Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Top Ten Book Themed DIYs I want To Try

Ever want to show how much you love books through your crafts, decorations, clothes, etc? Check out these awesome do-it-yourself bookish projects that I'm dying to try!

1) Bookshelf Skirt via Living with Punks
I have successfully made 2 skirts and a dress, and I think a great new project would be this bookshelf skirt. I’d need to adjust this so it’s my size, but then I would happily wear it to story time. Who needs to take a shelfie when I’ve got all of my favorite books on my skirt?

2) Book Christmas Bulb via Refunk my Junk
To be fair, I’ve already made something similar to this for my sister using our favorite childhood book, Holes by Louis Sachar. But I would like to make some more of these for my other friends as well.

3) Punched Book Art via
I need a little more book themed art to hang around my house. This one would take a lot of searching for words that I liked from the book, but I think I would be pleased with the end result. All I need is a book, a frame and a heart punch.

4) Homemade Book Clutch via The Surznick Common Room
I’ve made a book safe before, and this seems like a much more complicated version of that, but also much more useful.

5) Card Book via Dreamy Elk
So I don’t  have wedding cards, but I do have plenty of other cards that I keep in my boring old card box. And I would love to turn them into something more interesting like this to keep on my desk.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Chick Lit Month: Part One

In honor of Chick Lit Month I'd like to celebrate the under-appreciated genre with some of my favorite chick lit books. Now, chick lit generally just means books that are aimed at a primarily female audience. Urban Dictionary even says so: "Slang for a genre of literature geared towards female readers , which deal with modern issues in women's lives." Many people assume it is just romance, but it also includes books dealing with families, friends, coming of age, etc. Okay, lesson over. 

My favorite chick lit books tend to feature romance because I am a mushy type person. For the sake of variety I'll try to mix it up here. This is part one of four of Cailey's Favorite Chick Lit Books. Check back to see more. 

Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

My all time top favorite chick lit writer is Jennifer Crusie (who does not write nearly enough books!). Of all of her books, this one is my favorite romance. The book is a pretty traditional romance at first glance, but it is just so well-written that I give it major props. 

Min is a woman in her thirties who knows what she wants in life, but is constantly bowing down to what her mother wants for her. That's how she wound up with her cold fish of a date the night she meets Cal. Min gets dumped (and doesn't really seem to care so much) and is out with her friends at a local bar. 

Cut to Cal. Cal is a hotshot entrepreneur out with his friends at the same bar. Cal is not into serious relationships, much more into flings. He's the betting type, constantly making trivial bets for the thrill of it with his buddies. This is where he gets into trouble. David, the man who just dumped Min, bets Cal that he can't get Min to go out with him. Of course, this bet isn't really above board since David knows Min was just dumped and sincerely doubts she'll say yes, thus fixing the bet in his favor. 

Since Min is far from the normal woman Cal dates, the two clash quite a bit, but it winds up working for them. After a series of misunderstandings, including funny incidents, the love story comes to fruition. This book features fun shoes, chicken marsala, lots of bets, and a love of donuts.

This book could totally be a movie, it is so easy to picture what is happening. Crusie is just a great a writer, easy to get sucked into her mix of comedy and drama, and she is great at creating awesome characters. Granted, this book is a little older, but give me the benefit of the doubt and check it out. 

Check back next week for more chick lit!


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Books to Movies 2016 (April-July)

It's that time again! I wanted to update our books to movies list for you. In case you haven't had a chance to see the first part of 2016, check it out here. Get going on these books now before their movies are released!

A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers (In theaters now!)
Alan Gray is a washed-up, worn out American salesman. He travels to Saudi Arabia to try and secure a contract for a business complex in the middle of the desert, taking him way out of his comfort zone. It's funny and real, and sure to make a great film. Starring Tom Hanks.

Fairy Tales of Giambattista Basile (Movie title Tale of Tales, in theaters now!)
Many people know the fairy tales by Grimm and Perrault, but very few know of Giambattista Basile, who was a collector of fairy tales in the 1500s, long before those men were on the scene. His tales share similarities with the familiar stories we know, and the first instances of the stories "Cinderella" and "Rapunzel" come from this Italian writer. The movie looks to be a little intense, but very good!

Papa Hemingway in Cuba (In theaters April 29)
Okay, not really based on a book, but it's based on an important literary figure, so I threw it on here as a bonus. This movie is about a young journalist visiting Hemingway in the midst of the Cuban Revolution. Sure to be an interesting historical film, with a literary twist.

Alice Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll (in theaters May 27)
Alice returns to Wonderland years later to find it has been in turmoil since her last visit. She has to save her good friend, the Mad Hatter, played by Johnny Depp.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (In theaters June 3)
I am very excited about this book becoming a movie! The book is about twentysomething Lou who is really going nowhere in life. She decides to take a job working as a caregiver for a quadriplegic young man whose life completely stopped after an accident. The two of them struggle to get along, but quickly form a bond that changes them both forever. I'm both excited and dreading this movie, because the book is a roller coaster of emotions.

The BFG by Roald Dahl (In theaters July 1)
It's been awhile since we've had a new Roald Dahl book made into a movie, and The BFG is a childhood favorite to many. For those of you who somehow don't know, The BFG is a "big friendly giant" who is bullied by his peers because unlike the other giants, he doesn't want to chase and eat boys and girls. He befriends little Sophie, who likes him even though he's a giant. The movie is being directed by Steven Spielberg, which is quite promising, I think, so let's hope for the best!

The Legend of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs (based on the original Tarzan stories, in theaters July 1)
All of the many, many Tarzan incarnations stem from the stories written by Edgar Rice Burroughs in the early 1900s. If you've never explored the original stories, now's a good time to start! I know there have been lots of Tarzan movies/shows in the past twenty years, so this one may not sound very original at first glance, but it looks to be action-packed. It stars Alexander Skarsgard and Magot Robie (who's having a moment in Hollywood right now).

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates by Mike and Dave Stangle (In theaters July 8)
Surprisingly, a true story. The two title characters--brothers--placed an online ad looking for the perfect wedding dates to take with them to their sister's Hawaiian wedding. The ad went viral, and the girls that they chose as dates made the wedding vacation one that they'd never forget. The movie looks to be a little crazy, but funny. Check out the book to see the true story of it all.

We'll share more books to movies later this year!


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Marked in Flesh: A Review

At the beginning of March, I was awaiting the publication of Marked In Flesh by Anne Bishop. Marked in Flesh is the fourth installment in The Others series.

A short summary of the series: Humans are not the dominant species on earth, the Others are… and the Others have been known to eat a human or two when annoyed. When the Others meet human Blood Prophet, Meg Corbyn, who is on the run from the humans keeping her in Benevolent Ownership (i.e. legalized slavery) everything changes.

When the first Others book, Written in Red, came out in 2013, I loved, loved, loved it and gave it my first five star rating. Books two and three were good, but not as good as book one. So, while I anticipated that Marked in Flesh would be a good read, I wasn’t foaming at the mouth for it.

But, once Marked in Flesh was released, I devoured the book. After I finished, I thought, “Well, that was really good. I think I should go back and read the first one again.” So, I did… and book two… and book three.

OMG. The entire series is better when it is reread. The plotting behind the action is so well thought out; it flows over all four books. Lines that I thought were simple flavor are actually foreshadowing to books and events in the rest of the series. Anne Bishop must have a massive plan and outline plotting the storyline for the entirety of this series.

Added to that, each book in the series is just plain well written. The characters are engaging. The reader actually begins to root for the Others – who eat humans and are considering wiping human civilization from the continent. The slow-burning romance is sweet and is masterfully done. And each book is entertaining (although I will say that one and four are better than two and three).

I love this series.

So, now I AM foaming at the mouth in anticipation of book five… which should be coming out sometime next year… and all I can say is “Write faster, Anne Bishop. Write faster.”

~Mary P.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Reckoners Series: A Review

My last contribution to this blog was about my first encounter with Brandon Sanderson’s work, which occurred after I selected The Rithmatist for a meeting of MPL’s Teen Book Club. I was so enthralled by Sanderson’s writing that I binge-read three of his books last month; and after reading April’s book club selection, I began a fourth.

That’s just how I am—when I discover something new that I really enjoy, I obsess over it. For example, a couple years ago I was browsing Netflix and started a Charlie Chaplin film on a whim. Next thing I knew, I was completely fascinated by the man. I couldn’t watch his films or read his biographies fast enough. I tried to subtly persuade my husband to get me an original 1931 poster for City Lights that I found at a local antique shop for Christmas. Yes, it was expensive—I could never justify purchasing it for myself, so it had to be a gift—and, no, we didn’t have anywhere to put it, but that didn’t stop me from walking past it a hundred times, dreaming.

This time around, my obsession became Brandon Sanderson’s writing, which flows so naturally that it feels effortless. He makes writing well seem easy, which is truly the mark of a master talent. As mentioned above, I read three of his books last month—specifically, the Reckoners trilogy.

The first book in this series is Steelheart. Here, Sanderson demonstrates his masterful world-building prowess and introduces an intriguing cast of characters. Readers are transported to an alternate version of the United States, ten years after a mysterious star appears in the sky, and ordinary people begin to develop superpowers. These superhumans—who come to be known as Epics—don’t have much in common with the superheroes with whom we are familiar, however. In fact, most Epics have a decidedly evil streak, overthrowing civilization as we know it and lording over cities as kings and queens.   

The story is about David Charleston’s quest to avenge his father’s murder by the titular Steelheart, widely considered to be the most powerful Epic in existence. Ever since he was orphaned at the age of eight, David has studied Epics and the Reckoners—a clandestine group of rebel assassins. More than anything, David wishes to join their ranks. When he discovers that the Reckoners’ next target is in his hometown, he devises a way to introduce himself. They’re the only ones who can possibly help him take down Steelheart once and for all.

What follows is a fast-paced plot that is as fun as it is suspenseful. While it may be a bit too violent for some, I would recommend Steelheart to anyone who enjoys a good action movie. Sanderson’s writing is so visually expressive that I often lost myself in the imagery. To this day, I can picture certain scenes as if I saw them on the big screen.

The other books in the trilogy are also very good reads. Firefight adds to the Epic mythos, answering some questions while simultaneously introducing a greater mystery. The final book, Calamity, gives readers an unexpected and completely satisfying conclusion, which is an uncommon feat for YA dystopian series (I’m looking at you, Divergent). If you are like me and get to the end wishing for more, don’t give up hope—Sanderson stated recently that his next series will take place in the same universe as the Reckoners! 

Usually, the novelty of my obsessions wears off after a while. I find myself back where I started, more or less the same as before… until my next obsession comes along, that is. After a month of Sanderson, however, I can tell that my obsession with his writing isn’t just a phase. My next undertaking is going to be his highly acclaimed Mistborn series. I predict that I will enjoy it so much that I will feel compelled to write another blog entry about it. Only time will tell!

Have you ever enjoyed a book or series so much that you binge-read it in a short span of time? What are your literary obsessions? Let us know in the comments below!


Mentor Public Library’s Teen Book Club is open to teens in grades 9 to 12. The club meets on the first Saturday of every month, from 2:00 to 3:30 PM at our Mentor-on-the-Lake Branch. At our next meeting on May 7, 2016, we will be discussing I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. Copies of selected books are available at the Lake Branch on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration is requested. Call 440-257-2512 with questions.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Five Star Reads

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme started on the Broke and the Bookish blog.
They set the topic, we make the lists. Visit their site to see more on this topic

What with one thing and another I’ve probably read fewer books this year than in any other in recent memory. Still, one of the (many) benefits of working in a library is that one is always well supplied with choices, and with opinionated readers to recommend them. Anyway, this is the very best of what I’ve read in the last year.

Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind
This actually came out about ten years ago (earlier in the original Spanish) but it was reissued in hardback a couple of years ago. This is a real librarian’s book, i.e. it’s about people who are obsessed with books and their power. But it’s also about Spain in the Franco era, and about love and courage, and the willingness to sacrifice for something larger than oneself. It’s beautifully written and has a sense of place that makes it really delightful. I absolutely didn’t want it to end.

Jay Faerber and Scott Godlewski, Copperhead,Vols. 1 and 2
These two trades were the best graphic novels that I read all year. They tell the story of Clara Bronson who arrives with her son to be the new sheriff of a mining colony on a remote planet. The storytelling is excellent and the art brings the whole thing to life. I like comics best when they try to examine sides of life outside the normal run of superheroes and villains, and looking at the narrative of the new sheriff in town through the lens of the challenges of a single mother fits the bill.

Elena Ferrante, My Brilliant Friend
The first of Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, My Brilliant Friend is the story of two girls growing up together in the gritty neighborhoods of Naples in the 1950s. Dangers are everywhere: from the power of the local criminal groups, to the more mundane issues of boys and school. Ferrante’s writing is spare but also beautifully expressive. The sense of beauty and danger vibrates from every surface of everyday life. This book has been constantly checked out from here ever since it was released, and when you read it you’ll know why.

Can this really be Scott Hawkins’ first novel? It’s hard to figure out what genre this book actually falls into. It’s not really fantasy, although it has some what you might call “magical” elements. It’s supernatural fiction I guess. Anyway, it’s a really entertaining story about a group of librarians whose areas of specialty control actual things in the world. There’s a strongly uncanny aspect to the writing which creates compelling atmosphere.

Patricia Highsmith, The Price of Salt
Originally published in the 1950s, The Price of Salt  got a bump in popularity with the release of a movie version this year. The book tells the story of Therese, a young shop girl who escapes from her unsatisfying life by starting a relationship with an older woman. Highsmith explores Therese’s internal monologue in sumptuous detail and creates a story that is warm, beautiful, and challenging. If for no other reason, you should read this book because of the courage that it took to publish it in the first place.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

My Life as a Book: Some stories just hit a little closer to home

Recently, I had the urge to revisit a book series I was very fond of in middle school. The Protector of the Small is a quartet of young adult novels written by Tamora Peirce about a young girl named Keladry of Mindelan or, Kel for short. Kel is the first female in her kingdom of Tortall to officially attend page training in hopes of becoming a knight. I talked a bit about the third entry, Squire, on the blog before; mainly regarding its fantasy trappings, rather than why I admired the series so much.

The Protector of the Small is made up of First Test, Page, Squire, and Lady Knight. Kel is the first girl to take advantage of a new law permitting females to begin page training. The law was created in response to a woman, Alanna of Trebond, who disguised herself as her brother in order to become a knight (The events of the Song of the Lioness quartet). It’s probably been almost a decade since I last read these books and in doing so, I’ve only just now come to realize why her story resonated so strongly with me.

I was Kel.

Obviously, I don’t mean literally. I’m not trained in swordsmanship and you’ll never find me within five feet of a horse, but I did play ice hockey for over fifteen years. I realize that doesn’t really make sense, so let me divert for a moment to tell a personal anecdote.

When I was ten I decided I wanted to play ice hockey. Before my mom would let me join a team, she insisted I attend a skills camp to learn the game and to make sure it was something I really wanted to do. She signed me up for a weeklong overnight camp at Penn State University. Penn State runs a lot of summer athletic camps, but at the time there was only one for boy’s ice hockey (a few years later, they did add a separate session for girls). Being the only girl at the camp, I was immediately “othered.” They weren’t really equipped to deal with me. I wasn’t allowed inside the boy’s dorm, so I had to stay in a nearby building with the volleyball girls. Because of that, when our group had to meet, we were required to do so outside in the courtyard, rather than inside the building. When we split into teams during off ice training, we played shirts vs. skins and there was always the call of, “where’s the girl? Which team is she on? OK, you guys are shirts.” And when we dressed for practice, the boys did so in the locker rooms, while I changed in the rink’s public bathroom, alone.

Unlike Alanna, who made it through her page and squire training while in disguise as a boy the entire time, Kel had to do the same work while also defending her gender. I know what that’s like. If you make a mistake, it suddenly isn’t because you’re still learning, it’s because you’re a girl.  You not only have to keep up, but you’re also trying to prove you deserve to be there. That’s why I felt such a connection to Kel. It was the first time I had ever read a book that spoke so directly to my own life experiences. She had separate accommodations from her male counterparts. She had to train while ignoring the open stares of her classmates wondering what she was doing there. She had to tamp down the constant fear of failing because she’s a girl. Luckily for Kel, she had already trained in hand to hand combat and staff work and felt confident in her skills; I could barely handle a puck when I first stepped out onto the ice.

After Kel’s first year, the training master grudgingly extends her permission to return. She had survived and was one step closer to becoming a knight. For me, on the last night of camp, I went back my dorm to find it empty and locked. I tracked down a counselor who had to walk me to one of the administration offices. He tried to explain that I wasn’t able to get into my room, but the pinched face secretary looked down at me and said, “All the other camps are over; the only people who should still be here are the ice hockey players.” The counselor gestured to me and said, “She is ice hockey.” Like Kel, I had found my place.

~Meredith T.