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

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Frogkisser, by Garth Nix

Get ready for an epic adventure reminicent of The Princess Bride and Catherine Murdock's Wisdom's Kiss (a book I especially loved). Frogkisser, by Garth Nix, was fun and unique and impossible to put down.

The Kingdom of Trallonia has been under the stewartship of Duke Rikard for the past 10 years, and things have been getting progressively worse. Not only does the Duke, who just happens to be an evil wizard, have the bad habit of transforming all who irritate him into animals (take the poor assistant cook who accidently burned  breakfast), but he also has his eye on the crown. I don't have to tell you that the evil duke becoming king would be a very bad thing. A very bad thing indeed!

Fortunately, Princess Morven will come of age in only a few weeks and be crowned queen. Unfortunately the princess is a complete airhead, more concerned to flirt with her latest princely crush (which changes by the hour) than learning what it takes to properly run a kingdom. Also unfortunately, the Duke is cooking up something truly sinister to make sure Morven never makes it to her next birthday. Or, at least, makes sure she is not around when it comes time to claim the throne.

Good thing for Morven's younger sister, Princess Anya, who is smart, resourceful, and has the rare ability to keep her head when things get crazy.

And they're about to get crazy.

When it is revealed that the Evil Duke plans to marry Morven off to a transformed magpie (that is, the bird has been temporarily changed into a human) and, afterward, do who knows what to the newlyweds, Anya knows it is up to her to do something. 

Fleeing the kingdom before she, herself, is about to be shipped to a boarding school halfway around the world (if she survives the perilous journey), Anya begins a quest that she's sure will save her kingdom. Her mission: To find a way to transform Morven's real true, Prince Denholm, love back into a human. That way, her sister can marry the true prince, rather than the false one cooked up by their stepfather, and take her rightful place as Queen of Trallonia.

But as with all epic quests, nothing turns out as planned. 

Frogkisser is awesome! There are talking animals (transformed and actual), magic (good and bad), and a kick-butt heroine. Wrap that all up in an adventure, and you've got a winner!

Definitely recommended! --AJB

Friday, March 3, 2017

We Are Okay, by Nina LaCour

I love the sort of books where, at first, it seems as though nothing happens. But I read and read and read and, by the time I'm finshed, I realize that everything has happened. And by "everything," I mean EVERYTHING. The book as brought out all the feels, forced me to break out the tissues, and I am not the same person as I was before I read it.

We Are Okay, the latest by Nina LaCour, is like that.

In under 250 pages, it tells the story of Marin, a college freshman who is alone on campus for three weeks holiday break. Not by choice, but because she has nothing to go back to. At least, she believes she has nothing to go back to. So I suppose her exile, her solitude, IS by choice.

But she won't be absolutely alone for the entire time.

There is Tommy, the campus groundskeeper, who has agreed to check in on Marin from time to time. Just to make sure...

There is also Mabel, Marin's best friend from back home, traveling from California to New York to visit for a few days. 

At least... Mabel and Marin used to be best friends.

But that was before Marin's grandfather and only family drowned, quite possibly on purpose. That was before Marin learned the truth: that her entire life up until that point had been a lie.

That was before...

Unable to deal, Marin ran away. Without a word. Not even goodbye.

Marin and Mabel haven't spoken in months. Sure, Mabel has texted and called and emailed, but her communications were ignored. Marin isn't angry. She just can't. Not yet. Maybe not ever.

But as a blizzard sweeps across the state, causing widespread power outages, the girls become trapped on campus. They're forced to talk about the past and confront the restless ghosts that lurk there. They must face what brought, not only Marin, but also Mabel to this point. This place. 

And maybe then, and ONLY then, things can be okay. 

Or, at least, start to be that way.

We Are Okay is one of those books that surprised me. Sure, I've read this author before. And sure, I enjoyed what I read. But I didn't expect to love this book the way I did. I didn't expect it to make me FEEL so deeply.

Everyone, no matter who they are, has faced a turning point in their life. Maybe they didn't go through the sort of tragedy Marin faced, but everyone has (or will) come to a time when they need to step away from things in order to get a better perspective. And when they step back into life, they're changed. They emerge a deeper, better, more worldly version of themself. And they can never go back. But that's ok. 

I felt the author did an exceptional job conveying this time of transition. The characters, their journey, their development... All if it was beautifully done.

Absolutely recommended! --AJB



Thursday, March 2, 2017

Lumberjanes v. 5: Band Together

If, a couple years ago, you'd asked me if I would enjoy reading graphic novels as much as I do, I'd have probably given you a very strange look. Oh sure, I'd read and liked Smile (everyone has read Smile), but when I thought of a typical "graphic novel" I thought of superheroes (not really my thing). Also those strange backward things from Japan (really not my thing) I'll never understand and don't really want to. Nope. Give me a book where the word to picture ratio is 100/0. Even 90/10 to account for books like Harry Potter where chapter headings feature small illustrations.

But I've gotta say: I totally heart the Lumberjanes series!

In the fifth volume, Band Together, Jo, Mal, Ripley, Molly, April, and their counselor Jen have a very strange encounter while hanging out by the lake. Of course strange encounters are nothing new to the girls of Cabin Roanoke, who have survived parallel universes, endured weather anomalies, and faced off against more Monsters of the Week than Mulder and Scully (of X-Files fame). But this time the adventure involves mermaids. And not just any mermaids, but mermaids who play in a rock band. 

Or...at least they used to play in a rock band before all that drama happened. 

It is then that the mermaid-obsessed April decides to make it her life's mission to reunite the rock band. No matter what.

In typical Lumberjane fashion, things don't go as planned. But do they ever?

In fact, the situation turns from bad to downright apocalyptic. And the angry sea serpents are the least of April's worries.

If things are going to work out, the girls are going to have to put aside their differences and work together. 

No spoilers, but if you love mermaids, music, and things that sparkle, you'll love Lumberjanes: Band Together.

--AJB

Monday, February 27, 2017

I "Heart" My Library Because...


Throughout the month of February, we asked you, our Teen patrons, to fill out sticky notes about why you love Oxford Public Library.

Here are some of your answers:

I love my library because... "it is nice and quiet and there are a lot of books."

I love my library because... "lock-in programs!"

I love my library because... "it has a lot of good series books to read"

I love my library because... "it is awesome!"

I love my library because... "the people are so nice"

I love my library because... "they trap faries inside glass containers in the adult area" (we assume this teen was joking, but the answer made us laugh)

I love my library because... "all my favotire books are here."

I love my library because... "it is a fun awesome place"

I love my library because... "I can read my favorite books"

I love my library because... "More books to choose from."

I love my library because... "Varieties of amazing books and marvelously nice librarians."

I love my library because... "there's so much to explore!"

I love my library because... "Yes! :)"

After reading all these wonderful answers, we are definitely feeling the love! It makes us happy that so many of you love your library :)

Friday, February 24, 2017

Alive by Chandler Baker

I really, really enjoyed this book.  Really.  Enough that it almost got five stars.
Stella has a shot at a newish beginning.  She has just received a heart transplant and after months of recovery, she is ready to go back to school and live like she hasn't lived before.  She is happy to be back with her best friends, Brynn and Henry, even though she has left Henry hanging for far too long.  Henry asked her out when she was sick but she didn't want him to be "the sick girl's boyfriend" and then have to be "the dead girl's boyfriend" if something went wrong.  Stella isn't sure what she wants out of her new life, but she thinks it might not be safe old Henry.  Plus, she's still dealing with the side effects of her transplant: hallucinations and a searing pain every day at 5:08 PM.  It's hard enough just trying to pretend that everything is normal.
Then she sees the new boy, Levi.  Levi is gorgeous.  Levi is intense.  And Stella doesn't feel the pain when Levi is around her.  It isn't long before they become inseparable and Levi begins to educate Stella on music, taking her to concerts and in search of records.  Stella longs for the relief she feels when she is around Levi, even when she begins to suspect that there is something very wrong with their relationship and something very wrong with him.
Then a girl is found dead and her heart has been cut out.
Okay, reasons I loved this:  Even though I had an idea of what was going on, the twists and turns in the plot felt twisty and turny.  They made me gasp.  They made me need to shove the whole book in my face right this instant.  It was entertaining even with the flaws.  It tickled my horror bone, which needs tickling once in a while, and there was even some gore.  Also, I really admired Stella's voice.  I liked how determined she was to change and I related to her for that.
RYQ