Monday, August 14, 2017

Jem and the Holograms: Truly Outrageous, by Kelly Thonpson

After vol. 4 (Enter the Stingers) kind of fell flat, I was concerned about the future of this series. But I'm happy to report that Jem and the Holograms Truly Outrageous (v. 5), the concluding volume of this colorful comic saga inspired by the 1980s cartoon, ties things together nicely.

After the drama of the past several months, the Holograms are in desperate need of some R & R...so the ladies (and their love interests) head to Hawaii. They figure some sun and surf is just what the doctor ordered. Unfortunately, the Stingers just happen to be renting the beach house next door, and Minx and Rapture just can't keep from stirring up trouble. After Pizzazz and The Misfits were somewhat declawed at the end of vol. 3 (Dark Jem), this series needed a new villain. And these two ladies are truly diabolical!

But the main storyline seems to be that Jerrica has been feeling increasingly conflicted and isn't sure how much longer she can keep the whole alternate Jem-Secret-Identity charade going. Especially when it comes to her boyfriend, Rio. Unlike in the cartoon, author Kelly Thompson actually explores the outcome of this storyline. And, as you might expect, things don't exactly go well--for either party involved. But it adds a depth to the story that the show just didn't have. And that made me like it even better.

No spoilers this time, but I think you'll be pleased with how this fifth and final volume wraps up the saga. I know I was. Between the colorful illustrations, the ongoing themes about friendship, the strong female characters, and the adorable relationships (Kimber and Stormer are just the cutest thing ever!), this series has got to be one of my favorites. --AJB

Don't Get Caught, by Kurt Dindan

This book is awesome.

Don't Get Caught, by Kurt Dindan is all the best heist stories rolled into one...only without the high-speed car chases. But there is a villain who is so evil and diabolical they would make even James Bond sweat. And there is a crime. 
And there is a twist. Oh yes, there is a twist! And it goes even deeper than even the most observent reader will suspect.

It all begins when Max Cobb and four other random students receive messages to meet at the watertower after dark. The messages are all signed "The Chaos Club" (the super secret organization that has been pulling epic shenanigans at their high school for decades). Their only instructions: "Tell No One" and "Don't Get Caught."

Well, it was a setup. Thus, "The Water Tower Five," encouraged by preacher's daughter Ellie, begin an elaborate revenge plot to get back at the mysterious club that got them in trouble. So the Five begin pulling pranks, each more complex and cruel than the next. They frame each one on the Chaos Club. Their hope is to force the club's members out of hiding and put an end to the infamous organization once and for all.


But there's more to it than just that. Someone's motives for revenge go past simply getting suspended for vandalizing the water tower. But who is the real villain here? Who is the real victim? 

What happens next... Well, you won't see it coming!

Don't Get Caught was funny and exciting and cringeworthy in all the best ways. If you want a quick, fun read that will keep you guessing until the last page, this one is for you! --AJB

Thursday, August 10, 2017

When the Moon Was Ours, by Anna-Marie McLemore

If you're a fan of Magical Realism (and I am quickly coming to realize this is my favorite genre), you simply MUST rush to the shelves and check out When The Moon Was Ours, the second novel by Anna-Marie McLemore. The writing and world building are simply gorgeous, and you will fall in love with the quirky cast of characters...none of whom are who they first appear to be:

Meil first appeared in town when she was five, hatched from the downed water-tower, and adopted by a mysterious woman who is said to have the power to cure even the most painful heartbreak. She recalls none of her life before this moment, although she has an irrational fear of pumpkins, can sprout roses from her wrist, and knows from day one that the beautiful Bonner sisters have it in for her.

Sam, the boy next door, is Meil's first, best, and only friend. He paints moons that are just as magical as Meil's roses and hangs them in the trees around town. He guards a secret from the rest of the world, a secret that, if exposed, could mean ruin for himself and the lives he and his single mother have built. A secret that becomes harder to protect as his and Meil's friendship deepens into romance. 

But Sam and Meil aren't the only ones with secrets and agendas. Ivy Bonner believes that Meil's roses, if used correctly, can be used to control anyone. She has her reasons for wanting this power. So Ivy decides she will have these roses--no matter what. She threatens Meil, kidnaps her, and, when Meil still tries to resist, she threatens to expose Sam's secret to the world. 

What's a girl to do when her nemesis knows the one thing that could get the person she loves best run out of town? Or so her nemesis says. Give in, of course. At least for a while. But something has to give, eventually. And when things finally come to a head... Well, you'll see.

It's difficult to describe the plot of When The Moon Was Ours without giving too much away. This is a story of friendship, of acceptance, of learning to be yourself rather than conform to what the world thinks you should be. Yes, it DID have romantic elements, but wasn't a straight-up "kissing book."

All around: A gorgeous story. I highly recommend it! --AJB

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Beauty and the Beast (DVD)

the animated version was better!
When I Wish Upon A Star...I wish that Disney would quit making live-action versions of their classic animated movies. Not only is it an unnecessary reinvention of the wheel. It's also incredibly uncreative, something that, until recently, I didn't associate with Disney. Mostly, though, one should not meddle with perfection. Because, chances are, that meddling will mess things up in some way.

Or, to quote Cogsworth from the animated Beauty and the Beast, "If it's not Baroque, don't fix it".

Before I get into the review, I want to say that I loved Maleficent (2014), the live-action remake of Sleeping Beauty, because it took the classic fairy tale and turned it upside-down and inside out and put an entirely new twist on things. It was awesome!

Unfortunately, the same could not be said for Cinderella (2015), which followed the animated movie pretty much to the letter. Still, I had high hopes for the live-action Beauty and the Beast (2017). After all, it stars one of my favorite actresses and I have heard nothing but good things about it. Plus, I adored the animated version, so.... 

Despite the gorgeous costumes, expensive special effects, and new songs, I found the live action version of this film lacking. The story itself was pretty much the same as that told by the animated version, which left me asking "what's the point?" (other than $$). And the additions only served to drag the plot out. My main beef was this newer version didn't have the heart and soul the animated version possessed. I felt no chemistry between Belle and Beast. Even the main villain seemed like he'd been declawed a bit (maybe the actor just wasn't into the role). Lastly, I found the live-action/CGI/Whatever versions of the furiture/doo-dads/castle stuff to be quite creepy. 

The final verdict: Don't waste your time on the live action Beauty and the beast. Rent and relive the magic of the animated version. THAT is the one you'll really want to experience. --AJB


Every Heart A Doorway, by Seanan McGuire

Everyone knows the stories: Of children stepping through mirrors or falling down rabbit holes or vanishing through strange doorways...and emerging somewhere else entirely. These worlds are fantastic and frightening. Here where dreams and nightmares come true. And for a time, these children are happy. Because these strange new worlds are more home to them than the worlds from which they came.

But then the inevitable: The children get sent back. Sometimes they break an unforgivable rule... Sometimes they get too old to exist in that world any longer... Sometimes there IS no reason. But one thing is certain. Once those childen return, they can never be the same. And they can never comfortably exist in our world again.

This is where Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Childen comes in. Here, returned childen are given the time and space and resources to recover from the shock of being returned (or, if they can't recover, they are , at least, given a place to stay while they morn the loss of their true home). They are educated about their fantasy world and others. They meet other children who have also journeyed and been returned. They are given a home, or at least a way station, away from home.

Every Heart A Doorway, by Seanan McGuire, is the story of one such returned child:

Nancy spent months--maybe years--in another world. It's hard to know how long, exactly. Time flows differently through the Halls of the Dead. All she knows is she was happy there. She was finally allowed to be herself. But now she's back to the "real world" and her parents, not knowing what to do about her, have sent her to Eleanor West. 

Here, Nancy meets Sumi, Kade, Jack, Jill, and other children who have had similar experiences. She finally is feeling like she will be OK....at least until her doorway re-opens and she is allowed to go home again (her real home). 

But then something terrible begins to happen: The residents of Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children begin dying in terrible ways. And no one seems to know how to stop the killer from striking again. Except maybe Nancy. But is she willing to help?

Although short (less than 200 pages), Every Heart A Doorway is amazingly creative. Fans of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children will especially love this one!

--AJB

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The Guy, the Girl, the Artist and His Ex, by Gabrielle Williams

The Guy, the Girl, the Artist, and His Ex begins with a real-life incident about a mob calling itself "Australian Cultural Terrorists" who stole a Picasso, the Weeping Woman, on the 2nd of August in 1986, from the National Gallery of Victoria to draw the attention of the government to increase the funding of struggling artists of Victoria. The painting became the subject of an international manhunt involving the Australian Federal Police and yet the Australian Cultural Terrorists were never found.

The story in not all about the artwork. It's about four characters who are unexpectedly brought together by the painting, for better or for worse. They are:

-The Guy, as suggested in the title, is a guy named Guy who is flunking out of school.
-The Girl, Rafi, has been raised by her mom who's quite off the hinge since her little brother's untimely death.
-The Artist is Luke, who is the mastermind behind the whole Picasso stealing plan.
-The Ex is Penny, who somehow makes everything come together without intending to that fateful night.

What I liked most about the book are undoubtedly the well-crafted characters and plot. This book is narrated by a third-person omniscient narrator as we are shown the trajectory the lives of the main characters takes when the painting crosses their path. There were some great characters -the Bastard-Ex. was certainly a convincing bastard and the unhinged mother was both heart-wrenching and unnerving. The thing I liked best about this book was I felt like I could really tune into the emotions of the characters. I wouldn't say this book is necessarily YA -apart from the fact that many of the characters are in that age bracket - it easily works as crossover or adult fiction as well. *JK*

Friday, June 16, 2017

Stuff That Sucks, by Ben Sedley

Sometimes life sucks! 

You fail an exam you studied really hard for (because who knew the teacher would test you on THAT?!?). You have an argument with your BFF over something stupid. Your parents just don't get it. Maybe you just feel sad or worried or alone for reasons you don't even have words for. The feeling just sneaks up. Maybe you get angry about something that happened and just can't let it go.

And in a society so focused on being happy, putting that best appearance forward, and hiding any negativity behind a smile (no matter how fake), especially when you feel NOT happy... That... Well, that sucks!

Ben Sedley's short and sweet book Stuff That Sucks is full of exercises and advice about how to acknowledge those bad feels (yep, embrace 'em) and then move on by focusing on what's really important in life. It may sound a little fluffy, but actually some of the articles are pretty good. There's solid advice in here. 

Stuff That Sucks may not give you an instant cure for the bad feels, but it will make those bad feels not so...sucky. 

--AJB

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Plutona, by Jeff Lemire, Emi Lenox & Jordie Bellaire

And speaking of non-traditional Superhero stories: Plutona

In this dark and twisted tale by the team of Lemire, Lenox & Bellaire, five misfit teens, each one dealing with their own personal issues, stumble across the body of local Superhero Plutona while exploring a local wooded area. Plutona is most definitely dead, having lost a battle with the diabolical super-villain, The White Wasp. Worried about the consequences should word get out that their city's resident superhero is no more, the teens promise to keep quiet. They will sneak back later that night, bury the fallen superhero, and then decide what to do.

Except one of them has other plans for Plutona. And it's pretty creepy!

Alternating between how each of the teens is coping with this terrible secret and Plutona's final moments, this is not so much a superhero story, but one about the dark side of human nature and just how far one desperate teen will go to acheive unlimited cosmic power.

I initially picked up Plutona because I heard it described as a modern-day Stand By Me, a movie I loved from my childhood (SBM Plot: Four teens run away from home to find the body of a local boy who was supposedly hit by a train). And it did remind me a bit of the film. Except Plutona was even darker and more disturbing. And it was awesome. The character development, the plot twists...everything. It was awesome. 

I wouldn't recommend Plutona for younger teens or someone looking for a light read, but this one will definitely have its audience! --AJB


Groot, by Loveness & Kesinger

I'm not really a huge fan of traditional Superhero-type comics, preferring to read the more unique stories...like Lumberjanes or Giant Days. Or Nimona. Yeah. Nimona. That one was awesome! Stuff that doesn't adhere to the normal Superhero/Super Powers storyline. But I do have a weakness for Groot. That's right, Groot. As in "I am Groot." This character alone is one of the main reasons I enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy as much as I did.

And the graphic novel/comic team of Jeff Loveness and Brian Kesinger did a most excellent job of crafting an adventure for this character of big heart and small vocabulary. 

It all begins when Rocket is kidnapped by a ruthless bounty hunter. On the journey to rescue his best pal, Groot has many adventures (like defeating alien sharks saving an entire planet from a dangerous electrical monster that would consume everything in its path) and makes a bunch of new friends. And does Groot finally rescue Rocket? You bet! 

So far, Groot has been one of my favorite graphic novels I've read so far in 2017. Recommended for fans of Guardians of the Galaxy and, really, anyone!

--AJB

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Naked '76, by Kevin Brooks

Lili Garcia never really stood out among her peers. She plays clasical piano (and is quite good), makes decent grades, is ok at small talk (although she doesn't really have any close friends). She was one of those people who was just...well, there. 

That is, until the day Curtis Ray, gorgeous, rebellious, and infamous, took notice and recruited her to play bass for his punk band, Naked. That day Lili had been holed up in her high school's practice room, working through a particularly difficult piece. Although she had never played bass before (and, really, never even considered it), Lili was drawn in by Curtis' charm (who wouldn't be?) and agreed to audition. Turns out she's a natural. Plus, the first time she plays, she literally bleeds all over the instrument (SO punk rock, btw!). It isn't long before Lili and Curtis are an item. Lili doesn't agree with Curtis' drug use or like many of the people he hangs out with, equally shocking and rebellious people who are part of the "scene," but she goes along because she is Curtis's girlfriend and that's what is expected of her. And she's too awed (and sometimes appalled) by everything to speak up. Besides, NO ONE dares to contradict Curtis. Because he's Curtis.

It isn't long before Naked is one of the most popular local bands, and Curtis' lifestyle becomes even more wild and unpredictable, embracing the Punk scene for everything it is. This strains things between him and Lili, and it isn't long before Lili meets William, another musician who seems everything Curtis is not. And maybe everything Lili really wants. But William is hiding things. Things that could make him even more dangerous than Curtis.

What initially attracted me to Naked '76, by Kevin Brooks was that the protagonist was a girl bass player. I myself am a female bassist. And, much like Lili, I'm the sort who kind of blends in (and doesn't mind doing so) and would rather hang back than be the life of the party (IF I can even be persuaded to attend the party). Although I've never been a Punk rocker myself, prefering the more laid-back genres of Blues and Classic Rock (60s, 70s, 80s), I enjoyed reading about the Punk Scene of the late 70s-early 80s. Brooks paints a realistic picture of the edginess, grit, and shock value as seen through the eyes of someone new to the scene...and perhaps someone who never got fully involved despite playing the music. Characters were realistic and believable. Overall, an interesting read.

Recommended for older teens (there's some mature content) and music fans. 
--AJB

Monday, June 5, 2017

So You've Read 13 Reasons Why. Now What?

So you've read 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher. And you've been loyally following the Netflix series based on the book. Maybe you've even discussed one (or both) at school.

So now what? Here are some choices:

Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver: Here's another to read before you watch the movie. Pretty and popular Samantha must relive the last day of her life in order to get it right. She may not be able to save her own life, but perhaps she can save that of a troubled classmate.

Wintergirls, by Laurie Halse Anderson: Lia, who has been battling severe eating disorders for the past several years, learns her former best friend has been found dead, possibly from a suicide. The worst part? Cassie called Lia several times before ending her own life. Haunted by guilt, Lia copes by descending deeper into her own illness.

If I Stay, by Gail Forman: Mia is in a coma, the only surviver of a car crash that killed the rest of her family. As doctors fight to save her life and her boyfriend waits by her bedside, Mia must decide: Does she really want to return to her life? Or should she join her family in death?

We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart: Something beyond awful happened to Cady when she was only 15. Now 17, she battles crippling migranes and severe amnesia...all because of what happened/was done to her (she isn't sure which it is). With the help of her cousins and crush, Cady struggles to recall the events of that fateful night and, hopefully, finally begin healing.

Perks of Being A Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky: Through a series of letters, this tells the story of Charlie's Freshman year and his struggles to make friends and overcome a childhood of abuse and the death of a family member. This one also inspired a movie some years back (starring Emma Watson of Harry Potter/Beauty and the Beast fame), but read the book first.

All The Truth That's In Me, by Julie Berry: Four years ago, Judith and Lottie were kidnapped. When Judith escapes and returns to her small, close-knit village, she is unable to speak. She must find a way to communicate the identity of her abductor before he strikes again. Or before something even worse happens. 

Hate List, by Jennifer Brown: Val's boyfriend, Nick, brought a gun to school and opened fire, killing several people before turnining the gun on himself. Val feels partly responsible for what happened because of the "Hate List" (a list of all the students and teachers who they feel wronged them) she and Nick compiled, the very list Nick used to target his victims. Not only must Val deal with  the authorities questioning her and her classmates shunning her. She must also cope with her own guilt.



Need help finding a book? Just ask a librarian!

We're here to make sure you fulfill all your reading needs! --AJB

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Confessions of a High School Disaster, Emma Chastain

Chloe Snow's story was told through a entry in her diary everyday - it all begins just before freshman year of high school, Chloe Snow has high hopes, new year new school, she has expectations to live up to one of which is to have her first kiss - and since everybody else has and already on second base, she feels she need to have it by New Year's Eve. Along the way she meets the heartfelt Tristan, her best friend and not so nice people as well. Her freshman year takes her on a journey of self discovery, facing new challenges and also exceeding her own expectations but at the end of the day she realizes it's about being herself.

Chloe Snow reminds me a bit of me - I think we all have those thoughts about boys, friendships, school life at that age. Chloe isn't a stranger to making bad decisions, and she messes up a lot which you will get annoyed at, but it's her quirks and redeeming qualities that make her who she is. What I loved was that aside from the funny, the cringe and the constant smile you display on your face when you are reading, it also focused lightly on the serious of your teenage years too.

I hope we see Chloe Snow a lot more - I would love to go through her sophomore and senior years and see what other trouble and cringe worthy moments she gets into. Confessions of a High School Disaster is ingeniously funny and every teen girl should read it! *JK*

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

When Dimple Met Rishi, by Sandhya Menon

If you're seeking the perfect Beach Read this summer, look no further than When Dimple Met Rishi, the adorable new romance by Sandhya Menon. This book reads like a script for a movie:

Dimple Shah is smart, motivated, and bound for Stanford, where she hopes to study web development. Unfortunately, her traditional Indian parents are more concerned with finding her the ideal husband (something Dimple is totally NOT into, by the way) than with her academic success. Dimple knows there's got to be more to her future than an arranged marriage. That's why she's so thrilled when her parents allow her to attend Insomnia Con, a pre-college web development seminar. Maybe they're finally seeing things her way after all...

Rishi Patel can't wait to attend Insomnia Con. Sure, he's excited about all the cool things he'll learn there, but he's mostly looking forward to meeting his future wife, whom his parents have told him will be attending as well (Dimple's parents neglected to tell her this much). In fact, he's got their whole future planned out in his head. He knows when he meets her, destiny will take over and everything will be wonderful.

Things do NOT go as planned...for either teen. Rishi makes a bold move and Dimple responds by throwing her Starbucks iced coffee in the guy's face.

As with any meet-cute where one of the pair initially can't stand the other, things change: Sure, Rishi annoys Dimple (or is she more annoyed at her parents for their sneaky matchup attempt?), but there's something about him that gets under her skin. And soon the two are...friends? Something more? Dimple knows she absolutely DOES NOT want to marry this boy, but there's no rule against hanging out. Maybe even casually dating. And who knows what will happen. Maybe not a wedding (they're only teens, after all), but romance is definitely in the air!

When Dimple Met Rishi was a fun, light read. I'm not too familiar with the concept of arranged marriage, so that put an interesting twist on things as did the generational gap between the forward-thinking Dimple and her more traditionally-minded parents. Characters were well-developed the plot pacing made the romantic timeline believable (no insta-love here). Overall, a cute story. --AJB

A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovern

I was not sure if I really wanted to read A Step toward Falling because of the serious material, but I am very glad I had picked it up.

High School Junior Emily witnesses another girl from her school, Belinda, being attacked at a school football game. When Emily figured out what was happening she froze in disbelief. When she noticed football player Lucas who also saw the event, she assumed that he was going to be the one to find help. Unfortunately, Belinda was left to save herself. 
As bystanders who walked away, Emily and Lucas serve a punishment in community service after school at a center for people with disabilities. After Belinda returns to school, Emily and Lucas try to find a way to help her.

Despite the deep emotional hardships and dramatic material, there was a lot of sweet and funny moments mixed in that I found super heartwarming and uplifting.

SIDENOTE: There are a lot of humorous Pride and Prejudice references, so BONUS if you like that book and/or movie.

This book flips between Emily and Belinda’s point of view, which I thought was a very nice touch that keeps the read from getting boring and made it a real page turner.


I found this to be a very rewarding read that I would recommend to older teens. We have it in print in the library and if you look in our catalog, there is also an option to request the audiobook version from another library. I used both print and listening versions. I listened to the audiobook and loved the voices! Each character sounds very intriguing and unique between the two readers. I really loved reading this book and I hope you do too. - MC

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Serenity (DVD)

For a movie written and directed by the person who gave the world cult classics like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, I expected Serenity to be a masterpiece. A pinnacle of sci-fi action awesomeness. 

All the elements were there: A dangerous fugitive. A band of space pirates on the run from a villain so diabolical he would give Darth Vader some serious competition (actually, that would be a good fight!). A failed experiment and a secret the government is trying to keep hidden. Plus lots of edge-of-your-seat action: Epic fight scenes, space chases, and random things exploding.

Sounds awesome, right?

Think again.

Even the (then) state-of-the-art special effects and non-stop action couldn't hide the fact this movie was terrible: Poor acting, weak dialogue, and a plot that struggled to find solid ground while, at the same time, managing to make a mockery of every sci-fi cliche out there. The storyline had the vague feel of a sequel in that it felt as though it started in the middle of things. I felt as if I was missing something. And in the end, things wrapped up far too neatly. I wanted to give this film a fair chance, but it was... Well, it was boring. 

Overall, I was very disappointed.

Needless to say, I can't recommend this one. --AJB 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

I Am the Messenger, by Markus Zusak

Do you recognize the name of the author, Markus Zusak?  Yes, he wrote The Book Thief.  You would never guess it after reading I Am the Messenger!  It is an entirely different kind of book.  It makes you laugh and sometimes makes you sad.
The main character Ed Kennedy is a 19-year-old taxi driver and fears that life is passing him by.  His brother is successful, his mother doesn't like him much, his Dad just died.  He spends his time playing a card game called "Annoyance" with his friends and his beer drinking dog.  He is in love with Audrey, who likes but doesn't love him. 

The  book made me laugh in the first chapter during a bank robbery, how strange is that!  Then the Ace of Diamonds arrives in the mail and Ed's life is changed as he continues to receive cards - who is sending them and why was he chosen??

Ed becomes the messenger, helping others, but sometimes getting into danger. 
This book will make you laugh out loud, there are great characters (you may even recognize some of your friends)!

This book is best for ages 14+ and the Overdrive audio was great because you got to hear Ed's Australian accent! You'll love, not like it!!  SW

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Bone Gap, by Laura Ruby

At first, I wasn't sure how to feel about Bone Gap by Laura Ruby. I'd even tried to read it once before, just after it came out, without success. But it stayed with me, in that place impressionable and unfinished projects linger. I tried it again. And I'm glad I did.

This was definitely one of the strangest things I've read since Wink Poppy Midnight or We Were Liars. Part mystery, part fairy tale, part...I'm not quite sure what, Bone Gap is equal parts fascinating and frustrating. And I wasn't exactly sure what was really going on until the end. But a satisfying read just the same.

Everyone else in the tiny farming town of Bone Gap believes Roza just up and left to reinvent her life elsewhere. After all, that's what people who are destined for better things do, isn't it? That's what the O'Sullivan brother's mom did a few years back, leaving teenage Sean and Finn to fend for themselves. So when Roza vanishes, no one really gives it a second thought.

Except Finn. He knows Roza was kidnapped. He just has to prove it.

To say any more, I'd have to delve into Spoiler Territory, and that's not something I want to do with this book. 

Read it! --AJB

Monday, May 8, 2017

Kill All Happies, by Rachel Cohn

Victoria "Vic" Navarro just graduated, and she is throwing the most epic graduation party her high school has seen since some idiot prankster dug up (the totally evil) Miss Ann Thrope's septic field several years before and put a swift end to the fun. And BONUS! Said festivities will take place at the old Happies Restaurant, the place that was the town's entertainment hub for decades. Bev Happie herself has given blessings to the event. The fact the restaurant and neighboring amusement park will soon be bulldozed to make room for luxury condos, a maga mall, and many other modern developments make the party even MORE epic. 

The catch? Miss Ann Thrope, the town councilwoman who has a huge vendetta against all things Happies, must not find out about the party until after the fact. Should be easy, right?

All is going well until a bunch of nostalgic Happies fans crash the party. 

Then Miss Ann Thrope herself shows up, toting what Vic hopes is a pellet gun (but knowing Miss Ann Thrope, who knows).

What follows is an evening of misunderstandings, disappointments, Drama (with a capitol D), shenanigans, debauchery, and property damage. 

One thing's for sure: This party will go down in history as the most memorable bash Happies has ever seen. But whether that's a good thing or a bad thing remains to be seen.

Kill All Happies was not Rachel Cohn's best effort. The novel began with a strong hook. Also, the characters were very well developed. But somewhere around the halfway mark the plot began to drag. Also, the twists and reveals were predictable. The cumulation of which was kind of disappointing. --AJB

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Noteworthy, by Riley Redgate

Jordan Sun, a scholarship student at the ultra-prestigious Kensington-Blane Boarding School for the Performing Arts, dreams of singing in the school musical. Unfortunately, her low vocal range prevents her from making the cut. Again. 

But just when things are looking not so good for Jordan's future at Kensington-Blane (not to mention her whole performance arts future), fate throws her a bone: The Sharpshooters, the school's famed a capella group, needs a new member. This could be exactly the break Jordan needs.

Except there's just one catch: The Sharpshooters are an all male group. That's right. Girls need not apply. Even if the girl is deep-voiced and really talented

But desperate times call for desperate measures. So armed with a new short haircut and a men's department wardrobe, Jordan Sun becomes Julian Zhang, Tenor 1, and the newest addition to the Sharpshooters. 

And the madness spirals from there as Jordan/Julien juggles two separate identities, friendships, rivalries, and romances, all while the boundaries of gender norms and learning what it means to be herself. That sounds like a lot of drama, I know. I realize it also sounds pretty cliche. But I don't want to give too much away. I want you to read it for yourself.

Author Riley Redgate's new novel Noteworthy was a pleasure to read. It sports a cast of diverse and likable characters and has a fun plot that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat wondering how long it will be before the main character's big secret is revealed and what sort of fallout there will be (because one can only keep a charade like this up for so long). Like many books of this genre, the ending wrapped up very neatly, but that was really part of the overall package's charm.

Definitely recommended --AJB

Make a Dreamcatcher

Saturday CrafterNoon
May 6 @ Noon-4 p.m. 
(or until supplies run out)


Stop by the Teen Area this Saturday, May 6, and make a Dreamcatcher as part of our monthly Saturday CrafterNoon. 

This drop-in program will happen Noon-4 p.m., or until supplies run out. That means you'll want to arrive sooner rather than later, because supplies are limited (once they're gone, they're gone).

We'll see you Saturday!


Friday, April 28, 2017

Battle of the Books 2017

Congratulations to: 
Fantastic Books & Where To Read Them, the wining team for the 2017 Middle School Battle of the Books.

Coming in second place was The Feathered Goats

Third place went to The Titans of Text


On behalf of the Oxford Public Library Teen Department and Oxford Middle School, a BIG round of applause goes out to all the teens who participated in this year's Battle of the Books. We would also like to thank the parents, the team advisors, the educators, and everyone who encouraged and helped these teens.

Battle of the Books is a collaborative efford, and it takes a huge amount of teamwork and dedication to make it so successful year after year.

Great job, everyone! Thank you for another amazing Battle year. I hope you had fun (we sure did!).

Friday, April 21, 2017

Geekerella, by Ashley Poston

Nerd Girl Danielle "Elle" Wittemer doesn't fit in with the rest of the girls in Charleston, where everyone is either a Debutante, a Daugher of the Confederacy, a politician's kid, or a combination of the three. And she most definitely doesn't fit in with her materalistic stepmother and stuck-up twin stepsisters. While everyone else is obsessed with brand names and celeb culture and the like, Elle is is geeking over Starfield and especially with the hottie of an actor who plays Federation Prince Carmindor on the show. 

Meanwhile...

Darien Freeman used to live for Cons. But lately he's been getting burnt out on the fans, the photos, and the meet and greets. Plus, he's having his doubts about his role on Starfield, wanting to be seen as a serious actor rather than just another pretty face.

So when Elle hears about a cosplay contest where the first prize is a ticket to the uber-exclusive ExcelsiCon Ball and a meet-and-greet with her celeb crush, she'll do anything to win.  

Told in the alternating viewpoints of Elle and Darien, Geekerella by Ashley Poston is a modern day Cinderella romance that's magically adorkable and all the good things you'd expect from a fairy tale! Sure, it's predictable. But it's so cute that doesn't matter. Because everyone loves a happy ending! Readers who loved Fan Girl and Geek's Guide to Unrequitted Love and All The Feels will be charmed. --AJB

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Under Rose-Tainted Skies, by Louise Gornall

I never came across the word, agoraphobia until I read Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall. I ended up googling the word agoraphobia and it basically means fear of places and situations that might cause panic, helplessness, or embarrassment. It's an anxiety disorder where you think the places you go to are unsafe and unable to get away and most people experience panic attack.

I can imagine that someone with agoraphobia doesn't have lots of friends. Maybe online, they may have friends. Social media, for example, might connect them to the outside world, because it's pretty much impossible for them to meet up with friends or invite them over.

In this story, it revolves around Norah's struggles to live her life with agoraphobia, anxiety, and OCD. I thought these mental health issues were all portrayed really well and weren't simply "cured" overnight because she met a cute guy. The guy is more of what leads her to work on everything more instead of what makes it all magically go away. Nothing felt too cheap and unrealistic in this story.

There were a few relationships Norah had, were done really nicely. I loved that moment when Norah realized that she'd become best friends with her mother, which is something that definitely sounds familiar. Her friendship with her neighbor, Luke also develops naturally.

My favorite part was that, even though there was a love interest and a romantic plot, love did not cure all. Luke is an incredible love interest and is so supportive but he doesn't attempt to cure her. I can't even tell you how much I dislike books that deal with mental health being easily solved by love. Love does not cure mental illnesses. Sure, they can definitely help but they do not cure it. *JK*

Friday, March 24, 2017

Pixel Craft with Perler Beads

Anyone who has attended one of our Teen Lock-In programs within the past couple years will tell you: Next to Hide and Seek, the Perler Bead table is consistently the most popular lock-in activity. 

So we're especially excited to add Pixel Craft with Perler Beads to our collection. This fun book has more than 50 easy to follow patterns, ranging in difficulty from simple to very complex. Each lets you know what colors to use and how many of each you'll need to complete the project (but feel free to swap out if, let's say, you prefer blue and green to the suggested orange and yellow). All in all, this book looks like lots of fun, and we can't wait to test ot out!

If you love perler beads, this is the book for you! --AJB


Friday, March 17, 2017

Moana (New DVD)

  • An idealistic, but sheltered teen on a forbidden road trip.
  • A narcissistic shapeshifter who has lost his ability to shapeshift.
As a mysterious and sinister darkness spreads throughout the world, draining the life force out of whatever it touches, this unlikely pair are (unwillingly) thrown together on a mission to save life as they know it. And they just might succeed. IF they can put their personal differences (and pride) aside. Easier said than done...



Know this: I prefer Dreamworks Animation to Disney any day (Come on! Shrek! Kung Fu Panda! Animated movies seriously don't get better than that!), because I am SO over the whole over-hyped Princess-In-Distress thing that makes Disney...well, Disney. As a member of the Grrl Power Movement of the mid-to-late 1990s, I find the whole "someday my prince will come" mentality insulting. It introduces unhealthy and unrealistic ideas into the heads of impressionable little girls, and that is not cool.

I could go on and on, but I suppose, for the sake of this review, I should just "Let It Go"... (excuse the horrid pun, but I'm trying to earn my official Lumberjanes Pun-Geon Badge).

Anyway... 

Despite what I just said about Disney, Moana, the latest Mouse-endorsed release, just might be a new animated favorite. This new-to-DVD film pairs stellar animation, fantastic music, humor, and a fun, adventurous plot that, I might add, DOES NOT involve romance in any way. How awesome is it? Let me count the ways!

Set several thousand years ago on a gorgeous tropical island, Moana is the daughter of the chief. Her destiny is to someday take over her father's crown and lead her people (a female chief...love it already!). But for as long as she can remember, she has been drawn to the sea and would love nothing more to explore beyond the safety of the reef. But no one ventures there. No one. It's not safe. Or so she is told...over and over and over again. 

But this is not necessarily the whole truth. Moana's people were once explorers, discovering island after island. Legend has it they only stopped voyaging when demigod Maui stole the life-giving heart of Te Fiti, unleasing a terrible, all-consuming darkness upon the world. A darkness that would drain the life out of everything it touches.

But some legends are real. Because the darkness has reached Moana's island.

On the night her beloved grandmother dies, Moana learns a secret: She has been chosen to go on a great quest. She must find Maui and, thogether, they must restore the heart. In doing so, they will save the world.

So Moana borrows a boat and sets off... But, with danger at every turn (not to mention a very stubborn Maui), her task proves to be much harder than she ever anticipated.

Not only was this movie an edge-of-your-seat adventure, it also had a plot that was NOT focused on romance between the two main characters (that would just be weird). There was humor, there was great music, there were fantastic characters, and there was a twist at the end that made the film, as a whole, even more awesome. Plus, the animation was bright and colorful enough to make the viewer feel warm and tropical on even the most drab Michigan winter day. Break out the SPF!

Moana gets 5 stars. No, 10 stars (out of 5 stars). It's pure awesomeness! Watch it! 

--AJB

p.s. To be fair, Disney has, in recent years, been making a conscious effort to break out of that "Helpless Princess" cycle. Brave... Frozen... And now Moana... Props to them for that :)

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas

I picked up this book purely because it was mis-shelved and on the day that I found it I think that I was feeling a bit like I needed a sign of some sort.  Books make fabulous signs.  I read the first couple of pages at my desk and then took it home with me.  You may recognize the name Rob Thomas, the creator of Veronica Mars, but I didn't.  This was nothing more than a short book with a strange name in the wrong spot on the shelf.
It was great.
It's the early 90's and I got a healthy dose of nostalgia from that.  Steve is living in San Diego with his mother, her new husband, and his sister.  When we meet Steve, he is in danger of not graduating due to being short an English credit.  His guidance counselor, Mr. DeMouy, offers to make him a deal.  He can make up his English credit by writing 100 pages about anything he wants.  DeMouy has seen Steve's transcripts and knows that he was pulling straight A's when he lived in Texas, that he was smart enough to be a National Merit finalist.  Steve doesn't have to tell him what happened, he just needs to write.  Steve agrees and ends up telling the story of his Sophmore and Junior years in Texas.
Back in Texas, Steve lived with his father, worked at the Cineplex after school, and had friends.  His best friend, Doug, has a $500 bet with his father that he will appear in the year book and so they form a club, The Grace Order of Dadaists or GOD, with no intention of it going anywhere.  Instead the group widens their social circle and together they work on a number of dada inspired school projects.  It's through this club that Steve meets Dub, short for double-u, short for Wanda, who he falls for almost immediately.
Steve's story bounces between the past and the present.  He writes his paper about what happened in Texas and struggles to make something of San Diego.  He's sarcastic and the antics of GOD are entertaining.  This was definitely worth the read.
-RYQ

Monday, March 13, 2017

Zebrafish, by Peter H. Reynolds

Zebrafish by Peter H. Reynolds isn't your typical story about teen drama where, after reading, you feel like you spent the day at middle school (how exhausting!). Rather, it's a story with a purpose. And that purpose is cancer research awareness. But, unlike some other over-dramafied cancer books with uber-tragic endings, this one isn't in-your-face about it.

I didn't even know it was a cancer book when I picked it up to review. That awareness came in the reading.

The story centers on Vita, a girl who dreams of becoming a famous musician. She's got the guitar, she's got the rock star hair, and she's got a band name. All she needs is a band. Recruiting turns out to be easier said than done when the only people who come to band tryouts are the non-musical types who couldn't carry a tune in a bucket (although a couple are obsessed with a Rock Band-type video game called Strings of Fury). But even so, slow friendships are forged within the group. And Vita plans to carry on with the band regardless. Virtually, at least.

Then Vita learns a secret about one of her "band mates" that could change everything.

And it does.

While Zebrafish was no Lumberjanes (or Jem and the Holograms, for that matter), it was still a cute story about friendship (to the max!). The artwork is colorful and fun, and the storyline, while a little After School Special, was engaging. And it had a good message without being preachy. 

A worthwhile read.

--AJB

Monday, March 6, 2017

Lost & Found (DVD)

When teenage Andy gets busted for shopliting (again), his parents decide to ship him off to stay with his estranged Uncle Trent on the remote Walton Island, which used to be part of their family's estate in better days. But that was before Grandfather Walton mysteriously vanished years before, taking the family's legendary riches with him. 

When Andy and younger brother Mark arrive, they learn the island is about to be bought by Mr. Broman, a greedy land developer, and turned into a tourist trap for the rich and elite. The boys also learn that their grandfather's treasure is still on the island, well hidden somewhere within the supposedly haunted West Forest. Of course clues have been left to find the treasure. Clues only the brothers can decipher. With Broman and his henchmen also hunting for the riches, the brothers must put their differences aside if they want to find the treasure and restore their family legacy.

When I first read the synopsis for Lost & Found, I was excited, expecting a fun, Goonies-type adventure (which is one of my favorite movies of all time). And although there was a treasure hunt and a bit of a mystery, the angst-y plot was more Lifetime Movie of the Week Drama than Fun Adventure. And quite a bit heavier than what I was looking for. Some plot twists were predictable while others felt forced. Additionally, the main characters were never properly developed, and the actor who was cast as the villain has played the hero in too many other well-known films (one a cult classic/pop culture phenomenon) to be convinving as a bad guy. Overall, it was kind of disappointing. Not because it was terrible (it wasn't), but because it wasn't what I was looking for.

--AJB