Saturday, July 20, 2013

Review: Gorgeous

Gorgeous-- Paul Rudnick-- Scholastic
The Facts: Signed Hardcover-- 336 pages-- 3 workouts to read

This book was one that I picked up from Scholastic during ALA. This review is my own, and is not biased based on this fact.

Summary: Inner beauty wants out.

When eighteen-year-old Becky Randle’s mother dies, she’s summoned from her Missouri trailer park to meet Tom Kelly, the world’s top designer. He makes her an impossible offer: He’ll create three dresses to transform Becky from a nothing special girl into the most beautiful woman who ever lived.

Becky thinks Tom is a lunatic, or that he’s producing a hidden camera show called World’s Most Gullible Poor People. But she accepts, and she’s remade as Rebecca. When Becky looks in the mirror, she sees herself – an awkward mess of split ends and cankles. But when anyone else looks at Becky, they see pure five-alarm hotness.

Soon Rebecca is on the cover of Vogue, the new Hollywood darling, and dating celebrities. Then Becky meets Prince Gregory, heir to the British throne, and everything starts to crumble. Because Rebecca aside, Becky loves him. But to love her back, Gregory would have to look past the blinding Rebecca to see the real girl inside. And Becky knows there’s not enough magic in the world.

A screamingly defiant, hugely naughty, and impossibly fun free fall past the cat walks, the red carpets, and even the halls of Buckingham Palace, Gorgeous does the impossible: It makes you see yourself clearly for the first time.

My Review: This book combines two of my favorite things: finding inner beauty and ROYALS! While this book is not specific to THE Royal family (you know which one I'm talking about) it's practically a mirror image. And who can't imagine themselves as Rebecca, falling in love with Prince William?

This book caught my curiosity by the cover. Isn't it pretty? I picked up quite a few books at ALA, but I picked this one up after someone on my twitter posted a picture of the first paragraph. I loved it enough that from that paragraph alone, I picked this book next. 

I wasn't disappointed, but to be honest, it wasn't quite what I was expecting. The hard part, is that I'm not sure why. I enjoyed this book. I liked the plot, I loved the writing, and I enjoyed the characters. Yet I am still left somewhat disappointed. 

I know this isn't the best review, but as I said, I can't quite put my finger on what it was about this book I didn't like. The magic seemed lacking, and the characters seemed somewhat flat. It was hard to follow at points, as characters moved and time seemed to FLY. The plot line seemed to jump around but yet I don't think any of these elements are what I'm annoyed with. I would recommend this book, but it's not a favorite. My students will enjoy this book, as they seem to have a fascination with any book with a love story. Hopefully this might show them inside beauty is what counts. *cough*doubtful*cough*

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Informative Post: 'Library Aide'

Good Morning, fellow book lovers!

While I've been busy with the baby, reading arcs, and fighting a diet...... I've also been working my tail off for the upcoming year. As I have mentioned several times in the past month I am a 'library aide' for a middle school. I love my job, I am proud of what I do, but I find most people do not know what it is I actually do. So for those of you who are looking into book-related jobs, or are just curious what a school 'library aide' does, this post is for you!

Top 6 myths about my job:
1. I read on the job.
2. I have down time on the job.
3. I sit at my desk all day.
4. I can buy books whenever I want.
5. I am paid a teacher's salary.
6. I do not have a degree.

(Yes, I ran out of room for the 'D'. However, I love how the faux flower bouquets look!)

Did you already know these are false? Good job! You know more about my job than some of my colleagues.

So, what is it I do? Well, here are the big things (non-daily) I do:

1. Host Chess Club
2. Host Book Club
3. Host Lunch-time Chats
4. Create all posters for the school
5. Collect and take care of Labels for Education points
6. Update/Create honor roll lists and posters, along with honor roll bulletin board
7. " " Student of the Month
8. Take care of all school's lamination, die-cutting, and paper-cutting.
9. Research for colleagues
10. Set up for monthly staff-meetings, parent meetings, or staff work days.
11. Book Fairs
12. Maintain 5 bulletin boards
13. Organize March into Reading month.
14. Organize yearly reading challenge.
15. Maintain computer lab.
16. Research new titles to add to collection.
17. Fundraise.
18. Update book binders.
19. Update yearly inventory of books. (We have over 12,000 in our collection, of which I must enter each barcode by hand during the last 2 weeks of school.)
20. Check out and keep track of equipment given to faculty.
21. Monitor and maintain the bulletin paper offered to teachers.
22. Maintain teacher's 'currently reading' signs in the hallways.

Here is what my daily schedule looks like:

8 classes for 20-60 minutes each: Checking out, fines, reshelving books. (Basic library functions.)
30 minutes 3 times a day: Starting and maintaining school-wide showing of Channel 1 news.
30 minutes: Fixing damaged books, writing damaged book notices, making files of fines.
30 minutes: Organizing and cleaning up the library and computer lab
30 minutes: Doing misc. work for the main office. (I.E. organizing papers by homeroom, handing out yearbooks, contacting parents, etc.)

Did I tell you that I work only 24 hours a week? The library isn't even open every day! (Although I wish it were!) My work is crazy busy. I have things going on at the drop of a hat. This past year I have had an entire gym class I had to keep calm, while a student collapsed in class. I framed and hung posters in the lounge, I hosted a rained-out career day and civil war reenactments. I hosted the students who did not go on their D.C. trip. I had a gaggle of girls I had to 'babysit' during the talent show who thought the dress code wasn't in use on the last day of school. 0.o I guided incoming 5th graders on their tour of the school, and even stepped in for a teacher who took a sick day.

All of those things were done at the last minute, in addition to what most people consider the basics of my job. I still needed to find time to take care of the classes coming in, as well as take care of the first list. This past year, I organized our fiction section into 3 'main' genre's. I did not have time for this during the day, so I put in over 40 hours unpaid volunteer time to do so.

The biggest and most important thing I do however, is something that can't be measured in time. I work to create a love of reading for my students. I am working towards creating a stress-free environment where they can find a story, and find enjoyment. I talk to my students, get to know them, and make them feel wanted. I validate their feelings, and strive to give them the opportunity they deserve. When they come to me, when they come to my library they will find no judgment. They will not feel pressure. They will not feel un-wanted. When they come to me I want them to feel safe.

I am NOT a librarian. I am a library aide. I am the sole care-giver of my library as we do not have a librarian. I hold a degree in middle school education and have no experience in media sciences. I am not paid as one, either. In fact, to have my job all that is required is that I had to have graduated high school. Due to the hours worked I very likely would make more money weekly if I had accepted a job at McDonalds. However, I love my job, and I don't find the work meaningless. I love working with students, and I feel they deserve someone like me.

(Cloth or paper, my daughter and I love them all!)

So the next time someone tells me I 'just read' all day and I have their 'dream job' I will just nod my head and agree. While I know their idea of my job is incorrect, I will agree. My job is a dream job. MY dream job. I wouldn't and couldn't ask for anything better.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Family Friday #3 ARC Review: The Snatchabook

The Snatchabook - Helen Docherty and Thomas Docherty - Sourcebooks

The Facts: This book will be released in October 2013. I received this Advanced Readers Copy through Sourcebooks at ALA Annual 2013

32 pages - paperback (I believe will be released hardcover) - 20 minutes

Summary from Goodreads: Where have all the bedtime stories gone? A delightful addition to the picture book canon about the love of reading

One dark, dark night in Burrow Down, a rabbit named Eliza Brown found a book and settled down...when a Snatchabook flew into town.

It's bedtime in the woods of Burrow Down, and all the animals are ready for their bedtime story. But books are mysteriously disappearing. Eliza Brown decides to to stay awake and catch the book thief. It turns out to be a little creature called the Snatchabook who has no one to read him a bedtime story. All turns out well when the books are returned and the animals take turns reading bedtime stories to the Snatchabook.

My Review: Oh my goodness! This book is one of my favorites, and I am already reading it often to Taylor. The story is quite simple, and very cute. Everyone's bedtime books are being stolen in the blink of an eye, and Eliza wants to stop it from going on. When she finds out why the books are being stolen by the Snatchabook, she befriends the creature. All books are returned and the rest of the town takes turns nightly including Snatchabook in their bedtime reading routines.

As you can see, this book cam easily demonstrate the power of sharing. Sometimes when people are left out, they will do bad things. Sometimes when people share, people will do nice things. While that is a very simple meaning that can be drawn from the book, it is still a powerful one. The rhyme and rhythm of this book does nothing but justice, creating an easy free-flowing read that helps younger readers to sound out unknown words. The illustrations are beautiful by themselves, creating an adorable animal world, with plenty of visual details that entertained my 6 month old as well as myself.

This is not your run-of-the-mill children's picture book. This one teaches morals, has wonderful illustrations and rhyme, and really remind readers the power and love of a bedtime story.

My Rating: 5 stars, hands down. Go buy this book for your kids or grandkids. It's absolutely wonderful.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Review: Beautiful

Beautiful - Amy Reed- Simon Pulse
The "Facts": Paperback, 232 pages, 1 day to finish

 (Click the image to link to Goodreads)
Summary: (From Goodreads) When Cassie moves from the tiny town where she has always lived to a suburb of Seattle, she is determined to leave her boring, good-girl existence behind. This is Cassie’s chance to stop being invisible and become the kind of girl who’s worth noticing.

Stepping into her new identity turns out to be easier than Cassie could have ever imagined… one moment, one choice, changes everything.

Cassie’s new existence both thrills and terrifies her. Swept into a world of illicit parties and social landmines, she sheds her virginity, embraces the numbness she feels from the drugs, and floats through it all, knowing that she is now called beautiful. She ignores the dangers of her fast-paced life… but she can’t sidestep the secrets and the cruelty.

Cassie is trapped in a swift downward spiral tinged with violence and abuse, and no one—not even the one person she thought she could trust—can help her now.

My Review: Ouch. This book is not pretty. There were many things I disliked about this book, but before I begin let me tell you that when I purchased this book, I also bought Amy Reed's 'Crazy' as well. When I was reading this book, I honestly thought 'Crazy' was describing this book...
According to the blurb, it's easy to imagine that this book is about the change in Cassie as she becomes a 'pretty popular' one. Well... it is and it isn't. When the book starts, Cassie has already become 'pretty and popular' at her new school. It takes a bit to realize that this book picks up right away without really introducing the characters.
Secondly, the plot gets confusing. It's hard to imagine Cassie being as stupid and naïve as she comes off, and she jumps around a bit. It's hard to follow her train of thought. As soon as you think you've figured her out, she changes. In most cases, this is a good thing: we like to see development and evolvement in characters. For Cassie, it's less of a developing character and more of 'we need to get this plot point out.'
To be truthful, I'm not even sure how I would describe the plot to someone. I would say 'read the blurb on the back, but then throw away and idea about the plot like you think you have.'
The only good thing about this book? The only reason why I am giving it 2 stars instead of 1? The ending. I actually rather liked the ending, and found it fitting and surprising given the author's tone throughout the rest of the book. However, that is all I will say before I give away any spoilers!

Rating: 2 stars 

*This book contains details and mentions of: underage drinking, drug use and abuse, eating disorders and violence among others. I would recommend reading this book before giving it to someone that you feel might be *iffy* or triggered by these subjects.***

***Can't you tell I'm a school librarian?


Teaser Tuesday (#3)

Good Morning!

 Welcome back, folks! There will be a review up later today of Beautiful by Amy Reed, so keep an eye out for that! Until then, here's a teaser of a book that will be coming out next month! I received this ARC through Little, Brown, and Company (a division of Hachette) at ALA Annual. All reviews or critiques are my own and are completely honest and truthful.)

Teaser Tuesday is a meme hosted by Should Be Reading, in which we post a little *non-spoiler* teaser of the book we are currently reading.

"Actually, you don't need to know that. That's just bullshit someone carved into the wall with their fingernail.
What you really need to know is:
There's a kid in here wants to kill me.
Two of them, actually."

I have not read much of this book yet, but it looks to be very promising. The first chapter makes this hard to put down, but alas- with a baby it's rare if I get enough time to read more than a chapter at a time!


Monday, July 8, 2013

Review: Confederates Don't Wear Couture

Confederates Don't Wear Couture - Stephanie Kate Strohm - Graphia
The "Facts": Paperback, 240 pages, 3 days to finish

Summary: (From Goodreads) Libby's best friend and fabulous fashion designer, Dev, hatches a plan to jet down South and hawk his period gowns to the wives and girlfriends of Civil War re-enactors. With a pang, Libby abandons her plan to visit her boyfriend, Garrett, in Boston and jumps at the chance to help run "Confederate Couture," and let her inner history nerd loose in a 19th century playground. But Libby and Dev aren't whistling Dixie for long. Between the constant travel from battle ground to dusty battle ground (with no Starbucks in sight, mind you), blistering heat, and a violent ghost set on romantic revenge, they quickly realize Alabama's no sweet home. And the boys. . . well, let's just say Libby's got the North and the South fighting for her attention. Confederates Don't Wear Couture is another hilarious, historical romp from Stephanie Kate Strohm!

Review: I adored almost everything about this book! I first saw this book on another book blog, showcasing the new releases that week. I knew by the cover that I would have to read it. Full discloser: This is the second book in a series, and I have NOT read the first. However, I felt this book sufficiently covered the carry-over plot points quite well, so that this could be read as a stand-alone. I will warn you though, this book includes SEVERAL topics and pop culture references that will date this book. This book more than likely will NOT stay 'current' for much longer, and if you are a school library low on funds, I would not recommend using your money for this title. If you are a lover of books, and NOT a librarian or NOT low on funds, then this book will be very enjoyable!

This is a perfect light and fluffy read, especially if you enjoy historical fiction, or history at all. Stephanie has a decent grasp at how to catch and hold the attention of the reader when discussing historical facts that is quite refreshing. She doesn't over-load the book with them, as this isn't what the book is about, but you still find yourself learning something new every chapter! In fact, I would recommend this book to my students who REFUSE to read anything historical. I think they might find themselves actually entertained by it.

Rating: 3 stars  (I would have rated this book higher if this book wasn't quite as fluffy. I felt the story derailed/spent too much time on the love triangle than I would have preferred, and also for the pop culture references. I liked this book, however I know I would not be able to pass this down to my daughter, as she wouldn't understand most of the references which is what was included in almost every joke!)

*Please note also, this is not a good book to 'finish this chapter'. I think the second chapter ended on something like page 72.


Sunday, July 7, 2013

ALA 2013

 Alright, so we have slacked a bit in the past two weeks, but Taylor-tot and I walked around Ala! (If any of you went, and saw a girl walking around holding an itty bitty baby on Saturday... that was me!) Ala was crazy and fun! I picked up quite a few ARCS, as did my mom and husband. We went Saturday and Monday, and with the cost of parking, books, and passes, we spent about $300, but came out with about 150 books. I know, CRAZY!

ALA Annual, for those of you who do not know, is the big conference for librarians. They have an exhibit hall, where tons of publishers and companies come out and try to gain your business or get their names/titles out there. Unfortunately, due to the baby, I could not attend the actual conference. However I was able to walk around the exhibit halls with the little one in tow. 

On Saturday, I had quite a few book signings! I met Marissa Moss, who signed Mira's Diary: Home Sweet Rome. 

My mother met Kevin Luthardt and had to buy his book and have him sign it to Taylor. He even drew Edgar! How cute is that?!

On Monday, the grandparents watched Taylor so my husband and I could go. We met Robert Forbes who not only signed his book to my daughter, he also tweeted a picture of us standing in line. Can you spot me? (I'm in black at the back of the line.)

(Are any of these ladies you?)

I also met Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Stephanie Evanovich, and Elizabeth Wein!

Monday was the last day of the exhibits, so the publishers either gave away their display copies or sold them for CHEAP. In fact, while we were leaving, we decided to stop in at Harper Collins' booth. Their children section had been selling for a while, so when we arrived, there wasn't anybody in the booth. We picked up 2 books, because we were told hardcovers were $10 and paperbacks were $5. We picked the two Fancy Nancy books (I ADORE Fancy Nancy!) and headed towards the woman collecting the money. When we pulled out our money, we were told they were now selling hardcovers at $3, and paperbacks for $1!

Yes, you read that right! We had $40 cash on us when we entered.... not so much when we left. :) 

You may be asking, what exactly does $300 get 4 people and a baby at a book conference? Well, here's the books we had autographed! Duplicates are my mother's.

I can NOT wait until the next school year to start! I'm starting up a new Lunch Book Chat group, and a book club, and I have grand plans for these books! Well, once I've read and reviewed them, that is! :) 

Did anyone else attend ALA? Let me know! :)