Amanda

  • dan wells

    Provo City Library is a great place for fans to meet some really great authors—check out our AuthorLink page to see some of the exciting authors we’ll be hosting in the coming months. However, over the last few months, I was reminded that Barnes and Noble has author events as well. In my hunt to see who was coming to Utah Valley, I was reminded of an old favorite: Dan Wells. He is a local author that came to Barnes and Noble the first weekend in March.

    If you haven’t heard of Dan Wells, I would definitely recommend him if you are keen on the supernatural or horror. Of the 14 books he’s written, I’ve read and would highly recommend the following:

    4.11 I am not a serial killerI AM NOT A SERIAL KILLER
    (2010) 

    This book follows high school teen, John Cleaver. He recognizes in himself things he’s noticed in the serial killers he obsesses over; So he creates a set of rules that he lives by to not concede to the monster inside. When he learns that there is a serial killer in town, he has to embrace the inner monster to save his town. I generally describe this series as teen Dexter meets Supernatural. This was especially amusing to read while on public transit in Seattle. My coworkers would look at me with concern and ask if it was a self-help book. 

     

    4.11 The Devils Only FriendTHE DEVIL’S ONLY FRIEND
    (2015)

    This book is the first in a second series that follows John Cleaver. It’s hard to talk about this book without giving away pertinent details of the first series, but basically, John hunts demons and works for a special government kill team. 

     

    4.11 The Hollow CityTHE HOLLOW CITY
    (2012)

    The Hollow City is the story of Michael Shipman who has paranoid schizophrenia. He is haunted by voices and stalked by faceless men. He has been linked to a series of killings and no one believes his plea of innocence. The book is told from Michael’s point of view and the unreliable narrator has you questioning which experiences are his paranoid delusions and which are the real monsters he should be running from. 

     

    3.11 Extreme MakeoverEXTREME MAKEOVER: APOCALYPSE EDITION
    (2016)

    Amazon’s summarizes this book as “Dan Well’s Extreme Makeover is a satirical new suspense about a health and beauty company that accidentally develops a hand lotion that can overwrite your DNA.” With that teaser alone I was so intrigued that I couldn’t help but take it home with me from my Barnes and Noble trip… but not before getting it signed. 

     

    During the book signing I learned a couple things from Dan Wells that you should know too:

    1. All of his current series are complete! While there are a couple series he would like to possibly write more for, there will be no cliff-hangers or waiting to read the next one.

    2. You can just binge straight through.  He is working on a trilogy with Brandon Sanderson about heroes that go from earth to earth in parallel universes to save them from the end of the world. I am stoked by just the premise, and it is an excellent combination of writers. 
  • fall into a good book 1

    There is a place between awake and asleep that is so blissful and wonderful that to be wrenched from it incurs my wrath and leaves me in a stupor for some time afterwards. There is also a beautiful place like this that you can find while reading: when the author has woven the tale so perfectly that the story, characters, and imaginary world come to life. And you can’t help but get dumped in head first—swallowed whole. 

    Off the top of my head, there are three books I can think of which so engulfed me in a story that pulling me out of it left me in a daze. I can remember distinct moments when, after someone interrupted my reverie, I was unsure of my surroundings or even what the person was saying—because it didn’t sound like English. At those times I was perturbed to be taken from that fictional place because I worried that I wouldn’t be able to sink so deeply again. 

    If you want to fall into some really good books, these are those stories: 

    11.27 BeautyBEAUTY
    By Robin McKinley
    (1978)

    The story of a wealthy merchant who, after learning he has lost everything, comes across a magical and beautiful estate. When he picks a rose for his daughter Beauty, a beast appears—angry that his hospitality would be thanked with thievery. The beast lets the merchant go only because he promises that his daughter will return and live in the castle. Beauty is a formidable character for the Beast: She’s intelligent and has a loving family that she would do anything for. In this beautiful retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Robin McKinley spins a tale so magical that I can’t help but be drawn in.  


    11.27 Harry PotterHARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE
    By J.K. Rowling
    (1998)

    Boy wizard. Dastardly villain. True friends. Ultimate war between good and evil.  

     

     

     

    11.27 Daughter of the ForestDAUGHTER OF THE FOREST 
    By Juliet Marillier 
    (2000)

    A retelling loosely based on a Celtic Myth called “The Children of Lir” combined with “The Six Swans” by the Brothers Grimm. A girl must sew six shirts from a painful nettle plant in order to save her six brothers from a witch’s enchantment, remaining completely mute until the task is finished. This task becomes especially difficult when she is taken from her homeland by a British lord who is sure she has information about his missing brother. Marillier creates some fantastic characters, beautiful worlds, and an interesting crossover into the land of faerie. 

     

     

  • Woman Reading

    In the process of figuring out what to write about for this post, I made a list of some of my top favorite books—the ones that are always on the tip of my tongue when someone asks me for a recommendation. As I looked at these varied books from different genres, I realized that while the stories are fantastic and beautifully done, each one of these books have some of my favorite female leads. They are strong, clever, and courageous. They make mistakes and come back stronger for it.

    Here are 4 pretty amazing books with top-notch female characters: 

    1.19 Code Name VerityCODE NAME VERITY
    by Elizabeth Wein
    (2012)

    In 1943, a British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. On board are two best friends, Maddie (pilot) and Julie (spy). Julie is captured and is forced to detail the British war effort or face execution. She chooses to write her confession in the form of a novel, telling a story of friendship between her and Maddie and about how she ended up in her current predicament. The second half of the book is from Maddie’s point of view and everything that happens after her plane went down. This book does so well showing strong women in the WWII war effort. There is layered storytelling, clever intertextual devices, and unreliable narrators. There is also a prequel about Julie called THE PEARL THIEF that came out in 2017.  

     

    1.19 The Book ThiefTHE BOOK THEIF 
    by Markus Zusak
    (2005)

    This book is set in WWII and told from the point of view of Death. It’s about a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and a whole lot of thievery. Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich, scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist—books. She is taught to read by her accordion-playing foster father and the Jewish man hidden in her basement. This book is so beautifully written and told in such a way that you know what’s going to happen. Death’s point of view is a circular one, so he’s not concerned about spoilers, but that doesn’t matter because I’ve read this book at least 3 times and know what’s coming… each time is beautifully devastating.  

     

    1.19 The Eyre AffairTHE EYRE AFFAIR 
    Jasper Fforde
    (2002)

    Set in an alternative universe of Great Britain 1985, time travel is routine, cloning is a reality and literature is taken very, very seriously. So much so that there is a special division of Literary Detectives in the police force to protect it. Enter Thursday Next (that’s our protagonist not me talking about next Thursday). While trying to capture Acheron Hades, the third most wanted man in the world, her uncle Mycroft is kidnapped for his invention that can let you enter books. Acheron Hades doesn’t use this invention to go into his favorite book but to go into the original manuscript of Jane Eyre and kidnap her half way through the book. As the book is first person, there is an uproar around the world because half of Jane Eyre is now just blank pages. Thursday has to save her uncle, save Jane, and try not to mess with the continuity of the book. This is a book (series) for people who love books. If you haven’t read Jane Eyre, that’s fine, neither has Thursday’s partner, so they will catch you up on the finer details. The writing is clever, the story is silly, and the humor is dry.  

     

    1.19 The Sweetness at the Bottom of the PieTHE SWEETNESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE 
    Alan Bradley
    (2009)

    11-year-old Flavia de Luce loves chemistry and poisons. During the summer of 1950, in the sleepy English village of Bishop’s Lacey, a dead bird is found on Flavia’s doorstep with a postage stamp pinned to its beak. Hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and sees him take his last dying breath. Flavia is appalled and delighted and decides she’s going to follow the clues to solve the crime herself… to help the police of course. This is a brilliant series with a clever protagonist that uses the fact that she’s 11 to sneak her way through her village to solve the murders.  For people already familiar with the series, the 9th book “The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place” is out end of this month. 

     
  •  junior mysteries

    Last year I went to different schools around Salt Lake doing book fairs. It was a dream and a panic induced nightmare because while I was excited to tell the students about all the books we had available, it also meant that I was expected to know a lot of books in all the genres. (Not much has changed in my current librarian position.)

    Unfortunately no one has asked me for mystery suggestions lately, so I am offering them to you now. These are some of my favorite mysteries which we had at the book fair that are also at the Provo Library!

    4.27 HostageHOSTAGE
    By Willo Davis Roberts
    (2016)

    Kaci comes home in the middle of the school day to find her house getting robbed. The thieves take her hostage and when her nosy neighbor suspects something is wrong and starts nosing around the outside, she gets taken as well. Kaci discovers that her neighbor has more to offer than spying on her neighbors and they must band together to escape.

    Willo Davis Roberts has written a slew of other mysteries that also includes Babysitting is a Dangerous Game. I really enjoyed both of these and would absolutely recommend her. She does a great job creating suspense without it being too intense. 

     
     

    4.27 Tell Tale StartTELL TALE START: THE MISADVENTURES OF EDGAR AND ALLEN POE
    By Gordon McAlpine
    (2013)

    Think the Weasley twins. Ultimate tricksters who are able to read each other’s minds. In the first chapter Edgar and Allan Poe get kicked out of school for some legendary pranks. When their beloved cat is kidnapped and transported to the Midwest, they convince their guardians to take them on a road trip. Mayhem and mysteries ensue as they go on their adventure as well as more questions. This series has great witty banter and fun literary references.

     
     
     

    4.27 Wait till Helen ComesWAIT TILL HELEN COMES: A GHOST STORY
    By Mary Downing Hahn
    (1986)

    Twelve year old Molly is not happy when her mother remarries and is less thrilled that they are moving into an old converted church. The graveyard behind the church gives Molly the creeps, but her new stepsister Heather is drawn to it. Heather meets a lonely ghost who realizes that she doesn’t have to be lonely if she lures the lonely Heather to a similar death. It is up to Molly to thwart Helen’s plan.

     
     
     

    4.27 Friday BarnesFRIDAY BARNES, GIRL DETECTIVE
    By RA Spratt
    (2016)

    Friday Barnes, girl genius, solves a bank robbery and decides to use her reward money to send herself to the most exclusive boarding school in the country- and discovers a hotbed of crime! She starts investigating cases from disappearing homework to a yeti haunting the school swamp.

    It’s a great book full of mystery, adventure and great characters.

     
     
     

    4.27 Sweetness at the Bottom of the PieSWEETNESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE
    By Alan Bradley
    (2009)

    11 year old Flavia de Luce loves chemistry and poisons. In the summer of 1950 in a sleepy English village of Bishop’s Lacey, a dead bird is found on her doorstep with a postage stamp pinned to its beak. Hours later, Flavia finds a man lying in the cucumber patch and sees him take his last dying breath. Flavia is appalled and delighted and decides she’s going to follow the clues and solve the crime herself, to help the police of course.

    This is a brilliant series with a clever protagonist that uses the fact that she’s 11 to sneak her way through her village to solve the mysteries.

    The 9th book “The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place” came out the end of January. This book is technically not in junior or YA fiction. It’s regular adult mystery, but I still can’t help but recommend it to older readers that have an interest 

     
  • Hidden Section 1

    There is a not-so-secret hidden section of the Children’s Department of the library that no one really knows about. Set comfortably between Spanish and 000 information lies a bay of books grossly disregarded. And in that bay are all the NEW informational books that have arrived in Children’s Department. (To be honest, I only became aware of it because I was put in charge of it.)

    I am fully aware that when people go to the informational section, they’re going for a purpose. It’s not a place that people tend to linger to see what treasures are held there. It can be so overwhelming because everything, except biographies, is categorized by numbers. What does this mean!!?? (Feel free to ask your friendly neighborhood librarian and they will happily guide you.)

    But this isn’t about the whole informational section. It’s about my bay of New Informational books. There is such an array of new treasures that arrive. For about 3 months, these new books are kept in that section until they resume their place with the rest of the informational books.

    I wanted to take the time to let you know about this section, because I realize that the whole informational section can be a daunting task to just browse through. But here there is an array of beautiful, new informational books that you should really check out.

    Here are some examples:

    6.15 Unofficial Harry Potter Joke BookUNOFFICIAL HARRY POTTER JOKE BOOK: GREAT GUFFAWS FOR GRYFFINDOR
    By Brian Boone and Amanda Black
    (2018)

    Who doesn’t like a good joke book? And a Harry Potter themed one? Yes, please. Here are a few jokes to wet the whistle.

    Q: What’s a good name for a quidditch player ?

    A: Chason

    Q: What’s a dark wizard’s favorite candy?

    A: Bella-Twix

    Q: What did one basilisk say to the other ?

    A: Ssssssssssssssssssssssssss…………

     

    6.15 Voices in the OceanDOLPHINS: VOICES IN THE OCEAN
    By Susan Casey
    (2018)

    This book explores the connection between humans and dolphins. Susan, the author, shares her encounters with dolphins and her descriptions are so vivid you feel like you’re right there with her. This book is a fun way to learn out dolphins from personal experience rather than a book of facts. It also has some real pictures of dolphins in the center as well as early artwork of dolphins on pots from ancient Greece.

     

    6.15 Star Wars Coding BookSTAR WARS CODING PROJECTS
    By Jon Woodcock
    (2018)

    A step by step guide to coding your own animations, games, simulations and more. I am absolutely new to coding and I really appreciated the step-by-step instructions that included images of those steps.

     

    6.15 Fossil by FossilFOSSIL BY FOSSIL: COMPARING DINOSAUR BONES
    By Sara Levine Illustrated by TS Spookytooth
    (2018)

    This cool book shows kids going through a dinosaur museum and shows, while dinosaurs are different from people, there are a lot of bones inside us that are the same bones as dinosaurs. Yes. That IS very cool. Yes, you should check out the book.

     

    6.15 In the PastIN THE PAST
    By David Elliott Illustrated by Matthew Trueman
    (2018)

    I dare you to open this book and not be able to take it home with you or at least explore its pages. It is a book of poetry highlighting creatures in the prehistoric era and going through time. The illustrations are absolutely fantastic and beautifully scary at times.

     

    6.15 CreateCREATE! A GIRL'S GUIDE TO DIY, DOODLES & DESIGN
    By Ashley N Mays
    (2018)

    This is a collection of over 50 crafts from Book Page Embroidery to a Paint Chip Word Banner. Each craft has a photo example craft and the supplies are probably already around your home. It’s a fun book, definitely worth taking a look at.

     

    6.15 JabberwalkingJABBERWALKING
    By Juan Felipe Herrera
    (2018) 

    “And, as in ufffish thought he stood, The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame, came whiffling through the tulgey wood, And burbled as it came!” -from Jabberwocky, by Lewis Carroll. Juan Felipe Herrera was the US Poet Laureate from 2015-2017. He wants you to go on a walk with him, not any walk but he wants you Jabber Walking. It’s okay, he’ll tell you how.

     

    6.15 Astronaut AquanautASTRONAUT, AQUANAUT: HOW SPACE SCIENCE AND SEA SCIENCE INTERACT
    By Jennifer Swanson
    (2018)

    This is a really cool book comparing and contrasting the ups and downs of space science and sea science. It’s a fun an interesting ride between the two. A lot of pages had side by side comparisons which was fascinating to see how similar they are. It also has activities throughout that enhances what is being learned.

     

    6.15 The Coral KingdomTHE CORAL KINGDOM 
    By Laura Knowles and Jennie Webber
    (2018)

    This beautiful book takes you through the coral reef to the beautiful plant and animal life under the sea. The illustrations are beautifully vibrant.

     
  • wordless picture books 1

    I have a confession. I am not always the most thorough reader—I’m a bit of a skimmer. I’ve actually found myself on so many occasions having to go back in books because I missed a crucial detail that I had decided wasn’t worth paying attention to at the time. It’s a horrible habit, and I don’t recommend it.

    However, if I am reading a book out loud to someone, it’s then that I am able to take in the full extent of the story. This is especially poignant in picture books. There are fantastic illustrations that narrate far more than you might realize that I have a habit of skipping over. For a long time, wordless picture books were particularly difficult for me because I wanted to skim them like I do everything else. And then I discovered why I love wordless picture books:

    1. It forces me to slow down and look at each illustration, to really focus on how it tells the story.

    2. Depending on the reader, there could be a different narration or interpretation.

    3. The illustrations can evoke a significant emotional response.Here are some of my favorite wordless picture books: 

    3.15 BluebirdBLUEBIRD
    By Bob Stakke
    (2013)

    This book is about a lonely boy wandering in New York City. A bluebird follows him and becomes his friend. When the boy is bullied by some kids in the park, the bluebird goes to protect him but is struck with a stick and dies. Saddened by the loss of his new friend, the boy is soon joined by a flock of birds that lift him to the sky while he lets the bluebird float away. I love this book. It handles many issues beautifully: loneliness, friendship, bullying, and loss. 

     

    3.15 The SnowmanTHE SNOWMAN
    By Raymond Briggs
    (1978)

    This is a beautifully illustrated book about a boy that builds a snowman who comes to life. The snowman comes into the house, tries on the father’s clothes, creates some disaster in the kitchen, and then goes flying off into the night with his creator on an adventure around the world. They return home, and the next morning the boy runs outside to find the snowman melted on the ground. Another great book about friendship, imagination, adventure, and loss.

     

    3.15 JourneyJOURNEY
    By Aaron Becker
    (2013)

    This story is the first of a trilogy about a lonely girl that draws a magic door on her bedroom wall and escapes into a world of wonder, adventure, and danger. With her red marker, she creates a boat, a balloon, and a flying carpet that carries her on her journey. It’s a wonderfully illustrated story full of imagination and adventure. I accidentally read the third one first and was so impressed with the expanse of story without text that I immediately found the rest. It has such a strong visual narrative that it can appeal to a wider age range. 

     
  • A 12-ish year old boy came up to the desk with full purpose and asked my coworker- “What is your favorite book?”

    I was busy helping another patron and I didn’t hear much about that conversation besides that and didn’t expect him to return because he got his answer.

    A couple minutes later he came back to the desk in full stride and full purpose again, stood before me and asked, “what’s your favorite book” like it was a grand request and pronouncement.

    This isn’t a difficult question but not really one I get often, at least not so directly. People usually ask for suggestions or books like: Diary of a Wimpy Kid/Harry Potter/Percy Jackson. My mind went blank and all I could suddenly think of were princess/fairy tale retellings which felt way too girly to suggest to this young teen boy.

    I did pull out “The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman because that is one of my standard go-to’s but seriously- my mind blanked outside Ella Enchanted and Beauty. I told him this and he said he didn’t mind, he just wanted to get a variety. He went home with a stack of Louis L’Amour, Boy by Roald Dahl, The Graveyard Book and Goose Girl. It was a great stack but I’m annoyed at my brain for shutting off when he asked me a simple question.

    And in typical Amanda-fashion, as soon as he left my brain flooded with ideas of books I could have suggested. I really wished I could have found him again so I could tell him my actual suggestions.

    So here is a list of my *favorites I should have suggested- that I haven’t already written about already.

    *Listing a favorite book is subjective. I have the right to change this opinion at will and am catering more to age of patron asking.

    8.3 The Indian in the CupboardTHE INDIAN IN THE CUPBOARD
    By Lynne Reid Banks
    (1980)

    On Omri’s birthday his best friend gives him a little plastic Indian toy. Disappointed, he puts the toy in a metal cupboard and locks the door with a mysterious skeleton key that belonged to his great-grandmother. He finds out when he turns the key it transforms the toy into a real live man from a different time and place. I read this book a few times as a kid and loved the adventure and friendship between this boy and his little friends.

     

    8.3 HolesHOLES
    By Loius Sachar
    (1998)

    Stanley Yelnats is under a curse- a curse that began with his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather and has followed the Yelnats family. Stanley is unjustly sent to a boys’ detention camp where they are required to dig holes all day long- five feed wide, five feet deep. Stanley realizes they aren’t just building character- that the Warden is looking for something as a mystery of the past unfolds before these campers. This was a really fun intriguing mystery. I love seeing how the past intertwined with the present and the “ah-ha” moments when they came together.

     

    8.3 SurvivorsSURVIVORS: EXTRAORDINARY TALES FROM THE WILD AND BEYOND
    by David Long
    (2017)

    This is a fantastic collection of 23 true stories of men and women who have survived seemingly impossible circumstances from a plane crash to quicksand. The stories are fascinating and the illustrations are fantastic. I would like to own this for my own book collection and give it to everyone. 

     

    8.3 A Monster CallsA MONSTER CALLS
    By Patrick Ness
    (2011)

    Twelve-year-old Connor O’Malley is dealing with a lot. A school bully, an estranged father, strict grandmother and a sick mother. One night at 12:07 am, a tree-like Monster comes to his window and tells Connor it is going to tell three stories over three nights- three truths and on the fourth night Connor had to tell the monster his truth. I love this book. It is beautiful and sad. If you read this I highly highly suggest getting the illustrated copy. It really adds to the story and is illustrated by Jim Kay, who is illustrating the Harry Potter series.