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

Teen Reviewer: My Life Next Door, Ignite Me, Burn for Burn & Miss Peregrine

Despite school keeping them busy, our teen reviewers still have time to read for pleasure and critique what they've read. Ninth grader Kate Marsh recently turned in reviews for five books, all of which she loved.

My Life Next Door, by Huntley Fitzpatrick, spotlights the friendship and, finally, the romance that grows between Sam and Jase, two teens who come from opposite ways of life. "Overall, I loved this book! It was so much fun to see Sam and Jase meet for the first time and become friends. The romance their friendship grows into is so beautiful. This book also had a lot of in-depth side characters, like Sam's friend Tom, who is struggling to find what he wants to do with his life, and Tom's sister, Nan, who always seems to outshine him. I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone looking for a fun and happy read." Kate recommends My Life Next Door for teens 16 and up.

Sometimes the final book in a trilogy can feel rushed or anticlimactic. Not so with Ignite Me, by Tahereh Mafi, the final book in the Shatter Me trilogy: "The book blew me away! It was such an epic conclusion to an already amazing trilogy. In this final installment, the main character, Juliette, is faced with so many different choices: Will it be Warner or Adam? War or Peace? In this book, Juliette really fought for what she believed in." Kate won't give away spoilers in the review (in case you haven't read the book yet), but will say this: "The ending really took me by surprise...but it was really the ending that was needed for this trilogy." Ignite Me is recommended for ages 13 and Up.

Burn for Burn, the first installment in Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian's revenge-themed trilogy, instantly grabbed Kate's attention: "This book had me hooked from the start!" she raved. "Mary, Kat, and Lillia don't even know each other, but when the concept of payback is brought up, they all band together to take out their most hated enemies. The different perspective viewpoint really played well in the telling of this story. The writing choices made by the authors was amazing and their words and characters are beautifully described. I loved this book and can't wait to get my hands on the sequel." Burn for Burn is recommended for teens 13 and older. The sequel, Fire with Fire was released in August 2013. The trilogy's concluding book, Ashes to Ashes, is due out in September 2014.

Ransom Riggs' Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and the sequel Hollow City use strange old photographs to tell the story of Jacob, who travels back in time and discovers the secrets his late grandfather had worked so hard to protect. Accompanied by a group of children, each with truly unusual powers, Jacob gets pulled into some dangerous and exciting adventures. Possibly even finds romance. These two books had Kate on the edge of her seat. "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children was an absolute work of art! The concept was so different, yet so well done! Hollow City was a great second book, and I really enjoyed the creepy and beautiful photos that came with it." Kate recommends both books for teens 13 and older.

Interested in reviewing a book yourself? Stop by the Teen Desk and find out what you need to to!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek

Can a "How To Be Popular" guide written in the 1950s help an awkward teen from 2012 to build confidence and fit in?

Surprisingly, the answer is "yes"!

When it came to popularity, Maya Van Wagenen often described herself as being "pretty much the lowest level of people at school who aren't paid to be here". Then she discovered Betty Cornell's Teenage Popularity Guide, published in 1951. Her dad had bought it as a joke, but when it came into Maya's hands, she saw it as something as more than just a novelty prop. Before beginning 8th grade, Maya decided to try something: She'd follow the advice in the book and see where it took her, applying Betty Cornell's advice to her life in the 21st century. The results were amazing. Not only did Maya build her own confidence, but she actually gained a certain level of popularity.

Maya's own memoir, Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek, is funny, heartwarming, and, at times, positively cringe-worthy. And it proves that, while trends come and go, some advice is timeless! A definite must-read!

p.s. Want to check out Betty Cornell's book for yourself? We own that too! --AJB

National Poetry Month

Blackout Poetry & Book Spine Poetry
We're halfway through National Poetry Month, and there's still plenty of time (and plenty of ways) to celebrate!

Feel like doing some poetry-related activities? See our back window display (right by the printer) and check out samples of Blackout Poetry and Book Spine Poetry. Then see a member of the library staff to see how you can create some of it yourself!

Poetry Books & Novels in Verse
Not really in the mood to create any poetry? ('cause, after all, creating poetry is challenging... and it can be a lot like homework, if you don't already love doing it) Check out our display of poetry books on top of the curved fiction shelf. Here you'll find both traditional poetry and novels in verse.

Either way, we've got poetry (or poetry activities) to appeal to almost everyone.