Monday, September 28, 2015

Music Monday: John Mayer

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.
Today, I asked Bridget, the Youth Services Supervisor at my library, who her favorite musician was and her 5 favorite songs by that musician - she chose John Mayer and the following songs (which are all available to download on Freegal). She says John's her favorite because it reminds her of college, when she was young and carefree.

1. Your Body is a Wonderland
2. Daughters
3. Paper Doll
4. Gravity
5. Waitin' on the Day

What songs make you feel carefree?

If any of these catch your eye, head on over to Freegal and download them all for FREE!

-- Stefani

Friday, September 25, 2015

Book Review: The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith

Author:  Andrew Smith
Genre: young adult, sci-fi, contemporary
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 10, 2015
336 pages, hardcover

The Alex Crow was my first Andrew Smith book, and I was pretty blown away. This book is nuts, you guys. It’s remarkably strange and different and weird, and I loved it. I’m not even really sure how to review it because of how weird it was, but I’ll try.
Andrew Smith expertly weaves together three seemingly separate story lines about a melting man who was told by Joseph Stalin to build a bomb and travel hundreds of miles to set it off, an exploratory ship from the 1880s (called The Alex Crow) on its way to the North Pole, and a Middle Eastern boy named Ariel (AH-riel, get it straight) who is the lone survivor of his village being murdered by a terrorist group and is now living in the US. It’s surprisingly hard to go into much detail about the plot of this book without giving anything away, but I was completely enthralled and shocked with how it all came together.
I loved the focus on friendship in this book. Ariel, his adoptive brother Max (aka he of the innumerable euphemisms for masturbation), and Cobie, the only other sane kid at the camp where the three of them are sent, bond over the uncontrollable situation they’ve been thrown into. They go through a lot of crazy stuff, and it brings them closer.
This is a layered, complicated story that actually goes a lot deeper than what meets the eye. It brings up a lot of hard issues like morality, race, gender, friendship, and kindness. It’s not always the easiest book to read nor is it like anything else you’ve ever read (or at least anything I’ve ever read). This book is messy and complicated and just so so good.
I honestly cannot wait to read another of Andrew Smith’s books. The Alex Crowwas disturbing, weird, awkward, hilarious, and absolutely wonderful.
-- Stefani
Does The Alex Crow sound like something you'd dig? Find it here in the CMRLS catalog, and check it out!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Audiobook Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Author:  Marissa Meyer
Narrator: Rebecca Soler
Genre: Young adult, science fiction, retelling
Publisher: Macmillan Young Listeners (audiobook); Feiwel & Friends (physical book)
Audiobook length: 10 hours, 6 minutes
The book:
Cinder is a retelling of Cinderella in a dystopian, Asian world in which Cinder is a freaking cyborg! How cool is that?! I was a little nervous for this one just because of the huge amount of hype surrounding this series, but I honestly wish I would have read it years ago! I feel like there isn’t much I can say about this book that hasn’t already been said, but let me point out a few of my favorite things:
– Queen Levana is exactly what a villain should be like – manipulative, creepy, horrible, and just deliciously evil.
– The way Meyer took this well-known and sometimes overdone story of Cinderella and completely transformed it into her own story was amazing. Yes, sometimes you’d be able to predict what was going to happen, but for the most part, it just read as a quick nod to the original story and then she’d take it somewhere else. It was fascinating.
– The world that Meyer has created is incredible, original, and all around captivating. I just wanted to know EVERYTHING about it. The politics, science, technology – all of it was SO cool, and I was completely engaged with the story and world from the beginning.
– There were a few parts that felt a little long/drawn out, and the main reason I’m not giving this a TOP rating is because I figured out the big “twist” pretty early on, and while I definitely didn’t want to stop reading because of that, it made reading/listening a little less fun.
The audiobook/narrator:
I absolutely LOVED Rebecca Soler’s narration. There were a few times in the book that I think would have…bored me during the story but her narration kept me completely enthralled and I didn’t want to stop listening for a second. I wanted to start the next book right away.
The bottom line: I can’t believe I waited this long to read Cinder, but I’m glad I finally did. A fascinating world, wonderful retelling of Cinderella, perfect villain, and fantastic writing all mix together to create a book I didn’t want to stop reading for a second. I figured out the twist early on, but the book was so good I didn’t really care that much.
-- Stefani
Does Cinder sound like something you'd like to read? Find it in the CMRLS catalog in both audiobook and physical formats, and check it out!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Our Teens Review Books: White Space by Ilsa J. Bick

Author: Ilsa J. Bick

Publisher: Egmont USA

Number of Pages: 560

Rating: 7 out of 10

Synopsis (taken from Barnes and Noble): 
Seventeen-year-old Emma Lindsay has problems: a head full of metal, no parents, a crazy artist for a guardian whom a stroke has turned into a vegetable, and all those times when she blinks away, dropping into other lives so ghostly and surreal it’s as if the story of her life bleeds into theirs. But one thing Emma has never doubted is that she’s real.
          Then she writes “White Space,” a story about these kids stranded in a spooky house during a blizzard.
          Unfortunately, “White Space” turns out to be a dead ringer for part of an unfinished novel by a long-dead writer. The manuscript, which she’s never seen, is a loopyMatrix meets Inkheart story in which characters fall out of different books and jump off the page. Thing is, when Emma blinks, she might be doing the same and, before long, she’s dropped into the very story she thought she’d written. Trapped in a weird, snow-choked valley, Emma meets other kids with dark secrets and strange abilities: Eric, Casey, Bode, Rima, and a very special little girl, Lizzie. What they discover is that they–and Emma–may be nothing more than characters written into being from an alternative universe for a very specific purpose.
          Now what they must uncover is why they’ve been brought to this place–a world between the lines where parallel realities are created and destroyed and nightmares are written–before someone pens their end.

This moment has been almost 8 weeks in the making. I originally received White Space as an ARC about a year ago and never could bring myself to start it until I found The Dickens Mirror. Why did I give this book a 7 out of 10? If I could, I’d give every single book I read a 10, but that’s not really rational. I love this book because it’s all over the place and the description rivals some of my favorite horror films. I’d liken the author to Stephen King if I hadn’t only seen his movies(i.e., The Shining, Carrie, etc.). There are so many different perspectives at once that it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what is happening. Are the characters real? Is one of them the “real” character and the rest have stemmed from this “real” character? However, I couldn’t give it above a 7 BECAUSE the story was so confusing. Even when you think you’ve finally figured it out, some aspect of the plot changes and you’re left questioning what you thought you knew about the plot and the characters. The writing was riveting and the characters were beautiful. I didn’t end up in a mess of tears like All the Bright Places, but I felt their pain and suffering and even joy, with them. Purple panops is my new favorite phrase and I love the idea of multiverses incorporated in the story as a Now. If you haven’t heard of The Dark Passages Series, I definitely recommend picking up a copy and trying it out. 

-- Taylor
Does White Space sound like something you'd dig? Find it here on the CMRLS catalog and check it out!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Music Monday: Fall weather picks

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.
I drove to work today with the windows rolled down and my music blaring. It was a GORGEOUS 70 degrees on the trip. That is beautiful weather, which calls for beautiful music. (Yes, I know it’s only going to last for like three days. I’m going to appreciate it while it’s here). There is a distinctive change in the type of music I listen to when fall comes. Unfortunately, most of that music in not on Freegal, but here are five songs I love to listen to in the fall that are:
SWEATER WEATHER by The Neighbourhood (I listen to them year round)
COAL WAR by Joshua James (ALL of the Joshua James in the fall)
NO MILK TODAY by Joshua James & the Forest Rangers (from the Sons of Anarchy soundtrack)

BARTON HOLLOW by The Civil Wars

LOVER OF THE LIGHT by Mumford & Sons
If any of these catch your eye, head on over to Freegal and download them all for FREE and start your fall playlist!
-- Stefani

PEARL PUBLIC LIBRARY: Back to School Night

Are you a teen that goes to school in Pearl, MS (or have a teen)? Come by the Pearl Public Library on September 21, anytime between 6:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. to learn about everything your local library has to offer! We'll be showcasing all the amazing online resources, programs, and books we have available JUST FOR YOU. 

You'll also receive a special incentive/reward (like extra credit) in your English AND Social Studies classes!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Book Review: Heist Society by Ally Carter

Title: Heist Society

Author: Ally Carter

Publication date: February 2010

Pages: 287

Katarina Bishop wants to be a normal girl. Well, as normal as anyone who has been raised by a family of thieves can be. When she leaves the life of crime behind her and cons her way into an upscale boarding school in the country, she thinks she’s finally out. That is, until she gets kicked out for a crime she didn’t commit and whisked back to her Uncle’s house in New York, where she finds out her father is on the hook for stealing paintings from a very, very dangerous man. Kat is determined to find the paintings and steal them back in order to save her father, but she’s going to need help. With a ragtag group of friends and family, Kat is about to take on the biggest job of her life.

I had a great time with this book, but be aware: these are pretty shallow waters. That’s not to say that it’s not well thought out, because it is. But there aren’t a lot of hidden depths to the story or the characters. In this case, though, that’s okay. It’s got a serious Ocean’s Eleven vibe, if the Ocean’s Eleven crew was about half that size and comprised entirely of teenagers and led by a girl. Kat is way more interesting to me than Danny Ocean, though, because she’s not perfect. She’s not infallible. She messes up sometimes, despite being incredibly skilled, and she tries to compartmentalize her feelings in order to finish a job and can’t always manage. I genuinely like her, and I want to see her succeed.

The other members of the cast are enjoyable, too. Ally Carter manages to paint a decent picture of these people in a very small amount of time, which means I was invested in every part of the heist. Hale, Kat’s best friend-slash-possible future love interest is delightful. He’s smooth and very cool, right up until he makes you remember that he’s also very young and awkward, just like Kat. They have a slow-burn kind of inevitable chemistry that doesn’t feel forced. Kat’s cousin, Gabrielle, is delightful. I love their opposing dynamic. Kat is pretty and very intelligent, but very low-key, and she doesn’t have a lot of time to explore feelings or figure herself out right now, even when those feelings come back to bite her in the butt. Gabrielle is stunningly beautiful and uses that to her full advantage, which makes her a serious asset. She’s also smart and funny, and I basically want them to become best friends and steal all the things together.

All in all, this one is really fun. I love heisty movies, and I’ve watched every season of Leverage at least twice, so this book was right up my alley. The action is fast-paced and smart, the characters are entertaining, and I love going step-by-step through the process of high-end thievery. If you’re into that, you’re going to like this, too. Also, it’s part of a series, so if you DO like it, then there’s another one waiting for you!

Happy reading!


Want to read Heist Society? Find it on the CMRLS catalog and put it on hold!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Music Monday: the wonderful umbrella of R&B [belated post]

This past Monday our libraries were closed due to Labor Day, so I'm doing a belated "Music Monday" post for our wonderful, probably 2 followers. SO! What is Music Monday? 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.

Lately I've been on this huge R&B kick. And while I generally love R&B music as a whole, there is this particular sub-genre deemed "PBR&B" or perhaps more respectfully "alternative or indie R&B" that is the cream of the crop in my opinion. The term was coined a few years ago on reddit as a joke, and as a result, many long-term fans of R&B have become offended by it. However, I don't really care because I find it hilarious and ultimately insignificant because the music is all that matters to me. What stands out about it is this almost hybrid between traditional rhythm and blues and electronic pop music with a big ol' well-blended composition of hazy synths, reverb and soul. Among these rarities are artists like The Weeknd, Elle Varner, Miguel, How To Dress Well, Frank Ocean, and Holy Other. Unfortunately Freegal hasn't hopped on the train for all of these musicians yet, but there are a few that I must name:

1. Birthday by Elle Varner ft. 50 Cent

2. Looking 4 Myself by Usher ft. Luke Steele

3. Do You... by Miguel

4. Ready for the World by How To Dress Well

5. Pretend by Tinashe ft. A$AP Rocky

If any of these catch your eye, head on over to Freegal and download them all for FREE! 


Thursday, September 3, 2015

Book Review: The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

Title: The Darkest Part of the Forest

Author: Holly Black

Publication date: January 2015

Pages: 324

Everyone in Fairfold knows how strange it is. Hazel and her brother Ben have lived there almost their entire lives, and they know the rules: Never give thanks to a faerie. Never eat their food or drink their drink. Never venture into the forest without a little grave dirt and oatmeal in your pocket. For Hazel and Ben, the magic in Fairfold is almost normal—even the prince who sleeps in the forest, encased in a glass casket that no manmade weapon can break. What secrets Hazel and Ben can’t share with one another they spill over the casket on the deaf ears of their prince, knowing that he can’t hear them…until now. Now the prince has awakened, and all hell has broken loose in Fairfold.

I devoured this book. The characters were incredibly endearing, the love stories were a little unconventional, and the language transitioned back and forth from engaging but normal storytelling to a beautiful, lyrical kind of fairy tale.

That said, there’s something about it that doesn’t sit entirely right with me. I think it’s the pacing of the story that throws me off. I love that this is a story can stand alone. I like that our loose ends get wrapped up and I felt satisfied with the story I read by the end. But sometimes, it feels a little thrown together. It’s clear that the idea came together from a bunch of different threads, but they’re not woven together as tightly as they could be. The villain practically twirls his mustache through most of his dialogue, and the prince is…a little boring, actually? He’s fine, but I could definitely have done with more development on his end. Most of his story is expository.

What the prince lacks in character development, Hazel more than makes up for. I love Hazel. She’s going through trying times, and she’s a tough cookie, but not unbelievably so. I could feel her increasing anxiety as the story unfolded, though even when she blamed herself for things beyond her control, those fears are handled very well. I also love Ben. Though we spend more time with Hazel and her point of view, Ben is still really fun to read about. I wish he’d also had more development than he was given, though. Also, Jack. I could talk about Jack forever. I love him. He’s sweet and funny and a little scary. You can feel how he tries to keep a grasp on his control at all times. Basically, Jack is the best.

All in all, this is one of those books where I loved the concept more than the actual story, though the story is still enjoyable, particularly the interspersed chapters that read more like fables. Most of Holly Black’s books feel like that for me, like the idea is bigger than the actual story that gets written. Or maybe I’ve just been spoiled by other books (looking at you, Raven Boys). I give it a solid B.

Check it out and let me know what you think!


Want to read The Darkest Part of the Forest? Look it up on the CMRLS catalog and put a hold on it!