A Shadow Bright and Burning

Hi Guys,

I needed a new audio book for my drive in to work and none of my library loans were in, so I went looking for something new. I chose A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess partly because it is teen fantasy and mostly because it is narrated by Fiona Hardingham, who I love.

A Shadow Bright and Burning takes place in England, primarily London of the corset and dinner jacket era. The English are at war with seven powerful monsters–the Ancients–who are destroying their cities bit by bit. Only England’s sorcerers are powerful enough to keep the monsters at bay, but even they can’t kill them.

Henrietta Howle can burst into flame and no one can know. Witches are considered dangerous and are locked up and killed. Witches and magicians have been outlawed in England, due to their part in the arrival of the Ancients 16 years ago. But Henrietta cannot control her power and when her best friend is threatened by the Ancients’ familiars, she cannot stay hidden.

Found out Henrietta fears the worst, but her fears are soon put to rest when she finds out that she isn’t a witch but a sorcerer and one the profits have foretold. Now Henrietta is the first female sorcerer in hundreds of years and must train and fight in a mans world. Her fellow trainees, all teenage boys, love her, hate her and admire her in different measures.

Will Henrietta master her power? Will she keep her best friend safe? And will the secrets that suppress her, keep?

Well let me start off by talking about the audio book itself. I love Fiona Hardingham! She narrates several of my favorite audio books. She has a talent for voices and I am ever impressed with her skills. The audio for this book was great. It pulled me in and helped to get me interested in a plot that I was ify about.

Now the story itself. It was good… but it felt very familiar. For a new YA fantasy, it felt like something I’ve read before. There were monsters, fae, sorcerers, witches, magicians, magical wards, prophecies, staves(wands)…you get the drift. All usual elements of fantasy stories. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but the plot has to be stellar to make up for this in my opinion.

There were parts of this book I really liked and the rest I just felt kind of meh about. I enjoyed any scene where Henrietta was with the Magician; their training was fun and exciting. I was less pleased with the constant reminder that Henrietta is a woman and therefore at the mercy of society. I felt that Henrietta should have done something about this instead of dwelling on it. I wanted a stronger Henrietta–maybe in the next book.

I also had a major problem with the romance in this story. Cluess hints at three different love interest: one unrealized, one with a too slow build up, and one we want to slap…repeatedly. I also didn’t quite believe the budding romance and the inevitable “who should I pick.” The only relationship I really itch to see more of is more of a budding friendship at the moment.

This was a fine audio book and I would probably pick up the sequels to listen to as well. Not a bad read but it needed a little something. 2.5 stars for me.

That’s all for now!

-M-

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Crooked Kingdom

Hi Guys,

Saturday I finished reading the sequel to Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows: Crooked Kingdom. Let me start by saying that I’ve been waiting for this book for the past year. I was so thoroughly entranced by Six of Crows and so invested in the characters, that I almost couldn’t bare it! Thank goodness Crooked Kingdom has arrived!
Crooked Kingdom brings back Kaz Brekker and his crew of miscreants; they are hot for revenge and determined to gain what is owed to them. At the end of the first book, Kaz’s crew is double crossed and one of their own, Inej, is kidnapped. They are on the run and have no allies to speak of.
Kaz continues to struggle with physical touch and can hardly hold it together in Inej’s absence. Inej is at the mercy of their enemy and worried Kaz will leave her behind. Wyland is stuck with another boys features and a father who has tried to kill him twice now. Jasper is still in debt and hiding his grisha powers. Nina is dealing with withdrawl and struggling with her grisha powers. Mathais continues to deal with his betrayal of his country and his feelings for Nina.
Whit and determination are the only tools they have left. Will it be enough to get paid, get revenge and get out alive?
Just a mini synopsis for you guys because anything more will give too much away.
Bardugo builds layers upon layers in this duology. Just when you think the crew is in big trouble, they find their way out of it. Kaz is like a prodigal chess player; he can see 100 moves ahead and when the depth of his plans are revealed, we are wowed. And not unrealistic at all. I believed in all of Kaz’s planning.
The setting for this book was marvelous. We get a glimpse at Ketterdam in book one but we really get to see the nitty gritty in book two. Ketterdam it is just a hotbed for vice and I loved it. What a world, full of the dregs of society and Kaz rules them all. It’s just so wonderful having a book were the good guys, aren’t all that good.
I also truly enjoyed all the different relationships in this book. We have three separate couples with different dynamics and struggles. Kaz and Inej were my favorite. They are both so damaged and yet together they are better:
“I would have come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together-knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that’s what we do. We never stop fighting.” –Sigh.
This book gives us an in-depth look into a specific portion of each of our characters pasts, that tell us a little more about who they are and how they came to be. For me, (shrinking away from outbursts of rage) these mini stories…worked butttt they would have made excellent novellas.
Overall, I did enjoy this book immensely. It gets 4 stars. I liked it a lot but I don’t feel the need to obsess like I did with Six of Crows. Another duology I am satisfied with. I think my feelings toward duologies may be on the verge of change.
That’s all for now!
-M-

Five Little Pumpkins

Hi Guys,

Oh yes, it is now October! This means I can finally indulge in my obsession, not only with fall but also with Halloween! I love Halloween–the costumes, the ambiance, pumpkins, apple spice, all that jazz.

51eirsodhpl-_sx497_bo1204203200_In honor of Halloween, I put up a new display. Five little pumpkins is a staple in the storytime world. The rhyme is good to read, for finger play, felt boards and more. Keeping that in mind I made up my own little rhyme for the display:

“Five little pumpkins, sitting on a gate. They like reading, they think it’s great!”

I created my five little pumpkins and “carved” the word READ. Then to give the display a bit more flare, I added ghosts chanting “Boooooooks!” and little bats.

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I think it came out pretty good. What do you think?

That’s all for now!

-M-

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!

-M-

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!

-M-

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!

-M-

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:

CONGRESS SHALL MAKE NO LAW RESPECTING AN ESTABLISHMENT OF RELIGION, OR PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF; OR ABRIDGING THE FREEDOM OF SPEECH, OR OF THE PRESS; OR THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE PEACEABLY TO ASSEMBLE, AND TO PETITION THE GOVERNMENT FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES.

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.

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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.

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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!

-M-