31 August 2011

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

The Summer I Turned Pretty is The. Perfect. Beach Read.  This story has summertime romance written all over it, and it will not disappoint readers looking for the tortured I-love-him-but-does-he-love-me? storyline, capped off with a satisfying conclusion -- except there isn't really a conclusion!  There are sequels!  Which is wonderful, if and only if you have the second book in your hand to open as soon as you close the first!  Seriously.  I can't get my hands on It's Not Summer Without You fast enough.  And book #3, We'll Always Have Summer, is out too. :)  Excellent.

So, quit looking for the perfect beach read and start catching up with the summer adventures of Belly, Conrad, and Jeremiah!

Reviewed by kate the librarian.

29 August 2011

The Orange Houses by Paul Griffin

Tamika Sykes is a high school student who hates to wear her hearing aids, loves the rhythm of a guitar, works hard in class, and draws pictures void of people.  Fatima is a refugee living in NYC all alone, with dreams of visiting the Statue of Liberty, and has a passion for finding beauty in everything and everyone.  Jimmi Sixes is a 19-year-old war veteran, stuck on drugs and poetry, and wise beyond his years.  When Jimmi introduces Mika and Fatima, he somehow manages to teach them how to look beyond the streets, beyond the skies, and into the world.  Tragedy is unavoidable in the worlds of these three young people -- far older in experience than they are in years -- but their struggles to survive and thrive are inspiring.  The author writes with a fluidity and subtle rhythm that allows readers to find comfort even in the darkest corners and most horrific scenes.  
Recommended to all.  This authentic story is both short and long-lasting.

Reviewed by kate the librarian.

I Am an Emotional Creature : The Secret Life of Girls around the World by Eve Ensler

Eve Ensler, author of The Vagina Monologues, offers incredible words aimed at the hearts of teenage girls everywhere.  This collection is virtually an emotional appeal to young women to be content and happy with who and what they are, and to not listen to anyone who suggests that they be less than satisfied simply because they are girls.  This book can serve as a quick silent read from cover to cover, or as a selection of monologues and poetry women and girls can choose to voice aloud to an appreciative audience.  Either way, the words are true and beautiful.

*My only less-than-positive thought about this collection is the extraordinary lack of balance between heterosexual and homosexual love and relationships.  This is a celebration of girls, but doesn't necessarily acknowledge the beauty of difference, choice, acceptance found in lesbian and "traditional" relationships.

Recommended to all girl readers from all walks of life!

Reviewed by kate the librarian.

18 August 2011

Another Photo Contest!

Check it out for details: http://outofprintapparel.com/blog/2011/summer-vacation-photo-contest-2/

About Out of Print:
Out of Print celebrates the world’s great stories through fashion. Our shirts feature iconic and often out of print book covers. Some are classics, some are just curious enough to make great t-shirts, but all are striking works of art.

We work closely with artists, authors and publishers to license the content that ends up in our collections. Each shirt is treated to feel soft and worn like a well-read book.

In addition to spreading the joy of reading through our tees, we acknowledge that many parts of the world don't have access to books at all. We are working to change that. For each shirt we sell, one book is donated to a community in need through our partner Books For Africa.  

How we read is changing as we move further into the digital age. It's unclear what the role of the book cover will be in this new era, but we feel it's more important than ever to reflect on our own individual experiences with great literary art before it's forever changed.

What’s your story?

16 August 2011

Vote for 2011 TEENS' TOP TEN!

Voting for the 2011 Teens' Top Ten is open and accessible through September 15.
Teens' Top Ten

Go directly to the Teens' Top Ten homepage or go here: www.surveymonkey.com/s/teenstopten11.
Winning titles will be announced at www.ala.or=/teenstopten during Teen Read Week, October 16-22.

The Teens' Top Ten is a reading list chosen entirely by and for teens. The twenty-five official nominations were chosen by sixteen teen book groups from across the U.S. that participate in YALSA's YA Galley project, in which publishers provide book groups with galleys and the teens provide feedback. Last year, more than 8,000 teens voted for the Teens' Top Ten, choosing Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins as their favorite title.

This year, the 25 nominees are:

Bachorz, Pam. Drought.
Beam, Cris. I Am J
Beaudoin, Sean. You Killed Wesley Payne.
Card, Orson Scott. The Lost Gate.
Clare, Cassandra. The Clockwork Angel.
Collins, Suzanne. Mockingjay.
Collins, Yvonne. Love, Inc.
Condie, Ally. Matched.
Cremer, Andrea. Nightshade.
Fitzpatrick, Becca. Crescendo.
Grant, Michael. Lies.
Hawkins, Rachel. Demonglass.
Hawkins, Rachel. Hex Hall.
Kagawa, Julie. The Iron King.
Lore, Pittacus. I Am Number Four.
Moore, Peter. Red Moon Rising.
Nelson, Jandy. The Sky is Everywhere.
O’Neal, Ellis. The False Princess.
Patterson, James. Angel: A Maximum Ride Novel.
Pearce, Jackson. Sisters Red.
Smith, Cynthia Leitich. Blessed.
Westerfeld, Scott. Behemoth.
White, Kiersten. Paranormalcy.

15 August 2011

Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

Are you looking a little bit of gore, a whole lot of heart, some teenage boy humor, and a few kick-ass females?  Even if you think you couldn't get into a zombie novel, Rot & Ruin might just be for you.

Benny doesn't want to get into the family business basically because he doesn't want to work with (and especially not for) his older brother Tom.  Sure Benny wants to kill zoms, but there are much cooler Bounty Hunters in Mountainside to look up to than Tom.  He doesn't understand why others seem to respect Tom; Benny remembers him as a coward, taking Benny as a baby and running from his parents rather than trying to save Mom from a sure death.  But not everything is black and white in this time after First Night, and Benny just might have to learn the hard way.  There are no rules, and what happens out in the Ruin, stays in the Ruin.

This novel has a great beginning, which will help to carry the reader though the melodramatic B-movie moments through some predictable twists and turns, alongside a few surprises.  Recommended to those who don't always need high-quality classic literature, but prefer to mix some pure entertainment into their reading lists.

The sequel, Dust & Decay, is due out later this month! 

Reviewed by kate the librarian.

11 August 2011

Captain America

"Captain American" is a new Marvel Hero's movie that is still in theaters. Recently, Marvel has been coming out with a lot of movies. "Captain America" takes place during World War 2. It's about a small, scrawny boy from Brooklyn, who never could walk away from a fight. He tried out for the army, but always was stationed at a base (he never got to go over seas and fight). A doctor takes a chance at making him stronger to fight. This movie is really good except for the ending. (I don't want to ruin it!) This movie in my opinion would get a 4.5 out 5 stars.

Reviewed by Jonathan.

10 August 2011

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

Julia Jarmond is an American journalist living in Paris with her French husband and their eleven-year-old daughter, Zoe.  Throughout her research for a journalistic piece about the 60th anniversary of the roundups of Jews by the French police during World War II, Julia discovers the story of Sarah Starzinski.  Sarah was 10 years old in 1942, at a time when the yellow star on her chest didn't hold much meaning to her until she and her family were forced into camps outside of Paris because of it.  As Sarah's story unfolds, Julia becomes entrenched in its many folds, and discovers more connections between Sarah's life and her own than she ever expected.  Sarah changes Julia's life tremendously, and Julia ensures that Sarah's story will never be forgotten.

I'd recommend this story for older high school and adult readers, along side Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly.  While each story has it's own unique appeal, matched by different atmospheres, character attitudes, and foundation for the events that  make up the world of the two books, they each have some similar traits.  In particular, both novels are told from dual perspectives: one is the voice of an American transplant now staying in contemporary Paris; the other a young girl living in Paris during a tumultuous period in history.  And both stories are told beautifully through audio.  *I still think I like Revolution better than Sarah's Key, and I was only intrigued enough to read Sarah's Key after seeing the interesting movie previews, but I'm glad that I allowed myself the opportunity to share in in both Andi's and Julia's worlds -- both for their similarities and their differences.

Reviewed by kate the librarian.

08 August 2011

39 Clues series by various authors

These books may not be long, but they contain great adventures. They're more Harry Potter with a scavenger hunt. The 2 main characters, Dan and Amy, travel around the world with their au pair (babysitter) to compete for $1,000,000. I would have to give this book a 4 out of 5 stars, because whenever they are in a death situation, it's kind of obvious they will live, because there are other books to the series.

Reviewed by Jonathan.

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Peter Houghton is a senior at Sterling High School in close-knit Sterling, New Hampshire.  Peter has been the victim of bullying by his peers since the first day of kindergarten when the older kids threw his lunchbox out of the school bus window.  Throughout elementary school, he had a best friend, Josie Cormier, to walk beside him through the hallways and to eat with in the cafeteria, but sometime during middle school everything changed.  Josie made an effort to be "cool," and succeeded.  Now in high school, Josie's dating one of the cutest boys in the popular crowd, and Peter is still being verbally and physically harassed almost daily.  It doesn't help Peter's situation that his older brother, who was at the forefront of the school bullying, was killed a year ago by a drunk driver, solidifying a perfect straight-A, top athlete, all-around-good-guy reputation.

But does any of that justify the facts?  Peter Houghton walked into Sterling High School armed with guns and within 19 minutes left a path of destruction that included 10 dead -- Josie's boyfriend being one of those -- and many more injured individuals.  The account of the trial, along with flashbacks of information from Peter's and Josie's childhoods, is told deftly in the hands of this popular author.  Recommended for high school and adult readers, though not necessarily for the faint of heart.

Reviewed by kate the librarian.

Zombies vs. Unicorns edited by Holly Black & Justine Larbalestier

Justine and Holly, the editors of this anthology, are engaged in a heated, friendly argument about which is cooler: zombies or unicorns?  Justine is all about zombies; they are obviously much, much cooler.  But Holly insists that beneath their glittery charm, unicorns are just as dangerous and unrelentingly cool as some people think zombies are.  In between each short story -- a collection of titles by authors like Scott Westerfeld, Meg Cabot, Libba Bray, and Garth Nix -- Justine and Holly add their own snark to the mix, each making a case for their team.  It's up to you in the end, based on the material as it's presented to you, to choose which side you're on. 

Like most anthologies, there is a mix of quality on these pages, but in this case it's really a matter of good vs. great.  (I listened to the audio version and love Justine's Australian accent.  I definitely turned out to be on Team Zombie, and my favorite story was one about some special little kids . . .)

Reviewed by kate the librarian.

With a promo by John Green. :) www.youtube.com/watch?v=avhOcKHWb-Y

Liar by Justine Larbalestier

Out of respect for the author and her characters, all I can say is that Micah is a compulsive liar and this is her story as she tells it.  There are twists and turns and misconceptions and mixed up perceptions; though there is a beginning and an end, there is no clear pathway leading to or from either.  Her story is both captivating and off-putting, depending on whether or not you can stomach the incredulity of the whole thing, and depending on what pieces of the story you choose to believe.  Do you take Micah's story at face value, or how far can you stretch the lines in order to read between then?

Recommended to high school readers, particularly those looking for something different than what is already in the "to be read" pile.

Reviewed by kate the librarian.

05 August 2011

YALSA Photo Contest!

The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), as well as libraries, bookstores, publishers and schools across the country, will celebrate Teen Read Week™ October 16 - 22. As part of this event, we’re challenging you to create a visual version of your favorite book’s title. You can learn more at www.ala.org/teenread.

Best-selling author and 2011 Teen Read Week spokesperson, Jay Asher, will judge the contest entries and select three finalists and one winner. Entries will be judged on 1) creativity, 2) how well the image articulates and encapsulates the book’s title and 3) whether or not all of the guidelines stated in this document have been followed.

Five photos selected as finalists will be linked to from YALSA’s website, www.ala.org/teenread. Each of the five finalists will receive gift bags from Penguin Books for Young Readers that include signed copies of Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why as well as Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler’s The Future of Us.

The creator of the winning photo will receive an e-reader pre-loaded with great teen titles, and will be interviewed for YALSA’s blog and a press release. The winning photo may be used by YALSA in marketing and promotional materials related to Teen Read Week. The e-reader and e-books have been generously donated by Penguin Books for Young Readers.

Your Profile Picture on a Book Cover!

Lerner Publishing Group has a neat contest opportunity!  

From their blog: http://lernerbooks.blogspot.com

"Are you a teen with a great profile pic? We want to use you avatar on the cover of one of a Spring 2012 book that is all about social media! All you need to do is email an uncropped, high quality .jpeg of your picture to publicityinfo@lernerbooks.com by August 15, 2011. If your picture is selected, we'll send you a free copy of the book next spring!

*If your picture is selected, we will email you a photo release form which needs to be signed and returned. All minors must have the form signed by a parent or legal guardian.

03 August 2011

A.D. : New Orleans after the Deluge by Josh Neufeld

Author and cartoonist, Josh Neufeld, follows the experience of seven individuals whose lives were completely altered in the destruction and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  In 2006, it was predicted that Katrina's path would run straight through New Orleans, Louisiana.  Based on past experiences with hurricanes, or driven by loyalty to their homes, or frightened and heedful of the warnings to evacuate the nearby cities, some residents chose to ride out the storm at home, and some choose to seek solace elsewhere.  Some individuals were rich, many others were poor; some were flanked by family or materials, and others had next to nothing to lose.  All were greatly traumatized by the resulting storm.  By the government's response.  By the conditions of support, or lack there of.  And by the efforts to rebuild.

Denise, The Doctor, Abbas and Darnell, Kwame, Leo and Michelle tell Josh Neufeld of their real life experiences living through Hurricane Katrina and the resulting flooding and destruction of a famous city.  Through words and pictures, the impact of these stories is heavy without being overwhelming.  The author is able to present these lives in a way that invokes understanding and a true emotional connection.  I found myself crying over comic books, but rallying in support of those who are still struggling to regain their sense of home.  Recommended for absolutely everyone.

Reviewed by kate the librarian.

01 August 2011

Perfect by Ellen Hopkins

The title of this novel holds no secrets about its content.  Four individuals whose lives intersect tell their own stories of the difficulties immersed in striving for perfect, and the pain that underlies the desperate, unrelenting need for it.  Cara's parents expect the absolute best from their children, and one of those children has already attempted suicide as a result of the pressure mounting at home.  Cara's almost-loving relationship with Sean doesn't help to support her in her journey towards figuring out who she really is and what really makes her happy.  Sean doesn't think he can live without Cara, but he's convinced that it's really baseball and his ultimate athletic success that makes him who he is.  Kendra is in constant pursuit of the perfect body and the perfect face to allow her modeling career to soar, no matter the price.  And Andre has his heart set on a certain career and a certain girl, neither of which really fall into the plan that his parents' have created for him.

Ellen Hopkins never fails to deliver the real deal.  With powerful word selection and nothing short of stark honesty, Hopkins' characters are true depictions of the hopes, dreams, torment, and struggles that fill up lots of the nooks and crannies that make us all human.  Recommended to all high school readers.  (Release date for this title is September 13, 2011.)

Also discussed on this blog are Burned and Identical.  Her most known novel is Crank, the story of Kristina Gregory's journey with the "monster" of drugs and addiction that claimed control over most of her life (continued in two sequels), but all of Hopkins' novels in verse are powerful explorations of the mixture of light and dark found within individuals across the globe.

Reviewed by kate the librarian.