Thursday, 23 February 2017

Summer Reading Programmes - Are you running them?

What a fantastic way of promoting Reading Engagement to your school community!

Getting books into homes.  
Getting students and family / whanau to read to each other.  
To read for pleasure.  
To read for learning.
To build relationships with your students and the school or local libraries.

A Summer Reading Programme can be as simple or as involved as you want to make it.

I had the pleasure of standing up in our school assembly today and talking about our 2016/2017 SRP.   We had 140 students participate this year and over 2,000 books issued.   That was so awesome!  Down from last year with 169 students participating, but still so awesome.  With our school roll already at 450 that is 1/3 of our students participating!!!   Everyone got a participation certificate.  And I got to hand out prizes!!!
There were three rules : 
  • It's got to be something you want to read (Hey, it's not homework!!!)
  • It's got to be something you can read, or have read to you.  
  • It's got to be something your parents let you read.  

Other than the fact the students were allowed to take 'around about 12' books home - give or take a few depending on how many they wanted  ;) ... the biggest excitement for many of them was being able to issue all the ultra-popular LEGO / Minecraft / Star Wars books that I keep as Reference so that all the kids in the school get to read them whenever they come into the library.   Excitement city!!!!  

Being a Primary School we really did need to put in the 'something your parents let you read' rule.  Most kids are really good at knowing if their family has a religious, cultural or other reason for not allowing certain reading material in the home.  When I tell students about it I make it sound funny ... like "if you're not allowed to read books about fluffy little bunny rabbits, then don't choose fluffy bunny rabbit books".  The parents get a laugh out of it, and the kids are quite eager to say if they are allowed or not allowed to read things.

We also run a photo competition.  Only three kids decided to enter this year.  Way down from last time (maybe because they had to make a scene from one of their favourite stories rather than just take a goofy photo of themselves reading somewhere wild & wacky).  And all three got a gift!  (That's even better than taking a vote on the most popular like we had to do last time).

Some of the other things I include for each student are: 
  • Black & White activities (colour copying isn't always necessary)
  • Bookmarks (always heaps of these lying around)
  • Gifts (if any have been donated).  This year it was pot-luck as to who got them.
  • Info about our eBook lending (as well as individual students log-in details in-case they, or their parents, have forgotten)
  • An info brochure explaining why summer reading is so valuable, as well as dates and contact info for returning the books.

Our PTA funded cloth bags two years ago.  These were so the kids (or is that parents!) could keep the books in an easy-to-find location, and made it a lot easier for carrying them around.  Much better than the plastic bags I found for our trial run.  More books.  Stronger bags.  And re-usable (most have been returned each year).  I've heard of some schools getting them printed which is pretty cool.  Ours are still plain though.

Last summer, 2015/2016, we decided to open for one day during the holidays so that students could swap-out their books if they wanted to.  We only had a very small handful of families come in so the management team decided this summer, 2016/2017, we would not offer the open day.  That was fine too.  If you read The Adventures of Library Girl 
post from 2012 she had the great idea of opening for a day each week.  

I've got to thank the Otago SLANZA 2014 Summer School for getting me to consider a SRP.  They had a really informative panel discussion titled 'Otago librarians do summer reading'.  This gave me some ideas to take back and I put a proposal to our school management team to 'trial' it with a couple of classes.  They agreed and 3 years later we are going strong with parents and teachers asking if we are doing it again.  It's amazing how word-of-mouth is such a strong promotion tool among the school families!

There was a great write-up in the SLANZA Collected #14 magazine after their Summer School from a Secondary School perspective.  Which just shows you that Secondary School students enjoy and benefit from SRP's as well.

SRP's are not just for school kids either.  They are for anyone!!!  I remember a few years ago the National Library prompted teachers and staff to opt-in for a 'surprise' selection of books to read.  That was fantastic because I got to try things I wouldn't have normally chosen.  

And just because you take a pile of books home to read - regardless of whether you are a student or staff - it doesn't mean you actually have to read them all.  I think it's quite often more about having the books 'on hand' so that if you feel tempted then they are RIGHT THERE!

So if you aren't doing a Summer Reading Programme yet in your school, why don't you give it a try?  It can be a simple or as involved as you want to make it.  The students and families / whanau will really appreciate what you are doing for them.  And it is another form of promoting Reading Engagement to our communities.

For more information about SRPs the National Library of New Zealand has some really great information available.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Book Babble - September / October 2016

Hello and welcome to my September & October 'Book Babble' :-)

It got to early October and I realised I hadn't posted my September blog, and actually I hadn't even written the 'Babble' part of the blog.  Woops!  So rather than rush to post a simplified September Book Babble I've combined the two months.

O.M.Freaking.God!!! Do you know how close Christmas is????  Do ya?????  Aaarrgghhh!!!  

I was asked by our principal if the student librarians would like to decorate a wooden Christmas tree.  Started in 2014 as a Community Art project it has 'taken off'.  Last year I remember walking down the street and admiring the creativity of the school students in decorating the trees ... yeah OK so some weren't to my standards, but you've got to admire the kids for trying.

So I was really excited when I was asked ... and of course said yes without asking the kids - 'cause ya know ... holidays already!!!  And the first thing that popped into my head for decorating .... I'll give you a clue .... I work in a library!!!!!  You guessed it .... recycled book Christmas decorations!!! How awesome would that be?  So I spent some time during the Term 3 break and created some templates to show the student librarians.  It is soooo hard cutting up books :-(  But they are going to a better life, and the ones I had at home were old ones other people had thrown out.

And the student librarians when they were told were (mostly) really excited as well.  I've been spending morning tea times with whoever chooses to come in showing them how to do all sorts of Christmasy type crafts that we can put on the tree ... when it blimmin arrives!!!  We are now into week 4 and it still hasn't arrived.  We are going to make heaps of extra decorations because they thought it would be cool to decorate our library with them ... yay for eager student librarians!!!

I will hopefully have images of the finished tree to share with you all in my next blog post (fingers crossed).

Term 4 is also a time when many of us perform our stock takes.  Gah!!!!  Last year I didn't close our library.  Rather I did a running stock take scanning sections of the library when the visiting classes weren't using it.  This worked really well and I am planning on doing the same this year ... well I was!!!  It's now week 4 and I've yet to actually start!!!!  Aaarrrggghhhh!!!!  And I have a Scholastic book fair running over week 7 & 8 which has to be in our library as there is no other space in the school.  Actually the library is the best place to host a book fair as it is another way of promoting our gorgeous library to our school community.  Unfortunately for my stock take it means I can't get to our shelves as the pop-up bookshop shelves are in the way.  Oh well, I'll figure something out. 

And of course part of performing our stock takes, or at least making it easier to scan our resources, is the dratted WEEDING experience.  As a lover of all things books I find it quite hard to dispose of any book, however to keep our collections fresh and easily accessible by our users I just have to 'put my big girl panties on' and do it!  There is lots of information out there to help you determine just what you should weed, and how often, but at the end of the day you need to do what is right for your school library.  Some libraries don't keep anything older than 10 years, and in some ways this makes sense.  After all, if we only keep purchasing resources and only ever disposing of those that are badly damaged our collections will become overly large, unmanageable and uninspiring.  

We want to provide an environment that tempts our young visitors to try something new or delve into an adventure of the written kind.  If our shelves are overcrowded and our resources are old and manky looking how can we create displays to showcase the awesomeness that books are?  How can we help promote a love for reading in our students and a willingness to be adventurous if we don't keep our collections fresh and funky?  Weeding is a necessary evil and you just have to determine what is important for you library and what is best for your users.  

One of the hardest decisions I find is the weeding of underused resources ... especially those that I have actually purchased ... well not me personally, but those I chose with the idea that our students would enjoy them and want to read them.   Books that are falling apart, or are out of date are certainly easier to weed :-/ but they are only a small percentage of what needs to be weeded.  The ones that really get to me are the nearly new books that look like they've been through a war-zone. You know the ones - only been issued one or two times and they've had gross food spilt in it, or the younger sibling has ripped it / drawn in it, or the new pet has used it as a chew toy, or O.M.God ... wet swimming togs.  Don't get me started on wet togs!!!!! Just because the books don't have feelings doesn't mean that we don't feel for them and the short lives they lived spreading only a small percentage of the joy and excitement they could have given :-(

Of course one of the other problems we often have with the weeding process is actually disposing of our weeded items.  Teaching staff, parents and students have the best intentions when they see piles of books being 'chucked out' and they try and save them.  Having to justify this part of our job can be quite tiresome and problematic and often causes us to be secretive with the process.  Having the caretaker on your side certainly helps :-P  And having a clear policy on what, when, why, how etc will definitely make it easier for you to make those weeding decisions and cause less angst when you find you self having to justify what you are doing ... which I'm sorry to say will happen :-/

Just to annoy you all and give you something to get stuck in your heads at the end of my BookBabble here is a little ditty I came up with to get me through the weeding process ... :-

How many books would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck books?
A woodchuck would chuck a 'whole' (or insert appropriate rhyming word :-o) lot of books if a woodchuck could chuck books!

#SozNotSoz ;-P

And in other news last and this month ... 
  • Hawkes Bay Book Talk didn't have a book discussion gathering in term 3.  Rather we attended the 'Battle of the BookClubs' event that was organised by Wardini Books on September 15th in Havelock North.  This fantastic event was to raise money for CanTeen, a really truly worthwhile cause.  Having never attended before and being a group of C&YA librarians we were expecting to do terribly ... hence our team name ... 'Destroyers of the Universe'.  We had such a blast, and unbelievably were leading most of the way through the evening!!!  We 'may' have also been the noisiest group there!!!  We ended up coming 3rd by 5 points which was blimmin awesome (also 6 of us to the other two teams 10).  Our downfall ... the 'Inappropriate Actresses' round - where two absolutely amazing ladies acted out scenes from different books ... in a way that was totally off-putting and hilarious.  Note for next time ... listen for the clues!!!   Well done to Gareth & Lou for your fantastic organisation and a truly memorable evening, with over $3,000 raised for CanTeen.

So here is WIBR during September and October ......

NOTE: ** Denotes sexual content (school librarians use your discretion)


Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion / Alex T. Smith [Paperback]
5 stars
Picture Book 0-6,  Alternative Fairy Tales
This is a great twist on the 'Little Red Riding Hood' tale.

Set in the jungle, Little Red goes to visit her sick Auntie, and along the way encounters a cunning Lion.  And of course manages to outwit him!

A great story to share on its own, but it would also be a great one to read after the traditional 'Little Red Riding Hood' and then get students to write their own twist on the tale.

FYI ... I LOVE Alternative Fairy Tales ... if you hadn't already guessed :-P

Picture This / Alison Jay [Paperback]
5 stars
Picture Book 0-6
This is an absolutely amazing picture book. 

I have a few of Alison Jay's other books and all her illustrations are done in a way that makes them look like old dried paintings.  Simply stunning!!!

The concept of this book is so simple ... one word and an image to teach children what it means (dog, hill, ball etc).

But this is not simply a book for young children to learn to read with.  Oh no!!!  It is soooo much more.  Each illustration leads onto the next and has so much more depth to it than simply depicting the word.  You need to look closer and you will find some of your favourite nursery rhymes (the clock page has a mouse sitting on top of it, and the clock-face is pointing to 1pm).  And the characters or images that are in some of the other illustrations are not just exact replicas ... they are constantly changing.

This is a book to share with your young children to teach them to read or understand what words mean, but it is also one that older children and adults can get lost in as well.  Absolutely totally and utterly fantastic!!! 

Splat the Cat and the Late Library Book / Rob Scotton [Paperback]
4 stars
Picture Book 0-6
I love the Splat the Cat books.  He is such a little monkey!!!  And this one is even better because it involves library books.

Poor Splat.  His room is such a mess, and like any kid has outgrown so many of the things in there.  So his parents come up with a fantastic idea ... have a clean-up and donate the things he no longer uses.  Except ... dun dun dun ... Splat finds a library book in his messy room, and of course the books are all getting donated ... to the library!!!!  Oh no!!! What is poor Splat going to do????

This was a really cool book to read to the classes as they came into the library, because aside from being funny, it was a good way to relate their own experiences of late library books to the story.

Yuck! Said the Yak / Alex English [Paperback]
5 stars
Picture Book 0-6.
A gorgeous story about a young boy who tries to get a Yak to try different foods ... very reminiscent of us parents trying to get our kids to eat :-/

Simple text and fabulous illustrations make for a fun read-aloud.  I particularly love the facial expressions on both the Yak and the young boy.

There is enough repetition in the book that young children will be able to follow along really easily.

The Erth Dragons Bk1 The Wearle / Chris D'Lacey [Paperback]
4 stars
Children 7-12. Fantasy. 
It took me a while to 'get into' this book. I just wasn't quite in the mood. But once I really started reading it ... Wow!  What a fantastic read. 

Told from the POV of dragons, with humans being the secondary characters.  The Wearle are a group of dragons who came to earth many years, or in their terminology 'turns' ago, to search for an earlier group who went missing.  Like any group there is dissension in the ranks, and a fear or hatred of the local creatures (in this instance, the homs, or humans). 

This is a great twist on the traditional style of dragon books.  Definitely worth a read. 

The School For SuperVillains / Louie Stowell [Paperback]
5 stars
Children 7-12. SuperHeroes & Villains. Good & Evil.      
What a fun read, and quite quick.  A great read for fans of SuperVillains & SuperHeroes alike. 

There are some strange twists and turns that make you think "oh I wasn't expecting that!!!"' But when you realise that this book was originally written as part of an interactive eBook on the Fiction Express website it all makes sense!

My only complaint (for the publishers) is that the font is too small.  This would be a fantastic read to capture the 'not so keen' and struggling readers if it wasn't for the font size.  Actually it would make a great read-aloud. 

For more info about these fanatic interactive eBooks visit the Fiction Express website.

The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner and other stories / Terry Pratchett [Hardback]
4 stars
Children 7-12. Humorous stories. Short stories. 
A collection of 14 'fantastically funny stories' with all kinds of magic, imagination, mayhem and fun for all kinds of readers. 

I haven't read any Terry Pratchett for years. I used to really enjoy his Discworld novels even though I didn't read them all.  This collection was written when Pratchett was a junior reported. A great nonsensical collection that would make for a good short read aloud session. Large fonts and short stories make this an easy read for year 3 & 4 students. 

The Dragonprince Trilogy Bk1 The Dragonprince's Legacy / Aaron Pogue [eBook]
4 stars
YA. Fantasy. 
Reading this has reminded me of why I Love fantasy!
It is filled with action, adventure, angst, good & evil ... but really what is good or evil???  Oh yeah and it's got wizards and dragons!!!!

I particularly liked the character development of Daven, our young shepherd turned apprentice wizard. 

I also liked how many of the other characters showed both their strengths and weaknesses - after all we are not all consistently 'good' in the face of adversity. 

A really good fantasy read for Teens and Adults.

Out For You : All Bite, No Growl** / Jenika Snow [eBook]
3 stars
YA. Paranormal. Romance. Coming-of-Age. LGBT
This is actually a quite good romance. There are only two sex scenes - middle & end - and they are not that graphic.  

The story revolves around a group of kids who have just finished high school. Case & Devon, two lion shifters who have been friends forever, also happen to be mates, but living in their community means that same-sex relationships are a major No-No!!  Willow who feels like a real out-sider in the clan has loved these guys for years, having grown up with them, and has yet to find her mate. 

3013 Bk13 Primal / Laurie Roma [eBook]
4 stars
Adult.  Paranormal.  Sci-Fantasy.

I really love this series.  Written by three authors: Laurie Roma, Kali Argent & Susan Hayes it is set way in the future when inter-planetary travel is a common occurrence.  After a vicious war with some bug-like creatures that infected the population of earth leaving many women barren it was decreed that only pairs of 'Elite' warriors were able to mate with the uninfected women.  Yeah right!!!  Like women are going to let that happen.  Well OK, some do ... and really, only humans???? There are so many other amazing beings out there in our Galaxies!!!
These books don't need to be read in order, however there is a lot of interconnections between the stories so if flows better if you do.

Anita Blake Bk25 The Crimson Death** / Laurell K. Hamilton [eBook]
5 Stars
Adult. Paranormal. 
Yay. Yay. Yay. Yay. Yay!!!!  Anita Blake fan - if you hadn't guessed :-P

For those of you who know the Anita Blake series this is more like her earlier works (as in there is not so much sex and no BDSM).  There is not so much fighting action in it either :-(    I love the combination of kick-arse female with her love triangles (yes triangles!!!) and the bad guys who aren't really bad guys.  Just because somebody looks like a monster, doesn't make them one.  

Anita's friend and fellow executioner Edward calls her from Ireland with a vampire problem.  Part of the problem is that there are supposedly no vampires in Ireland.  Meanwhile Damien, part of Anita's own triumvirate of power, has been having daymares and the most horrendous blood-sweats while he should be obliviously asleep with all the other vampires.  What's a monster hunter to do but head over to Ireland and help her friend out!  But of course things are not as they seem ... like, Duh!!!

A really good read.  I'm going to have to do a 'binge fest' over the summer holidays and re-read the series from scratch (something I may have done once or twice since I got hooked ;-P)  

Circe's Recruits series** / Marie Harte [eBook]
3 stars
Adult.  Paranormal. Romance. Erotica.  LGBT.
Rather steaming hot reads, with lots of multiple partner participation :-o 
Some pure escapism of the naughty variety to spice up your reading.  

Circe's Recruits are military men that have been genetically experimented on and now turn into beast-like creatures (with a very high sex drive!!!).  Only a handful of men survived and they are determined to take down the mad scientist that created them. 

There is actually quite a good story-line to these books, and there is a cross-over to the next series 'Dawn Endeavor'.

Yup I read all of them, in both series ... So shoot me ... actually, don't!!!  I'm sure there are a number of you out there who read things in a similar vein but just don't like it to be known. Sometimes it's nice to escape our reality. Actually the hardest thing I've found writing this blog is 'putting out there' what I read. Yes I love talking about books, but I'm a private reader and don't really like all and sundry to know my reading preferences.  I may come across to those who know me as confident and 'out there', but in reality I'm not - it's something I've had to make myself do.  'Book friends' like other friends don't need to know everything about you :-/   Sometimes I've really had to think twice about what I'm putting in this blog, but then I put my 'big girl panties' on and just do it :-P

Bk1 Roane
Bk2 Zack & Ace
Bk3 Derrick
Bk4 Hale
Bk5 Gideon

Dawn Endeavor series** / Marie Harte [eBook]
3 stars
Adult.  Paranormal. Romance. Erotica.  LGBT.
This is a follow up series with a bunch of psychic SEALs that have been through the same genetic experimentation as the 'Circe's Recruits' men.  More bad guys, more romantic entanglements and lots more steaming hot sex!

Bk1 Fallon's Flame
Bk2 Hayashi's Hero
Bk3 Julian's Jeopardy
Bk4 Gunnar's Game
Bk5 Grayson's Gamble 

Dark Side of the Moon** / Catherine Vale [eBook]
3 stars
Adult. Paranormal. Sci-Fantasy
A bit of a different twist on the paranormal genre with Were-Bears from an alien planet.  

Delroi Prophecy series** / Loribelle Hunt [eBook]
3 stars
Adult. Sci-Fantasy. 
This is the second series in Hunt's Delroi romance collection.  Predominantly set on the planet Delroi the first three books follow the rescue of Kareena, Parker & Zola from a Tel prison on Earth and their new mates.  The final book was my favourite and gets 4 stars from me. It is the story of Zola's mother and brings a nice change for those of us that are an older audience (not in our 20's any more :-/).   

I particularly like how each book builds on the last with parts of each crossing over and being recalled from the other characters perspectives. 

Bk1 Freedom
Bk2 Irresistable
Bk3 Redemption
Bk4 Absolution

Empire of Storms Bk1 Hope and Red / Jon Skovron [Paperback]
5 stars
Adult.  Fantasy.
I started this in July, but it has taken me sooooo long to read ... actually until October 4th!!!!  Aaarrgghhh!!!!!!!  It is a really fantastic book, don't get me wrong or be confused with how long it has taken me to read it.  It is really soooooo frustrating.  In a word .... don't go getting old and needing to wear glasses!!!!!!  I find that I really struggle to read a physical book in the evenings.  My eyes just don't focus on the gorgeous written words enclosed in fantastic tactile beautiful book covers.  So, I end up reading more eBooks than are good for me ... nah that's a lie ... no book is bad for me ;-D  It's just that eBooks can have the font changed, the background changed, and I can read them with the lights out.  Hence amazing, fantastic, stunning, awesome physical books take me a while to read :-(  It has absolutely nothing to do with the storyline or content of them.  Roll on Daylight Savings :-)

OK so the book review .... O.M.Freaking.God!!! It is fantastic!!!  I've just got to the end of it (school holidays are #Awesome) and I just want to re-read it in one continuous session to get the most out of it.  Oh and of course start the next one!!!

Hope (Bleak Hope) is a sole survivor from a Biomancer attack on her island.  She is raised (begrudgingly) by a sect of monk-like warriors vowing vengeance on those that murdered her family.

Red, an orphan boy taken in and cared for by the  slum criminal Sadie, grows up learning all the important things to become a brilliant con artist and thief.

Both are trying to take down the corrupt empire in their own way and their paths eventually cross.

Filled with murder, piracy, cunning, adventure, friendship, family, really strong characters and a fantastic storyline this is a really really really awesome fantasy read!

Hexworld Bk1 Hexbreaker** / Jordan L. Hawke / Narrated by Tristan James [Audio Book]
5 stars
Adult. Paranormal. LGBT. 
OK I'm just going to say it...... Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm Mmmmmmmm Tristan James is just a dream to listen to.

I thought I might have been 'weirded out' listening to a male narrate a romance book, even though the main characters are male.  But oh no!!!  If you have never experienced an audio book, and you don't mind your romance books being of the LGBT genre, then you have seriously got to try this audio book.

The story line is fantastic - witches, familiars, good guys, bad guys - and the character development is really well done.  The romance aspect is more romance than sex (yes there are sex scenes of course).

I was absolutely gutted when I finished it and found out that book 2 in the series isn't available on audio book (yet!!!).  But on a positive note ... there are heaps of Jordan L Hawke's books in audio format.

The Rylee Adamson Epilogues Bk1 Riley / Shannon Mayer [eBook]
5 stars
Adult. Paranormal
Such a fantastic read. This is the continuation of Rylee's story AFTER the culmination of the first series. You really do need to have read the rest of the books before this one as it just makes so much more sense, and there are so many references to things that happened previously. 

This book is Rylee's journey in 'finding herself' now that she is no longer the Tracker she was. If I say any more I'm going to ruin it for those who have not read the series yet!!!

The Rylee Adamson Epilogues Bk2 Liam / Shannon Mayer [eBook]
5 Stars
Adult. Paranormal. 
Continuing the Epilogues series.  This time it is Liam's journey and his attempt to help save the triplets.  Woops!!  Spoiler!!

Vanguard Elite Bk1 Bootcamp of Misfit Wolves** / Annie Nicholas [eBook]
4 stars
Adult. Paranormal. 
This is a great take on the shifter / vampire genre. In turns humorous and intense.  A bunch of rag-tag miss-fit wolves have been dropped of to a werewolf Bootcamp run by a bad-ass vampire, and survival and working together is something they have to learn pretty darned quickly.  A good story line, and light on the romance aspect makes this an enjoyable and quick read. 

I got this as a free eBook from

Friday, 2 September 2016

Book Babble - August 2016

Hello and welcome to my August 'Book Babble' :-)

Wow, I have been blogging for seven months!  I am so proud of myself.  I'm not a natural diary style, reflective writer.  After my failed attempt at blogging #365PictureBooks last year I honestly had my doubts that I'd make it anywhere near this far through the year.

OK ... so it is the September 2nd and I'm a couple of days late with my August post.  Sorry about that if you were waiting.  Luckily I keep it updated throughout the month or a couple of days out sick would have ended up in more of a delay!  

I do also have to apologise if you are wanting some fantastic Children's & Teen book suggestions.  Oops!!!  I've gone completely Adult only in August.  It's been my escape from everything else.  #soz not soz

On Work & Volunteer Work.....
It's been a busy month at school and with SLANZA.  The SLANZA PD team has been moderating a really thought provoking 'Content Curation' online course.  These are always so interesting and even as a moderator we are constantly learning something new.  The conversations that arise from each discussion starter are a great place for bring new information to everyone's fingertips who is participating.  Even though it is only a two-week online course, there is always so much work that goes into them 'behind the scenes'.  MT I take my hat off to you for all you have done getting these modules off the ground and all the amazing work you do.  You are a truly inspirational person :-D   

And at school we have just signed up for Wheelers ePlatform1.  Nearly 1,000 eBooks with only a small handful that we already had available in our own collection.  Such a fantastic variety of Picture Books, Fiction & Non-Fiction appropriate for our Primary School students, as well as some great Teen and Adult reads.  Having these eBooks means our older students (particularly the year 6's) have access to reads that we don't provide at school (gotta think what is appropriate for most of our students), AND they will be able to continue reading awesome, amazing, fantastic books over the Summer Holidays before they head off to Intermediate School.  Oh yeah ...  and our staff also have access to these eBooks so lots of great reading opportunities for them too :-D   

I have catalogued them all in our ILS ... boy did that take a while!!!!!  But by doing this I am able to add them to reading lists that direct the students towards books more appropriate for their reading age - Junior (kinda year 1-2 / early readers+), Intermediate (year 3-4'ish), Senior (year 5-7'ish) and Teen/Adult (everything else ;-P ).  The ePlatform does have different age options, however 'Children' covers Picture Books through to Tween/Teen reads.  That's OK if the students are confident finding their own thing and being aware of how they can determine if it is appropriate, but that's not how most of them choose their reading material ... they really do 'judge a book by it's cover'!!!  

So I was seen doing a very happy chair dance today when our access was FINALLY sorted out.   I did restrain myself and gave the IT guy a high-five rather than the 'happy dance hug' I really wanted to do!!!  We had had no eBook issues at all last term, and I thought it was just because my very few eBook enthusiasts had just decided not to read any more of our small collection.  Nooooooo that is not what was wrong.  Our link was broken!!!!  And it had nothing to do with our ILS or Wheelers.  All I'm gonna say is ... N4L!!!!!  Small typo, and none of our students letting me know they couldn't get on!!!   Aaaaarrrrggghhhhh!!!!!  Anyhoo it is all fixed now.  Classes are being booked to re-acquaint them with this fantastic, awesome, brilliant resource, and my really really keen eBook reader will be a happy camper.  She has been asking me for two weeks when she can get back on!!!  

On Movie Adaptations.....
You know how 'The Book Is ALWAYS Better'?  Well I've found a movie that I can finally argue this statement with.  I finally watched The Dressmaker.  I read the book in December last year after hearing how awesome the movie was, and not being able to get to it.  Knowing that the book is always better, I was expecting epic & awesome things!!!  Well after reading the book I refused, REFUSED, to watch the movie.   I only rated it 1 star on my Goodreads list and didn't review it.  I am not a fan of Literature, and to me this book is definitely Lit.  Don't get me wrong, this is a very well written book, however it is soooooooo freaking descriptive to the point of being, IMHO, freaking boring.  Too much blah, blah, blah!  It has taken me over 9 months to build up the courage to watch the movie.   O.M.G!!!!  The movie was so so so good!!!  Yes the dresses were divine.  Yes the setting was so well done.  And the characters were just perfect.  Definitely well worth watching!!!   Just don't read the book!!!!! 

On Audiobooks.....
I was stuck in the back seat on a recent trip to Auckland.  Being a nice mummy I let my oldest sit in the front as his super-duper long legs don't fit in the back of the Ute.  Actually nor do mine.  I've threatened my husband that if we take his vehicle again HE is sitting in the back and I am driving!!!!!  Bloody uncomfortable.   Anyway back to the book ..... I was rather bored as both teenagers were listening to their own music, and it's very hard to have a conversation with the driver from the back seat, and I just can't read in a moving vehicle.  So jokingly I emailed some friends and said I should have downloaded an audio book and played it through the car speakers.   Have you been taking note of the kind of books I've been reading lately??????  That would have been so hilarious!!!!

Anyhoo before the return trip I DID find some Audio books on iBooks and downloaded a book of Mina Carters to listen to.  I had to actually do a search by author or collection (paranormal romance) rather than typing in 'Audio Books'.  Only a small selection comes up if you search for audio books.               OMG! I am such a ditz!!!  There is a whole tab for audiobooks.  Amazing how you can't see what is, quite literally, under your nose!!!  So a hint ... if you are an iBooks user ... at the top of the 'Favourites' page there are two options ... Book or Audiobooks.

Ya know what?????  I enjoyed it after I got used to someone else's voice reading out loud.  Still a couple of "OMG am I really listening to this" moments, however, the sex scenes in the story aren't until close to the end and not really that graphic.

I can highly recommend that if you love books and have a long trip coming up, or actually if you are doing some menial task that doesn't require a lot of concentration, then download an audio book or two and listen away.  There are even some more 'conventional' books out there, and I found a Stephen Fry set I'd like to get hold of for my next trip.  

Actually thinking back, in my early 20's when I was doing the Auckland work commute I had purchased 3 or 4 books on tape.  Boy that was a while ago!!!!!  It is certainly clearer listening to eAudio than scratchy tapes.

Alrighty .... so here is WIBR this month ....  Oh yeah, apologies again for the lack of Children's & Teen reads :-/

NOTE: ** Denotes sexual content (school librarians use your discretion)


Dark Bk30 Dark Carousel** / Christine Feehan [eBook]
5 Stars
Adult. Paranormal.
Goodness gracious.  I can't believe that this is the 30th book in this series!!!  Christine Feehan in such a prolific writer, and manages to keep the series fresh, yet familiar.  I particularly like how she is giving a new take to the Dark series by setting the newer ones in different countries, as well as integrating the stories into the 21st Century.  She has cleverly woven the characters (both good and bad) into previous books and we now get to meet them in more detail.

For fans of Christine Feehan, you are going to love this new book.  If you haven't been hooked yet, then you are in for a great reading experience.   You don't need to read the books in any particular order, however IMHO you should read them in order to get the most out of the stories :-) 

There is not quite so much sex in this book.  It's more about the relationships and the fight with the Vampires.  Don't get me wrong ... there are some great romance scenes in here, and like many of the books the whole 'lifemate' thing does happen earlier in the storyline. 

Dark Carousel is set predominantly in the United States where we are introduced to Tariq, an ancient Carpathian, who owns a series of nightclubs and has a passion for carousel horses.  Charlotte, who also has a passion for carousel horses, and her best friend Genevieve are on the run from some ruthless killers, and they use one of Tariq's nightclubs to try and draw them out.         

I also really love how we are re-introduced to some of the ancients from the monastery as well as the triplets - Thomas, Mataias & Lojos, and get more of an insight into the back-story of the Carpathians.  

Dark Hunter Bk27 / Dragonmark** / Sherrilyn Kenyon [eBook]
4 stars
Adult.  Paranormal.
Another awesomely prolific writer :-D  This is also part of two other series: Dragons Rising #1 & Lords of Avalon #5.

We meet Illarion, one of a few surviving dragons and who was made human centuries ago.  I love how this book covers his back-story, finding his mate and then jumping to modern times  as well as including a number of other key characters in many of Kenyon's books.  The only downside, IMHO, was that the focus of the latter part of the book was taken off Illarion and his mate, but actually it worked really well and was still a really really good read. 

If you haven't guessed already ... I really really really REALLY like Sherrilyn Kenyon.  Her writing just hits all the right notes with me! 

Delroi Connection Bk1 / Invasion Earth** / Loribelle Hunt [eBook]
3 stars
Adult.  Paranormal.  Sci-Fantasy
Aliens are invading Earth and they are only after one key resource .... our women!  Apparently there are not as many females being born on Delroi and of course humans are very compatible with this alien race.  Enter some very scrummy Delroi warriors and some kick-arse human females and you have an enjoyable alien romance.

Bk2 Leaving Earth
Bk3 Stolen Earth
Bk4 Claiming Earth

Imp series Bk2 Satan's Sword** / Debra Dunbar [eBook]
4 stars
Adult. Paranormal.
Sam's next adventure is just as good a read as the first.  

Her brother Dar is in trouble and only Sam can help him out.  Of course there is the case of homeless people missing from her properties that she also needs to sort out, and an Angel whose good side she needs to stay on.  Oh yeah, and trying not to get killed by the demons!   

Not as many laugh-out-loud moments, but I am really coveting Sam's new horse and her dog!   

Note: The sex scenes in this series are negligible.

Bk3 Elven Blood
Bk4 Devil's Paw

Project Rebellion Bk1 / Perfect Mate** / Mina Carter [Audio Book]
3 start
Adult.  Paranormal.
An alternative way of getting your fix of reading / books.

This is the first in a Werewolf / Vampire / Zombie series.  The military have a super secret project they have been working on for a few years now ... and it's about to come back and bite them on the arse!!!  Quite literally!!!

Lots of blood and gore and the sex scenes don't kick in till nearly the end.

If you can get over having someone read-aloud to you in a voice you maybe weren't expecting, then go for it!  A great idea for long road trips, or if you are doing some menial task that requires your hands and eyes but not your ears :-D 

Redstar werewolf pack Bk1 / Once Bitten** ** / Loribelle Hunt [eBook]
3 stars
Adult. Paranormal. Erotica.
Pure escapism!  Werewolf romance.  Multiple partners.  Short reads.  Just the kind of book to read when you want to escape from the reality of your life, and probably not in a public place :-P

Bk2 Twice Shy
Bk3 Third Time Lucky

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Book Babble - July 2016

Hello and welcome to my July 'Book Babble' :-)

Wow, I have been blogging for seven months!  I am so proud of myself.  I'm not a natural diary style, reflective writer.  After my failed attempt at blogging #365PictureBooks last year I wasn't sure if I would be able to maintain my momentum.  I've got to say that blogging only once a month is certainly helping me keep to my 2016 resolution.  And actually keeping my reviews up-to-date as I finish each book/series means that I don't have to try and remember what I did read, or try and cram it into the last few days of the month ... especially when that is usually one of my busiest times.

One of my other achievements for the year is that I am just finishing reading my 100th book!  This was my Goodreads goal for the whole year. Rather than commit to a larger number and push myself to get them read, I was purely reading for pleasure this year. Obviously I'm not as busy in other ways as I had thought to be able to get through this many.  Well of course my exercise regime DOES consist of lifting a book / iPad to read, so two birds, one stone there ;-P

Gah!!! Don't you just love technology!!!!!  It's am
azing how dependent we become on gadgets and the ability to have online access when and where we want it.  One of my favourite times of the week is a Friday evening when I sit down and scroll through the new releases / promotions on the iBooks store while my males watch TV.  But for the last week this facility has been unavailable to me on my iPad mini.  WTF!!!!!  Aaarrggghhhh!!!!!  Luckily it is not affecting the books I have already downloaded, so I can start another when I want ... but it's not the same.  I really enjoy being able to go back into the store and read the blurb before deciding which book in my GIGANTIC TBR eBook pile to read.  Actually as an aside ... this is where Amazon eBooks have it over Apple iBooks ... you can open the book in your eDevice and read the blurb (on most eBooks) like you were picking up a physical book.  But aaanyhoo I'm sure they are working on this problem as I type.  Luckily my phone does not have this same issue so I can squint my way through if I really truly have to have access (blind glasses person here!!!).  And yes, if you must know, my TBR pile of physical books is just as GIGANTIC so I have lots to choose from and blurb reading to do, but I really struggle to read fine print in the evening and eBooks are so versatile in that you can change the font and the page colour.  Wahhh I want my gadget back working properly!!!!  Okey Dokey rant over!!!!

I'm constantly amazed at just what I get achieved over the two-week school term breaks ... or should I say, what I don't get achieved.  I always have big plans on getting lots of R&R time in (no gardening, just lots of reading), as well as getting school books covered (yeah I know ... I shouldn't be taking work home with me, but honestly ... who else is going to do it? ... and when is it going to get done?  We want these books out on the shelves ASAP for our students to enjoy!), and getting SLANZA things happening.  When the end of the holidays roll around my To Do list is generally still quite full.  Of course I'm also reasonably happy with what I did get done.  I've just got to learn to down-size my expectations on what can realistically get done in such a short amount of time. 

For those of you unfamiliar with the term SLANZA ... this is The School Library Association of New Zealand Aotearoa Te Puna Whare Mātauranga a Kura ... 
and I am proud to be a member, the Chairperson and National Executive Rep for the Central Region, as well as the new'ish Professional Development Team Leader.  All of us on the committees and working groups are volunteers and we work together to 'strengthen and promote the role of school libraries, to enable all school communities to become information literate' (  We provide fantastic PD aimed specifically at our members needs, have started some great social networking groups, and have met several awesome people from all over the world and have formed a number of amazing life-long friendships.  If you are not a member of SLANZA or the equivalent in your country then I really truly recommend that you join.  You won't be sorry :-)

Gosh I'm on a roll ... I have so many other things I could write about, but I am going to keep it for another post.  After all, keeping these blog posts semi-short & sweet hopefully make them more readable  :-P

And in other news this month ... 
  • Wardini Books has opened up their new shop in Hastings Street, Napier.  Yippee!!!  Love, love, love Wardini's.  Gareth & Louisa are #Awesome.  Adele Broadbent their school liaison is #Awesome.  Their Havelock North shop is fan-freaking-tastic, and the cafe-culture around the corner makes for a brilliant excuse to take a trip out there (although it's not very far at all from Napier).  And their new Napier store has a Steampunk theme to it.  So much #Awesome to take in!!!  Check out their website for more info, or to book The Great Wardini ... Magician & Hypnotist!

Here is WIBR this month ....... not as many adult books as I have been reading in previous months.  I've gotten hooked on a YA crime/necromancer series which is jolly good, and I've gotta say my PD for SLANZA and School keeps getting in the way of my reading-for-pleasure :-o  Still, reading is reading is reading no matter what format it takes!

NOTE: ** Denotes sexual content (school librarians use your discretion)


Sally Snickers' Knickers / Lynn Ward & Anthea Stead [Hardback]
4 stars
Picture Book 0-6
"There's something very special about little Sally Snickers, for Sally never wears a hat, she'd rather wear her knickers!" (Book Blurb)

I soooo know who I am going to dress up as during our 2016 Book Week!!!!!  Now to source some fan-tabulous Knickers that I am happy to be seen out in public wearing!!!

This is a lovely story about Sally Snickers.  She shows her individuality, her mood and her feelings by wearing her undies on her head - sometimes more than one pair a day!  Unfortunately her teacher is not happy with Sally Snickers and her amazing knickers :-(

Aimed at younger primary school age children this book is entirely suitable for middle-upper primary as well ... especially with the message it is putting across.  A gorgeous story about being different, belonging, going to school and friendship.

The House on the Hill / Kyle Mewburn & Sarah Davis [Hardback]
5 stars
Picture Book 0-6.  Children 7-12.   New Zealand Author.  Horror.  Poetry.
The latest offering from Kyle Mewburn is spookily good!  Each page is illustrated in tones of sepia which adds atmosphere to Kyle's rhyming text.  It just invites you to read in an old-style suspension filled voice.  Spooky!!!!

It isn't until I got to the end and read Kyle's blurb that I found out he was inspired by the dark Gothic voice of Poe. 

One of my favourite stanzas is on page 7:
"Their eager shadows raced ahead,
growing brave with every tread,
then quickly turned, turned and fled,
as they reached the house on the hill." 
The associated illustrations help your brain with that 'ah-ha' moment and understand just what the rich imagery of the text is trying to get across.

The combination of rhyming text and illustration in this book is a fantastic way of introducing children to poetry and just how a couple of lines can produce an image as to what they are trying to say.

I can completely understand why this was a finalist in the 2016 NZ Book Awards

I do believe that primary school children will 'get' and enjoy this book more than preschoolers.  And I believe many an adult will appreciate the prose and memories to their own childhood adventures on Halloween night.

Such an awesome read and read-aloud!!!  #KyleMewburnFan

Class Dismissed / Allan Woodrow [Hardback]
4 stars
Children 7-12. School stories. Coming of Age.     
I must apologise to the teenagers whom I recommended this book to originally.  I had only read the blurb and bit of the first chapter and to me it read like a YA humorous school story.  Add to this the cover has been presented with an image that could easily be a secondary, intermediate or primary school setting.  In actuality it is set an American 5th Grade class (equivalent to New Zealand's Year 6).  Even though it is aimed at a younger audience I can see many teens enjoying the story.

Class 507 is teacher-free!!!  The dream of many a student ... one day the teacher walks out and somehow the message doesn't quite make it to the office.  What to do???  Why, make sure everyone in the class swears to secrecy and kick-back and enjoy a teacher free year!!!  Yeah, right!  It's not as easy as it sounds, and boy are the kids in room 507 in for a bumpy ride.

This book works for me on so many levels.  It is humorous  It is an easy read.  It is relevant to our school children.  And it is written from the perspective of five of the students in the class.  Readers will be able to connect easily with one of these characters (Yep I would definitely have been a Maggie!!!) and they will be able to recognise many of their own classmates or siblings in the characterisation of the other students.  We have the bully and the troublemakers, the quiet industrious student who always gets ignored, the fashionista, the academic, the artist and the followers.  There is even a budding romance.

This is an easy and fun read.  It would make a really good read-aloud ... maybe even getting some of the students to take the role of one of the five key characters rather than the teacher reading the whole book! 

Oh Oh Oh ... I'm so excited!!!  ... I have just (last Friday of the month) given this book to a year 6 teacher for a class read-aloud - she was wanting something light, quite quick, appropriate for both the boys and girls, but not too old (a lot of the kids just don't seem interested in the more sophisticated books), oh yeah ... and NOT David Walliams 'cause even though his stories are super cool these kids have done-him-to-death in read-alouds this year!!!  Had to do a quick book covering as it was catalogued but in the to-be-processed pile (8 boxes!!!).  Can't wait to hear how it goes :-D 

The Ultimate Book of Randomly Awesome Facts / Penelope Arlon, Tory Gordon-Harris and Karen Hood [Paperback]
4 stars
Children 7-12. Non Fiction.  
What a fantastic fact filled book for ... well anyone that wants to read it! 

I really like how there are all sorts of random but interesting facts on each 2-page spread, interspersed with quizzes.  The contents is separated into three key sections: Natural World, Science & Tech, and Everyday Life.  

Each two-page spread is colourful (both the text and the images) and each one is quite unique.  There is so much to draw your eye and yet it isn't overpowering.

A fantastic book to dip into and out-of at will.  I can just see groups of (mostly) boys gathering around it and a number of interesting conversations starting once I put this one out on the shelves (Just been covering it over the holiday break!)   

The Ministry of Curiosities Bk1 The Last Necromancer / C. J. Archer [eBook]
4 stars
YA. Paranormal.  Crime.  Historical. 
How absolutely awesome.  I have just found another great series to get hooked on - it looks like there are another 5 for me to binge read :-D

Set in Victorian London, we meet Charlie, a young 13 year old street urchin who re-animates a corpse to save his life while stuck in a jail cell after being caught stealing.  But in actuality Charlie is not really who he seems.  Because there is only one Necromancer known to be alive in the world ... 18 year old Charlotte Holloway ... and now everybody is after her.  

Captured by Lincoln Fitzroy, the head of the Ministry of Curiosities, thinking he has found a second Necromancer, Charlie is held and questioned in an attempt to try and get him to lead the Ministry to Charlotte. 

This is an exciting and really enjoyable read.  Actually the whole series is really really good. Great teen read. It's really nice to have something other than vampires, Angels or traditional magic as the main theme.  There is a budding romance happening, but no sex scenes ... after all this IS Victorian England and one doesn't sleep around until one is married!!! 

I had to read them all back-to-back which is a great reason to wait till the series is (mostly) done ;-P

Bk2 Her Majestey's Necromancer
Bk3 Beyond The Grave
Bk4 Grave Expectations
Bk5 Ashes To Ashes
Bk6 From The Ashes  (Publication date August 2016)

3013 Bk12 Revolution** / Kali Argent [eBook]
4 stars
Adult. Sci-Fi / Paranormal.  Romance. 
This is a Sci-Fi romance series I found last year.  It is pure escapism!  

Set in a futurist Universe where 'warriors rule and women are the ultimate prize' (book blurbs) each book is a stand-alone story in the series based around inter-alien race relations, although reading them in order is definitely better as there is a lot of back-story going on.  Whilst many of the books are about multiple partners (after all that is what the new rule is ... one woman who is able to bear children to a pair of males!!) this particular story is about Sion, a Helios shifter, and Rya, a Xenthian (kinda Elven-like) who has lived for thousands of years ...

The only down-side I saw to the story was that it kicked-off straight away into the fact that Sion & Rya were a fated pair.  But then that was it and it actually got into the secondary aspect of the story with the whole 'overthrowing the government' thing going on.  There is no sex until about a third of the way through, and then only a couple of 'safe' scenes (well compared to many of the previous books!!  Actually compared to many romance books!!).  And of course you are re-introduced to characters from previous books and learn more of their story.  I do like this kind of series with multiple interwoven stories, that keep it fresh and yet familiar :-)

The whole inter-racial, good guy vs bad guy storyline in these books is really well done and makes for a really enjoyable read.

Bears of Grizzly Ridge Bk1 His to Protect** / Elena Aitken [eBook]
3 stars
Adult. Paranormal.  Romance. 
This is the first in a Grizzly Bear shifter romance trilogy. It is a short and thoroughly enjoyable read.  If you've read my previous reviews you'll already know I have a bit of a love of paranormal reads, be they vampire or shifter based ;-).  Having a series based around Grizzly Bears and based in the wilds of Montana is really refreshing.  

This is the kind of book you can just escape into when you want to kick-back and relax.  Yes there is a bit of graphic sex in it, but that's what you expect from many romance reads. 

Bk2 His to Seduce
Bk3 His to Claim

Imp series Bk0.5 Imp / Debra Dunbar [eBook]
4 stars
Adult. Paranormal.
This is a very short prequel to the Imp series, introducing Az, a young female demon Imp. It is kind of a demon coming of age story.  Az is a really intreaguing character, and this novella is a fun read. There's beatings (mostly Az's) and lots of sibling rivalry, playing hooky from school (Az again), demon summoning and learning to understand humans. 

This looks like it's going to be a fun series with a kick-arse prank-playing impish demon as the main character. 

Imp series Bk1 A Demon Bound / Debra Dunbar [eBook]
4 stars
Adult. Paranormal.
OK this is just the coolest series to get hooked into.  It's laugh-out-loud good, with strong characters, Impish escapades, bloody fight scenes and a darned good story-line!   

Az is a still-young Demon who has been vacationing in the human realm for 40-odd years in the body of Sam Martin.  She is all about causing mischief and mayhem, while staying under the radar of the Angels, 'cause Angels kill Demons on sight if found in the human realm.  Oh yeah, and she has a super hot neighbour whose bones she wants to jump :-D

While protecting her hellhound, she inadvertently gets involved with the local werewolf pack.  Her form of recompense .... helping to take down a killer-Angel!  Yeah, like that's going to work out well for her!!!! 

Seriously, this is so worth reading!!!