Friday, July 22, 2016

Program UPDATE

Due to not enough signups, the Teen Talent Show on Friday August 12 has been CANCELLED.

In its place, the Teen Department will be hosting an End Of Summer Bash Lock-In. The program will be Friday August 12, 6-9 p.m. and feature games, crafts, food, and fun.

The End of Summer Bash is open to teens in grades 6-12. 

Sign-up begins Saturday July 23 @ 10 a.m. Space is limited, and a parent-signed permission slip is required to attend. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Unofficial Guide to Crafting the World of Harry Potter, by Jamie Harrington

You don't have to be a Pure Blood Wizard-or even a Half-Blood Wizard-to appreciate the magical magic of the world of Harry Potter. In fact, I know Squibs and Muggles (non-magical people, in layman's terms) who are into it even more than the magical sort. Of course for magical people all that is commonplace.

But I digress...

Now you too can own items that, previously, could only be purchaed in Diagon Ally (or maybe even bartered for in the dark shadows of Knockturn Ally): A vial of Polyjuice Potion... A pet Nargle... A Monster Book of Monsters (fangs and all)... A mini Mirror of Erised... Even your very own Sorcerer's Stone (Philosopher's stone for those "across the pond"). How is this possible, you ask? Crafting of course!

For the creative HP fangirls-and-boys (and just fans) out there, I present for your ultimate enjoyment: The Unofficial Guide to Crafting the World of Harry Potter. Sure to appeal to the crafter and Potter fan alike. Now found on our New Book shelf....as long as it's not already checked out, that is.

And for the non-crfters: This is a fun read...even if you're just browsing.


As for me...I'm just super stoked that I can finally (Finally!) get that tie-dye shirt in my House Colors (green & silver*) that I've always wanted. --AJB




*That's Slytherin, NOT Michigan State (Sorry, Spartans...I know I may look like I'm flaunting green and white, but I'm not. No offence)

Lumberjanes v. 4: Out of Time

Having just come off their last adventure where they discovered the truth (maybe) behind the old abandoned outhouse, the Lumberjanes are ready to relax with an old scouting tradition: Camping in the wilderness. 

Just.

Plain.

Ordinary.

Camping.

That's right. Without any talking foxes, zombies, angry gods, shapeshifters, or monsters in general to distract them from the wholesomeness of S'mores. 

Then... All of a sudden a giant blizzard blows in and blankets the camp in several feet of snow. A blizzard. In the middle of summer. A little snow wouldn't be so bad if that's all it was, but just when things seem weird... Guess what? Yep. They get weirder. A pack of giant antlered wolf monsters appear ominously, fangs dripping and eyes glowing. The girls flee, of course. Soon the Janes are rescued by Camp Director Rosie, but not before they are separated from their counselor Jen. 

Disobeing orders (of course!) the girls, now dressed in winter gear and joined by Scouting Lad Barney (and his adorable kitten Marigold), embark on a mission to rescue Jen. No time for tea and kittens for these girls (and boy).

Jen, meanwhile, has been rescued by Abigail, a mysterious taxedermist with a vendetta against all the monsters that live in the woods. Actually, one monster in particular. The most dangerous one of all. The one she blames for ruining her life. The one that, if provoked, could easily destroy the camp (and probably the world) in a fit of blind, snarling rage.

Will the girls rescue Jen, put an end to the mysterious winter, and save make the camp safe for all scouts again?

Who is Abigail and why is she so angry? 

...And what is her relationship to Rosie and the Bear Woman?

What exactly DOES it mean to be a Lumberjane?

Who is Jo...really?

What OTHER secrets have yet to be discovered?

Volume 4 of The Lumberjanes: Out of Time answers some questions, but causes other, even greater mysteries to arise. This story continues to be nonstop action and awesomeness. I simply adore the adventure and the characters and everything about this series. And when the next issue comes out in December, I assure you that I WILL dive happily down that rabbit hole, because I can't wait to find out what happens next. --AJB

Friday, July 8, 2016

Because I am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas

From the outside, they look like a perfectly normal family.  From the inside, they are anything but.
Anke's father is abusive to her siblings but he never even seems to notice her.  She is just the footstool in the corner, watching the horrific events unfold.  Usually she is grateful for her invisibility because it is the thing that keeps her from her father's violence, but even more horrifying are the times when she is jealous of her brother and sister.  After all, if her father doesn't notice her, it must mean that he doesn't love her.  Anke relates mostly to her mother who turns a blind eye to the abuse, who remembers when he was a different person.
When Anke decides to go out for volleyball, she begins to change.  She has to yell for the ball and it helps her find her voice.  Plus, she becomes a part of the team and she makes friends with a girl names Rona whose own family is troubled.  The more she plays, the less comfortable Anke is with the things around her.  She begins to notice more of the abuse and how her father interacts with other people and she also grows sick of not being seen and not being important.  Is it enough to make her raise her voice against him?  Will doing so destroy her family or save it?
I enjoyed this book in verse and it really made me think.  It took a while to warm up to it but before long I could feel that raw punch of emotion.  I couldn't help but cheer Anke on in her games and in life.  There is some difficult subject matter here but it is handled very well in the text.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Being Jazz: My Life As A Transgender Teen, by Jazz Jennings

Transgender seems to be the "It" thing lately. It's the new Vampire (the kind that sparkles, of course). It's the new Dystopian thriller (the kind that has a bad-a** female heroine). Left and right, it seems people are coming out and "transitioning" into their true gender. Everyone from famous people to the boy (girl?) next door. Like it's a fashion trend or something.

Or so it seems.

In truth, I think what's really happening is, more and more, people are becoming aware that the transgender condition exists. And, more and more, I think, people are accepting it. What was once taboo is now becoming something that just IS. It's ok to talk about it. And that is totally cool. Sure, there's bad press and haters too, but you can find bad press and haters for anything, if you look hard enough. Believe it or not, there are people out there who even hate kittens (shocker!).

Lets focus on the positive:

Lately, I've read a couple excellent novels by trans authors that featured trans characters, so when Jazz Jennings' autobiography, Being Jazz: My Life As A Transgender Teen, crossed my literary path, I had to check it out. Having read lots of positive reviews about the book helped me want to read it all the more. And all those wonderful reviews... They only scratched the surface of how awesome this book really is.

Jazz, who began transitioning into a girl when she was still in Kindergarten, is a delightful young woman, and reading her first-person account about her journey to becoming herself was truly inspiring.  I loved that Jazz's family was so supportive of her from day one. But what really struck me was Jazz's unshakable confidence in herself. She always knew exactly who she was and never tried to be anyone or anything else. She never caved to pressure, peer, media, or otherwise. She never put on an act to win friends or popularity. She was true to herself from Day One. 

This is a rare quality in a teen.

Actually, it's a rare quality in anyone

Of course Jazz's journey hasn't been paved with sparkles and mermaid tails. There were bullies, bans, hormones, depression, and people who didn't just get it. All this on top of the normal adolescent dramas. Still, she overcame the hurdles thrown at her, and did so admirably. 

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Being Jazz to anyone who is struggling with identity. Her story is enough to inspire anyone to find the courage to be true to themselves. --AJB

Every Exquisite Thing, by Matthew Quick

A highly influential bit of "cult classic" literature, a turtle named Don Quixote, and a near-stereotypical Good Girl who wants to know if there's more to life than being the Perfect Daughter/Perfect Student/Perfect Whatever. Sounds like a setup for a great story.

Like a quest for The Great Perhaps, mayhaps? 

Oops. Wait...wrong book.

The basic storyline of Matthew Quick's Every Exquisite Thing bore a striking resemblance to that of John Green's debut novel, Looking for Alaska (which I liked, BTW). Here we have a Protagonist who goes with the flow, never sticks their neck out for any reason, and is maybe a little too sheltered. Here we have the Manic-Pixie-Dream-Girl-or-Boy crush/love interest, who, at first, appears the very embodiment of everything the Protag wants to be: Outgoing free thinker who is full of life and isn't afraid to speak their mind and stand up to The Man. 

Something of a relationship develops and the Protag's desire to rebel against the world is suddenly awakened. It's somewhat directionless, though (And, it seems, to me, said Protag is still being a follower. They're just following a different crowd). 

From here, things slide downhill pretty quickly:

Friends and family are alienated.

Feelings are hurt.

Hearts are broken.

There's a great abundance of angst and drama.

Before it's all said and done, the whole hot mess cumulates in tragedy. It's inevitable. 

And the Protag eventually emerges a wiser, more mature person with a better life direction. One would hope.

No more spoilers, though.

John Green did this well. Very well. Like I said, I really liked Looking for Alaska. It was perhaps one of the few books I HAD to read (for a class assignment) that I actually enjoyed. Enough to re-read.

Matthew Quick with Every Exquisite Thing...not so much. I mean, it was a good story. It had depth. It had a lesson. The plot did NOT hinge on the outcome of a love triangle. But the whole thing felt like an echo of Deja Vu. And I couldn't help but feel like everything had been done before (and better).

Overall, I'd recommend Every Exquisite Thing as a read-alike for Looking For Alaska, but I'd guess that the reader won't like it as much. --AJB

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love, by Sarvenaz Tash

Confession Time: I am a geek. 

So with a title like The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love, how could the newest novel by Sarvernaz Tash NOT be awesome?

And if the title alone didn't have me convinced: When I opened the book at random and my eyes fell on the words #InigoMontoyaSmackdown... Well... OK, so I read a book based solely on a Princess Bride reference. And not only a Princess Bride reference, but a reference to my favorite character from The Princess Bride (side note: If you have not yet seen The Princess Bride, get thee immediately to the movie section and rent it). 

That and a patron with, shall we say, "very discriminating taste in Teen Literature" was absolutely raving to me about it.

Needless to say, there was A LOT of expectation riding on this quirky-looking little book. Usually when that's the case, I end up extraordinarily disappointed. It's like when you're eyeing that huge, beautifully-wrapped present that's been under the Xmas tree for weeks, speculating on what sort of coolness could be inside (a computer? a time machine? one million dollars?)...aaaand having it turn out to be a year's worth of socks (or something). The mental buildup is such that, no matter what, the reality will be a tremendous let down.

Let me state that THIS WAS NOT THE CASE with The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love. This book wasn't just as good as I hoped.

It was better!

Let me explain:

No... There is too much...

Let me sum up:

Graham, a self-proclaimed geek, has been harboring a secret crush on his best friend (and fellow geek), Roxy, for years. The two do everything together. They share a love of old-school comics...and even write and illustrate their own comic, The Misfits of Mage High. They even sometimes finish each other's sentences and think of the same things at the same time. So it should be easy to transition from friendship into relationship. But for some reason Graham hasn't been able to find the courage to tell Roxy how he feels. And Roxy remains oblivious.

Then comes the perfect plan: Robert Zinc, the creater of their favorite comic, The Chronicles of Althena, will be making his first public appearance in years at the upcoming Comic Con in NYC. Graham plans snag the coveted passes to this special, once-in-a-timelord-lifetime panel and take Roxy. Here, he will profess his undying love. And, of course, Roxy will realize she loves him right back. And they will live happily ever after. It'll be like Peter Parker and Gwen Stacey. Like Wesley and Buttercup. Like North and Althena. With a plan like this, what could go wrong?

Everything.

A snafu at the ticket area where Graham failes to get the passes to see Zinc starts the weekend off on a bad note. And things get worse from there. Namely in the form of a British "Stud Crumpet" vying for Roxy's affections. Add in a neurotic best friend, a popular girl a little too interested in geek culture, and a flirty Althena fan who actually got into the special panel (jealousy!!) and Graham is in for an unforgettable weekend.

Things just may not pan out as he expected.

The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love was fabulous! Packed with painfully awkward (but hilarious) situations, references to all forms of geekdom (from comics to movies to fanfiction), and unforgettable characters, this one is a winner on all counts. I loved it, loved it, loved it!

The only problem is anything I read afterward will be anticlcimactic. But that's not going to stop me from recommending it. So read it! --AJB