April 30, 2014

House of Ivy & Sorrow by Natalie Whipple

I received a review copy in exchange for an honest review. 
Originally reviewed for Book Soulmates.

Description: Josephine Hemlock has spent the last 10 years hiding from the Curse that killed her mother. But when a mysterious man arrives at her ivy-covered, magic-fortified home, it’s clear her mother’s killer has finally come to destroy the rest of the Hemlock bloodline. Before Jo can even think about fighting back, she must figure out who she’s fighting in the first place. The more truth Jo uncovers, the deeper she falls into witchcraft darker than she ever imagined. Trapped and running out of time, she begins to wonder if the very Curse that killed her mother is the only way to save everyone she loves.

My Review: Josephine (Jo) Hemlock lost her mother ten years ago to the mysterious curse that follows her family. The only surviving Hemlocks, Jo and her Nana, live in a magic-fortified house under the interstate bridge in Willow’s End, Iowa. There are rumors about a witch who lives in that house, but only Jo and her Nana know that the stories are true. One day a mysterious man shows up looking for Jo, and she fears that he is somehow connected to her mother’s killer. Soon Jo finds herself digging further and further into the truth and racing to find some answers before she and Nana fall victim to the curse themselves. Another mysterious boy appears who may have some of the clues that Jo needs, but can she trust him? 

I don’t read a lot of books featuring witches as characters, but I’m glad I gave this one a chance. The descriptions of how their magical powers worked was really intriguing. It made sense that they distinguished between witches who were in control of their powers and those who were consumed by them. The small town setting and the details of the Hemlock home were vividly described, and the family histories were really interesting. Also, I loved the strong relationship between Jo and her Nana as well as Jo’s close friendships with Kat and Gwen. There are several awesome ladies in this story!

I think my only complaint would be that the tone felt a little light for the subject matter and it read more like a middle grade novel than YA. I think I was just expecting it to be darker and scarier (although it had its creepy moments). Also, I should mention that there are some kissing scenes, but they are pretty tame (in my opinion).

I would recommend this book to fans of the Paranormalcy series by Kiersten White who are looking for another light supernatural read with some humor, action, and romance sprinkled in.

April 29, 2014

2014 Book Blogger Summer Reading Program

I'm signing up for the 2014 Book Blogger Summer Reading Program hosted by Katie's Book Blog, and you should too! It runs from the beginning of May to the beginning of September. Remember how much fun it was as a kid to join the summer reading program at the library and earn prizes for reading? Well, now us grown ups don't have to be left out of the fun.

 You can set your own goal for how many books you want to read, and any format/genre counts. For all the details on how to join and participate, head over to Katie's Book Blog. I'm looking forward to making a big dent in my TBR pile (and possibly winning some prizes)! I'll update my progress here as I finish books.

My goal is: 50 books

Books finished

1. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
2. Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach (audiobook)
3. Cut by Patricia McCormick
4. Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed
5. Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae
6. Rapture Practice: A True Story About Growing Up Gay In an Evangelical Family by Aaron Hartzler
7. Abraham Lincoln: The Man Behind the Myths by Stephen B. Oates
8. Waiting by Carol Lynch Williams
9. The Sound by Sarah Alderson
10. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (audiobook)
11. Forget Me Not by Carolee Dean
12. The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida (audiobook)
13. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
14. The Good Mother Myth: Redefining Motherhood to Fit Reality by Avital Norman Nathman
15. To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
16. The Avery Shaw Experiment by Kelly Oram
17. Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller
18. Fly on the Wall by E. Lockhart (audiobook)
19. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen (audiobook)
20. Another Little Piece of My Heart by Tracey Martin
21. Dead to You by Lisa McMann
22. Also Known As by Robin Benway (audiobook)
23. Far From You by Tess Sharpe
24. In Honor by Jessi Kirby
25. Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan (audiobook)
26. Send by Patty Blount
27. Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year by Anne Lamott
28. I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd  Have to Kill You by Ally Carter (audiobook)
29. Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
30. Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown
31. Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley
32. The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom (audiobook)
33. I Work at Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories from the Stacks by Gina Sheridan
34. October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Leslea Newman (audiobook)
35. Moonglass by Jessi Kirby
36. My Story by Elizabeth Smart with Chris Stewart
37. Four: A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth
38. Blood Red Road by Moira Young
39. I Can't Keep My Own Secrets: Six-Word Memoirs from Teens Famous and Obscure edited by Smith Magazine
40. Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West by Blaine Harden
41. My Life in Black and White by Natasha Friend
42. Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches' Guide to Romance Novels by Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan
43. Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman
44. Beyond Heaving Bosoms: The Smart Bitches' Guide to Romance Novels by Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan
45. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (audiobook)
46. The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston
47. The House at Riverton by Kate Morton (audiobook)
48. The Waking Dark by Robin Wasserman
49. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler (audiobook)
50. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

April 15, 2014

Top Ten Bookish Things That I'd Like to Own

Top Ten Bookish Things That I'd Like to Own

I love this topic! My Pinterest boards are filled with bookish goodies. 
Here are some of the items at the top of my wishlist. 

This banned books mug:

Billy Bookcases from IKEA:

This bookish dress:

These bookish socks:

This Mr. Darcy ring dish (swoon!):

A personalized home library embosser:

This Harry Potter ring: 

A BookBook case for my iPad Mini: 

Some awesome library-themed business cards:

A Ravenclaw passport cover: 

April 8, 2014

Top Ten Most Unique Books I've Read

Top Ten Most Unique Books I've Read

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick 
I loved that the writing style incorporated footnotes, poetry, and letters from the future. 

Crossing Stones by Helen Frost
This novel in verse told a great story from multiple perspectives while using varied poetic structures. Even the shape of the poems added to the story. 

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 
A story narrated by Death? Definitely unique! 

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
This graphic novel told 3 different stories but wove them together in the end. 

The Arrival by Shaun Tan
This is a wordless graphic novel, with only images conveying the immigrant experience. 

The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan
A story told entirely in dictionary-style entries may sound strange, but it is beautifully written.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
The author crafted a story based on some strange and interesting black and white photographs he had collected.

The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories (Volumes 1, 2, and 3) by hitRECord and Joseph Gordon-Levitt
An online community of collaborators told stories by connecting words with artwork. 

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosch
Stories and MS Paint-style artwork (based off the author's popular blog) that will make you laugh AND cry.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
The book is narrated by a dog. It sounds weird, but it totally works for the story!

April 7, 2014

What I've Been Up to Lately!

You may have noticed less frequent posts on here lately. Life has been pretty hectic, so I thought I'd share a general update on some of the exciting things that are going on (complete with blurry iPhone pics). 

If you follow me on social media, you already know this, but for those of you who don't: We're expecting a baby bookworm this August! It's our first child, so we are incredibly excited but also a little overwhelmed with all the preparations that need to be done before the baby arrives. Of course, you know I've already started building the baby's library. I mean, priorities, right? 

I mentioned previously that I joined my state's high school book award committee after being on the wait list a few years. We recently received our committee reading assignments to complete by October, and I have a list of 24 YA books to read. I'm actually setting a goal for myself to finish all the books by August so that I'm done before the baby arrives. I think this is an achievable goal considering my reading pace, and I'm really looking forward to all the great books I'll get to read! Because the committee is a priority, reviews written specifically for this blog will have to slow down, but I'll still be reviewing books over at Book Soulmates. Here's my bookish notebook I'll be using to take notes on committee reading (I made it a few years ago during one of my youth services classes in grad school but never found a use for it until now):

I've been able to do some fun stuff lately, too. Recently my husband and I went to a Lorde concert in Detroit. It was awesome, as expected. Her album is one of the few we can both agree on when we're in the car, and it was really fun to go on a little road trip to see her live. We sat in the back since I'm pregnant and wanted to be far away from the speakers and have the option of sitting down...plus we're old and didn't want to stand in line outside for hours in the bitter cold. ;) 

Another fun things I did lately was go to a book signing at Kids Ink with Rainbow Rowell and David Levithan! I've met David before, but this was my first time meeting Rainbow. There were so many people trying to squeeze into this tiny bookstore that they had to move us into the parking lot behind the store. It was PLA week in Indy, so there were a LOT of librarians there. I overheard a teen whisper to her mom, "Why are there so many ADULTS here?" which made me smile. Rainbow and David were charming and entertaining, and I loved every bit of their readings and Q and A session. They didn't put a limit on how many books could be signed and spent time speaking to each person individually. What an awesome night. This fangirl left with a happy heart. 

Work has been busy but in a good way. I'm still staffing the reference desk and computer lab, teaching computer classes, and updating our social media sites, but I've recently has some added responsibilities of ordering all the nonfiction books as well as weeding the entire nonfiction collection. I love doing collection development and maintenance so I was excited to take this on. I'm also working on updating the social media policy and facilitating ESL classes using our language learning database. We recently added some iMac media editing stations too, and we're teaching patrons how to use them. They can scan photos/slides/negatives, convert VHS to DVD, edit videos with iMovie, and make music with GarageBand. So cool!

So those are a few of the things I've been up to lately. I just wanted to share an update since I feel like like I've been neglecting the blog lately. I'll try to be better about posting on here even if it's not reviews. Have a great week everyone and let me know what's new in your world! 


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