Wednesday, December 3, 2014

December: The Raven Boys by Maggie Steifvater

You guys. Can we talk about The Raven Boys?? I mean we're going to anyway, but oh man I LOVED IT. I am just going to go ahead and admit that I got pretty fangirl-y about it and immediately checked out the second book and I still can't decide if Ronan, Adam, Persephone or Calla is my favorite. IT WAS SO GOOD.

So I've been looking forward to writing the blog about it this month but it has been super busy lately, what with the holidays and such, so it has been put off until today. But now I have time! And we can talk about the characters and ley lines and MAGIC.

Part of why I love The Raven Boys  so much is because the supernatural aspects of the story draw a lot from real history. The corpse roads and ley lines, for example.

First of all, they technically aren't interchangeable, as it's stated in the book. Ley lines and corpse roads are two separate things.

But let's start with corpse roads, since that's where the story also begins.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Stargirl Wrap-Up!

So it was awesome to see you all again on Thursday! I'm also super excited that it seems like we're all kind of getting to know one another and we're building a nice, steady following. We have a great group of people!

Anyway, you all had lots of thoughts about Stargirl. Some of you liked it, some of you didn't. Some of you thought Stargirl was a crazy stalker person. Which is understandable. We also had some good conversation about being different and whether or not it's a good thing or a bad thing, as well as bullying. It was a thoughtful night.

And I kept thinking about it. Because Veronica had pointed out that Leo never even once stood up for Stargirl, the person he supposedly loved. And that really, really irritated me. Because Leo is the person you never want to be. The person who stands on the sidelines and is too afraid to do anything when someone is being hurt. ESPECIALLY someone you love. And that really annoyed me about Leo. He's a strange character like that, because he does some pretty crappy things and is too afraid to say something, but he always wants to best for Stargirl.

Also, I am SUPER EXCITED about December's read, Raven Boys. It had never really looked like something I was interesting in reading but everyone in the library has told me it's amazing and now I have a reason to read it! Jenn has assured me that the entire series is spectacular, so I look forward to getting sucked into it.

Finally, we got a bunch of new stuff in in the teen room! The final installment of The Darkest Minds series is here. Unraveled, the third book in the Crewel series is in. As well as Clariel, the long-awaited fourth Abhorsen book from Garth Nix. PLUS, we should soon be getting Waistcoats and Weaponry, the third book of the Finishing School series. SO MANY NEW BOOKS. And there are even more than those that I am probably forgetting to mention. We had a full cart! I am drowning in new YA novels to read! So definitely stop in or check online and grab something new.


Thursday, November 6, 2014

November: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli


It's November! Can you believe it? Next month it will be December and we will all have Christmas-Brain and will be wandering around singing carols. Or maybe you already have Christmas-Brain. I have seen several stores with decorations out already and I even saw a lit up tree in someone's window! On November 1st! Clearly, crazy people live there. 

Speaking of crazy people, let's talk about Stargirl. Just kidding! Although parts of her do seem a little bit out there. For example, the part where she just attends random people's funerals. I'm pretty sure that is a huge no-no. Please don't just walk into random funerals and start crying, my friends. That's extremely disrespectful.

Anyway, there are loads of great things about Stargirl though. Most importantly, she doesn't care what people think about her. So let's talk about that. 

Society in general is pretty crap sometimes, and there is a lot of pressure to be *normal* and fit in with everyone and do and say and wear the same stuff as everyone else. Especially when you're younger. But deep down most of us would rather be doing and saying and wearing something different. But sometimes we don't, because we're scared of what people will think. Because we'd be *different*. And that's a terrifying concept sometimes. If you stand out, you will be noticed. And sometimes when you get noticed, you get criticized and ridiculed. And that is not fun. Sometimes it's just easier to pretend you like the same things as everyone else. 

But that can also make you miserable, because you are participating in something you don't like. So it's tough! Sometimes being yourself is super hard! Honestly, I have found that as you get older, you start to just not care anymore. Sometimes I still get self-conscious, but I definitely feel more secure in myself than I did when I was in middle school. Or even high school! Although I got a little more rebellious and outgoing in high school. 

So, Stargirl is a little nutty but she is also very endearing and heartfelt. All she wants is for other people to be happy. And when they are happy, she is happy. I think one of the most important parts of the book was when Leo notices the small wagon she has that is filled with stones, with a few scattered around the outside. He asks what it is, and Stargirl explains that when she is happy, she puts a stone in the wagon. But when she is unhappy because of something, she takes one out. Leo remarks that there aren't many stones outside the wagon and Stargirl says it's the happiest she's ever been. 
HOWEVER, not too much later, when Leo is trying to get her to be "normal," he notices that her wagon is almost entirely empty. So she may not show it, but she is pretty unhappy with how things are going. 

Anyway, I have lectured enough about happiness and being true to yourself and etc. I think you have all probably heard it before anyway. But it never hurts to repeat it. Be yourself, and try not to worry about what others think. 

I also wanted to add this awesome video from Scholastic's "Reading Opens a World of Possible" campaign, in which Taylor Swift sits down and chats about some of her favorite books. And Stargirl is one of them! I'm also including Swift's music video for Mean, just because it's fun and totally fits our theme. 

Scholastic video HERE! And I will see you all tonight at Teen Book Club at 6pm! 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Miss Peregrine's Wrap-Up!

Eva Green in Penny Dreadful

So our meeting on Thursday was fantastic, and you guys had lots of great thoughts about the book. And a huge amount of you said you wanted to continue the series and read The Hollow City. Which is awesome! I, myself, We also mentioned that it had been optioned by 20th Century Fox to be brought to film! HUZZAH! So, here are the facts.
  • Tim Burton, director of awesome movies such as The Nightmare Before Christmas, Edward Scissorhands, Alice in Wonderland, and Sweeney Todd, is set to direct the adaptation. Which, if he gets back to what he's good at, should be an awesome choice. 
  • Eva Green, who is best known for her role in the James Bond film Casino Royale, and more recently Penny Dreadful, is in negotiations to play Miss Peregrine herself. 
  • Asa Butterfield, star of Ender's Game, is possibly set to play Jacob. 
And there you have it! The movie won't be out for quite awhile yet (probably 2016), but at least there are lots of good rumors about casting to read.

Thursday, October 2, 2014


The weather outside may be frightful, but we're still having Teen Book Club tonight! See you at 6pm, and remember your copy of Miss Peregrine's!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Banned Books Week

The blog is busy this week! And by busy I mean there will be two posts within a matter of days. CRAZY! Anyway, my reason for writing again is that I wanted to remind everyone of our author event today. At 1pm we're holding an author talk and book signing event here at the library for Banned Books Week. But before we get into details, I wanted to talk a little bit about Banned Books Week and why a lot of us here at the library feel so strongly about it.

Firstly, since we've had several teens ask what exactly banning books is about, let me explain: Oftentimes books will be banned (taken out of schools and public libraries) because someone feels that the content of the book is inappropriate. They might disagree with the author's viewpoint on a certain subject, they might feel the book has sexual content in it that is inappropriate for the readers, or they might think it has too many bad words in it. There are lots of reasons. Oftentimes it is parents who disapprove of what their kids are reading in school or in the library. And that's totally fine! It becomes a problem, however, when the one parent who disapproves of the book tries to remove the book from the library and thus taking it away from everyone else who might want to read it. Just because you don't like something and feel like it's wrong, doesn't mean other people feel that way too. I don't like mushrooms and don't want them on my pizza, but I am not banning mushrooms from Domino's because of this. 

And when this happens, when books are taken away from the library and the public, this is a form of censorship. And there are a lot of issues with censorship. 

The American Library Association affirms that all libraries are forums for information and ideas, and that the following basic policies should guide their services.
I. Books and other library resources should be provided for the interest, information, and enlightenment of all people of the community the library serves. Materials should not be excluded because of the origin, background, or views of those contributing to their creation.
II. Libraries should provide materials and information presenting all points of view on current and historical issues. Materials should not be proscribed or removed because of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
III. Libraries should challenge censorship in the fulfillment of their responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.
IV. Libraries should cooperate with all persons and groups concerned with resisting abridgment of free expression and free access to ideas.
Long story short, everyone deserves access to all of our materials, whether the ideas inside them challenge us or not.

And this isn't an unfamiliar situation. Just this past week Highland Park ISD "suspended" seven books from a recommended reading list for their questionable content. One of them was Jeanette Walls' memoir The Glass Castle, despite the fact Walls is one of their keynote speakers at a literary festival next year. The other books that were called out for sexual content, drug use, and language include:

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
The Working Poor: Invisible in America by David K. Shipler
Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

While the parents who fought to ban the books argue that they don't want to expose their children to this kind of mature content, many others have been pointing out that it is important to expose ourselves to new situations and push our boundaries as lifelong learners. Particularly in well-to-do areas such as Highland Park. Oftentimes we who are in positions of privilege may never encounter the hardships that people such as Jeanette Walls and Sherman Alexie have faced, but it is still crucial to our development as compassionate human beings that we read and learn as much about the world around us as we can. It broadens out horizons. We cannot allow ourselves to live in the safety of our bubbles.

And this is why we fight so hard against book banning. As a librarians, we run a free, public service. We owe it to our community to give them everything we have, whether one person likes it or not. Dav Pilkey put up an excellent video in response to his Captain Underpants books consistently being banned that you can watch here. As he explains, all you have to do is change one word.

I would also strongly recommend reading Sherman Alexie's powerful essay "Why The Best Kid's Books Are Written in Blood." It speaks volumes about the authors of these books and why it is important to spread the message of so many of these children's and young adult novels.

Finally, we would love it if you would come to our Banned Books Week author event this afternoon and listen to a panel of YA writers talk about their own work and why banned books are important to them. We're featuring Rosemary Clement Moore (Texas Gothic, Spirit and Dust), Kay Honeyman (The Fire Horse Girl), Polly Holyoke (The Neptune Project) and Lindsay Cummings (The Murder Complex). Barnes and Noble will be in the lobby selling copies of their books, and afterwards all four will be available to sign books and take photos. It runs from 1pm-3pm and will be in the multipurpose room here at Smith Public Library. Plus, it's completely free AND there will be cookies. So you had better be there.

See y'all this afternoon!

Monday, September 22, 2014

October: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Happy Almost October Smithies! As you probably already know (especially if you were at the last meeting), this month's book club pick is Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. We warned you that it was weird. We warned you that it was creepy. And you didn't believe us until you flipped through the book itself and saw all those strange photos that the author included. Photos like these:

Basically, photos that are super mega creepy and will haunt your dreams for years to come. So where did Ransom Riggs even get these pictures? Where did he come up with this idea?? WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING??? Let's talk it out. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

September: Dreamsleeves by Coleen Murtagh Paratore

Welcome back to book club, Smithies! After a long hiatus, a lot of summer craziness, and a bit of rearranging, we have returned! As you know, our dear Alyssa is no longer at the Smith Public Library. She went to Plano, land of....opportunity and gray office buildings? I'm not sure what Plano is the land of. But anyway. I, Kelsey Sidwell, shall be leading you forth into book club with a less-than-stern hand and a forgetful mind. It will be great. I promise.

So, a bit about me maybe? I like coffee. And scarves. And cats. And lots and lots of books. Some of my favorites include Louise Rennison's Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series, Graceling and Firethe Throne of Glass books, the awkwardly titled His Fair Assassin series (the books are *much* better than the lame series title) and on and on and on. A couple of my favorite "adult" reads are Lev Grossman's "Magicians" series and Erin Morganstern's The Night Circus. If you have not read The Night Circus, RUN! Read it now!

But I digress.

Aislinn is a girl with a lot of dreams, but due to family issues (caused mostly by her hard-drinking father), there's a lot standing in her way. While she should be enjoying the summer with friends, Aislinn is kept under lock and key and put in charge of her younger siblings. The average girl might give up, but not Aislinn. A person, she says, should write their dreams on their sleeve, putting them out there for the world to see, because there's a good chance that someone might come along and help you make your dream come true. What begins as a plea for help for her father to stop drinking, turns into a spark that has the whole community making their own dreamsleeves. At times heartbreaking, Dreamsleeves is also surprising, powerful, and luminously hopeful. Everyone will see a little of themselves in Aislinn, a girl with talent, ambition, and big dreams.

 Now, I know you may be thinking "This sounds super cheesy." But you are wrong. I thought the same thing and was pleasantly surprised! And the idea is preeeeeetty cool. Write down what you want and wear it on your arm and someone might help you out with it, because
why not? It worked for Aislinn.

So in honor of book club tonight, I am going to write down my "dreamsleeves."

  • A cheeseburger.
  • The recipe for the peanut butter cookies at Alamo Drafthouse.
  • For my bathroom to get painted tomorrow FINALLY without any issues.
  • A safe trip to see my family in Ohio this weekend. 
  • Maybe another cheeseburger. Or some fries. 


Be there or be rectangular.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Read an Excerpt from HEIR OF FIRE!

Is this cover awesome or IS IT AWESOME?!  Correct answer: all of the above.

I've got good news and bad news, Smithies.  Bad news first:  I'm leaving the spectacular Smith Public Library.  That means I won't be at book club meetings anymore, I won't be writing this blog anymore, and you won't see my smiling face around the library.  I'll be working at my new job at another library nearby(ish), so if you want to come visit me there (please do!), then talk to Veronica - she can tell you which library to visit.  But Jenn will be taking over the blog (yay!), so credit for all future witty remarks belongs to her.

I know, I know - but contain your hysterical sobs for my departure, because there's good news, too!

In case you haven't already found and devoured this on your own, a sneak preview of Heir of Fire has been released online!  Heir of Fire is the latest installment in Sarah J. Maas' Throne of Glass series, and it's due to be published September 2, 2014.  Make sure you're sitting down when you read this excerpt - as I like to say, it's like a fire at a circus:  INTENSE.  (Get it? "In tents" = "intense", har har har puns.)


I know a few of you (by which I mean a lot of you) are as big fans of Throne of Glass and the sequel, Crown of Midnight, as I am - we've read both books in book club (read all our Throne of Glass-related posts here) and skyped with Sarah Maas a few times - so if you want more extras as soon as they're available, check out Sarah's blog and the official Throne of Glass facebook page!

There's also info on the Throne of Glass facebook page about how you could be a part of the Heir of Fire book trailer!  Click here for the official rules and etc.

Bloomsbury (the publisher) has also released this synopsis for Heir of Fire:
Celaena has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak—but at an unspeakable cost. Now, she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth . . . a truth about her heritage that could change her life—and her future—forever. Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. Will Celaena find the strength to not only fight her inner demons, but to take on the evil that is about to be unleashed?
The bestselling series that has captured readers all over the world reaches new heights in this sequel to the New York Times best-selling Crown of Midnight. Packed with heart-pounding action, fierce new characters, and swoon-worthy romance, this third book will enthrall readers from start to finish.
That's it for me, Smithies!  It's been real, it's been fun, so I guess that means it's been real fun; I'll miss you!  Play the video to hear my official exit music - as you listen, imagine me walking away, putting on sunglasses as something explodes behind me.  Or driving fast cars.  Or whatever.

Alyssa out.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

March: The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

This is a redesigned American cover, which is the edition we're handing out.  Which to you prefer?
Crazy February weather we've had, am I right?! Sorry the last meeting was cancelled.  But don't worry - if you're DYING to discuss February's romantic read, My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick, you're still in luck, because we'll discuss February's book, as well March's book (The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson) at our next meeting on March 6th!

However, if all that gooey Valentine's stuff has left you feeling MURDEROUS, you're still in luck! (Unless you've gone an murdered someone.  This won't help with that.)

Our next book, The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson, is a mystery/thriller set in London.  Read the synopsis below:

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

Jack the Ripper is back, and he's coming for Rory next.... 
Earlier American editions
had this pic for cover art.
Which do you like better?
Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London to start a new life at boarding school just as a series of brutal murders mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper killing spree of more than a century ago has broken out across the city. The police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man believed to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him - the only one who can see him. And now Rory has become his next target...unless she can tap her previously unknown abilities to turn the tables.

I've already finished reading it because I could not put it down.  If the synopsis didn't convince you, trust me;  IT.  IS.  SO.  CREEPY.

Check back here on the blog - I've got some special posts with history about Jack the Ripper and other cool extras!  And don't forget to come to the meeting on March 6th at 7pm.

Book trailer goodness below.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Romantic February Read! My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

That's right, our next book is romantic.  Teen book club will get you in the mood for lurrrrve just in time for Valentine's Day with our next book, My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick.  Here's a synopsis:

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

"One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time."

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, messy, affectionate. And every day from her rooftop perch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them . . . until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything.

As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase's family embraces Samantha - even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha's world. She's suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?

A transporting debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another.

Well dern, they're practically a modern-day Romeo and Juliet.  Let's hope their story ends better...

We'll discuss the book - however it ends - on Thursday, February 6th at 6pm for our next meeting.  See you then!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Meeting Tonight!

AAAAaaannnndd we're back!  Happy new year, Smithies, and welcome back to book club!  Kick off the new year in the best way possible - book club meeting!  Tonight we'll be meeting to discuss Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck, and (IMPORTANT) we'll be meeting in the teen room, instead of the usual spot of the lobby, at 6pm.  Be there like shareware!

In case all the fruitcake and Christmas cookies went to your head, here's a reminder of what Tiger's Curse is about:

Passion. Fate. Loyalty.
Would you risk it all to change your destiny? 
The last thing Kelsey Hayes thought she’d be doing this summer was trying to break a 300-year-old Indian curse. With a mysterious white tiger named Ren. Halfway around the world. But that’s exactly what happened. Face-to-face with dark forces, spellbinding magic, and mystical worlds where nothing is what it seems, Kelsey risks everything to piece together an ancient prophecy that could break the curse forever.

Blam-o.  See you tonight at 6pm in the teen room!