Friday, March 30, 2012

Who Made the Cut?

Each year, a week before Homecoming, Mount Washington High experiences an odd tradition. Copies of a very unusual  List mysteriously appear around the school. On it are the names of two girls from each grade. One girl is named as the prettiest. The other the ugliest. No one knows who started this tradition or how long ago that was. The students have just accepted it as a part of Homecoming. This year is no different. The List is posted. Eight girls are named. This novel by Siobhan Vivian follows these eight girls over the week leading up to the big Game and Dance. Each girl reacts differently to her new title, but not all in the ways you'd expect. So how will they react? How would you?

Although the idea for this book is fantastic, the amount of viewpoints (eight!) makes it hard to follow. Throughout, I had to keep turning back to the beginning of the book where there is a copy of the infamous list to see who was who. Additionally, the abrupt ending gives it an unfinished feeling. Nothing is really resolved. No one really gets closure. This is very frustrating! However, it does keep you reading... --AJL

Thursday, March 29, 2012

On No You Didn't! (Oh Yes, You Did!)

When Teens of today are feeling angst-y (or happy) about something, they blog it or update their status or tweet it--all for the world to see. But lacking that sort of advanced technology, the Teens of the past expressed their joys and frustrations in journals and diaries. These were usually kept hidden, their covers scrawled with ominous threats of torture and dismemberment for any who dared invade the sanctity of their sacred pages. But with Cringe, these formerly private musings of long-ago teens are now as available to the public as something posted on Facebook or Twitter. And they're hilarious! True, for many teens, anyone older than 25 is, like, OLD, but open Cringe and you'll see that these geezers were once teenagers just like you. And they had the same issues. Friends, parents, crushes, celebrities, their own private insecurities. No topic is safe from Cringe. Teens will relate...and "old people" will Cringe, remembering their teenage years.

Reviewer's Note: For those of you newly "Old" people, some of the topics in Cringe may still hit a little too close to home. So read with caution.

Don't Get Even, Do THIS!

You know that one person who does that one thing that just irritates you to no end? (You know what I'm talking about). Well, don't get mad. Don't even get even. Express your feelings by leaving them a hostile, yet polite note. They'll know exactly how you feel, and you'll feel better having gotten all than negativity out of your system without resorting to violence. Not sure how to do this? Well then, Passive Aggressive Notes will teach you the specifics of this common, yet hard to master, art form. Once you start expressing your anger and frustration through Passive Aggressive Notes, you'll never want to resort to violence or vandalism again. Imagine if everyone expressed their negative emotions this way. This world would be a much more peaceful place. Ok... Even if that's not true, Passive Aggressive Notes is, at the very least, good for a laugh or two. --AJL

Monday, March 26, 2012

Healing...and Moving On.

On the first night of Summer, Ember's family loses their home in a fire. A fire, Ember suspects, that was set by the boy she thought was her best friend. Ansen's father believes Ember's family are witches...and he's sort of right. But not in the evil, pointy-black-hat, turn-boys-into-toads sense. Ember's family are Wiccans, and her mother suppliments the family's meager income by reading Tarot cards. The worst part is Ember's beloved dog disappeared the night of the fire. And Ember fears the worst. Now homeless, Ember's family moves to a campground where they live in cheap tents. Fearing more fallout if people discover the truth about her family's beliefs, Ember does everything she can not to make new friends. If questioned, she lies about who her family are. About who she is. All the while, Ember works on a revenge spell on Anson. Finally, Ember begins to heal. And she's finally able to move on.

Looking for something really good to read? Try Body of Water, available on both book and audio. --AJL

Sunday, March 25, 2012

In the second book in Amanda Hocking's Trylle trilogy, changeling Wendy Everly learns even more about her mysterious past. Wendy shares an uncomfortably close connection with the Vittra, bitter rivals of the Trylle. Wendy is a powerful troll, and both sides want her on their side. Things get really complicated--both politically and romantically. With war between the two clans looming, Wendy has some important choices to make. Whatever she decides will determine whether everything and everyone she has come to love will survive--or be destroyed.

Originally published as ebooks, the Trylle trilogy is as good as, if not better than, most books in its genre (which seem a dime a dozen these days). If you're into paranormal writers like Kelly Armstrong, you'll like this series--AJL

Getting "Smart"

Move over, Alex Rider. Meet Tom Harvey. Tom is jusy an average teenager who finds out what it's really like to have access to unlimited data. Following an accident, fragments of an iPhone become embedded in Tom's brain. Now he can do even more than the average, fully-loaded Smart Phone. But like any superhero, with great powers come great responsibilities. And Tom has an important choice to make: Use his powers for good...or evil.

iBoy is a high-tech sci-fi thriller for the 21st Century. Well worth picking up--or downloading to your e-reader. --AJL

Friday, March 23, 2012

Guide to Life--NOT!

Want to improve your popularity? Land your dream job? Get your crush to notice you? Follow any of these highly-cliche lessons from 50 popular teen movies and you'll be on your way to getting everything you want in no time at all--no matter how much your life sucks right now.  

No, not really.

But packed as it is with snarky snyposes, quotes, quizzes, and fun facts, this hilarious look at popular teen movies is still well worth checking out. Learn what to do if you're ever stuck in detention with five school stereotypes. Why is your crush treating you like you have the plague? Maybe he just doesn't like you--or maybe he's a vampire who's fighting the overwhelming urge to drink your blood. Do opposites really attract? Are extreme makeovers really life-changing? Find out! --AJL

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Identity Issues

Lily, 17, appears to be your average high school student, but she's got a secret: Lily is really Princess Waterlily, a mermaid and the heir to the throne of the undersea kingdom of Thalassina. Before her 18th birthday, Lily must find a mate or else lose her royal inheritance. All she has to do is kiss the boy of her choice, and they'll be bonded for life. Lily plans to bond with her crush at the upcoming Halloween party. Unfortunately, she kisses her annoying neighbor by mistake. What's a (mer)girl to do?

Forgive My Fins, the first installment in Tera Lynn Childs' new trilogy, is a fun, lighthearted read that's sure to please. Liked it? Don't miss the followup, Fins Are Forever. And the third installment, Just For Fins, is due out this year. --AJL

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Only Survivor

Think Katniss Everdeen was tough? After losing her family in a Great Disaster that fills the air with smoke and covers the land in ash, Green Angel, 15, must learn to survive in a dangerous new world where gangs of scavengers will kill for the smallest scrap of food. As the seasons pass, Green changes. First she is fearful, hiding from those who vandalize her home and pillage her family's garden. Allowing her grief and anger get the better of her, Green attempts to numb her pain through self-mutilation, becoming someone even the most dangerous scavengers fear. Finally, Green begins to heal--and with that healing comes hope. Hope for herself and hope for her world.

Unlike most dystopia stories, there isn't much action in Green Angel. This story isn't about running from or fighting some external threat. Rather, the threats Green faces are her own inner demons, which she must defeat if she is to regain a normal life. --AJL 

Monday, March 19, 2012

New Dystopia

If you liked The Hunger Games, you'll definitely enjoy Article 5, the first book in planned trilogy by new author Kristen Simmons.

Following a vaguely-described War that deviated the country, the United States has become a very different place. Gone is the Bill of Rights. Replacing it are the Moral Statutes, highly strict rules enforced by the Federal Bureau of Reformation (a.k.a. "Moral Militia"). Violators have a way of disappearing, and terrible rumors abound about their fate. When Ember's mother is arrested for being a single parent (an Article 5 violation), Ember is carted off to a reformatory where residents are bullied by armed guards and harshly punished by a cruel headmistress. With the assistance of her former crush, Chase, now an AWOL FBR officer, Ember escapes and begins a long journey to find her mother. With the FBR on their tails and unspeakable dangers lurking at every turn, Ember and Chase must learn to trust each other if they are to survive. But is this even possible?

Although pretty violent at times, Article 5 is packed with action. Eventually, a romance begins to develop between Chase and Ember, which is sure to be fleshed out more in future books. Overall, an excellent read. If you're a fan of the dystopia genre, you won't want to miss this one! --AJL

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lost...and Found

Janie, 15, is tired of her boring life, her boring neighborhood, and her boring (yet strict) parents. Even her name, Jane Johnson, is boring. But Janie should've been more careful what she wished for when hoping for some excitement. During lunch, Janie recognizes the photo of the missing child printed on the side of her milk carton. The little girl in the photo is her! Janie learns she was kidnapped at age 3. But how could her parents--or the people she's come to think of as her parents--kidnap anyone? There's more to the story than Janie could ever have suspected. Will Janie find the courage to contact her birth family? And what will happen to her kidnapped family if she does?

Caroline Cooney's classic Face on the Milk Carton isn't exactly a believable story, and the drama of Janie's indicision over what to do about her sudden situation stretches out far too long. But there's quite a bit of excitement, tons of drama, and even a bit of innocent romance. And lets face it. This is a modern classic and one everyone should read at least once. And, if you like it, Janie's story continues over the course of three more books: Whatever Happend to JanieThe Voice on the Radio, and What Janie Found.  --AJL

Teen Reviewer: Once Dead, Twice Shy

Being dead sucks. You can’t do anything, like eating, sleeping, or really breathing. No one knows this better then Madison Avery. How come? Cause she’s dead, obviously. Well not completely dead, just Once Dead Twice Shy. Why isn’t she completely dead? Well, it’s a long story that involves warring groups of angles trying to control more souls. She had just turned seventeen when some guy with nice black hair killed her.  However before her soul could pass on into the next life he tries to steal her body from the morgue. Madison, being understandably freaked, out grabs his amulet, the source of the reapers powers and runs. She crashes into Barnabas, a light reaper who was supposed to protect her, but failed. The amulet gives her the appearance of a body. So she can be touched, but the reaper who killed her stole her body from the morgue. So she has his amulet, but he has her body. Now she has to juggle learning how to use the amulet, finding her body, living with her divorced father, figure out how to talk to a cute boy, and she’s starting school, all while being dead. And that’s just the start of the first book!

This is a fantastic series by one of my favorite writers, Kim Harrison. The second book Early to Death, Early to Rise, is just as good. But I can’t really say anything about it without ruining the first one. Great series with lots of memorable moments and characters, I highly recommend checking out. --Brandon Young, Teen Reviewer

Monday, March 12, 2012

Check Out Our Book Displays!

If you've been in our Teen Area lately, you've probably noticed the book displays in the windows at the back of the department and along the fiction and non-fiction shelves. Yes, you can check out the books on the display shelves!

This month, in honor of the March 23 release of the Hunger Games movie, we have a special Book 2 Movie display featuring books that have been made into movies.  March is Woman Writer's Month, so we also have a display of books by some of the great writers in teen literature. Some other displays are: All The World's a Stage (books about theater and film) and Difficult Issues (from peer pressure to bullying, from friend drama to depression). Additionally, there is an ongoing display of books appropriate for Middle School (tween) Readers. In Non-Fiction, there is a display featuring books about Teen Employment--just in time for those of you looking for after school and summer jobs.

All our display books are available to be checked out. The displays are switched up monthly (sometimes more often). So next time you're in the Teen Area, be sure to have a look at our displays. You just might find your next Great Read! --AJL

Saturday, March 10, 2012

What Happend to Glory Flemming?

Teenage piano prodigy Glory Flemming, 17,  has vanished without a trace. Ever since her mother's death, Glory's mental state has been delicate. Her strict practice schedule and controlling stage parent of a father doesn't help matters. Her only solace is the time she spends with boy next door, Frank. A friendship and, finally, a romance evolves. But soon her father forbids Glory from having any Frank, claiming it interferes with her budding career as a concert pianist. A career Glory does not want. Finally Glory is unable to play anything but the song Chopsticks.  And then she vanishes. Told entirely through photos, text messages, news clippings, drawings, and other media, Chopsticks flashes back through the months leading up to Glory's disappearance. Can you figure out what happend to her?

Mixed-media books that tell their story through formats other than straight text seem to be growing in popularity, and Chopsticks is one of the best so far. Part love story and part mystery, this one is not to be missed! --AJL

Friday, March 9, 2012

More Than A Thousand Words

When would-be journalist Frankie Pratt graduated from high school in 1920, she was gifted with her father's old typewriter--and her entire world opened up. Told in photographs, magazine clippings, misc memorabilia, and typed commentary, the Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt sees our heroine evolve from an innocent girl to a mature and worldly woman. Follow Frankie's journey from first crushes to first time away from home (college), from European travel to finding love in the last place she expected. There isn't much to read as far as narrative or dialogue, but the graphics do a more than adequate job of telling this story. You'll be caught up in the story in no time!

The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt is available on the New Book shelf. Check it out today!  --AJL

Hunger Games Contest

Are You Ready for The Arena?

Visit the Teen Area March 11-17 and cast your vote for your favorite character from Suzanne Collins' popular Hunger Games trilogy (look for the voting box on top of the curved Fiction shelves). Your vote will enter you to win a set of tickets to the Hunger Games movie, out in theaters Friday March 23! Runners-up prizes are: A set of Hunger Games books, Gift Cards to local businesses, or a Hunger Games Movie Poster.

Remember: Only one vote per person will be counted.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Teen Reviewer: Scott Pilgrim

There is a story type called the hero’s journey. It goes like this: Once upon a time the hero was living his life normally. Then one day something happens that changes his life forever. He must then embark on an epic journey to do something important. He overcomes obstacles, gets stronger, and grows more mature. Often times he meets people he helps and befriends. This is the case for all stories of this type, including Epic Epic of Epicness, Scott Pilgrim VS. The World.

The story of Scott Pilgrim has one of the most memorable openings ever, with the caption, "It all started with Scott Pilgrim is dating a high schooler." To him, it’s just another day in his precious little life. Living with his gay roommate, Wallace Wells, and playing in his sucky band Sex Bob-omb, a clever Mario reference, with his friends Stephan Stills and Kim Pine. But this all changes when he meets and then proceeds to become obsessed with Ramona Flowers, a girl with Seven Evil Exes, a lot of emotional baggage, and who works as a “Ninja Delivery Girl” for, a clever reference to modern culture.

In fact, the entire series is littered with references to video game and pop culture. From Stacy Pilgrim, Scott’s Sister, being rated T for Teen, to Scott doing a 64 hit combo in a fight. The books could be described as a swan song to the modern geek. Anyone with any knowledge of video game should be able to see most of them. But if you don’t, it’s still defiantly worth a read. Both for the humor and the story. Scott can be simple-minded at times, but he’s a hero you can root for in his quest to defeat the seven evil exes and win Ramona’s heart.

So while Scott Pilgrim may not do anything new with the hero’s journey archetype, it's a creative take on it, mixed with good characters, funny jokes, and enough references to make a geek's head explode. It's defiantly worth a read. --Brandon Young, Teen Reviewer

Monday, March 5, 2012

Where there's a witch, there's a way

Kendra (of Beastly fame) is back in Bewitching. Turns out Kyle Kingsbury wasn't the first teen she helped with her own special kind of magic.

Emma has a stepsister problem. Lisette seems sweet enough at first (and has a pretty face on top of it), but we soon learn she's as manipulative and as nasty as wicked stepsisters come. She soon disrupts every aspect of Emma's life. So after enough drama to fill up an entire season of reality TV, Emma decides something has to be done and enlists the aid of Kendra. As readers may recall, Kendra's spells don't always turn out as planned. But everything always works out in the end.

Throughout this book, readers will encounter more fairy tales than they would during a visit to the Magic Kingdom. And it seems as though this, rather than the story itself, was the author's main objective. Bewitching wasn't nearly as good as Beastly, but fans of Alex Flinn and fairy tale retellings will enjoy it. --AJL

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A disreputable history

Frankie Landau-Banks at age 14: debate club, meek and slightly geeky, with frizzy hair. Frankie Landau-Banks at age 15: knock-out figure, a sharp tongue and the most popular senior boy on campus for a boyfriend, and a criminal mastermind. The disreputable history of Frankie Landau-Banks is the story of how she got that way. Frankie is smart, funny and just quirky enough to make her seem realistic. When she learns of a secret all-male society on campus, she decides to infiltrate by assuming a false identity online and manipulate them into doing pranks meant to make a political statement about the male-dominated and classist nature of the school. What follows is a funny and engaging account of Frankie's exploits, interwoven with a bit of mystery.

Some of the exchanges between students feel forced and not really the way high school students talk. But Frankie is an endearing character and her use of crazy grammar is laugh-out-loud funny.  KR

Friday, March 2, 2012

Geeked out!

March 4-10 is Teen Tech Week.

Channel your inner Geek by logging on to your Facebook account, checking out a new app, downloading a new song from iTunes, tweeting some interesting bit of news (or just juicy gossip), posting a comment on this (or another) blog, or making use of the technology available to you.

Also drop by the Teen Area and check out our Teen Tech Week display, which features both fiction and nonfiction titles that are technology-themed. --AJL