Marilyn’s Monster by Michelle Knudsen

Sooooo normally children’s books get to me, but this one really got to me. For some reason this little girl’s story of not being able to find her monster hit home. Maybe it’s because I’m starting to date people again. Maybe it’s because another one of my college acquaintances got engaged over the weekend. Who can say?

Plot

The world Marilyn lives in is quite similar to our’s, with one difference: there are monsters. Not the hide-under-the-bed, jump-out-and-scare-you monsters, but the companion kind. Not unlike a significant other, Marilyn waits patiently for her monster to come and accompany her throughout life’s little journeys. “Your monster has to find you. That’s just the way it works” says basically everyone to Marilyn (including her brother). Eventually she says “eff you” to that idea and searches for her monster herself (que “RESPECT” at full volume). Maybe her monster just got lost.

Verdict

Again, did this hit close to home? Yes. But I will say that Knudsen is amazing and she really got me on Marilyn’s side.

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I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demitrios

Before I read this book, I hadn’t thought about the huge hole in YA lit. That hole is books about young adult soldiers. One of my best friends is married to a veteran, and yet it still never occurred to me that there was this missing piece. People enlist at an insanely young age and do brave courageous things for their country and they deserve to have a part in YA lit. To have their stories told. I can’t say it more eloquently than the author, so here’s a link to Heather Demetrios‘s blog post/letter to the reader she posted in August. This book is her favorite one, and it’s quickly becoming mine too.

 I often refer to the book you’re holding in your hands as the book of my heart. It is intensely personal and was inspired by seeing my father’s struggle with PTSD and Gulf War Syndrome, as well as some of the challenges I had in my own adolescence.

So without further ado, here are some of my thoughts.

Release Date:

February 3, 2015

Plot:

Skylar Evans has lived in Creek View, California for her whole life. She’s had her hard times (her father’s untimely death and her mother’s various subsequent addictions) and now she’s looking forward to the good. She’s a scholarship student and she’s getting the hell out of Creek View. Her last Summer isn’t going to be pretty: this novel isn’t pretty. Its realistic. Sky is dealing with poverty on an extreme level every day. So nobody is more surprised or unwilling than her when, at 19-year-old Josh Mitchell’s homecoming party, she finds herself wanting to see him again.

He’s always been the life of the party, but now that he’s back from Afghanistan and traveling to San Francisco for various therapies, he seems different. Sky and Josh’s love story is as real as it gets when it comes to falling for a vet: he’s got PTSD and suffers from all of the terrible side affects of losing a limb.

But this book, guys. Man. I don’t even have a readalike for it. It’s not like anything else I’ve ever read.  I started reading it yesterday and after work I spent hours just reading. This is a stay-up-until-1am-with-your-kindle-under-the-covers read. At least it was for me.

Verdict:

Gecha ass in gear and read this book so I can discuss it with someone. Please.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

I highly contest this tagline,

Graceling meets The Selection

not unlike many of the other readers out there that I’m seeing. I can honestly say that ____ meets ____ meets ___ is just as much of a cop-out as “the next Harry Potter” and might be nearly as problematic.

That being said. Mare’s narrow world has her pegged as the underdog, and there’s nothing she can do about it. When she bleeds, she bleeds red, unlike the upper-class Silver elite who bleed silver blood. Side note: This leads to interesting problems later because when she blushes, she blushes a rosy pink color unlike her silver counterparts. A well-developed part of the plot that made it seem more believable. That’s not the only thing that keeps the reds down. Nope. The Silvers have special abilities like telepathy, the ability to control the will of others, or the ability to control elements and objects around them.

So when Mare is offered a job at the Silver palace in order to get out of being conscripted as a front-lines solider in a war she has no interest in, she jumps at the opportunity. Who wouldn’t when you don’t want to die for a lost cause? She soon finds out, however, that she has an ability too: she can make electricity, including controlling the many security cameras in the castle.

With her new found ability comes new responsibility.

Soon Mare finds herself deep in the life of the Silver royals, whether she wants to or not.

All she knows is she better not bleed.

Cemetery Boys by Heather Brewer

Cover

This book was seriously bad-freakin’-ass. I got it as an advanced copy, so this one will be released at the end of the month.

Release Date:

March 30, 2015

Plot:

Stephen and his dad just moved back to Spencer, Michigan. They’re moving in with his grandma, and she’s reveling in the fact that Stephen’s mom isn’t with them because she was institutionalized. Soon after, Stephen meets Cara (hot goth chick) and her twin brother, Devon, who also have a crazy mother. What a coincidence! But when Devon invites Stephen to a Revel at the Playground (the local cemetery) he starts to realize something sinister might be afoot.

Verdict:

Wow. I can honestly say that this book reminded me of The Raven Boys meets a small-town urban myth. Very interesting. If you’re into dark cult material, this is your book!

Kids Websites

Hello All. Welcome back for an exciting new edition of “Of All The Gin Joints.” I’m your host, Margaux.

Sorry It’s been forever. Life Updates:

  1. I have a master’s degree now. I’m now a Master of Library Science, or an official Library Scientist. If you want to get specific, I’m a librarian.
  2. I have a job.
  3. I moved to a new “city” aka a suburb that pretends it’s a city
  4. That is all.

So I need a place to put a couple of kids’ websites and where better than on there, where I can put all the internet junk? I see no flaws in this logic. Feel free to unfollow the blog now.

The Websites

4Kids.org

Fun STEAM games for kids looking to build their academic skill while still having fun. Open access, no signup necessary to participate.

 ABCmouse.com

Similar to the AWE computers and Free at our library! These games are educational with games for

Studio.code.org

I honestly can’t remember the last time I got so caught up in a puzzle game. You know me, I’m more of a reader than anything else, with TV coming in a close second. So when I started noodling around with this block coding website, I was shocked at how into it I got. They use Plants V. Zombies, Angry Birds, and Flappy Bird to illustrate how to get from point A to point B in your coding tutorial. The goal here is to start the “Hour of Code” program, but I was honestly just hooked on the puzzle aspect of it. And it told me how many lines of code I was making. Simply drag and click your way to learning java. A fun way to see what you code impacts what you see.

App Inventor

It might come as a surprise, but I did actually have a kid come in to the library the other day who wanted to make an app. I ended up having to leave Youth Services for the Adult collection and even then, the only book I could give him was Android Apps for Dummies. And everyone knows how degrading that is, even for a 12-year-old.

So I find myself checking out AppInventor. It allows kids to noodle around with code that’s specific to the android market. Step-by-step instructions and an appealing interface made this an ALA Website for Kids.

Duolingo

Seriously. This is some really cool stuff here, friends. If you’ve ever played around on Mango languages, you know that there are less intense, more fun ways to learn languages than repeating after the instructor, etc… Enter Duolingo, the language site that allows you to set a goal, take a placement test, and have fun learning a new language. This includes French, Spanish, German, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Danish, Irish and many more. I’m totally doing this.

Is there an awesome site at your library that tricks kids into learning?

Conviction by Kelly Loy Gilbert

I received this advanced copy during ALA’s Midwinter conference in sunny Chicago, IL! (Note: It was not sunny. This was the weekend of the blizzard).

Conviction cover

Ok so I’m not gonna lie, I was skeptical about this book. Most of the Disney/Hyperion books I read and love are fantasy and Conviction has it’s feet firmly planted in the crime genre of realistic fiction.

How I love to be pleasantly surprised. I was so impressed with this book. The duality of the title comes in when Braden’s TV pastor dad is arrested for homicide. You see, there’s a cop that had it out for Braden’s dad for months. And now he’s dead. Vehicular manslaughter at the hands of Braden’s dad. While Braden is in the car.

Enter: Trey (the older brother/chef from New York that moved out of his dad’s house without notice soon after high school graduation). Now Trey’s broody self refuses to talk to or support Braden in any way besides being an adult body in the house, thus preventing CPS from taking Braden away. On top of baseball, Braden has to deal with his father’s upcoming trial where his testimony will be key in the defense. All the while, Braden is struggling with his own faith (his “conviction,” if you will. Get it? Get it?!)

This was a heartbreaking read. By the end, the pace was kind of breakneck. I read the last 100 pages or so in 45 minutes, biting my nails the whole time. Can’t say enough good things.