Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Zombies Vs. Unicorns

You know those times when you get into a ridiculous argument with your best friend over which fictional character could beat up another fictional character? Like who would win if Dumbledore and Gandalf got into a wizard's duel? Yeah that. Well, Holly Black and her friend Justine Larbalestier got into a fight over whether zombies or unicorns were more awesome, and because they are both authors, they took the fight to the next level: a whole book.  They asked their author friends to write stories about zombies and unicorns to help them settle the argument.  Each story is labeled with either the unicorn or zombie icon in case you only want to read about one or the other, and is preceded by a continuation of the mythic grudge match.

There are stories from fan favorites like Meg Cabot(The Princess Diaries), who tells the story of a girl who gets a pet unicorn as a birthday present, and Cassandra Clare(City of Bones) who writes about a city where everyone who dies rises from the grave, and has for centuries. Some of the stories are funny, some are sad, and some are a thrill ride. But whichever side of the argument you support(vote unicorn!), there is at least one story in Zombies vs. Unicorns for you.

~ gothbrarian

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan

The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan isn't a teen book. It's not a typical whodunit mystery either. But because VOYA magazine included this book in the article "Clueless: Adult Mysteries with Young Adult Appeal 2013,"  I thought I'd blog about it. The book IS a fascinating, thought provoking read that gets a brain cranking! And it's scary, very scary, if you believe that real life and real people can be scarier than monsters.

When the Empress Alexandra sinks, survivors are left floating on the the Atlantic in a lifeboat. Battling the elements is grueling but more horrifying is...

Friday, December 20, 2013

Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday

http://librarycatalog.pima.gov/search/X?SEARCH=t:%28deadly%20cool%29%20and%20a:%28Halliday%29&SORT=DAt the beginning of Deadly Cool, Hartley thinks she has the perfect boyfriend. Then she discovers that Josh has been cheating on her. And not only that, it's with Courtney, the president of the school Chastity Club. Cue one breakup.

Then she discovers Courtney in Josh's closet, strangled to death with the cord of her iPod headphones. Oh yikes! Did Josh kill Courtney? Or is this all an elaborate frame job, meant to send Josh to jail for murder? (And if it is, does Hartley really care?)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

If You Want to Be a Hero...

Then you need to check out The Hero's Guide To Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy.  Although this may be more of a "what not to do" guide. 

So it turns out that Prince Charming doesn't like to be called Charming.  None of them do.  They have names, you know.  Gustav, Duncan, Liam, and Frederick are the princes from the stories the troubadours tell - the stories named after the princesses.  They're not happy about being religated to a side note in the stories and they're not quite living happily ever after.  In fact, nothing seems to be going their way.  Which is a pity, since an evil witch has decided to cause a lot of trouble across all the kingdoms.  Even though they don't much like each other initially, the princes are going to have to band together and, well, save the kingdoms. 

This hilarious romp through fairy tales is a fun read.  The princes are flawed, but I couldn't help but like them anyway.  They do some growing up on their wacky adventures, but there's no high-handed moral lectures.  And the princesses are well-written characters in their own right - one is down-right bratty, but the rest are seeking adventure and trying to help those around them.  Also, the villians are fantastic, like the best kind of cartoon villians.  I love the Bandit King.  He's deliciously bad, but not in the ways you expect.  If you like this book, don't forget its sequel:  The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle.  Rumor has it that a third book is on its way as well!

~ Book Ninja

P.S.  Did I mention the fun pictures?  There's fun pictures!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Movember: It's all about the moustache (and mental health)

As we near the end of Movember (Moustache and November slid neatly together), I thought I might highlight a book I've read recently that this strange month of growing moustaches is about--men's mental health.  I can quickly come up with 15+ books about teenage girls and suicide, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or anxiety but I pretty much came up with zilch for teenage guys.  Which is weird considering that for many years in the U.S., the suicide rate has been about 4 times higher among men than among women.  Movember is all about men and their health--cancer, mental illness and healthy lifestyle are the main focuses but the general idea is to build awareness of mental health, to motivate guys to take care of themselves, and to destigmatize seeking medical help of any kind!  It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini is just that--kind of a funny story about a teenage guy who is suffering from depression and fighting suicide.

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Magical Mystery Circus

When I think of circuses, what comes to mind are clowns in mini cars and small dogs and elephants performing tricks.  But lurking along with this image, I think of a different kind of circus and carnival, one that exists in the tradition of  mysterious and sometimes dangerously eerie carnivals and circuses, much like the classic Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury. If you are drawn to the dark and possibly dangerous variety of entertainments in a tent, you'll want to pick up the shimmering story of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.   The Circus of Dreams known as  " Les Cirque des Reves"  in the story appears mysteriously overnight in select cities.  The color scheme is always black and white with an occasional splash of red and the entertainment is always breathtaking and masterful . The story is a bit like a chess game, with the characters making strategic moves that will establish their dominance in a game not of chess, but of magic.  The magicians are rivals from many years back and it is their gifted magician apprentices who play out the moves in this circus that surpasses any yet in its entertainment and design.  Celia and Marco create amazing wonders such as a blooming garden made all of ice and acrobats soaring without a net in their quest to outdo each other in a competition neither of them understands.  What they don't expect is the attraction between them. Set in the late 19th and early 20th century, the story evokes a Paris and London of an imaginary time when magic is truly magical.  The author Erin Morgenstern is an artist and the pictures she paints of the settings in this story are rich and fantastical.  Read this story to imagine a circus you would want to visit in your dreams.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Declaration

Born as a "Surplus" Anna finds herself in the dreaded Grange Hall where all "Surplus" must  go to learn how to be useful.   Here children realize they are nothing and have no right to be alive, and must pay penance for the sins of their reckless parents.  If you are useless and difficult there is another place to go.....but not Anna, she is a model resident.  She has learned her place and endured fear, regulations, and punishment, soon to be a valuable asset. 

The Declaration by Gemma Malley takes place in the year 2140.  Longevity drugs have made it possible for people to live very long lives.  Children born without permission are a burden on society therefore they must work to make themselves beneficial and useful or else....... risk a worse fate. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Book Review: Yay Classics!

The amazing thing about classics is how they manage to survive decade to decade. Seriously, how many things that were popular 10 years ago are still popular? (Not like One Direction popular but still being read regularly.) Barely anything. And some classic books are decades or centuries old! How great must a book be if it can still be so great years and thousands of other books later that you read it and love it? I also have the benefit of being an old fart so some classics I was lucky enough to have read when I was young, before they became classics. So, I'm going review some classics. And because this month is LGBT History Month, I'm going to give you some great LGBT classic books.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Companions of the Night by Vivian Vande Velde

It's almost Halloween, and my mind always turns to dark suburban streets, and the rattle of dry leaves blown by the first cold wind of the season.  We all love creepy stories because we never think it could happen to us.  That's what Kerry thought too, and no good deed goes unpunished.  When Kerry's little brother asks her to go get the teddy bear he forgot at the laundromat, she figures the worst that could happen is a scolding from her father. Sure it was eleven'o'clock at night, and she didn't have permission to take the car, but it's just the laundromat.

When Kerry walks in, the laundromat is deserted and creepy, but she finds the teddy bear and turns to go.  Then a group of thugs burst through the door with a boy about Kerry's age, tied up and bleeding. Once they notice Kerry, they take her prisoner too while they try to determine is she's "one of them." One of what Kerry isn't sure, until they pull out Bibles and start talking about waiting until dawn.  They think the boy is a vampire, and they plan to kill him.  And Kerry too if she can't convince them she's human.  And that's just chapter one.  Companions of the Night by Vivian Vande Velde is about making bad choices, falling in with dangerous people, and how hard it can be to tell a truth from a lie.  Plus, there's kidnapping, murder, and maybe a vampire.  These are a few of my favorite things.  Happy reading.
~ gothbrarian

The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

The Running Dream is a fantastic book, I loved it! Being a runner myself it seemed like a book that I would enjoy and I was right. This is a story about a girl, Jessica, who loves running and is a track star at her school. On the way home from a track meet she ends up losing her leg below the knee in a terrible bus accident. The author makes you feel like you are right there with Jessica when she wakes up in the hospital and begins her “new life” as an amputee. She also deals with what it is like being a teen with a handicap and wondering if guys will still like you. Jessica is a really lucky girl because she has a great family, friends, coach and teammates that support her. The most unlikely girl at school, Rosa, who has CP, and someone who is overlooked by Jessica and her classmates becomes an unexpected friend. This book is about overcoming obstacles. No matter what’s thrown at you in life you have to take it step by step and eventually you’ll get there. The dream lives on!
 -Iron Librarian

Monday, October 14, 2013

How to Save a Life

Happy Teen Read Week! Are you ready to vote for the Teen Top Ten? The 2013 winners will be announced October 22!

 Because you have probably been reading many of 2013's top ten nominees,I wanted to tell you about a nominee from last year.(Topic and story so NOT so last year.) 
 How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr is a story that sticks with you---in a good way!

Jill is wrecked. Her dad recently died. She’s stopped communicating with her friends, family and boyfriend. Her mom, who should be mourning with Jill, is busy planning to adopt a baby from a teen she met online. It gets worse. Jill despises teen mom Mandy and soon Mandy will be moving in with them until the baby is born!

Mandy on the other hand has never suffered a family crisis because...

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Perfect Halloween Book

A little scary, a little creepy, with a good dose of humor and lots of wackiness, Too Many Curses by A. Lee Martinez makes for good Halloween reading. 

Nessy is a kobold in charge of tending the castle of Margle the Horrendous and caring for all the beasts, ghosts, undead, and enemies that Margle has cursed into bizarre forms over the years.  Margle, in case you haven't guessed by now, is a wizard.  A greedy wizard with a inordinate love of revenge.  So when he dies, all of his odd (and occasionally gruesome) collections of both beasts and former enemies are thrilled.  Until they discover that the magics in the castle are unraveling in strange ways.

Nessy is the only one without a curse, so everyone's expecting her to save the day.  Nessy would much rather clean house (she prefers things tidy and orderly), but suddenly that's not so much of an option.  She and her friends (a bat, a disembodied voice, a purple people eater, and pieces of a wizard in a jar) are now frantically trying to outwit demons, an evil wizardess, and keep monsters on the loose from eating the other residents of the castle. 

If you find yourself waiting for Too Many Curses, check out one of A. Lee Martinez's other books.  Brew up some hot cider and curl up with some early Halloween candy and one of his books.  If you like wacky and a little creepy, you won't regret it. 

~ Book Ninja

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Mangaman by Barry Lyga and Colleen Doran

Ryoko Kiyama, the title character of Mangaman by Barry Lyga and Colleen Doran, doesn't really think much of it when he falls through a rip in reality and into another world. He's a manga character. This stuff happens to him all the time.

But the new world he's fallen into is very, very strange. Everyone is so . . . rounded. And they think monsters and karate fights, sweat drops and surprise lines, are incredibly weird and he's nothing but a freak. Only one girl, Marissa, seems to like him exactly the way he is. But the rip between his world and hers is starting to close. He has to make a terrible choice. Should he stay with the girl he's falling in love with? Or should he go back to his own familiar world, and leave her forever?

If you love manga, this book is for you. It both honors and pokes fun at the crazy conventions of manga, and what we think of it, and it's also a great love story. With bonus monsters!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Where there is no imagination there is no horror--Arthur Conan Doyle

I am not a big horror fan.  It's either way too nightmarish and scary or so gruesomely over the top that I'm bored.  But since I am in the mode of "expanding my literary horizons", I decided to read Andrew Smith's The Marbury Lens.  And I have to say that it didn't take long before I was absolutely freaked out--the book jacket says "Sixteen-year-old Jack gets drunk and is in the wrong place at the wrong time" but that doesn't begin to describe the terror of his kidnapping and torture at the hands of a sexual predator named Freddie (way creepier than Krueger).

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Stepping back to New Orleans

I love historical fiction, a little celebrated teen genre and I'm especially excited by an author new on the scene, Ruta Sepetys.  You may have read or heard about her award winning first book, Between Shades of Gray.  If so, you are familiar with author's unflinching look at tough times.  In this book,  Ms. Sepytys gave us a harrowing look at a little discussed time in recent history.  How many of us know that millions of intellectuals from the Baltic states were deported in the Stalin era to work camps in Siberia where many of them perished? The main character in that book is a Lina, a girl from Lithuania who hopes to attend a top art school in her country before she and her family are forced to leave their home on a long train ride, not knowing where they are headed to or whether they will ever see their home again. It's an unforgettable story.   In her latest, YA novel,  Out of the Easy, the setting is closer to home, in fact it is in the United States.  But, it takes place in the most unique city in our country, the mix of cultures that is known as New Orleans.  The main character, Josie, is the daughter of a prostitute in the 1950's underworld of New Orlean's French Quarter.  Josie is familiar with the world her mother lives in, but there is another world she has been exposed to, the world opened up to her by reading books.  She lives and works in a book store, a haven provided to her by a kindly bookseller and his son.  Does she dare hope to go to a fancy college in New England and can she extricate herself from the messy world her mother has entangled her in?  Josie is a strong and inspiring character and you will wish you could be her friend.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Locked up, and nowhere to go!

Teenager Alex Sawyer has been framed for murder, and he's going to the most brutal prison imagineable. Except at this prison there are horrors lurking in the dark and in the shadows that nobody (not even the sadistic cruel prison guards) can possibly explain.

This is the set-up for the teen fiction book "Lockdown" by Alexander Gordon Smith.

Our hero Alex is actually a bit of anti-hero: he is caught early in the story stealing items with his buddy. But Alex is not evil, and he is certainly not a murderer. But that's what happens when he is framed and sentenced for murder. Alex will spend his days in Furnace, a massive underground prison built in rock and miles from civilization.


The horrors that await Alex are beyond imagination. he juveniles are required to slave away all day with pick axes as they build new rooms, and sadistic guards can torture and hurt them at will. The facilities leave nothing to be desired: blood soaked cells, sloppy bug infested food, murderous gangs, and oh yeah, genetically mutated killer dogs and people roaming the hallways at night dragging victims for unspeakable terrors.

It's a pretty exciting book!

Lockdown is riveting from start to end. The outlook seems bleak and there appears almost no hope for anyone, although there are glimmers of hope as Alex finds possible ways to escape. The characters come alive with a great balance of terror, action and horror. Alex turns out to be a young man of good character and morals and despite the previous crimes in his life, nothing seems to justify the world he must inhabit now.

This is the first in a 5-book series called "Escape from Furnace." The writer Alexander Gordon Smith is from England although you wouldn't really know it from the writing or the dialogue.

This is a great series for fast paced thrills. Following Alex on his attempt to escape from Lockdown makes for engaging reading. It is a book you will find hard to put down.

-By William

Monday, August 26, 2013

Small Book

Here is a quick read that is both mysterious and curious and it does not resolving every problem it presents.  Anna's father wants to shelter and protect her so she lives a quiet life on an island.  Along comes problems that interrupt this quiet life.  Soon there is  treachery and deceit and the discovery of a body washed up on the beach.

Wild Song by Jane Eagland is a short book and it does not have a clear ending. You might have to imagine on your own how a couple of issues play out.  No sign of a sequel.  There is another book by Eagland titled Wildthorn and although they share the word Wild they are not related except that they are both about the adventures of a young girl.

If you or someone you know has little time, read these small books. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

H.G. Wells' The Island of Doctor Moreau is a classic science fiction tale about the titular doctor who strives to create a superior race of people through horrific experiments that result in half-man, half-beast monstrosities.

The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd continues this chilling story through the perspective of Juliet Moreau, the doctor's daughter. She works as a maid in Victorian London, trying to forget the scandal of her father's experiments. When rumors reach her that her father is still alive, however, she embarks on a journey to the island to discover if he really is continuing to create creatures that are a terrible hybrid of man and animal.

The Madman's Daughter is a creepy horror story full of disturbing moments and shocking twists. Shepherd does a great job building off of Wells' original tale, and creates a love-to-hate villian in Doctor Henri Moreau. If you're sad to see Juliet's story end, never fear; the sequel, Her Dark Curiousity, is going to be released next year.

Friday, August 16, 2013

College Bound!

Whether you're leaving home to embark on a brand new life far far away or staying close to home in order to save money, there are things you'll need to know about college and the exciting new adult life you'll be living. You will, after all, need to start doing exciting things like filing taxes, signing leases, and paying bills... with your own money.  Some great books exist to help you on your way to full-fledged adulthood and I thought I'd share some of my fave books geared to helping you survive your college existence and beyond. (Of course most of this will apply even if you aren't going to college; this stuff pops up automatically at 18 and isn't dependent on a college degree.)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Post Comic-Con blues? Fear not, True Believer!

I just got back from San Diego Comic-Con, and it was four straight days of awesome.  Returning to the normal world depresses me.  No one wears costumes or tries to give you awesome swag, and it's highly unlikely that I'll bump into Wil Wheaton.  How can I get over my post Comic-Con blues?  Well, free books from the library is a good place to start.  And Geektastic Stories from the Nerd Herd, edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci, is the one I choose.  These are the stories of my people.

Geektastic is a collection of short stories and comic strips about the pain and the joy of being a geek, written by such amazing nerds as John Green(The Fault in Our Stars), Cassandra Clare(Mortal Instruments series), and Scott Westerfeld(Uglies).  What makes these authors geeky?  After you read their stories, there's a geek bio for each one.  There are also valuable, instructional comic strips on how to survive a fan convention, and the most important phrases to know in Klingon, among many other worthy topics.  Libba Bray tells the story of two girls to who find themselves at Rocky Horror with their nemesis.  Garth Nix writes about a boy who skips basketball practice to LARP.  Those are the kind of stories you'll find in this book.

So why should you read Geektastic?  Because it's full of people that you'll recognize.  One of them might even be you.


Tuesday, July 30, 2013

This Book Sucks

In a vampiric way.  Wait - don't leave!  All bad jokes aside, the comic Life Sucks is actually pretty cool.  Assuming you like vampires of the non-sparkly variety. 

Jessica Abel, Gabe Soria, and Warren Pleece have put together a comic exploring some of the less romantic sides of vampirism.  Like how you explain it to your mom and dad.  (You don't.)  And what sort of jobs are available for people who are permanently nocturnal.  (The night shift at a convenience store, for example.)  Also, the person who turned you is now your master.  (Which makes you his permanent wage slave.)  Dave Miller is not having the time of his undead life.  To make matters worse, the human girl he loves is now being romantically pursued by the guy he hates: psychopath surfer vampire Wes. 

Time for Dave to figure out how to get the girl and save the day.  Too bad he can only come out at night.

~ Book Ninja

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Koi Out of Water

With MangaMania!! coming up this weekend, my mind is full of anime, Japan, and all the neat things that go along with it. So naturally, I thought of this book: Ink by Amanda Sun.

It's not manga, first of all, but it does take place in Japan. It follows Katie, who got moved there willy-nilly to live with her aunt after her mother's death. Not only is she grieving and lonely, she feels out of place, a tall blond American who barely speaks any Japanese and can't quite grasp all the different subtleties of life in a new country.

Then she meets Tomohiro Yuu. One day he's a jerk, dumping his girlfriend in the most callous way possible. The next he's a sensitive artist, creating drawings that almost seem to come to life. Wait . . . they are coming to life! What exactly is Yuu, and what does Katie herself have to do with his mysterious abilities?

If you are a die-hard Japanophile, pick up this book to become immersed in everyday life in Japan, with a little magic, mystery, and romance thrown in.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Warriors: The Forgotten Warrior

Warriors: The Forgotten Warrior
Book CoverThis book is written by Erin Hunter, who also happens to be one of my favorite authors.  She is the author of the amazing Warriors series that is very popular here in North America and it is almost entirely rare to not ever see someone reading it or for it to not be in a library. This is the the type of book that someone who is interested in fiction and fantasy would want to read - even someone like me was able to read it, even though I don't read that often.

This book is confusing, but that's because its the sixth book in the series, so if you're interested in fantasy fiction I would recommend to start from the beginning of the series which is "Warriors: The Sun Trail."  This author also has two other series of books; one is called "Seekers" and the other series, which is as popular and well known as "Seekers" and "Warriors," is called "Surviors."
So to sum up the book without spoiling it (or telling you the main story which would spoil it for you), the book picks up where the previous book left off.  The Star Clan has divided and turned into different groups and when the Dark Forest Sprites start to gain strength, there is no Star Clan anymore so the Thunder Cats (which is one of the many clans in the series) has to step in and try to stop the sprites in the Dark Forest before it's too late.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Personal List of Cities I Must Visit (in real life, not just in a book)

Marrakesh.  Budapest.  Venice.  Barcelona.  Dublin.  Mexico City (check).  But above all, Prague.  Prague in the Czech Republic you say, what is so interesting about a city stuck behind the Iron Curtain after WWII for forty plus years? Well, I must admit that my father's claim that he was 1/4 Czech, making me 1/8 Czech, seemed very romantic to me as a kid, and the more I learned about the former Czechslovokia--more than 2,000 castles are still standing, gorgeous mountains basically surround the country, and Franz Kafka was Czech (you remember, cockroaches, The Metamorphosis)--the more I fell in love.

Now, let's get back to the BOOK that brings this lovely place to life.  Laini Taylor's Daughter of Smoke & Bone is an amazing tale that includes a somewhat unbelievable but eventually totally believable romance, bizarre characters who pull their own teeth out for a wish, a restaurant with coffin chairs and tables that serves goulash, portals that open to awesome cities around the world until a handprint is burnt into them, a quirky artist with permanent blue hair, and an epic war between Seraphim and Chimaera.  If that's not enough to make you put a hold on it, the audio book is incredible as well--lots of words I have never known how to pronounce pronounced and beautiful, exotic accents all for your listening pleasure!  And the best part for an admitted series addict?  The sequel, Days of Blood & Starlight, is ready and waiting for you.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Marked, by P.C. Cast, starts off as just a normal day for Zoey Redbird at her high school, until a tracker showed up and marked her. Now Zoey has to go to a new school, meet new friends, and, worst of all, tell her mom and step-loser about being marked and having to go to a special school for marked kids where she will either die or complete the change into a vampire. Sadly, her parents don't accept the fact that she was chosen, along with many others, to become a fledgling and attempt to go through the change.

Zoey escapes her parents grasps and heads for her new school just in time, because when she gets there the headmistress is waiting for her to arrive. Zoey is told to head to the courtyard and wait there, but on her way she witnesses a strange encounter between between a really cute guy and a way too desperate girl named Aphrodite. When Zoey is seen she flees from the scene and runs to the courtyard, where she meets up with the headmistress Nefrete and tries to forget about the strange encounter. After being introduced to all of her new teachers, Zoey is exausted and ready to rest her head on her new pillow and start her new life as a vampire fledgling or die. Will Zoey complete the change or will she die? Read the book and find out.

~ Morgan Le Fay

Thursday, July 11, 2013

War Changes Everything

Finding your identity when growing up is challenging in the best of times.  Living through wartime gives navigating all the usual issues of life a new dimension of difficulty, but somehow, crazy as life seems,  one adjusts to the new normal. My Family for the War by Anne C. Voorhoeve, explores those issues of growing up such as mother/daughter relations, friendships and identity within the historical setting of World War II.  Ziska, also known as Frances, guides us through seven years of her life beginning when she is ten in 1938 in Berlin and ending in 1945 in England when she is a young lady of 17.  She is forced to flee to England on the Kindertransport, an evacuation program begun by Jews to remove their children to safer countries as life in Germany becomes threatening.  On her departure at the Berlin train station, Ziska's mother gives her a delicate gold crucifix to put around her neck as a remembrance. Ironically her family has been Christian for generations, but they are still considered of the Jewish race by the Nazis and are being stripped of their rights and property.  Once in England, Ziska's name is changed to Frances and she becomes a foster child of an Orthodox Jewish family.  She is drawn to the unfamiliar religious rituals and quickly falls in love with her new family "for the war". She begins to love her new country, England, as well.  As the years progress, Frances is worried that she can no longer remember what her German mother looks like. After so many years, is she German or English, Jewish or Christian and which is her real family? This historical novel gives a new and intriguing twist on the World War II experience.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

V for Vendetta

If you've seen the movie, this graphic novel will expand your knowledge and understanding with a deeper and more detailed background. If you haven't, then you're in for a treat. V for Vendetta takes place in a alternate but similar future England where fascism takes over. With Alan Moore's intense creative mind and David Lloyd's striking graphics, V for Vendetta will keep you peeled to the page until the end. This is a must read graphic novel. It sheds light to all crevices and holes of the human behavior. Every dirty and beautiful aspect of the human capacity. Even after you set it down, it will stay with you and tease your brain. Which is a good thing. Our society needs wake up and start using that organ on their shoulders.

When a mysterious masked man with a dark past who calls himself as "V" is responsible for the destruction of significant structures and the death of important figures, England spirals down into chaos. V vows to seek revenge for his painful suffering and defend his love: anarchy. Totalitarian England has forgotten to love. It has been sick with greed and power. Leaving the rest of the population powerless, defenseless, and left at the mercy of a cruel system. V for Vendetta is not a stereotypical story with "happily ever after." V is not a hero, he's a cleaner. He merely removes the destroyers and sets a clean canvas for the creators.

Even though this comic includes fictional events and characters, it can be reflected onto any present situation. Is it possible for our society to head into the same direction as the one in the comic? What would you do prevent the wrong thing to happen?

~Paige Turner

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

Lost in the middle of the Canadian wilderness, a lone teenage boy, Brian, discovers what type of person he really is. In route to his father who lives in a small Canadian town, the pilot of Brian's plane has a sudden heart attack, forcing Brian to crash land. Barely alive, Brian must nurse himself back to life and survive by himself with his only possession, his hatchet. But things start to look up for him; he builds a shelter, learns what to eat and most of all, he learns how to survive. But as we all know, life never seems to let everything be fine for very long. A couple of weeks later, everything Brian created is destroyed, leaving him to rebuild once again.Through his struggles we learn more about Brian and what it will take for him to come back to civilization, alive.

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen has been a teen favorite for many years. It is a great read for those looking for adventure, survival and the strength of human will. Paulsen creates the scenes as you are surviving along with Brian; facing the same struggles he does. Other books following the story of Brian in Hatchet include The River, Brian's Winter, Brian's Hunt and Brian's Return.

~ Jerome the Fighting Caterpillar

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Don't think or judge. Just Listen.

Annabel Greene begins her Junior year of high school ostracized by her peers and hated by her friends. She is haunted by the unthinkable events of a party that took place at the beginning of the summer, which she has kept secret from friends and family. This is one secret among many that she keeps from the world. She also suffers silently from the pressure from her mother and her fear for her oldest sister's health. In a time when she needs a friend more than ever, she meets Owen Armstrong, a music-obsessed classmate with anger management issues who is as ignored by the rest of the school as she is. In a "right place, right time" situation, he instantly goes from someone she watches from a distance to her only friend, saving her from lunch hours spent in isolation and teaching her the value of speaking up and making herself heard.

Just Listen is a story which induces both laughter and tears, and is highly recommended for anyone who has ever feared voicing their own feelings. Sarah Dessen is also the author of other popular young adult books such as The Truth About Forever, This Lullaby, and Lock & Key.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Fell by David Clement-Davies

Here is a credible story about a  black wolf, Fell, who has been rejected by his pack, wandering alone in the forest, and refusing to use his gift of reading the minds of others.  This adventure is very believable as we read about the thoughts of animals and their human connection.  As a very young child Alina is saved by Fell and when she grows up she is labeled as a changeling which refers to a child left by fairies.  She is an outcast and unfairly treated by the family that takes her in to their home.  She seeks her destiny and tries to stay away from those who mean harm.  Alina and Fell share a common thread of loneliness and uncertainty about their fuure.

David Clement-Davies wrote Fell five years after The Sight, which is a prequel of this book but Fell does stand on its own.  The setting is Transylvania and and there is a connection with another famous character from this region.  Read this if you like intricate and adventurous stories about animals interwoven with humans.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Exploring Historical Fiction

On an island called Guernsey off the coast of the British Isles, a budding author makes contact with a strange group of people: members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  She writes them a letter and discovers through their correspondence that they are just as unique as their name.  She then unearths an amazing story about the islanders' survival through Nazi occupation and the role of the small island in one of history's most gruesome wars.

Set during and after World War II, the book is written entirely by letters and diary entries.  This allows the reader to feel a strong connection with each of the characters and get insights into their emotions throughout the book.  The author does an excellent job of incorporating history into the gripping tale of survival while still maintaining an easy-to-read style.

Why read this book?

Historical fiction is a genre that usually gets overlooked by the average teenager.  It's seen as boring, dull, or "the stuff we read in english class."  However, the world of history holds so many uncharted mysteries that are just waiting to be discovered.  What better way to travel than through reading a book?  How was it to stand on a field overlooking the Battle of Gettysburg?  What was Cleopatra thinking in her very last moments alive?  Did Napoleon regret his decision to invade Russia?  We can instantly step onto a pirate ship or walk around in Shakespeare's boots for the day without ever leaving the comfort of our homes.  All of this history and more is at our fingertips, just waiting to be dug up and explored.

~Sgt. Pepper

Thursday, June 20, 2013

I am large, I contain multitudes

It's hard to describe Marcus Sedgwick's "Midwinterblood" in any other terms other than possibly one of the most amazing books I've read in a long time. Pardon me for being blunt. I tried coming up with some sort of cute/interesting intro to lead up to my review but nothing seemed to fit. There is absolutely no way to introduce it outside of it being amazing. At this point I'm not even sure how to describe the plot of the book and what happens without spoiling massive quantities of it; everything is connected to everything else in some deep way. The best way to describe it would be with a small quote from the book:
It cannot be... that when our life is run, we are done. There must be more to man than that, surely? That we are not just one, but a multitude. (p. 250)
So it is that on a small Scandavian island where the mythical Dracula orchid grows, Eric and Merle, two souls in love, find then lose each other over and over and over again. Seven different stories weave together their tale of love surviving through the ages, through vampires and magic and war, going back to a time unrecorded by history. Only at the very end does the whole story become completely clear.  Only then do you see the end that is really the beginning.

~The Stacked Librarian

P.S. The title of the blog post is a Walt Whitman quote. It's from "Song of Myself." If you like Whitman, definitely read this book!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Beneath The Surface: Dystopian Round-Up

This year's teen summer reading program is themed Beneath the Surface! The best thing about reading is getting to learn about new ideas and realities that are unfamiliar to us. In dystopias, the characters are very often placed in situations that are just as alien, and they must search "beneath the surface" to discover what the truth is about their post-apocalyptic world. Come and kick your summer reading adventure off with these great dystopian titles!

 In Suzanne Young's The Program, teen suicide is an international epidemic. Sloane has already lost a brother to the disease, and her parents are desperate to keep her alive. She can't cry or express any honest emotion, because at the first sign of depression she will be shipped off to the Program and return stripped of her memories. When her boyfriend, James, begins to spiral into the illness, Sloane must find a way to keep him alive or risk him losing all memories of her forever.

 Incarceron by Catherine Fisher introduces a society where criminals and their descendents are sentenced to live in Incarceron, a living prison that enacts its own punishments. Finn has spent his entire life in the prison with no hope of escape. All that changes when one day he finds a key that allows him to speak to the warden's daughter outside Incarceron, and plan an impossile escape.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

(Stupendously) Bad Trip

There are some people who are fantasy people. There are some people who are sci-fi people. Then there are people like Platte F. Clark who have decided why not have both? In the same book. At the same time. Which is one reason why "Bad Unicorn" has to be one of my top book picks this year.

Middle school is hard enough when your mom doesn't understand your gaming obsession and you have to watch out for a bully called the Kraken, but then Max Spencer discovers the weird book he's had for years is magic. Like, real magic. And he's the heir to the greatest sorcerer of all, Maximilian Sporazo. It gets even worse when he accidentally transports himself, his friends Dirk and Sarah, and his local gaming store owner Dwight hundreds of years into the future... Meanwhile, a sorcerer in another realm is looking to get a hold of Max and his book. He recruits Princess, the most feared unicorn in the realm, to help him. But how can you track someone who's time traveled? And how exactly does one get back to the right time let alone fight a carnivorous unicorn (in the past AND the future), especially when you've only just discovered you can do magic?

With a bad tempered zombie duck, man-eating unicorns, golf-worshipping monks, more zombies, scary dragons, robot reality TV, and a talking sentient centipede game, "Bad Unicorn" is hysterical and awesome in so many amazing ways. Go read it. Now.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Magic and the Mafia

 White Cat, by Holly Black, is part mystery, part dark urban fantasy, part twisted romance, and part mob story.  I hope you like your fiction dark and bruised, because this story doesn't pull any punches.  It takes place in a world very much like our own, except everyone has to wear gloves to protect themselves from curses.  And our dubious "hero," Cassel Sharpe, knows a little more about working curses than your average Joe.

Cassel wakes up on the roof of his fancy high school dorm and nearly falls to his death. He's been sleepwalking again, and now the school is threatening to expel him as too much of a liability.  Was he really sleepwalking, or was he cursed? He dreamed of following a white cat....

Cassel is the only nonworker in a family of curse workers.  Since curse working was outlawed in the 1920s, most curse workers are employed by the mob.  At first, Cassel thinks he's only got to con his school into letting him back in.  Then he begins to think that the dream about the white cat might be related to the girl he loved when he was fourteen; the girl he killed. At least, that's what his two brothers told him after they dumped the body.  Cassel doesn't remember why he killed her, only that he was standing over her bloody body.  Now Cassel thinks his brothers are hiding something from him, something important.  To learn the horrible truth, he'll have to find the white cat from his dream. But the truth is a dangerous thing when the mob is involved, and Cassel finds himself caught between murder and treachery in the underbelly of curse worker society.

If you like White Cat, the curse workers series continues with Red Glove and Black Heart.

Happy reading.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Superhuman Immortals in Space!

Garth Nix's newest book, A Confusion of Princes, is a exhilerating space opera.  The main character, Khemri, is a Prince.  Which is pretty awesome as far as Khemri's concerned, except there's thousands of Princes in the intergalactic empire.  And he just discovered that they're all out to kill each other.  Khemri is going to have to work hard and stay ever-vigilant if he wants to survive.  He's got a lot of learning to do in a very short amount of time.  To make matters more complicated, he's also sent on a secret mission, so now even more people want to kill him, but for different reasons.  On top of all that, he's finding out that there's a lot of secrets and lies in the Empire - and a lot of them have to do with the Princes and their Priests and the Imperial Mind and Khemri himself. 

I want to tell you more because this book is so good, but everything else would be spoilers.  So read it - it's fantastic!

~ Book Ninja

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Graphic Novels Off the Beaten Path

     I recently picked up two very different but equally satisfying graphic novels, both  of them completely outside of the superhero vein. Reading them back to back gave me a flavor of how different graphic novels can be from storyline to artwork. I first picked up Relish: My Life in the Kitchen , by Lucy Knisley, because anything having to do with food is a draw for me.  Lucy has written a story about herself and it proves to be funny, thoughtful and thoroughly charming.  The author is the daughter of established foodies: her mother is a chef, a pioneer in the farm to table movement and inspiration with her love of food culture.  Her father, a more distant and difficult character, is an appreciator of fine restaurant dining and helps to give Lucy an exposure to fantastic as well as disastrous restaurant dishes.  Sprinkled in amongst the stories of her relationship to food as she was growing up, are recipes such as Marinated Lamb, Mom's Pesto and Huevos Rancheros.  Whether you like to cook or not, you'll love reading about Lucy. 

   Native American Classics in the Graphic Classics series is actually a collection of several historic tales and poems about Native Americans.  Some were written in the 19th century and some in the early 20th century, and all by indigenous American writers.  The graphic art in this collection brings these timeless stories of loss, betrayal and change alive.  There are ten different illustrators of Native American heritage, each with a distinctive style ranging from the "cartooney" of old children's comics to a more picture book illustration style.  I could tell that the artists connected with these writers from the past and that they deeply feel the experience of their ancestors. Some of the stories have heart wrenching endings, some are sweet, some funny and some hopeful.  Take a look at this graphic novel if you went to get new insight into America, past and present.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Summer Reading Favorites

School's almost out and that means it's almost time for Summer Reading!  Register at the nearest library and get a fun flip-book to keep track of your progress.  You can win a $10 Bookman's certificate, a Brooklyn's Pizza coupon, and a Breaker's Water Park pass.  Or you can exchange one of those prizes for a book!

Last year, the favorite teen books were:

8.  Eragon
10.  The Vampire Diaries series

Some of these books have new movies coming out this summer:  Hunger Games, the Hobbit, and Percy Jackson.  The Pretty Little Liars and the Vampire Diaries are still showing on TV and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever animated film will be released this Christmas.  If you haven't already, now is the time to read the books while waiting for the movies or new season to start!

Of course, you can also find some new favorites this summer.  The library shelves are full of good books waiting to be discovered!

~ Book Ninja

Pssst!  Go to the Murphy-Wilmot Library and fill out a book recommendation to be entered into a drawing for a free book each month.  The more recommendations you fill out, the more chances you have to win!  We have comics, manga, and other fun books - the choice is yours!  And hey, you're going to be reading books for those cool prizes anyway, right? 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

How Afraid Are You To Die?

In a world where vampires have taken control over society, humans are divided into two groups--the Registered and the Unregistered. Registered humans are required to attend a bloodletting once a month in order to feed their vampiric masters. Unregistered humans are free from the obligation to "donate," but the freedom comes with a price; while Registered humans are provided with food cards, Unregistered humans are not, and the penalty for stealing food is death.

This is the world Allison Sekemoto survives in Julie Kagawa's The Immortal Rules. She lives on the edge of the city of New Covington in the slums, scrounging for food and trying to avoid becoming a vampire's prey. She vows that she'll never be anything like the soulless monsters that treat her species like cattle, but when a food raid goes terribly wrong and Allie is left dying in the street, she must make a choice--she can either die for good, or wake up again as the very demon she despises.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Rats Saw God

Steve York is a mess.  He is a senior in high school in San Diego and a National Merit Finalist who is frequently stoned and on the verge of not graduating.  He has also been spending a lot of time and energy trying not to be like his father, the famous astronaut. When a school counselor offers him the chance to write a 100 page paper in exchange for graduating with his class, Steve takes him up on the offer.

Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas tells the story of what is going on with Steve as he writes that paper. That story is interspersed with the paper itself in which he reveals to himself (and us) how he got to this place in his life. We learn about the astronaut's disappointment, the parent's divorce, Steve's first love and his broken heart. 
The book was written by Rob Thomas in 1996 but was re-released in March.  You may know Rob Thomas by his other claim to fame - as the creator, writer and producer of several television shows, including Veronica Mars

Pick up this book if you have ever felt like you couldn't live up to someone's expectations, or had your heart broken. Does that leave anyone out?  I don't think so. And the title? You will just have to read the book!

Betsey S