Friday, November 22, 2013

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

Little, Brown and Co, 2013

Tana woke up after a night of partying in the bathtub.  Little did she know the tub is what saved her....

Sundown parties are popular now these days.  The danger and the thrill is what keeps teens up all night partying until dawn.  It could be considered a trend, now that Cold Towns have sprung up throughout the nation and world.  There are pre-requisites to a successful party: garlic, rosewater or holy water; stakes and crosses (although these really don't have an effect at all).  But at the party Tana went to, somehow the vampires made their way in, killing and gorging on everyone, creating a massacre.

There are vampires and then there are those well-known ones that go down in history.  The first vampire to begin infecting people was Caspar Morales.  His harmless forays into the human world to feed but not kill started the contagion and the quarantined cities, Cold Towns, the infected and the turned were placed in.  There were other vampires with reputations as well, including the Thorn of Istra, a much sought-after vampire that was supposedly caged for hundreds of years and went mad...thus becoming very very dangerous...

What happens when a person gets bitten?  Contrary to popular belief, they don't turn into vampires; instead, they go cold.  Dead but a limbo state between humanity and a soulless eternity.  It takes 40 days of complete isolation, away from any temptation to drink the blood of a human to shake off the cold.  Only a few make it...most succumb to the temptation and become new vampires, the most unstable kind because their thirst knows no bounds.

And now, Tana is heading to the first Cold Town ever created along with both a vampire named Gavriel and the guy at the party (Aidan) that Gavriel turned cold.  She's flirting with danger and knows the only thing she can do to save Aidan and get Gavriel out of her life is to go to Cold Town and try to survive.

But once inside, who can she trust?  Going into a Cold Town is like living in a parallel universe.  People are walking around with shunts in their veins, hoping to party with the undead.  The vampires revel in the crowd along with humans knowing there is a balance of power between the living and the dead.  But someone in the crowd is out to destroy this delicate balance to create chaos and get revenge.  And Tana finds herself in the middle of it all....

I'll admit, this is the first time in a long time that I've picked up a horror/supernatural book, especially about vampires, and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Forget about the dark and sensual romance, this book has a slightly savage side, filled with deep and dark emotions that run rampant in all of the characters in the book. Black not only creates symbiotic relationships, but carries this theme into other aspects of her book, including society, the infection and struggle to overcome it, and the civilized/uncivilized worlds the characters find themselves in.  It's this power struggle that pushes the reader into the darker passages of the plot all the way through the book, hoping for a satisfying finale and gasping at the end, wanting more more MORE!  This book aligns itself more toward the adult novels of Anne Rice, so if you have readers who want more vampire and a little less romance, hand them this book. Is this a stand-alone or a series?  Hmmmm.....well done, Ms. Black!
Highly recommended for high school collections.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Paladin Prophecy by Mark Frost

Random House, 2013

Will is a normal guy, going to a normal high school, doing normal high school things. He keeps to himself, enjoys the sports of cross country and track, and goes through his days happy.  The only thing he'd really like is for his parents to stay in one place for more than two years, but he knows that's not going to happen.

One morning Will wakes up not knowing it is that pivotal day that will change his life.  First, he sees a black car idling nearby, following him into town as he warms up for a run.  He knows something is up, and he goes back to The Rules his father taught him:




After deterring the black car (with the assistance of a HUGE Australian in a wicked car!) Will goes to school only to be called to the principal's office.  A woman from The Center for Integrated Learning has come to talk to Will about his national state test...a perfect score.  While this is unimaginable (Will took the test in twenty minutes), Dr. Robbins sees his potential and asks if he'd like an opportunity to attend this prestigious academy. 


His mother also showed up at school shortly after the interview, and Will is bothered by his mother's appearance and habits.  He see his mother but...something weird is going on.  And the black car shows up again.  The last straw is a video his father sends him, telling Will to GET OUT NOW! 

All of this in one day. 

Now, on the run, the only place Will knows he can go is the Academy with Dr. Robbins, but getting there will prove to be difficult.  Once there, Will will come against more treachery and evil...more than he ever imagined...


Frost writes a page-turner that fantasy readers of all types (from modern-day to low to high) will go through quickly, demanding the sequel coming out January 2014.  Frost, originally an adult author, has transitioned himself into a new and fresh YA author, as evidenced in his first book.  The characters are unforgettable, and the more they connect with each other, the more memorable their separate identities become.  There are enough circumstances in the novel shrouding the mystery of the Paladin Prophecy that will help push the reader to find out who or what is behind the entire scheme that will destroy humanity.  Pair that with the unique abilities the main characters reveal to both themselves and the reader, and there is no turning back.  As an aside, Frost also co-wrote screenplays for the two Fantastic Four Movies.  This has parlayed into what makes his YA book such an attention grabber for readers (kudos on the cover too!)  Recommended JH/HS with an enthusiastic thumbs up!

Paired fiction:
Warrior Heir series by Cinda Chima Williams
The Alchemyst series by Michael Scott
The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud
The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Bulletin Board Display Ideas

 Every teacher is required to have a bulletin board display (Standard Based Bulletin Boards) for their classroom, where the display is changed every six weeks.  Of course, there is more to it than just changing.  They have to put the TEKS covered, feedback on student work, highlight work that was above and beyond, etc etc etc...It takes a LOT of work and time.  And the library?  Nope...didn't get a bulletin board. So I resorted to using the windows of the library, but after awhile, it looked...trashy...just because I have a LOT of windows (think fishbowl).  The displays blocked the view and would curl if not taped correctly, and don't even get me started on Scotch tape and the remnants left behind.

Then, lo and behold!  A teacher had an extra bulletin board and asked if I would adopt it!  The clouds parted, the room filled with light and a choir of church boys sang a song of praise!  My mind started whirling about what kind of displays I would create, and best of all (one of those catch-22 things) I didn't have any guidelines but creativity on my side.  So off I went!  First place I looked was the listserv, where I found people who had collaboratively worked on booklists with similar themes (Thank you thank you thank you for sharing!!!).  Then it was onto Pinterest to see what else was out there (wow...AMAZED at the creativity!).  And have you ever heard of dumpster diving?  Well, I kind of did that too.  I'd see something I thought would be a great display and took it out of the trash and into the workroom.  Nothing like cardboard for 3-D effects!!

So then it was time to think about what kind of boards I'd like to do.  The ones starred are ones I took queues from through collaborative posts online.  Then I thought I better start thinking of my own themes (so use, borrow, share, post any of these ideas - it's what librarians do, right?)

*August-September:  Students Recommend:  hand out colorful shapes of post-its and ask students to write their favorite book of all time and their name.  Put these hodge-podge on the bulletin board (I had to use an outside window for this one and it looks better in person than in picture form)

*October:  Off With Their Heads!  Their Heads Are Off!:  a split bulletin board of books of bodies with no heads and those with heads and no bodies.  For Halloween, of course!

November:  Hardcopies to E-books:  another split bulletin board display of books in hardcopy format, and the other on e-book format using dumpster diving treasure! (got a poster from vendors and cut out the little book covers; pasted them on the front of the Mac cutout to look like apps). 

December:  Flurry of Series:  series books to get you through the Christmas break.  I'm even thinking of putting the books on snowflake cutouts

January: New Year, New Books: Display the newest titles in the library as well as a list of up and coming titles for the year

Do I even need to ask what I'm doing to February?  Again, dumpster diving for cardboard to glue streamer paper onto heart shapes

March: March Madness: It's all about basketball titles and...I'm struggling with this month.  You know why?  Here's what's commemorated for this month (from Wikipedia)
Irish-American Heritage Month
National Celery Month
National Colo-rectal Cancer Awareness Month
National Essential Tremor Awareness Month
National Nutrition Month
National Professional Social Work Month
National Women's History Month  ( I could definitely work with this topic!)
National kidney month

April: Eggstravaganza!  Only books about pregnancy and babies...JUST KIDDING!  Taking Time for Tayshas: Put up our state's recommended YA list, including annotations (Public School Library Month!)

May:  May I Recommend?:  This time I'll put up not only great YA reads I recommend, but also put out titles and covers of recommended reading for the summer.

So there they are in all of their glory, accentuated with "unique finds."  If you have any bulletin board ideas you'd like to share, please leave a comment :)