Thursday, September 18, 2014

FEATURED BOOK: Whispers from the Dead, by Joan Lowery Nixon

Today's featured book, Whispers From The Dead, by Joan Lowery Nixon, can be found on the Island of Misfit Books display.

Sarah isn't the same after her near-death experience. There seems to be a shadowy presence trailing her every step. And when her family moves into a new home, the truly creepy stuff starts: Screams and pleas for help only Sarah can hear, nightmares, grisly ghostly sightings of a young woman being dragged across the floor by a man carrying a knife... This sort of thing would send the average teen straight to a padded cell in the local asylum, but not Sarah. Instead, she investigates...and helps crack an the disappearance and unsolved murder of Rosa, a young immigrant girl who had been working at the house before she and her family moved in. Whodunit? You'll have to read the book to find out.

Originally published in the early 1990s, Whispers From The Dead is, if anything, a bit dated. For example, Sarah doesn't just open her laptop and jump on the internet to look for clues to Rosa's murder. There are no smart phones or MP3 players. And any pop culture references would likely be unrecognizable to teens of today. That said, today's teens might find it difficult to relate to Sarah. 

Aside from that, Whispers From The Dead is a solid murder mystery with a strong female lead. There's a bit of light romance, but for the most part situations remain pretty innocent and appropriate for younger teen readers. 

And the big reveal will give you chills. --AJB

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Bar Code Tattoo, by Suzanne Weyn

"There's an app for that..."

Well, pretty much.

In the not-so-distant future (2025 to be exact), everyone is getting it: A Bar Code Tattoo that contains ALL one's personal information. To be able to shop, drive, or do anything, you must get one. Rebellious Kayla, 17, hates the idea of being labeled and plans to resist getting the tattoo. Then people with the tattoos begin dying in mysterious ways, and Kayla is sure there is a link between the two. 

When the government agency distributing the tattoos makes the marking mandatory for everyone, Kayla runs away and joins a group of other young rebels. Together, they plan to fight and take down those responsible for the tattoos and their tragic/creepy side effects. Of course there's a romance, plenty of drama, and some seriously sci-fi worthy stuff that, in today's age of apps and smart phones and other micro-technology, isn't really that far off base. 

Suzanne Weyn's 2004 dystopian is a great, if undiscovered, read. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman (graphic novel adaption)

I've been waiting for the release of the graphic novel adaption of Neil Gaiman's award-winning The Graveyard Book for the better part of 2014, and it finally arrived in my hands. YAY! I'd read the actual book a few years back when it was a selection for our annual Middle School Battle of the Books competition. It was quirky, creepy (ish), weird (in a good way), 100% creative, and unlike anything I'd encountered in the past. It had a certain Tim Burtonesque quality about it..and I loved it!

So of course I was excited to hear there would be a graphic novel adaption!

I hoped it would do the story justice. 

For the most part, the graphic adaption was true to the book. Bonus points. Unfortunately, though, it only covers the first half of the book (unlike the graphic adaptions of Gaiman's Coraline and Stardust, both of which contained the complete story). This has become an unfortunate and annoying trend with book-to-movie adaptions, and book-to-graphic adaptions are no less annoying. It's the main reason I refused to read the graphic adaption of the Twilight series, which, I hear, is still in the works. 

Back to The Graveyard Book adaption. Each of the six chapters is illustrated by a different artist. While it is interesting to see how each interprets the characters and settings, it breaks up the continuity and distracts from the story. This is especially jarring when a particular artist's (or artists') style differs drastically from that of the others. Or when an artist's take on a character (or setting) wasn't what I imagined when I read the book. For example, I didn't like how Silas was portrayed. The artists made him way, way too Count Dracula-ish. This was not at all how I imagined him to be when I read the book. Also, I pictured Eliza (the witch from Chapter 4) as being much older (in her 20s), and in the graphic she didn't look much older than Bod. ...but I'm aware that this is a risk the reader takes when reading a graphic adaption of a beloved book (or seeing the film adaption, for that matter).

Fortunately, neither quirk ruined my enjoyment of the book. 

The verdict: A solid effort by the artists to rework this new classic. After all, they had a huge task to tackle. I'll probably end up reading #2 when it crosses my desk. --AJB

Thursday, September 11, 2014

FEATURED BOOK: Karma Club, by Jessica Brody

What goes around comes around...right?

That's how Madison feels after her longtime boyfriend, Mason, dumps her for uber-popular Heather. But when the Universe doesn't poop on either Mason or Heather (as Madison feels it totally should have done), Madison decides to tap into some of her mother's New Age-y wisdom and take matters into her own hands. Before long, she and a few trusted friends form The Karma Club, a super secret organization whose mission statement is To Clean Up The Messes The Universe Has Been Leaving Behind. In other words, they are in the revenge business, dispensing punishments to those they feel deserve it most. Unfortunately for Madison and the Karma girls, what goes around really does come around (or in their case, back around), and before long they find themselves in a whole mess of trouble. However, when they decide use their powers for good, they are pleasantly surprised by the results.

Jessica Brody's Karma Club is this week's Featured Misfit Book and can be found on our Island of Misfit Books Display. This book is hilarious, entertaining, and thought-provoking, and really deserves a second chance.

Check it out today! 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

I Work At A Public Library, by Gina Sheridan

Usually this blog sticks to featuring books that can be found in the Teen Department, what with this being a Teen Book Blog. But occasionally we stumble upon a book from another department that's just too good not to call attention to. And we make an exception.

That said, I have made an executive decision to spotlight Gina Sheridan's I Work In A Public Library, which can be found on the New Book shelf in the Adult DepartmentThis slim (only 150 pages) little gem was brought to my attention while browsing the shelves for something interesting, but not too time-consuming, to read while taking lunch. I thought, "This is something I can relate to!" ('cause I DO work at a public library and have for almost 8 years now). And am I happy I discovered it!

Gina Sheridan, a librarian in St. Louis, has had her fair share of bizarre questions, strange encounters, and unusual discoveries--and she's listed some of the best ones in this book. There are photos of strange "found" objects, questions about things like the proper length of eyebrow hair, requests for autobiographies of mythical creatures, those seeking unusual (and sometimes unorthodox) advice, and more. And, of course, there's Cuckoo Carol, a colorful character (and repeat offender) who has been given her own chapter. Definitely a funny book that had me, quite literally, LOL-ing. 

Want more? Check out the author's website.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Lies My Girlfriend Told Me, by Julie Anne Peters

Alix thought she and her girlfriend, Swanee, were destined to spend the rest of their lives together. They'd go to the same college after graduation, get an apartment (or a house), and live happily ever after. Then Swanee dies suddenly, leaving Alix grief-stricken and disbelieving. She's not sure how she's supposed to go on. Swanee was everything.

But things go from bad to worse for Alix when she goes up to Swanee's room after the funeral, finds Swanee's phone, and discovers someone named Liana has been texting Swanee...and continues to do so as she stands there, phone in hand. These are not the sort of texts you send to a friend or family member. They're the sort you send to someone you like (love?) in that way. Not stopping to think, Alix pockets the phone. Before long, she's struck up a tentative texting conversation with Liana. Then the two girls begin meeting up and talking about things... And they discover that Swanee hadn't been honest with either of them. About A LOT of things. 

Over the next several weeks, Liana and Alix try to come to terms with Swanee's death and how she played them both. What they didn't expect to come out of this tragedy, this betrayal, was a friendship. Maybe more.

Author Julie Anne Peters always writes a good story, and Lies My Girlfriend Told Me is no exception to this rule. Not your traditional romance, but still real. The connection between Liana and Alix felt very natural. No Insta-(gag me)-Love here. A solid friendship with the promise (maybe) of more. Characters were developed and the storyline unfolded with no lulls or slow spots.

Recommended. --AJB

FEATURED BOOK: Heavy Metal and You

Sam loves two things: 

1. Heavy metal music (his first love)
2. His new girlfriend, Melissa 

Unfortunately, straightedge Melissa just doesn't "get" heavy metal--and she pretty much hates everything else about Sam's life: His friends, his frequent partying, the fact that he smokes and enjoys the occasional drink, his clothes... Everything. Poor guy.

With a setup like this, you know right away this will be a very rocky relationship that is probably doomed to crash and burn before it even gets too far off the ground. It will be gruesome, it will be brutal, and the carnage will be messy and far-reaching. It will be a train-wreck that's so awful you won't be able to look away.

Or will it?

Heavy Metal and You, by Christopher Krovatin explores the all-important question: How far are you willing to go for love? 

As with all new relationships, Sam and Melissa's is, at first, all hearts and flowers and romance. Then the cracks begin to appear. She starts complaining and criticizing everything that makes Sam who he is. She picks fights over petty things. And Sam, 100% stupid in love, is willing to do anything to avoid being dumped. So he starts trying to change for Melissa. He quits smoking and drinking... He tries to quit partying... He tries to quit hanging out with his friends so much ('cause, of course, his friends are negative influences)... And so instead of defending himself, he tries to clean up and become the boy he thinks Melissa wants him to be. 

And soon Sam is absolutely miserable!

But what's a boy in love with the wrong girl to do?

Heavy Metal and You will make you laugh, cringe, and might even remind you of that one guy or girl you would have done anything for back when you were younger and dumber and less knowledgeable about relationships.

This rocking book can be found on our Island of Misfit Books display because, unfortunately, it's gotten buried in the shelves and isn't checking out. 

Please, please, please save this book! We'd hate to have to get rid of it!