Saturday, May 31, 2014

We Were Liars

Each summer, Cady Sinclair's family lives on an idyllic private island. The Grandparents: Harris and Tipper. The Aunts: Carrie, Bess, and Penny. The Children: Johnny, Will, Mirrin, Liberty, Taft, Bonnie, and Cadence. Cady. And there's Gatwick. Gat. The boy Cady loves. On the surface, everything seems beautiful. Perfect.

But there is a hidden underbelly to this life. This story. The dark and ugly part outsiders don't see, because to show weakness and imperfection is SO not the Sinclair style. The aunts quarrel constantly over the large inheritance, and the cruel and senile grandfather fuels these arguments for his own sick amusement. Cady and Gat's budding relationship is forbidden because Gat is an outsider. A foreigner. And, even though no one will come out and say as much, the wrong color. But Cady doesn't care. She sees through the adults' shallowness and pettiness. She, Gat, Mirrin, and Johnny. The Liars, as they call themselves. Then, their 15th summer on the island, the four devise the perfect plan to punish the adults and make them see the error of their ways. Make them see just how shallow and petty they really are. It's foolproof.

Only something goes very wrong.

Cady is found on the beach, half-clothed and with mysterious injuries no memory of what happened. 

She is taken away, hospitalized. For two years, she is not allowed to return to the island or even speak of it. No one will tell her what happened that night or why she can't remember anything. Her emails, letters, calls to Johnny, Mirrin, and even Gat are ignored. She can't imagine why the people who matter most to her have abandoned her when she needs them most, and she's desperately hurt by it.

Then the summer before she turns 18, Cady is permitted to return to the island. The grandfather (grandmother is now dead), the aunts, the Liars, and the younger cousins are all there...and everyone is carrying on as if nothing happened years earlier. It's obvious something is very and profoundly wrong, but one will tell Cady anything.

She must get on with her life, they say.

She must remember on her own, they say.

And then she DOES remember. And nothing can ever be the same again. 

We Were Liars is an amazing story with the most shocking, unpredictable twist I've encountered in a long time. Read it! --AJB

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children: The Graphic Novel

Author Ransom Riggs created a sensation with his novel, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children a few years back. This story, which was constructed around some very, well, "peculiar" old photos told the tale of a boy trying to track down his family history and finding something extraordinary. 

This popular book is now a graphic novel. Even though the original format could practically be classified as a graphic (after all, it's a story told with pictures), this book gives the story a whole new dimension. Characters come to life through Cassandra Jean's drawings, and you'll find many people and places look just how you imagined them when you read the book book. Sprinkled throughout are photos from the original book. 

Even if you've already read the book, the graphic is definitely worth a look! --AJB

Hit the Road!

Road Trip Books--the next best thing to actually going!
The weather is (finally) warming up--just in time for the long Memorial Day weekend. What better time of the year to hop in your car (or your friend's car) and drive wherever the road takes you?

Ok, so maybe taking an impromptu road trip isn't within the realm of possibility. Many of you are, likely, still in school, gas is expensive, and most parents wouldn't be cool with turning their teen loose on the open road (I know mine would have freaked out at the mere thought!). So why not do the next best thing: Stop by the library and check out one of our Road Trip books! We've got a display featuring several titles, which is set up on top of our Fiction Shelf. Be sure to stop by the Teen Area and check it out.

What's there, you ask?

For example:

Reunited, by Hilary Graham: Alice hasn't spoken to her two best friends since that BIG falling out years earlier. But when the girls' favorite band announces a one-time-only reunion concert, Alice takes a chance and buys three tickets. Soon, she and her ex-BFFs are hitting the road to catch the show. But not without drama.

Going Bovine, by Libba Bray: Terminally ill Cameron has received a divine mission: To find a missing scientist, close a deadly wormhole, and save the world. Accompanied by a paranoid dwarf and a Norse god trapped in the body of a yard gnome, he accepts this challenge. He dodges fire giants, has a run-in with a smoothie-chugging Happiness Cult, and meets the greatest band who ever lived. But can he accomplish his mission before time runs out.

Safekeeping, by Karen Hesse: Radley returns home from overseas to find a country immersed in civil war. Now a fugitive on the run, Radley must make it across the Canadian border if she hopes to find safety--or locate her missing family.

Wanderlove, by Kirsten Hubbard: Following a bad breakup, Bria hopes to escape her life--and reinvent herself--by going on a Central American tour. Once there, she finds the tour populated by senior citizens. After a chance meeting with a mysterious backpacker boy in the marketplace, Bria leaves the tour and blazes her own trail. There may even be a chance for romance! But first Bria must learn to trust herself again if she's to truly trust anyone else.


Monday, May 19, 2014

Teen Reviewer: Love Letters to the Dead

One of Kate's favorite books she read was Love Letters to the Dead, by Ava Dellaria. In this book, a debut novel for the author, Laurel's class receives an English assignment to write a letter to a dead person. This assignment helps Laurel come to terms with, and eventually heal from, her older sister's recent death.

"This was an amazing contemporary book that reminded me a lot of The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I really enjoyed the letter format it was written in and the growth of the main character, Laurel. Laurel's sister was her role model, and when she died, Laurel had to find her own way in the world. The way she found herself in this novel was beautiful, and the conclusion really exposed the new Laurel. I also really liked Laurel's friends in this book. I think they really helped her cope and really added to this book overall. I loved this book and want to read more by Ava Dellaria." --Kate Marsh

Kate ended up choosing Love Letters to the Dead because of a review she read on Goodreads. She would absolutely recommend it.

Teen Reviewer: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Kate Marsh also enjoyed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, by Laini Taylor. She didn't like this high fantasy romance as much as some of the other books she reviewed, but she found it entertaining enough to finish.

"Daughter of Smoke and Bone was really good. This was the first book in the trilogy, so most of it was world building. But once that was established, it was a really beautiful story. I enjoyed the main character, Karou. She was relatable in many ways even though her situations weren't. I fully think that Laini Taylor's writing is what really drove me to finish this book. The clear pictures she paints with her words are wonderful!"--Kate Marsh

The Smoke and Bone Trilogy involves an epic battle between good and evil, but neither the bad guys or the good guys are who you'd traditionally expect them to be. And many of the characters fall into that grey area. And of course there's the love story that is, really, central to the plot. Don't miss book two, Days of Blood and Starlight, or book three, Dreams of Gods and Monsters. All three books are published and available for checkout.

Teen Reviewer: Cinder

Teen Reviewer Kate read Cinder, by Marissa Meyer, because a friend suggested it. Although she doesn't read a lot of sci-fi, she ended up really loving this futuristic retelling of Cinderella. Cinder is the first in The Lunar Chronicles, a series of sci-fi retellings.

"Cinderella, or Cinder, in this book is half robot. This book was a great way of introducing the world and all the amazing characters--and I found it really interesting how all the characters from (the traditional) Cinderella found their way into this book as brand new characters. Overall, I loved this book and can't wait to read Scarlet, the second book!" --Kate Marsh.

Scarlet, published in 2013, is a retelling of Little Red Riding hood. Cress, a Rapunzel retelling, came out earlier this year, and Winter, a re-imagining of Snow White, is scheduled for an early 2015 publication.

Teen Reviewer: Winner's Curse

Teen Reviewer Kate, 14, read The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski. She loved this book, the first in a new trilogy, which centers around a forbidden relationship between a young lady of nobility and a slave boy. 

"This historical dystopian was really unique. I loved the world (building) along with the two main characters, Krestral and Arin. They are both really developed by the end of the book, and I really loved the whole story. It was really amazing, and I highly recommend it!"

Kate recommends this historical romance for teens 13 and older and called it, "An amazing start to a new trilogy."

The sequel, The Winner's Crime, is due out early next year (according to Goodreads).

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Teen Reviewer: Fire With Fire

Teen reviewer Kate, 9th grade, continues to love Jenny Han's Burn for Burn trilogy. She just completed the second book, Fire with Fire, and loved it:

"Yet again I loved one of Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian's collaborations in Fire with Fire! Oh, I can't believe the cliff hanger we are left with in this book! I can't wait for Ashes to Ashes, the final book (due out in September). In Fire with Fire, we learn a lot more about the three main characters and their purpose for revenge, but the new secrets that are revealed are shocking! I can't wait to read the conclusion, and I recommend this trilogy to everyone."

Fire with Fire is appropriate for teens 13 and older (according to Kate). As stated in her review, Kate would absolutely recommend this book (and its prequel) to anyone and everyone.

Teen Reviewer: Defy

Teen reviewer Kate Marsh, 14, read Defy by Sara Larson. Lately Kate has been really into fairy tale retellings. And she'd read glowing reviews about Defy (a Mulan-type story) on Goodreads. But, unfortunately, she found it lacking:

"Compared to other fairy tale-type books, this one was fairly disappointing. The world that was built was really strong, and I really liked the new fantasy element with the sorcerers, but the characters were very dull. Alexa, or Alex, was Mulan, and she was very two-dimensional. When she was put into really scary situations, she would make really frustrating choices. The other characters, such as the prince, were really interesting, but we didn't get to find out much about them in this book. There is supposed to be a sequel, so I hope it will be more entertaining character-wise." 

Kate feels Defy would be appropriate for teens age 13-15. Unfortunately, she wouldn't recommend it. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Recentering the Universe

Did you know that, hundreds of years ago, people not only thought the Earth was flat, but believed it was the center of the universe (obviously a very small universe), around which rotated the sun, moon, and stars. They also thought the moon produced its own light. Some even went so far as to believe that rain and snow poured through openings in the sky, which randomly opened and closed (much like windows or doors). According to Recentering the Universe, by Ron Miller, this was the case.

Laugh it up (I did). But this doesn't mean people were dumber back then. They were just ill-informed. And, what's more, they didn't have the means to educate themselves on the scientific awesomeness that was (and still is) the reality of life, the universe, and everything. Okay, just the Universe. Remember, Google didn't exist back then. These views had worked for thousands of years, and people didn't realize how broken they were... so they didn't try to fix them. As for any new ideas and views... Well, that pretty much freaked people out. Not only that, questioning the old ways was pretty much illegal.

Enter Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, and Newton. The original Mythbusters. Using charts, math, telescopic lenses, and other cool gadgets, these guys totally "Busted" those ancient ideas about flat worlds and an Earth-centered universe. Of course these early astronomers weren't as popular as Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman. In fact, most people hated them. The church even went so far as to head-up a "witch hunt" or two. This was NOT a good time to be a Mythbuster. 

But then something cool happened.

People started to listen.

They looked at the evidence and said, "Hey, this actually seems legit." 

Old ideas were retired (by some, very reluctantly), but no one could deny the scientific proof that there was something to these new universal theories.

Today, with our space explorations, Mars rovers, and far-reaching telescopes, the ideas early astronomers worked so hard to prove are common knowledge and the whole flat Earth theory is something to joke about (OMG! Did people really think that way? LOL!). Check out Recentering the Universe for a detailed account on how the views of the universe changed over time. Even better, everything's presented in a way that's NOT textbook-like. So you don't feel like you're doing homework by reading it. 

What's next? Aliens? Life on other planets? Maybe...

Overall, an awesome book!--AJB