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Friday, September 25, 2015

The Bard's Many Faces

Just thought I'd introduce the latest member of our teen services team.  The beloved bard, William Shakespearem recently came to reside in our Teen Zone.  He's become a bit of a fun project for us. Teens are starting to chat about his groovy costumes and give suggestions for future looks!

Carmen Miranda Will!
Arg! Pirate Bard!
The Cookie Bard!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

PROGRAM: Fall Line-up--Book Battle, Cupcake Edition

This past Saturday was our first attempt at "Cupcake Wars." It went really well.  Based on feedback from others who had done a similar program, we tried to go into the event with plenty of materials and be as organized as possible.

The event lasted an hour and a half.  We set up prior to this--several tables for the edible supplies and a table for the display construction materials. My advice is to over plan - make sure you have too much rather than too little.  We made 48 cupcakes and had nearly every candy imaginable.  *Note, make extra icing, we nearly ran out!*
These amazing creations were made by my co-worker, Lori.
Teens arrived and we explained the rules: thou shall be kind, share materials and keep messes to a minimum. Time was divided as such:

Round 1

Working as an individual--You have 20 minutes to create a cupcake design based on a classic picture book. Pick from these: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Good Night Moon, Green Eggs & Ham, The Cat in the Hat, Horton Hears a Who, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, The Giving Tree, Corduroy, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, Paddington, Pete the Cat.

Here are a few creations!
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
The Lorax
Goodnight Moon
Green Eggs & Ham
Green Eggs & Ham
Horton Hears a Who
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Round 2

Part 1:  Working in groups of 2-4--You have 30 minutes to create a cupcake design based on one of these classic or popular titles/authors:  a classic fairy tale, The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Divergent, the Lunar Chronicles, Percy Jackson or other Rick Riordan, Jonathan Maberry, John Green, Erin Hunter, Cassandra Clare, Sarah Dessen and more!

Part 2: You must also create a display for your cupcakes using the provided materials.  Be creative and highlight your cupcake masterpieces!

Teens out did themselves here, check these out!

Alice in Wonderland
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Harry Potter
Percy Jackson series

Round 3
Working as an individual or in pairs—You have 20 minutes to create a cupcake of your favorite book. 

How to Train Your Dragon
Romeo & Juliet
The Secret Garden
'The Tell Tale Heart'

We didn't pick winners per se, because I hate to leave anyone out based solely on ability.  Instead, I made individualized certificates and wrote in 'best' achievements (i.e. most elegant elephant; I'm not lying, best lion; best 'stache', and so on).

The teens and staff had tons of fun.  I'd definitely do it again and am already thinking of the next theme--video games?

#teen #library #program #cupcakewars #baking

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

REVIEW: Showtime (JEM and the Holograms Graphic Novel)

**I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for a review.**

Jem and the Holograms was a large part of my childhood growing up in the late 80's.  I'm excited that its making a resurgence in popularity; however, that travesty that is the upcoming film makes me shutter.  I will happily go watch my boxed set and avoid the coming disaster.

That being said, I'm elated that the series has made its way into a graphic novel format. Writers have taken the basic premise and updated it for a more modern teen audience.  Yes, its still cheesy, it has to be--holograms and music videos are a bit dated; however, the desire to make it big in music and petty rivalry never age. 

The story thus far is that Jerrica & Co have a band and want to make a video to enter a contest against The Misfits but Jerrica has stage fright.  Enter Synergy--the computer holographic system left by Jerrica's dearly departed father.  She can use the technology to appear as someone else while performing.  The band is a huge hit, but The Misfits are jealous and out to sabotage them at every turn. 

What I Liked...

The illustrations in and of themselves are a visual feast.  These echo back to the cartoon and I just loved them.  I want to streak my hair and wear cool make-up (oh, what I do!).  The slight changes in plot help out the premise even though the whole thing is pretty far-fetched.

I also liked the modern update of characterization. Kimber falls for Stormer, which is a departure from the cartoon.  This exploration of sexuality will appeal to teen girls experiencing similar feelings. I applaud the writers for going there. I like that this graphic novel is for girls and stands apart from the saturation of traditional superhero titles.

What I Didn't Like...

Again, the improbability of the situation is at times hard to swallow.  The characters are all a little too stereotypical. Pizzazz and her bullying, drama queen meltdowns, Kimber's unreliability, Jerrica's stage-fright. So, while intentions are good, the characters come across as rather shallow.

Final rating 4 out of 5 stars

#graphicnovel #netgalley #jem #YAlit #LBGTQ #music

REVIEW: The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow

**I received an ARC from Netgalley in exchange for a review. **

I'd heard so much buzz about this book so I was super excited to give it a go.  Imagine a world not all that different from ours.  Climate change is an issue as is constant war among nations and the real fear of regions running out of food and water.  Now, throw in a rogue AI--chalked full of attitude and hell bent on getting humans to stop and pay attention, even if that means blowing up cities and reinstituting archane practices to keep them in line.

Fast forward 400 years...

The world has changed remarkably; however, there is tenuous peace between nations...for the most part because of an ancient method of keeping peace: the exchange of hostages.  The Children of Peace - sons and daughters of kings and presidents and generals - are raised together in small, isolated schools called Preceptures. There, they learn history and political theory, and are taught to gracefully accept what may well be their fate: to die if their countries declare war.

Greta is an exemplary queen in training.  She excels in her studies and understands her duty should she survive the next 18 months--get married, have a child, be the next queen and send her future children away to keep the peace.  Her obedience is challenged following the death of one of her cohorts and the arrival of Elian--the grandson of the general who is Greta's mother's--Queen Anne--biggest rival.  Greta opens her eyes to the harsh realities of her world and has to make some very difficult choices based on significant events throughout the story.

I really enjoyed The Scorpion Rules.  There's a flare of dystopian but the genre has evolved.  Parts of the story remind me of the Hunger Games, Divergent and the Red Queen all rolled into a beautifully crafted and exciting new literary present. The narrative feels familiar and yet new and futuristic.  The addition of the AI twists and turns makes for an intriguing read.  I'm definitely interested in what is in store for the next installment.  Events during the latter part of the book bring new questions about the nature of the brain, the soul and what it might mean for character development and interaction.  The tone is hopeful with a little kernel acknowledging that a power shift is afoot. 

This is a great read to recommend for ages 14 and up.  I'd probably say age 15 since I think it will take some maturity to really grasp the full depth of the plot.  Another selling point is the appeal for LGBTQ teens. Greta is exploring her sexuality, partly with Elian but also with her roomate, Xie. This modern adaptation of the traditional love triangle trope is long overdue and adds The Scorpion Rules to the list of trending YA titles accessible for a multitude of teen readers.

Final rating: 4 out of 5 stars

#scorpionrules #erinbow #netgalley #YAlit #LGBTQ #review #dystopian

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

PROGRAM: Fall Line-up--Teen Cafe

Another returning program is Teen Cafe.  This is a gathering once a month for teens to "hang out" in out Teen Zone or just in the library.  The idea behind this stems from a 2014 renovation of the space. Teens can lounge in the TZ area, play board games, socialize or get on the computer.

A larger part of this open program is a movie showing.  Previously, we'd try to have just movie afternoons or book club tie-ins on Saturdays; however, attendance was low or inconsistent.  I'd read a bunch online about the success of similar programs.  Since the change, attendance is up whether it is due to the change of night, movie selections or the free popcorn!

We've chosen two high interest teen films plus another to work with our October "Zombiefest" theme. All three are on the Movie License list for Libraries.  I'm hoping for a good turnout!




#insurgent #warmbodies #ageofultron #teen #library #program

Monday, September 14, 2015

PROGRAM: Fall Line-up--Teen Writing Group

Well, fall programming is in full swing.  My branch is hosting a set of past favorites as well as a few special events. I thought I'd share these ideas and welcome some input about future events.

Back for another year are three staple teen programs.  The first I'll talk about is Teen Writing Group. We meet for an hour and a half every 2 weeks.  I've got an very enthusiastic and dedicated following. Plus, we always seem to add new members.

So... What do we do?  Last year, we focused on introducing some basic genres and a lot of creative writing prompts.  A big hit was interactive fiction using Twine. This is a free, open source software (no installation required) where writers can create story chains for an interactive experience a la 'Choose your own Adventure.'

This year we're going to follow up with a bit more structure.  I've introduced the groundwork for writers to explore a Multigenre Project.  This is something I learned about from an amazing professor. It adapts well and has the potential to be fun. My writers seem super excited and this week is when I'll bring in some examples.

If you want to learn more about this type of project, there are a few places to start.  My former professor, Dr. Tom Romano, is a forerunner of this writing style.  He's published several books and has a website complete with the basics of the projects and some examples. There are other sites detailing this process, but I'm partial to these.

Another staple of Teen Writing Group is the opportunity for my teen to interact with published authors.  I want to give them the opportunity to ask questions of those who are actually in the business and to get an idea of what not only the writing process but the publishing world is all about. Teens have Skyped with Katie McGarry (@KatieMcGarry) and Andrea Cremer (@andreacremer).

This week they'll get to Skype with Kiki Hamilton (@kikihamilton) and in October we're having a larger event where we'll chat with Jonathan Maberry (@JonathanMaberry).

The best part about this program is the enthusiasm it builds toward writing. A lot of the creative writing electives have been cut from local schools and there are so many teens for which writing is an outlet. I'm lucky to have had such success with this program.  My teaching background certainly comes in handy as does the support from our entire library system to promote writing.

In October, we'll host the annual teen writing contest called Our Own Words, for submissions in poetry and short story.  This is a system wide event and in November we'll announce winners at a ceremony where all writers get a chance to share their work.  It has been extremely successful in the past and many staff and teens are looking forward to it!

#teen #library #program #writing

Thursday, September 10, 2015

REVIEW: Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

Queen of Shadows is an astonisting fourth entry in Maas' Throne of Glass series.  I'm actually having difficulty writing its perfection is mere words.  Safe to say it was perfect. I cannot think of a single detail that could be changed. It is everything I wanted, needed and then some.

We've previously known her as Celaena Sardothien, an orphaned but trained deadly assassin.  In this installment, she has now returned to Rifthold to bring down the king, save her cousin, Aedion, as well as aid Chaol in freeing Prince Dorian, and stake her claim as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. All are quite challenging feats but Aelin accomplishes them with fierce fearlessness, sarcasm, compassion, grace, trustworthy allies and a whole lot of luck. 

An interesting plot shift is the role Manon Blackbeak, Wingleader of the Ironteeth Clan's Thirteen. Deadly witch warriors summoned to Morath to do the nefarious bidding of Duke Perrington. (I won't spoil anything here but !!!! he's baaaad man!) We first met Manon in Heir of Fire and she is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters.  Her connection to the next part of the story should prove exciting and her first encounter with Aelin is truly epic!  

Readers won't be disappointed as Maas weaves together an intricate plot with plenty of surprises and character developments which shift the story into a new phase for subsequent books. There is certainly no shortage of action, revenge, betrayal and angsty romance.  Those wishing for Aelin's relationship with Rowan to heat up won't be disappointed in the least. 

This was one of those reading experiences where I couldn't put it down but dreaded the end because then I'd have to wait longer for the next book. I laughed. I cried. I panicked and held my breath.  Maas is a force to be reckoned with in the fantasy genre, both in and out of YA circles. I really can't say enough amazing things about this. I wholeheartedly recommend it for not only teens but anyone looking to read a fantastically imaginative and well written fantasy book and series.

Now I'm going to go weep that I have to wait so long for book 5 :(

Final rating: 5 out of 5 stars

#queenofshadows #throneofglass #sarahjmaas #YAlit #fantasy

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

REVIEW: The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss

Expected Publication: October 20, 2015

The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss might possibly be one of the funniest books I've ever read. Described as a geek-centric crime fiction, I'm choosing to post it here because while not characteristically categorized as teen, I think it is perfect for a mature YA reader.

Dahlia Moss is an unemployed, snarky twentysomething on the verge of financial ruin.  Enter Jonah, an acquaintance, who hires Dahlia as a private detective to discover who stole the Spear of Infinite Piercing.  There are two problems 1) Dahlia isn't a detective 2) the spear is from the MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) Zoth. 

What follows is a hilarious, snarky and albeit geek-worthy adventure.  Dahlia's detective work leads her to build a list of suspicious characters all while being drawn into not only the quest for the spear but a murder investigation, planning an elaborate online funeral and surviving a deadly gamers convention.

I'd heard buzz about this book but didn't quite know what to expect.  I have to say that I was by no means disappointed. It's been a long time since I've sat and had laugh out loud moments while reading. This is certainly a great read for almost any age.  If for teens, I'd recommend ages 14 and up for some language and mild crude humor.  Dahlia is a hoot and I'm sure that other twenty somethings and older can relate to her real life problems.

Final rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Follow the author on Twitter: @maxwirestone   He's a librarian!!!

#review #unfortunatedecisions #dahliamoss #maxwirestone #mystery #crim #mmorpg #netgalley

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

REVIEW: Instinct by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Any reader who follows both Kenyon's Chronicles of Nick and Dark Hunters series knows how impossibly difficult it is to describe the complicated web of stories and characters.  The basic premise is that our beloved, yet epically flawed and tortured Nick Gautier from the Dark Hunters paranormal romance series has set out to manipulate the timeline, saving his mother from an ill fate as well as himself from being essentially evil incarnate aka "The Malachi" and ending the world.

Instinct is book 6 of the this YA series.  Now that young Nick has accepted the demon inside of him, he has to learn how to control his Malachi powers without losing his temper, destorying the world or accidentally hurting his friends.  It is becoming increasingly difficult to judge just who is an ally or enemy.  Just when Nick thinks he might have a "normal" day at school, shennanigans are once again afoot which push him further than ever to protect what he holds most dear.

I listened to the audiobook performed by Holter Graham. He has narrated the rest of the series as well as a good chunck of the Dark Hunter books.  Graham does a fantastic job with story emphasis, distinctive character voices and the ability to bring life to Nick's humor. I highly recommend the audio.

As a long time fan of both series, I am utterly hooked on the story but certainly wish Kenyon would move things along so that Nick can get his Dark Hunter epic we've all been clamoring to have for years.  The waiting certainly makes the anticipation bittersweet.  I found Instinct one of the strongest additions to this YA series.  It has the perfect amount of action, snark and intriguing character development. There are a lot of twists that occur in this novel that will greatly impact the subsequent books. I certainly like this teen Nick more than the broody and broken version of the adult series.  I cannot wait to finally see the transition in character once the YA arc comes to an end. 

Final rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

#instinct #chroniclesofnick #sherrilynkenyon #darkhunters #YAlit #review #audiobook