Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sunday Confessional! (#2)

I've decided to start my own meme, based off of the recent post by ALA in which librarians posted their secrets and confessions.

On Sundays, (or Mondays if I forget) I will post a confession related to my job or books. If you would like to join in, go ahead! Share with me your book-related confession!

Today's confession:

When a student brings in a book damanged, I am supposed to charge them for the cost of the book, + the 3.00 it takes to prepare the books. (Barcode labels, spine labels, stamping cards, laminate, and if needed the book glue and tape.) 

I do not seem to have the balls to fully charge these students, so unless the book is brand-new, I do not charge them the 3.00. (To be honest, for missing or damaged books, I might see only 2-3 of them actually paid or replaced.)

I am also pretty lenient on late-fines. We charge 5 cents a day that it is late, not including weekends. 

My library needs the funds, but sometimes I feel it's better to keep books in their hands, then to charge them.

So tell me, what are YOUR book related confessions?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (#6)

Another School Edition!

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews and gives us a chance to share with you what books we have recently bought, won, been given, or stole. ;-)

This week, I am featuring MORE books I bought to add to my school library. We hosted a school book fair at Barnes and Noble on a night that Johnathon Rand would be there. (Author of Michigan Chillers/American Chillers.) Unfortunately, we only raised $800 in sales, and a good $100 of that came from me/the library alone. (The teacher running the fundraiser then only gets to keep $80 bucks. It was WAY more hassle than it was worth, and they failed on many aspects.)

So, here are the books I bought!

I also bought the following book because I picked up the sequel at ALA, which looks to be pretty interesting, and a few students mentioned being interested in.

**Please note, ALL book covers on this blog link to their page on Goodreads.

Again, I actually have quite a few book from my netgalley that I NEED to read/review. Does anyone know if there are any netgalley knockouts going on this month or next month? I'd love to participate!

Review: Picture Me

Lori Weber-James Lorimer and Company

The details: Will be released in 2014,  168 pages, 1 sitting to read. I received the ARC of this book from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Summary: (From Goodreads) When a well-meaning English teacher has overweight student Krista read aloud a poem about body image titled "Barbie Doll" in class, she ignites a simmering bullying event based on Krista's appearance. Krista's best friend, and witness to the event, Tessa, is suspended for fighting to defend her friend. The girl who bullies Krista seems unaffected by the incident at school and more concerned with what an older guy thinks of her. But as the three characters' paths intersect, their inner lives are revealed. Each emerges as a much more complicated individual than their simple bully, target, and witness labels.

Review: I wanted to like this book. I was really hoping to find a positive story line, to show that bullies are not always mean without reason. I really wanted a book to put on my library shelves that would spark my students interests, to start them on an internal investigation, learning to over-come bullying, understand what makes a bully....
This book falls short. The premise is there, the framework is there, but it doesn't go beyond that. Let me start by saying that I was a victim to extreme bullying, even from teachers. I was an over-weight cheerleader, and that seemed to offend people. I am very overweight now, but when I look back at my middle school years, I was only 20-30 lbs overweight. I was a size 15. I was large, but I felt even larger and ended up with body dysmorphic disorder as well as bulimia. Bullying is a real threat.

When I read the synopsis of this book on Netgalley, I HAD to read it. I was interested in Krista, the overweight girl who is the victim of bullying, due to her weight. However of all the characters, we learn the least about her, and her character development is completely missing.

This book is told through her, her bully, and her friend. This is confusing in the beginning of the book, as I thought the book was being told in third person, of Krista. But it wasn't. It took me a bit of time to realize that it was another character's point of view.

In the beginning, Krista is described as a girl who ignores her weight. She doesn't seem to care about her weight, and ignores the bullies. However, once a picture is taped to her locker, she becomes obsessed with losing weight and taking diet pills, no matter the cost to her health. She ignores her best friend, and becomes practically a hermit, never leaving her bed. By the end of the book, it's hard to be sympathetic to her, even though I have first hand experience of being that girl. I feel like the author did a piss-poor job at fully showing the TRUE danger of this behavior, because of how bitchy she made this character. (No, not every book should have a 'lesson' but this is a dangerous spot to be in.)

We learn more about the bully, and find that she does not have the happy-home-life like she appears to have. Throughout the story we see her fall in with the wrong crowd, and we are alluded to a situation that is unpleasant, and one can assume what happens, HOWEVER. This is where the book ends. There is no closure at all for the bully and the victim. This story just ends. I have a major problem with this. This book's synopsis makes the reader believe we will be reading a story about bullying. Instead, we learn more about the friend, and she is the only character to have any sort of resolution by the end. It left a bad taste in my mouth. 'Oh look, the bully isn't happy, the bullied isn't happy, LETS TALK ABOUT SOMEONE ELSE!' It's obvious while reading that the focus isn't on the bullying or bully at all. It's about the friend and her home life.

This book is misleading and stops in middle of what I felt to be the climax of the story. There are other things I would like to say about this book, but I can't seem to articulate well WHY this book is nothing but disappointing. This is NOT a book I will be purchasing for my school library. I'd rather spend my money elsewhere.

Rating: 2 stars. Stay away, unless you really really really enjoy punishment.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Re-Alive (Dirt Side Up)

Scott Grimon-Indie Author

The details: First in a trilogy, indie author, 251 pages, 3-4 days to read.

Summary: (From Amazon) Lucca Thompson was just an average kid who had an unfortunate run in with a Buick. Average, that is, until he was brought back to life. Now he’s in a battle against magic, warriors and his own hormones to complete three tasks for a nameless Wizard. Will he win his freedom or go back to pushing daisies?

Review: When most people hear 'Indie Author' they tend to think of people who aren't good enough to catch a publisher, and unfortunately many of these books go unpurchased. When my Wife told me one of her friends wrote a book and that I should read and review it, I was ready for the challenge. See, I almost ALWAYS read indie books. I'm pretty cheap, so being able to read 5 books for the price of one, is pretty awesome. I'm also of the opinion that most indie books are a tad 'different' and edgier then what I find in most main-stream books. (However, there have been several duds, too.)

So as I said, I was ready to accept the challenge. Mind you, this was before I even knew what the book was about. When I did get around to reading the summary, I figured the book would be something I'd enjoy. I was correct in that assumption, but there were also times where I was pleasantly surprised.

For example, the main character was not very accomplished in fighting when the book began. So I believed part of the book would be dedicated to his training, but that was not the case. This book picked up right away into the drama and plot. Along with the story line, Scott Grimon uses witty one-liners and comebacks, that do not seem forced or cheesy. His dialogue feels real and flows naturally. 

Within the plot of the book, I do not want to give much away. This book is the first in a trilogy and while it does a great job as to setting up the full story, it still seemed to be a finished stand-alone. I have read somewhere where someone mention that this book was similar to Harry Potter, and while I see some similarities, I can not say it's truly similar.

This story is about a teenage boy who your 'average Joe' type but ultimately ends up dead. Thankfully, our hero is brought back to life. In order to complete the process, he must complete three tasks. This book follows the first task. This book does not lag in parts, and I never felt like I wanted to rush through any parts. As a gamer, I am easily excited when I find a reference to, or feel like the author draws influences from games I enjoy. As a reader, I am even more excited when those references are done so seamlessly. In Re-Alive are nods to popular culture, including BioShock and Indiana Jones.

I will be watching Scott for the next two books, and any other works he has written. Out of the literally hundreds of self-published books I have read, this is one of the best, and I am surprised that Scott has not been tapped by a publisher yet.

If you enjoy Harry Potter, witty one liners, and fantasy, you really should look for his book on Amazon. Good job, Scott.

Rating: 5 stars (For the record, I feel $1 is underpricing this book. I would actually pay full cover price for this one.)

WW update!

I was going to pos a WW readathon update on Thursday, but it became crazy hectic at the school! I had to help set up for a motivational speaker at the school. I arrived an hour earlier than usual, and spent the entire morning doing tasks related to that. After that, I had a cry-fest in the library with the school counselor because a student came forward with a sad story that reminded me of my own high-school self. Then, once my emotions were drained, I had to meet with a local farmer who was donating 100 pumpkins to the library/art class. After unloading his truck, I then had to hand-wash, hand-dry, and relocate each and every pumpkin. It took me over 2 hours! I personally am over pumpkin season. ;-)  Then to top it off, the one book I wanted to read during the WW read a thon.... I LEFT AT WORK! ARG!

Then I had a friend come up to visit my husband and I, and to run a 5k. According to the results I finished in 28 minutes, and was the 13th overall women finisher. I can tell you that that is not true, and that I was one of the LAST finishers.  So basically, I haven't read at all since Wednesday.  Go me....

The basic details: The WW Read-a-Thon runs October 11th-20th, and is hosted by My Shelf Confessions. There will be twitter parties and challenges! (#WWreadathon)

You can find details about and join the Wonderfully Wicked RaT (tee-hee) here.

So far I have finished:
I started at page 84 in The Long Walk and page 30 in An English Bride in Scotland.

I plan on also starting this tonight: 

So, there you have it.I read/finished 3 books, and will be starting a 4th tonight. This was a pretty great Read a Thon, even though I was busy. Do you know of any other read a thons about to start? Let me know!


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Teaser Tuesday (#7!)

Truthfully? I'm starting to hate Tuesdays. I forgot my phone at home, I have to stay late at the school due to state testing, and I feel like crap for giving excuses YESTERDAY for not excercising. Damn. Anywho, on with the show!

 I LOVE LOVE LOVE Ellen Hopkins. She is a genius, I tell you. I first read Crank because it was popular in my school. I have since read quite a few of her works, so I was THRILLED when Smoke was released. Smoke is the sequel to Burned. If you enjoy contemporary YA, and like reading about 'dark/hard/real/tough' subjects, such as drug abuse, rape, physical abuse etc. and have not yet read Ellen Hopkins, you really should.

Teaser Tuesday is a meme hosted by Should Be Reading, in which we post a little *non-spoiler* teaser of the book we are currently reading.

What Do I Do
                To become invisible again,
                to melt into the background
                like a crayon in the sun?
                How do I outmaneuver the
                that wait around every
                corner, and more, how do
                I silence the voices that
                inside my head, an accusatory
                rumble belonging to
                the dead? If only they’d talk
                perhaps I could understand
                the intention of the drone.
                Is it meant to flip me crazier
                I already am,  a healthy
                dose of lunacy wrapped
                up in isolation? My heart
                for forgiveness, cries
                out for love.

See what she did there? I first 'read' Crank by audio book. It's OK to do that, but you will miss the subtleties of the actual art that is her writing. Ellen Hopkins, I bow to you.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Wonderfully Wicked Read a Thon!

I just discovered that My Shelf Confessions is hosting a Read a Thon this week! YAY!

The basic details: The WW Read-a-Thon runs October 11th-20th, and is hosted by My Shelf Confessions. There will be twitter parties and challenges! (#WWreadathon)

You can find details about and join the Wonderfully Wicked RaT (tee-hee) here.

I will be posting a mid-challenge update on Thursday, and then on Sunday I will post my final update. Capiche?

For this challenge, I am hoping to finish:
I started at page 84 in The Long Walk and page 30 in An English Bride in Scotland.

I want to read the following during this week as well:

So far, I have read MOST of The Long Walk, so it appears I'm making decent progress! Who else is participating? LET ME KNOW BELOW! :)


Sunday Confessional! (#1)

I've decided to start my own meme, based off of the recent post by ALA in which librarians posted their secrets and confessions.

On Sundays, (or Mondays if I forget) I will post a confession related to my job or books. If you would like to join in, go ahead! Share with me your book-related confession!

To start off:
I have a shelf behind the checkout desk that I use to hold books that have not yet been entered into the library database. When a student asks me to check out one of those books, I feel selfish and territorial. I let them, but I can't stop the feelings of 'those are MY books!' 'I want to be the first to read them!'

As I said, I still let them check it out, and I love hearing them tell me if they enjoyed the book. It's hard for me to make the difference between 'my' books and library books that I bought for them. 

Ugh. Sometimes it's hard to be a book lover and a librarian.

So tell me, what are YOUR confessions?

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Stacking the Shelves #5

School Edition!

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews and gives us a chance to share with you what books we have recently bought, won, been given, or stole. ;-)

This week, I am featuring the 3 books I bought to add to my school library. The first two I am not posting a link/picture of. I bought 'Frankenstein' and 'The Strange Case of Mr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." These were $1 books from Target, and I thought would make a great addition to my Halloween display. They are easier adaptations, and perfect for some of my reluctant readers. 
The final book was something my husband actually picked out. As a Gaiman fan, I thought this would be something fun. My library is seriously lacking in graphic novels, and I do want to add more to our system. Unfortunately, they are SO EXPENSIVE! My library is completely self-funded, so the only $ we get, comes from our annual book fair. As you can imagine, that money only goes so far. :-/
**Please note, ALL book covers on this blog link to their page on Goodreads.
The following books are books on NetGalley that I've had but forgotten about. (I fail! Sorry Netgalley!) These are books that I think would be good additions for my library, and I am reviewing them in hopes that I will buy them for that purpose.

I actually have quite a few book from my netgalley that I NEED to read/review. Does anyone know if there are any netgalley knockouts going on this month or next month? I'd love to participate!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Ah, Middle School.

I decided to post once again on the topic very near and dear to my heart: being a school librarian.

If you recall, I work in a middle school. I have 6th-8th graders, and in one day I check out on average 300 books. Now, if you look back at your middle grade years, I am going to assume you cringed. Puberty is the worst, cliques are the worst, bullying is the worst... it seems that that age is universally 'the worst.'

It is difficult working with them. These kids now have an attitude and know how to use it. They understand sarcasm. They no longer want to be seen as 'cool' by the teacher, they want the students to. They have an opinion and by golly it must be FACT.

It is awkward. It is hard seeing the great divide between 'cool' students and the not-so cool students.

Why am I mentioning this? Well, because I had to see fellow book lovers bashed in my library yesterday. I know, it's heart breaking to hear of students feeling self-conscious just because they like to read.

I am starting a book club. While I was telling this to my students, I had a handful of students who were eager to get a flier from me, and were asking me questions about the club. (It is going to be a laid back/geeky club, rather then everyone reading the same book and then discussing it. It's going to be more book-talks, and fun activities like looking for book covers that use the same image. I'M EXCITED!)

When the teacher dismissed her class, a student yelled 'Yeah book club!' It was obviously very derogatory, and hearing it just made my heart sink. I stole a quick glance to the table of girls that were holding the flier and you could see they looked confused. Why must students be so incredibly cruel?

After the class left, the student and his teacher had a discussion in front of me. His teacher asked him why he didn't pick up a flier since he was 'so enthused' about the club. Of course he scuffled his feet, and avoided looking at us. After telling him we knew it was obvious he was NOT doing it to be nice, she asked him why he did it. His response was a cop out. "I don't understand the idea."

Instead of letting it go, his teacher asked him 'Do you ever people ask you why you like to get sweaty and roll around other guys?' He nodded, and then said that comments like that didn't bother him. The teacher told him that it was good for him that he might be able to not care why others didn't understand his love for wrestling and 'didn't get it' but that not everyone is like that.

In the end- I'm not sure he is truly sorry for making the comment he did. He thinks that reading is uncool, which in turn makes it OK to make fun of it.

As a mother- I am terrified of when it comes time for my daughter to be in middle school.

Right now, there are several students interested in the club and I am happy for them. Maybe this will help them- even if it means taking verbal abuse from their peers.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Review: Wicked Jealous

Robin Palmer - SPEAK

The Facts:272 pages - Paperback- 2 sittings

Summary from Goodreads: Simone never saw herself as the “cute girl”—she was always the chunky, band tee wearing, France-obsessed smart girl. But now that Simone’s a few pounds lighter and sporting a new retro style, things have gotten, well, weird. Her crush Jason seems to actually know she exists. And when Simone’s soon-to-be stepmonster Hillary stops ignoring her, Simone knows something is up. When Simone’s brother offers to let her move in with him and his six roommates on the beach for the summer, Simone jumps at the chance. But living with seven very different college boys isn’t exactly helping her land her very own happily ever after.

My Review: Do you know what makes a book 'good' to you? How do you rate and review a book knowing that the intended audience isn't actually for you- does that affect how 'good' you think it is?

When I am reading a book for my school library, I am not always looking for what I consider to be 'great literature.' I am looking for interesting books, that will help a reader cultivate their own opionons. I am not a fan of 'easy' books. I do not like Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Goosebumps. The kids in my school are pre-teens/teens. They should be pushing themselves to read more difficult books. However I know that these kids actually ENJOY the books, so I will not remove them. (Hmm. Perhaps I should write a blog post about this?) If a student is actually enjoying the book- I will consider it a 'win.' Why force a kid to read a book he has no interest in? It will only make him hesitant to read at all. Afterall, how many adults do we see reading YA? Just because I am an adult does not mean I wish to read Tom Clancy or Jane Austen every time I pick up a book.

So when I say this book is a 'cute, easy read' I mean that the story was cute enough that I was able to ignore the flaws of the book and enjoy what I was reading. I read this book in two sittings. It's fast, and for the most part, we understand the basic plot. It is a modern re-telling of Snow White, after all.

The main character becomes annoying- often. She is an overweight girl who kicks her snacking habit and starts going to Zumba. She sheds weight almost instantly it seems, and her personality changes a bit too- and not for the better. She becomes superficial. She becomes your 'normal' drama-filled, boy crazy girl.

The boys in the book are also very stereotypical at points, and it's hard to imagine a group of boys who all of a sudden care deeply for their friend's sister. (Yeah, I can't imagine a frat house calling a meeting because a girl looks sad.)

With that said the book is cute. It's enjoyable. And while the book is 'easy' it makes me want to pick up another book just to keep the warm-fuzzies going. And THAT, my dear readers, is what I call a 'good' book.

My Rating: 4 stars. If Simone had better character development, I would have given this 5 stars, easily.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Teaser Tuesday (#6)

It's Tuesday, already?

 With Halloween just around the corner, I decided this month I would devote to Stephen King. My husband owns all of his books, and I have read a couple of his before. I KNEW I would be reading Doctor Sleep, but my husband has been insisting for over a year now that I read The Long Road. Well, last night I picked it up finally. Why did it take me so long to do so? Stephen King, you are a mastermind, a scary genius who has a way with words.

Teaser Tuesday is a meme hosted by Should Be Reading, in which we post a little *non-spoiler* teaser of the book we are currently reading.

"Garraty wondered how it would be, to lie in the biggest, dustiest library silence of all, dreaming endless, thoughtless dreams behind your gummed-down eyelids, dressed forever in your Sunday suit. No worries about money, success, fear, joy, pain, sorrow, sex, or love. Absolute zero. No father, mother, girlfriend, lover. The dead are orphans. No company but the silence like a moth's wing. An end to the agony of movement, to the long nightmare of going down the road. The body in peace, stillness, and order. The perfect darkness of death.
How would that be? Just how would that be?"

I went upstairs to read at 8:30 last night. (What, my baby was asleep before 9?!?!) I put the book down at 10:30, and still couldn't sleep because I wanted to finish the book. Damn! Please, do not tell my husband he was 'right' about something. I will never head the end of it.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Dangerous Waters: An Adventure on the Titanic

Gregory Mone - Roaring Brook Press

The Facts:240 pages - Paperback- 1 day

Summary from Goodreads: A stowaway, a stolen book, a murderous villain: an adventure on the most famous shipwreck in history.
The great ocean liner Titanic is preparing to cross the Atlantic. On board is a sinister thief bent on stealing a rare book that may be the key to unlocking infinite treasure, a wealthy academic traveling home to America with his rare book collection, and Patrick Waters, a twelve-year-old Irish boy who is certain that his job as a steward on the unsinkable ship will be the adventure of a lifetime. Disguises, capers, and danger abound as the ship makes its way toward that fateful iceberg where Patrick will have to summon all his wits in order to survive.

My Review: I bought this book to add to my school's library from Scholastic. Unfortunately, historical fiction is rarely read in my school and I wanted to find books to draw students into the genre. This book appeared to be all that I could hope for- and it was! 

The stories surrounding the Titanic tend to me popular anyways, but adding the actiony mystery to the mix was a nice touch. Part of the build-up of this book IS the fact that we know the Titanic will sink. While we get caught up in the 'what is going to happen to the characters?!' the story-line does stand on it's own. 

Students will  enjoy the action, the fighting and disguises, and might even become engaged in historical fiction! (Might I add- it does NOT feature a love story!) The historical aspects of this novel are spot on- and gave myself even a greater appreciation for those who worked in the boiler rooms. 

This book took me maybe 2 hours to read, however that while being interrupted by classes. I could not wait to finish the book, and when I did to look up the author to see what other books I could add to our collection. 

If you enjoy Middle Grade books, work with kids, or want to buy HF for a reluctant reader, this would be a great place to start. 

My Rating: 4 stars. The ending moved pretty quickly so I had to re-read a chapter to fully understand who was doing what, but other than that, this book will be a great addition to my library.


Stacking the Shelves (#4)

Yay! A new Stacking the Shelves post!

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews and gives us a chance to share with you what books we have recently bought, won, been given, or stole. ;-)

These books are ones I bought either this week or last, as I don't exactly remember which book came from which trip! ****** Dirt Side Up: Re-Alive is written by a pretty awesome person, so I HIGHLY urge you to check it out! Bonus: It's only $1, and it is lend-able! I am willing to 'lend' to another book-reviewer, if you would please review it for him! *****************