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

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero

I started keeping a journal religiously when I was in high school.  Recently, I read back through some of my earliest entries and rolled my eyes and laughed at myself while also being struck but how serious things were.  I don't remember a lot of those serious things that were going on but they were there.  Maybe this is part of the reason I LOVED this book, which is presented in diary form.  Also, having spent some time as the resident fat girl in high school, I could really relate to Gabi.
Gabi is a seventeen year old Mexican-American whose life is crazy to begin with and about to get even crazier.  She is overweight and her mother is constantly poking at her to lose weight.  She's gotten very clever about hiding her secret jerky stash.  She's entering her senior year of high school with high hopes for college and a low Algebra II grade.  Her brother is a little bit of a delinquent.  Her father is a meth addict.  Then, at the very beginning of the book, her best friend announces that she is pregnant.  Gabi is shocked because, well, Cindy never told her that she had even done it.  Next, her friend Sebastian comes out to his parents and finds himself sleeping on Gabi's couch for a while.
Gabi takes us through her tumultuous senior year with honesty and humor.  She gets her first and then her second boyfriend.  Her very religious aunt comes to live with the family.  She has to help her enemy out of a situation.  Gabi is never overly dramatic about the big stuff but can be humorously over dramatic about the little stuff.
I loved this book.  It made me laugh out loud and bite my fingernails.  Don't let the cover throw you off.  This one is definitely worth the read! -RYQ

Monday, February 20, 2017

Staff Picks: Rachael's Favorites

Dangerous Angels, by Francesca Lia Block: Love is a dangerous angel...Francesca Lia Block's luminous saga of interwoven lives will send the senses into wild overdrive. These post-modern fairy tales chronicle the thin line between fear and desire, pain and pleasure, cutting loose and holding on in a world where everyone is vulnerable to the most beautiful and dangerous angel of all: love.

The Beautiful Creatures (Series), by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl: Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever. Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them. In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.

Nimona, by Noelle StevensLord Blackheart, a villain with a vendetta, and his sidekick, Nimona, an impulsive young shapeshifter, must prove to the kingdom that Sir Goldenloin and the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics aren't the heroes everyone thinks they are.

Blood and Chocolate, Annette Curtis Klaus: Having fallen for a human boy, a beautiful teenage werewolf must battle both her packmates and the fear of the townspeople to decide where she belongs and with whom.

On Writing, by Stephen King: "If you don't have the time to read, you don't have the time or the tools to write."In 1999, Stephen King began to write about his craft -- and his life. By midyear, a widely reported accident jeopardized the survival of both. And in his months of recovery, the link between writing and living became more crucial than ever.Rarely has a book on writing been so clear, so useful, and so revealing. On Writing begins with a mesmerizing account of King's childhood and his uncannily early focus on writing to tell a story. A series of vivid memories from adolescence, college, and the struggling years that led up to his first novel, Carrie, will afford readers a fresh and often very funny perspective on the formation of a writer. King next turns to the basic tools of his trade -- how to sharpen and multiply them through use, and how the writer must always have them close at hand. He takes the reader through crucial aspects of the writer's art and life, offering practical and inspiring advice on everything from plot and character development to work habits and rejection. Serialized in the New Yorker to vivid acclaim, On Writing culminates with a profoundly moving account of how King's overwhelming need to write spurred him toward recovery, and brought him back to his life.Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower -- and entertain -- everyone who reads it.

--RYQ

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Make It Up: The Essential Guide to DYI Makeup & Skin Care

I picked up Make It Up: The Essential Guide to DYI Makeup & Skincare because it looked interesting and because I was curious. I have a friend who works in the beauty industry, and, for the past several months, she's been posting all sorts of "natural alternative" stuff on Facebook. Articles ranging from practical to trendy to completely out there. I'm not sure if she actually tries any of the tips she shares, but one thing's for sure: If something pops up enough on your Newsfeed, you can't help but eventually take notice and, at the very least, do a bit of research.

So when Make It Up appeared on our New Book shelf, I thought it sounded like a fun book to browse. And who knows: Maybe I could even find a few simple recipes to try. After all, I already know how to make lip gloss using petroleum jelly, Kool-Aid powder, and a bit of coconut oil. We did it for a library program a few years back. And it was easy and fun. Simple.

And I am all about simplicity.

Well... This book is anything but that. Sure, it is packed with recipes on how to make everything you could find at Sephora or Rite Aid (or wherever) and more, and while many of the ingredients are natural (healthier?), it's lacking in the area of accessibility. 

A few of the ingredients, like Coconut Oil and corn starch, are easily available at your local grocery store. Most, though... Where would one even begin to locate them? Online, maybe. But that could quickly get expensive. Likely more so than purchasing the ready-made product outright. And then there's the matter of measuring and mixing and brewing, all of which is time consuming and probably difficult. And what if you mess the recipe up? Or get the color all wrong? Then you're out on all counts. Bummer. 

Overall, the book seems more like a lesson in advanced chemistry (or Potions, if you prefer) than a DYI beauty guide. In short: The recipes seem more trouble than they're worth. It's easier (more cost effective, less time consuming) to stop by your local drug store and just buy the cosmetics you need. 

--AJB

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (DVD)

I will own this confession now: I adore Tim Burton. The darkly-twisted quirkiness of his storytelling totally appeals to the strange and unusual side of my movie-viewing preferences. So imagine how thrilled I was when I learned Burton would be directing the live-action adaption of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. I mean, who else BUT Burton could handle a story like this? M. Night Shyamalan, perhaps (he does do pretty good with the bizarre, although he tends to lean more toward the horror side of the genre). But, if asked, Burton would be my #1 choice for a movie adaption of this most excellent book.

Overall: I liked it.

Sure it fell victim to the usual movie pitfalls: Things were left out of the movie that were in the book... Characters were different (namely, some of the powers/pecularities were switched around)... Things were added to the movie that weren't in the book... And the ending! Well, yes, it was different. Completely. But recall that the book ended in a major cliffhanger. Also note that no film sequels were in the plan. I can see why Burton decided to do what he did. And I'm glad he went that particular route. I'm sure the purists, thos who critique every bit of book-to-movie adaptions, have (and will) find all kinds of fault with this film. But I had no complaints. Basically, I thought it was a great film. Not my favorite Burton offering (that honor still belongs to Frankenweenie), but worthy. 

So what DID I like about it? 

The setting, for one. Burton was able to capture the eerie creepiness of the book. The fog-shrouded island populated by suspicious and unpleasant people, the deserted ruin of a house, and, in contrast the surreal beauty of life in the Loop. 

And the special effects were pretty sweet. Even the haters can attest to that. 

And yes, I liked the story. I liked what Burton did with it, the creative license he took, the changes he made. And I liked the ending. Liked how the bad guys were defeated and how everything worked out in the end.

So yes, I definitely recommend it. 

Although... My advice for those who have read the books: When seeing this movie, don't view it as an exact adaption. Take it for what it is and enjoy the story.


--AJB

Monday, February 13, 2017

Staff Favorites: Julie Kwon

The Fill-In Boyfriend, by Kaise West: When Gia Montgomery's boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she decides to do the unthinkable...convince the cute guy waiting to pick up his sister to pretend to be her boyfriend for the night. The task is simple: two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. The problem is that days after prom, she can't stop thinking about her fill-in boyfriend. But can Gia turn her fake boyfriend into a real one without exposing her lie and possibly destroying her friendships and her newfound relationship? Smartly observed and wonderfully romantic, Kasie West's talent shines in this tale of one girl's unexpected quest to find love...and possibly herself.



PS I Like You, by Kaise WestSigned, sealed, delivered...While spacing out in Chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk, and added a message to her. Intrigue! Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters: sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she's kind of falling for this letter writer. Only who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery, and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can't always be spelled out... Kasie West brings irresistible wit, warmth, and sparkle to this swoon-worthy story of love showing up when you least expect it.

The Memory Book, by Lara AveryThey tell me that my memory will never be the same, that I'll start forgetting things. At first just a little, and then a lot. So I'm writing to remember. Sammie McCoy is a girl with a plan: graduate at the top of her class and get out of her small town as soon as possible. Nothing will stand in her way--not even the rare genetic disorder the doctors say will slowly steal her memories and then her health. So the memory book is born: a journal written to Sammie's future self, so she can remember everything from where she stashed her study guides to just how great it feels to have a best friend again. It's where she'll record every perfect detail of her first date with longtime-crush Stuart, a gifted young writer home for the summer. And where she'll admit how much she's missed her childhood friend Cooper, and the ridiculous lengths he will go to make her laugh. The memory book will ensure Sammie never forgets the most important parts of her life--the people who have broken her heart, those who have mended it--and most of all, that if she's going to die, she's going to die living. This moving and remarkable novel introduces an inspiring character you're sure to remember, long after the last page.

My Lady Jane, by Cyhtnia HandThe comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history--because sometimes history needs a little help. At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren't for Jane to worry about. Jane gets to be Queen of England. Like that could go wrong.

The Last True Love Story, by Brendan Kiely:From the critically acclaimed author of The Gospel of Winter and the coauthor of All American Boys comes a cool, contemplative spin on hot summer nights and the classic teen love story as two teens embark on a cross-country journey of the heart and soul.The point of living is learning how to love. That's what Gpa says. To Hendrix and Corrina, both seventeen but otherwise alike only in their loneliness, that sounds like another line from a pop song that tries to promise kids that life doesn't actually suck. Okay, so: love. Sure. The thing about Corrina--her adoptive parents are suffocating, trying to mold her into someone acceptable, predictable, like them. She's a musician, itching for any chance to escape, become the person she really wants to be. Whoever that is. And Hendrix, he's cool. Kind of a poet. But also kind of lost. His dad is dead and his mom is married to her job. Gpa is his only real family, but he's fading fast from Alzheimer's. Looking for any way to help the man who raised him, Hendrix has made Gpa an impossible promise--that he'll get him back east to the hill where he first kissed his wife, before his illness wipes away all memory of her. One hot July night, Hendrix and Corrina decide to risk everything. They steal a car, spring Gpa from his assisted living facility, stuff Old Humper the dog into the back seat, and take off on a cross-country odyssey from LA to NY. With their parents, Gpa's doctors, and the police all hot on their heels, Hendrix and Corrina set off to discover for themselves if what Gpa says is true--that the only stories that last are love stories.

Secret of a Heart Note, by Stacey LeeFrom critically acclaimed author Stacey Lee, an evocative novel about a teen aroma-expert who uses her extrasensitive sense of smell to help others fall in love--while protecting her own heart at all costs--perfect for fans of Lauren Myracle and E. Lockhart. Sometimes love is right under your nose. As one of only two aromateurs left on the planet, sixteen-year-old Mimosa knows what her future holds: a lifetime of weeding, mixing love elixirs, and matchmaking--all while remaining incurably alone. For Mim, the rules are clear: falling in love would render her nose useless, taking away her one great talent. Still, Mimosa doesn't want to spend her life elbow-deep in soil and begonias. She dreams of a normal high school experience with friends, sports practices, debate club, and even a boyfriend. But when she accidentally gives an elixir to the wrong woman and has to rely on the lovesick woman's son, the school soccer star, to help fix the situation, Mim quickly begins to realize that falling in love isn't always a choice you can make. At once hopeful, funny, and romantic, Stacey Lee's The Secret of a Heart Note is a richly evocative coming-of-age story that gives a fresh perspective on falling in love and finding one's place in the world.

--JK