Empire of Storms

Hi Guys,

Are you sick of reading reviews about Empire of Storms yet? Well get ready for one more!

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas picks up where we left off in Book 4 of the Throne of Glass series. Aelin and her court have gone through trial after trial in the hopes of regaining her throne and saving the world from the darkness that threatens.

In book 5 paths converge, plans are put into action, romance blooms, and utter devastation reigns. This is really the only synopsis I can give without ruining the series for anyone who hasn’t read it. And if you haven’t picked up the books by now… what on earth are you waiting for!

Empire of Storm met my expectations. I expected escalating tensions, bigger bad-ass power spectacles from our key players, romance (bit on the heavy side, but again expected), and of course devastation of some sort because Maas delights in torturing us in that way.

When investing my time in a six book series like this one, I expect multiple and diverging plot lines. Empire of Storms certainly has a lot going on. I liked the beginning and I liked the end, but there was almost too much going on for me in the middle. I was invested in each plot line by themselves but until they merged at the end, the waters got a little murky for me.

At first I was surprised that Chaol wasn’t in the book at all, not that I really mind–he’s sort of bored me since book two ended (don’t kill me Team Chaol!). But to everyone who complains of his absence, think about it… literally all the plot lines merge at the end. Chaol didn’t need to be in this book because his path hasn’t crossed back in yet.

Speaking of merging plots, I loved how all of the stories became one as they reached the marshes. I’ve been waiting for these characters to meet and what a crew they make! Talk about a powerhouse of personalities. Although, can I just say how bad I feel for Aedion. All he wants to do is follow Aelin and serve her well and she never trusts him with her plans!

Now, I know a lot of people complain about Aelin and Rowan and their heavy duty romance but guys, Maas dragged out this union for more than two books! I think they are allowed to be all hot and heavy now. And it’s Maas we are talking about here, you should have known going in what you were getting yourself into. It’s the other budding romances in this book that really leave you wanting more. There is this slow burn and building desire between three couples on top of Aelin and Rowan, and they are all dynamic and interesting. And then Maas blows it all apart and we have to wait until the final book to see if our couples can reunite, work through their differences and betrayals and actually save the world. Sigh.

Empire of Storms achieved what it needed to do. It sets the stage for the final book, gives us some clarity of the bigger picture, and prepares us for hell to be unleashed. This was probably my least favorite book of the series but there has to be one right? This one gets a 3.5-4 rating from me. I can’t wait to see who survives and which couples are broken by the end.

This series invokes so many different reviews and criticisms. It get’s people talking and good or bad that’s important. I’d love to hear what you have to say and why!

That’s all for now!

-M-

Family Storytime – Zoo

Hi Guys,

This morning I did my first family storytime of the season. Family stortime can be a little daunting with such a variety of age groups. You have to over prepare so you can change things up if your audience leans younger or older. I like to do as many movement and action exercises as I can. Tire those kiddies out for a bit!

For today’s storytime theme we went to the Zoo! (I’ll try to add links where I can)

51sqfs2btgjl-_sx484_bo1204203200_I like to start and end my storytime the same way every week. The repetition becomes familiar to the kids and it helps them know when we are getting near the end. I always start with:

  • Song – Top of the Morning
    • This is a good song to warm up with because we stretch all the parts we will be using in storytime. Eyes, arms, legs, mouth, nose.
  • Rhyme – Say Hello
    • love this rhyme. Everyone claps along and at the end we say hello how ever I tell them to. Loud, soft, quick, slow.
  • Movement Exercise – Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
  • Song – Skidamarink

I love to get my kids and grownups warmed up with lots of movement and everyone loves saying hello in lots of different ways.

Today, I had to have my storytime in a smaller room then usual so I planned a variety of activities that I could tweak if we were too squished. 51ufnmqonhl-_sy458_bo1204203200_

  • Action Rhyme – Monkey See, Monkey Do
    • This is a great one because you get everyone involved by doing different monkey movements.
  • Story – A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead
    • This book was a bit long for my audience. I had to shorten it and sort of spin the tale myself to keep the younger ones interested.
  • Song – We’re Going to the Zoo by Raffi
    • A quick easy song — gives you time to get a drink while the grownups clap along.
  • Flannel Board – Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell
    • If you make the flannels the way I did, there is a big reveal for each of the animals.
  • Game – All the Children Were Sleeping
    • This is a game my mom taught me (she’s a nanny). You go “sleeping, sleeping all the children were sleeping. And when they woke up, they were ____.” Lions, tigers, bears. You get the kids to act out different movements and sounds. It’s a big hit for my kids. Remember to turn them back to boys and girls at the end!
  • Puppet – Alligator, Alligator
    • Typical puppet prop. I had the kids use their arms to be alligators along with my puppet.
  • Action Rhyme – There was a Crocodile…
    • This was a new one for me thanks to Jbrary. It was a bit long for my crew BUT they loved it and we were all laughing by the end.
  • 61sm7vmaoel-_sx419_bo1204203200_Story Props – My Heart is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall
    • We didn’t actually get to this one today. But I’ve done it in the past and it is such a quick easy one. I have print outs of the pages on popsicle sticks.
  • Action Rhyme – An Elephant goes like this and that
    • We didn’t get to this one today either.
  • Story – Row, Row, Row Your Boat by Jane Cabrera
    • This was a great last story. My grown ups kept saying the normal row your boat rhyme and I just threw in the sound effects here or there until they realized that wasn’t how the story went.

Finally, I always end with the same three things:

  • Movement Exercise – If You’re Happy and You Know It
    • I tell the kids that I want to know how happy they are. We do this three times, faster and FASTER each time.
  • Rhyme – Say Goodbye
    • This is the same rhyme we started with, so the new guys are familiar with it by the end of storytime.
  • Song – Goodbye, So Long, Farewell my Friends by Music Together
    • I always put this one on as I go to open the door. Its a nice, slow, peaceful song to wind down on.

How’d it all go? We had a much smaller crowd today then we normally do for family storytime. I think word needs to spread that it’s back after the summer hiatus. But that wasn’t really a bad thing since we were in a smaller room. I don’t know if I was being super slow today but we did not get through all of the things I had planned. We started out great but we got a little fussy toward the end. Made it to the last song before I lost my voice! All in all a win!

That’s all for now! Lapsit on Monday!

-M-

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook

Hi Guys,

Another middle school review for you all today. Trying to get in a juvenile review once a week.

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor is a 5th – 7th grade read, just skirting the realm of realistic fiction. The story follows Perry Cook, an eleven year old boy who has had an unusual upbringing. Perry lives in Surprise, Nebraska at the Blue River Correctional Facility.

Perry’s mother, Jessica, went to prison at 18 for manslaughter, unknowing that she was pregnant at the time. Blue River is a prison for non-violent crimes and the Warden allowed Jessica to raise her son in Jail.

At Blue River, Perry had a great routine and the love of almost every prisoner. He was happy, respectful, he had rules to follow and did so. Every day he got to spend time with his mother, eat lunch with his friends (inmates), he’d play games, he had chores to do like most children and would leave the prison to go to school just like any other kid.

That is, until his best friend, Zoey, let slip to her D.A. step father that her best friend lived at Blue River. Suddenly, Perry is taken from the only home he has known only weeks away from his mother’s parole. Now Jessica’s parole is in limbo, the Warden is suspended, and Perry doesn’t know what to make of his new found foster family. How will Perry cope and will his mother ever get released?

What a heartfelt, emotional story about love, perseverance, tolerance, bravery and most of all the power of forgiveness. This book was able to take serious themes–including bullying, prison, the justice system, foster care, and more–and portray them in a way that kids can understand and empathize with. This is a book not just for kids with incarcerated parents/relatives, this is a book for everyone and will be a gateway for discussion on those difficult topics adults don’t know how to discuss with children.

Perry teaches us that friendship is a powerful thing and it comes in all shapes and sizes. Do I believe that any prison would  really allow a child to stay that long, no. (note: Nebraska does apparently have prison nursery’s for kids) Do I believe the Blue River prison was idealized to get across various themes, yes. But Connor does make a point to say that there are some people in the prison, “the cold ones,” who Perry is to stay away from. Even though the prison is semi-unrealistic, Connor does give hints to the real nature of incarceration throughout the book. She lends understanding, something important in a children’s book.

Even though there were a few loose ends and the ending was a tiny bit abrupt, I am still giving this one 5 stars. It would make such a great middle school book club book and also a good one for teachers to use in class.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Let’s TACO ‘Bout Books!

Hi Guys,

It’s time to get rid of those summer displays, but I’m not quite ready for fall. Don’t get me wrong, I am longing for boots and sweater season, but my fall displays aren’t quite there 61x5f9bhbdl-_sy497_bo1204203200_yet.

Time for a filler display. There are tons of fun book-ish/library sayings and I LOVE this one: Let’s TACO ‘Bout Books! This is just so much fun and perfect for the children’s room. Paired with one of the dragons from Dragons Love Tacos, the bulletin board fills out perfectly. Just remember, no spicy salsa!

That’s all for now!

-M-

The Flame Never Dies

Happy Labor Day Guys,

Yesterday I finished The Flame Never Dies by Rachel Vincent. This is the sequel to the duology The Stars Never Rise.

The Flame Never Dies picks up where we left off in book one. Nina, Finn and the rest of their merry band of exorcists, 1 ex-nun and 1 prego teen, are camping out in the badlands staying away from the church and lying low in abandoned towns, trying to find enough food and resources to get by.

Melanie’s pregnancy is in its last month and they are still trying to figure out how they will birth the baby and whether or not there will be a soul in the well for the child once he/she is born. While attempting to sort this out, the group is also dealing with Grayson’s transition as an exorcist, which is drawing all sorts of degenerates their way.

Eventually, the group meets up with some nomads called the Lord’s Army. The army is a group of people who live off the land and believe in killing any demons they find. But trouble is following both groups in the form of a maniacal, ultra powerful demon and a mysterious plague, which may or may not be fortune in disguise. Can the group survive? And will Nina find her future nephew a safe place to live, let alone a soul?

First, let me say that I am usually super hesitant to read duologies and I don’t know why. A big complaint I usually have with trilogies is that the second book often drags, but with a duology you don’t get that. Instead, when done well, you get two awesome plot driven stories with little to no stall. Vincent’s duology is an example of this. I was pleasantly pleased with the whole thing.

Now secondly, if you’ve read my earlier review of The Stars Never Rise AND you read my predictive spoiler… well let’s just say BOY was I wrong! I was 100% sure that the story was heading in one direction and I was just so utterly wrong. On top of being ridiculously wrong about the ending there were so many unexpected plot twists that I really did not see coming. Such a pleasant surprise.

Mini-kinda-sorta-but-not-really spoiler ahead. Skip the italics if you don’t want to know if there is a happy ending or not.

I was SHOCKED literally shocked that this book had a happy ending. Everyone one you care about survives, pretty much, and I was sure that either Nina or Finn were gonners. No one loses a love interest and yet there is still a tragedy for one of our characters that keeps the post-apocalyptic world believable. 

I was also extremely pleased with the ending. 100% satisfied, which isn’t something that happens very often. Usually an ending will fit or just works with a story but you may have some questions or be left wanting more even though it had to end that way. But I left this one at peace with the story as a whole. Would I love to see more of these characters, yes, but a story has to end sometime and this was as close to perfect as you get.

The Flame Never Dies is a teen (some sexual tension/innuendos so I wouldn’t recommend to the immature) read that adults will also enjoy. The duology as a whole gets 4.5 stars from me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Circling the Sun

Hi Guys,

I’m off for three glorious days and have somehow managed to finish three books this past week. This is not the norm, so don’t get used to more than two posts a week!

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain was one of those books that has been on my to-read pile for a while and I just kept putting it off. I’d read McLain’s The Paris Wife and was a fan but for some reason this one just wasn’t drawing me in. I finally decided I had to give it a go or it would fall into “my to be read, by never will be” file.

Circling the Sun is an insight into colonial Kenya–circa 19020’s. The story follows Beryl, an English woman, from her early childhood to her late twenties. Beryl arrives in Kenya with her family–Father, Mother and brother–in the hopes of building a successful farm in it’s wilds.

After only two years Beryl’s mother gives up on the endeavor and takes her brother back to England, leaving Beryl in the care of her father. Coping with the lost of her mother Beryl forms a bond with the local Kipsigis tribe and she grows up as no English girl has before. Beryl can run, jump, kill birds with slingshots, she has birthed and raised horses; she was brought up in a wild mans world without a mother’s or even a woman’s influence.

This is fine until her father hires a woman to work for them and Beryl’s wild behavior is slowly put down and frowned upon. Not knowing any other way to live Beryl revolts and her entire life is a constant battle against what she should do and being true to herself.

Circling the Sun is a fictional telling of the life of the real Beryl Markham, writer of her memoir West with the Night and the first female to fly from England to the United States in an airplane. This book is supposed to be a window into colonial Kenya, colonial being the operative word. We hardly get any of the politics or controversies of the time. What we do get is a first class view of how rampant gossip and scandal were–along with an obvious view of the rights of women in the 1920’s. You sort of need to know this going into the book or else you may have some preconceived notions.

I will say, one thing this book did excel at was it’s descriptions of Kenya itself. The way McLain wrote about it’s wild, untouched beauty was stunning. You could really picture the terrain and she made you want to see it yourself. She did the same with the sky. McLain made the sky seem like an untouched exotic place, even though modern readers see and fly in airplanes every day.

Beryl was an interesting character but there were so many side characters I liked better. But I did respect that McLain gave Beryl this unyielding character and although she often kept the peace, she was undeniable committed to herself. Although, I swear every other chapter had one person or another tell Beryl that, “if she needed anything, she should just ask.” Every time I heard this line I cringed. Once or twice, I get it, but almost every person she meets offers to do something for her and yet she is always down and out.

I wasn’t overly impressed with this book. It took me a long to time get through and I didn’t find myself wanting  to pick it up every chance I got. Not a bad read but not as good as The Paris Wife.

That’s all for now!

-M-

Fuzzy Mud

Hi Guys,

As you may or may not know, I am a children’s librarian. This means I have to keep up with my kiddie reads as well as leisure reading for myself. I’ve been a big old fat slacker on that front lately, so I am going to try to add a few middle school reviews in here or there.

This week I read Louis Sachar’s Fuzzy Mud. Sachar is the author of well know children’s book, HolesFuzzy Mud is on the nominee list for the 2016-2017 Black-Eyed Susan Award, which is a children’s choice award for the state of Maryland. It is a middle school read for kids 4th-6th grade.

Fuzzy Mud follows 5th grader Tamaya Dhilwaddi and 7th grader Marshall Walsh. Everyday these two neighbors walk to Woodbridge Academy, a private school for the super smart or really rich. Tamaya fits into the first category and Marshall, well, he falls someplace in the middle.

One day Marshall is threatened by the class bully, Chad, and decides to make a break for it through the woods surrounding Woodbridge Academy in the hopes of not getting beat up. Tamaya, who isn’t allowed to walk home by herself, follows Marshall into the restricted woods. The two get hopelessly lost and Chad ends up finding them anyway. As Marshall is getting beat up, Tamaya notices some fuzzy, odd looking mud and on instinct chucks it in Chads face.

Tamaya and Marshall make a break for it and agree not to tell anyone about what happened. The next day Chad is missing and Tamaya has a rash growing exponentially up her arm. What happened to Chad? And what could have caused Tamaya’s horrible rash? In the days, weeks and months that follow the US Government and the CDC gets involved. Just what have Tamaya and Marshall gotten themselves into?

Mystery meets science fiction mixed with themes of friendship, bullying and a bit of suspense, Fuzzy Mud should definitely keep kids interested… That is, if they even pick the book up in the first place. Reading the jacket description of this book tells you nothing. I thought this was going to be a standard lost in the woods or stand up to bullies read but there was so much more to it than that. Science, senate hearings, quarantines, even mini rants on environmental resources, this book has quite a bit of depth to it.

We’ve got a male and female protagonist, so this book can be recommend to both boys and girls easily. And even though there is a serious disease sweeping the town, the story is not overly graphic for sensitive readers.

A quick, easy read that would appeal to a wide range of middle schoolers.

That’s all for now!

-M-