The Silver Witch & A Darker Shade of Magic

Hi Guys, will have a couple new posts coming shortly. Been working on a Pokemon display I’ve been coerced into doing and running a fun STEAM activity later today that I’ll report on at somepoint.

In the meantime, another Thursday book review. Two books for you today. I was originally only going to review A Darker Shade of Magic but I just finished The Silver Witch and I have thoughts. So here goes…
51bzcbhms2bl-_sx329_bo1204203200_The Silver Witch by Paula Brackston is the first book I’ve read from this author. It is a standalone and a quick read. A semi-historical fictional novel with a good heaping of magic thrown in. Just what I like.

The Silver Witch  is written from two points of view. The first is Tilda, a ceramic artist who moves to the Welsh countryside a year after witnessing her husbands tragic death. Living in a secluded cabin on the other side of a lake town, Tilda hopes to deal with her grief and find a measure of peace. But Tilda is drawn to the lake, despite her fear of water, and weird things start happening. Tilda is plagued by visions and apparitions. She feels different by the lake, like a part of her is waking up for the first time.

Our second narrator is Saren, a witch and shaman of Celtic times. Saren’s story is one of duty, betrayal, bravery and love. Saren is a seer and her visions foretell the ruin of the community she serves and the man she loves. Can Saren avert her visions?

These two stories merge as Tilda puts aside her grief and explores the magic of the lake and the mysteries it holds.

Okay, so I liked the story a lot. It was right up my alley–magic, bits of history, some romance, mystery. Great. But there were a lot of things the story introduced that could have been really great twists or accompaniments, that weren’t actually dealt with at all. And yet there were a lot of things that were really thought out; the ancestry connections, the bits and pieces that crossed over from Saren’s time to Tilda’s. And there were parts that definitely kept me guessing.

Spoilers—Here is one of my peeves about the story–readers, let me know if you thought this too? Brackston introduced the character Lucas and made it seem like he would be a big part of the story. The way he “analysed” Tilda when others would look away; the animosity between Dillon and Lucas over Tilda; even the way Thistle (Tilda’s dog) would cuddle up to Lucas and growl at Dillon. Dillon’s “ease” of understanding Tilda’s powers; how quickly he entwines himself into her life. I honestly though Dillon was going to be evil in some way and that Brackston was setting up Lucas to save the day. Instead the character of Lucas is just dropped and never mentioned again. I guess, my problem is that we were given several story arcs to think about that I was left questioning.

Overall, I did like the story. Brackston did a great job meshing past and present, while giving us a bit of history and satisfying our need for action. It was a good book, but one I kept thinking up alternate story-lines.

51ryevqlj9l-_sx331_bo1204203200_I was super hesitant to read A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab. The whole story appealed to me. I’d read Vicious and enjoyed it. But several of the reviewers I follow had mixed feelings, so I put it off. In the end I gave it a go and it was alright. I sort of have mixed feelings toward it.

A Darker Shade of Magic is a fantasy of an alternate London, well several alternate London’s each differing in varying degrees. There is Grey London, dirty and dull with no magic to speak of; kind of reminiscent of the dark ages. There is Red London, where magic flourishes and the city thrives. There is White London, where magic is sought after and where magic fights back, draining the city and all it’s inhabitants. And finally, there is Black London, which has been cutoff and sealed for it’s corruption and all associations with it has been destroyed.

These four London’s were once connected by doorways, which were all locked once Black London’s corruption became too much. Now only rare traveling blood-magicians can traverse the realms, acting as liaisons and messengers. Kell is the messenger for Red London and adopted son to the king and queen. On one of his missions dark magic falls into his hands and he is forced to go on the run. While attempting to stay ahead of his pursuers Kell runs into Delilah, a grey worlder with a lost past and slippery fingers. Together they must stay alive and in doing so, keep their worlds alive as well.

This book has such a great concept. Alternate, but connected worlds; each different and greedy for what they don’t have. The world building was great. Like Vicious the pace was a little quick, with a lot of the action happening in quick bursts. The characters were OK. I liked Kell by the end but Delilah was a little irritating, although I think she will get more dynamic in books to come.

I think what was missing for me in this book was that I wasn’t quite invested in the characters… yet. This book is a trilogy and I think we are going to get a lot more depth in the subsequent books. I hope.

Ultimately, I had low expectations for this book due to the varying reviews. But it turned out to be a fine read and hopefully a good series. We’ll just have to wait and find out.


That’s all for today!


The Invisible Library

Hi Guys,

Today’s Thursday book review is The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman61eipzf7ihl-_sx328_bo1204203200_

First, let me start by asking this–what is it about novels that have any sort of book/library connotation, that makes you just have to pick them up? If it has the word book, books, library, librarian in the title I can’t resist. Maybe this is why so many books are about… books. Think about it. How many books have you read that have at least a subplot revolving around reading or a love of literature? A character working at a bookstore; a book collector; a book thief. There are a lot out there. I’m thinking it is an easy way to insert the readers into the story; an easy way to allow the reader to relate.

Anyway, mini-tangent over. The Invisible Library follows junior library agent, Irene, who is part spy, part detective. Irene works for a highly secretive and mysterious library. Her job is to collect rare works of fiction from different realities–different versions of the world. In this first book, Irene is sent to an alternate London where chaos reigns. In a steampunk-esq world where fairies, vampires and werewolves exist, Irene finds that she might just be in over her head. Irene and her increasingly mysterious assistant Kai, have to track down an extremely rare and dangerous book all while dodging politics, magic, long dead murderers and even massive electronic centipedes.

I don’t think I even read the back cover of this book before I dove in, so I had no preconceived notions. What I got was part detective novel, part high fantasy, part steampunk lit and part bookish nerd love. With a strong female character who was partial bad-ass, super smart and self confident but was also reliant on others and had a serious case of internal self doubt. Irene threw me for a loop in a good way. I thought she was going to be this strict, rules are rules kind of gal’, but instead we get a character with a lot of depth who knows how she is supposed to act and complies but internally is sort of a mess. I’m not shooting her down, I’m just saying there is a lot going on there.

For a story with so many different elements to it… again fairies, alternate realities and mechanical bugs…the story works. There was action, intrigue, rivalry, potential love interests, some serious secrets and of course books!

I could see this being a good book club book because it has a little of everything and could appeal to a wide range of readers. Yes, it does lean more toward the fantasy/sci-fi genre but there are so many other literary reference and genre crossovers, that it would work for a diverse group.

This was a quick, fun read with a lot going for it. As further enticement, the second book is on its way.

That’s all for today!


Chicka Chicka READING!


Hi Guys,

This weekend I was able to put together a new bulletin board display, inspired by picture book classic: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom! 

51hsu2qlyhl-_sx378_bo1204203200_ For those of you who are not familiar with this gem, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is a picture book that uses fun rhymes to go through the alphabet.

“A told B, and B told C, I’ll meet you at the top of the coconut tree.”

All the letters of the alphabet race up the coconut tree, but it’s a tight squeeze… well you can guess the rest.

This was a display I’ve been wanting to do for awhile. The palm tree is the perfect icon for summer and the falling alphabet was just screaming to be spelled out into some library-ish term.

To begin building my display I started with my letters. I chose to spell out “READING” because it was a long enough word to look right but not too long to be squished.20160714_184305

I tried to use colors that complimented the story. My library does have an accucutter for lettering but the font just wasn’t right, so I printed mine out and cut them out myself.

I’ve been trying to think green lately so I’ve been laminating all of the displays, if at all possible. This way I can reuse elements in other displays and build up a cache of backups in case I ever don’t have time to create a whole new display.

Once20160714_184208 I was done with my letters I wor20160714_184231ked on my palm tree. In order to make the assembly easier I left the palms and base of the tree separate. This also allowed me to laminate the pieces.

With my palm tree and my letters
all I had left to do was measure out my background paper and, very gently, take down my current display.

I did run into a little issue when putting up the bulletin board. With the way I set my background I didn’t have quite enough room to fit the whole palm onto the tree at the right angle without some of the branches, branching–ha!–outside of the bulletin area. This actually was a happy accident because the palms looked like they were almost jumping out of the display. And of course last minute I had to add a happy sun.

Overall, this was a super fun and really easy display. This one took minimal effort and did not require a ton of tiny details. To put up this bulletin board I have to use a step ladder and lean over a fish tank, so having minimal “parts” is ideal.

I hope you enjoyed my Chicka Chicka Boom Boom inspired reading display!


The Story of Diva and Flea & Giraffes Can’t Dance

Hi Guys,

Not much new to report this week. Programs are in the works, displays are pretty much set for the summer, storytimes don’t start up again until September. I’m considering adding a new section to my blog: It happened at the library. Just a weekly round up of all the strange going-ons. If you’re a librarian you know what I’m talking about. We’ll see.

I did finish the Ascendance trilogy this week by Jennifer A. Nielsen. As usual, the first book was by far the best but as a whole the trilogy is worth a read. Frankly, I was surprised by how much torture and violence there was in general in the last two books. It was done tastefully and considering the things kids watch on TV and the internet these days, pales in comparison. But still, would be worth a read through first before deciding if it is appropriate for your little ones. Overall, a good story that kept me interested; the feels were there!

This week I figured I’d write two mini reviews.


The Story of Diva and Flea by Mo Willems & Tony DiTerlizzi

The Story of Diva and Flea is an early chapter book for 2nd-4th graders. The chapters are alternatively narrated by our main characters, Diva and Flea. Flea is a flanuer and he is one of the greats. He travels Paris on his own to see what he can see. Diva is a small dog who lives a secluded life in a fenced in courtyard in Paris, which she has never left. But Diva is well cared for and master of her small domain. A chance encounter causes these two unlikely friends to step outside their comfort zones and explore a different kind of life.

What drew my attention to this book were the beautiful illustrations that reminded me a little of the movie Lady and the Tramp. With that in mine, the story didn’t disappoint. I was expecting a rough and tumbled, streets smart cat and a sheltered but kind dog–and that is exactly what I got. I also love reading stand alone books from popular series authors, like Mo Willems, and seeing what else they can do.

This would be a great easy reader for kids who want to transition to longer chapter books. The font is not intimidating; there are still pictures to break up the text; and the chapters are short little snippits that are complete on their own but also pull together for a complete story. Yes, there are some French words in the story but the meanings are usually there in the context. Maybe a vocabulary list at the back would have been good but not necessary.

The Story of Diva and Flea was a short, early chapter book with beautiful illustrations and a relate-able theme of being brave and trying something new.


Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae & Guy Parker-Rees

Giraffes Can’t Dance is a picture book new to my library. The cover caught my eye and I just had to pick it up. This picture book is about Gerald, a clumsy Giraffe who desperately wants to dance but who just can’t find his rhythm. He’d love to join in with the others at the annual Jungle Dance but all the other animals laugh at him and mock him and intimidated, Gerald goes off on his own. Down in the dumps, Gerald is given some words of wisdom from a cricket, who encourages him to be different and proud. Inspired, Gerald hears the music and moves to his own beat…a beat the other animals are wowed by and Gerald becomes the life of the party.

This picture book has a little of everything–Pleasing illustrations, good rhythm and rhyme, a fairly good pace and a lesson parents everywhere want to share: that being different is OK, so embrace what is different about you and make it your own.

The story itself is a little long for a storytime book but not so long that you wouldn’t be able to use it for a jungle theme. Because it rhymes it is a little difficult to shorten the story by skipping pages. There were also one or two pages where the rhymes were a little clunky to fit the story. But I think the kids would laugh at the different dances the animals do and at Gerald’s clumsy attempts at greatness–extra points if you attempt the dances yourself!

Overall, Giraffes Can’t Dance was a fun picture book with a great lesson. Honestly, if it rhymes or can be sung it is usually a go in my book.

That’s all for today!


The False Prince

Welcome to my first Thursday book review! I read quite a lot being a librarian. Anything from picture books to high fiction. My personal reading habits tend to lean toward fantasy or magical realism but really, I will give anything that speaks to me a try.

Odds are there will be small spoilers but I’ll do my best to keep them at a minimum.

Today I will be reviewing The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen.


The kingdom of Carthya is on the brink of civil war as rumors of the assassination of the royal family spread rampant. Nobleman, Connor, plans to reunite his country by placing the second born prince, Jaron, on the throne. The only problem is that Jaron was lost at sea four years ago. Convinced of Jaron’s death, Connor “recruits” four orphans to play the part, including the troublesome Sage. Sage and the other boys are pinned against each other, each with their own agenda for wanting the throne. Can Sage navigate this tangled web of lies? And what will happen to him if he can’t?

The False Prince is the first book in the Ascendance Trilogy. For a first book in a trilogy, I thought Nielsen did a great job. The story had a great flow; witty dialogue and dynamic characters propelled the it forward.  The book is action packed and there are twists and turns around every corner.

One of the things I loved about this book were the transformations of the characters. Even supporting characters made leaps and bounds throughout the story. You’d have a gruff thug one second and a loyal sidekick the next. Arrogant brats became trembling puppy dogs, almost without you even realizing it’s happening and yet it does and it just fits.

Mini spoiler but not really… I really do have to commend Nielsen on her handling of Sage. You knew, knew, Sage was really the prince almost the whole story. It might have been meant as a surprise but the reader suspects almost from the start. Even so, Nielsen did such a spectacular job with this reveal, revealing the layers upon layers she embedded into the story. Just really well done.

The target audience for this book would be a mature 6th through 8th grade. There was quite a bit of violence in the story but done in a very tactful way. The violence was more of a dramatic buildup than scary or gory.

I am always hesitant to continue trilogies if I am satisfied with the story as a whole. I’m often afraid the story will be overdone or dragged out. But Nielsen left me with enough questions to want to continue, which is always a great motivator. We weren’t left with these gaping cliffhangers, which can drive readers–especially young ones–crazy. We were left with gaps in the story; little alluded to nuggets of missing information, propelling the story onward.

Ultimately, I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads.