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Friday Faves: Classics for the Busy

classics busy


Reading classic novels is not only enjoyable, but also makes you feel sophisticated. However, some classic novels can be lengthy and heavy. Sometimes we are all a little too busy to sit down and begin a 400 page novel full of complex sentences. Here is a list of my five favorite classics to read when I want to feel sophisticated but I don’t have time for heavy reading.

jekyll and hyde


by Robert Louis Stevenson

Not only is Stevenson’s story of the doomed man with dual identities incredibly brief, it reads like an engaging thriller. This book can be finished in one sitting. Way before Bruce Banner, there was Dr. Jekyll.




scarlet pimpernel


by Emma Orczy

This tale of the original masked hero with a secret identity is an exhilarating adventure full of romance and daring escapes. It is not a particularly short book, but the excitement of the story makes this one a quick read.



martian chronicles

by Ray Bradbury

This book is a little lesser known than Bradbury’s other classic, FAHRENHEIT 451 (which is also a quick read), but is a great science fiction classic that recounts various tales of man’s interactions in the new colony on Mars. This quick read is essentially a collection of short stories that each present a unique story with a distinct feel.



christmas carol


by Charles Dickens

Beloved by all, read by too few, the classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge’s change of heart is a short book that is so uplifting and so well-written that it ends altogether too soon. You can’t help but respect anyone who is reading this masterpiece.




around the world 80


by Jules Verne

Verne’s classic story full of memorable characters and nonstop adventure leaves the reader wishing Phileas Fogg was still on his trip around the world. Lighter than some of Verne’s other works, this book’s good natured tone and rapid succession of events makes it a quick read.




Cooking the Books: Slow Cooker Taco Chicken

cooking the books 01


It’s the middle of January—how are those resolutions coming? This is usually the point of the month that I forget all my well-intentioned healthy eating and exercise goals and sit down with a sleeve of Oreos, a mug of milk and a fork and tell myself that I am winning at life. 

However, this year I’m doing better. But it’s hard. It’s really hard. I’m determined to lose the winter weight and stop snarfing McDonald’s cheeseburgers like I did when I was pregnant (it's been several years since I had a good excuse for craving those cheap but satisfying non-burger burgers). It’s hard not only because willpower is hard, but also because my time is limited. Eating healthfully means planning, shopping, cooking, and cleaning, and I only really like to do one of those things. Enter Slow Cooker Taco Chicken by the girls from Our Best Bites. 

I’m cheating a bit with this blog post because this is actually a cookbook that I own, but I feel like if you’re somehow someone who hasn’t tried an Our Best Bites cookbook yet I just need to convert you. Their recipes are generally easy to follow, don’t require crazy ingredients, and I’ve yet to have one fail me. This Taco Chicken is my go-to slow cooker meal, because even if I haven’t been shopping in a while I almost always have all of the ingredients on hand (well, I didn’t always have ranch packets in my pantry, but ever since I discovered this recipe I buy them in bulk). The fact that it’s also fairly low calorie is just a bonus—it’s super yummy, everyone in my family eats it, and I use the leftovers in quesadillas or taquitos or Latin-inspired quinoa salad. 

I’ll check back in next month with another healthy recipe. Or maybe a super indulgent dessert; we’ll just see where me and those resolutions stand. 

400 cals or lessSlow Cooker Taco Chicken
By Sara Wells and Kate Jones



2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup Italian salad dressing (not low fat)
1 packet Ranch dressing
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
6-8 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon dehydrated onion
Juice of 1 lime
Salt to taste
Hot Sauce to taste (optional)  


Place all the ingredients except for the lime, salt, and hot sauce in your slow cooker and cook for 5-6 hours on LOW or until the chicken shreds easily with a fork. When done, shred the chicken with two forks and sprinkle with lime juice. Taste and season with salt and hot sauce to taste. Serves 8-10.

Mock Newbery

mock newbery 01


For the first time this year the Children’s Department of the Provo City Library hosted a Mock Newbery. The announcement of the real Newbery Award Winner will be announced on Monday, January 23rd. But we decided we wanted to figure out what we would consider to be our top pick for the most distinguished writing for children ages 0-14 years old. We narrowed the list of potential candidates down to 15 titles (thanks to a rubric of how many starred reviews they got, if they were mentioned in other Mock Newbery blogs, and a book club vote). After a few hours of talking, here is what we came up with.

2017 Mock Newbery Winner:

girl who drank the moon

By Kelly Barnhill

This is the story of a people who every year sacrifice their youngest child to a witch. Only the witch doesn’t really eat/kill the child like the people think. Instead she saves the children from death in a dangerous forest and takes them to other villages, feeding them with starlight and giving them to families who eagerly wait to raise the “Star Children” as their own. One year, the witch accidentally gives the child a bit of the moon to drink, which causes her to have magical abilities. Unable to resist raising the child as her own, the witch keeps the girl, a decision with far-reaching consequences. 

This is a beautiful fantasy book. The writing is lyrical, and would be delightful to read out loud. We enjoyed the way that various perspectives and stories wove together to create one novel. We loved the characters and felt that even the minor characters were well developed. Barnhill’s world-building skills are top notch; we are intrigued by the world she created that at once feels entirely unique but also incredibly accessible. We also liked how fear became its own character that was a force to be reckoned with. There is mystery, there is danger, there is madness, and love, and courage of all kinds. All in all, this was a great book that we hope will also get some recognition on the 23rd.

We also chose three honor books; all of these were someone’s favorite and were hotly debated as to whether they should be our winner. They are:

By Adam Gidwitz, Illuminated by Hatem Aly

This is a story of three children who are magical in their own right. The children are shunned by a medieval society and soon realize that as they go on their life’s journey that all is not quite what it seems.

Our Mock Newbery committee liked how this story seemed different from anything that most of us have ever read before (it may be described as Canterbury Tales, Jr.). We enjoyed how the humor, history and storytelling were interwoven with ideas that are relevant to discuss today. And the moment when we realized just who the narrator was—that was a powerful moment! All in all, we hope this book gets some recognition next week as well.    


By Karen Harrington

This is a story of Wayne, a kid who likes facts and struggles with family issues (obnoxious grandpa, divorced dad who doesn’t understand him, and an uncle who died in the war). We specifically liked Wayne as a character. We thought he was well written and a kid any of us would like to have come to our library so that we could meet him. We liked all the side characters. The grandpa and friends seemed as well developed as Wayne. And we liked the pacing and the story arc. This was another beautifully written middle grade novel that will get kids thinking about their words and what they would say if they could (or couldn’t). Again, this would be another great choice—in our opinion—for an award.    


wolf hollowWOLF HOLLOW
By Lauren Wolk

This is the story of young Annabelle (who learned a lot the year she turned twelve). Annabelle lives in a relatively quiet world…until Betty comes to live in her area. Betty turns out to be quite a vicious bully. In fact, a lot of hard, sad things happen to people and the community as a result of Betty’s actions. Our Mock Newbery Committee agreed that this was a beautifully written story. It seemed like each word and sentence was chosen with care to make the most of this story. The characters are strong and create strong emotional reactions that seemed to haunt many of our committee. Also, this is a book with a lot to discuss. There were lots of questions and thoughts that came about because of this book. And bits of it stayed with many of us long after we had read the book. By far this book sparked the liveliest debate among the committee, with passionate readers arguing for and against it. In the end, our committee felt that this book deserves some recognition next week.        


So there you have it. Our top four books for our Newbery pick. Now if only we can wait a few more days to find out just what the real Newbery Committee has chosen for their winners! What books would you choose for the Newbery this year? 

What to Read in YA - January 2017

YA Jan 2017


I am excited that it’s a new year and that there are a lot more new YA releases in January! There are a plethora of fantasy novels in particular by both debut and established authors coming out this month that I can’t wait to try.

by Stephanie Garber  
(January 31)

This book about Caraval, an annual magic show which includes the audience as participants, promises to exceed the demands of its lofty premise.

From the publisher:

Believing that she will never be allowed to participate in the annual Caraval performance when her ruthless father arranges her marriage, Scarlett receives the invitation she has always dreamed of before her sister, Tella, is kidnapped by the show's mastermind organizer.

by Elise Kova
(January 3)

This high fantasy/steampunk novel is a breath of fresh air in the prominently fantasy-light YA market. The world-building alone between the Dragon King and the five guilds promises to be worth your time.

From the publisher:

Engineer turned organ thief Arianna fights against her world’s Dragon oppressors with her magical skills and unscrupulous morals. Before she can slaughter a wounded Dragon during a routine heist, he offers her a wish of her greatest desire, if she brings him to the only Guild standing against the Dragon King. What should be a simple airship ride across the world is quickly filled with assassins, monsters, and a rebellion that exposes Arianna’s deepest secrets.

by Marissa Meyer
(January 31)

I loved Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, and I like graphic novels, so this is a no-brainer. The fact that Iko finally gets her own book is icing on the cake! I CAN. NOT. WAIT.

From the publisher:

When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko takes it upon herself to hunt down the soldiers' leader. She is soon working with a handsome royal guard who forces her to question everything she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity. With appearances by Cinder and the rest of the Rampion crew, this is a must-have for fans of the bestselling series.

(The Witchlands #2)
by Susan Dennard
(January 10)

A sequel that lives up to a strong first book? Count me on that bandwagon. There isn’t a better time to pick up this fantasy series about witches.

From the publisher:

After a surprise attack and shipwreck, Safi and the Empress of Marstok barely escape with their lives. Alone in a land of pirates, every moment balances on a knife’s edge—especially when the pirates’ next move could unleash war upon the Witchlands.

by Veronica Roth
(January 17)

With even better chemistry and notably developed writing, fans of the Divergent series are sure to devour Roth’s newest sci-fi novel.

From the publisher:

Living on a violent planet where everyone develops a unique power meant to shape the future, Akos and Cyra, youths from enemy nations, resent gifts that render them vulnerable to others' control before they become unlikely survival partners.  

Be sure not to miss…

WAYFARER (Passenger #2) by Alexandra Bracken (January 3)

ROSEBLOOD by A.G. Howard  (January 10)

FROSTBLOOD by Elly Blake  (January 10)  

Find these and other brand new YA titles in the Teen Corner in the First Floor Reference Wing!

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