Friday, December 30, 2011

Choice - It's Really All You Have

This one's for the teens:
What is the one thing in this world that is ever truly yours? Your choice.  Choices define who you are and what you will become.  Good choices lead to opportunities while bad ones can trap you in an endless downward spiral.  I'm not telling you anything you don't already know; saying 'make better choices' is easy.  The execution can be a bit more difficult.

Some important bits of information to keep in mind when presented with a choice:

Don't let your still-developing brain
make you a zombie!
Photo by Daniel Hollister
For many years scientists thought that the human brain fully matured by three years of age, but more recent research has shown that the prefrontal cortex hits another stage of development sometime between puberty and the early 20s.  After this "growth spurt" the brain undergoes a process called "pruning" which is when neural connections (synapses) linking various parts of the brain are grown, removed and altered to make the brain function as a whole.  This process is also the time when synapses that aren't utilized are allowed to wither (i.e. use it or lose it).
What does this mean?
The prefrontal cortex controls such things as decision making, behavior control and problem solving.  As people with yet-to-fully-mature brains [ZOMBIES!] teens need to be aware of their own bodies and that they can't always depend on their first response to be the best one.  Now, having a teen brain does NOT mean you have an excuse to make poor choices - it just means that you need to STOP AND THINK about your choices and why you are making your decision.  Teens can make good decisions - it just sometimes takes them a bit more time to do it.

Bottom Line: When presented with an important decision take your time to consider your options and the effects of your choices.  Don't make decisions when running on an emotional high or low - allow yourself to calm down.  Your choices stay with you for a long time make sure you can live with the results. Need to talk to someone? Click here.

More Brain Stuff:

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Galveston never seemed so interesting...

Here's a re-post of my review of Shattered Souls since it was one of my first and you may have missed it:

Finished Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey and it was FABULOUS!  A wonderful debut novel from a local Houston writer.  Lindsey's novel, set in the Houston/Galveston area, is a haunting combination of history, reincarnation, death and resolution that will have readers clamoring for more. 

Unlike the usual heroine Lenzie lacks self-confidence (somewhat due to her father's descent into schizophrenia and subsequent suicide), so when a strange young man, Alden, reveals that she is a Speaker and her gift is to help the unquiet dead resolve their issues, she is less than sold on the idea.  If Alden is to be believed, then Lenzie is the reincarnated soul of one of the best Speakers in history; a strong, capable woman who Alden has aided for lifetimes.  But Lenzie has none of her former memories and she is torn between the life she knows and the one she is destined to live.  Will she trust Alden?  Will she be able to escape the malevolent force that hunts her?  Is she really going crazy?

Order Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey to find out!
Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Recommended for Readers Of:

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Fright Night? Not so much, but still fun.

Yes, I was bad and waited until dvd for the new 'Fright Night' and I'm here to tell you: pretty amusing, but I wish the dialogue had been a bit better.  But what should I expect from a remake of an 80s B movie classic. (Fun Fact: Traditionally a B movie is a low budget commercial film meant to be shown as the bottom half of a double feature.)

If you liked the new (or old) Fright Night, then here's a movie list for the B horror connoisseur:
Eight Legged Freaks (2002)
Evil Dead (1981)
Killer Clowns from Outer Space (1988) *Because regular clowns are freaky enough.
The Mist (2007)
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Slither (2006)
Snakes on a Plane (2006)
Them! (1954)
Zombieland (2009)

Monday, December 26, 2011

So Many Books, So Little Time

Best Book I've Read This Week!
In the past week I've read about 5 books and somehow I still don't feel like I've had enough time to really read. Strange isn't it? Seems like I should be satisfied with that amount of reading - many people would consider 5 books in a week somewhat excessive. :)

But it is odd, since a large part of my job consists of suggesting appropriate titles to a wide variety of both teen and adult readers I sometimes feel like there is consistent pressure to have a book in hand. Especially for YA materials.  In my branch I am the only person who works with teens (programming, readers advisory, etc) and I try to stay on top of new YA titles coming into the system.  Since another part of my job is materials selection and working on professional committees (Spirit of Texas High School Reading Program) I also attempt to keep up with new releases, upcoming releases and continuations of series.  Reading could easily be a full-time job for me!  [And one I'd like better some days if I could just read, suggest books and run programs.]

What is it that a YA Librarian is supposed to do with an infinite number of books and a finite amount of time?!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Little Christmas Verse

I heard the bells on Christmas Day 
Their old, familiar carols play, 
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way, 
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South, 
And with the sound
The carols drowned 
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent 
The hearth-stones of a continent, 
And made forlorn
The households born 
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep: 
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep; 
The Wrong shall fail, 
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Written during the American Civil War.

The last few years have been very difficult.  Have hope.  The darkness does not last forever and good will prevail in the end.

Merry Christmas everyone!  May your holiday be joyful and fulfilling.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Teens in the Library - Tips for Success

Libraries have changed drastically in the last twenty years, heck, they've changed a lot in the five years that I've been working as a public librarian.  Public Libraries are no longer the bastions of silence and snobbery that they used to be - we are much more flexible and welcoming institutions.  And that means for everyone, especially teens.  We want youth in the library!  Really, we do.  But there are a couple of things that teens need to keep in mind while utilizing our resources and facilities.

Follow these few steps and your Librarian can become an important ally:

  1. Respect: Just as you want respect from adults and your peers, we (and the other library users) are deserving of your respect.  Remember that the manner in which you present yourself is reflected in how people treat you - if you are loud and rude people will treat you accordingly, while if you are polite and conscientious people will be much more solicitous toward you.
  2. Listen: If a library employee (or patron) asks you to turn down the volume of your headphones, or lower your voice please do so.  *Want points with your librarian? Make sure to silence your cell phone when you enter the building.  More points to those who take their calls to the lobby instead of talking at the computer or in the stacks.*
  3. Look: Look around and check out signage in the library - there may very well be a program or event happening that YOU want to know about.  We've got TONS of free programs for teens, everything from movies and games to SAT Prep and author signings.
  4. Pay Attention: Libraries are *public* buildings, meaning that ANYONE can come inside and use our resources.  Libraries exist to serve people from all walks of life and, while this is a good thing, it means that you cannot depend on the library to be inherently *safe*.  Don't leave your cell phone or wallet/purse laying on a desk.  Don't leave a laptop unattended.  It takes seconds for things to disappear.  That being said, if you see a crime REPORT IT IMMEDIATELY to the librarians as the Information Desk.
Without a people to serve, libraries really have no reason to existence.  We LIKE helping people and providing access to INFORMATION - it's kinda what we do.  Please remember when visiting your local library to say thanks to your librarians, we work hard and we work for the public (which is never as easy as it looks).  Follow these few tips and your library experience will both informative AND enjoyable!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Celebration of Houston YA Authors

There’s a FREE AUTHOR EVENT coming in January!
The Barbara Bush Branch Library is hosting WHIM2WEIRD featuring 6 LOCAL YA AUTHORS: 
We’ll start off with a short Q&A where teens can ask questions of the authors then get to signing books! 

Teens are welcome to bring books they already own by these authors to be signed, but purchasing on-site will be available through Blue Willow Bookshop.

Here’s the Details:
Saturday, January 7, 2012
The Forum - 6823 Cypresswood Drive, Spring, TX 77379

Questions? Contact YA Librarian Rebecca at or 281.376.4610

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mythic New Series by Jennifer Estep

Touch of Frost introduces readers to Gwen Frost and Mythos Academy, school for the descendents of warriors (of legendary fame), where they learn the skills needed to defend the world from the Reapers.  Gwen, who isn’t sure she buys the whole “magic” thing, is the new student and a total outsider – a descendent of Gypsies not fantastic beings right out of myth.  The only talent that sets Gwen apart is her gift of touch which allows her to pick up memories and emotions from people and objects.  However, this gift is also a curse that allows Gwen to see the deepest, darkest secrets a person may possess.  When a student is murdered on campus Gwen feels compelled to discover the truth and stumbles into a plot darker than she could have imagined.
Jennifer Estep’s Mythos Academy series should appeal to readers who are looking for a more mature Percy Jackson, Tera Lynn Childs or C.C. Hunter novels.  The students of Mythos range in age from 16 to 21 and mature activities from drinking to hookups are commonplace (and pretty much ignored by the instructors).  This novel starts with a bang and rockets to an epic conclusion without glossing over important plot points or character development.  Ms. Estep manages an interesting combination of detail and momentum that will have readers eagerly reaching for Kiss of Frost, the next book in the Mythos series.

Recommended for Readers of:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

YA Books to Movie Pt. 2


Alchemyst by Michel Scott
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Firelight the dragon-based, urban fantasy by Sophie Jordan has been optioned.
Heist Society by the always entertaining Ally Carter
Luxe by Anna Godbersen [can you imagine the costumes? ::sigh::]
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Briggs [possible Tim Burton film]
Shatter Me by Tahere Mafi [which I haven't read yet, but am very excited about!]

Which YA Novel would you make into a movie?
Click here to take survey

Monday, December 19, 2011

YA Books to Movies Pt. 1

While I am often disappointed by the execution of movies based on YA films, I cannot help but be excited when I hear about books being made into movies.  Yes, the movie is most often inferior to the novel but I still find myself geeking out when I stumble upon movie-based-on-book news.  Here's a list of upcoming films based on YA novels:

Hunger Games based on novel of same name by Suzanne Collins [Due out in March 2012!]
Looking Glass Wars based on the series by Frank Beddor
Mortal Instruments based on City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Perks of Being a Wallflower based on the book by Stephen Chbosky [Starring Emma Watson!]
Shiver based on the first Wolves of Mercy Falls book by Maggie Stiefvater
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Wicked Lovely based on fabulous series by Melissa Marr

2013 Rumored
Delirium by Lauren Oliver [I am psyched about the possibility of this movie!  The book is AMAZING!]
Forest of Hands and Teeth based on the chilling novel by Carrie Ryan
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher [Starring Taylor Lautner as Finn!]
Maximum Ride based on the best selling series by James Patterson
Maze Runner by James Dashner
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead [Rumored as both a film & TV series]

{DISCLAIMER: While some of these films have tentative release dates, that can change as many "in production" films hit snags.  Some of these are only optioned, which means that a production company has bought rights to make a movie based on a title, but not that the movie will ever actually happen.}

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Chills, Thrills & Daniel Radcliffe!

U.K. Edition 2011
Harry Potter is all grown up and graduated to a wonderfully gothic looking film.  In February 2012 The Woman In Black will open just in time to scare the pants off all those lovers for Valentine's Day!  After being creeped out by the trailer (and discovering that the film is based on a novel) I decided to read the original text.  Susan Hill's The Woman in Black was first published in 1986 and lead to one of the longest running West End plays to ever thrill and audience.
The plot is rather simple: A young lawyer, Arthur, is sent out from London to a small villiage to handle the post-mortem affairs of one of the firm's odder clients.  When he arrives in the village he discovers that there is a bit more to the woman's affairs than he expected and soon encounters a vengeful spirit tied to a mystery more than 50 years old.
A few pages into the first chapter of Hill's masterpiece, I realized that I had seen the play many years previously at the Alley Theatre in Houston - without realizing that the script was based on a novel.  I remember the play as being wonderfully atmospheric and spine-tingling and was certainly not dissapointed in the original story.  Ms. Hill has a way of describing a scene while still allowing the reader to use their imagination:
 "Tonight, I smelled at once, and with a lightening heart, that there had been a change in the weather. All the previous week, we had had rain, chilling rain and a mist that lay low about the house and over the countryside...Inside the house, the lamps were lit throughout the day and the walls of larder, outhouse and cellar oozed damp and smelled sour, the fires sputtered and smoked, burning dismally low."
(Chapter 1).
Like the very best of gothic fiction, The Woman in Black is both mentally engaging and wonderfully dark.  I was unable to put this novel down and finished in about a day. Highly recommended.  This is one of my new favorites and I can't wait for the movie!

Recommended for Readers of: