Saturday, October 29, 2016

A Special Halloween Weekend Top Ten - The Best Things about Halloween

As mentioned in my previous post, I love Halloween. 
So I thought I'd do a special Top Ten Halloween Edition to explain why! 

1. Halloween Decorations! When I see this in the store, you'll literally have to drag me out.

 2. Witchy Movies - They are wonderful.

 3. Candy! Yum!

4. Creepy(ish) Music!
 Harry Potter, Tubular Bells, Nightmare Before Christmas, X-Files, much creepy! 

 5. Cider! Warm, Spicy, Yumminess

                                6. Spooky Stories - Check out my previous post

7. Witches! All things witches! 

8. Fall Weather! The changing leaves, not too hot, not too cold - it's Juuuust Right!

 9. Costumes! I love dressing up!

10. Johnny Depp Movies
Because Johnny Depp. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Books that Go Bump in the Night

(A Halloween List Hosted by the Broke and the Bookish)

It's my favorite time of year!  Halloween! I love the fall weather, cider, creepiness, and witchery that comes with it! I also really enjoy some creepy books now and then - you know the kind that give you goosebumps, make your spine tingle, and sometimes even sleep with the light on. I'm not big on gory, scary slasher flicks, but I do like those scary books that make you just a little jumpy.

Here are ten of my favorites!

1. Shutter by Courtney Alameda (Review)
Seventeen-year-old Micheline Helsing is a tetrachcromat, able to see ghosts in color and capture them on film, but when a routine hunt goes awry, Micheline is infected with a curse known as a soulchain and if she is unable to exorcise the entity in sevendays, she will be destroyed, body and soul.

2. Compulsion by Martina Boone (Review)
After the death of her disfigured, shut-in mother, Barrie Watson moves to her aunt's South Carolina plantation, which is guarded by an ancient spirit who cursed one of the island's three founding families and gave the others magical gifts that become compulsions.

3. I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
 Jasper "Jazz" Dent is the son of Billy Dent, the country's most notorious serial killer, and "Dear Old Dad" taught him everything he knew. But Billy's in prison now and Jazz wants to convince the world -- and himself -- that he's not like his father. When several murders occur in his town, Jazz and his friend Howie try to track down the killer before he strikes again

4. Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco
Audrey Rose Wadsworth prefers breeches to ball gowns, autopsies to afternoon tea, and scalpels to knitting needles. Audrey covertly studies forensic medicine and human anatomy under her uncle a prominent, if peculiar, London doctor. But “Leather Apron” is on the loose, butchering women in London’s East End.  Audrey and Uncle's wickedly handsome assistant Thomas Cresswell, are quick to uncover the killer’s grisly trademarks along with an unsettling connection to the Wadsworths themselves.

5. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
The planet Kerenza is attacked, and Kady and Ezra find themselves on a space fleet fleeing the enemy, while their ship's artificial intelligence system and a deadly plague may be the end of them all.

6. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
When seventeen-year-old Tana wakes up following a party in the aftermath of a violent vampire attack, she travels to Coldtown, a quarantined Massachusetts city full of vampires, with her ex-boyfriend and a mysterious vampire boy in tow.

7. The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Rory, of Boueuxlieu, Louisiana, is spending a year at a London boarding school when she witnesses a murder by a Jack the Ripper copycat and becomes involved with the very unusual investigation.

8. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
 Nobody Owens is a normal boy, except that he has been raised by ghosts and other denizens of the graveyard.

 9. The Diviners by Libba Bray
Privileged young Evie O'Neill is sent to live with her eccentric uncle in New York City -- a "punishment" that utterly delights Evie, who can't wait to mix with Ziegfield girls and sneak into some big-city speakeasies. But when her Uncle Will, curator of the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult, is called on to help solve a rash of bizarre, other-worldly murders, Evie is drawn in to the investigations because of a special ability she's tried to keep secret.

10. Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
In alternating chapters, eighteen-year-old Darcy Patel navigates the New York City publishing world and Lizzie, the heroine of Darcy's novel, slips into the "Afterworld" to survive a terrorist attack and becomes a spirit guide, as both face many challenges and both fall in love.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite Character Names

Today's Top Ten Tuesday Challenge is about character names! Names in books can either be an asset or hindrance. Sometimes they make the character - personality, uniqueness - and sometimes they mess with your reading because you know you can't pronounce it right, so instead of trying you change their name to 'K' in your head and keep reading.

I both love and hate character names. When trying to write my own stories, that's usually where I get stuck - there at the beginning trying to figure out what their names are supposed to be. Will it be too difficult to pronounce? Is it already in a well known book somewhere? Is it too boring? Does it really matter because no one is ever going to read it anyway? And then of course it's a spiral downhill from there...

So I thought I'd go for some of the character names I love! Here's ten or so of them :) 

 1. America, Maxon, and Aspen  - The Selection series by Kiera Cass

 2. Cadence (Cady) - We Were Liars by e. lockhart

 3. Elliot (for a girl) and Kai - For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

4. Micheline Helsing, and Luca (the ghost) - Shutter by Courtney Alameda

 5. Kestrel and Arin - The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

 6. Everything Gail Carriger! (which I'm counting as one!) 
 Sophronia, Soap, Sidheag, Genevieve (Vieve), and Felix  -
 The Finishing School series

Alexia and Conall - The Parasol Protectorate

Prudence (Rue) and Quesnel - The Curstard Protocol

7. Jasper (Jazz) and Howie - I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

 8. Evie and Jericho - The Diviners by Libba Bray

 9. Laia and Elias - An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

10. Blue, Gansey, and Ronan - The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater (because I couldn't resist!)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Book/Podcast Review: Adnan's Story by Rabia Chaundry

In early 2000, Adnan Syed was convicted and sentenced to life plus thirty years for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee, a high school senior in Baltimore, Maryland. Syed has maintained his innocence, and Rabia Chaudry, a family friend, has always believed him. By 2013, after almost all appeals had been exhausted, Rabia contacted Sarah Koenig, a producer at This American Life, in hopes of finding a journalist who could shed light on Adnan’s story. In 2014, Koenig's investigation turned into Serial, a Peabody Award-winning podcast with more than 500 million international listeners

But Serial did not tell the whole story. In this compelling narrative, Rabia Chaudry presents new key evidence that she maintains dismantles the State's case: a potential new suspect, forensics indicating Hae was killed and kept somewhere for almost half a day, and documentation withheld by the State that destroys the cell phone evidence -- among many other points -- and she shows how fans of Serial joined a crowd-sourced investigation into a case riddled with errors and strange twists. Adnan's Story also shares Adnan’s life in prison, and weaves in his personal reflections, including never-before-seen letters. Chaudry, who is committed to exonerating Adnan, makes it clear that justice is yet to be achieved in this much examined case. 

Like millions of others, I listened to Sarah Koenig's podcast Serial. If you don't know, a podcast is like a radio show with a new episode that comes available usually once a week. You can download it to a computer, tablet, or mobile device to listen to it through iTunes, SoundCloud, and several other apps/websites. Though podcasts have been around for over a decade (coming into existence with the creation of the iPod), This American Life and Sarah Koenig's Serial investigation brought them into the forefront, creating a worldwide obsession trying to solve the murder of Hae Min Lee. 

And like much of the world, I became entranced by the story. When Emily (the Gnoming Librarian) said I should listen to it, one dreary, stormy evening home alone, I decided to give it a try. And I couldn't stop. In fact, I listened to the entire thing (12 episode, about 45 minutes each) in just a couple days. And well...OMG. Did he do it? Did he not do it? Who really killed her? I wondered after each episode. I don't want to give it away if you haven't listened to the podcast (and you should because OMG) but I still had a lot of unanswered questions after that 12th episode). 

So as one does (at least if one is a curious/nosy/must-know-everything librarian) I did research. And I found out that there was another podcast! What?! 

That's right. Rabia Chaundry, the lawyer/family friend of Adnan who brought the case to Sarah in the first place, created her own podcast with a team of lawyers after Serial ended. She was very thankful for all of the press and interest that Serial brought to Adnan's case, but she wanted justice for Adnan. She believes him to be innocent (as he has always claimed) and felt that Serial left a lot to be told. 

And I agree. There were so many holes left from the story Sarah told in Serial. So I listened. I listened to every episode of Rabia's Undisclosed podcast, and I learned a lot more. I became a little obsessed with it really. (And no, to that point I considered myself intrigued but not quite obsessed) I took notes. I drew maps, trying to ponder out the holes in the stories, what might have truly happened. I read news articles, watched videos, and soaked up everything I could find. 

Then I learned that Rabia was writing a book. And then I decided to look up the book and see if we could get it at the library. And then I discovered that we had just put the book on the shelf THAT DAY! So, I checked it out. And now I've read TWO adult nonfiction books this year, which if you know me, is impressive. I don't really read nonfiction books. Or adult books often.

And guys, I absorbed this book. I took in every detail. I read the diary pages, the maps, the evidence lists. What I love most about this book, is that it's all there. And of the documents and evidence and photos that they talk about on the podcasts - made accessible and viewable to help you sort out the details. 

I also love that Rabia tells it like it is. She holds little back and makes the storylines understandable. It's hard at times when listening to keep track of the stories (especially Jay's since he tells so many different versions), but having it in writing is really helpful. 

So I guess what I'm saying here is: Go listening to the podcasts (both Serial and Undisclosed) and then go find this book. Because it's good stuff. And you're going to want justice for both Adnan and Hae Min Lee too. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Read Because Someone Recommended Them!

(Hosted by the Broke and the Bookish)

I usually read books for one of three reasons - (1) I ordered it for the library, and it looks interesting. (2) We're reading it in a book club. (3) Someone recommended it! This is probably the most common reason, since I work at a library with a bunch of librarians who love to read! (Shameless plug - the library is a great place to find book recommendations!) Emily, the Gnoming Librarian, or Aubrey or Valerie (the list goes on) will come in saying, "I just finished such and such at 2am, and you have to read it!" So of course it goes on the never-ending TBR (to be read list). Here's a list of 10 ten books that I read because they were recommended to me!

1. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Recommended by Emily (as are most of these) and boy was it fantastic! (Review coming soon!)

2. Etiquette and Espionage (Finishing School series) by Gail Carriger
Also recommended by Emily and started a new obsession with steampunk/regency books. Carriger's are the best I've read, and I've read them ALL! 

3. Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
Recommended by Emily. Everything by Sarah Dessen is wonderful. 

4. Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Recommended by Emily. I wanted a quick read, and I got one! I read this in one sitting. It will make you laugh, cry, and everything in between. All the feels. 

5. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Probably the first book Emily recommended to me: "You will read this, and you will like it." Lucky for me, I love it. 

6. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
If Raven Boys was the first recommendation from Emily, then this was second. I should really write a review of this series. You need to all read it, and meet the Darkling. 

 7. The Selection by Kiera Cass
Recommended by a coworker from when I worked at Starbucks. I borrowed her book, and read the other two online the same weekend! 

8. Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Also recommended by Emily, Valerie, and Aubrey. I finished reading it about ten minutes before I met the author. Amazing!

9. Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
Recommended by all my Tween Council when I worked in the Children's Department in my previous job. They had almost all read it in school and insisted I read it. What a great read for everyone, no matter the age!  

10. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Recommended by Emily, Aubrey, and Valerie - such a good book! It's another book that brings about feels, pretty much every emotion possible! 

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