Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My Top Books of 2014


It's the end of the year! My favorite part of year end festivities is all the best of lists. And of course, as a librarian and a reader, I have to make my own!

I couldn't pick just a top ten, so I decided to include different categories and include a long list of what my top picks area.

This are my personal favorites, books I've enjoyed for various reasons throughout the year, and what I felt were my personal top books of 2014. Also, it's hard to put them in a list order of what is number one, so I just did them alphabetically-I am a librarian after all!

I'd love to hear more suggestions if you have favorites too. My TBR pile is never too long! Ha!

Top 2014 Picture Books:












  • Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales-I'm a sucker for unique illustrations and I love photographs and this book has a stunning use of both. 


Chapter Books (Beginning Reader, Middle Grade & Young Adult)

  • 100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith-OK, yeah Smith's other book, Grasshopper Jungle, is on many year end best of lists, but for me 100 Sideways Miles was perfection. Great characters, lots of heart (in an honest and real way and not sappy), and great exploration of relationships. I also like examples of fantastic writing in parent/child relationships and this book has that.
  • The Crossover by Kwame Alexander-Another fantastic example of a novel in verse, I especially love the use of various forms of poetry to express everything-from the characters feelings to a game of basketball.

  • El Deafo by CeCe Bell-This book had me laughing so much. It was like talking to a childhood best friend at a sleepover. So honest and funny and a great graphic novel.
  • Let's Get Lost by Adi Alsaid- This book just came at the right time and pulled me out of a slump. I loved the interconnecting stories and the characters and it had the right combination of humor, heart, and just a bit of sap and romance.
  • The Young Elites by Marie Lu-Drama, secret organizations, powers, and politics. This was a fast paced adventure and I got lost in the story.






And One Adult Title:


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Zodiac by Romina Russell

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About the Book: The houses of the Zodiac each have their own planets and strengths. Sixteen-year-old Rho Grace is a student from House Cancer. Her ability to read the stars has resulted in a unique vision, but her teachers dismiss her readers as false. When a blast strikes the moons of Cancer killing millions of people, Rho has a feeling that her mysterious vision was a prediction.

With the leader of Cancer killed in the blast, Rho is shocked when she is chosen to be the House's new guardian and leader. She's still having upsetting readers in the stars, but no one believes her. When a reading shows that two other signs are the next ones targeted for disaster, Rho believes that the ancient and exiled thirteenth sign, Ophiuchus, is back and seeking revenge. It's up to Rho to save the Zodiac and protect everyone. Along with her adviser and Royal Guard member Mathias and Hysan, a delegate from Libra, Rho must travel the galaxy and spread her warnings-before it's too late.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: When I was a teen, I was obsessed with astrology. I am a poster child for Gemini and I loved reading about the various signs of the Zodiac and what they meant. And I know it's not just me! So many of my teens love reading about astrology and Zodiac hits that fascination perfectly.

 Zodiac is a fast paced space adventure. It's a mix of science fiction, fantasy, adventure and romance. The science is a bit goofy and not always explained and there's a love triangle that I don't think really needed to be there (sigh...why are there always love triangles?). But I can overlook those things for the fun that I had reading.

I hate when books take a long time to get the action going so I was thrilled that Zodiac kicks off and high speed and doesn't slow down. In the first twenty pages Rho has had an ominous vision and Cancer is sent into turmoil. Each chapter ends on a cliffhanger so you have to keep  reading and this book is easy to fly through. 

While it might not be the perfect read for avid science fiction readers since some of the how's and what's and why's aren't always explained, for someone who  likes science fiction light, this is a fun read. I wish there would have been a bit more background on how the Zodiac was formed. While it's not dystopian, the relationship between Rho and Mathias reminded me a bit of Tris and Four in Divergent. 


Zodiac is a fun, fast paced adventure that I had a lot of fun reading. This is the start of a series and I'm excited to see where Rho heads next as she's trying to save the Zodiac.

On a side note, my library has been part of YALSA's Teens Top Ten Galley Groups and our teens get to review books. When we got copies of Zodiac in, they flew off the review shelf and the teens have been clamoring for them since! This is a a great recommendation for teens who enjoy reading about astrology, enjoy some lighter science fiction and adventure and romance. 

Book Pairings: Across the Universe by Beth Revis, Divergent by Veronica Roth

Full Disclosure: Reviewed from finished copy sent by the publisher

Monday, December 22, 2014

Catch That Cookie! by Hallie Durand, illustrated by David Small

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About the Book: Marshall is a skeptic when it comes to gingerbread men. He doesn't believe that they will run away. So when the cookies the class decorated disappear, Marshall uses his detective skills to solve the clues and find where the gingerbread men have run off to-and possibly believe in some magic along the way.

GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I am always looking for fun holiday books and Catch That Cookie! is one that can easily be added into that category. Marshall is hilarious as he tries to reason why the cookies couldn't have possibly run away with the clues that are left around the school. The clues rhyme and invite kids to shout out the answers as they join Marshall in his gingerbread hunt.

David Small's illustrations capture Marshall's curiosity and excitement perfectly. My favorite illustration is the tiny gingerbread men footprints that were left all over the gym. Marshall is determined to solve this mystery!

Catch That Cookie! could kick off your own gingerbread man hunt and become a holiday classic.



Where would my gingerbread man go? 

Baby GreenBean has a special gingerbread man this year (since he can't eat cookies, but he can catch them!) Our gingerbread man is made from felt covered with sock monkeys and he's pretty sneaky as he runs all over the tree!

Review Disclosure: Reviewed from finished copy sent by publisher

Thursday, December 18, 2014

ALSC Blog: Providing Activities and Programs During Storytime Breaks

Today I'm over at the ALSC blog talking about some of the activities and programs we provide for our patrons during our storytime breaks.

Come check it out!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tune In Tuesday

It's the first Tuesday of the month, which means it's time for Tune In Tuesday. Tune In Tuesday where I share (and invite others to share) some of their favorite music to use in storytime and library programs-or just for fun!


No More Monkeys by Asheba

I discover so much music thanks to Spotify, Pandora, and Songza, especially now that I listen to kid playlists with my son. When I was home on maternity leave earlier this year I listened to lots of various playlists and I discovered what I think is the best version of No More Monkeys ever!

You can find Asheba's Carribbean jam on either his No More Monkeys CD or on Animal Playground by Putumayo Kids. I was lucky enough to have Animal Playground in my library, so I immediately added it to my storytime repertoire. 

I used this song last week in storytime to go along with our monkey themed storytime. I love it because it's catchy, bouncy, and you can't help but jump and sing along. The kids know the basic song of Five Little Monkeys Jumping On the Bed, so they catch on to the lyrics easily and love to jump around like the monkeys and sing along. It's so much fun (and it's great exercise-you jump around with the kids in storytime and that's your cardio for the day, right?) 

Take a listen-but be warned-you might just want to  jump out of your seat and dance!


 
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