Sunday, April 24, 2016

Greenglass House by Kate Milford

Greenglass House (Greenglass House, #1)Greenglass House by Kate Milford
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**2015-2016 MD Black-Eyed Susan Nominee

Ben, Nora and Milo Pine, the Pine family, were looking forward to a quiet, low-key holiday at Greenglass House. Their usual clientele of smugglers dropped during the holidays which left the Inn virtually empty for the small family to enjoy the break together. But this stopped being the average holiday as soon as the bell began to ring signaling the Whilforber Whirlwind's ascent up the steep slope carrying their fist guest with many others to follow. Soon the family found their smuggler's Inn bustling with strangers and Mrs. Pine called in the Inn's chef, Mrs. Caraway, and her daughter Lizzie. They also brought Lizzie's younger sister, Meddy, who was all for occupying Milo's time. Milo and Meddy decided to play a role-playing game and together they realized that each guest has an agenda for being at the Inn. When items begin to go missing, the missing items aren't the only things that turn up. Down every hallway and behind every door, the secrets of Greenglass House beckon to Milo and Meddy and dare them to explore.

First, I have to say, I'm not a mystery girl. I couldn't really tell you why, but when I found out I had to read this book and that it was a mystery, I wasn't too thrilled. The cover I thought was gorgeous, but a mystery? I reluctantly started the book and right away was impressed with the writing. It was like someone telling a story with full, rich details. I wasn't too intrigued, but drifted along until THE part came when my stomach totally dropped. There was a moment that I did not see, but had been there all along that took Greenglass House from an okay book to one of my favorites! The storyline was brilliant and so neatly tied itself up at the end. I really can't recommend this book enough. If you're looking for an amazing read, then look no further...Greenglass House by Kate Milford.

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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Graphic Novels - Still Not a Fan

My media center at my school is putting together a MD Black-Eyed Susan Challenge for our local elementary schools. My school is hosting so we have to read the books and make up the questions. Sounds great doesn't it? Who doesn't LOVE Black-Eyed Susan nominees?! But wait... there are 10 graphic novels... someone has to read those too.

I volunteered.

I'm gonna lay it out on the table (I believe I've already done that once or twice) - I don't like graphic novels. Through grit teeth, yes, they get kids reading and for a kid to read ANYTHING is a great start to a lifetime love of reading. I just don't like graphic novels for reasons I thought AND for reasons I later found out when I started reading them for a challenge. Let me share a few with you.

What I Knew:
  • They are just weird. They have weird subjects and weird ways of relaying information. They have weird things written in them. Even while reading them for the challenge, I would be cruising along and even kinda enjoying what I was reading when all of a sudden - WEIRDNESS!! Something weird would be said and I'm guessing it was all a matter of time. That's a graphic novel for ya! Is that part of the graphic novel criteria? Do you have to include some off-the-wall strange line or idea to make it a "true" graphic novel. Examples?  
    • Little White Duck - They stuck firecrackers up the bums of rats
    • Hidden - The little boy had to stand on a desk in his classroom and show the class his little boy parts so they could see a Jewish circumcision.
    • El Deafo - One little girl tells the other to look down her shirt and spell "attic" (it took me a while, but the rest of my family picked right up on it)
           In all the books I read, there was just a little something that made me say to myself "Really?".
  • I was expecting a lack of depth because you just don't get the amount of detail as you would in a novel.
What I Found Out
  • I found out that I was right on the weirdness, BUT it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I really expected a lot worse.
  • Yes, there was a great deal lacking in depth, but that part was worse that I expected. The books were harder to follow and less memorable because you didn't really invest any real time with characters or story lines. They almost seemed to be abbreviated or abridged stories.
  • The pictures were right there for you so you didn't have to create them yourself which saddened me. When I read, and I don't know if this true for everyone, but the whole book gets played in my mind like a movie. I think this why I have such high retention because I don't just READ the book, I SEE the book.
  • The good part was that it was really easy to get through a book. This may not mean much to many folks, but it is such a GOOD feeling to finish a book! I think that this is really encouraging for kids and I also think (I hope) that continually finishing books will encourage them to reach out an try some longer books.
Bottom line and my graphic novel opinion?
I think that they are good because they get kids reading especially boys. I really encourage parents to read the books first or look them over because they do have some strange things in them that may confuse some kids at different levels of development. I highly encourage conversations about these things too. I would caution in spending money on them or maybe get a group together to swap the books. These books can be read in a day and sometimes just a few hours. I don't know about you, but if I'm spending $18 on a book, then I want it to last for more than a day. The library is an excellent source for graphic novels AND they are coming out with more and more every day. Graphic novels are not really new, but they are steadily gaining in popularity and becoming more mainstream. I think library's are having a rough time catching up to the demand. I know our library has more than doubled our number of graphic novels. I HIGHLY encourage parents to read some of these books. I HIGHLY encourage parents to read many of the books their kids are reading. Books are knowledge and knowledge is power. Books can be just as influential as the company your kids keep and you should be in the know.


Saturday, April 16, 2016

Why Are Books Not Cool?

When my son was a baby, he would make his way into his bedroom as best as he could to sit by himself and look through books we brought home from the library. Up until the 4th grade he was a good reader. He LOVED Magic Treehouse books!! My daughter was a good reader too. She lasted until 5th grade. Her favorite books were Ivy and Bean and she loved all things realistic fiction. And then the day came...


My son now HATES books and reading. It's a passion that I could only hope he would direct in a positive way into his studies. He is very auditory so I've even gotten him some books on "tape". Our library has these nifty little Playaway packs. They come with a book and a small MP3 player. You can also get them with just the MP3 player. He wants nothing to do with them. Although he is too far gone, I will never give up.

My daughter... there may be hope. She can touch a book without getting upset unlike my son. She has read some books for school AND has mentioned something about summer reading lists. I still have hope for her. I have sat down with her and asked - So what's up? Why no books? The answer? Besides having too much homework and being forced to read by the school... books are for geeks. No one reads anymore. Kids tease kids with books. *GASP*

What in the world is going on?! Why are readers labeled geeks? Although I think being is a geek is endearing, I'm also not 14. What is the problem with books? This is a real question because I seriously do not have an answer to.


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Library Haul!

Rebel Bully Geek Pariah
By Erin Jade Lange
"The Breakfast Club" gets a modern, high-stakes reboot in this story of four very different teens and a night that changes them forever.

The Rebel: Once popular, Andi is now a dreadlocked, tattooed wild child.
The Bully: York torments everyone who crosses his path, especially his younger brother.
The Geek: Tired of being bullied, Boston is obsessed with getting into an Ivy League college.
The Pariah: Choosing to be invisible has always worked for Sam . . . until tonight.

When Andi, York, Boston, and Sam find themselves hiding in the woods after a party gets busted by the cops, they hop into the nearest car they see and take off—the first decision of many in a night that will change their lives forever. By the light of day, these four would never be caught dead together, but when their getaway takes a dangerously unpredictable turn, sticking together could be the only way to survive.

With cinematic storytelling and compelling emotional depth, critically acclaimed author Erin Jade Lange takes readers on literary thrill ride.
By Laura Williams McCaffrey
Sixteen-year-old Lyla lives in a bleak, controlling society where only the brightest and most favored students succeed. When she is caught buying cheats in an underground shadow market, she is tattooed—marked—as a criminal. Then she is offered redemption and she jumps at the chance . . . but it comes at a cost. Doing what is right means betraying the boy she has come to love, and, perhaps, losing even more than she thought possible. Graphic novel–style vignettes revealing the history of this world provide Lyla with guidance and clues to a possible way out of the double bind she finds herself in.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Kids Today

So very true. I honestly believe that kids today lack imagination. Think about it. There are video games, smart phones and graphic novels. Their days are structured with so many scheduled activities and sports and there is rarely time to sit and dream. Ask a kid to sit down and draw a picture...they are going to ask "How?". We need to teach kids how to relax... and read!