Monday, September 17, 2012

Mandy's Book of the Week (9/17)

How about a classic YA novel today?

I read this book as a part of the "classics" lesson in my most recent class.  My first impression wasn't great; I mean, just look at that cover?  But I was a bit intrigued by the synopsis, so I cracked it open and got to reading.

Change a few details and this could be any book about bullying written today.

Every year at the Catholic school where this novel is set, they host a chocolate sale.  It is a way to show school spirit and help raise some very needed funds for the school each year.

Operating under the radar, even though everyone from teachers to students know they exist, is a group called the Vigils.  The Vigils go around basically bullying and harassing kids into pulling pranks or doing their dirty work.  One of the first "assignments" they give during this particular school year is for a kid to go into a room and loosen all the screws to every desk, chair, table, and the chalkboard.  That way when the students go to sit down, they'll all collapse.

Jerry is a freshman who lives with his dad (his mother died the previous spring) and he's doing everything he can to make the football team.  Beyond that, he just wants to be left alone.  Of course the leader of the Vigils, Archie, singles Jerry out for an extra special assignment targeting the chocolate sale.  Basically, he's supposed to not sell the chocolates.  So when the time comes and the teachers are handing out boxes, Jerry should refuse them.  This leads to unexpected repercussions and the Vigils tell him after two weeks to accept the chocolates and sell them as usual.  But Jerry continues to refuse them in direct violation to the order from the Vigils.  This is where the heavy handed bullying starts.

I enjoyed this book a lot, but I see it having huge potential as a book for dudes.  It was a page turner for sure.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Mandy's Book of the Week (9/10)

I'm finally back to posting these!  Between getting library cards issued to every Cotter student and doing lots of book talks, I've been out of the office most Monday mornings and these postings got put on hold.

This week, I present you with a book that is unique at the present time.  This book is a standalone novel, meaning it is not a part of a series.  The entire story opens and closes within the confines of this book.

Maggie Stiefvater has taken the legend of the water horses, a Celtic mythical creature (called the capaill uisce in this book), and made it her own.  I'm not a "horse girl,"  and I was worried that I wouldn't like this book, but MAN!, this book is good.

The capaill uisce live in the ocean and start coming to land on the island of Thisby every autumn.  This is dangerous as the horses are carnivorous (read: they'll eat you, your sheep, your cat, whatever) and super strong.  In fact, one of the main character's parents were killed by the horses several years before.

This is a flip perspective book, so you go back and forth between Puck (real name Kate, the middle child orphaned by the capaill uisce) and Sean, a 19 year old who works at the island's stable.

Thisby is generally an island filled with the poor and there is no exception for Puck and her two brothers.  She and her younger brother take odd jobs when they can, but their main breadwinner is her older brother, Gabe.  Gabe is responsible for keeping them afloat, so when he decides he just can't take island life anymore and decides to move to the mainland, Puck has to take drastic measures to make sure the rest of the family can afford to live.

For Sean, his risk comes for the horse he loves.  He's been training his capaill uisce, Corr, for years and has grown to love him dearly.  In fact, while the water horses generally cannot be trusted, Sean and Corr have developed a small sense of trust with each other.

Every November, the Scorpio Races are held.  This is the island's primary means of support as people come from all over the world to watch people chance their lives by racing the capaill uisce on the beach.  Lives are lost every year; the horses are drawn to the sea and have a type of magic living in them that causes their riders to go willingly into the sea with them.  And that is the more bloodless type of death, the horses maim and kill on the beach as well.

Puck decides to enter the race as a means to save her house and provide for herself and her brother, since the winner gets a sizable amount of money.  However, Puck is going to race her mare instead of a water horse and she's the first woman ever to enter the race, leaving her vulnerable to attack by men who think she shouldn't be a part of it.

Sean has asked to purchase Corr from his ruthless boss, the owner of the stable where he works, to no avail.  Sean has won the Scorpio Races on Corr for the last 2 years and has been saving his money.  He hopes that this will be the year he can somehow find the right price to make Corr his.

This book was such a joy to read.  It was full of suspense and Maggie Stiefvater writes in such a way that you never know what is going to happen.  The Scorpio Races was also a Printz Honor book, meaning that it expands from being simply a book and became literature.

Come and enjoy it!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Summer Recap

Welcome to a new school year!  No matter if you love it or hate it, there is no doubt that is is upon us again.

Here at the library, we had a great summer.  We had classes and film screenings and craft sessions and more.

Just a little recap:

Making dream catchers during Crafternoon:

Crafternoon 3 using bleach on black shirts:

Stargazing (I couldn't get good pictures of the outside portion):

One of our many game nights:

Glass etching during Crafternoon 4:

Zombies After Hours:

The winning zombie cookie.

I wasn't able to get pictures of all our activities, but there were lots more than this and we had a great time.

Now, we're gearing up to get back to our regularly scheduled programming.

If you need volunteer hours and/or are a great party planner or into the latest books, consider applying to be on the Teen Library Council.  They are responsible for helping me order everything in the teen area and for planning events.  Applications can be picked up in the Teen Library or from your English teacher at school and are due by August 31.

Anime Club will start meeting again on September 11.  It is the 2nd Tuesday of every month from 5-6:30 and is open to all teens.

Teen Tuesdays will start back up on September 25.  They are the 4th Tuesday of each month from 5-7pm.  TLC plans a different theme for each of these with food and activities to go with it and they are a ton of fun.

We also have a new program debuting this fall called Friday After Hours.  It'll be September 21 and November 16 this fall from 6-10pm.  We'll eat, watch movies, do crafts, and other stuff as decided by TLC.

We also scatter special activities throughout the year, like Banned Books Week Open Mic Night (Oct. 2), Teen Read Week Read-a-Thon (Oct. 19), and our 2nd Annual Scary Movie Marathon (Oct. 26).  That's just a sampling, so be sure to keep up to date on teen activities on the teen calendar.

I hope you have a painless school year!  See you soon!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Our Library: the Summer Edition

I think libraries get a bad rap.  They are so stereotyped: the librarian with glasses and a bun, shushing people as they browse the stacks.  When I go into schools to chat with students, I'm always sure to tell them that we are not your mother's library.  We are LOUD.  We are so much more than books (although, we have a lot of those as well!): we have video games going all the time and computers that are age discriminate so only teens can log on.  We have some really comfy couches too, perfect for hanging out.  It is very rare that I'll ever shush you, although I can't say it has never happened. ;-)

See?  This is the second picture that popped up on Google Images.

I work very hard, in coordination with my Teen Library Council, to make sure that this is a great place for teens, no matter if you're attending a program or just coming to do some homework without your little brother bugging you constantly.  Our summer reading program and activities are no different.

I've broken things up into 3 different categories this summer.

I love this year's theme!

Summer Reading Program

This is where the swag is.  Basically, for every hour increment that you hit (we start at 10 hours and go up to 70), you get a prize.  You are guaranteed something at every level.  Prizes start small with pizza gift certificates and eventually work up into t-shirts and lunch at the Thai place and cap out with a drawing for a Kindle Fire (you read that right).  We have TONS of prizes, not just the stuff I mentioned here.

Some people are hesitant to do the reading program because they aren't really "readers."  That's ok!  We count listening to audiobooks in our program too.  Audiobooks are anywhere from around 7-10 hours long, so theoretically you could listen to 7 books and be eligible for the Kindle drawing.

Our summer reading program for teens starts June 4.  We're having a picnic lunch on the patio that day from 11-1, so you can come pick up your reading forms and grab lunch and a book at the same time.  But you aren't limited to that day or time; the reading forms will be available until we run out, which could be days or weeks later.

Summer Book Chats

This year, all the books in our book chats are independent novels, meaning that you don't have to read one to understand the next.  I hope that that makes it easier for people to attend one session and not the others, if they so choose.  Additionally, participants who attend the book chat will get to keep their book.  Score!

This year's books:

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Peak by Roland Smith

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefeter

Summer Activities

This is where the meat of our summer is.  We have lots and lots of different activities going on.  There is something for everyone!  We have AR Game and Fish coming out twice to issue boating safety certificates and, later, hunter's education cards.  We have craft sessions.  We have a Lord of the Rings movie marathon.  And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Seriously, there are so many things that I lack the stamina to type them all out.  You can pick up a brochure of everything from the library, if you happen to swing by, or you can go to our website to download a copy.

Registration for our summer activities starts May 28.  Everything except the picnic on June 4 and the Game Nights on Tuesdays requires registration; how else will I know how much food I need??

I'm thrilled about all our summer programs and I hope that you are too!  And, remember, you are always welcome to call me (580-0987 x 2703) or email me ( with any questions or issues.

Happy summer!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mandy's Book of the Week (5/7)

Howdy!  I was on vacation last week and, while I was there, I spent a lot of time with my feet buried in the sand reading a good book.  It was great!

This week's book is a bit older but it is a new addition (within the last 6 months) to our library.

This book follows three best friends (Maddie, Zoe, and Angela) through the beginning of their sophomore year in high school.  It is formatted totally in chat mode (through IM), which is a neat twist.

Each girl has something going on that is either pulling her away from her friends or pushing her back toward them.  Angela is a bit boy crazy and lands several boyfriends.  Zoe is being hit on by a teacher (which she doesn't realize) and discovering religion.  And Maddie makes an epic mistake that gets forwarded to the entire school.

This is the first book of three and is one of the most challenged books in the country.  It frequently ends up on a Banned Books Week list.  It is a fun and quick read and waiting on you here at the library!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mandy's Book of the Week (4/23)

Hello all!  Today I present you with a graphic novel.  I don't think I've ever highlighted one of these before, so I'm happy to have found one so awesome!

I'm not a visual learner, so graphic novels, in and of themselves, haven't ever had too strong of a draw for me.  This one, however, is great.

American Born Chinese is essentially three stories wrapped in to one.  First you have the old Chinese tale of the Monkey King.  Then, the story of Danny and his cousin Chin Kee.  And last, the story of Jin Wang, a boy whose parents immigrated from China and who really just wants to fit in.

I'm not going to get much into the tale of the Monkey King because I'd give too much away.  Just know that there is a monkey who rules over a mountain but that's not enough for him: he wants to be a god.

Danny is a white boy with a Chinese cousin.  This Chinese cousin, Chin Kee, comes to visit him every year and he is THE WORST.  He is basically every stereotype about the Chinese all rolled up in to one person.  Every year that he comes to visit, something so embarrassing happens that Danny is forced to transfer schools.

Jin Wang spends his first 9 years living in Chinatown, so he grows up with his parents' customs and other kids who look like him.  When he's 9, he moves to a suburb and is one of the only non-white kids at his school.  His whole world changes and he experiences racism for the first time.  He befriends a boy who has recently moved from Taiwan, but there is more to this boy than Jin knows.

At the end of the book, these three stories are linked together through some truly masterful storytelling.

Between the story, which is amazing, and the artwork, which is also incredible, you'd be hard pressed to find a better graphic novel in our collection.  Enjoy!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Mandy's Book of the Week (3/26)

Did everyone have a great spring break?  I ended mine by seeing The Hunger Games, so I'm a happy girl!

In the spirit of The Hunger Games, I'm offering up another book that is a serious mind trip.

This book is set about two generations (50ish years) in the future.  Some time in that 50 years, there was a war, called the Heartland War.  This war took place over abortion.  The pro-life side wanted life to be held sacred from conception while the pro-choice side wanted abortions to be available during the entire pregnancy.  Both sides got so worked up that a war broke out between them.

Eventually, they reached a compromise: life is held sacred from conception to the age of 13.  Between the ages of 13 and 18, if an abortion is still wanted, the parents can put an Unwind order on the child.  All parts (or, actually, 99.4%) of the child must still be living after s/he is unwound.  Basically, they divide you into pieces and give you to people who need new arms or hearts or eyes.  Terrifying, no?

If you would've had an abortion and really can't take care of your child, you can "stork" the baby.  Basically, you can leave it on someone's doorstep.  That person, when they find the baby, is then legally obligated to raise it.  If you get caught "storking" your baby, you have to keep it.

So twisted.

The story follows three teens who are set to be unwound: Risa, Connor, and Lev. 

Connor is one of those teens that just exasperate his parents.  He's not a bad kid, just difficult.  He gets in a lot of fights and isn't the best student, but he can still be thoughful and get good grades when he wants to.  Basically, he's a typical teen.  Connor stumbled across his Unwind Order by accident.  He was looking for something in his dad's desk and found it, along with three tickets to the Bahamas (one for mom, dad, and his little brother) for the day after he was to be unwound.

Risa is a ward of the state.  She is bright, gets good grades, and is a very talented piano player.  Unfortunately there have been some budget cuts and, since she isn't the next Mozart, they schedule her to be unwound to make room for someone else.

Lev is a tithe.  He is the 10th child in his family and, because 10% of everything is supposed to be given to God, he was designated to be that 10%.  He's being unwound for religious reasons.

The way in which these three stumble upon each other is a wild ride.  And this book will make you think while horrifying you at the same time.

The sequel, UnWholly, will be out in August.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Mandy's Book of the Week (3/12)

I dig dystopia.  The whole "big bad awful future" stuff is among my favorite thing to read right now, so, of course, I loved this book.

In Beatrice's world, there are four factions: Dauntless, for the brave, Amity, for the peaceful, Candor, for the honest, Erudite, the intelligent, and Abnegation, for the selfless.  The society deems that you must live with your faction of birth until the age of 16.  At that point, you get to decide your faction. Many choose to stay with their faction of birth ("faction before blood" is the motto, so you don't see much of your family if you go into a different one), but many also choose to change factions.

Beatrice loves her family, but she doesn't feel as selfless as the rest of them.  While they truly personify the meaning of the word, she feels more selfish and like she doesn't fit in with her faction.

Before you get to choose your faction, you are put through some mental tests to determine where you might fit the best.  The vast majority of people show a propensity for one faction very clearly.  Beatrice, however, does not.  She is a clear split in three equal directions.  This is known as being Divergent and is terribly dangerous.  Her test administrator tells her to keep this fact a secret because most people who are known Divergents end up dead.

On choosing day, Beatrice chooses to become Dauntless.  They are put through brutal and rigorous training at the Dauntless compound, but Tris, as she's now known, is coming out on top.  As they are nearing the end of their training, political upheaval begins and Tris, because she's a Divergent, is one of the only people who can save her blood family.

This book is simply amazing.  The sequel, Insurgent, is coming out in May.  I promise, you won't be able to put this one down!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Mandy's Book of the Week (3/5)

Happy Monday!

This week is Teen Tech Week and we're celebrating with a contest or artsy workshop after school each day.  For a full schedule of events, go to our website.

In honor of the technology geek in all of us, I present a tech book this week.

Mike and Lindsey are best friends and have been for a long time.  Mike falls for Lindsey.  Just as he's getting the courage to tell her, they have a disagreement, a total misunderstanding, and Lindsey leaves town for the summer.  When she comes back, she is suddenly very popular.  She doesn't even have the time of day for Mike anymore.

Then, at a party, Lindsey gets herself into a very...compromising...situation that is caught in its entirety on a cell phone camera and posted online.  The video goes viral and Lindsey feels as if her life is destroyed.  Mike has to decide if he is a big enough man to forgive Lindsey for everything she's done and be there for her in her time of need.

This book is a teensy little book, but it packs a big punch.  How terrifying, the thought of having something like that posted on the Internet!

Definitely a book for guys and girls, so come snag it today!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mandy's Book of the Week (2/27)

Snow Day + Presidents' Day Holiday = 2 week hiatus

Glad to be back on this BEAUTIFUL Monday!

One of the great things about the class I'm taking in graduate school right now is that I'm being exposed to a lot of books that I wouldn't have read on my own.  This week's book is a prime example of that.  I'm not a big lover of historical fiction or books about revolution, but I could not put this book down once I picked it up.  (Actually, I read this on ebook, so I had to put it down on occasion because my phone died.)

This story is set in the 1960s in the Dominican Republic where they are ruled over by a dictator that has been in power for 30 years.  Anita is twelve and, as such, wrapped up in things that twelve year olds are wrapped up in.  She wants to be friends with her older sister, who is annoyed with her very existence.  She wants the boy next door to fall in love with her.  She wants to be older and more sophisticated.

Anita's father, however, is in the top ranks among the country's revolutionaries who aim to take down their dictator.  The rest of her family, from her grandparents to her cousins, have already fled to New York.  Once Anita learns of her father's involvement, she gets anxious.  Her sister even ends up having to flee the country because the dictator happened to notice her at a party and takes a special liking to her.

Eventually, the plan that the revolutionaries have been working on is played out, but something goes wrong and Anita and her mother end up having to go into hiding.

It is a small book, not even 200 pages long, but the content is big.  I found it hard to resist!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Mandy's Book of the Week (2/6)

Happy February!  I hope everyone had a great time watching the Super Bowl last night (or watching the commercials, perhaps).  Our Super Bowl party here at the library was super fun.

Every month generally has some sort of theme or celebration tied to it.  This month, we have our display shelving set up to celebrate Black History Month and our glass display case set up to acknowledge Teen Dating Violence Prevention Month.

This book is heart breaking and gut wrenching.  It is the story of Melinda, who was among the most popular girls in her junior high.  She's 15 now and getting ready to go to high school.  The summer before school begins, she and her friends are invited to their first high school party.  They are all super excited to be hanging out with the upperclassmen.  Melinda is pulled aside by one of the most popular senior boys and they go somewhere private and start to make-out.  Only he wants to take it too far and when Melinda says "no," he doesn't listen.

Melinda panics and calls the cops.  And of course because that is what you're supposed to do in the event of a rape.  There is a lot of alcohol at this party, however, so a lot of people get in trouble and, when the cops showed up Melinda was too freaked out to tell them what happened.  Now everyone thinks Melinda is a tattle tale and they make it their mission to see her suffer.

Melinda doesn't tell anyone what happens and spends most of the book not speaking at all.  Her grades drop, she loses weight, she stops washing her hair; basically she does everything she can to become invisible.

When Melinda's former best friend starts dating the rapist, she know something has to give.  Namely, she's going to have to speak.

This book isn't a big thick one, but it packs a huge punch.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Mandy's Book of the Week (1/30)

Hi!  I hope you are all prepared to have an awesome week!  I've been super busy planning a spring full of awesome teen events.  I was on Talk of the Town on KTLO radio last Friday talking about some of it and will go back on the air February 27th to talk about March's events in detail (I'll post a link to the audio for last week when it becomes available).

Anyway, on to book of the week!

I just finished this book yesterday, but it was so good I wanted to go ahead and share it today.

If you like horror stories, this book is right up your alley.  It reminded me a lot of a Stephen King novel.

Alex's parents died when she was 14.  A year later, she was diagnosed with a beast of a brain tumor.  Finally, at age 17, the doctors have decided there is very little left that can be done for her.  Sure, they can do experimental stuff that may or may not extend her life, but nothing is guaranteed.  Alex decides that she's done with treatment and is going to live the rest of her life, however long that is, the way she wants.  Carpe diem, if you will.

One day, Alex skips school and heads into Michigan.  She is taking her parents ashes to sprinkle in Lake Superior, as they wished, but this involves quite a bit of hiking.  Enough that she'll be gone several weeks.

On her second day in the woods, she runs into a little girl, Ellie, and her grandfather and their dog.  Ellie has an attitude as big as she is (her father was recently KIA in Iraq) and the dog was her father's dog during the war.  While chatting over coffee, something happens.  The grandfather drops dead.  The animals go berserk.  Alex's head feels like it is going to explode.  Once the pain subsides, she realizes all the electrical equipment has stopped working.  What is going on?

Eventually, Alex persuades Ellie, who is freaking out, to come with her to the nearest ranger station.  However, on the way they fall near a ledge, causing all their supplies except a few to tumble over the side, and they divert to a nearby camping site for help.

When they get to the site, they cannot believe their eyes: there are two teens eating a person.  And I mean really digging in.  This begins the real journey.  What was that pain (and why did it cause Alex's sense of smell, long ago lost to cancer, to come back?)?  What happened to Ellie's grandfather?  And what the heck happened to those kids?

This is a great story for everyone who likes horror or mystery.  There is a very little bit of a love story, but it is so tiny and secondary to everything else that I probably shouldn't even mention it.

I returned this book today, so it is ready and waiting!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Mandy's Book of the Week (1/16)

This week's book is what they tend to call an "issues book," basically meaning that it is a piece of fiction that deals with some sort of issue that teens could possibly deal with.

Doesn't that cover look romantic?  This book is NOT a romance.  As we learned last week, don't judge a book by its cover!

This book is about Nick and Caitlin.  Nick is that hot popular guy at school who is completely out of reach of your typical girl.  Caitlin used to be fat, but she lost a lot of weight over the summer and now Nick wants to date her.

Being that she is not used to all this male attention, especially from someone like Nick, she goes out with him and they quickly fall in love.  But then he gets controlling.  And eventually verbally abusive.  And soon he starts hitting her.

But here's the thing: Nick does love Caitlin.  He loves her so much that his life is dominated by the fear of her leaving him.  In order to keep her, he thinks that he has to make her feel like absolute crap about herself so that she'll be too downtrodden to leave.

It was a hard book to read, emotionally.  It was hard for me to find sympathy for either Nick or Caitlin.  How many times did my parents tell me that you leave a boy/man that hits you?  And yet, Caitlin stayed and stayed and stayed some more.  She even went back after Nick hit her the first time.  And Nick, in the beginning, just doesn't view any of his controlling or abusive behaviors as a bad thing.  That is, until Caitlin gets a restraining order and he is forced to attend a class for men who beat their girlfriends and wives.

Once this book got going, I couldn't put it down.  It is very engaging and easy to read.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Mandy's Book of the Week (1/9)

I was hesitant to read this week's book.  I was hesitant to read it because I didn't like the cover (I'll hang my head for shallowness now).

The cover is still not visually appealing to me.  I mean, a lighter?  Some words?  There is a reason that book covers have been getting big makeovers and that's because people really do judge a book by its cover.

I regret that I didn't pick this book up sooner.  It is a mystery and a thriller all rolled up into one ugly cover.

Ok, I'll quit talking about the ugly cover now.

Vera's mom took off when she was 12 and she's lived with just her dad ever since.  The one true constant in her life has been her best friend Charlie.  Eventually this childish, best friend love begins to transform, but Vera doesn't admit it to Charlie.  She barely admits it to herself.

Once Charlie and Vera get to high school, things start to change.  Vera is on the academic track while Charlie, who COULD be on the same track, has been convinced by his dad (who beats his mom) to take a different path.  Charlie starts getting detention and eventually falls in with the "detentionheads," the kids who spend practically their whole lives in detention.  One of the girls, jealous of the attention that Charlie gives to Vera, starts spreading rumors, namely things that Vera said about Charlie (like that his dad beats his mom, which is the family's dirty little secret), causing Charlie to start spilling Vera's secret (that her mom used to be a stripper).  There is a huge falling out.  And the downward spiral begins in earnest.

This book reads in a split format; some of the chapters are from the present and some flash back to the past.  Sometimes that can be irritating, but it really works in this book.  It is super easy to follow and there are some really funny chapters written by the dead kid (that'd be Charlie) or Vera's dad.  Did I not mention that Charlie was dead?  My bad.

Ignore the cover.  PLEASE ignore the cover.  This book is so good that it was shortlisted for a major award.  Come get it!