Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Make A Magazine Tree

Stop by the Teen Department this Saturday to make and decorate a Magazine Tree. No registration is needed to participate in this seasonal craft, but supplies are don't wait until the last minute. Program begins at noon and runs until 4 p.m. (or until supplies run out).

See you there!

Dan vs. Nature

Geeky Dan Weeks is the last person you'd expect to find on a wilderness survival camping trip. He's more the sort to sit safely in his room in suburbia and work on drawing his comic book. And that goes double for Dan's germaphobe best friend, Charlie, who is twice as geeky and ten times as wimpy. Yet here they are. Hundreds of miles from civilization, with the cold ground as their bed and leaves know. 

How did a guy like Dan get himself into this mess?

It's like this: His mom, whose soon-to-be husband, Hank, is a hockey-loving outdoorsman, signed him up. So he can properly get to know his soon-to-be stepfather. Just them. Out in the Idaho wilderness. With nothing but their witts and a Swiss Army Knife. Worse than being out in the sticks? Being forced to bond with Hank, who Dan is positive is no different from the other losers and deadbeats his mom thought was "The One" (before they showed their true colors).

So Dan and Charlie formulate a plan: They will stage a series of increasingly gross and humiliating pranks until Hank can't take it anymore and flees like the cowardly snake the boys are sure he is. But that's easier said than done. Not only do the pranks backfire, but it turns out that Hank may not be such a bad guy after all. 

Dan vs. Nature is pretty much everything you'd expect from Don Calame, the author who penned Swim the Fly and its two sequels: Gross humor, crude language, seriously awkward moments, and plenty teen boy shenanigans. But it's also a coming-of-age story in which all the characters emerge better, more mature people for the torment they endured. There's even a bit of romance, albeit not the swoony fairy tale sort. Although it was likely written with teen boys in mind as a target audience, I think that Dan vs. Nature is something that lots of people (regardless of gender) would enjoy. 

Definitely recommended--AJB

Nine Lives (DVD)

If you're looking for a great movie to take home for the weekend, look no further than Nine Lives. This fun film gives new meaning to Warm and Fuzzy. Literally. Fuzzy. 

Businessman and CEO Tom Brand is...well... How do I put this nicely? He's kind of a jerk. He neglects his family, treats his employees like dirt, and cares more for public appearances and status symbols than he does does about the things that really matter. Example: He's spent all his focus lately on making sure the new HQ of Firebrand Industries is the tallest building in the USA. 

Then his daughter asks for a very specific, game-changing present for her 11th birthday: A cat. Even though he hates cats, Tom finds himself at Purrkins Pet Store, a feline-friendly shop run by the quirky Mr. Perkins (expertly played by Christopher Walken). He picks Mister Fuzzypants, a shaggy, blue-eyed tomcat with an attitude. 

But before Tom can reach home, he is involved in a tragic accident. When he wakes up, he finds himself in the body of the cat he just adopted. His human body? In a coma. At first Tom/Fuzzypants can think of nothing but breaking the curse and returning to his normal life, which leads to some very funny cat antics. Then something happens: Living constantly at home instead of at the office makes him realize just how much he's been missing out on. He also realizes the negative impact his prior awful behavior has had on his family and his company. And Tom/Fuzzypants has a change of heart. But will that be enough? Because time is running out...

Nine Lives was simply adorable! The plot had the right mix of humor and heartwarming, and the acting was superb. Plus, it's "clean" enough that your younger siblings can watch it with you (but it's not juvenile).

I highly recommend it.--AJB

p.s. You don't have to be a cat person to enjoy Nine Lives (although it helps).

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Holiday Stories

It's getting to be that time of year again...

If you're looking for a great Holiday read, look no further than the OPL Teen Collection. We've got a lot of awesome books that are perfect for reading while curling up with a cup of cocoa (or tea? or coffee?) and your favorite blanket.

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares, co-authored by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, is the story of two New York City teens who begin a romance over their holiday break. It all begins when Dash, who is...well, kind of a Grinch, discovers a curious-seeming notebook while browsing his favorite used bookstore. After deciphering the clues written inside, Dash finds himself on a scavenger hunt that takes him to several NYC landmarks. A scavenger hunt for romance! Maybe. But can a boy who hates Christmas and a girl who loves it really make it work? You'll have to read the book to find out. Oh...and p.s. If you wanrt more of these characters, you're in luck. Because there's a sequel: The 12 Days of Lily and Dash.

New this month is What Light, the latest novel by Jay Asher. Sierra, whose family runs a Christmas Tree Farm, begins an opposites attract-type relationship with bad boy Caleb while in California for the tree-selling season. Fans of Jenny Han's Summer trilogy will love this one!

Don't have time for a full-length novel right now? Try My True Love Gave to Me and its companion/sequel Summer Days & Summer Nights. These collections are filled with sweet short stories that really do have something for everyone. Another great choice iLet It Snow

Whatever book you're looking for this holiday, we have it! And, if it's not on the shelf, ask! We'll get it for you. --AJB

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Someone I Wanted To Be, Aurelia Wills

Someone I Wanted To Be by Aurelia Wills can grab you by the heart and I highly recommend this book to both young adult and adult readers.

The plot is quite original and believable. Leah Lobermier dreams of  becoming a doctor, but it's hard to stay focused on getting good grades when boys make oinking sounds at her in school and her mother spends every night on the couch with a bottle of wine. Leah's skinny and popular "friends", Kristy and Corinne, aren't much better and can hardly be counted on for support. When the girls convince a handsome older man to buy them beer, Leah takes his phone number and calls him, pretending to be Kristy --coy and confident-- and they develop a relationship, talking and texting day after day. Soon, the lie she created grows beyond her control...

Leah basically struggles with self image, her weight, and bullying. Her home life is far from perfect, which adds to her stress. The issues these girls deal with seem what any girls would go through in real life.

This story shares authentic teen struggles with identity and body image and friendship. It addresses tough topics (obesity, alcoholism, teen drinking, assault, depression, poverty, child neglect, cancer and death of a parent) in an approachable way. *JK*

Friday, November 18, 2016

Welcome to the Island of Misfit Books!

Stop by the Teen Department and visit our Island of Misfit Books display. These poor, unfortunate books haven't gone out for a loooooong time. But that doesn't mean they aren't excellent reads, because they totally are! They've just gotten buried under all the dystopians and vampire romances.

So take a chance on these awesome stories (you'll be glad you did). Check out a Misfit Book today! --AJB

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Teen Vogue is starting a book club!

I just came across this article this morning and thought that some of you might be interested.

Here's the link!

For their first selection, Yara Shahidi and Rowan Blanchard have chosen Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neeale Hurston.  I've read this book three times and it is really good!  Plus, there's a good chance that you'll have to read it for a college class.

Happy reading!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Bad Girls of Fashion, by Jennifer Croll (illus. by Ada Buchholc)

Think the latest and greatest fashion look can be achieved by opening an issue of Seventeen or Cosmo and mimicking whatever you see? Think again! Truly great style is NOT wearing what everyone else is wearing, but, instead, following your own instincts and wearing (and doing) what works best for YOU...regardless of if it makes you stand out.

Still not sure if you've got the guts to do such a thing? Take inspiration from some true fashion icons. The ladies of Bad Girls of Fashion, which can be found in our non-fiction section. Here you'll find everyone from Cleopatra to Marie Antoinette, from Madonna to Lady Gaga, and everyone in between. Not only did these fearless women refuse to conform to appropriate fashion guidelines, they were revolutionaries in their other ways as well. 

Now we're not saying you should parade around in an outfit made entirely of meat or sport a dress that looks more like taxidermied waterfowl than anything else (Unless that's your thing. In which case, you should, of course, go for it). Bottom line is: Never be afraid to be yourself. And whatever your style may be, ROCK IT with pride! Who knows. You-yes, YOU!-may be the next Bad Girl (or boy) of fashion!

Overall, Bad Girls of Fashion was an exceptionally entertaining read. Not only did the pictures make this a fun book to browse, but the write-ups were really interesting and packed with little-known facts. For example, did you know Marie Antoinette often dressed as a man and went hunting with her husband, Louis XIV? Or that fashion giant Miuccia Prada was a mime before she became a designer? either.

This interesting bit of women's history is definitely recommended! --AJB

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Deep, by Helen Dunmore

Sapphire may look like a normal teen girl, but there's nothing ordinary about her. She possesses an incredible secret: She is part mer (yes, as in mermaid), and this heritage allows her to exist as easily under the sea as she does on land.

Having just helped prevent a tidal wave from destroying her (human) town, Sapphy and her brother, Connor, are called upon once again. And this time both worlds, land and sea, are being threatened. A powerful monster called the Kracken has awakened from a centuries-long slumber, and he is hungry. If he is not lulled back to sleep, his existance would end life for everyone everywhere. And Sapphy, with her mixed blood, is the only one who can enter The Deep and stop him. 

But the battle with the Kracken is small compared to the inner struggle going in within Sapphire's mind and heart. The pressure of living in two worlds, yet striving to keep them separate (and secret), is becoming increasingly difficult for her. She knows she must choose one or the other soon or go mad. But how to decide?

The Deep is the third book in Helen Dunmore's Ingo trilogy. Here readers see lots more of familiar characters, get to know others better, and meet new ones (both good and evil). And, as do the characters, we also get to go deeper into the world of Ingo and are privy to more of its carefully-guarded secrets. All in all, The Deep is a fantastic book and an excellent continuation of an amazing series. --AJB

Ingo, book 1
Ingo, book 2
p.s. Reader take note: If you're looking for a happy, fluffy mermaid story where sea creatures dance and sing and gaze longingly at the human world, turn to Disney. You will not find that sort of thing with the Ingo books, which are heavy on the mythology. 

p.s.s. Ingo is also a great fantasy choice for readers who want stories with little to no romance. That is: This is NOT a kissing book.

Friday, November 4, 2016

The Complete Chi's Sweet Home, Part 2, by Konami Kanata

In author/artist Konami Katana's The Complete Chi's Sweet Home, part 2 (which combines stand alone books 4-6), Chi's human family has moved to a new home. One that actually allows pets. No more hiding for Chi. But with the move comes new smells, new sights, new neighborhood animals, and lots of new experiences. Some are confusing, like figuring out stairs and cat doors. Others are terrifying, like claw trimmers and the neighbor's dog. On the other hand, some are amazing. Like discovering delicious human food. All that is a lot for one little kitten to take in in such a short time! Chi eventually adjusts, but there's a lot of super adorable humor as she does so. Other things are hinted at as well, such as the whereabouts of Chi's cat mama (who he was separated from in Book 1), but nothing is resolved. The book ends on a cliffhanger, with Chi following a neighborhood stray, not knowing how far from home she will wander. 

Having not yet read Book 1, I snapped up the second Chi's Sweet Home because the cat on the cover bore an uncanny resemblance to my cat, Howard. IF Howard were to be drawn as an Anime character, that is. I'd like to add that, while I've really embraced graphic novel/comics these past several months, I still shy away from the Manga because it's just so different. And sometimes it's backward! Also, since Manga has been translated from another language, there's lots of opportunity for things/context/meaning to get lost.  I loved Chi, though! This kitty cat tale (tail?) was totally cute and charming and made me want to go home and cuddle with my cats (Howard would be up for it. Princess Luna, who prefers not to be touched, would probably consider biting).

I'll definitely be grabbing up the Book 3 as soon as it hits the shelves! --AJB

9 (DVD), produced by Tim Burton

Legendary filmmaker (and master of all that is visually weird and twisted), Tim Burton, produces this unusual animated dystopian in which humanity and life as we know it has become extinct. The world, now a post-nuclear wasteland, is overrun by mutated machines and the trash we left behind. Some are harmless, but most are unspeakably evil and determined to destroy any spark of humanity that remains. We learn this through the eyes of a ragdoll-like creature known only as 9.

But lets go back a bit... In humanity's final moments, a scientist-inventor learned the secret to preserving what remained of his world and life as he knew it. He put small pieces of his soul into nine of these ragdoll creatures and sent them out into the world. If all were to be reunited, that would begin a process to restore the world. But that feat is not as easy as it may seem.

Upon waking, 9 ventures out into the ruined world and discovers there are other creatures like him. Eight others, to be exact. These creatures must avoid being destroyed by rogue machines. Harder still, they must learn to trust each other and work together, something that Number 1, the original, struggles against with every fiber in his stiched-together being. Will these odd little creatures succeed at their mission? Or will humanity remain lost forever? You'll have to watch the movie to find out.

When I watched 9, my first thought was: "Hey! That scientist-inventor guy just made horcruxes! How very Voldemort of him." Overall, though, I wasn't sure what to think of the movie at first. I didn't know if I loved it or hated it. I just recognized the overwhelming feeling of weirdness it left me with. But as the days passed, I found myself thinking of the movie at odd times: Unloading the dishwasher, feeding the cats, driving to work, waking in the middle of the night to get a drink of water... And that original feeling of weirdness began to morph into one of awe. It really is an incredible film. The animation is first-rate, and the storyline is very deep and intelligent. 9 may not a movie to watch casually, but it's definitely enjoyable. --AJB

Thursday, November 3, 2016

How to Talk to Girls at Parties, by Neil Gaiman (illus: Fabio Moon & Gabriel Ba)

It's the holiday. Enn and Vic are two carefree teen boys out for a night of fun on the town. They're looking for a supposedly awesome party that studmuffin Vic heard about from a friend of a friend. There will girls there, Vic tells his awkward and introverted friend. Girls!! Enn isn't so sure, though. He's never been comfortable striking up conversations with members of the opposite sex. As far as Enn is concerned, girls may as well be from another planet entirely. 

(Note the subtle use of foreshadowing...)

After a bit of wandering, the boys do, indeed, find the party house. They are greeted at the door by a gorgous blonde. Inside the house (which is bigger on the inside than it appears from without), there are, indeed, girls. Each of them different, but eerily perfect in the same way. Before disappearing with the pretty host, Vic tosses his friend this last bit of advice: "Just TALK to them." And Enn is left on his own to fumble awkwardly through some very strange conversations with various female partiers. With each encounter, the weird vibe grows and grows. But Enn doesn't really catch on until a terrified Vic pulls him away from the party. Away from the girls who are not who they appear.

The guys escape just in time, but the strange terror of that night will stay with Enn forever. And neither of them will ever be the same.

The graphic novel adaption of Neil Gaiman's short story How to Talk to Girls at Parties is incredible. Illustrations by Brazilian artists Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba perfectly bring to life this classic sci-fi tale of close encounters. (I should mention that the print version of this story can be found in Gaiman's short story collection, M is for Magic).

How to Talk to Girls at Parties reminded me quite a bit of Bennett Madison's 2013 novel, September Girls. In this book, two brothers visit a very unusual beach town that is inhabited by hundreds of seemingly perfect girls. The boys get caught up in an ancient curse involving these girls, who aren't what they appear to be (spoiler: They're not human). Along with plot similarities, both stories were atmospheric in the same sort of way. They gave off the same sort of otherworldly vibe that kept me hooked, wondering what would happen next, but knowing that things wouldn't end well.

If you're looking for something a bit different than the typical Dystopian or want a Kissing Book that's not really a Kissing Book, recommend checking out both stories. You won't be disappointed.--AJB

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

I Hate Fairyland, by Skottie Young

Fairyland is an amazing world filled with nonstop wonder, magic, laughter, and joy. There are rainbow unicorns, sparkle fairies, and islands of ice cream...and the whole fluffing place is ruled by a kind and beautiful queen who is made entirely from clouds. But don't let this fool you. I Hate Fairyland, a graphic novel by Scottie Young, is absolutely NOT a light-hearted romp through a brightly-colored land of fairy tale fancy. On the contrary, this story is straight-up horror! In the best possible way.

When Gert was a starry-eyed six year old, she made a wish to be transported to Fairyland, where she could eat rainbow cupcakes and frolic through the daisies with her favorite fairy tale characters. And guess what? Her wish was granted! YAY!!

Upon arrival, Queen Cloudia tells Gert that, in order to get home, she must go on a quest to find a magical key to open a magical door back to her world. Until then, she is a special guest of Fairyland.

Nearly 30 years later, Gert is still stuck in Fairyland. She may still look like a sweet, curly-haired child, but inside she is a bitter grown-up in need of some serious anger management therapy. And the constant exposure to the (actually kind of scary) randomness of the Fairy Realm has made her...well...kind of crazy. Ok, REALLY crazy. But Gert is still a special guest. And no guest can be harmed. No matter how violent or bonkers they become. And believe me, Queen Claudia will do anything to get around this law. Even dig up a long-forgotten loophole.

Meanwhile: Welding a giant-sized battle axe stolen from the Headless Huntsman, Gert has been chopping her way through Fairyland on her continued quest to find the Key. But she comes up against her biggest challenge yet: A super-adorable, super-happy human child who has the power to blast magical rainbows from her fingertips. And oh yeah...this cute little newcomer is on the quest to find the key too. And if she gets to the key first, that means Gert will be trapped in Fairyland. Forever. It will also mean that Gert is no longer a protected guest, and all bets are off (the Queen is counting on this).

Only one thing will save Gert now: The Powers of the Seven Evil Dooms. But first she must defeat the Darketh Deadeth. IF she can survive.

I've been hearing a lot of good things about I Hate Fairyland. And everything I heard about this darkly humorous story is true. Although it's most definitely for OLDER readers, I Hate Fairyland is nonstop action and entertainment. Older teens with a dark sense of humor will love this one! --AJB