And I Darken

Hi Guys,

This week I read a dark, twisty, alternate history book that took intrigue and deception to another level. Think, Game of Thrones for young adults that takes place in the Ottoman Empire. Oh yea. 

And I Darken by Kiersten White is the story of the Dragwlya children: Lada and Radu. As children, Lada and Radu are ripped from their homeland, Wallachia and are taken to the Ottoman Empire as hostages to keep their father and their homeland loyal to the empire. But Lada and Radu are no ordinary children. 

Lada’s nurse prayed: “Let her be strong. Let her be sly. And let her be ugly.” Lada is all of these things and more. Her heart beats for Wallachia and she cannot be controlled. Radu, on the other hand, is beautiful, charismatic, smart and adored by all. He is drawn to Islam and feels more at home with the Ottoman court then in the dense woods of Wallachia. Although, they share blood the siblings are not close–separated by strength and temperament, they rarely lean on each other. But they do share one thing: Mehmed a son of the Empire.

Mehmed, Lada and Radu forge a bond and when Mehmed must fight for his thrown, the Dragwlya siblings are with him every step of the way. The three form a triangle of love, friendship and loyalty. But all of these bonds will be tested as Mehmed fights to become sultan, as Lada fights to be true to herself, and as Radu longs to belong.  

First off, this book was beautifully written. I mean there were so many quotes I wanted to grab right off the page. The book was intense in all the right places and I could almost feel the tension as I read. The book feels like a fantasy even though it is supposed to be an alternate history, which will appeal to a young adult audience. 

There were so many great characters and some stellar supporting characters too. But Lada, oh Lada, she is just so twisted and fabulous. Talk about a strong female character. Lada will not be “owned” and she will not be “controlled” and yet she does care, even if it is rarely seen. This quote–Lada is being pushed into an arranged marriage–sums her up perfectly:

“On our wedding night,” she said, “I will cut out your tongue and swallow it. Then both tongues that spoke our marriage vows will belong to me, and I will be wed only to myself. You will most likely choke to death on your own blood, which will be unfortunate, but I will be both husband and wife and therefore not a widow to be pitied.”

The dynamic between the Lada, Radu and Mehmed was complex in a good way. Don’t worry, no real love triangle thus far, but I do worry about future books. If I didn’t know this  book was the first in a trilogy, I would have been completely satisfied with the ending. I actually wonder what the other two will be about. 

And I Darken was dark, compelling and full of surprises. It was an entertaining read. A little brutal at times but all in all darkly delicious. 

That’s all for now!


The Smore You Read!

Hi Guys,

Got a new fall themed display for you all today.

The Smore You Read. The Smore You Know!

This is probably one of my favorites that I’ve done. I got the idea from, of course, Pinterest. I loved how they did the letter cut outs instead of the letters themselves, so I just had to steal the idea.

The flames for my campfire are made out of colored tissue paper and the boarder is little smores I found in clipart.

This was such a fun one to do, but it had a lot of pieces. I have to reach over a fish tank to get to the bulletin board, so a lot of pieces can be hard to manage. Definitely had a “phew!” moment when I was done.

What do you think?

That’s all for now!


The Name of the Wind

Hi Guys,

Got an older one for you today. A friend and I go back and forth with book recommendations and this was one I was told I had to read. I kept putting it off but finally made a point to make it a priority and boy am I conflicted.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss is one part fantasy, one part coming of age tale, and one part adventure story. Kote is an innkeeper with many names and a man with one epic story. The Name of the Wind is the first book in a series of three, telling the story of one boys journey into magic, mystery and mayhem.

Kote or Kvothe depending on who you ask, narrates this book by telling his apprentice and the Chronicler the story of his life. Starting as a young boy we follow Kvothe through his childhood, past tragedies too great for words, over rooftops, homeless and afraid, to university and beyond. We witness his obsession with truth and we watch as a boy journeys toward manhood and begins to harness immeasurable power.

Kvothe is clever, witty, brave to the point of recklessness and kind in his own way. How does Kvothe, a man of legend, end up Kote, a mild tempered barkeep with no patrons? We have three days and three books to find out!

Hmm, I really struggled to rate this one. It gets three stars because I liked it and disliked it in equal measure. For me, this was two stories: Kote and Kvothe’s. There are bookends and inserts written from a third person narrator that describes Kote telling his story, of the man he used to be. But there is more going on then just the telling, there are dark forces at work and the reader can tell something is coming–we just don’t know what. Then there is Kvothe a boy we both pity and root for; he is our hero and yet he is always asking for trouble.

Kvothe’s story started out slow for me but picked up speed once he goes to university. Kote’s story (the present) started out interesting and then got more and more annoying as the book went on. I kept waiting to get back to Kvothe and tale.

This book has a lot of details and yet it didn’t quite delve deep enough in some respects. We get a little bit about a lot and I just wasn’t quite satisfied.

What was really great was the folk lore in the book. So well done. The author really builds a terrific foundation for these tales. Songs, story, rumor and more. Rothfuss created lore so believable and for that I am impressed.

I did liked the relationships Kvothe builds with the females of the book. Kvothe’s relationship with each of the women are extremely well done. He builds these unique bonds and I enjoyed them all.

Overall, I did like the book but I’m not invested in it. Will I read book two and three? Yes. But I am not rushing out to do so. An entertaining read with some real potential. We’ll see if it picks up speed in book two.

That’s all for now!


Banned Book Week

Hi Guys,

This year, Banned Book Week is September 25th – October 1st. Banned Book Week is a celebration of the freedom to read. Librarians across the country highlight previously banned books in displays, stage read-ins and more. This is a week of awareness; a way for communities to come together in support of the freedom to express oneself and seek information that may be unpopular by some.

Over the years books have been banned for the use of language, violence, sexual content and more. The forest industry sought to ban Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax because it portrayed the forest industry in an ugly way. Captain Underpants, almost anything Judy Blume, the BibleHuckleberry Finn—basically you name it and someone somewhere has tried to take it off our shelves because they disagreed with some aspect.

The First Amendment states:


The American Library Association fights for first amendment rights and the freedom to read. For educators and the public they provide printables, banned book lists and other resources to increase awareness of the public’s right to information.

This week I finished a bookend display for banned book week.


The classic prison photo background. This display is in our children’s room, so I figured it would be a good photo-op for parents.

We also have some books on display and a few printables for additional information.


This is a simple display but it always gets people talking. We get a lot of questions about why books are banned and people are always surprised by the books that have been banned. We also have a display upstairs in our adult section.

A pretty simple display but an important message. We all have the right to express ourselves; we have the right to seek out information and put down our ideas in writing.

Read a banned book this week!

That’s all for now!


Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics

Hi Guys,

Phew! Lots of posts this week. Not sure that will be the norm, but not a bad thing either. This week I finished the sequel to Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein.

Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics takes place a few months after Kyle and his friends found their way out of Mr. Lemoncello’s wonky library. The whole crew has been on a high ever since. They’ve starred in Mr. Lemoncello commercials and have become the heroes of Alexandria. Every day has been a cake day for Kyle and his friends, but that is all about to change.

Letters have been pouring into the library from bibliophiles across the nation. Everyone wants a chance to prove that they are better then Kyle and his friends. SO… Mr. Lemoncello organizes the Library Olympics and invites teams from regions around the US to compete. Now Kyle and his friends must defend their title as champions. Can the home team take the gold or will they buckle under the pressure?

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again… these twelve years olds would put my twelve year old self to shame. Hell, they put my current adult self to shame! I know your “hot” dewy decimal numbers but I could not tell you the exact number for coffee. This books makes me want to memorize them all (an all but impossible task).

As a librarian, I appreciate that this book highlights a lot of library issues. Banned books, the future of libraries, technology, community outreach and more. Libraries are so much more than book repositories and I love that this book shows that to it’s readers. It was great seeing what potential libraries can have and how technology and books can thrive together.

It was a little harder to get into this one then the first one but the second half was fantastic. I did sort of miss the countdown/time limit of the first book, which set an exciting pace that kept me hooked. But we did get this fast pace, solve it or lose it puzzle at the end that pushed my rating from a 3.5 to 4 stars.

As always with Grabenstein, this was a fun read and inserts “smarts” into the book in a way that will keep kids entertained. Overall, a good read that will appeal to all types of kids.

That’s all for now!


Desert Island Book Tag

Hi Guys,

First off thank you PoojaG for nominating me for the Desert Island Book Tag! This is the first book tag I’ve done since starting my blog and I have to admit, it’s tough! You could ask me these questions every day of the week and I would probably give you a different answer every single time.

My favorites are always morphing and changing. I also feel like I have to discount so many books when picking a favorite, so I often refuse to do so. But I’ll give it a go. Writing down the absolute first book that comes to my mind. Don’t judge!

Water — A book you simply cannot live without


Recently, I have been obsessed with Naomi Novik’s Uprooted. I’ve read this book twice and listened to the audio book. The audio book narrator is awesome! This book sucked me in and hasn’t let go. Don’t read the back cover, the book is so much more.

Food — A book that is a close second on your favorites list


Ivan Doig was such a wonderful writer; a master of the midwest and language. The Whistling Season is persistently on my favorites list. The majority of the story takes place in a one room school house in 1909 on the Montana prairie. The language and tone of this story stays with you. Besides that, how can you put down a book that starts with: “Can’t cook but doesn’t bite.”

Shelter — A book that makes you feel at home and safe


A lovely, warm, funny epistolary novel. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a wonderful book by Mary Ann Shaffer. Just as Juliet is drawn in by the society, I felt just as taken in. The society looks out for each other and the town and I would hope anywhere I called home would make me feel the same.

Flare Gun — A book you would recommend to someone who doesn’t read


This was a hard one. It really depends on the reader and what interests them. So instead I am going to give you one that was recommended to me the other day that I loved. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen is a magical realism that takes place in a small-ish town. It’s a book about family coming together and being the oddball family in a town where everyone knows everyone. There’s romance, sibling rivalry, drama and magical gardens and more. Just give it a try.

Matchsticks — A book that warms your heart


I don’t know about warming my heart, but this one tugged at it. When The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern was published, I literally recommended it to anyone who said they were looking for something new. Magical, whimsical and a shot of adrenaline to the imagination!

Compass — A book that directed you towards your love of reading


This was another hard one. I chose The Waste Land and Other Poems by T.S. Eliot because analyzing these poems for a high school assignment made me realize that I wanted to work with the written word in some way, shape or form. I was a good reader before this one but I think T.S. Eliot cemented my career with books.

I think I need a disclaimer… half of these books were books I’ve read in the past year. They are fresh in my mind and still imprinted on my soul. With more reflection this list may have changed.

I tag: (p.s. I don’t know how to tag people & ignore if you’ve already done it 🙂


Kristen Twardowski


That’s all for now!


Books are APPLE-utely delicious! 

Hi guys,

I love fall! I just can’t wait for comfy sweaters, boots and scarves, warm drinks and pumpkin and spice everything. It’s just such a cozy, beautiful time of the year.

To celebrate fall, I put up a new display:



Books are APPLE-utley delicious!

Fun, fall display!

That’s all for now!