Tuesday, September 11, 2018

School Year Monthly Library Themes

As a Library Media Specialist I am always thinking of ways to increase our circulation statistics. After all, one of our primary goals is to pass on our love of reading to our students. When school started in August one of the first things I thought about was what the students had read over the summer. So...I decided to ask. I created a Google form, sent it out to all of our grade level email groups and simply asked..."What did you read this summer?"  

I didn't get as many responses as I would have hoped...

But I did get responses. So, I decided to post pictures of the book responses on the windows outside my office. My office is by the exit so I hoped students would at least glance at it on their way out the door or look at it before they checked out a book. 

After I sent the email out and started receiving responses, I thought to myself...what could I do the rest of the year to get students interested in reading books? I decided that I would have a monthly library theme. But what types of themes? The first place I went...Pinterest. Pinterest is one of those places where if you have an idea about something, 9 times out of 10, somebody else had too. And I was right! 

I came up with an idea for each month of the school year so I will see how successful I am at not only keeping this up...but also, seeing what kinds of responses I'll get from students. 

Wish me luck! 

August Theme: What Did You Read This Summer? 
September Theme: Selfie September

Friday, September 7, 2018

From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon

From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon

Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy—a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2.

When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.

Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough?

Told through the letters Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, with Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you.

So I got on a huge diversity kick this summer for two reasons. One - #WeNeedDiverseBooks and also in that vein, I realized that I hardly read ANY books by POC last year (2017). Like…none. Now…I was in graduate school last year which did not leave a lot of room for pleasure reading…but I didn’t read any…which is very unlike me. Not even one romance book which is really my jam. SO…I made a huge effort to do so this summer after I finished school.  And not just diverse, but YA diverse.  One of these books was From Twinkle, With Love. Well…I loved it! 

Twinkle…an aspiring movie director is likeable, smart and sassy. What I found really inspiring about this book is that it was told through letters Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers. The overall story is about Twinkle entering a filmmaking art festival. She enlists very cute Sahil (he really volunteers himself) to help her by producing the movie for her. Twinkle decides this is a good idea because she has a crush on Sahil’s twin (more popular) brother Neil thinking the more time she spends with Sahil – the more time she’ll be able to spend with Neil. Yay! What Twinkle doesn’t expect is that Sahil’s pretty cool too. Adorably cool and cute. How can she have feelings for Sahil when she really wants Neil, especially when she begins receiving anonymous emails from someone who is crushing on her with the initial “N.” You can all but guess that she assumes this is Neil. 

In this novel you get plenty of teenage angst, teenage parties, mean girls and BFFs. You become entrenched in the lives of Twinkle and her family, especially her Dadi (grandmother), Sahil and his family and their teenage friendships.  You also get to learn about her Indian culture which was an added bonus for me. So, if you’re looking for a little diversity in your reading and you like realistic YA fiction, this is a good one to add to your TBR.

The Lucky Ones by Tiffany Reisz

The Lucky Ones by Tiffany Reisz

They called themselves “the lucky ones.” They were seven children either orphaned or abandoned by their parents and chosen by legendary philanthropist and brain surgeon Dr. Vincent Capello to live in The Dragon, his almost magical beach house on the Oregon Coast. Allison was the youngest of the lucky ones living an idyllic life with her newfound family…until the night she almost died, and was then whisked away from the house and her adopted family forever.

Now, thirteen years later, Allison receives a letter from Roland, Dr. Capello’s oldest son, warning her that their father is ill and in his final days. Allison determines she must go home again and confront the ghosts of her past. She's determined to find out what really happened that fateful night--was it an accident or, as she's always suspected, did one of her beloved family members try to kill her?

But digging into the past can reveal horrific truths, and when Allison pieces together the story of her life, she'll learns the terrible secret at the heart of the family she once loved but never really knew.

A vivid and suspenseful tale of family, grief, love—and the dark secrets that bind everything together—Tiffany Reisz’s latest is enthralling to the final page.

Tiffany Reisz first fell onto my radar after a friend told me I should read The Siren several years ago. I can’t remember how many books were out in that series when I began reading them but... I. Could. Not. Get. Enough. Her Original Sinners series is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITES!!! Nora is Queen!

She’s since gone on to write several standalone novels and I’ve devoured those as well. The Night Mark and The Bourbon Thief are excellent!! But…back to The Lucky Ones.

We begin our novel with Allison who is being dumped by her current lover…rich lover I might add. But this lover has decided that the woman who is now carrying his baby - not Allison - should be his man focus. He’s an ass. 


During this breakup Allison gets a letter. We find out that Allison grew up in a foster home in Oregon in a house that looks like a dragon if you’re looking at it at the right angle. Dr. Capello, her foster father, is dying. Allison only lived in the foster home for a few years and loved it but because of an “accident” that she suffered (and doesn’t really remember) through while she was there, it ended with her going to live with an older aunt. 

Allison decides that because of her breakup it is a good time to go back to Oregon to see her foster father and foster siblings because she hasn’t seen them in 13 years. She reconnects with her foster siblings and father but learns while she was there, that there were many secrets being kept in that house. 

Once she delves into finding out these secrets you find out that the other foster children brought into this home and the home itself is not as happy as she remembers. 

Tiffany Reisz is as awesome storyteller. There are twists and turns and once you begin reading, you will become engrossed in finding out the secrets residing in this dragon house by the sea.

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.
But that’s not a life Jane wants. Almost finished with her education at Miss Preston’s School of Combat in Baltimore, Jane is set on returning to her Kentucky home and doesn’t pay much mind to the politics of the eastern cities, with their talk of returning America to the glory of its days before the dead rose. But when families around Baltimore County begin to go missing, Jane is caught in the middle of a conspiracy, one that finds her in a desperate fight for her life against some powerful enemies. And the restless dead, it would seem, are the least of her problems.

This book was sooo much fun to read. An African American zombie hunter after the Civil War! Ha! Who would have thought? Jane, the lead character is whip-smart, funny, and a typical teenager who has the most awesome petty comebacks, which I absolutely loved. 

About the book - Sometime around the last days of the Civil War, the dead became the undead (shamblers). Now that it’s over, most of the younger females have been enlisted to go to elite schools and train to become zombie hunters and attendants to the more affluent whites. Jane is one of these females and attends Miss Preston’s School for Combat in Baltimore

There is nonstop action fighting zombies, and Jane, along with a couple of friends (loosely) in Red Jack (an ex-boyfriend) and Katherine (rival), also try to solve a mystery of disappearing people. Trying to solve the mystery of the disappearances (which includes the disappearance of Red Jack’s little sister) get these three in a little bit of trouble. Since this novel takes place right after the Civil War, you see that blacks still face oppression, racism and how they try to survive, dealing with these issues. A uniqueness I also found about this book is that each chapter begins with a letter written by Jane to her mother. Through these letters we learn about who Jane is and her history. 

This book is the beginning of a trilogy so don’t look for a happily ever zombie killing after at the end but only the beginning to Jane, Katherine, and Red Jacks stories. If you are a fan of the Walking Dead and/or historical fiction and you want a little diversity in your reading, this book just might appeal to you. It did to me and I’m eagerly waiting for book #2.

Shelter in Place by Nora Roberts

Shelter In Place by Nora Roberts

Sometimes, there is nowhere safe to hide.
It was a typical evening at a mall outside Portland, Maine. Three teenage friends waited for the movie to start. A boy flirted with the girl selling sunglasses. Mothers and children shopped together, and the manager at the video-game store tended to customers. Then the shooters arrived.

The chaos and carnage lasted only eight minutes before the killers were taken down. But for those who lived through it, the effects would last forever. In the years that followed, one would dedicate himself to a law enforcement career. Another would close herself off, trying to bury the memory of huddling in a ladies' room, hopelessly clutching her cell phone--until she finally found a way to pour her emotions into her art.

But one person wasn't satisfied with the shockingly high death toll at the DownEast Mall. And as the survivors slowly heal, find shelter, and rebuild, they will discover that another conspirator is lying in wait--and this time, there might be nowhere safe to hide.

***I received an advanced reader copy of this book before it was released.***

I must say that when Nora Roberts' crew released the first chapter of this book before I received the ARC – I wanted to read it. BAD!!!

I knew this book would focus on a touchy and tough topic (mass shootings) so I wanted to see how she dealt with it. 

I was blown away! 

This book was sooooo good!!!  I don’t know anyone who has the ability so eloquently tackle a topic the way Nora Roberts does. 

So about the book…Simone Knox’s two best friend’s drag her out of the house two attend a movie to help her deal with a breakup. Halfway through her favorite soda she needs to use the restroom – a decision that ultimately saves her life. While she’s in the restroom – a gunman enters the movie theater and begins shooting. At the same time, Reed Quartermaine is working at a restaurant in the mall and takes his break hoping to score a date with a young lady who works in a kiosk in the mall. His decision ultimately saves his life because the mass shooter – has friends.TWO OF THEM! Both Simone and Reid are able to “shelter in place” and come out of the mall alive – but forever damaged by the events that happen to them. But if you think this story is over – you’re so so wrong!!! 

Roberts has a very good grasp of the romantic suspense so if you’re a NR fan or a romantic suspense fan and feel you can get through reading about a sensitive topic – then this novel is for you.  

Very well written!!! The first few chapters will leave you gasping...

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Bourbon Thief by Tiffany Reisz

Tiffany Reisz will take you places in her stories that you were never prepared to go. I learned this while reading her Original Sinners series on the recommendation of a friend. I guess I should have learned my lesson but I didn’t and I in truth it really doesn’t matter anyway because whatever Ms. Reisz decides to put on paper I’m going to read it no matter what. She’s just that great a storyteller.

The Bourbon Thief begins in The Rickhouse Bar owned by Cooper McQueen. When Paris walks in his bar he is immediately smitten…or wants to take her to bed. He’s completely thrown off when not only does she not hesitate but tells him, “I could own you by morning!” I think from that moment in the book I was hooked. But Paris has an ulterior motive for not only walking in Cooper’s bar, she has a real reason for wanting in his house. The last known bottle of Red Thread bourbon. After Paris steals the beer, she is caught but instead of immediately calling the police, Cooper allows him to tell her the real history behind Red Thread and what follows is an interwoven tale of deception, revenge, and the sins of a family willing to do anything to keep their bloodline going.

The story of Tamara Maddox and Levi Shelby is not for the weak and timid reader, but the way Ms. Reisz weaves this story together will have you wondering what the heck did you just read? I enjoyed it thoroughly getting lost in the past, the story of the bourbon and a relationship that’ll make you question everything you know about true love.

A few of my favorite lines from the book...

“And bourbons like the truth, you know.”
“How’s that?”
“The first taste burns, but once you get used to it, it’s the only thing you want in your mouth.”