Thursday, March 28, 2013

Paper Towns, or Chasing Margo Roth Spiegelman

The subject of this book is about perceptions.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I often imagine how things or people should be or will be, as opposed to how they really are. I can't count the number of times I have imagined a scenario and plotted it out over and over again in my head. The times I planned a date with a girl and I perfectly visioned where we would go, how our conversations would go, how smooth I would be- only to have it actually turn out to be  completely different from anything I remotely imagined. The same thing seems to happen anytime, from meeting up with friends, or how things will go at work, I just wind up imagining how I envision they should or will be.

These perceptions are at the core of the book "Paper Towns" by John Green. I was riveted by this story and related so well to the main character, Quentin. He has been head over heels for this girl next door, Margo Roth Spiegelman. This crush has been going on since they were children, but now in their senior year of high school he is finding that who he thinks and knows of Margo isn't exactly the same as who Margo may really be. Quentin is learning that imagining a person isn't the same as learning who the real person is.

Paper Towns was quite funny and thoughtful. It's a story of the last days of high school, lusting after love, and with a really great road trip. John Green writes intriguing characters and stories that really capture your interest. I recommend this highly.


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Keep on running!

For numerous reasons (most involving weird and unfortunate injuries), I am not a jock. I am, however, in awe of people who are because it seems like an awful lot of work, usually taking place too early in the morning or in the afternoon when I'm already exhausted from the rest of the day. Then there's competition and all the work that entails. But what happens when that hard work looks like it was a waste? Or if it has to come to an end completely? In Wendelin van Draanen's book "The Running Dream," 16-year-old Jessica is a dedicated track and field star for her high school; running is her life. At least, it was until the accident. Now she is missing her right leg below the knee and has to learn how to walk again, this time with a prosthetic. If she can barely walk, how can she run? If she can't run, what's the point? Then she meets Rosa, a math genius in her algebra class who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. Rosa offers to tutor Jessica and slowly they become friends. With her help, maybe Jessica can learn to be more than a runner and more than an amputee.

~The Stacked Librarian

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Comics by Girls for Girls

Let's just take a moment to celebrate some of the comics written by women, shall we?  They're awesome and deserve some recognition.  (Hooray for fully-fledged characters in realistically propotioned bodies!)  Some of my favorite graphic novels are:
The Plain Janes and Janes in Love by Cecil Castellucci.  When Jane moves to suburbia, she decides to not make friends with the popular girls and instead befriends the Janes.  They soon call themselves the P.L.A.I.N. Janes and set out to make guerrilla art throughout their town.  In the sequel, Janes in Love, the Janes fall in love.  But nothing ever goes smoothly in the course of true love. 

Mercury by Hope Larson.  Josey lives in Nova Scotia in 1859.  Tara lives in Nova Scotia today.  These two girls' stories are intertwined by magic, betrayal, buried treasure, and first loves.  As much as I want to tell you more, I don't want to give anything away, either. 

Token by Alisa Kwitney and Joelle Jones.  Her dad's in love with his secretary with no time for her and high school sucks, so Shira starts shoplifting.  When she gets caught by a Spanish boy, they become friends and then more.  The art here is fun - I love the facial expressions on Shira's grandma and her best friend Minerva. 

Emiko Superstar by Mariko Tamaki.  Emi is facing the most boring summer of her teen life until she goes to the Freak Show, an underground performance art venue.  Emi falls in love with the idea of performing, but there's just one problem: she doesn't have a talent.  Wanting to be famous, she steals something she shouldn't.  And then things get weird.  Well, weirder.

Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks.  Maggie's starting high school after being homeschooled.  She's nervous, but she has her big brothers to watch out for her.  And a ghost that follows her.  Not everything is spelled out in this graphic novel, so take your time, enjoy the art, and don't be afraid to reread it. 

Pick one up and check it out! 

~ Book Ninja

Monday, March 18, 2013

Fake Love Story

Charlie Tracker and Fielding Withers, who play teen lovers Jenna and Jonah on a hit TV show, are also an item off-screen. They hold hands on the beach, snuggle and cuddle on the streets of LA, and are generally so adorable they make your teeth hurt, in Jenna and Jonah's Fauxmance by Emily Franklin and Brendan Halpin.

Only thing is, it's all for the paparazzi cameras and gossip columnists. Actually, Charlie and Fielding can't stand each other. For the past four years, they've been carrying on a fake romance in public to bolster their show's ratings, and annoying each other in private.

After an unexpected scandal, their show is abruptly canceled. You'd think it would be a relief, right? Except that Charlie isn't sure what roles she's suited for, besides a cute and fluffy teenager. (She's not even sure she's a very good actress.) Fielding is almost sure he doesn't even want to be an actor anymore, but he has no idea how to strike out on his own. And they're both unnerved at the prospect of losing the person they most love to hate. What they never really hated each other at all?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Do dystopias cheer you up?

I have been thinking a lot lately about why I like dystopian fiction.  Dystopias are so much more than the opposite of utopias.  I mean they have to be, right?!  Who would choose to read about "an imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives," as Merriam-Webster describes it, when we could read about unicorns and rainbows and endless supplies of chocolate?  Though I don't think there is any one reason that people like these stories, I have to agree with author Meagan Spooner that dystopias "...highlight the flaws in our society and extrapolate them into the future, imagining what our world could become if we don’t repair the cracks now while we still can".  One of the most disturbing "cracks" at present is the rise of incurable, drug-resistant diseases, although historically speaking, I guess ebola and MRSA are no worse than the bubonic plague and polio. Alexandra Bracken's new book, The Darkest Minds, imagines a world where an unknown virus starts wiping out children all over the United States (I'm kind of happy it wasn't some third world country for once!). 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Blooming with Possibilities

Middle school in the Swiss Alps, now that's an irresistible setting!  In Bloomability by Sharon Creech, you follow eighth grader Domenica, (known as Dinnie by her friends) from New Mexico to a school located in breathtakingly beautiful Lugano, in the foothills of the Swiss Alps. Change is what happens in middle school, but for Dinnie, the change is amazing, big and wonderful. Creech is an author who writes well  for that in-between age, when you are no longer a kid and not quite a full-fledged teen. This book has been around for a while but still hits the spot for a thoughtful, adventurous read.  You find that life for Dinnie before Switzerland has always meant moving from place to place as her eccentric but lovable father finds "new opportunities" every six months. At every new school she takes her sister's advice to expect the worst and dress plainly until she can find out what the norm is. When Dinnie's older brother ends up in jail and her teenage sister becomes pregnant and gets married, an uncle and aunt step in to give their niece a radically different experience.   In a school with students from all over the world and where everyone is different, Dinnie begins to trust herself and make good friends.  This is a story that doesn't get old.   For some great middle school reads, look for Creech's other acclaimed teen books, Walk Two Moons and Absolutely Normal Chaos.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

What Could Happen When you Click Send

Send by Patty Blount                                                  
    Imagine you are a teenager and bully.  One day you do something and a tragedy results.  You end up spending a long time in detention.  Bad things happen to you while you are there and when you are released you have to move away with your family.  Unfortunately, your reputation precedes you and you have to move again and again.  Finally, your family changes its name and you move to a new town to try to start over – again.  You want to just lay low, stay under the radar, keep quiet and the first day you go to school you step in to protect someone else being bullied and now everyone is noticing you.  
      This is the premise for the book Send, written by Patty Blount.   I really enjoyed this book and I really liked the main character Dan (Kenny).  Told from the point of view of the bully, this book looks at what happens when he and his family try once again to start over.  Dan makes some new friends, even meets a girl he likes.  He also makes an enemy out of the school bully while befriending the school outcast.  Unfortunately, not everyone is who they seem to be -- and not just Dan – and his insight into bullies and their victims is pulling him into a situation that could completely ruin his chance to start over.
      Send is Patty Blount’s first novel so she is off to a good start.  Fortunately, her second one is coming out this summer.  Stay tuned for that one too!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Get Ready for The Hunt

For all you paranormal fans The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda is a  delicious read.  It has been described as Hunger Games with vampires.  The vampires are not sparkly and golden but fierce, wild and dangerous.  They are also not seductive or sexy.  
In this world vampires rule and humans are slowly becoming extinct. Gene was taught by his father never to look or act human, never smile, make friends or show emotion.  Personal hygience is essential and shaving and bathing must be done often so the vamps can not smell them.
The Ruler decides there will be a Heper Hunt (heper is what the vampires call humans).  Gene and Ashley are sent to the institute for training and things get tense when they have no way to bath. The plot thickens and there are plenty of twists.  Expect gore, afterall these are bloodthirsty vampires!
Book Two:  The Prey