Monday, December 15, 2014

Five Great Crafty Ideas for Librarians and Students

Each year, I ask my student aides to take time to make something to give to a teacher they admire, look up to, or just enjoy.  What we make are book wreaths.  While those take some time (and there are SO MANY to do!), there are others that don't take as long.  Here are five different projects you can make with students using old book pages to give to their favorite administrator, teacher, parent or friend....or even themselves!

1.  Book Wreath: directions for this can be found on:  http://makelyhome.com/librarians-please-avert-your-eyes/  Of course there are ALL sorts, but my first one I ever made was from this site.  This pic is the masterpiece :)



2. Decoupage Ornaments: This next one is from http://www.kinassauerstyle.com/search?q=ornaments where you can take something as simple as a glass (I think plastic would work just as well) and decoupage pages over it, adding glitter or other types of shimmery effects.


3. Paper Christmas Trees: Christmas trees made from old discarded wrapping present cores can be made using book pages.  Think of other places as an educator to get those cardboard cores.  I've saved mine from lamination film.  Here are some simple directions: http://www.crafts-for-all-seasons.com/paper-cone-tree.html




4. Snowflake: Big or small, any book page will work well to make these beautiful snowflakes! Believe it or not, it took me about 30 minutes to make one of these.  I'm sure it'll be easier the more you make.  http://m.wikihow.com/Make-a-3D-Paper-Snowflake


                       


5. Book Beads: For the jewelry lover, try making book beads to string for a bracelet or necklace.  Or create bigger ones to use as tree garland.  Simply roll one inch strips using a toothpick for smaller beads and other cylindrical objects for larger beads and Modge Podge the outside.  Hint: spray whatever you're using with some spray oil...it'll help loosen up the beads when they're done drying. Also, if doing with tooth picks, set them in water about five minutes before using them

                                                                                https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/20/72187446_5cb115d606_z.jpg?zz=1


And of course, if you need some more ideas, just go over to Pinterest :)  I have a board called "What To Do With Old Books."  http://www.pinterest.com/naomibates/what-to-do-with-old-books/  And there are plenty more!!!  Please share if you have one dedicated to creatively archiving old books 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

2014, Candlewick Press

It began with the beautiful marriage between Beauregard Roux and Maman in the mid-late 1800s.  He, with his big personality, and she with her small one.  Beauregard's dream was someday to move to the American city of Manhatine and eventually this became reality.  Between the dream and reality came four beautiful children to the couple.  Emilienne was the first and she would fall in love exactly three times.  Rene was next, and he was so beautiful people would stare when he passed by.  Margeaux was the third and devoutly followed Emilienne's footsteps.  Pierette was the baby and the tiniest fragile creature of the four siblings.

Reality hit hard when the Roux family moved to Manhatine.  Living in squalor and a filthy tenement, the children didn't understand why anyone would consider this paradise.  When you live in a place like this, things get worse most of the time instead of better.  Death took most of the family, and Emilienne knew she had to escape.  She found her way out of the tenements and into the lush, green world of Seattle,  where she started her own family in a periwinkle house on Pinnacle Lane.

Life didn't come easy for Emilienne but she braved through the storms and eventually had a baby girl named Viviane.  She was a bright and intelligent girl and was talented in many ways like her mother, but was especially gifted at being able to attune her sense of smell to not only people, but situations as well.  Rain would smell different during the seasons.  And the love of her life would always smell of soap and Turtle Wax.  Their love produced a set of twins, Ava and Henry, both of them carrying on the uniqueness of the Roux side of the family.

Ava was born with wings, and Henry was born not wanting to be touched or to talk.  Hers was a gift people could see, while his was a talent not fully understood until that tragic day....a very tragic day for the Lavenders...

Leslye Walton writes such a beautiful story filled with allegories, metaphors and lyrical writing.  It's in her writing that the characters fully form in all of their gloriousness as well as the juxtapositions she explores in the settings and personalities found in the book.  Walton's book is meant to be read, but it should be read not only with the eyes, but the soul as well.  Not only meant for teens, this is a novel that adults, especially those who enjoy depth, will love.  No wonder this is a finalist on YALSA's Morris List (new debut authors).  I LOVED this book!!  HIGHLY Recommended high school and up.


Link to a book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDF-B4n6mEs

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Six Sites to Create and Use Badges in Education

Badges have been around forever.  No matter what culture (or how grisly they are), badges are worn as a sign of importance with a focus not so much on the group, as on the individual.  The military is probably the foremost recognized badge creator/users in the world.  First of all, they're really impressive!  Secondly, if you're part of that organization, you instantly know what each of those badges mean and what you accomplished in order to wear them.

Today, badges have gone from physical to virtual.  Examples of virtual badges are ones gamers have depending on their skills in a particular game.  Then you have websites where you create something and are awarded  badges based on amount of views, longevity, etc (think about what http://www.smore.com has done with badges.  COOL!!)  Check out people's blogs and what badges they proudly display on their sidelines. 

What's so great about badges?  Why should I care about badges when I'm just an educator?  Here are a few reasons...they are the PERFECT vehicle to
1: display individual achievement
2: create a "want to, can do" attitude
3: they show how far a student has come from where they used to be. 

Think back to the days of stars on a posterboard showing classroom achievement.  Those who did well could swell with pride because they're always at the top of the charts.  But what about those poor souls who weren't able to do what needed to be done in order to get a star?  One word: humiliation.  And that's one powerful word!  When virtual badges are used, they are individually awarded, not grouped.  They can be shown on one person's site, not a chart.  Best of all, YOU get to create them so every student is capable of badges based on their personal strengths

So where do I get them?  Here are six sites I really like that are creative and useful.  Distribution is up to you (email, a curated site of badges, a teacher's website for students to download, et al).  It's worth a try to start making them :)  So, in no particular order:




change font, outline, shape and download. VERY simple to use



transparent badges, more logo than badge.  Many options to choose from.  Downloadable




Multiple tools from badge makers to logo creators and many more.  VERY elementary, doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles.  Creates something simple Downloadable.  Registration required





banners, icons, and badges you can make.  Includes curved or straight text as well as color options Downloadable



Need to register for this site.  Add a badge from their design group, or search for a particular one you may need that isn’t shown. Create a class of students and award them indivdually and virtually.



Keep an eye on this site.  has an offline badge maker you can create hands-on.  Email for the kit.  Is in beta format…continuing to work on it for more options
 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

If You're Going to Surf the Web....Three Sites For Educators K-12 and beyond

Keeping up with tools is an ongoing pursuit because of the amazing turn-around (or turnover) of web tools.  Some are designed for the classroom, and those that aren't can be harnessed and adapted to use in the classroom, with the right amount of ingenuity.  Today, instead of talking about web tools, I'm going to direct you to three great sites instead.

1. wikiHow: http://www.wikihow.com
This site has saved me from wasting time trying to find out information from technology to making scones.  You put in a topic, and more often than not, wikiHow will have a step-by-step tutorial (along with images) to get you to the end.  What I like about this site is that it isn't as bulky as Youtube, where trying to find out information can sometimes be like pulling a tooth.  How many of us out there besides me gets frustrated with the length of time to watch it, only to find out that it's not the actual information you may need.  And to top if off, I have to wait for adverts to pop in at the beginning...You can avoid ALL of that unnecessary waste of time by using wikiHow.  Try it...you may find it's your first go to when you need a quick answer


2. Top 100 Tools for Learning 2014:  http://c4lpt.co.uk/top100tools/
I typed this in to search for new tools to try and lo and behold!  The Brits have uploaded their top tools list!  What's so great about this list is that it's a compilation of tools voted on by over 1,000 learning professionals from over 60 countries.  That's what I call global collaboration!!  You may know several of them, you may know a few.  It doesn't matter which side you may rest on, it's the fact that these ARE amazing tools and ones educators should get to know on a more personal level


3. Discovery Education Web 2.0 Tools:  http://web2014.discoveryeducation.com/web20tools.cfm
We all know the amazing abilities Discovery Education has had on education for years.  The best part of Discovery Education is that it is constantly evolving right alongside the classroom to provide seamless integration.  This particular site is all about web tools but in different categories:  
 Presentation tools
Video tools
Mobile tools
Community tools
Related links
Each of these categories only have three or four sites except Related links, which has more, but that's MORE than a mouthful for anyone who wants to use them individually or in a mash-up (using two or more tools to create a product).

So when you have some time (break is just around the corner!!) hop on over to these sites and stay awhile...you'll love what you see :)



Saturday, November 29, 2014

Jackaby by William Ritter

2014, Algonquin Young Readers

All Abigail Rook wants is to live the life of adventure her father instilled in her.  When she leaves Europe to come to America in 1892, she finds more than she could have imagined….

Nearly penniless and without a place to stay, Abigail sets foot into the city of New Fiddleham hoping work is plentiful but finding nothing except the oddest man she’s ever met.  People tell her he’s a sham, others say he has a gift, still others won’t even say his name…Jackaby.  Abigail tends to believe what they say when her first encounter with him involves him seeing all sorts of fairy creatures hiding within the folds of her skirt.  With what little money she has, she finds a room for the night hoping the next day will prove more fruitful.

When she wakes up, the day proves just as dismal as her entrance, with little to no job offers available until Abigail notices an ad for an assistant for an investigative service.  Immediately going to the address all she can hope is that the job isn’t filled.  When Abigail rings the bell of the odd house she’s standing in front of, Jackaby appears on the other side.  It's explained to her he can solve mysteries and crimes using not only the power of deductive reasoning, but also his skills at detecting creatures from ghosts to trolls to banshees and more.  Both of them are uncertain about the other (Is he off his rocker? Can she handle the duties involved with the job?) but a murder of dire concern needs his utmost attention, and Abigail follows along, hoping to impress her potential employer.

At the scene of the murder, Jackaby realizes this isn’t just a murder, but one involving a dangerous creature others cannot detect.  Clues left behind are important, but more important are the auras Jackaby sees, leading him further down the dark and dangerous path to find the creature who is craving new victims and the reason behind it.  Along with a young police officer named Charlie, who hides a secret of his own, the trio begins this supernatural investigation that could lead to their untimely demise.  All isn’t what it seems and Abigail learns not only more about Jackaby and his peculiarities, but also something about herself as well. 

This is a brilliant book that entwines historical fiction with hints of mystery and fantasy all blended into one amazing adventure the reader becomes a part of right from the start.  The author, William Ritter, uses descriptive language to create a dark mood and setting but has the ability to use his main character for a slight comedic break from the dark and dangerous, creating a balance of edge-of-your-seat action with those smiles that occur when Jackaby shows his quirks and curiosities (for some reason I can SO see Johnny Depp playing this character :).  Along with the plot, Ritter creates a character with architecture as well, creating a mansion Jackaby lives in that more than meets the eye and mirrors his quirks and personality.  With all of this combined, it makes for a quick read and a hope that there are other adventures Jackaby and Abigail will share with new fans.  YA readers, meet historical New England's freshest new breed of Holmes and Watson!  Recommended 7-12 grades

Book pairs:
Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
Ripper by Stefan Petrucha

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Broken Hearted by Amelia Kahaney

HarperCollins, 2013

Anthem Fleet has it all.  She lives in a penthouse overlooking the city of Bedlam where her father is a premier real estate investor.  She is on the prestigious ballet corps as one of the prima ballerinas, and she goes to Cathedral Day School, a private school for the wealthy.  Her boyfriend, Will, is the best-looking guy in school and Zahra, her best friend, absolutely despises him.  And whereever she needs to go, Serge will take her there in her family's private car, a beautiful and expensive Seraph.  But one event will change her life and make her see the city she loves a completely different way.

Anthem has always colored between the lines but one night she and Zahra go to the Southside to party.  Never having been there before, Anthem is filled with anxiety until she meets Gavin.  He's beautiful,attentive protective.  Anthem loves the way he treats her as a normal person, like casually going by school to pick her up on his motorcycle to take her to secluded and beautiful spots on an otherwise ugly Southside.  They are in love...then Alicia Roach comes calling.

In an instant, Gavin is abducted and Anthem has a few days to come up with a ransom for his release or he dies. She's desperate and devastated and while crossing the Bridge of Sighs, she get thrown into the bubbly chemical-ridden river and dies...only to wake up in a makeshift hospital with stitches running down her chest...

With days lost and a chimeric mechanical heart keeping her alive, Anthem has to beat the clock to save Gavin from the Syndic8 before it's too late.  Or is it already?  The city has gotten derelict and dangerous since The Hope disappeared.  No one knows why he did, but they're ready for a hero comeback..someone to take the city to expose the darkness and bring it to light.  But who will it be and how is Anthem, a beautiful rich girl from the city, involved in all of it?

Kahaney writes a beautifully descriptive steampunk novel that will draw the reader in with imagery, the societies within Bedlam and the dark underbelly of crime.  With street names like Hemlock, Catechism and Oleander and places like Morass Bluffs, Fleet Tower and Hades, the reader will feel like a comic book went rogue and became a  novel based on the grandiose world, characters and plots Kahaney weaves. The citizens of Bedlam can read everything going on through the Daily Dilemma or feed their addiction with drugs like Dreamazine, rollies, and Zenithin.  It doesn't matter which side of the Bridge to Nowhere you live, most lives are the same - duplicitous, carefully covered over and never what they seem.

Best of all?  JUST picked up the sequel this past weekend!  Highly recommended for upper junior high and high school.




Thursday, October 30, 2014

Creating Beautiful Chalkboard Posters for FREE!

oh yeah....I'm all into this (right now. I'm sure I'll find something else later in the week to play with)

I LOVE posting pics of cool quotes on Twitter so I went to Google images to find one and I saw this AUDACIOUS chalkboard poster.

When I went to the site, of course they were for sale on Etsy, and I thought, "No way!  I'll learn how to do it on my own!"

So I cheated a little and found some hints and tricks from other sites and blogs and then just played around with it for awhile and waa-lah!  You too, can makes these fabulous posters from scratch to share, tweet, blog, or post on your website.  All you need are a couple of great quotes (there are billions online) and start creating!;

First, you have to find a chalkboard background.  If using a Creative Commons website, make sure you add the attribution at the bottom of the background.  Here's one from Alice Keeler on Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/alicegop/13318243535/in/photolist-4U2LU1-6WB15Q-4nnLFX-6WwZF2-6WB16f-6WwZEv-64jkeP-iezaRh-7Nwmv-6SRSMe-9jQxWq-mhTtNx-mhVm7A-8H4sE5-8H4sNq

There are other ways to create chalkboards as well.  If you want a simple black background, create one in powerpoint and save it as a .jpg  My favorite is going to www.picmonkey.com   Go to design, then click on textures and there's are two chalkboard backgrounds you can use.  Canva canva.com has a background as well.

Second, it's time to start looking for some fonts you can use.  I really like dafont.com  There are several that would work including Sketchblock, Blackboard, or Chalk Hand Lettering.  You can also just choose which ones tickle your fancy.  Another MUST font to download would be Dingbats. These will be used for decorating your chalkboard.

Third, find the platform you want to use. I use Powerpoint, but if you know of something else, you can do that as well.  You can absolutely design it completely in PicMonkey (which I did with this one) and use your own fonts.  You can also use Canva, but the fonts are set on it.  Whatever you choose, you're going to have fun!

Fourth, Think outside the box.  The one I created above is pretty simple, but think about the different colors you could use for text, more elaborate shapes you could use as well as the massive amount of other sites out there.

And that's it.  Setting the entire thing up will be the longest part, but after that, the sky's the limit! Have fun and chalk to your heart's content.  Best part of it all?  You don't have to slap the erasers on a tree outside and get chalkdust up your nose, in your clothes, drying out your skin...ahhhhh school days!



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Good Things Come in Threes: Three Tech Tools For the Classroom, part 2

At an academy I went to not quite so long ago, someone said something that resonated with me deep inside.  What was basically said was that in the past, it was easy to keep up with the newest and shiniest tech tools online.  Now, it simply can't be done.  There is too much out there In today's edutech world, we now work at reinventing the tools we know and spend more time doing that than finding the latest and greatest (with different shelf lives to boot).
I'll always be a tech hound, sniffing out some really useful tools and sharing them on this blog, but I also believe in small portions that's more palatable.  So, here are three cool tools you may like:



1. Snapguide:  www.snapguide.com
This is a website or an app and is a great way to create those "how to" guides with text, images, links and most of all...imagination!  Snapguide is great in the classroom or with educators to help make navigation easier.  If nothing else, check out this website - SO many possibilities!!! Simple sign-in and start procedure.  Here's an example of one:
https://snapguide.com/guides/turn-an-old-book-into-tablet-case/


2. Cacoo:  www.cacoo.com
This site allows users to create diagrams, flowcharts and mindmaps from scratch or via a template.  Yes, there are others like that out there, but Cacoo goes one step further by allowing users to create them in real-time and chat with them while working.  You can open them to the public or keep them private and even export them as a pdf or png There are premium versions, and the free one allows 1 shared folders with up to 15 users at the same time and a .png download.  SO many possibilities and works well with all types of curricula.


3. Showbie: www.showbie.com
This is both a site and an app and is pretty cool!  I test drove this as a student AND teacher.  Okay...what happens is a teacher creates an assignment/class and gives students the code.  Students log in and upload their work. The advantage is the simplicity of the interface, the different types of products students can submit, and being to check and grade on your iPad OR laptop.


And as a side note, www.canva.com is a GREAT poster/infographic/presentation creator, is now an app, making it the first infographic tool that I know of you can use to create with iPad.  THANK YOU!! :)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Not So Horror(ible) YA Books




There are a lot of great horror, but I have a group of students who want to read the genre, but don't care to get scared.  And with that, the birth of this list began.  This is a collaborative list, and I am so thankful to the librarians who helped are out there. Some I've read, some I haven't, but with collective expertise, this could be a helpful list for humorous horror :)






DEVILS AND DEMONS:

Soul Enchilada by David Maccinis Gill

Prom Dates from Hell Rosemary Clement-Moore

Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen

Croak by Gina Damico




 









MONSTERS:


Killer Pizza Greg Taylor


Cold Cereal trilogy by Adam Rex





ZOMBIES:

Warm Bodies Isaac Marion

 Eat Brains Love Jeff Hart

 Bad Taste in Boys Carrie Harris

The Infects Sean Beaudoin
Gil’s All Fright Diner by Martinez
















WITCHERY AND MAGIC

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer Lish McBride

Hex Hall series by Rachel Hawkins

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins

A Bad Day for Voodoo by Jeff Strand











VAMPIRES:

Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side Beth Fantasky

 Thirsty by MT Anderson

Sucks to Be Me by Kimberly Pauley

Fat Vampire by Adam Rex

Reform Vampire Support Group by Jinks
















GHOSTS:

School Spirit by Rachel Hawkins

Intertwined by Gena Showalter

The Twelve-Fingered Boy by John Hornor Jacobs



















Other:

The Savages by Matt Whyman
















Tuesday, October 21, 2014

All the Truth That's in Me by Julie Berry

2013, Penguin Group




Judith…Worm…unwanted.  That wasn’t the case before.  She was a happy child with parents and a little brother.  She loved to sing and learn, listen and speak.  She had friends.  She had a crush on a boy named Lucas.  But this all disappeared the year she turned 16.  Now after two years gone, she has returned with her tongue cut out…silent to the past and what happened to her. 


Now she is part of the background.  Her father is gone, having died while she was gone.  Her mother doesn’t even speak her name, much less acknowledge her presence because Judith is the one who brought misery upon her household.  Her brother, now head of the household, is trying hard to be a man in a boy’s body.  As a pariah, she has no one who wants to be her friend, and worst of all, Lucas is to be married.  All of her thoughts about him during her two years of captivity are now turned to dust.  She can’t help but still love him, even if he doesn’t return it, but she’s used to that.  No one loves her…she is a silent and odd sentinel, alone with just her thoughts and the rumors that swirl around her.


But then trouble comes.  Homelanders are coming to exact vengeance and destroy the village.  While Lucas, Darrel and others leave to defend their town, Judith knows they won’t win.  What she knows is she must revisit her nightmare and convince him to help, whatever the cost.  If she disappears again, no one will notice nor care.  She’s willing to sacrifice herself to save those she loves who don’t love her back.


But when the truth finally speaks for itself, the entire town is rocked to its very core.  Who is telling lies and who is keeping them?  Sometimes those that speak quietly are heard the loudest…


Julie Berry writes an OUTSTANDING historical fiction novel that drew me in with the first chapter read.  There are two things that make this book stand out…well, make that three.  First, is the fact that it’s written in first person only, which is a rarity with young adult novels.  The reader sees through the eyes of Judith and without omniscience of the good, bad and ugly.  The second is the fact that while not telling the reader the setting, I was drawn to the parallels between modern society and historical society where not much about human nature has changed.  The setting came out slowly and put an emphasis on who and what people do, which is the crux of the book.  And lastly, the emotional pull between reader and Judith is powerful.  She is a character you hurt for, love when no one else does, and hope for.  No wonder it’s on the YALSA Top Teen 10 Best Fiction for Young Adults 2014.  HIGHLY recommended JH/HS

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Great places to keep up with YA and Children's Books!

So, what are the newest books out there?  How can I find book-alikes?  What about series books? As Mighty Mouse said, "Here I come to save the day!"Here are a few sites I'd like to share with you that were previously shared with me. I absolutely LOVE networking!! Another great network is #yalove, which is all about YA books from all publishers, genres, and librarian read-aholics from around the nation! http://www.yalovechat.wikispaces.com

NEW BOOKS


YA LIT:  http://yalit.com
With a simple interface, this is my go-to to find the newest releases for YA books.  This is an independent site created and updated by a librarian, Keri Adams and web developer Stefan Hayden.
The site opens to upcoming books being released as well as the release dates, but has a list of published books by month, from newest to oldest.

YALSA BOOKLISTS: http://www.ala.org/yalsa/booklistsawards/booklistsbook
From the definitive machine on children's and young adult literature, go to this site not only to find out the most current lists, but also to look at the nominations lists to consider future titles you may want to purchase.  I always try to pick at least 10 winners on the nominations list from a personal POV :)

STATE BOOK LISTS: http://www.txla.org/groups/yart  and  http://www.txla.org/groups/CRT-awards
Call me biased, but I absolutely love the Texas Library Association's booklists for young adults.  Not only is the annotated current list available, but also the current nominations.  The different lists include Lonestar: middle/junior high schools; Maverick: graphic novels for YA; TAYSHAS: high school readers; and the Spirit of Texas book awards, celebrating the best authors from the state.  Texas also has booklists for children: the 2x2 for children aged two years old to second grade; and the Bluebonnet list: elementary school booklist.

A BOOK AND A HUG: http://www.abookandahug.com/index.php
I wasn't really sure where to put this site because it does SO MUCH!!  Created and updated by Barb Langridge, the site contains book reviews, What's New, searches by category, searching by reading levels and more - all for children's and young adult books.

WHAT TO READ NEXT


BOOK SEER: http://www.bookseer.com
This is a very simple fill in the blank question: I just finished ______________ by __________.What should I read next?  That's it...once you type in your book, it gives recommendations based on amazon recommendations.  Some of the recommendations may be skewed (Michael Northrop's newest book, Surrounded by Sharks and Diary of a Wimpy Kid??  Really?)  but it's fun nonetheless and does come up with some solid recommendations.

WHAT SHOULD I READ NEXT: http://www.whatshouldireadnext.com
Similar to Book Seer, you type in the title of a book or name of an author and the site gives you similar recommendations.  What is different about this one is that every book listed also has subjects as well, which could make searching the recommended list easier.  The info button takes you to....you got it... Amazon.  You can also join and create lists that you can add or delete from and also have the option to share your lists....hmmmmm....I like that!!

YOUR NEXT READ: http://www.yournextread.com
Ohhhhh....this is my dream site!  The front page takes you to featured booklists, but also has tabs, including children's books, a leaderboard of top readers, and a "My Map" tab that will simply blow your mind as they create an awesome map of recommendations and how they all tie in.  This site is affiliated with goodreads.com.  You can create your own sign in and get even more personalized (although this took awhile to get a confirmation email so be patient)




SERIES FINDERS


MID CONTINENT PUBLIC LIBRARY SERIES FINDER: http://www.mymcpl.org/books-movies-music/juvenile-series
Updated by real librarians, these is a VERY large collection of series titles and which books are in that particular series.  You can view four different ways: series title, subject, book title, and author.  I did a quick search of one of the newer series out there (Darren Shan's Zom-b series) and didn't find it on their database, but that doesn't mean I'm going to rule out this audacious series finder, which are few and far to come by!

MANGA PANDA: http://www.mangapanda.com/alphabetical
I admit defeat...there is NO way I could possibly keep up with this genre and I freely admit it.  So with that said, a student told me about this website and I'm so thankful!!  I'll never have to worry I have the latest or which ones are out - this list makes it EASY PEASY!


OLD SCHOOL IT

There are also others out there and you can go old-school by asking a friend or librarian.  In fact, that may be the best way yet because not only do you get great recommendations, but you also create relationships in a face-to-face environment, which we need more of.
All of these sites will satisfy any reader's thirst for more of the newest, brightest, best so stay thirsty, my friends :)