Category Archives: summer reading

SYNC Audiobooks: Summer 2017 season begins!

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Attention, audiobook fans! SYNC Audiobooks for Teens is back for another season. SYNC is a FREE summer reading program sponsored by AudioFile Magazine that pairs high-interest fiction and nonfiction audiobook titles based on weekly themes. Each week, participants can download two full audiobooks via the OverDrive App. Just download the app and sign up for notifications for when each weekly download is available (each Thursday morning at 7 am). It’s completely free, and the best part is, these titles are yours to keep! Check out the titles and sign up for updates here:  

Week 1 Titles:

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

Week 2 Titles:

Feed by M.T. Anderson

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

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Free Audiobooks of the Week

SYNCHEAD-150x150Don’t forget to check out the Sync audiobooks this week!

The contemporary book is completely new to me. I’m not familiar with the book or the author. It’s A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty. I’m just going with the description from Sync: “The first in a rousing, funny, genre-busting trilogy from bestseller Jaclyn Moriarty! This is a tale of missing persons. Madeleine and her mother have run away from their former life, under mysterious circumstances, and settled in a rainy corner of Cambridge (in our world). Elliot, on the other hand, is in search of his father, who disappeared on the night his uncle was found dead. The talk in the town of Bonfire (in the Kingdom of Cello) is that Elliot’s dad may have killed his brother and run away with the Physics teacher. But Elliot refuses to believe it. And he is determined to find both his dad and the truth. As Madeleine and Elliot move closer to unraveling their mysteries, they begin to exchange messages across worlds — through an accidental gap that hasn’t appeared in centuries. But even greater mysteries are unfolding on both sides of the gap: dangerous weather phenomena called “color storms;” a strange fascination with Isaac Newton; the myth of the “Butterfly Child,” whose appearance could end the droughts of Cello; and some unexpected kisses…  ”

Sounds interesting.

The classic book is Bram Stoker’s Dracula, if not the original vampire tale, perhaps the most well known. If you haven’t read it already, I highly recommend it. It kind of puts all other vampire stories in perspective, especially if they are going to play with the mythology. If you watch the TV series The Strain, this can be a particularly good companion to it because Guillermo del Toro really uses Stoker’s mythology as the basis for creating his own, new mythology for vampires. In fact, I first read Dracula right before I read The Strain so that I could have some good vampire context.

(Oh, and hey, if you’re playing Bingo, Dracula would be a great choice for a book that’s over 100 years old!)

Summer Reading Challenge ’15

It’s June (although it feels like late March)! That means we’re almost done for this year. Which means it’s time for the Summer Reading Challenge! *cue a Kermit the Frog like excited yell complete with flapping arms*

kermit(Oh, look, I found one)

This year we’re going back to an old standard…Summer Reading Bingo! You can download the sheet (Summer Reading Bingo 2015) or pick one up from in front of Mrs. Neft’s desk. There’s a free space for your summer reading book…because we all have to read that. Then start drawing lines or making designs with your reading.

Anyone who completes a row will be eligible for junk when we return in September. If you complete more than a row, you will be eligible for fabulous junque. Complete the whole board and maybe the zombie kittens will make a return to campus.

zombie kittens

Not sure where to find a book you can read in one day? Or what books were published the year you were born? Keep an eye on this here blog and I’ll be posting reading lists that should cover each of the categories. Got a title you want to suggest for one of the categories? Let me know!

Oh, and audiobooks totally count!

As always, participation in the summer reading challenge is just for fun and no one is required to read anything more than your summer reading book.

Anything you read starting TODAY (6/2) counts!

My Summer Reading So Far

collage- first have summer covers

Hey folks!

Hope you’re all having a great summer. I’ve definitely been having a good time. I’ve got a flourishing garden (something I’ve never managed before), a semi-organized house (just doing one room per week), and a lot of books added to my “finished” list.

So, I started the summer finishing up some books for my work with the Teens’ Top Ten Committee. Teens’ Top Ten is a top ten booklist put out by YALSA. About 20-30 books are selected by teen book groups around the country. That list is then made public and teens vote for their favorites between August and October. As an adult committee member, I don’t have a say in picking the books at any point, but I did get to make book trailers for 5 of them. Rather than sum up the books, I’ll just give you the trailers.

5th Wave by Rick Yancey (Dewey Class 000’s: 001 deals with UFOs and this book deals with an alien invasion)

The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett (Dewey Class 100s: 135 deals with dreams and the main character in this book is a Nightmare – literally)

Openly Straight by Bill Konigsberg (Dewey Class 300s: 302 and 305 deal with social groups and social interactions and this book looks at how labels affect our ability – both positively and negatively – to get to know someone)

(The other two books I read before summer, so I’m not including them here. If you go to the YALSA youtube channel and can pick out my other two trailers, you can claim a prize in September.)

Other books I’ve read:

Chasing the 400 by Sheilah Vance Mrs. Fitzpatrick recommended this book to me. It’s an adult book about the African-American community in Ardmore in the 1950s. Really interesting. (Dewey Class 900s: 974 would include PA history.)

Random by Tom Leveen I got this as an advanced copy and will definitely add it to the collection in the fall. A girl is about to go on trial for a cyberbullying incident when she gets a mysterious call, supposedly at random. The story takes place over just a few hours. Really interesting. This author also wrote the zombie book Sick. (Dewey Class 300s again: 302 for social interaction,  cyberbullying.)

Laughing at My Nightmare by Shane Burcaw This is another advanced copy. It’s a memoir by a young man from Bethlehem who has spinalmuscular atrophy, a severely debilitating physical condition. He gained notoriety for his tumblr Laughing at My Nightmare. It was okay, but I wasn’t wowed by it. (Dewey Class 600s: 616 deals with diseases and since most of Shane’s story revolves around his condition, seems a good place to drop it.)

Welfy Q. Deederhoth: Meat Purveyor, World Savior by Eric Laster This was kind of like Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by with aliens and deli meats. Welfy, a homeless teen, gets a job in a NY deli. One night, he literally stumbles through a portal to another planet, where he is the Chosen One that the citizens believe will save him. There are cool weapons and lots of deli meats. Loved this book! (Dewey Class 900: 999 is the history of extraterrestrial worlds.)

And last night I was up waaaay past my bedtime finishing an advance copy of Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King By now you should all know that I’m a huge fangirl when it comes to A.S. King. In this book, a young woman acquires the ability to see a person’s past and future when she looks at them. Through these “transmissions” she can see and starts to write the (future) history of the Second Civil War. Needless to say, I loved this. I always love A.S. King’s books. (Dewey Class 200: I’m stretching here, but the 210s have to do with Natural Theology, the existence of God and Humankind, and there’s a throughline in the story about a bat and God and having omnipotent knowledge like God. Plus, I need a 200 book.)

I’ve listened to two books. Nostradamus Ate My Hamster by Robert Rankin which was a crazy story involving time travel, Hitler, holographic movie stars, and a prop house. I’ll throw this in the 700s, since film falls in 777. And Forgive Me Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick which I got through the Sync program. I really, really did not like this book. Like Random, it takes place over a short period of time and is told by a young man who is planning to kill one of his classmates and then himself. The problem was, I really didn’t like Leonard, he was kind of a jerk. This can go in the 100s, since there’s a definite psychology bent to this book and psychology falls in the 150s.

I’m in the middle of an advance copy of Conversion, which weaves the story of Salem, MA with a current case of possible mass hysteria. So far it’s really, really good. And I’m listening to the Mysterious Howling, which was a Sync download last year.



BINGO Update

Well, we’re two weeks into summer and I’ve got two blocks on my Summer Reading BINGO filled in already.


I took care of Historical Fiction with a great new (to our library) graphic novel called Marathon. It’s about Eucles, the Greek messenger who ran from Athens to Sparta to Marathon, trying to get Spartan support in the fight against the Persians. And then after the battle, he ran the famed 26 miles from Marathon to Athens to tell of the victory over the Persians (and prevent further Persian attacks on the city). I sometimes had trouble telling the characters apart (they were all angry looking guys with beards and helmets), but overall, it was a great story. I knew about the last leg of Eucles’s journey, but didn’t know about the 153 miles he ran prior to that. I’m so glad they don’t include those miles in the modern day marathons…26.2 is more than enough for me.


For my “book about animals” I read The One and Only Ivan. What a GREAT book! It’s about a gorilla who lives in a mall circus. His “family” includes Stella, the elephant in the circus, Julia, the artistic daughter of the “groundskeeper,” and Bob, a homeless-by-choice dog. Life is okay and Ivan enjoys his art until the day Ruby, a baby elephant, joins their family. Ivan starts to see things differently when he looks at Ruby. And he finds a way to use his art to create a better life for all of them. This book won the Newbery Award this year and rightfully so!

So, two spaces down. They’re not even in the same row. I’m not very good at BINGO. How’s your reading going?

An “Airplane” Moment

So, I don’t know how many of you have seen the movie Airplane, but one of the running jokes throughout the movie is that characters say things like, “I picked the wrong week to quit smoking,” or “I picked the wrong week to quit drinking.” So, my Airplane moment is that I kept thinking, “I picked the wrong week to listen to a book about bizarre weather and the end of the world.” I just finished Life as We Knew It. It’s all about what happens when an asteroid knocks the moon too close to the earth. One of the things that happens is that the weather goes crazy, volcanoes erupt all over the world, winter starts in September, freak snow storms, etc. Not the book to be reading (or listening to) during the week when the Philadelphia area experiences both an earthquake and a hurricane. With all of the folks on TV hyping how bad the hurricane was going to be, I had to keep reminding myself that it wasn’t going to be as bad as it was for Miranda and her family in the book. That said, it’s a great book, and I’ll definitely be recommending it to some of you when you come asking for something to read. I can’t wait to start the second book, The Dead and the Gone.

Still here…still reading

So, I’ve been a little negligent keeping up with this. Things got nuts with the end of camp and then I went on vacation. In fact, I’ve been back in the US less than 24 hours at this point. But I have been reading. And buying!

Mr. Popper's Penguins

So, what I’ve read since I last posted. I downloaded Mr. Popper’s Penguins because I remember it being very popular when I worked at Notre Dame and I hadn’t ever read it. It won a Newbery Award in 1939. I have no intention of seeing the Jim Carrey movie, but the movie reminded me that I’ve been wanting to read this. It was a fun book about what happens when someone unexpectedly gets a pet penguin…and then gets another.

State of Wonder

Also when I worked at Notre Dame one of the students there had recommended I read a book called Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. I loved it and she became one of my favorite authors. So, when I saw she had a new book coming out, State of Wonder, I put myself on the waiting list for it at the library. I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, I was up late the night before I had a big race, because I just HAD to finish it.

Stories I Only Tell My Friends

At the same time, I’ve been listening to some fun stuff. I listened to Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe. I had read an excerpt from this a few months ago in Vanity Fair. It interested me becauses The Outsiders was one of my favorite books and movies when I was in grade school. The book was interesting, but a little long-winded.

If You Were Here

When I finished that, I went back to listening to a novel called If You Were Here by Jen Lancaster. She normally writes non-fiction: short essays about her life. I like reading her stuff because she’s about my age, so a lot of the things she references I get. Especially, she is a big John Hughes fan. And this book is about a young writer (who writes YA novels about Amish teenage zombies) who, with her husband, buys the house where Jake Ryan, from Sixteen Candles, lived. If you’ve ever seen the old movie The Money Pit, it’s a lot like that.

Life as We Knew It

I didn’t listen to anything last week while I was away. But this morning, I had to go grocery shopping, so I downloaded Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. It’s the first book in a trilogy about what happens when an asteroid knocks the moon closer to earth. So far I really like it. We have it in the library and I’ll definitely be pushing it on some of you in the fall.

Nerd Do Well

While I may not have been listening to books while I was away, I was reading a few. Back in November, I bought a NookColor. So, rather than carrying a bunch of books with me, I loaded a bunch on there to keep me occupied. The first book I read was Nerd Do Well by Simon Pegg. I love Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz and I watch Run, Fat Boy, Run before every marathon or half marathon I run. I haven’t seen Paul yet, but I’d like to. The book was really interesting. He talks a lot about how he got into acting and writing and how a lot of it come down to his great love of movies like Star Wars (in fact, there’s some really interesting analysis of Star Wars and why the three prequels are so bad).

Bill Moyers Journal

I had also downloaded Bill Moyers Journal. This is a collection of interviews Bill Moyers did with various famous people. The nice thing about the book is that each interview stands on its own, so I could skip around. In particular, I wanted to read his interviews with Jon Stewart and Michael Pollan. Very interesting stuff.

The True Story of Hansel and Gretel

We had an eight hour flight home, which is about how long it took me to read The True Story of Hansel and Gretel. This may be my favorite book that I’ve read all summer. It sets Hansel and Gretel in Poland during World War II, when the Nazis were occupying the country. The author came up with a great way to incorporate all of the things that are so much a part of that fairy tale: the trail of crumbs, “eating” the witch’s house and throwing the children in an oven.

Beauty Queens

As you may have seen, Borders is going out of business, so I’ve been taking advantage of their discounts and getting some new stuff for the library. I picked up a novel called Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. She’s a really interesting author (see this YouTube video she did for another book of hers, Going Bovine…also available at Hill Top). This book is about a bunch of teenage beauty queens who crash on a deserted island. Think Lord of the Flies or Lost with teen beauty queens. So far, it’s really funny. Don’t be put off by the “beauty queen” aspect, this isn’t “chick lit.”

I think that’s it for now. There’s still two and a half more weeks to go and I have some really fun stuff lined up.

(While writing this, I’ve been watching Jon Stewart episodes on DVR and found a new book to add to my list: The Long Run by Matt Long…he’s a firefighter who was literally hit by a bus while riding his bike to work and has come back to be an elite athlete. Can’t wait to read this one!!)