New Years Eve Countdown Ball Craft

Hi Guys,

Another program I planned to be executed while I am on maternity leave is a New Years new-years-eve-countdown-ball-for-kids-780x1024Eve Countdown Ball Craft. This was an idea passed down from other librarians but I think they originally got the idea from JDaniels’s Mom.

Basically, this is a really easy drop-in craft for the kids to do sometime before New Years Eve.

You will need:

  • Scissors (a razor blade works better if you have an adult wielding it)
  • Paper plate
  • Strips of paper (8” x 14” works best)
  • And whatever decorating tools you want to use… glitter glue, markers, foam stickers, etc.

Take your paper plate and cut two slits in the middle of the plate–about an inch wide and an inch apart.

Cut a strip of colored paper and number down from 12. If you don’t think you can eyeball it, use a ruler to evenly mark the numbers.

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Then get creative and decorate your plate!

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Finally, slide your numbers through each of the slits so that one is always showing.

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Ta da!

That’s all for now!

-M-

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The Life She Was Given

The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman is a duel narrative fictional novel about family secrets that span decades.

In 1931, Lilly Blackwood spots a circus through the barred glass of her attic dormer window and her life is forever changed. All her life Lilly has lived in the attic of her parents house. She is locked up and no one knows of her existence except for her devoutly religious and abusive mother and her distant father. Lilly is different and is constantly reminded that the world would fear her if they saw her.

The night after the circus arrives, Lilly’s mother drags her from the attic and to the circus where she is sold to Merrick, the owner of the circus freak show. Lilly is to be their new exhibit. A child and alone in the world, Lilly must learn to obey or face the consequences. Can she find a home in this world of spectacle and farce?

More than two decades later, nineteen-year-old runaway, Julia Blackwood learns that her parents have died and left her Blackwood Manor. Returning to a home of strict rules and locked doors, Julia begins to uncover secrets about her past that with shake her to her core.

What does Lilly and Julia have in common? How are they connected? And what secrets will come to light when the dust is cleared?

I actually really enjoyed this book. I picked it up on a whim to read in the hospital and it kept my interest the whole time. I’ve never read anything by Ellen Marie Wiseman before but I really enjoyed her writing style and the past/present narrative really worked for me.

There is something about a circus, carnival, travelling show that just captures my interest and I found myself fully invested in Lilly’s story. I wanted to see how this little girl adapts to a cast of characters and learns to live her life year after year in a travelling circus.

Although, I was more invested in Lilly’s story, I also enjoyed Julia’s search for truth. I do with Julia’s chapters were fleshed out a little bit more and the characters more developed but other than uncovering her parent’s secrets, Julia wasn’t an overly complex character, unlike Lilly.

This is a story about being different and persevering; finding ones true self and moving on. This one gets 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Superhero Photo Booth

Hi Guys,

Obviously, I’ve been MIA lately and will probably be a sporadic poster for the few weeks. We just welcomed a new addition to our family, so posting has taken a back burner. That being said, I’ve scheduled a few posts for the upcoming weeks.

Before I went on maternity leave at work, I organized a few programs for the library. The first is a superhero photo booth. Our library system is holding it’s second annual library con in January and all the branches are doing lead up events. Because I won’t be there to run it, I decided to organize a really easy, but FUN, passive program.

71ethkjqnvl-_sl1000_Basically, we reserved one of our small collaboration rooms for a weekend and set up the program as a drop-in, so anyone can drop in to the photo booth all day long. We ordered two superhero backdrops to hang on either side of the room. Then I got busy with the props.

A lot of the props I made myself using superhero mask templates from online. I printed them, cut them out, laminated them to make them more sturdy and attached them to chopsticks. There are a ton of templates online, Pinterest superhero photo booth and you’ll find a bunch of printables.

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I also printed out some word bubbles and superhero logos and put them on popsical sticks too.

Other than the backdrops the only thing I bought was a few generic capes from the dollar store in a variety of colors that would fit both adults and children.

Finally, I am having volunteers make a few fun props. Thor’s hammer. A big fake boulder. A “1,000” weight set.

Once everything is put together, you will want to have a volunteer in the room to make sure none of the props walk off.

I can’t wait to see how everything turns out. Hopefully, me and the little one can take a trip to the library that weekend and see how everything came out.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Child Finder

The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld is an adult suspense novel about a woman whose job it is to locate missing children–dead or alive.

Madison Culver disappeared three years ago–she would be eight now, if she survived. Gone without out a trace in the mountains of Oregon’s Skookum National Forest, very few believe she could possibly be alive. Desperate to know the truth, the Culver’s contact Naomi, a private investigator who specializes in finding children.

Naomi’s reputation precedes her; she is known as The Child Finder and her ability to find these children, dead or alive is uncanny. Whether this ability stems from her past or not, Naomi understands these children because she used to be one of them. Naomi was found running through a field naked when she was a young girl. With no memories of what happened to her, Naomi is taken in my a kindly woman and grows up with a need, an obsession to find children like her. But who is she really hoping to find?

What happened to Madison Culver? Did she freeze to death like many suspect or is she out there somewhere? Will Naomi be able to unravel another story without unraveling herself?

loved Rene Denfeld’s The Enchanted, so I had to pick up The Child Finder and I am glad I did. This won’t be a book for everyone. Some people just can’t handle reading a story about child abduction and the horrible, evil things people do. And that’s OK. But for those who can stomach it, Denfeld does it right. She creates these stories where the bad is portrayed through the glamour of magic or fairy tales, so even though you realize you are reading something awful–you know what’s going on the whole time–there still a filter and one that really does add to the story.

The Child Finder has two primary narratives–Naomi’s past and present and Snowgirl’s, Madison Culver’s. I wondered at first if this fractured narrative, jumping between stories and past and present would detract from the story but it doesn’t at all. It really works. You get invested in Snowgirl’s story and yet you are still craving the who behind Naomi’s past. This story touches upon a very dark world and we get an insight into some of the psychology of abductees without it being overwhelming. We also get a glimpse into the mind of the “villain” and we see how monsters are made and people twisted.

This one gets four stars from me. Not quite as high as The Enchanted but still a really good read and one I think readers would enjoy.

That’s all for now!

-M-

 

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao is the first book in a new fantasy, fairy tale retelling of the Evil Queen from Snow White.

From the moment she was born, eighteen-year-old Xifeng has been told that she was destined for great things. Beautiful beyond measure and raised to be smart and cunning, Xifeng has been waiting for her destiny to begin. She is no longer willing to wait and decides to leave her cruel, broken home and embrace her future.

All her life, Xifen has been raised by her Aunt, a cruel woman who does not spare the cane. She beats Xifen for any little infraction and uses her dark magic to get her way. She was born a peasant, without a Mother or Father and yet her cards say that she is destined to become Empress of Feng Lu. But to do so, she must give up all she holds dear and embrace the darkness that lives within her.

Will Xifen give in to the darkness or will she allow herself to settle for a life of love and happiness? Who is she willing to step on to get her way and how far is she willing to go?

A lot of people gave this one a mediocre to high rating but I just couldn’t do it. I just could not get into the story and Xifeng was probably one of the least relatable characters I’ve ever read — wow that’s harsh but I could not stand her.

You could tell that that author was really trying to make Xifeng seem like she struggled with her decisions and her destiny but this didn’t come off for me at all. She was wishy-washy and I could not believe she never got called out on some of her blatant lies. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good vicious, manipulative female protagonist but Xifeng was too fake for me, she didn’t embrace the darkness like some of my favorite dark females, instead she put on a show. Some of the reviews I’ve read, said that they loved that Xifeng chose ambition over love but she was never going to choose love. From the beginning the lust for power ruled her.

The first half of the book, when Xifeng was travelling to the Imperial City was just so boring and most of her time in the palace was slow as well. The only time the book picked up for me was toward the end when Xifeng’s true character peeks out… for about a second.

Okay, I don’t normally like to bash books so I am going to stop here. This one gets 1.5 maybe 2 stars from me. Not a favorite.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Wild Beauty

Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore is McLemore’s third young adult, magical realism novel.

For more than a hundred year the Nomeolvides women have worked the grounds of La Pradera, creating a lush wonderland of flowers. These gardens are lovely and enchanting and many a rich man will pay dearly for seeds in the hopes that their own gardens will one day bloom as beautifully. But the Nomeolvide women are more than they seem.

This family of females has been gifted with the ability to literally pull flowers out of the ground and if they don’t use their gifts, then their gifts will use them and bloom in sometimes destructive ways, often leaving them with the label: la bruja. But La Pradera has laid claim to them, giving them a home, a safe haven, but also taking from them their ability to leave without deathly consequences. On top of that, the Nomeolvides women are doomed to lose any they love too dearly–their men are taken from them, disappearing like smoke on a wind.

After generations of these vanishings, a strange boy appears out of no where and is a mystery to both the Nomeolvides women and to himself. What does this strange boys sudden arrival mean for the women? And when La Pradera itself is threatened, what will the women do, what will they risk, to learn the truth?

I really love this genre of magical realism; where we are living in this real world setting with real world problems but there is just a sprinkle of something magical thrown in. In the case of Wild Beauty a beautiful ability to grow flowers and a curse on love. It makes you wonder about the world around us and what might or might not be.

Now, I’ve read McLemore’s other magical realism books–The Weight of Feathers and When the Moon Was Ours. I just loved When the Moon Was Ours, it was magical in all the right places, touched on subjects many authors shy away from and was extremely well written. The Weight of Feathers on the other hand, just didn’t hold up. It lacked that pull and the characters weren’t my favorite. So, I figured Wild Beauty would probably lean one way or another and fortunately for me, toward the better.

Wild Beauty was just beautifully written. Much of the prose felt almost poetic, as lovely as the flowers the women grow. The book was romantic without smothering it’s reader. There was also this sense of mystery throughout the book that kept a good pace, where otherwise the story might have lagged.

Ultimately, this was a quick read that met my expectations. This one gets 4 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

 

The Language of Thorns

The Language of Thorns by Leigh Bardugo is a collection of six short stories that takes place in the Grisha-verse. Paired with stunning artwork that transforms with each page, this book takes you inside the sometimes dark and fantastical world of folklore and myth.

I was actually a little hesitant to pick this one up. I kinda felt like I was done with the Grisha-verse and this being a standalone of short stories, I wasn’t overly interested. But I am glad I picked it up. One does not need to be familiar with Bardugo’s Grisha universe to enjoy these fairy tales, although if you are, you will be able to tell from which books these myths stem from.

If you are familiar with myths or folklore at all, then you will be able to spot some of the inspiration for these six tales. The little mermaid, beauty and the beast, the nutcracker and more. It was really neat to re-imagine some of these tales and I really enjoyed the dark, almost gritty spin Bardugo puts on the stories. Even the ones with a happy ending, have this edge to it that I kinda loved.

Ultimately, this book is worth picking up for the illustrations alone. If nothing else, check it out and flip through it. The book is just stunning and the fact that the images that surround the text change and grow as you read, is just another little treat for the reader. I had several people asking me what I was reading while I was flipping through the book at the library one day. Definitely a talking piece.

My one negative comment about this one is that it did take me a long time to read. I tend to find it easy to stop and start short stories; putting them down and picking up something else. This is probably just me though.

This one gets a very high 4 stars from me. Probably would have gotten 4.5 if I read it straight through.

That’s all for now!

-M-