Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Kingdom of Little Wounds

A mysterious and deadly illness is plaguing the royal family of Skyggenhavn. 

On the eve of doomed Princess Sophia's nuptials to a man more than twice her age, royal seamstress Ava Bingen accidentally pricks Queen Isabel with a needle during a routine gown repair. Servants have been put to death for far lesser crimes, so when she is exiled to the dungeons, Ava doesn't believe she will live to see the dawn. Ava is unexpectedly rescued (fortunately or unfortunately? you be the judge) by Count Nicolas, a frivolous and devious man infamous for hiding his jewels in the oddest of places. The Count offers Ava a proposition: In lieu of death, she will be sent into the royal nursery as a spy in hopes that she will uncover a plot against the crown. It is here she meets the angsty mute nurse Midi Sorte. At first the girls are suspicious of each other, but soon they form an odd alliance. They do solve the mystery of who is plotting against the royal family. And, in doing so, also forge better lives for themselves.

The Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susan Cokal is one of this year's Printz Award contenders. The story is awesome and beautifully written, and it's easy to see how it came to be an award winner. However, a warning: There are some seriously gross plot elements, such as detailed discriptions of disease (festering puss and all), multiple accounts of Count Nicolas' "odd" habits (eww!), and the humiliating deeds Ava and Midi are forced to perform for the pleasure and entertainment of the court. So if you have a weak stomach, maybe this one isn't for you. Otherwise, definitely check it out. This one's fantastic!

p.s. Due to mature content, this book is recommend for 9th grade and up.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

It's A Big World Out There...

This time of year always had me thinking about Spring Break. Unfortunately, I never had the opportunity, the finances, or the freedom to pack up and go traveling wherever I pleased. Thankfully, I had books to help me to escape the seemingly endless Winter Ick-Land that is Michigan late February through early April. Sure, that sounds really cheesy, but so be it. Books rock (and I've always enjoyed a bit of cheese).

Spring-boarding off the Adult Department's 2014 Winter Reading Theme (Travel the World With a Good Book--which is an awesome theme, by the way) and tying into the proximity of Spring Break, we in the Teen Department offer you an opportunity to escape to far-off, places through reading. Backpack through Central America, explore the iconic sights of Paris, visit the exotic cities of the far east, relax on the beaches of your own private Greek Island, and have an adventure in New York City... All without ever leaving the comfort of your warm home. Or the expense of travel.

No passport? No problem! Stop by the Teen Department and check our our Explore Your World display. You never know what you might discover! --AJB

Monday, February 17, 2014

4 Teen Reviews

This crazy winter weather makes one want to stay in and stay warm. But that's OK as long as you've got a good book or two to read. This is how teen reviewer Kate (9th grade) has kept herself busy these past few weeks. Here are reviews for four books she read:

Cruel Beauty, a debut novel for Rosamund Hodge, is yet another retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but with a twist: "The main character, Nyx, is the "Belle" in this retelling. She was born to kill the Beast, but the Beast wasn't ready for Nyx. This book was a wonderful twist on a well-known story." This book, which Kate claimed practically jumped off the shelf and hugged her, was "an amazing book." Kate recommends Cruel Beauty for ages 13-15.

Kate picked up Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell because she'd heard so many good things about it. She found it entertaining, but it wasn't the best thing she'd ever read: "It was a sweet book about friendship. The romance and characters were well-developed, but the plot wasn't very elaborate." Her favorite character was Park. "I loved Park! He was an amazingly put-together character!." She recommends this book for ages 13 and up.

Rockoholic by C.J. Skuse, a romantic comedy about a teen who accidentally kidnaps her favorite rock star, caught Kate's eye and kept her interested throughout. "It was an extremely entertaining and quick read. I really enjoyed the protagonist, Judy. She was really funny, and it was fun to read (the story) from her point of view." Kate recommends Rockoholic for ages 13-15.

Lastly, Katie read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell on a friend's recommendation. This story, about a college-bound, fan fiction-writing teen who must learn to break from her comfort zone and adjust to a very different way of life, was so enjoyable that Kate would definitely recommend it to others. "This was such a relatable book! The main character, Cather, was just so relatable in every way! She enjoyed reading and writing fan fiction about Simon Snow (a Harry Potter-esque character). I think it was interesting how you (the reader) get to see Cath's fan fiction. It showed how she put her writing skills into her college life." Kate recommends this one for ages 13 and up.

Interested in writing a review or two or more for this blog? Stop by the Teen Reference Desk and talk to any of the staff working there. We'll show you what you have to do.

Sunday, February 9, 2014


Centuries ago, on the remote Scandinavian island of Blessed, a viking king is ritually sacrificed in hopes that his death will end a mysterious curse that has been plaguing the land. The curse ended...or did it? Shortly after the king's death, the queen vanishes--only to reappear months later possessing a terrible secret. A secret that would change the island and its people forever.

Flash forward: In the year 2037, investigative reporter Eric Seven visits Blessed hoping to uncover the truth to the claim that the residents of the island have discovered the secret to eternal life. Upon his arrival, he meets Merle, a woman he feels he's known before. As history brutally repeats itself, Eric realizes he has known Merle--in another lifetime. Many other lives, in fact. What follows are seven chapters told in reverse chronological order, summarizing how Eric and Merle's souls have encountered each other again and again throughout the centuries. 

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick is this year's Printz Award winner. But despite the high honor bestowed upon it, the story is lacking. Chapters are too short to allow for much character development, and the way the plot jumps makes the storyline difficult to follow. What's more, clues linking the stories feel forced and are a little too convenient even for fate. Because of this, readers may have a hard time staying engaged. Lastly, the concept (two souls linked by tragedy doomed to follow each other throughout history) is stale. It's been done many times before: "Reincarnation" by Suzanne Weyn, "Cloud Atlas" by David Mitchell, "The Midnight Club" by Christopher Pike... The list continues.

While mildly entertaining, this one, unfortunately, isn't highly recommended. --AJB