Monday, November 28, 2011

When One Book Isn't Enough

Believe it or not, every single one of the favorite teen books in this year's Summer Reading Program was part of a series. This is a great time to be a fan of YA series -- there are so many excellent ones coming out, and the library has a great selection! So if you're going to be bored over winter break, or forced to head off on a holiday trip, why not grab a series or three to keep you entertained?

If you loved Harry Potter, give Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain a try! Think Harry Potter's life started out rough? Imagine if he'd been a lowly Assistant Pig-Keeper, who got all muddled up in magic, battles, royalty, and epic quests! Start with The Book of Three.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Project Costume Designer

Now that zombie season has officially ended I can actually start reading books that don't give me dreams involving being trapped in libraries & eating brains. Interestingly enough, I suddenly discovered I had started reading the girliest books possible: ones where fashion is practically it's own seperate character. I'm chalking this up to some sort of mild post-zombie apocalypse shock. The cool thing about these three books -- "Freak Show," "Lola and the Boy Next Door," and "Hollywood Nobody" -- is that the fashion isn't some magazine's idea of what'll be cool next year. Instead, it's all about declaring yourself awesome and wearing whatever makes you happiest, even if it's a mermaid outfit complete with Cheerio suction cups on your face.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Welcome to the Future

Let me begin with a little nugget of personal biography:

I spent some of my formative years among people who took prophecies about the end times and all that very seriously.

So when I say that Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 is a prophetic book, I do not mean that it necessarily provides an alarmingly spot on prediction of some future apocalypse (though, in a way, it does). Being prophetic is not so much a matter of accurately predicting future events. After all, neither the use of fire brigades to burn books nor the nuclear war that seemed so immanent when the book was published in 1951 has actually come to pass. Rather, Bradbury's book is prophetic because it does what real prophets have always done: provide a bluntly honest picture of difficult truths we would prefer to ignore.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Saturn Apartments

Science fiction writers don't seem to be very optimistic. I'm not judging, I'm just saying. The future is always more of the same human mistakes, just with spacesuits. And yet we keep reading it. It must be because mistakes are more interesting than perfection. (There, I've just handed you the perfect excuse the next time you mess up on something.) In Saturn Apartments , Hisae Iwaoko has written a science fiction manga filled with characters that could live next door to you, living with the same small joys and problems as we do now.

Reading Across the Pond

Lately, I've been reading a lot of books that were originally published in other countries. These are always interesting because the slang, the traditions, the geography, and the history are all different. Here are a few I really enjoy.

Raider's Ransom by Emily Diamand
This book takes place in a post-apocalyptic future, when the oceans have risen, drowning most of the United Kingdom and hurtling humanity back into a more medieval society where only hints and scraps of high technology remain. It follows Lilly, on a quest to rescue the daughter of the prime minister from the Viking-like Raiders, and Zeph, the son and heir to the Raiders' leader. Exciting, fast-paced, and a little haunting when you recognize pieces of our world in the wreck of theirs.

The Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series
This ten-book series for teen girls is screamingly funny, and will destroy any notions you ever had that the Brits lack a sense of humor. Georgia Nicolson is fifteen, and therefore impulsive, irreverent, often snarky, and terminally confused about who she is and what she wants.

Lost and Found by Shaun Tan
This collection of three Australian short stories are odd, eerie, and thought-provoking, and when paired with Tan's brain-bending collage-style illustrations, makes this a book you won't forget in a hurry.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Go Where No One Else Has Gone

Can you imagine yourself being cryogenically frozen? Neither could I until I read Across the Universe by Beth Revis. At the very beginning this book grabs your attention with vivid details of the whole process of being frozen. I read the introductory chapter online and then waited anxiously for the book to be published. The main characters parents are being frozen for an expedition across the universe that will take 300 years! Her choice is to stay on Earth with family and friends or accompany her parents on the journey while frozen. Timing is everything for this expedition! Without giving too much away this story has a society in which its inhabitants are emotionless and strictly obedient to their leader with the added complications of time and space travel.

Nice thing is, a sequel titled A Million Suns is due out January 12, 2012! Yeh!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Life Underwater

Imagine that the seas rose and covered most of the land on Earth and a few of the brave chose to settle in underwater farms and you have the setting for Dark Life by Kat Falls.  Ty was the first baby born in an underwater community, so he is used to life under the sea.  Unfortunately, life is getting more challenging; outlaws have been attacking more frequently, the government is withholding their supplies, and there is a stranded topsider girl that needs his help.  Of course there are all the other day to day things that could kill him like sharks and giant squids.  This book was a fantastically fun read, so take a deep breath and dive into this one.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Are You Going to Scarborough Fair...

I'll admit it. I frequently judge a book by its cover. In the case of Impossible by Nancy Werlin, the premise of the book combined with the cover was too irresistible a combination.
On her seventeenth birthday, Lucy discovers that she, like countless generations of women before her, is under an ancient curse placed by an elfin king. Now pregnant (part of the curse), she has until the baby is born to complete three impossible tasks. If she succeeds? She frees herself and her baby from the curse. If she fails? She descends into madness and the curse is passed to her unborn daughter.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

If you like the Decemberists, you'll love this book

From the inside flap (yes, I know, that's cheating): Colin Meloy once wrote in a letter to Ray Bradbury that he "considered himself an author too." He was ten. Prior to writing Wildwood, his first novel, Meloy channeled his creative energy into writing weird songs for the Portland-based rock group the Decemberists.

For those of you who are familiar with the band, all I need to say to convince you to read Wildwood is that it is written by Colin Meloy and if you like the band, you will love the book.