to stop ignoring injustice and take a stand in their own neighborhoods.  Be sure to read author Kristin Levine's note at the end of the book to find out about her inspiration for the story!

Saturday, December 8, 2012


One positive to come of this week of sickness is that I decided to read UnWholly to ease my misery.  I've been putting it off for since the book's release because I had so many other things I "needed" to read, but I decided to find release from my suffering in the pages of a much anticipated book.  And Neal Shusterman does not disappoint!  As much as I loved Unwind, I think UnWholly is even better.  It is the kind of story that weaves in and around until finally the connections are made, and the reader's mind is blown.  If you haven't read Unwind yet, please do, so you can also read this fabulous sequel.

Conner is trying to be a leader for the kids in the Graveyard, but he feels things slipping away.  To make matters worse, he still struggles with accepting the "gift" he discovered after the Happy Jack explosion:  Roland's arm.  The arm feels angry and out of control, like Roland but also like the kid Conner used to be.  No matter how much he loves Risa, this fear forces him to push her away.

Risa is still working as a medic and still a paraplegic.  Even though she is at peace with her decision to remain herself and not take the spine of an Unwind, there is a part of her that fears she is holding Conner back.

Starkey refuses to give up, even when the juvies come for him in the night and drag him from the house, he lets his parents feel his contempt.  The Akron AWOL is his hero, a larger than life superman who has no weaknesses, but when he comes face to face with Conner Starkey realizes his hero is not so stone-cold after all.

Lev is living with his brother under house arrest.  The boy who didn't clap receives no forgiveness from the rest of his family, but he struggles to find purpose in this new and unexpected life.

Nelson's life was destroyed when Conner Lassiter tranq'd him with his own gun and escaped, but now his a merciless and single-minded parts pirate.

And Cam.  No one is quite sure what Cam is yet, not even him, but his very existence will change things forever.

UnWholly is the best kind of science fiction that allows us to look at ourselves and our society through a different lens.  Neal Shusterman has created not just a heart-pounding thriller but real characters who take readers on a journey through contempt, frustration, anguish, disgust, love, despair, and finally hope.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Claire was disappointed with her assignment as birthmother, and now she approaches the birth of her first newchild with anxiety.  She isn't sure what to expect.  The birth proves to be a painful and frightening experience, but there are complications that leave Claire with a painful recovery.  She soon learns that these complications mean she can no longer be a birthmother.

As she begins her new assignment at the fish hatchery in confusion and embarrassment, she feels an unnatural attachment to the newchild, number thirty six.  She soon discovers that no one else feels this way, so she hides her emotions.

This is the beginning of a story that will take Claire away from the only home she's ever known and into near fatal danger.  But always she has one thought, to find her son.

Claire's son is the baby Gabriel, stolen by Jonas at the end of The Giver.  This conclusion to the four part series brings back all the characters we know and love from the previous books.  Of course, there are also old enemies made more tangible and frightening.

Lowry once again explores themes of love and sacrifice in this riveting book.  Let me say again that you should definitely read The Giver, Gathering Blue,and Messenger first.  You could probably get through Son without reading the others, but you would miss the depth of emotion.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Animals Welcome

Peg Kehret is one of the most popular authors in our library with books like Runaway Twin and The Ghost's Grave.  Now she has written a memoir about her life rescuing animals.

Each chapter details Kehret's experiences with different animals including wildlife, and her sincere love of animals shines on every page.  A large portion of the book focuses on cat rescue.  Caring for cats is easier for Kehret because her body is weakened by childhood polio.  Each animal's personality comes shining through as the author details its rescue story.

Fans of Peg Kehret's mystery novels and animal lovers alike will enjoy this memoir about the many ways she and the animals in her life have rescued each other.

Here is a video of Peg Kehret talking about one of her most popular books, Stolen Children.  It is filmed in the home she describes in Animals Welcome, and you can hear her dog, Lucy, barking at the beginning. :)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Wizard Heir

Seph has never known her family or his origins.  All he knows is that he is a wizard with a power that is becoming increasingly difficult to control.  After a tragic incident at a Toronto night club, Seph's guardians send him to The Havens, a remote private boys school in Maine.  Soon after he arrives, he learns The Havens is a place where he can get training and learn to control his power, but there is something sinister at work, and Seph is reluctant to buy the story his principal, Dr. Lester, is selling.

Little does he know that his defiance will put him on a path that will lead to heartbreak, revenge, and truth.

Fans of The Warrior Heir will be pleased to see that Seph eventually meets up with Jack, Ellen, Linda, Hastings, and all the other characters from the first book in this trilogy.  The Wizard Heir deepens connections and reveals in truths and plots in the Weir world.  Fantasy fans will enjoy Cinda Williams Chima's second entry in the series.

Sophia's War

New York City in 1776 is a dangerous place to be for loyal patriots.  The city has been captured by the British, and Sophia Calderwood and her parents must pretend loyalty in order to keep their home.  As if this weren't enough, they haven't heard from her soldier brother, William, in months, and they can do nothing but remain hopeful that he is still alive and out of British hands.  Sophia trusts in her hero, General Benedict Arnold, to lead the patriots to victory.

As part of the pretense of loyalty to the crown, the Calderwoods must take in a British officer, John Andre.  Sophia is prepared to despise this man who fights against her brother and her home, but she must admit that his charm wins her over.

When tragedy strikes, Sophia vows revenge against the British.  She will do anything to support the American cause including becoming a spy!  As she is plunged into even more danger, Sophia will meet with old enemies and former friends, and her greatest conflict may be with her own mind.  Who can she turn to for support?  And once she discovers a terrible plot, who will believe her?

Avi's newest book is perfect historical fiction filled with romance, intrigue, and danger!  Read the author's note to discover that all the people (except for Sophia and her family) where real actors in this revolutionary tale of traitors and spies.

If you want to learn more about real spies of the revolution, read George Washington, Spy Master, one of my personal favorites.  To learn more about Benedict Arnold, read The Real Benedict Arnold.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Zombie Makers: True Stories of Nature's Undead

This books is so awesome and disgusting!  Zombie Makers includes information on five creatures that use other animals and insects to reproduce.

Each chapter includes a story about how an animals or insect might become infected and a description of what happens after infection.  With large photographs and cool graphics this book is a horrendous pleasure to read!

For example, there's a fungus that grows inside a fly until it kills the fly and fills it with spores.  Then the spores explode out of the dead fly to infect others.  Gross!

Several chapters also include information about scientists who discovered or study the parasites.  This book includes a glossary, source notes, and suggestions for further reading/viewing.  I highly recommend Rebecca Johnson's latest book! 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Are You Totally Adorkable?

City of Bones Movie Trailer!

You'll have to wait until August for this movie, but that gives you plenty of time to read the books!  We have all four in the library plus the new series.  I highly recommend them for my romantic fantasy fans!

Beautiful Creatures Movie Trailer!

I am so excited for this!  I hope the movie is good.  If you haven't read the books yet, it's not too late.  The movie doesn't come out until February.  It's a wonderfully juicy southern gothic paranormal romance! 

Warrior Heir

Jack is living a normal life in Trinity, Ohio, with his mother.  He just has to remember to take his medicine everyday; that's no big deal since the heart surgery he had as a baby saved his life.  Jack never forgets his medicine until one morning; he knows how important it is, but one day he does forget.  That day his reflexes seem faster and his muscles more powerful.

This is the day Jack learns he is actually a warrior, a person with magical gifts that can help him in battle.  All of this may be new to Jack, but there are powerful wizards who know just how valuable a warrior can be, and they will stop at nothing to get Jack on their side.  The white rose and the red rose are determined to use Jack as a pawn in a centuries old conflict that could end his life.

I am glad I finally got around to reading this series!  It is action-packed and modern while still bringing in the traditional sword and sorcery feel.  This is a great read for action and fantasy fans.  I am already on book two.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Almost Home

Sugar Mae Cole lives with her beloved mother, Reba, a woman who knows about sweetness in the little house they bought with her recently deceased grandfather, King Cole.  She loves her sixth grade language arts teacher, Mr. B, who encourages her to write and to think.  All in all, life is pretty good.

But now that Reba's lost her job, and all their saving are gone, the bank is sending scary letters and phone messages.  Reba thinks Sugar's father, Mr. Leeland, will finally come through and support his family instead of just showing up when he needs money.  Sugar isn't so sure.  The day they are evicted is the worst day of Sugar's life.  She can't believe this is happening, and she can't believe Reba won't act like the grown up and figure out what to do.

But Sugar has her positive attitude, words of wisdom from King Cole's autobiography, and her dog, Shush, to keep her going.  Even though she is far away, she even has Mr. B who continues to send her encouraging emails.

As Sugar quickly learns what is means to be homeless, she also learns about her gifts and strengths.  And while some people, like Mr. Leeland, may always try to bring her down, there are many others who will support and encourage her.

Joan Bauer's latest book is heartbreaking and uplifting.  She is one of my favorite authors, and Almost Home is another great read!

Monday, November 19, 2012


I was really excited when I saw Gordon Korman's new book, and now that I've read it, I think it's my favorite of all his books!

When Donovan Curtis pulls a small prank with unexpectedly huge consequences, he starts a chain of events that will take him from Hardcastle Middle School to the Academy of Scholastic Distinction.  His placement at the Academy is definitely a mistake, but he figures it's the perfect place to hide out from a school superintendent bent on revenge.

At first Donovan doesn't get along with the Academy kids at all.  He resents the gifted kids' new school filled with great equipment compared to the outdated and crumbling school for the normal kids.  Plus, these kids are more than a little strange and reject him as "ungifted" right from the start, but it doesn't take long until Donovan is making his mark in robotics.  No, he has no idea how to do any of the work on the robot, but without even trying, he seems to humanize the robot and unify the team. 

Donovan's presence at the Academy is causing all kinds of ripples, some good and some bad, but he is desperate to stay in, not only to save himself but to give his family something good in a see of problems.  With a pregnant sister whose husband is in Afghanistan, a sick dog, and financial troubles, Donovan doesn't see how telling the truth can possible make things better.

While Donovan is giving the gifted kids a glimpse of normal life, they might just be changing his perspective, too.  This book is funny and unexpected, a must read!

Burn Mark

Take everything you know about the witch trials and hunts of the past, and apply it to the modern world.  Burn Mark is set in a modern day London where the Inquisition hunts, monitors, and sometimes burns witches.

Glory has been waiting for her fae all her life.  She is part of the Cooper Street Coven, a gang of petty criminals led by her great aunt Angelina.  Angelina isn't a powerful witch, but she reminds Cooper Street that they are the legacy of her powerful twin sisters, the Starlings, who lived a glamorous life fueled by witchcraft and crime.  Now the Starling twins are long dead, and Cooper Street is nothing but a small piece of Charlie Morgan's empire.

Lucas's father is the chief prosecutor of the Inquisition.  It has been his life's work to identify and bridle witches as well as prosecute those who live outside the law.  Lucas is destined to follow in his father's footsteps.  His future is assured until the unthinkable happens.  Lucas develops fae powers.  Fae does run in families, but it is unpredictable, and even a kid like Lucas with a certified witch-free pedigree can turn fae.

All of Lucas's hopes and plans are now destroyed, but he can still protect his country.  He goes undercover to find the witches responsible for a string of violent attacks and becomes an unlikely member of the Cooper Street Coven where Angelina has her own reasons to spy on her own family.  Now Glory and Lucas have formed a strange alliance that makes them uniquely able to uncover the truth, but will they be in time to save witchkind, the nation, and themselves.

I really liked the concept for Laura Powell's new book.  It gets off to a slow start, but there are plenty of twists and turns at the end!  I wanted this book to be really great, but I ended up disappointed; however, several students have read and enjoyed it, so you'll just have to read it and draw your own conclusions. :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


This book begins several years after the end of Gathering Blue, and Matty is living in Village with Kira's father, now called Seer.  Village has always been the wonderful place filled with kind people that saved Seer when his own village left him for dead, but things are changing.

People are attending Trade Mart to trade for things they want.  Some are tangible things like new furniture or a gaming machine, but some things are less obvious and more frightening.  What is most frightening of all is what these people may to trading to get what they want.

Matty is also troubled by a strange new gift he has developed.  He has the power to heal, but he is left weakened by each experience.  As things grow worse in his community, Matty continues to test his gift.

Village has always welcomed all newcomers, but now the people want to close the borders, and Matty must make one final journey through forest to bring Kira home to her father.  But Forest is changing, too.  It is becoming a dark and threatening place that kills and maims, and this will be a dangerous journey for Matty and Kira.

I can't tell you my real feelings about this book because I don't want to spoil the ending.  Just know that I love it, and you should read it!

The Spindlers

OK, I am cheating a little bit on this one because this book isn't actually in the library yet.  It's on that big order list that I told you about.  I promise the books are coming; the order is just bogged down in the approval process.  Now you will have something to look forward to because I really enjoyed this one.

Liza knows the boys sitting across from her at the breakfast table isn't her brother, Patrick.  He looks and sounds like Patrick, but he's just wrong.  Liza quickly realizes the Spindlers have stolen her brother's soul and left this sinister imitation in his place.  Of course, no one believes her.  Her insistence just frustrated her already worried parents who are dealing money problems and other stresses.

To save her brother, Liza journeys to the world below.  It is a world filled with beautiful and deadly creatures, and Liza will need all her courage to save Patrick.  Guided by a rat named Mirabella, she will navigate this new world, but things are not always what they seem.  Who and what can Liza trust?

I really enjoy a good creepy fantasy, and this book has a strong creepy factor plus humor!  Visit Lauren Oliver's website to learn more about the author and her books.

Check out this video of the author talking about her inspiration for the story:

Monday, October 29, 2012

May B.

If you've ever been a fan of Little House on the Prairie, you'll enjoy this book, and if you enjoy May B, you should check out Little House on the Prairie.  We have the books in the library, and you can get the TV show from Netflix.

May feels useless.  Her struggles in reading mean her chances of returning to school are slim, and she's not a boy, so she can't help out on the farm like her brother, Hiram.  Her parents have decided to hire her out to Mr. Oblinger and his new wife; they need the money and it's only until Christmas, just five months.  But for May, five months might as well be forever, and the fifteen miles to Oblinger's farm might as well be a hundred.

Soon after she arrives at the lonely sod house, things go wrong, and May will have to find a way to survive on her own.  During these lonely hours she will also work out old frustrations and fears.  It is so tempting to just give in to depression.  Will May B. find a way to gather her strength?  Maybe she will; maybe she won't.

Read Caroline Starr Rose's new book, and you'll be transported back to another time when May's survival is a day to day matter, but many of her struggles are the same ones children face today.  The format of this verse novel contributes to the starkness and loneliness of May's life on the prairie.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Gathering Blue

In this companion book to The Giver, Lois Lowry creates an alternative to Jonas's overly safe and highly technological world.

Kira's village is a cruel and hard place, and now, as Kira mourns her mother's death, she is all alone.  Just a few days after her mother's death, the women of the village try to take her home by force.  With her twisted, useless leg, Kira isn't sure how she will survive, let alone win this battle with these dangerous women.

She quickly realizes she has a protector who knows about her skills with threadings.  Now that her mother is dead, Kira will find purpose in repairing the ancient robe worn by the singer who sings the the story of the world each year.  Now she is no longer living in her mud hut with the rest of the village.  She is in the council edifice with all it's little luxuries Kira's never imagined.

Soon, however, Kira comes to see beyond the veil of comfort the council offers her to see the truth about her society and the lies those in power use to control the people.

Lois Lowry says that after she wrote The Giver, she started to think about the different societies that could develop after a post-apocalyptic event.  It seemed logical to her, that some communities would be stuck in a backwards world devoid of technology.  Gathering Blue explores many of the issues Lowry raised in The Giver through a different lens.

The Unwanteds

Alex has know since he was ten years old that he was unwanted, so when purge day arrives for the 13 year old, he knows he will be separated from the life he's always known including his identical twin, Aaron, and sent to his death.

What did he do to deserve this fate?  Alex's main infraction was drawing in the dirt with a stick.  In the the barren and desert land of Quill, creativity is forbidden and the people are protected and controlled by High Priest Justine and a barbed wire dome covering the city.  While life in Quill is harsh and oppressive, it is better than the certain death Alex and the other unwanteds must face.

But when they arrive at the Death Farm, the wasteland and lake of boiling oil magically transform before their eyes into lush gardens and jungles.  The grey walls of the buildings are transformed into a castle, and the unwanteds slowly come to realize they are not about to die.  They are now part of the greatest secret in the land.  While the Quillens sent them to die for their creative impulses, in Artime they are welcomed and praised by strange creatures and a mage called Today.

They are amazed by this new life, but the intrigues aren't over.  There are secrets and rivalries even in Artime, and in his desperate need to see his twin again, Alex could put everyone in danger.

If you are looking for something new to fill the Harry Potter shaped hole in your reading, give Lisa McMann's new series a try.  It's a fantastic adventure!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Summer of the Gypsy Moths

Stella is only staying with her great-aunt Louise in Cape Cod until her mother gets things back together.  As soon as she gets a job and finishes those parenting classes, Stella won't have to live with her grumpy aunt anymore.

Aunt Louise takes Stella in, like she did Stella's mother, because the girl has nowhere else to go, but she decides Stella shouldn't be alone, so she also takes Angel as a foster child.

Angel is just biding her time in one foster home after the next until her aunt can get a job, her green card, and a home.  Now that Angel's father is dead, her aunt is the only one left to take care of her.

Soon after Angel arrives, Aunt Louise dies unexpectedly  and the girls have a decision to make.  They know they should call the police, but Angel doesn't want to go to another foster home, and Stella doesn't have any more relatives.  The girls decide to take over Aunt Louise's job of managing the vacation properties next door and hide her death, just for the summer.  By the end of the summer, Angel will have enough money to meet her aunt in New York, and Stella hopes that will be enough time for her mother to get her life together.

This is one summer when two girls will learn to accept one another and the truth about their own lives.  If you like realistic fiction, you will enjoy Sara Pennypacker's new book.

The Fairy Ring

Elsie and Frances were two cousins who became roommates during WWI when Frances's father went to war.  The first time Frances went to play in the English country side, she saw the little men peeking at her from undergrowth, but when she and Elsie told the adults about the fairies, no one believed them.

That's when Elsie gets the idea to take a picture.  Using fairies she has drawn herself, Elsie takes a picture of her cousin, Frances, with a fairy.  Eventually, that photograph and others like it will make their way all over England and the world as evidence that fairies really exist.  Even Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes books, believes the photos are real.

Author, Mary Losure, uses plenty of description and detailed research to recreate the people who were involved in these events.  Frances and Elsie seem like two fun and mischievous girls, even when they are old enough to be grandmothers.

If you've ever looked at a photo and wondered, "Is that for real?" you should read this book!

The video below is Frances's daughter talking about the pictures on Antiques Roadshow in England.  You can see prints of the photos in the video as well.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Book Fair!

Book Fair is coming to the library next week!  You can shop from Tuesday through Friday; we will be open before school and during lunches.  You can also come by after school if you aren't riding the bus.  If you can wrangle a pass from your teacher, you can come during class.  You will be coming to preview the book fair with your Language Arts teacher, but you don't need to wait for that to shop.

Remember, the book fair is a library fundraiser.  Every purchase you make gives the library a little more money to buy books for the collection!

You can also make book fair purchases online!  Click on the image below to be redirected to our online book fair site. 

More Author Signings!

Visit Blue Willow's homepage for even more events!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Giver

After hearing Lois Lowry talk about Son last week, I decided I needed to reread The Giver before plunging into the new book.  I am so glad I did!  It had been so long since reading the first book that I really only remembered the high points (including the end) and that I loved it.  Reading The Giver after more than ten years felt like a new experience, and I was on the edge of my seat, completely enthralled, just like the first time.  If you haven't read this book, read it now!  If it's been a while, read it again!  You won't be disappointed.

It's almost time for Jonas's twelfth birthday, which will be celebrated with the rest of the children born in the same year.  This is the year they will be assigned their careers and begin training.  Jonas feels apprehensive because he has no idea what career the council of elders has chosen for him.

In this perfectly ordered society, there are very few choices to make.  Similarities are the focus, and differences aren't tolerated.  Everything seems perfect in the community; there is no pain, no discord, no crime.  Jonas has never questioned his life and his community, but when he is chosen as the new Receiver at the ceremony of twelve, he begins a journey that will reveal the truth about his community and himself.

The Giver is a masterpiece of YA dystopia.   Lowry presents her readers with a society free from many of the ills we lament in our own world.  As Jonas undertakes his Receiver training, the veneer quickly begins to fade, and we see, along with Jonas, the terrible price for this "perfect" society.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Lois Lowry Was in Houston Today!

Today was awesome because I got to meet Lois Lowry again!  Ms. Lowry spoke at Johnston Middle School this afternoon at 3:00 as part of inprint Houston.  Her new book is a sequel to The Giver called Son and follows Gabe's birth mother.  As a fan of Ms. Lowry's books, I am super excited to get started on reading it!  I picked up one autographed copy for myself and one for someone to win at the end of the year celebration.  Come by the library to check out some of her other books!
Here is a photo of Lois Lowry signing the book you could win!
Princess Buttercup hugged the books as soon as I put them down to take a picture.  I guess she's a fan, too!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Ghost of Graylock

Every town has it's secrets, and Hedston is no exception.  Everyone know the story of Graylock Hall, the mental hospital hidden in the woods outside of town.  Everyone knows about the kids who died there and Nurse Janet who killed them.

It's no surprise that ghost hunter Neil discovers the story soon after moving to town.  One of the first things he does is venture into the forest to investigate the abandoned building.  Once they are inside, though, Neil and his sister sister Bree have some ghostly experiences that seem all too real.

Bree wants to put this behind her and move on with her summer, but Neil wants to investigate.  As they unravel the mystery of Graylock Hall, it is clear they are in danger from forces both natural and supernatural.

And the ghost of Graylock isn't going to let them go so easily.

Visit author Dan Poblocki's website for more information about him and his books.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The One and Only Ivan

Ivan is a gorilla who lives at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall.  His life isn't so bad.  He has his friends Stella the elephant and Bob the dog to talk to, and he has his art.  Ivan loves to draw with the crayons and paper his friend Julia passes through the hole in the glass of Ivan's cage.

One day a new baby elephant named Ruby arrives, and Ivan begins to see his world through her eyes.  All the things that seemed not so bad for 27 years suddenly seem broken and sad.  But Ruby does more than help Ivan see his the darkness of his life at the Exit 8 Mall, she also helps him remember his life before when he lived in the jungle with his family.

Now Ivan knows he has to help Ruby.  He can't let her grow up to be sad and broken.

Go to author, Katherine Applegate's, website to find out more about her and the real Ivan who inspired the story!

I love this book!  It broke my heart and put it back together again.  I hope you will read this book and think about who you are and how you fit into this world.

The Apothecary

It's 1952, and Janie Scott and her parents have moved to London from California.  It's hard enough moving to a new place, but when that new place is the exact opposite of sunny Los Angeles, Janie is frustrated by everything.  Things start to change when Janie goes with her father to visit the apothecary, think pharmacist, and he gives her a cure for homesickness.

She is soon swept up into a world of magical transformations and dangerous Russian spies.  When the apothecary disappears, Janie and his son, Benjamin, travel across London and the freezing ocean to save themselves and the world.

Read Maile Meloy's first book for young adults and join the journey.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The False Prince

Sage is mostly minding his own business as a fourteen-year-old orphan.  Sure, he's hungry and filthy most of the time, but he supplements everyone's diet by theft and stealth.  This simple existence ends in an instant when a man named Conner plucks Sage from his orphanage and forces him into a dangerous plot.

It seems the country is on the brink of civil war, and the only way to avoid it is for a long lost prince to reappear and take the throne.  But Prince Jaron is dead, and Sage is part of a small group of boys who will be groomed and trained to become the false prince.  It will be a deception to last a lifetime with the throne and a beautiful princess as the reward, and the boys who aren't chosen face the only real way to keep the secret:  death.

Conner is a dangerous and cruel master, but he isn't the only threat.  The boys jealousies and frustrations among themselves as they struggle to overcome their orphanage childhoods and hide the secret plot from power hungry nobles.

Jennifer A. Nielsen's new book is filled with action, danger, political intrigue, and plot twists at every turn.  Can Sage survive in this world where no one is what he seems?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

On the Day I Died

It's after midnight, and Mike Kowalski is speeding home in the hope that his parents won't be too angry if he's at least close to his curfew.  That's when he sees her standing in the road in an old-fashioned white dress.  When he decides to give her a ride home, he begins the strangest and most frightening night of his life.

Instead of hurrying home to his family, he spends the night in a cemetery for teens, filled with ghosts desperate to tell their stories.  He will hear tales of betrayal, horror, and madness as he is held captive by their ghostly tales, but maybe these spirits want more than just an audience for their stories.

Be sure to read the author's note at the end to learn about the inspiration for each story ranging from real people and events to classic tales of horror.

Author, Candace Fleming's, new book is filled with horrors from the past two centuries of its Chicago setting.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Wooden Bones

Turning into a real boy was just the beginning of Pinocchio's story.  Now the people in their village want Geppetto to make puppets for them, but he insists he can't.  This is when Pino discovers he has a gift. When he pours his desire and will into wood, it comes to life.  The villagers are so horrified by this, that Pino and his father are forced to flee their home.

As Pino uses his gift, he discovers he is slowly transforming back into wood.  Despite his desire to be a real boy, he uses his gift when it seems necessary to save himself and his papa.

Their journey through dark and dangerous places will bring them friendship, betrayal, and understanding.

Read Scott William Carter's disturbing version of what happens after Pinocchio's happily ever after.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Beautiful Lie

When religious conflict in India builds to the breaking point and the country is on the verge of breaking apart, Bilal decides the truth is too difficult bear.  That is when the lie is born.  Bilal's father loves India and dreams of a united land and people.  Now that India will be broken apart, Bilal and his father face their own tragedy.  Bilal's father is dying. He won't last much beyond the division of the country, and Bilal's decides that rather than break his father's heart with the news, he will lie.

With the help of his three friends, Bilal keeps up the lie and prevents everyone in their village from telling his father the truth.  But the tensions are rising all over the country, and the four friends of different faiths may not be facing just the end of a united India, they may be facing the end of their friendship.

Click here to connect to author, Irfan Master's website to learn more about him and his work.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Shadow and Bone

Alina Starkov's life hasn't been easy.  Her parents died long ago in the border wars that have plagued Ravka for over a century.  Her only family is her best friend, Mal, a fellow orphan. Now that they are older, her friendship with him has blossomed into love, but Mal only sees her as a friend.

The two friends are headed to the Shadow Fold with the First Army.  Mal as a tracker and Alina as a cartographer.  When they enter this area of mysterious and unnatural darkness on sandskiffs, they are attacked by horrifying creatures.  When Mal's life is endangered, Alina feels a power rising up inside her to overwhelm her body and mind.

When she awakes, she is caught in a whirlwind of activity and questioning from the Darkling, the most powerful magician in the land. Soon she finds herself in the world of the Grishas, magicians who are pampered and talented.  The Grishas and even the King are convinced that Alina has the power to destroy the Fold, but she isn't so sure.  And she certainly isn't prepared for this new world of sophisticated Grishas with their jealousies and intrigues.  Will the luxuries of her new life and the confusing attentions of the Darkling be enough to make Alina forget Mal and take her place among Ravka's elite?

Set in an alternate and magical Russia filled with snow, ice, and furs, Shadow and Bone is dark, twisting, and hypnotic.  Visit this world created by first time author, Leigh Bardugo, and you will be hungry for more.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Witches! The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem

How do you explain a sudden illness or broken jug?  What was your neighbor muttering as she walked away giving you a strange look?  Why did your cow suddenly begin to twitch and convulse?  The answer, at least for the people of Salem, was witchcraft!

This fascinating book tells the story of the Salem witch trials beginning with two sick little girls and all the horrifying events to follow.  This story is compelling and succinct detailing the accusations, the eventual trials, and the "evidence" that condemned people to death.  This was mainly spectral evidence that only the afflicted could see.

The girls saw spirits and birds who pecked and pinched and stopped their breath, and the courts were only too happy to believe them.

The accused were housed in filthy disease-filled prisons while they awaited trail where they were expected to pay rent and provide their own food.

This frenzy was caused by a fear of some unearthly power, but, as Rosalyn Schanzer describes, the real horror was the hysteria of ordinary people.


In Beatrice Prior's future version of Chicago, the architecture and highway systems of the past are largely destroyed, and the population is divided into five factions.  The Amity value peace, the Dauntless value courage, the Candor value honesty, the Erudite value intelligence, and the Abnegation, Beatrice's faction, value selflessness.

Beatrice has grown up believing that she should put everyone above herself, that to think of her own desires or wants is selfish and immoral.  The abnegation don't even have mirrors in their homes; vanity is selfish.  As Beatrice approaches her sixteenth birthday and the ceremony where she will choose her faction, she is uncertain.

The idea of spending her life in Abnegation doesn't appeal to Beatrice; she feels trapped and alone, but to choose another faction is to turn away from her entire family.  Her new faction would become her family.

Beatrice chooses freedom over family and becomes a Dauntless initiate.  This life is wilder and freer than anything she's ever known, and she will experience friendship, cruelty, and love like she never would in Abnegation.

As exhilarating as this new life is, Beatrice notices strange and frightening things happening in her society, things that most everyone else is unaware of.  The danger increases, and Beatrice may lose more than she ever dreamed possible.

Read Veronica Roth's thrilling adventure to find out what happens!


In the sequel to Divergent, Tris is still reeling from the death of her parents and most of her former faction.  She also struggles with her own grief and horror over killing Will to save herself that horrible night when the most of the dauntless became mindless robots of the Erudite.

Now that everyone knows Tris and Tobias are Divergent, they face fear and stigma from those around them.  With the Dauntless home base filled with memories of horror and surveillance cameras, the few Dauntless who are have not joined the Erudite are left to search for shelter and belonging.

Tris loves Tobias more than ever, but she she finds herself drawn to his abusive father and his teasing hints about a secret.  Marcus Eaton swears that this secret is so powerful that the Erudite would do anything keep it from getting out.  Tris believes him despite herself, but she feels disloyal to Tobias.

The city is becoming a battleground of faction against faction, and the thousands of disenfranchised factionless may be the deciding factor.