The Masked City

Hi Guys,

This week I finished The Masked City by Genevieve Cogman–The second book in the Invisible Library series.51ymndpubwl-_sx328_bo1204203200_ The Masked City picks up with Irene and Kai doing their thing in the mildly chaotic world of steam engines and fae we left them in. The two have found themselves a nice routine and Irene has taken comfort in her partnership with Kai and in the stability of the role of Librarian-in-Residence.

But that stability is soon shaken by chaotic forces and Irene must deal with the consequences on three fronts: the Library’s retribution and her potentially being strips of her title as Librarian; the Dragon’s wraith for losing a son and prince; and the Fae, who will take any excuse to begin a war.

Can Irene dive into a world of high chaos to save her protege and friend? Can she do it alone? And if she does succeed will she be willing to take on the blame and save hundreds of worlds from a war between chaos and order?

I just gotta say, I love this series. It’s not one of those ones where I’ve just got to get my hands on it, BUT it is one I could see myself picking up off my bookshelf again and again. Irene is a female Sherlock Holmes and that is alright by me. It is just a really fun read.

This is a series where you HAVE to read the first one in order to “get it.” Cogman sticks you right where we left off in the Invisible Library and you are left to fend for yourself. If you don’t remember what Dragons are, how librarians travel to different world, etc. then you will want to re-read the first book, which wouldn’t be a bad thing at all because it was so good! But there is very little recap in the book, some but not enough to plop yourself into the world. If you haven’t read Invisible Library go buy both at the same time, you won’t regret it.

Reflecting back a few days later, I have to say the way Cogman had written these books is really interesting. They are all about the action, the story, getting to the end of a conflict and seeing it through, repercussions and all. The story comes first to the characters and their relationships or even their fears. They all have a “this is what I have to do,” attitude, “and I am going to get through it so help me!” BUT the characters are still relateable, they still have feelings and emotions, even though you know that duty and honor, truth and plain old doing the right thing, is more important. It’ll be interesting to see, in subsequent books, if duty ever gets pushed to the side for passion or even selfishness. hmmm.

Overall, this was a fun, refreshing read and PG if your looking for a rating. Teens and adults with a love for fantasy will enjoy it. The Burning Page is expected sometime this Christmas.

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Day the Crayons…Went Back to School!

Hi Guys,

I hope everyone had a good weekend! At the library we are reaching the tail end of our summer reading program, which means it’s time to starting thinking back to school. I’m alone in my house and I can still hear the groans of children everywhere.

I was actually excited to go to work today because I was FINALLY able to put up my new back to school display and it was such a fun one to make. I’ve had it ready for more than a week 20160822_113339now but the kids don’t go back to school until the 29th, so I couldn’t put it up too early.

A few weeks ago, I was helping a little girl find Drew Daywalt’s The Day the Crayons Quit and thought how cool it would be to incorporate these personified crayons into a display. Needing a display for back to school I decided that my crayons were going to school. Hence, The Day the Crayons… Went Back to School!

My crayons each have their own little school themed sign:

Yell-ow School! School Is Cool! Red-y to Learn! Never Blue About Books! Orange You Glad It’s Time! Do I Have To? I Have Nothing To Wear! 

I couldn’t think of enough color puns that fit with the school theme! 

Anyway, I tried to give my crayons similar expressions to the book and I even made my peach crayon naked!!!

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This was such a super fun and fairly easy display. I just wish we had better lighting for pictures in this area! Looks so much better in person.

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That’s all for today!

-M-

 

An Ember in the Ashes

Happy Saturday Guys!

I came across An Ember in the Ashes by Sabba Tahir on Goodreads the other day and thought I’d give it a go. A couple of the reviewers I follow gave it such differing reviews, that I wanted to judge for myself. 61jyj7aynol-_sx331_bo1204203200_

An Ember in the Ashes takes place in a brutal society, where slaves can be disfigured, people disappear from their homes in the middle of the night and scars from whippings are hardly glanced at. And in this hellish world, live our two protagonists and narrators: Laia and Elias.

Laia is thrown into slavery when her family is killed and her brother taken. She risks everything, including her life to get him back by joining the resistance–a secret sect of scholar fighters who crave a revolution no matter the cost. In exchange for freeing her brother, Laia agrees to become a slave in the commandants household in order to spy for the resistance. But the commandant is the worst kind of slave-master and it will take everything Laia has just to stay alive.

Elias, on the other hand, is a mask–one of the empires greatest warriors. Masks are molded into cruel, emotionless creatures who do horrible acts on command, without question. But Elias is different, he hates everything about being a mask and only wishes to be free of the empire. But the empire isn’t ready to give him up.

Elias and Laia’s fates become entwined and the two must face brutality, betrayal, and darkness that should only exist in fairy tales. They long to be free of this world but freedom comes at a cost. Is it a cost they are willing to pay?

This book is not for the faint of heart. It is brutal; it shows us the very worst of society… and also the very best. But seriously, the brutality in this book is full of feels! I didn’t find myself cringing in disgust or damning the author for making me read xyz. No, I felt real emotion–the fear, the horror, the injustice and rage. This book makes you feel along with the characters and that is what makes a story great. Prepare yourselves for just utter desolation in chapter 38–I warned you!

For a first book in a series, we get all the good building blocks needed to set the stage for more. The world building was OK, I think we’ll see more of it once we move outside of this books bubble. But there are conflicting factions–the empire, the beaten down scholars, the tribesmen and mariners–and within each of these we have even more fissures and cracks. It’s a world waiting to be torn apart and Tahir is going to do it!

A few things did irk me but weren’t horrible. For example, the constant back and forth between certain characters about their emotions was about two back and forths too much. There’s conflicting emotions, we get it. And the Augers, good lord talk about all powerful… why do we even need Elias and Laia to save the day when these beings literally know all! I really hope Tahir gives them some kind of weakness in the second book; she almost humanized Cain at the end but it wasn’t quite enough.

Overall, I liked it. My initial reaction was 4 stars and I am going to stick to it. Second book comes out later this year.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Type X

Morning Guys,

Last week I received an ARC for Type X the sequel and second book in the Project W.A.R. series by M.A. Phipps, for an honest review. 30626391

Type X is a new adult, science fiction & fantasy novel that takes place in a dystopian society. The book picks up two years after Wynter returned to the DSD at the end of book one.

Wynter has changed; she’s become the State’s puppet and Dr. Richter’s own personal “angel of death.” Wynter is sent on mission after mission, exterminating all those who oppose the State. She is both a tool and a slave, leashed by the collar around her neck–the only thing keeping her in control of the deadly power within.

With the increasing death toll and mounting friction with Richter, Wynter’s mind starts to fracture and the humanity (and memories) she lost begins to resurface. Now Wynter must choose between regaining her humanity and a life she thought lost and preventing the destruction haunting her waking mind. Will Wynter be able to make the ultimate sacrifice or will she truly become an instrument of W.A.R.?

This book starts off with a bang. I just love dark and twisty Wynter! She’s an emotionless badass without being a archetypal character. You can tell the old Wynter is in there but much has happened to force her down.

The reunion with Ezra was also really well done in my opinion. In book one you get this whirlwind romance, built on intense situations and an instant spark. Whereas in book two we get a slower burn, a romance that needs to be rekindled and reforged. I also loved the “new” Jenner, who keeps his boyishness even though he’s been battle hardened by life.

One of the things I really like about this book, is that we get a lot more details about the State. In book one the State was typical dystopian entity that we really didn’t know much about; in Type X we get more of those details readers crave. We find out how the State was created, what it does, whose a part of it, etc. This is one thing readers of Ultraxenopia will be sure to appreciate.

Phipps has a really unique approach to this second book in the series. The pace of the book starts out fast and stays that way all while Wynter is with the DSD; it is action packed, dark and pulls the reader in. The pace then slows down just in time to give the readers what they want–background, intrigue, relationship building and more. With the pace written like this you could read the books back to back and feel like it is just one long story with ups and downs.

Overall, I really enjoyed this sequel even if the ending was evil–in a good way. Worth a read for any dystopian lover–teens and up. Type X will be officially published tomorrow!

That’s all for now!

-M-

A Gathering of Shadows

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab is the second book in the 51ll86pmwfl-_sx332_bo1204203200_Shades of Magic series. The third one to be released some time early next year. We pick up four months after A Darker Shade of Magic with both Kell and Lila dealing with the repercussions of their actions. Lila’s decision to stay in Red London and adapt to a world completely different then her own and Kell’s guilt and persecution over the darkness he inadvertently let loose on his city.

Separated by an ocean, the pair are still drawn to each other and as the Elemental Games approach a reunion is inevitable. The Elemental Games are like the Olympics of magic; competitors from three countries gather to compete and this year they are competing in London.

Rhy, longing for things to be the way they were before Kell saved him by tying their lives together, hatches a plan to secretly enter Kell in the games–allowing Kell to release his pent up powers and instill some life back into him. Lila too has plans to enter the tournament to test her new found magical skills and that elusive “thrill” she is always chasing.

While the tournament is playing out White London is turned on its head when a new king replaces the Dane Twins. Holland has miraculously returned from Black London and begins to restore White London to its former glory. But Holland is not alone. The king of Black London–magic incarnate–piggybacks in Hollands body and the two fight for control. And it is a fight that Kell and Lila are inadvertently–on their part–drawn into.

Will all of the London’s, the worlds, be taken over by this dark force or can our “heroes” keep magic in check without losing themselves in the process.

So, I finished this book thinking I’d see lots of similar reactions on Goodreads and I was shocked to find that I am the minority here. Don’t get me wrong I did enjoy the book but this one had the opposite flaws that I found in the first one. The first book didn’t have enough character building for me, even though it’s world building was excellent. But the second book had too much. There were a lot of scenes we just didn’t need that slowed down the story. Whole chapters could have been cut and everything still would have flowed and made sense.

I did like the characters, Lila’s devil may care attitude and Alucard was a deliciously diverse soul. Even Rhy didn’t annoy me as much as he did in the first book. Kell was Kell; loved him when he was in his element fighting and wished he’d get a backbone the rest of the time.

I will hand it to Schwab though, that ending was masterful! It left you hanging but in such a good way.

There were many things I did like about this book but parts of it dragged for me so I had to give it the neutral three stars. I do think the last book is going to be stellar though, what with all the worlds colliding.

That’s all for now,

-M-

Dear Zoo Flannel Board

Hi Guys,

With summer winding down, we’re all starting to get back into storytime mode at the library. Because I’ve only been a Children’s Librarian for a little over a year now, my storytimes take quite a bit of planning since I am doing everything from scratch. Today was my day off and what with it being hotter then blazes out, I thought I’d watch a movie and start a new flannel board.

20160812_165746After deciding that my first Family Storytime would revolve around zoo animals, I knew I just had to create a flannel board based on the lift-the-flap book Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell.

In this book a child writes to the zoo to send them a pet. The zoo replies with box after box of animal that isn’t quite right. Too big, too scary, too tall, too hoppy. Until they find a pet that is just right.

This is the perfect picture book for a flannel board. The story has repetition, which is great for the little ones. It’s also short, which keeps the kiddos from losing interest. The animals are ones you can act out or make sound effects as you show them. Finally, I love the reveal! Building up the suspense and playing up what’s in the box until you finally make the big reveal.

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This one was pretty easy to do. I free handed the drawings, although I’ve seen some pretty good templates on Pinterest if anyone is interested. I do need to invest in some more fine tipped Sharpies. I couldn’t add the “From The Zoo” tags with the ones I had.

My plan is to set up all the boxes on the flannel board, in order, before storytime. I’ll report back and let you know how it goes.

Close up slideshow of the flannels below:

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That’s all for now!

-M-

Last Bus to Wisdom

Hi Guys,

Phew did not think I was going to make this one. Just finished the last twenty pages this morning, so you get a new review straight from book to blog!

51n-k-bofol-_sx332_bo1204203200_Last Bus to Wisdom by Ivan Doig is the last book Doig wrote before he passed away last year. Doig is the author of one of my favorite books of all time The Whistling Season and a master of his craft. Last Bus to Wisdom wouldn’t be in my top three of Doig’s books but I think it was a fitting end to his career.

Last Bus to Wisdom takes place in the mid-west in the year of 1951. The story follows 11, going on 13, year old Donal who is being shipped off via Greyhound to an aunt he’s never met and an uncle who is “something else,” as Grams tells it, while she has surgery for some “female troubles.”

Traveling from Montana to Manitowoc, Donal meets characters of all sorts and to take his mind off his troubles and get into Believe It or Not, he collects pearls of wisdom and their signatures in his autograph book along the way. After finding trouble here and there he finally arrives at Aunt Kate’s and his troubles only get worse.

Kate is a bossy woman with no interest in child rearing what-so-ever. Donny’s only saving grace is the eccentric Uncle Herman, who he immediately bonds with. After less then two weeks Kate, Herman and Donny have a big blow up and Kate ships Donny back to Montana knowing the state will put him in an orphanage since Grams won’t be able to care for him.

On the bus with no hope Donny is surprised and ecstatic to find Herman the German, who has ditched Kate and plans on roaming the West with Donny for the rest of the summer. What could happen to an 11 year old boy with a penchant for trouble and a one-eyed German “uncle” who may be wanted by the FBI?

Doig’s books with child narrators are some of my favorites. I just love seeing the west of the 50’s from that wide-eyed, taking it all in, perspective. And I loved the idea of seeing the county via the bus and it’s myriad of stops. You get these little snip-its of country as Donny rides the bus that are just wonderful nuggets of descriptive writing. Doig really is a master of setting.

I won’t say this book didn’t have it’s flaws. Parts were slow–especially the ones with Aunt Kate–and I was worried there for a moment that she would be in it the whole story! Thank goodness “The Kate” didn’t last long. But the character building! Every single character you meet in this story was fantastically done. So believable and yet captivating. The hobos, I mean haystakers, were my favorites if I had to pick.

Donny and Herman were such a great pairing and I was so pleased with the ending, especially that last line. Herman reminded me of Morrie in The Whistling Season in that if Doig had lived, I could see him creating another book around him, his character was so memorable.

Although long, this was a great read and a palette cleanser for me after reading so much YA fantasy lately. Worth a read for… anyone. Just a lovely little book.

That’s all for now!

-M-