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Age is Just a Number -of Good (Teen) Books! February 7, 2017

Posted by stacey in Book Discussion, Book List, Genre Book Discussion, Young Adult.
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I have some sad news -It was decided to stop our monthly staff genre book discussions and I have to confess, I miss them already… At least you’ll have one last list of new (to you?) teen books to read and enjoy! Are you ready to see what everyone had to say about their selection this month? Me too!

Megan: The Serpent King by Jeff Zenter, is the 2017 William C. Morris Award for a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens. It tells the story of three teens living in a small Tennessee town in the heart of the Bible Belt. Dill is the grandson and son of preachers and their legacy is not a happy one. Grandpa Dill was a snake charmer who became unhinged after the death of his daughter and Dill’s father, also a Dill, is in prison. His mother wants him to leave school and help support the family, but his best friend Lydia wants him to go to college. Lydia is internet famous for her fashion blog and she is eager to leave her small town middle class life and strike out on her own in New York City. The third member of this odd little group is Travis, the gentle giant. He chooses to escape the abuse he suffers at the hand of his father by retreating into a fantasy world. This book is full of the big questions teens ask, friendship, tragedy, and hope. This is a fantastic coming of age story for fans of John Green and A.S. King

Gina: We Are Still Tornadoes is written in epistolary format, by Michael Kun and Susan Mullen. Discover the thoughts of these childhood friends, Cath and Scott after their high school graduation in the letters they write to each other the following year as pen pals. Cath moves out of state to attend college while Scott remains home to assist his father in the family store and starts a band with friends. They correspond throughout the year sharing their experiences, learning, and growing. Their letters bring them close together to realize that they are more than just friends. The addition of the 80’s music references made this book enjoyable.

Steve: The first book of the Ranger’s Apprentice series, The Ruins of Gorlan, by John Flanagan, is an awesome fantasy story that centers on an orphan named Will. On the Choosing Day none of the task masters choose him as an apprentice, that is until a Ranger ultimately requests him. Will is dutifully learning the ways of the Rangers, under the mentorship of the mysterious Halt, when his training is interrupted by news that the evil Morgarath is making maneuvers in an attempt to gain control of the kingdom. And then the real action begins.

Carol: In Jackaby by William Ritter, Abigail Rook comes to America in 1892 looking for adventure, and she is hired as an assistant to R.F. Jackaby, a mysterious detective who can see the paranormal. On Abigail’s first day, they are called to the scene of a murder. Jackaby is convinced that the killer is other-worldly and the game is afoot. This first in a series was published in 2014 and is a smart, funny and clever read—like a Sherlock novel, with a supernatural twist.

Sara: I read the young adult novel, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin. It is the first in a trilogy about a 16 year old girl who wakes up in the hospital with no memory of the accident that put her there or how two friends and her boyfriend died in it. Her family moves to a new state, hoping Mara’s memory will come back gradually. Instead she begins hallucinating that she can see her dead friends and has premonitions of things before they happen. She also falls in love with a mysterious boy, Noah, who she feels like she has know for a lifetime. Were they destined to meet by forces beyond her control? And how did her friends die in the accident while she was unharmed? This book is a psychological (and perhaps paranormal) thriller, fast-paced and definitely worth reading.

Lauren: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows is a delightfully ridiculous retelling of the story of Lady Jane Grey and King Edward VI. Their fantasy world centers on the clash between Verities, “normal people”…I guess, and Ethians, who have both a human and animal form and are widely seen as the scourge of the earth. An absolutely hilarious story of magic, adventure, and a little romance.

Dori: In Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina, it’s the summer of 1977, and New York City is haunted by periodic blackouts, arson attacks and most menacingly by serial killer Son of Sam. Nora Lopez is about to graduate from high school and is thinking about her future while dealing with the stress of living with her single mother, a Cuban immigrant, and her younger brother Hector, a drug dealer who abuses his mother. To escape, Nora gets a job at a local deli and starts a relationship with Pablo, a handsome boy who works there too. As the city’s tension swirls around her, Nora must realize some hard truths while finding herself.

Beth: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige is set in a dystopia Oz. When Amy finds herself displaced in Oz after a tornado, she learns that Oz is real, but it is not the Oz she had read about growing up. She’s tasked with saving Oz by taking down the all too powerful ruler, Dorothy.

Stacey: In Kids of Appetite, David Almond has been able to address serious issues with such subtle grace. Vic is struggling to cope with the loss of his father to cancer while watching his mom begin a relationship with someone new. Oh, and also Vic has Moebius Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that paralyzes his facial muscles. Escaping the house with his father’s ashes, Vic stumbles upon a tight-knit group of outsiders (yep, a nod to the S.E. Hinton book!) each with their own troubles. When they find a message hidden in the urn, the clues lead the kids to discover memories of importance to Vic’s parents. Sweet but never sappy, with a message about kindness, compassion, and living with personal integrity, plus a quirky sense of humor; this book becomes something truly special.

Thank you for joining in and reading along with us for the last few years -I hope you’ve discovered an new favorite author (or two) and (like me) found a little love in your heart for a genre you previously felt “bleh!’ about! (I’m looking at *you* horror genre!)

enjoy!
Stacey

Megan’s More than 10 Top Picks of 2015 December 16, 2015

Posted by Megan in Book List, Top Ten, Top Ten of 2015.
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Normally I love making lists of books, but I agonize over these end of the year favorites lists. After reviewing all the books that I read this year I discovered that this is the first time in many years that I read more adult (non-YA) books that YA books. Does this mean I am a real grown-up now? I hope not! I also noted that this was a year dominated by science fiction, fantasy, and amazing graphic novels.  Ok, let’s get started!

  1. The String Diaries by Stephen Lloyd Jones.

string diaries

2. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff.

fatesfuries

3. Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson.

mistborn

4. Uprooted by Naomi Novik.

uprooted

5. The Passenger by Lisa Lutz. (This is a bit of a tease as it isn’t due out until March 2016)

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6. Bingo’s Run by James Levine.

bingos run

7. Lock In by John Scalzi.

lock in

8. The Martian by Andy Weir.

martian

9. Descender, vol.1: Tin Stars by Jeff Trillium.

tin stars

10. Rat Queens, vol. 1: Sass and Sorcery and vol. 2: The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’rygot by Kurtis Wiebe.

rat1 rat2

Of course, I can’t finish this list without mentioning some of my favorite YA books.

laborden salt to the sea walktheearth wrath Everything everything fixer Wicked will rise Under a painted sky all the rage all the bright places

Happy Reading!

~Megan

Fourteen Fantastic Reads of 2014 December 8, 2014

Posted by Megan in Book List, Top Ten.
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This annual post combines two of my favorite things: making lists and talking about amazing books. Of course, it is always a challenge to winnow the list down. A quick look at my first draft of my list (yes, there are multiple drafts), tells me that I read and enjoyed a lot of mysteries and memoirs and a TON of YA. That being said, my final draft has more variety. In no particular order, here are some of my favorite reads of 2014:

1. The Secret Place by Tana French. I think this is the third year in a row that Tana French has made it onto my end of the year Top Reads list. She is amazing.

secret place

2. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty. Last year my list included The Husband’s Secret, which was full of family drama, hidden secrets, suspense, with a touch of romance and humor. That pretty much describes this latest offering. The audio is fantastic.

 

big little lies

3. This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper. Are you looking to feel better about your own quirky family? Check out the hilariously dysfunctional Foxmans!

this is where i leave you

4. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. If someone forced me to pick only one favorite of 2014, I think this would the one.

i'll give you the sun

5. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. Nonfiction always surprises me. Who knew a book about rowing would be a favorite?!

boys in the boat

6. The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence. Quirky characters and an unlikely friendship!

universe versus

7. The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker. This French import is a book about a book…and a murder. Plenty of twists and turns. Read the book before it hits the big screen!

harry

8. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. Humor and heart! This is another one that is fabulous on audio.

rosie

9. Vicious by V.E. Schwab. Superpowers and moral ambiguity abound in this dark and dangerous read.

vicious

10. Out of the Easy by Ruta Septys. New Orleans in the 1950. A murder threatens to derail a young girls dreams of a better life. Heartbreaking and lovely.

out of the easy

11. The Storied Life of A.J. Fickery by Gabrielle Zevin.  A love letter to book lovers.

a.j.

12. Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King. The prolific Mr. King takes a stab at a cat-and-mouse police procedural.

mr. mercedes

13. 10% Happier by Dan Harris. A non-intimidating, practical look at meditation.

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14. Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy. A new-to-me series full of wizards and magic and good vs evil. And a skeleton detective. LOVE.

skulduggery

I can’t wait to see what all of my coworkers put on their lists. Be sure to check back all week for more fun lists!

Happy Reading!

∼Megan

 

Bonus: Memorable Memoirs of 2014

yes not my father nph love

 

 

 

I Read YA, Do You? May 23, 2013

Posted by Megan in Historical Fiction, Movies, Science Fiction, Thrillers, Young Adult.
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YA (young adult) literature isn’t just for teens anymore. It appears that the movie industry has finally wised up to something that fans of YA have known for years: YA books are AWESOME (and apparently make great movies). So, you’ve read Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and maybe even The Perks of Being a Wallflower. What’s next?

 

White Cat by Holly Black. This is the first book in The Curse Workers series. It’s like The Sopranos with magic. Set in an alternate reality America, some people have the supernatural ability to manipulate the minds, memories, emotions, and luck of others with the touch of a hand. Other curse workers have the power to kill, transform, or physically injure others. Curse work is illegal, workers are feared, and most are criminals, mobsters, and con artists. Cassel Sharpe comes from a family of workers but he has no curse skill. He is an outcast, a con artist, and a murderer….dun dun dun!

white cat2

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. Thanks to the success of The Walking Dead, zombies are all the rage and YA has TONS of awesome zombie fare. One of my favorites is this trilogy by Carrie Ryan. Mary has grown up in relative safety, while the Unconsecrated roam the forest and unrelentingly attempt to get beyond the fences. When the wall it breached Mary has to choose between the life she has always known and the dangers of the great unknown. Dark, intense, and never once is the word zombie mentioned!

forest of hands and teeth original

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld. Are you a history buff? You won’t want to miss this awesome steampunk take on WWI! Here’s the scoop: the year is 1914, and Europe is on the verge of a war. Prince Alek, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne is on the run from the Clanker Army. Deryn Sharp, a girl disguised as a boy, is an airman for the British Air Force learning to fly the genetically engineered air beast, the Leviathan. The two form an uneasy alliance as they struggle to protect their secrets and stay alive. Clankers vs Darwinist! Giant walking machines vs. Giant flying beasts. This is the first in a trilogy as well.

leviathan

The Diviners by Libba Bray. Flappers are once again hip, thanks to the remake of The Great Gatsby! How would you like your Flappers with a side of supernatural demonic serial killer? So. Freaking. Creepy.

diviners

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga. Speaking of creepy! Love Dexter? Check out this series starring Jasper Dent, the son of the countries most notorious serial killer.

i hunt killers

Cinder by Marissa Meyer. Sure, Iron Man is a really hot cyborg, but Cinder is a cyborg version of Cinderella. This first book in the series is a futuristic retelling of the Cinderella story, complete with a handsome prince and a wicked stepmother.

cinder

I am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak. Not into all the dark, supernatural stuff? No problem! From the author of The Book Thief (have you read that one? No? You should!) comes the story of Ed Kennedy, my favorite nobody. Ed Kennedy is a nineteen-year-old Australian cab driving who lives with a smelly old dog, pines away for his best friend, Audrey, and loves to play cards. He’s an ordinary guy, going nowhere fast, until the day he foils a bank robbery. His glory is short-lived, but shortly after the would-be robber is sentenced, Ed receives an ace of clubs with three addresses written on it. And so begins Ed’s new adventure.

i am the messenger

Okay For Now by Gary Schmidt. This book was recently chosen as NPR’s Back Seat Book Club selection and a personal favorite of mine. Doug has a time life at home and now that he has moved to a new, small town things don’t look much better. Both his dad and his brother are bullies and his other brother is away in Vietnam. With nothing to do and no friends, Doug finds himself at the library. There he discovers Audubon’s birds and a talent he never knew he had. I did not expect to become so completely emotionally tangled up with Doug and his problems. And the birds! Audubon’s birds! Really? Yes! I have read this one twice now and I am sure I will read it again.

okay for now

Are you read for this summer big YA movie? I don’t know about you, but I am so excited to see City of Bones by Cassandra Clare on the Big Screen!

city of bones

Happy Reading!

˜Megan

 

From Muppets to Nightmares April 24, 2013

Posted by Julie in Debut Author, Fantasy, Fiction, First Novel, New Books, Young Adult.
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Jason Segel     Most people know Jason Segel from movies like Knocked Up and This is 40 or maybe from the television series, How I met Your Mother. What you might not know is that he is also a writer, having written the screenplays for Forgetting Sarah Marshall and the 2011 movie The Muppets. According to the Associated Press, he is going to be using that writing talent to pen a series of books for middle school kids on overcoming your fears, and it’s supposed to be funny as well as scary. He’ll be collaborating with popular author,  Kirsten Miller, to create the series “Nightmares!” and Random House is set to publish it next year.

—Julie

Decide For Yourself October 2, 2009

Posted by Evelyn in Fiction, Thoughtful Ramblings.
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foreverMy first experience with a library censorship issue concerned Judy Blume’s book Forever. It was the late ‘70s and some high school parents had protested the book being in our school library. When I asked why, my boss told me “the book condones pre-marital sex.”  The books I remembered reading as a teen certainly weren’t controversial, so I decided to read Forever myself to see what all the fuss was about.

 What I found was an intriguing story about Katherine, a senior in high school, who is strongly attracted to Michael, who has already been sexually active. As they acknowledge their feelings, they plan for Katherine’s first experience by going to a family planning clinic and getting her on the pill. They both feel that having sex will link them “forever.”

Soon after graduation the couple finds themselves working summer jobs in different states and it takes a toll on their relationship. Even though Katherine considers herself “in love” with Michael, she finds herself romantically attracted to a tennis pro at her summer camp. When Michael comes for a surprise visit, Katherine breaks up with him, telling him she’s found another relationship.

What I read was a sad story about a teen who grew up and learned that she wasn’t ready for a long-lasting relationship and regretted sleeping with her boyfriend while still in high school, not a book that “condoned pre-marital sex.”  My boss and I had a long discussion about our differing views and came to mutual understanding that we’d never agree about the book.

The experience taught me that I needed to read a book for myself and that I didn’t want others taking that right away from me by trying to ban the book from a library or school. Decide for yourself–Keep the right to choose by supporting Freedom to Read Week at your library!

Awards are Always Lovely January 29, 2009

Posted by stacey in Book Awards.
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How happy, how lucky, how wonderful! A whole bunch of children’s book awards were recently announced at the American Library Association midwinter conference, and I do mean a whole bunch. The John Newbery Medal, Newbery Honor Books, Randolph Caldecott Medal, Caldecott Honor Books,  Coretta Scott King Book Award, Theodor Seuss Geisel Award, are just a few of the twenty-eight total categories. See? Whole bunch! Take at the whole list and see what you think. I know what I think already, I’m thinking this feels like a mini-reading challenge… Are you in?

—Stacey

Why don’t teenage boys read? Here’s why…. November 19, 2008

Posted by Victoria in Fiction.
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Recently, a rather well-written article by a 13-year-old boy was brought to my attention.  The article appeared in Publisher’s Weekly, a trade publication for book buyers and librarians.  He basically wrote the article for book publishers explaining why it’s so hard to market to teenage boys.  It was entitled “Read This b4 You Publish”.  If you care to read it, click here.

I have summarized a few of the reasons he gave for teenage boys, like himself, to be opposed to reading books published for his demographic.  (Although he did give exception to Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl, which I suppose, have gotten it right.)

1.  Very few of them use modern language or timely slang terms.

2.  They too often try to cram a “message” into the story about morals, or fairness, or honor, or some other “cornball crap” (his term).

3. Vampires are cool, but the novels that are being published today have too much romance in them or people being “emo” (again, his term).

4.  They too often underestimate their audience.  In particular, their audience’s understanding of politics, jokes, and tolerance of action and horror.

He recommended that publishers concentrate on books with “video-game style plots, zombie attacks, robot attacks, or any excuse to shoot something”.

So, for all of those teenage boys exactly like this very intelligent one, here is a list of just that.   It does not contain books that use archaic language, “emo” characters, too much romance, or “messages”.

1. The Halo series-  This paperback series based on the popular XBox game is all the rage with teen readers.  No message, lots of things blowing up, and fast action.  The volumes are as follows: The Flood (1), First Strike (2), The Fall of Reach (3),  Ghosts of Onyx (4) Cole Protoccol (5) Contact Harvest (6).  All of these can be found in the teen paperback collection.  Parents be warned.  They contain graphic violence and adult themes.

    

2.  Fallen Angels, Sunrise Over Fallujah– Walter Dean Myers
These war novels focus on the Vietnam War and Operation Iraqi Freedom, respectively.  They are well told from the perspective of teens who, through life circumstances, found themselves trying to survive in the middle of a war.  Yes, there is some thought provoking going on about the situations of war, but teenage boys will appreciate the novels’ realistic tones.  Fallen Angels can be found in teen paperback, Sunrise Over Fallujah can be found in Teen Fiction.

 

3. Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead-Max Brooks
This teen paperback is a tongue-in-cheek examination on the most effective strategies, weapons, and techniques for surviving these predatory monsters.

4.  The Demonata series-Darren Shan
Darren Shan is now well known for his original horror series, Cirque du Freak, which was aimed at tweens.  This series is aimed at older teens.  It is bloody, graphic, and at times, terrifying.  The first book of the series, Lord Loss (teen fiction), introduces Grubs Grady, a teenage boy who returns home one evening to find his family slaughtered horrifically by a demon names Lord Loss who feeds on human pain and suffering.  The demon’s minions try to attack him, but he manages to escape, at least physically.  He winds up in a mental institution, traumatized by what he has seen.  His uncle, Uncle Dervish, then shows up out of the blue and helps him to realize that the demons he has seen are real, and he holds a special power over them that has been passed down through generations.  This is one for the horror loving teen.  The books are entertaining, gory and fast paced.

Stephenie Meyer has started a trend. October 31, 2008

Posted by Victoria in Fiction.
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Stephenie Meyer’s wildly popular Twilight series, about a young girl named Bella who falls in love with a teen vampire named Edward, continues to remain popular even though her fourth and final installment, Breaking Dawn, failed to impress die-hard fans.

In fact, reports were circulated that Meyer had to indefinitely postpone the publication of her companion to the series entitled Midnight Sun, a retelling of the saga written from Edward’s perspective .  This was blamed on leaks of the rough draft onto the Internet.  This has caused much disappointment amongst her fans. 

But, at least fans can satisfy themselves for now with the first Twilight movie, which is slated to be released on Nov. 21, 2008.   Additionally, teen vampire/romance novels are popping up all over and the ones that already existed are in demand. 

For those who are unfamiliar with the series, but whose curiosity has been piqued by all the buzz, here is a list of the Twilight titles in order.  All of these are available in Teen Fiction.

Twilight

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New Moon

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Eclipse

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Breaking Dawn

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All of these titles are also available in downloadable audiobook format on Overdrive!

And, for those of you who are more than familiar with Stephenie Meyer, and are craving more romantic vampire fiction, well fear not!   Here are some other popular teen titles with a werewolf thrown in.

 

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Blood and Chocolate – Teen Sci-Fi
Annette Kurtis Clause
Sixteen-year old Vivian is a loup-garou, otherwise knows as werewolf.  When she moves with her pack to a new town she encounters a reclusive teen named Aidan.  He is a human or “meat boy”.  It isn’t long before she finds herself torn between true love and her loyalty to the pack.  It is dangerous for her to reveal their secret.

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The Silver Kiss – Teen Pbk
Annette Kurtis Clause
Zoe is a teenager whose mother is dying from bone cancer.  She meets Simon, a pale but handsome young man, who is her sole support.  Soon she finds out his lonely secret.

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Shattered Mirror -Teen Sci-Fi
Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
Sarah comes from a long line of vampire hunting witches who see the world in black and white.  When she meets Christopher, a vampire who does not kill to feed, she realizes that some things might be a bit gray.

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Sweetblood – Teen Fiction
Pete Hautman
Sixteen-year-old Lucy is obsessed with vampire subculture.  She is a diabetic, and believes that hundreds of years ago, diabetics were the true vampires.  She meets Draco online, who claims to be a real vampire, and he slowly sucks her into an intriguing and somewhat dangerous underground culture that very few know about.

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Vampire Kisses – Teen Fiction
Ellen Schreiber
Raven is a goth teen who believes she lives in the dullest town in the world.  She longs for a vampire kiss and the secrets it unleashes.  When mysterious Alexander and his family move into the creepy Benson Hill mansion, she thinks she’s found her kiss.

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Blue Bloods -Teen Fiction
Melissa De La Cruz
The Blue Bloods are vampires that live amongst New York City’s elite socialites.  Schuyler Van Alen is one of them, but doesn’t know it yet.  She does know has never felt like she fit in with her classmates at the elite prep school she attends.  She wears baggy vintage clothes instead of designer ones and is a loner.  When she turns fifteen, she starts noticing blue veins showing up everywhere through her skin, and she craves raw meat.  When the most popular girl in school winds up dead, Schuyler makes it her mission to figure out what’s going on.

Anticipation… July 16, 2008

Posted by Victoria in Fiction.
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I can’t wait to read Paper Towns by John Green.  It comes out in October, but I have the ARC (librarian code word for advanced readers copy) now thanks to a couple of coworkers who snagged it at a conference.  I haven’t cracked it yet, but I am looking forward to a nice long weekend sitting in our hammock in the sun and reading it.  I guess I am looking forward to it so much because John Green is so adept at creating teen characters who jump into your soul.  His stories always have a philosophical bent to them that I really really enjoy.

 

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~Victoria