Monday, November 24, 2014

Get Happy, by Mary Amato

Get Happy by Mary Amato should have been one of those feel-good, happy-family, coming-of-age stories that sticks with the reader and leaves them with a good feeling for the rest of the day. I mean, it has a ukulele on the cover! And a seahorse! I expected pure, light-hearted awesomeness...with maybe a dash of romance thrown in for good measure.

Instead, the book was an exercise in patience. For me, at least.

The story centers on teenage Minerva, a somewhat self-centered girl who seems to be forever whining about what she doesn't have. This latest have-not is the ukulele she wanted for her birthday, the one her mother didn't get for her even though she dropped many hints. Unwanted birthday gifts are a sore spot for Minerva...as is the fact her father walked out on her and her mother when Minerva was only a few years old and never attempted to contact them. At least, this is the story Minerva's mother is sticking to. 

This reality shatters when Minerva intercepts a mysterious package that arrives for her, a package that (surprise, surprise) just happens to be from her father. A little investigation leads Minerva to discover that her mother has lied to her about everything. Including her father's name. And the fact that he and his new family don't live all that far away from Minerva. And that he's been trying to contact her for the past several years. Minerva makes it a mission to break the rules and confront her father--which she does (and very immaturely, I might add). 

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Minerva is an unlikable character who experiences little to no growth throughout the book. She whines about things she doesn't have. She complains endlessly about her job (working as a costumed character doing birthday parties for children) and brings that negativity with her when she clocks in. She leaves mean, jealousy-fueled comments on the blog of a co-worker (who we eventually learn is her stepsister), who's only crime is being talented...albeit a little clueless about modesty. I felt awful and negative after spending so much time in Minerva's head, but I kept hoping for one of those 180 moments where the character sees the proverbial light and transforms into a wonderful, caring person. 

Unfortunately, that didn't happen.

I honestly can't recommend this book to you and doubt I'd want to read anything else by the author, what with this being my first experience with one of her books.

--AJB

$$$ For College

Dollars ($$$) for College
Thursday Dec. 4 @ 6:30 p.m.


Expert Sheryl Krasnow will visit OPL Thursday December 4 @ 6:30 p.m. to help you get your college plans and finances sorted. She will guide you through the various steps of of applying for financial aid, scholarships, and grants and answer any questions you might have. This program is a MUST for any teen considering college (and their parents too!). Space is limited, so registration is required!

Register online, by calling 248-628-3034, or in person at the Teen Desk.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Attitude of Gratitude: The Thanksgiving Post

Thanksgiving is here, and you know what that means!

Sure, there's stuffing your belly (in one sitting) with more food than you ate all last week or watching football (or the parade) or arguing with your brother (or sister) about who gets the wishbone this year. But that's not what I'm talking about.

Thanksgiving, as over-commercialized as it has become, is about family and about being happy (grateful) with what you have in life. It's about being happy in the moment. Right here. Right now. 

Here are a few selections on that theme.

A Mango-Shaped Space, by Wendy Mass: Mia's synesthesia always made her feel like an outsider, so she hid it from the world. When her secret gets out, her family is nothing but supportive. Mia learns that being different is a good thing...and even to appreciate her differences as a special gift.

Article 5, by Kristen Simmons: After reading this creepy distopia where the characters lose their basic rights, you'll be infinitely grateful for the freedoms you have in this life.

Body of Water, by Sarah Dooley: When Ember's family relocates to a campground after their home is destroyed in a fire (a hate crime committed by her former best friend), Ember can't let go of her anger--toward her ex-friend, toward her family, and to herself. Can she learn to let things go and move on?

Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip, by Jordan Sonnenblick: A catastrophic injury ends Pete's baseball career...his beloved grandfather's health is failing... What does Pete have to be grateful for? How about a new hobby and, quite possibly, the girlfriend of his dreams.

Elsewhere, by Gabrielle Zevin: After Liz's untimely death, she learns that the afterlife is nothing like she expected--and NOT in a good way. But there are some awesome things going for her in this un-life (family, friends, and even romance)...if only she can learn to see it.

How to Rock Braces & Glasses, by Meg Haston: Kacey Simon took for granted she'd always be the Queen Bee of her school. Then a freak accident drops her to the bottom of the social food chain. New friends and new interests can give her a new appreciation for life...IF she'll stop feeling sorry for herself.

How to Save a Life, by Sara Zarr: Jill and Mandy are both troubled teens with tragic pasts. Both have a lot to learn about family, love, and about life in general. Will having to live together for the next several months teach them what they need to learn?

Stargirl (and the sequel Love Stargirl), by Jerry Spinelli, Stargirl Caraway sees the world in a completely different way than the average teen. She appreciates little things in life, like mockingbirds and night-blooming flowers. And never questions who she is. Read these and you'll feel happy about life and all the good things in the world.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The "Used" Book Cart is Here!

Don't know what to do with that book?
LEAVE IT HERE! :)
Ok, so you've come into the Teen Area and SWEET! that book you've heard everyone talking about is actually on the shelf for once!

So what do you do?

Grab it up, of course!

You have a seat and start reading and...

Wait a minute...

This book is awful! Or, at least, it's not anything what you expected. You're not knocking your clique's taste in books. This one just isn't for you. And you have no desire to check it out or even read further.

So what are you supposed to do with this book? Like we said, you don't want to check it out... And, in your excitement over finding it, you forgot exactly where on the shelf you got it from--and you don't want to put it away wrong and get in trouble, or something (Can you get in trouble for that?).

Well guess what! We have an answer to this dilemma! 

Grumpy Cat hates books that don't
live up to all the hype.
The Teen Area is excited to announce its very own "Used" Book Cart. This is a place for you to put all those books you changed your mind about after pulling them off the shelf and having a look. 

Just look for the bright red cart by the entrance to the magazine room. The one featuring the photo of Grumpy Cat. 

So... Don't like that book enough to check it out? Leave it on the Red Cart! We'll put it away for you (how awesome is that!) 

William Shakespeare's The Jedi Doth Return, by Ian Doescher

If you have even the most minor knowledge of iconic Sci-Fi and/or action movies, you're more than familiar with the original Star Wars Trilogy: Episodes IV-VI (forget the atrocity that was Episodes I-III...and the obnoxiousness that was Jar Jar Binks...and whatever Disney is doing to continue the story that should have been finished when the credits rolled for Return of the Jedi). It's a well-known tale: Young man from humble beginnings learns, by fate or by chance, that he is prophecized to save the world (or, in this case, the galaxy) from a terrible fate. There's action, romance, comedy, and enough serious family drama to keep daytime talkshows in business for years. 

When you think about it, the whole thing is really very Shakesperian. If you leave out the Lightsabers, androids, and starships, the tale would read just like one of the Bard's plays.

Author Ian Doescher, a fan of both Star Wars and Shakespeare, thought so too. So he combined his two great interests into one and came up with William Shakespeare's Star Wars. That is, the original three Star Wars movies translated into Shakespearian plays.

The Jedi Doth Return, the third book in this awesome trilogy, wraps things up nicely. I won't get into the plot in this review (because everyone already knows it). I'll just say this book--and the entire trilogy--is pure creative genius! 

While in school, I had to read my fair share of Shakespeare, and I was never a fan. Sure, I enjoyed the occasional performances when I had the chance to catch them (usually for class) at a free campus theater, but actually reading the plays...ugh! The language was all backward and old-school and I'd find myself re-reading the same line multiple times or zoning out entirely. 

And I admit I had some reservation when I first picked up Verily, A New Hope (Doescher's first book). But soon I was so caught up in the story of Luke and Co. that I forgot I was reading--and enjoying--something written in the style of Shakespeare. I eagerly finished the book and dove into The Empire Striketh Back. And by the time I finally--finally--got my hands on The Jedi Doth Return, I was a total fangirl.

Maybe I should try some actual Shakespeare again... --AJB



Sunday, November 16, 2014

Where's Mom Now That I Need Her? Surviving Away from Home, by Kent P. Frandsen & Betty Rae Frandsen

So you've arrived at college and you're finally--FINALLY--out on your own and away from having to live under your parents' roof. (Yes!) You're feeling pretty good about yourself, pretty grown-up. Like you can conquer the world and nothing can stop you. You are THE MAN! (or woman)

Then, the inevitable: You need to do laundry... Or go grocery shopping for something besides ramen noodles... Or you get sick... Or have to sew a button on your favorite flannel... Or do any number of little things you previously took for granted because you never had to do them before. Suddenly, you're assaulted by one singular thought: "I Want My Mommy!" (Don't go denying it. Anyone who ever moved away from home has felt this at least once--I don't care how old or independent or tough you are)

What to do?

Enter Where's Mom Now That I Need Her? Surviving Away from Home, by Kent and Betty Rae Frandsen

Where's Mom? is a handy little book that contains everything you'll need to know about living on your own for the first time: Nutrition info and how to cook basic meals, doing laundry--the right way, basic first aid & when to see a doctor, safety tips, and more. Chances are you'll find the answer to your dilemma in here. This book is awesome and one of the best "on your own" books I've ever found.

And if not? Well, remember that Mom is always only a phone call (or Skype visit) away.

Where's Mom Now That I Need Her? can currently be found on our college display along with a ton of other helpful books about how to survive and thrive after graduation. --AJB

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Naked Roommate, by Harlan Cohen

Going away to college can mean one's first time living away from home for any extended period of time, and, for many, it can be a real eye-opener. But it doesn't have to be a horrifying experience...IF you're properly prepared, that is. 

Harlan Cohen's The Naked Roommate offers a humorous and completely uncensored look into what you can expect from the college experience: Adjusting to life on campus, roommate drama, friend drama, dining, dating, parties, Greek life, sex, drugs, alcohol, laundry, jobs, extracurriculars, how not to fail your classes, and basically everything they don't tell you in those shiny college brochures. Cohen takes real questions from real teens and offers advice on how to handle pretty much everything related to college. 

So forget every single college-themed movie you've ever seen (cause those won't help you here), forget those posed pictures and stiff writing in your university handbook (that won't help you either), and check out The Naked Roommate. You'll be glad you did when you're faced with having to share a bathroom with 40 other people or a roommate who insists on watching Glee in nothing but their undies (while sitting on your couch).

The Naked Roommate is currently living on our College display (on top of the curved fiction shelf). The display is a tie-in for our annual Dollars For College program, which is happening Thursday December 4 @ 6:30 p.m. (register here)