Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Library Events & the Holidays

Teen programs for the holidays are beginning to show on the CMRLS Calendar! This includes ZOMBIES at the Pearl and Flowood Libraries in October!

Magee Library has a Mine Craft event, tomorrow 9/22, from 4-6 pm. Play and build in our own Library realm. Bring friends and build your own village!

On 9/29, 4-6:30 pm, Florence Library will be showing the movie of an actual BANNED BOOK for Banned Book Week. It will be The Outsiders (1983) from Zoetrope Studios; it's rated PG and runs 91 minutes. It stars Matt Dillon, C. Thomas Howell, Leif Garrett, and the late Patrick Swayze. Even if you haven't read the novel by S. E. Hinton, you will enjoy the movie. There's tension and conflict, gangs and murder...and homework! Hinton plays a nurse in the movie!

On October 21, 5:30-8 p.m., Brandon Library is having **Library After Dark** It's for teens age 13 and older. You must have parental permission. Call the Brandon Library for more information.

Take a look at the CMRLS Calendar (this link has been sorted to see only TEEN programs). Plan your holidays around these and the other great programs!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Book Review: Joshua Dread by Lee Bacon

Publisher: Delacorte Press
Date Published: September 25, 2012
Number of Pages: 272 (available in print & as downloadable eBook)

Review: This book is probably best suited for young teens and tweens. It's full of  humor, zombies, and adventure. In the book, Joshua, his best friend Milton, and the new girl Sophie are thrown together on an adventure. In a world of superheroes and villains, Joshua's life as the child of two super villains is very extraordinary. When he develops superpowers his life really
starts to get interesting. When Joshua's parents are taken along with nearly every super villain in the world, Joshua turns to his friends for help. When they discover that Sophie's father, a superhero who may not be as super as everyone believed, might be involved with the kidnappings, things get messy. This story is full of plot twists and laughs,and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Book Review: The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

Author:  Jeff Zentner
Genre: Young adult, contemporary
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 8, 2016
384 pages, hardcover
Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.
NOTE: I was provided with an ARC of this book from the author because he’s a wonderful human being.
Do you ever read a book so good that when you turn the last page, you just clutch it to your chest and hold it for a bit? And how often do you realize, as you hold the book, that you’ve just read something that has now firmly positioned itself on your favorites shelf? That’s The Serpent King for me.
I haven’t had this much of an emotional reaction to a book in a long time. I mean, I full-on sobbed at one point. I literally had to get up from the table (I was on my lunch break at work) and LEAVE the building to get some fresh air. The Serpent King is one that will stick with you for a long time, and it’s been months since I read it and I still can’t get it out of my head. It’s beautiful, heartbreaking, real (SO real), and absolutely lovely.
I don’t want to go into the specifics of the plot because I think you should just read it, but I do want to mention the characters. I think it’s the mark of a great author when the characters they create feel like they could walk out of the book and shake your hand. I could relate to all three of the main characters – Lydia, Dill, and Travis – in different ways. Jeff has perfectly captured Lydia’s desire to move, to get out into the world, and leave everything she’s ever known. Travis’ passion and love of his favorite book series will resonate with all of us. And with Dill? What it means to be human.
The bottom line: Read this book to meet characters that feel like real people. Read this book because we’ve all fought for the hope of a better life. Read this book to feel – alive, human, hopeful, heartbroken. Read this book because you’re human.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Book Review: Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

Title: Symptoms of Being Human

Author: Jeff Garvin

Publication Date: February 2016

Pages: 335

Riley Cavanaugh is the child of a congressman running for reelection, so the pressure has always been on to be a model teen. The problem is, Riley isn’t exactly what the conservative South Orange county would call “model.” Riley is sarcastic, rebellious, and gender fluid, meaning some days, Riley feels like a boy. Others, Riley feels like a girl. No one else knows except Riley’s therapist, who encourages Riley to start a blog to work through the feelings and potentially overcome some of the more harmful ones. Riley finds the blogging therapeutic—that is, until the blog goes viral, and someone from school threatens to out Riley to the world, as well as threatening Riley’s life. Riley must make a choice—abandon the blog that has come to mean so much to a lot of people, including Riley, or stand up and face the world head on.

I could not put this book down. It’s so well-written, and Riley’s voice feels so incredibly authentic. I felt for Riley, and the roller coaster Riley goes on is so captivating. Though the bulk of the story focuses on the struggles Riley is facing, be it bullying at school, the worry that Riley’s words carry too much weight with some of the blog’s followers, or the feelings Riley is developing for Bec, another outcast at school, Riley is so very fully-formed as a person.

The same is true of all the characters in the book, actually. I love Bec, the mysterious and misunderstood (and delightfully funny) loner that Riley comes to have feelings for. Bec encourages, sometimes even indirectly, Riley to propel forward into this unknown territory of openness, but she’s not JUST there for Riley. Bec is her own person, too, and you see that in the writing. I LOVE Solo, Riley’s first friend at the school, who is a huge Samoan football player that is obsessed with Star Wars, and is generally just the greatest dude ever. I want him to give me a piggy back ride.

PLEASE read this book. It’s so engrossing and beautiful and wonderful and I love everyone. Even the bullies at school have their own crap going on, but the narrative doesn’t excuse their behavior, just explains where it might have stemmed from, and I love that. I also like Riley’s parents and therapist. There are also bits sprinkled here and there about how everyone is so obsessed about knowing what parts (“Girl or boy? Yes.”) Riley has, and the book makes a point to never actually tell you, because that’s the point. It doesn’t matter. The outside doesn’t matter at all, it’s how Riley feels on any given day that matters. That's why I haven't used any pronouns in this whole review. I don't know which to use, and the book never says. 

Ugh, everything about this book is SO GREAT.

Read it and let me know if you agree. 


Want to check out Symptoms of Being Human? Find it on the CMRLS catalog and put it on hold!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Our Teens Review Books: Awake by Natasha Preston

Author:  Natasha Preston

Genre: Young adult, mystery, romance

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Publication Date: August 4, 2015

314 pages, paperback

            Awake starts with a girl named Scarlett Garner who doesn’t remember anything before the age of four.  She was always told about some mysterious house fire that resulted in her memory loss. But then, she begins having dreams that she believes are memories.

            Her parents have a secret. When Scarlett begins asking questions they don’t know what to do about it.  She stays mad at them for not answering her so she turns to the only person she can trust, Noah, her new boyfriend. Noah has a secret too. He has a secret life where he belongs to a cult on an island that doesn’t have technology or fast food.

Noah is on a mission for Eternal Life; which is to bring Scarlett home but when his feelings begin to get in the way of his mission he is conflicted with the most important decision of his life: Scarlett the girl he just met or everything he’s ever known.

            This book has many secrets and surprises that you will never see coming.

This book was okay. I would not recommend it though. I did not like the format of the book some of it did not flow right and I just believe she could have written a much better book especially after writing The Cellar.

3 stars

-       --  Gracie
Unfortunately, we do not have this book in our system, but if it sounds like something you’d be interested in, please do let us know and we can order it for you!
-        Stefani

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Book Review: Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley

Author:  Maria Dahvana Headley

Genre: Young adult, fantasy

Publisher: Harper

Publication Date: April 28, 2015

320 pages, hardcover
Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

Aza Ray has never been able to breathe correctly. She’s struggled her whole life, and she even has a disease named after her, though she’d much rather call it Clive. But one day, she sees a ship in the sky and someone calling her name. No one believes her except her best friend Jason, who tells her stories of similar happenings from long ago and a magical place called Magonia. Soon after, Aza is lost to our world but returned to Magonia.
This book, you guys. WOAH. Magonia is so unbelievably unique, creative, and absolutely stunning. I’m still pretty speechless over it and I’m not sure how to write a review that isn’t just READ IT READ IT READ IT. It’s fantasy, but also reminded me quite a bit of magical realism because I sometimes forgot all of the things weren’t actually happening. Maria Dahvana Headley’s writing is gorgeous and poetic and beautiful. Like, she describes the sound of a boat coming: “The sails are made of hum and speed (ARC 252).” How perfect is that?
Aza Ray is a bit of a smartass, but I love her. She’s accepted her disease and lives with it. She’s…strange and sarcastic, which is pretty much exactly what I love in a character. I also loved the dual POVs of Aza and Jason. Jason’s POV was sad, distressing, and so very smart.
Magonia was incredible. I could feel the atmosphere and world all around me as I read. I devoured this world and these pages. This book is just…mad and weird and strange and so very good. I will say that I don’t think this book is for everyone, but it was most definitely for me.
The bottom line: 
-- Stefani
Want this book to invade your dreams too? Find Magonia on the CMRLS catalog and check it out!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Music Monday: Beach Boys

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.

So I don’t know about you, but with this crazy Mississippi weather, I’m dreaming of warm, sandy beaches. And, to me, nothing means beachy music like the Beach Boys. Here are five of my favorite Beach Boys songs (all available to download on Freegal!) to help you escape this icky weather for a while.

Wouldn’t It Be Nice

Good Vibrations

Fun Fun Fun

Surfin’ USA

I Get Around

If any of these catch your eye, head on over Freegal and download them, or check out some of their other music! All you need is your library card and pin number.

Plus, don’t forget that you can stream any of the music that’s on Freegal for 3 hours every. single. day!

-- Stefani

Friday, February 5, 2016

Book Review: None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio

Author:  I.W. Gregorio
Genre: YA, Contemporary, LGBT
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
352 pages, hardcover

None of the Above is incredible. I finished reading it more than two weeks ago and I still can’t quite figure out how to properly tell you why you should read this important, incredible, entertaining, beautiful book.
Kristin is in her senior year of high school and she’s the star of her track team and loved by both her friends and her boyfriend. But when Homecoming night doesn’t really go the way it should, she makes an appointment with an ob-gyn and finds out that she’s intersex. Her life, identity, and world are completely turned upside down and she must figure out who she really is while everyone else does too.
Like a lot of people, I didn’t know much about what being intersex meant. I had a general idea, but this book taught me so much (I love when I can learn about something real when reading). This book is so important for that very reason – not only is it a well-written, entertaining, heartbreaking, uplifting story about a fictional character, it’s also a book about a real condition and realistic reactions to it. None of the Above is exactly what a book about diversity should be. Yet another book I wish I could make everyone read.
Something that has come up in conversations recently (I posted about books that feature characters with mental illnesses which sparked conversation in the comments but also with friends) is a certain lack of empathy that some people have, which is disheartening in a lot of ways, but that’s not the point. I’m bringing this up because I am not intersex. Nor do I know anyone that is (as far as I know). But I connected so well with Kristin because of her struggle with identity throughout the book. Her identity (as a woman, as herself) is challenged several times throughout the novel. (Quick note to say how heartbreaking it was to read the sections in which Kristin is bullied, which felt so, so realistic; I hated it, but I’m glad that nothing felt exaggerated nor sugar-coated). Kristin no longer knows who she is (her doctor tells her that she is a woman, but is she when everyone tells her she isn’t? When she has male chromosomes?). Is she Kristin because of her chromosomes? What makes you you?
The bottom line: None of the Above is important, and you really don’t want to miss it, not only because it will teach you more about something you may or may not be familiar with, but because everyone can relate to Kristin’s struggle to figure out how she is. We all deserve to be reminded that we can get through anything.
-- Stefani
Does this sound like something you want to check out? Find None of the Above on the CMRLS catalog and place a hold on it!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Book Review: Bookishly Ever After by Isabel Bandeira

Author: Isabel Bandeira
Genre: Young adult, contemporary
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Publication Date: January 12, 2015
350 pages, paperback

A young adult book about a girl who loves young adult books and is a complete book nerd? Yes, please! I was so excited to read Bookishly Ever After because, I mean, it’s a book about ALL OF US. Phoebe is in love with all of her book boyfriends and loves to dress up as her favorite character; she even learned archery because her favorite heroine is an archer. That’s pretty cool, right?
Overall, the book was cute and I appreciated what it was trying to do, but I had some problems. I think my main problem was the romance. As much as I liked Dev (the love interest) as a character, I 1. Didn’t really understand why the two liked each other, and 2. Got really irritated with the back and forth nature of their “relationship”. They would flirt, then nothing, then flirt, then nothing. For practically the entire book. It got seriously exasperating by the end. There are also several instances when we jump a few hours or even half a day into the future and skip scenes that could’ve shortened the story a bit had they been included.
However, the bookish parts of the story – Phoebe standing in line for her favorite author; Phoebe inspiring Dev to start reading more; her “journal” in which she analyzed characters’ flirtatious ways to better flirt in real life – were all really cute and relatable (though that last one is probably a bit more suited for younger girls).
The bottom line: Cute, bookish story that had a few problems – mostly in terms of the romance – but was still quite enjoyable. On the younger, lighter side of young adult romance. I’d still recommend this one for any looking for a cute romance about a book nerd.
-- Stefani
Want to read a book about a book nerd? Find Bookishly Ever After on the CMRLS catalog and check it out!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Music Monday: Movie soundtracks

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 thought it’d be fun to do some songs from MOVIE SOUNDTRACKS! So grab some popcorn and then head on over to Freegal to listen to these songs – don’t forget that you can stream for 3 hours every single day for free!

Heroes, David Bowie | Horns Soundtrack (this song is also on The Perks of Being a Wallflower soundtrack but that is not on Freegal)  

Somewhere Over the Rainbow, The Wizard of Oz | Music from the Movies: Old and New

Cell Block Tango, Chicago | Whole Sountrack

Show Me How You Burlesque, Burlesque | Whole Soundtrack

The Phantom of the Opera | Whole Soundtrack

If any of these catch your eye, head on over Freegal and download them, or check out some of their other music! All you need is your library card and pin number.

Plus, don’t forget that you can stream any of the music that’s on Freegal for 3 hours every. single. day!

-- Stefani

Friday, January 29, 2016

Book Review: The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry

Author:  Emily Henry
Genre: Young adult, fantasy, sci-fi, contemporary (ALL the genres!)
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: January 26, 2016
400 pages, hardcover

Lovely, beautifully written, unique, fantastic, wonderful. Okay, real review, Stefani.
In THE LOVE THAT SPLIT THE WORLD, Natalie starts seeing her world but not quite. She sees a preschool where a garden store usually is, an extra wing on the local church, a red door instead of a green one, a field full of grazing buffalo where her town used to be. And then, after a visit from the apparition she’s seen off and on her whole life (named Grandmother) when she’s told she has 3 months to save “him”, Natalie sees a mysterious and beautiful boy named Beau in the middle of her high school football stadium. And now all of the stories that Grandmother told her in the middle of the night start to make sense. But who is she supposed to save? And how?
I really don’t have the proper words to talk about this book. The writing is splendid, saccharine and soulful and aching and lovely. This book is full of life, stories, love, and sadness, and it is absolutely beautiful. I was immediately pulled into the story through Grandmother’s myths and legends (tales of gods and humans, bravery and love) and was kept completely mesmerized until the last word.
I want to go down to the filed, to stand with this boy between the sky and the grass until every part of me touches every part of the world. – ARC page 32
There were a few times in the middle when the story felt a bit drawn out, but I didn’t really lose interest. Mostly I wanted the story to focus a bit more on what was happening to Natalie (as the sci-fi/fantasy aspects were super intriguing) rather than the romance, though the book is calledThe LOVE That Split the World so I should’ve known. Plus, Matt got on my NERVES. But I swear, if I die without ever having a friendship like Natalie and Megan, I’m going to be super disappointed. Seriously – best friendship in a book EVER.
Also, this:
And when you see those good things–and I promise you, there are so many good things–they’re going to be so much brighter for you than they are for other people, just like the abyss always seems deeper and bigger when you stare at it. If you stick it out, it’s all going to feel worth it in the end. Every moment you live, every darkness you face, they’ll all feel worth it when you’re staring light in the face. – ARC page 205
The bottom line: A lovely, unique, spellbinding story of love, humanity, bravery, and passion. Emily Henry’s writing is GORGEOUS and full of a wonderful new voice that I can’t wait to get more of. The middle part dragged just a bit, but not too much. Also, BEST FRIENDSHIP EVER.
-- Stefani
Does this sound like your kind of book? Find it on the CMRLS catalog and check it out!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Graphic Novel Review: Username: Evie by Joe Sugg

Author: Joe Sugg / Matt Whyman

Illustrator:  Amrit Birdi

Publisher: Running Press

Publication Date: September 22, 2015

192 pages, paperback

I feel like I should’ve known better, but I think that Joe Sugg is super funny (check out his YouTube channel ThatcherJoe) so I wanted to check it out and I wanted to like it so much. Plus the art on the cover looked pretty cool, but it was A LIE. I was more disappointed than I should have been – again, I should have known better.
Why this is bad:
- The story is ridiculously fast-paced. There is zero time to actually get to know and therefore care about any of the characters. It rushed through everything that happened and led to a very confusing and muddled plotline.
- The characters are flat in more ways than one.
          - The artwork has no movement whatsoever and all of the characters are 2D because of it.
          - But their personalities are also super flat and boring. There’s no explanation for why Mallory – Evie’s cousin – hates her so much; the science isn’t explained – although the idea of a virtual world that is influenced by a person’s thoughts/actions is pretty cool; I just didn’t care about anyone.
- The art. Geez. It’s just bad. Sometimes the characters aren’t proportional; sometimes Evie and Mallory look like the same person which is confusing. The art is flat and emotionless and bland, despite the vibrant colors.
- The writing. I’ll say that the idea is pretty cool, but the writing is not. The characters – mostly Evie – feel the need to constantly explain what they are doing or why something won’t work or that they are currently running. Okay, not the last one, but that’s what it felt like. Instead of showing the reader what was happening through the art or through dialogue, we are flat out told in long explanatory thought boxes. It was exhausting and unnecessary and annoying.

The bottom line: I was NOT a fan of this graphic novel. From flat art and characters to unnecessary explanations, Username: Evie is just not a good book.

-- Stefani

Want to see if you feel the same way? Find Username: Evie in the CMRLS Catalog and place a hold on it!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Book Review: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Author: Susan Dennard
Genre: Young adult, fantasy
Publisher: Tor Teen
Publication Date: January 5, 2016
416 pages, hardcover

Curse the hype monster, man. I went into this one with some – unfairly – HIGH expectations because it seems like everyone and their mother loved Truthwitch. And in the end, I did like it and I enjoyed several things about it. But I also had some issues.
What I loved:
- The magic – The idea of different “witcheries” was SO cool. People can have different powers – air, water, essentially a lie detector (this is what Safi is – a Truthwitch), or the ability to see people’s “Threads” (their emotions) – which were all really fascinating. I think I was most intrigued by Iseult’s “Threadwitchery”. I also liked the idea of Threadfamilies. You become connected to someone by saving them, etc.
- Aeduan – The “villain”. I don’t know if you’re really meant to love him as much as I did, but I just loved I always go for the misunderstood villain. All of my favorite scenes had Aeduan in them. He just kicked up the pace a bit. And my heartbeat. Looking forward to learning more about him in the next one.
- The dialogue – snarky, witty, intelligent, and just fun. Especially the dialogue between Safi/Iseult and Safi/Merick – so. much. sarcasm.
What I didn’t like:
- Four POVs – A little farther down I talk about Safi and Iseult, which really explains this issue, but I’ll just say that there were times when I struggled to figure out whose POV it was.
- “The Big Reveal” – I guessed this WAY early on in the book. The narrative surrounding the reveal was way too easy to figure out and not at all subtle. At least for me.
- Some of the middle section – I feel like the middle section dragged a bit. It’s possibly because I already figured out the reveal and I was just bored while everyone in the story got there. But the last 1/4 of the book really made up for it.
What I was iffy on:
- Safi & Iseult: Okay, I really LOVED both of them. I liked Safi’s sarcasm and Iseult’s spunk. I loved their friendship and their passion. But sometimes, they seemed like the same character. Their voices aren’t as distinct in the beginning as I’d like, especially when there were scenes of them together. Made for difficult reading.
- The world: This book starts off rather confusing because you are thrust right into the middle of the world and the middle of some action and you (at least I) felt like you’re scrabbling to gain purchase in the world. The first 1/4 of the book or so is like this. But, on the other hand, the world is absolutely fascinating, and I felt like I was standing in the middle of it gazing around with my mouth open because the world was so vast and just cool. So…confusing AND intriguing.
The bottom line: In the end I still really liked Truthwitch, and I definitely want to read the next one, especially because the world should be more settled by then. There won’t need to be so much time spent on establishing the world. I would still recommend this one to fantasy lovers, but would caution people – it takes a little while to get into the book and understand the world.
-- Stefani
Want to see what you think of Truthwitch? Find it on the CMRLS catalog and place a hold on it!