Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Book Review: The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

Title: The Dead House

Author: Dawn Kurtagich

Published: August 2015

Pages: 440


Twenty-five years ago, there was a fire at Elmbridge High school that shut down the facility forever. Three students died and one, Carly Johnson, went missing. Very few details as to who caused the fire or the disappearances have been found…that is, until now. The charred diary of Carly’s twin sister, Kaitlyn, has been found in the ruins of the school, and has cast a vast shadow of suspicion on the activities of Carly and her friends. Except Carly doesn’t have a twin sister.

This book is complete and utter insanity, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

The story itself is told through diary entries, video transcripts, police reports, and notes traded between the two “sisters” Carly and Kaitlyn. Are they really sisters trapped in the same body? What really happened the night their parents died? And are the tragic events at Elmbridge High the result of severely incorrect treatments for mental disturbance, or is there a more sinister source at play? I genuinely have no idea. If there’s one thing you’re not going to get from this book, it’s a definitive answer. On…just about anything. But that’s part of what makes it fun.

I really don’t know how to even begin to describe this book, and I definitely don’t know how to get into it without spoilers. There’s just so much that happens in it! It also manages to capture that deeply unsettling atmosphere that I feel makes horror truly successful, and then near the end, everything goes off the rails—but in a good way. The fact that it jumps between past and present and is told through various mediums is also a really effective tool to up the creep factor. When you’re reading Kaitlyn’s diary and the transcripts of Naida’s video clips, you feel like a voyeur, peeking in on something you have no right to see. And then, of course, everything becomes entirely unhinged and you feel like you can’t catch your breath.

Bottom line: This book, while not perfect, is incredibly compelling. Despite its hefty appearance, it’s an incredibly fast-paced read. If you can bring yourself to put it down once you’ve started, you’re stronger than I am.

Happy reading!

Want to check out The Dead House? Find it on the CMRLScatalog and put it on hold!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Staff Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

I thought after Amber'sreview of A Court of Thorns and Roses went up yesterday, I'd post my review too, so you could see both sides of the feelings towards this book. Amber didn't like the romance; I LOVED the romance. Read both of our reviews, and then check the book out and see what you think.

TITLE: A Court of Thorns and Roses
AUTHOR: Sarah J. Maas
PUBLISHED: May 5, 2015
416 pages, hardcover
Want to read A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES and see what you think? Find it on the CMRLS catalog and put a hold on it!

Can you say SEXY? I mean, goodness, I was not expecting this book. I’ve got to start with romance in ACOTAR because it’s…seductive. I don’t want you to think that the whole thing is full of sex or anything; it’s just that those few scenes are hot hot hot. Tamlin will make you SWOON. But he isn’t the only character who you’ll fall for. There’s plenty of sexy characters to completely fall in love with, including our kick-butt heroine, Feyre (what an awesome name!).
The world building is stunning, as was expected. The fairie courts and world are so interesting and well-done that I could’ve pictured the land without the addition of the map (though I’m a sucker for a book with a map). I hope we get to see even more of this world in the next book (WHICH NEEDS TO COME OUT TOMORROW!). I just LOVED this world of fairies, beasts, flowers, art, magical eyes, darkness, beautiful manors, Tamlin, Rhys, and magic magic magic. Quick little shout out to our weirdly attractive anti-hero Rhys. I won’t go into much detail here other than to say GET READY.
You may or may not know that this is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Because of it, it’s obvious what is going to happen from the beginning. You know who Feyre’s going to fall in love with, but the path getting there and what happens after is so absolutely amazing, different, and cool that it doesn’t matter. The world, the characters, the magic are all unique, but it definitely still feels like a fairy tale.
The bottom line: Incredible world. Fantastic retelling. Beautiful magic. Awesome characters. SEXY times. Well-deserved hype. I NEED more.

-- Stefani

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Our Teens Review Books: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Title: A Court of Thorns and Roses

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Published: May 5, 2015

416 pages, hardcover

Read the full synopsis on Goodreads!

Want to check out A Court of Thorns and Roses? Find it on the CMRLS catalog and put it on hold!

A magical story of the classic Beauty and the Beast, retold by the beloved Sarah J. Maas. With her unique spin on other majestic stories, I'm interested in what Sarah's main character, Feyre, has to offer to the novel. 

The beginning of the chapter introduces us to Feyre's world and daily life. She's an excellent hunter who kills for the survival of her family, and prefers to keep to herself a majority of the time. Witty, analytical and crafty, Feyre can bargain any product for a few measly coins. Swallowed in poverty, Feyre must carry the burden of taking take of her eldest sisters and crippled father, promised by her mother. In the midst of the winter hunting becomes increasingly difficult, but that won't stop Feyre from trying. A casual cold night of hunting, Feyre spots a healthy deer and prepares for an attack, until she witnesses a wolf lurking within the distance.

A possible faerie.

Faeries, particularly High Fae, are powerful beings that once ruled humanity with an iron fist. They viewed humans as pitiful insects and treated many in inhumane ways. For centuries humans have been captive to the faeries' powerful grip, but eventually humans rebelled against the faeries and war was declared. A war so deadly it wiped out thousands in masses, six high ruling queens created a peace treaty between humans and faeries.

Taking her chance, Feyre manages to kill the wolf, and that's when everything changed...

At the beginning of the chapter I was interested in Feyre, her sisters and the world surrounding their lives. It's told in a common way: average humans living in poverty conditions and everyone just lives. Nothing special, and then Feyre's whole life is changed when she killed a wolf lurking from the wall of Prythian, High Fae territory. The High Fae Lord, Tamlin, came to avenge his dead subject, and basically demands Feyre to live with him or else face death. Of course, Feyre leaves with Tamlin but in hopes to escape the castle to return to her family again. Personally, I enjoyed the story without the romantic elements. Not saying I have major issues with romance, but I felt after Feyre left her family with Tamlin to Prythian, it became more about romance than anything else. Honestly, I wanted to know more about Prythian, the High Fae and the brewing terror that lurks in Prythian and I only received a quarter of the High Fae citizens and homeland. I understand Feyre being bound to the High Fae's (Tamlin) castle, but considering Feyre's curious nature and adventurous streak, the story should've been revolving around the mystery of High Fae's weakening power and the ultimate ruler that holds Prythian.

Not only that, but I wanted Feyre's family to develop and form without the help of Feyre. The consequences of being co-dependent for so long, and then suddenly have to fend for one's self is something I wanted to see in ACOTAR, but that didn't happen like I hoped. I wanted Cause-and-Effect themes in the story, the actions of Feyre's to Tamlin's actions, and what would be the effect of it.

Even though romance between Feyre and Tamlin was predominant in the story, it didn't stop Feyre from bonding with other individuals. She did form a friendship with Lucien, Tamlin's High Fae wingman. Having Lucien in the novel was incredibly refreshing, and I enjoyed every witty remark and quip that came out of Lucien's mouth. There was development in Lucien's character, but I wished Lucien and Feyre bonded a bit more in the story, I think it'll be a better dynamic and possible love interest. There's also Tamlin's servant, Alise, a cold yet calculating individual. There were bits of Alise's backstory, but it didn't last long and then she only appeared whenever it was convenient. Such a waste of potential, and she could've been Feyre's female support in the midst of masculinity.

Other characters are basically nonexistent, and new characters arrive near the end of the book. The plot starts to pick up, but it's near the end of the book as well. I tried to remain captivated, but I think the romance between Feyre and Tamlin was too much for me. Oh, uh, there's some scenes in the novel that's 16+ rated, so... Take note. There's violence, bits of gore, and lots of physical connection so I'd advise teenagers to adjust to the adult themes or skip them.

I'd recommend this story for romance lovers and Beauty and the Beast fanatics. To me, it's not top notch like I've anticipated and not enough action. Too much romantic angst, and Feyre could've interacted with other beings besides the two main love interests.

The story isn't bad, but it could've been better in my opinion. Also, some of the exact plot elements are very similar to Sarah J. Maas's other novels. Anyway, I'll rate it 3.0 out of 5. I'm not a romantic person, so reading this book had been somewhat of a chore for me. This isn't the best book I've read, but when I'm bored and have nothing better to do, this book would fill my boredom and romantic mood.

-- Amber

Monday, December 7, 2015

Music Monday: Grammy Nominees

It’s Music Monday! What does that mean? The Central MississippiRegional Library System has a ridiculous amount of FREE to you resources available for patrons. One of those is Freegal, a free and legal service that now allows patrons to download five songs each week for FREE (notice the emphasis on free). Every Monday we’ll be picking five songs that we love that are available on Freegal for you to download.

As the 2016 Grammy Nomination list went live thismorning with some amazing music, I thought I’d share five of the songs that were nominated for a Grammy that you can download on Freegal. Give them a listen, add them to your streaming playlists on Freegal (we can stream for up to three hours every single day now! How cool is that?!), download them if you like.

Uptown Funk, Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars (Nominated for: Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance)

Ex's & Oh's, Elle King (Nominated for: Best Rock Performance and Best Rock Song)

Moaning Lisa Smile, Wolf Alice (Nominated for: Best Rock Performance)

Hold Back the River, James Bay (Nominated for: Best Rock Song)

Coffee, Miguel (Nominated for: Best R&B Song)

Plus, two of the artists nominated for Best New Artist have lots of songs for you to listen to and download, including

Meghan Trainor
Courtney Barnett

So give these songs a listen. Do you think they all deserved the Grammy nom?

-- Stefani

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Nine of Stefani's Favorite Book Quotes from the Past Year

I've read a lot of books in the past year (about 150 or so), and as I read, I find beautiful quotes or passages that really speak to me or that I relate to, and I thought I'd share some of my favorite quotes from the books that I've read in the past year with you. All of the book titles are linked to our online catalog, so if the quote catches your fancy, you can place a hold on the book! 

“When you were born, you cried while the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries while you rejoice.” Mosquitoland by David Arnold

“I will be STRONGER than my sadness” My Heart & Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

“No, Lila had been running toward something. Something better. And even if she hadn’t reached it yet. She would.”


“I’m not going to die,” she said. “Not till I’ve seen it.” “Seen what?” Her smile widened. “Everything.” A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
"Because there's not denying it now. I'm in the world. And, too, the world is in me." Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

“Don’t feel bad for one moment about doing something that brings you joy.” A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

“I fall a little bit in love with everyone.” Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
“Quick, make a wish. Take a (second or third or fourth) chance. Remake the world.”  I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
“So now live for real, Craig. Live. Live. Live. Live.Live.” It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

What are some of your favorite book quotes?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Book Review: Daughters Unto Devils

Daughters Unto Devils

Author: Amy Lukavics

Published: September 2015

Pages: 231

Amanda Verner’s life changed last winter. From her fit of insanity—presumably a result of cabin fever—and her new, sickly baby sister who cries endlessly, Amanda has sought to forget the long, harsh winter in the arms of the post boy. Soon she finds herself jilted and pregnant, and on her way to a new homestead in the prairie, where her family, ignorant of her condition, has decided to try to stick out the upcoming winter that promises to be worse than the one before. Amanda thinks this may be her chance at a fresh start—that is until they arrive at the cabin, which is covered in blood, and Amanda’s visions from last winter begin to return. Amanda fears she may find out soon enough what lurks in the prairie fields.

I was, pardon my pun, dying to read this book. As soon as it came in the run on the new shipment, I snatched it up and checked it out for myself. I really, really wanted to love it. Which is why it was a bummer to find out that it was…alright, I guess?

Here’s the thing: Amy Lukavics is a very good storyteller. The eerie atmosphere of this book hovers over it like a blanket, and honestly, the almost glacial pace of the first 150 pages only lends itself to that feeling. I was willing to be led along slowly, and I love a good build up. The problem for me was the character development. Basically, there wasn’t any. Despite the ample opportunity we have to get to know these characters, we really kind of don’t.

That said, there was some stuff I really loved about this book. I love a good spooky story, and the last quarter of this book ramps it up to eleven out of nowhere. It’s been touted as Little House on the Prairie meets Stephen King, and that’s a pretty apt description. If you've ever seen the movie The Others, it's a little bit like that--a long, slow wind-up, and then the climactic ending hits you like a slingshot. I’ll warn you, though, the imagery in this book gets downright gruesome, so I wouldn’t advise it if you’ve got a sensitive stomach.

I can’t say much about the ending for fear of spoiling it, but I’ll say this: If you’re looking for a happy ending, you should look elsewhere.

Check it out and let me know what you think!


Want to read Daughters Unto Devils? Find it in the CMRLS catalog and put a hold on it!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Our Teens Review Books: The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey

Title: The Girl at Midnight

Author: Melissa Grey

Published: August 28, 2015

357 pages, hardcover

This is a debut novel. When it comes to debut novels, things may go a little weary, or somewhat lackluster within the beginning. Other times, a debut novel could introduce the author with high quality in his/her writing, and reveal to the audience what they're capable of. 

Melissa Grey shows us the world of Avicen, a fantasy world within the human realms of New York City. Avicen is mystical, magical and special, but hidden within the shadows...- or preferably, shadow dust. Two worlds held together, but the power of magic conceals everything. To the bird-like creatures of Avicens to fiery human hybrid dragons called Drakhari(s), these main species been at war with each other for centuries. How did the war start? Who knows, the reason's been long gone, yet both party continues to battle without hesitation, blind by ignorance and unquestioned hatred. The war will increase by bloodshed, hatred and fury, and will corrupt all civillians. Unless there's an ultimate resolution: Obtain the firebird.

The world is quite whimsical in its own way without being out of touch. Descriptive, but too descriptive if I might say, and the flowery paragraphs can become overbearing. I enjoyed the Avicen world, but I felt the human world should've been touched, too. Besides the worlds, the Avicen bird/human hybrids are interesting. They're not abnormal creatures, in fact, they respond and act like every other human being, so, suppose it's a good thing? I would like to say the same for Drakhari(s), but unfortunately, the dragon creatures weren't mentioned nor developed as I hoped for. 

Characters? They carry high potential being intriguing, well developed characters. There's quirks in each character that makes them stand out, and then the dialogue what shines in the character's development. The main character, Echo, is a snarky, feisty girl who take first, then ask questions later. I find Echo funny and I do appreciate her get-it-done attitude. Other characters? Well, as I previously stated, they have these 'quirks' that makes them stand out, but I feel like they're relying on that one trait as their core personality. Like, (spoiler?) there's feisty girl, nerd, jock... But they don't have anything else besides that, and it becomes somewhat dull. 

Not much action, but rather scenarios of hide and seek. 

Reading the book is entertaining to a degree, but what stopped me from completing is the cliches. There's many cliches within the story, and I don't have a deliberate issue with cliches, it's just the execution is predictable and in your face, which I cannot bring myself to continue reading. It's like I already knew what's going to happen, and then it happens. I knew who's going to become 'The Chosen One' since the very beginning, knew who's going to be rejected, what's the result ETC. There were plot holes that confused me, and then I wished certain areas were further explained instead of simply appearing within the story. 

As of general, I didn't take this story very seriously. On another note, this is the author's first novel, so I not going the rips the story to shreds because it isn't a bad novel, but it's not top notch, either. If I had to rate it, I'll give it a 3.0/3.5 in rating. I say, read it for entertainment or if you have a knack for modern fantasy and description, like, flowery description. 

-- Amber
Want to check out The Girl at Midnight? Find it on the CMRLS catalog and put it on hold!

Music Monday: Brand New

It’s Music Monday! What does that mean? The Central Mississippi Regional Library System has a ridiculous amount of FREE to you resources available for patrons. One of those is Freegal, a free and legal service that now allows patrons to download five songs each week for FREE (notice the emphasis on free). Every Monday we’ll be picking five songs that we love that are available on Freegal for you to download.

In case you've missed my last blog posts, streaming is definitely a thing now with Freegal! Patrons that sign-in with their library card and pin number can stream up to three hours a day! In a world that typically costs money for streaming, this is incredibly advantageous! And in case you already didn't know, you can download Freegal's app and listen from your mobile anytime and anywhere you want. How cool is that?

So, I've noticed that I've spent a great deal talking about hip-hop and R&B, so for the next few posts that I get the chance to do I'm going to branch out a bit. And today, I'm going to take you back to your angsty, existential teenage days with one of my forever favorites: Brand New. I was first introduced to Brand New (and Manchester Orchestra) in 2007 when I snuck into WC Dons and fangirled all over their front man Jesse Lacey, and from there I've had a relationship with their music ever since. They'll take you all over the place within the context of just one simple song, and with all of their discography (painfully) considered, I made myself narrow down my favorites to these five:

1. Jesus Christ on The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me 
Jesus Christ, I'm not scared to die | I'm a little bit scared of what comes after | Do I get the gold chariot? | Do I float through the ceiling? | Do I divide and fall apart? 
2. Mixtape on Your Favorite Weapon
This is the first song on your mixtape | And it's short just like your temper | But somewhat golden like the afternoons we used to spend before you got too cool
3. Seventy Times 7 on Your Favorite Weapon
I've seen more spine in jellyfish | I've seen more guts in 11-year-old kids
4. Tautou on Deja Entendu
I'm sinking like a stone in the sea 
5. The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows on Deja Entendu 
So keep the blood in your head | And keep your feet on the ground

So, yeah. Brand New is definitely something else. I hope you enjoy these songs if you check them out. Thanks for reading and listening! 
That's all for today.


Monday, November 2, 2015

Music Monday: Imogen Heap

It’s Music Monday! What does that mean? The Central Mississippi Regional Library System has a ridiculous amount of FREE to you resources available for patrons. One of those is Freegal, a free and legal service that now allows patrons to download five songs each week for FREE (notice the emphasis on free). Every Monday we’ll be picking five songs that we love that are available on Freegal for you to download. Don’t forget, as of October, you also get three hours of streaming music every day for free, too!

I’ve been in love with Imogen Heap for years, before I even realized who she was. Many of you might have heard her voice even if you don’t recognize the name, because along with her solo albums, she’s part of the duo Frou Frou and the originator of the “Mmm Whatcha Say” meme.

…Yep. Before it got yanked and remixed into various songs and SNL skits, the infamous line came from Imogen’s song “Hide and Seek” on her album Speak For Yourself.

Here are some of my favorites from Imogen (no. 3 is from Frou Frou but it still counts!):

1. The Walk on Speak For Yourself
It's not meant to be like this, not what I planned at all / I don't want to feel like this, so that makes it all your fault
2. The Moment I Said It on Speak For Yourself
It's not even light out, but you've somewhere to be--no hesitation
3.  Let Go on The Garden State Soundtrack
Drink up baby doll / are you in or out?
4. Hide and Seek on Speak For Yourself
Hide and seek / Trains and sewing machines

Honestly, pretty much everything Imogen Heap does is awesome. If any of these catch your eye, head on over Freegal and download them, or check out some of her other music! All you need is your library card and pin number.

Have fun!


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Coming Soon: Books we're excited about (Amber)

As librarians, we order books every month that go out on our shelf for you to read. But as booknerds, we get just as excited for these upcoming releases as you do. We wanted to showcase some of these newly ordered books that we are excited to read and that we hope you’ll be excited for too! All covers are linked to the book’s Goodreads page so you can learn more about it, and at the end of every description, click “PLACE A HOLD” to be taken to the book in the CMRLS catalog.

  1. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews:Where to begin with this one…? I LOVED it! Being from the painfully honest point-of-view of a teenage boy, it’s hilarious and awkward and wrong in all the right ways! Fair warning: If you’re hoping for another The Fault in Our Stars story, you won’t find it here, my friends. PLACE A HOLD
  2. I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak: Markus Zusak stole my heart and curiosity during the first page of The Book Thief (SWOON), and if the same goes for you, please be my best friend! But seriously, I can’t wait for this book to come in so that I, and my fellow Zusak fans, can experience even more of what this brilliant writer has to offer. PLACE A HOLD
  3. After Alice by Gregory Maguire: If Euridyce can ever be returned to the arms of Orpheus, or Lazarus can be raised from the tomb, perhaps Alice can be returned to life.” Genius! Gregory Maguire is pure genius and I’m thrilled to see how he warps and twists Carroll’s classic tale of Alice in Wonderland! While we’re waiting for the release, I highly recommend his book Wicked to give you a true taste of what he’s giving us to look forward to. PLACE A HOLD
-- Amber

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Coming soon: Books we're excited about (Kayla)

As librarians, we order books every month that go out on our shelf for you to read. But as booknerds, we get just as excited for these upcoming releases as you do. We wanted to showcase some of these newly ordered books that we are excited to read and that we hope you’ll be excited for too! All covers are linked to the book’s Goodreads page so you can learn more about it, and at the end of every description, click “PLACE A HOLD” to be taken to the book in the CMRLS catalog.

  1. The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich: I have been gagging for this book since I first heard about it. I love creepy, unsettling stories, I love psychological thrillers, and I love mixed media. The Dead House apparently has all of that on top of rave reviews, and I’m THERE FOR IT. PLACE A HOLD
  2. Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas: The long awaited fourth book in the Throne of Glass series has got me more than a little excited. I love all of the characters, I love the action, I love the story, and I pretty much recommend this series to anyone that crosses my path with even a vague interest in fantasy. PLACE A HOLD
  3. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon: Normally, books like this aren’t the first thing I gravitate toward. Thanks to Stefani, though, I’m learning to get more into contemporary YA, and the premise of Everything, Everything looks really interesting! Come on, a girl that’s allergic to the outside world? Of course I’m into that! PLACE A HOLD
  4. Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics: Everything I’ve heard about this book sounds delightful. Being from Oklahoma, anything that incorporates the sheer horror of something stalking the prairie  has my vote. This book sounds phenomenally atmospheric and creepy, and I want it in my hands YESTERDAY. PLACE A HOLD
-- Kayla

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Coming soon: Books We're Excited About (Stefani)

As librarians, we order books every month that go out on our shelf for you to read. But as booknerds, we get just as excited for these upcoming releases as you do. We wanted to showcase some of these newly ordered books that we are excited to read and that we hope you’ll be excited for too! All covers are linked to the book’s Goodreads page so you can learn more about it, and at the end of every description, click “PLACE A HOLD” to be taken to the book in the CMRLS catalog.

  1. Winter by Marissa Meyer (this one will be coming in as an audiobook and physical book!): The final installment of The Lunar Chronicles series, Winter is set to be an epic conclusion to an epic series of fairy tale retellings in a futuristic, sci-fi world. Can’t wait! PLACE A HOLD
  2. The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness: A book about all the people who are NOT the Chosen One. Set in a world full of heroes and powers and all that jazz, but about the kids who just want to go to prom and graduate high school. And it’s by Patrick Ness? I need this. PLACE A HOLD
  3. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff: Okay, I won’t lie. I’ve read this one already AND I own an ARC and hardcover. I’m ready for this one to come in so I can get everyone and their mother to check it out. It’s one of the best books I read this year. This one is a sci-fi adventure through space focused on two teens attempting to outrun a ship bent on their destruction and an AI who’s gone a little…crazy. What more could you want? PLACE A HOLD
  4. A Madness So Discreet by Mandy McGinnis: I am so ridiculously excited for this book. According to the summary, it “explores the fine line between sanity and insanity, good and evil—and the madness that exists in all of us.” The description sounds fascinating, and I can already feel myself drawn to Grace. PLACE A HOLD
-- Stefani