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posted Dec 6, 2017, 8:09 AM by SCHS Lib

When her mom inherits an old, crumbling mansion, Seda’s almost excited to spend the summer there. The grounds are beautiful and it’s fun to explore the sprawling house with its creepy rooms and secret passages. Except now her mom wants to renovate, rather than sell the estate—which means they're not going back to the city…or Seda's friends and school. 

As the days grow shorter, Seda is filled with dread. They’re about to be cut off from the outside world, and she’s not sure she can handle the solitude or the darkness it brings out in her.

Then a group of teens get stranded near the mansion during a blizzard. Seda has no choice but to offer them shelter, even though she knows danger lurks in the dilapidated mansion—and in herself. And as the snow continues to fall, what Seda fears most is about to become her reality…

I am not a scary book person. Really. It's too easy to get my heart racing, AND I do almost all of my reading in bed at night in the dark. Yet, I continue to voluntarily read thrillers - both paranormal and psychological. Such is the case with my reading of "Alone" by Cyn Balog (from one of my favorite publishers Sourcebooks Fire). 

The first half of the book feels a little slow as you're reading. The author has a purpose for every single thing. Trust me. So, read through it. Get to know the setting, plaques, characters, everything you can. Because it's about to get turned upside down in the second half of the book. I think that's what I appreciated the most - finding out that it ALL had a purpose. My time was well-spent as a reader. It's such a fulfilling moment.

The ending... I have some lingering questions for the author. Mostly one. ONE lingering question. And I feel like the end went too fast. I needed it to slow down a bit. Maybe even just a few more paragraphs. 

Overall, I think it's a worthwhile book. I recommend it to anyone who has a couple of hours and enjoys a twisty-turny read.

On my other blog, I share my thoughts while reading "Alone". If you are interested in reading them, please click here (after 9am on December 7, 2017).

We have a few good memories, don't we? Cover Reveal!

posted Dec 5, 2017, 5:52 AM by SCHS Lib


posted Nov 27, 2017, 8:12 AM by SCHS Lib

The world is made of monsters.

Adni might be one of them.

After the Evil Queen Kadia razed Warshard, leaving thousands homeless or dead, many of Salander’s people fled to the Cinder Mountains, east of the six kingdoms, seeking refuge.

Adni, the daughter of a treasure hunter, has always despised her father’s bizarre occupation and loathes every family trip in search of riches. Always desperate for more, her father shoves her off a waterfall to retrieve treasure at the bottom of a lake. Instead, Adni is swept up in a violent underwater current, only to be rescued by Julian, a mysterious woman with a flirtatious smile.

Desperate to flee the oppression of her family and the mountains, Adni escapes with Julian to Salander in search of her real father – who might just be a worse monster than the man she left behind.

Oh, how I adore this story (and series)! Adni comes from a rough family of treasure hunters - not a well respected profession. When the man who has been her father figure THROWS HER OFF A CLIFF, Adni discovers that there is more to her than what meets the eye. Rescued by a mysterious and strong woman named Julian, Adni and Julian pair up to reach Salander. On the way, they get way more than they bargained for. This book circles back to characters from Haven, years after that book ends. While the world is now free from Kadia's reign of terror, a larger threat looms over the Six Kingdoms. Bringing even more tension to the story is that Adni is one piece of that threat. 

At its core, "Ashen" is a story about overcoming your past/upbringing, fighting for a bright future, and self-acceptance. One of my favorite things about Adni is that she's a reluctant hero. I mean, we had Haven who was very uncertain of herself but willing to do whatever she could. Now there is Adni who admits that she really just wants to run home to her family most of the book. She wants to hide away and not be part of this whole saving the world business. Part of that is because she doesn't accept who she is and her insecurity is severe enough that her desire is to hide. However, slowly, she overcomes that fear. The more she opens up to people, the more they accept her (in general, with one exception). 

As always, the writing keeps the reader focused on the characters and plot the entire time. Everything is constantly driving forward. It's one of the things I love the most about Katherine Bogle's books. While it doesn't seem there is anything left to explore in the Warshard universe, I am hoping for more. In the meantime, I plan to dive into her science fiction series!

The Librarian of Auschwitz

posted Nov 20, 2017, 11:27 AM by SCHS Lib

Based on the experience of real-life Auschwitz prisoner Dita Kraus, this is the incredible story of a girl who risked her life to keep the magic of books alive during the Holocaust.

Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious volumes the prisoners have managed to sneak past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the librarian of Auschwitz. 

Out of one of the darkest chapters of human history comes this extraordinary story of courage and hope.

It's never easy to tell the grim tales of human reality. It never gets easier to read of the horrific things that happened during the Holocaust. It never feels like I can separate myself from the experiences back then by enough years. Every time I read a Holocaust story, it feels like it is too soon. This book is no exception. Grim yet hopeful, the tale of the Librarian of Auschwitz is one I was very interested in as an avid reader of books and librarian. It's raw and emotional. 

One wish: pacing is a little slow. I realize that is a reflection of life at a concentration camp. However, as a reader, it could really put some people off and cause them to not finish the book. I finished it, but I can see how a student and some adults would not find it "worth it".

If you liked "The Book Thief" by Zuzak and "A Night Divided" by Nielsen, you will enjoy "The Librarian of Auschwitz".

Ashen Cover Reveal

posted Nov 14, 2017, 11:46 AM by SCHS Lib   [ updated Nov 14, 2017, 11:47 AM ]

Making it Complicated Cover Reveal

posted Oct 9, 2017, 7:44 AM by SCHS Lib

We Can't Be Friends

posted Oct 6, 2017, 6:36 AM by SCHS Lib

For the readers of GO ASK ALICE, TWEAK, and DEAR NOBODY, Etler details her turbulent readjustment to life at home and high school after spending sixteen months in Straight, Inc. Advertised as a rehab program for troubled teens, in reality, Straight subjected Cyndy and her fellow Straightlings to cultlike brainwashing and bizarre “treatment” methods. There was no privacy, no freedom, and no room for error. But when Cyndy is finally released, she discovers she’s living by an entirely different set of rules than her peers. What new extremes will she go to in order to fit in? 

What do you do after you've been in a brainwashing program and you're released into the world again as a fifteen year old? "We Can't Be Friends" by Cyndy Etler addresses her experiences after "The Dead Inside" as she reintegrates with the general populace with Straight, Inc. still in her head. 

I really appreciated that we heard more of this story. Of course, at the end of "The Dead Inside", you're left thinking, "Thank goodness she got out! It must have been all stars and rainbows." This book clears up that misconception. Swinging from one end of the pendulum to another as she vies for acceptance and love, I wept for this girl as I read. This book is heart wrenchingly beautiful and ultimately leaves you with a feeling of hope while simultaneously telling a dark, relatable story.

I highly recommend it for anyone who read "The Dead Inside". If you haven't read the first book, you may find Cyndy's second story far-fetched and perhaps even not relatable. This is definitely best experienced as a duo.

Ugly Beautiful Girl

posted Sep 30, 2017, 5:00 PM by SCHS Lib

Dear Fahrenheit 451

posted Sep 25, 2017, 6:33 AM by SCHS Lib

A Gen-X librarian's snarky, laugh-out-loud funny, deeply moving collection of love letters and break-up notes to the books in her life.

Librarians spend their lives weeding--not weeds but books! Books that have reached the end of their shelf life, both literally and figuratively. They remove the books that patrons no longer check out. And they put back the books they treasure. Annie Spence, who has a decade of experience as a Midwestern librarian, does this not only at her Michigan library but also at home, for her neighbors, at cocktail parties—everywhere. In Dear Fahrenheit 451, she addresses those books directly. We read her love letters to The Goldfinch and Matilda, as well as her snarky break-ups with Fifty Shades of Grey and Dear John. Her notes to The Virgin Suicides and The Time Traveler’s Wife feel like classics, sure to strike a powerful chord with readers. Through the lens of the books in her life, Annie comments on everything from women’s psychology to gay culture to health to poverty to childhood aspirations. Hilarious, compassionate, and wise, Dear Fahrenheit 451 is the consummate book-lover's birthday present, stocking stuffer, holiday gift, and all-purpose humor book.

This book. I laughed out loud, nodded sagely, and argued with the writer all in one sitting. This compilation of love letters and break up letters to books has something for every reader. Everything from the library from Beauty and the Beast
("She finally marries the Beast because she's a total bookdigger and wisely realizes that the castle is big enough for her to hide in one wing, reading in silence and ordering that sniveling Cogsworth to bring her snacks and tell Beast she's got period cramps and is not to be disturbed.")
to librarian stereotypes
("We're supposed to whisper and shush, demand silence, when in reality we work our asses off trying to help people speak up. Maybe it seems safer for us to whisper. Because maybe if we could shout, it would shake the walls down.")
receives special treatment from Annie as she examines books, library life, and the world around her. 

My favorite by far is the titular letter to Fahrenheit 451. She writes:
("Be glad you have a voice but no eyes. Since 1953, the talking walls are bigger and louder than ever. The modern day "firefighters" are armed not with kerosene but snarky Internet memes, reality TV, and the ability to simultaneously see more and less of the world around them.")
Sheer beauty. Perfection. As a high school librarian, this letter meant so much to me. SO MUCH. I actually highlighted it and stopped reading to ponder the truths of that statement. 

Did I read EVERY letter? No. Some I skipped because I had no idea what that book was. And you know what? That's okay. I was able to connect to the author through her words - isn't that what every person who has ever picked up a book is looking for? 

Mission: Accomplished, Annie.

The Border - Guest Post by Y.C.

posted Sep 22, 2017, 6:43 AM by SCHS Lib

One moment changed their lives forever.

A band plays, glasses clink, and four teens sneak into the Mexican desert, the hum of celebration receding behind them.

Crack. Crack. Crack.

Not fireworks―gunshots. The music stops. And Pato, Arbo, Marcos, and Gladys are powerless as the lives they once knew are taken from them.

Then they are seen by the gunmen. They run. Except they have nowhere to go. The narcos responsible for their families' murders have put out a reward for the teens' capture. Staying in Mexico is certain death, but attempting to cross the border through an unforgiving desert may be as deadly as the secrets they are trying to escape...

Four friends are forced to leave the only town they've ever really known growing up, all because they're in BIG trouble. These drug lords have have taken everything from each and every one of them, but the teens also had no choice but to shoot one of them…. now they're on the run to cross the border into the U.S.

I do have to say that at first I didn't like the way the author started the book. I felt as if it was kind of an easy start, just because he started it with Pato and his parents going to Patos cousins’ quinceañera. The author took a typical, common sense “Mexican” route in the beginning of the first chapter. BUT… as you keep reading it's like each page just draws you in more and more. It starts to get intense, and realistic. This book literally would make me feel nervous for them that even my hands would sweat!

I love how all the characters are well developed. The characterization for each and everyone of them go throughout the whole book. I just love all of them and how they were made. You felt their personality off the pages, while reading the book, which is what I liked the most about the book. One of them, Marcos was very “cocky” , but it worked well with how he was described in the book and the situation. I get that he had to man up and be a leader for them, but he was just too much and sometimes wouldn't make the right decision. Gladys, was a very sweet and loving girl, along with Pato. Arbo on the other hand was kind of a shy teen that wasn't afraid to speak out when he knew he needed to.

I would definitely recommend this book! It's a very realistic book, with some real life events I would say have happened before to actual people. The drug lords are also just like they were described in the book, because they are indeed dangerous, evil people. So, of course I would recommend it to teens, or anyone in general that would like to know more about horrific things like this. It really helps you picture everything.

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