Wednesday, April 23, 2014

To All The Boys I've Loved Before

Laura Jean has had a crush on boy-next-door Josh for years! But Josh starts dating her older sister, Margo. Brokenhearted, Laura Jean does what she always does when it comes to boys she'll never have a chance with: She writes him a goodbye letter, pouring all her feelings onto the page, seals it, addresses it....and hides the letter in a special secret hatbox under her bed. When Margo dumps Josh the night before she's to leave for college (in Scotland!), Laura Jean is afraid Josh will disappear from her life forever. Then the unthinkable! Laura Jean begins to get contacted by the boys she wrote the letters to--and they're bringing up things she wrote in the secret letters. Only in the secret letters. It doesn't take long to figure out someone mailed the correspondence behind Laura Jean's back (accidentally? out of spite?)

With Margo away, things between Laura Jean and Josh get more complicated. Then there's classmate (and former crush) Peter, who Laura Jean agrees to date to make Peter's ex jealous. Sure, it's a ruse, but Laura Jean wonders: is there something more between them? Add to the confusion a nasty rumor and a forbidden interaction with Josh. Situations reach a head when Margo returns from college to find her little sister has been intimate with her (Margo's) ex. Drama, drama, drama...but finally a resolution.

And then there's the biggest question of all: Who mailed those letters?

The first in a proposed series, Jenny Han's To All The Boys I've Loved Before is a fun and beachy romance in the same vein as the author's ever-popular Summer Trilogy. Pick this one up if you want a light romance. Look for the sequel, P.S. I Still Love You, due out in 2015.

Monday, April 21, 2014

One Week Left

There's about a week left in April, and that means about a week left for taking part in our National Poetry Month activities

Stop by the Teen Desk and find out how you can create a Book Spine Poem or Blackout Poem. Or just check out one of our many poetry books or novels in verse (ask the librarian to recommend one or browse the collection on your own).

After next Wednesday, our poetry activities will disappear for another year.

Teen Reviewer Hannah Mazurek: A Stone Rose

Teen reviewer Hannah Mazurek, 11th grade, read A Stone Rose, by Jacquelin Rayner (A Stone Rose is a Doctor Who novelization). She read it on the suggestion of a friend, and really enjoyed it:

"The book is great if you love the show Doctor Who or Sci-fi. It's such an intriguing plot line, and the characters are so interesting. The whole thing with paradoxes is really cool. The Troublemaker and the way everything works out in the end is really interesting. This is a very fun and light read. Great for a weekend!"

Hannah wouldn't hesitate to recommend the book to someone else.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Feeling Starstruck?

Check out our Starstruck Reads!
What do The Fault in Our Stars, Stargirl, Every Soul a Star, and Jepp Who Defied the Stars have in common? Certainly not plot or genre. Are they part of the same series? No... they don't even share authors, much less characters.

The common denominator is all these books have the word "Star" in the title. Curious? Stop by the Teen Area and check out these celestial titles. 

Here's a few you'll find on display:

Dark Star, by Bethany Frenette: It's not easy being the daughter of a superhero. But Audrey has her own special powers...

Every Soul a Star, by Wendy Mass: Ally, Bree and Jack should have nothing in common. But they forge an unbreakable friendship while waiting for the Great Eclipse.

Sorta Like a Rock Star, by Matthew Quick: Amber has always remained optimistic despite the odds, but can she keep up that attitude in the face of tragedy?

Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli: There's a weird new girl in Leo's school. A girl who refuses to conform. Loved or hated by her peers, Stargirl will leave an unforgettable impression on her classmates. Liked it? There's a sequel: Love, Stargirl

William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily A New Hope, by Ian Doescher: The classic sci-fi tale retold in Shakseperian language. But there's still plenty of action. Liked it? Check out the sequel, William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back....and the third book, The Jedi Doth Return, is due out this summer!

They're Magically Realistic!

Not sure if you want to read something realistic (like a John Green book) or pure fantasy (like Harry Potter)? Now you can have the best of both worlds!

Is this the real life?
Or is this just fantasy?
Head on over to the Teen Area magazine room and check out our Magical Realism display! "What is Magical Realism?", you ask. It's not as much of an oxymoron as you might think. Magical Realism is an emerging popular genre that combines elements of fantasy into an otherwise realistic story. Here, you likely won't find any fantastical worlds where unicorns and sparkle ponies frolic with purple dragons under twin moons. But an average high schooler might come to believe a new classmate is a vampire. A boy might go on an seemingly boring vacation with his parents only to encounter a strange pair of sisters who need his help to break a family curse. A otherwise average teen might suddenly wake up as someone completely other than he was the day before--and have to start living life as someone else. Magical Realism isn't pure fantasy...but it isn't straight-up realistic either. It's both. And both is awesome!

Check out these Magically Realistic titles:

Ask the Passengers, by A.S. King: Astrid doesn't really feel like she belongs in her ultra-conservative small town. Luckily she's got the passengers in passing airplanes to talk to...and maybe they can hear her!

Dream Thieves, by Maggie Stiefvater: Ronan is just your average prep-school boy...except that he's got a very unusual ability: He can bring objects from his dreams into the waking world. But sometimes his nightmares follow him home.

Moth Diaries, by Rachel Klein: There's a new girl at school. A very unusual new girl. But is Ernessa just really eccentric...or is she a vampire? Read the book and decide for yourself!

September Girls, by Bennett Madison: The last place Sam wants to spend his summer is at the beach with his family. Then he meets DeeDee and Kristal. But these blonde sisters aren't who (or what) they appear to be.

Wrap Up List, Steven Arnston: Gabriella has a week to complete her bucket list. Could kidnapping Death himself work in her favor--or against her?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Love Letters to the Dead

Ava Dellaira's Love Letters to the Dead has gotten a lot of positive hype lately (I've even heard it billed as the next Perks of Being a Wallflower). While it does share some similarities with Perks--the narrator is dealing with the death of someone close to her as well as other other uncomfortable things that are hard to talk about, she makes some wild and crazy friends who both help her and show her the dark side of life--it doesn't quite pack the same punch.

In Love Letters to the Dead, Laurel's older sister, May, recently died--and she believes it's her fault. After all, she was there when it happened. In the months leading up to her death, May took living on the wild side to the extreme, dating much older men, partying, drinking, etc. Sometimes she would take Laurel with her, and that's how certain things happened (sorry, no spoilers). At the beginning of the school year following the tragedy, Laurel's English teacher assigns the class to write a letter to a dead person. Laurel picks Kurt Cobain, May's favorite musician. Over the year, Laurel writes about her life drama to Kurt. She also writes to Amy Winehouse, E.E. Cummings, Judy Garland, Heath Ledger, River Phoenix, Jim Morrison, and a few other dead celebs and historical figures. Eventually, through her letters, Laurel confesses what happened the night May died and what happened to her. Big Plot Reveals that are easy to guess beforehand, if you're paying the least bit of attention.

The concept of Love Letters to the Dead is intriguing. Unfortunately, the execution didn't go as well as I'd hoped. Laurel had so many dead pen pals it was difficult to keep track of who she was writing to (is this letter to Kurt or Amy or Judy or someone else?). This required frequent backtracking, and that interrupted the flow of the story, making it difficult to stay invested. I found that really frustrating, and if you're the sort who likes to get fully lost in a book, you'll likely be frustrated by it as well. The story would have worked better had the author stuck to one or two dead people. 

On a scale of 1 to 10, Love Letters to the Dead was about a 6. Good, but not fantastic.--AJB

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Betty Cornell's Teen-Age Popularity Guide

On Monday this blog featured Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek, a memoir penned by Maya Van Wagenen about her year following the beauty and lifestyle advice written about in Betty Cornell's Teen-Age Popularity Guide.  This book changed Maya's life, helping her to become healthier, more confident, and, yes, popular.

The Miss Cornell's Guide, originally published in the early 1950s, has been re-issued in 2014 with a special forward by Maya. Betty Cornell's Teen-Age Popularity Guide has chapters on everything from beauty (hair, skin, figure, makeup), wardrobe, health (diet and exercise), attitude and personality, dating, and getting a first job (and how to keep it). Some of the advice is pretty dated. Like, would you really wear a girdle? Do you even know what a girdle is? And, lets face it: The only girl who really brushes her hair 100 strokes every night is Marcia Brady. But other tips, like taking care of your health and mastering the art of writing thank you notes (not texts), is timeless. It's easy to see how this book could've helped a girl like Maya. Or any girl, for that matter--whether she was a teen in 1951 or a teen today.

Did you enjoy Maya's book and now want to see what all the fuss over Betty Cornell's guide is about? Now's your chance to see for yourself...and see if any of Betty's advice works for you too! --AJB