Genetic modification is a hot topic, and not just because of the literal heat harbored by pumpkins inexplicably modified to cast horrifying, fiery glares our way every October. There are pluses, like massive potatoes capable of feeding dozens, talking to you when you’re lonely and even playing a competent game of checkers. Perhaps you give birth to Siamese twins with a gift for playing piano. There are minuses though, besides hateful pumpkins and repeatedly losing to a potato at checkers. Maybe you birth a child with flippers for limbs and a predilection for starting popular cults that mandate the removal of one’s own appendages. Also, as gene tampering becomes rampant, people will grow weary of picking their future children’s hair colors and which professional sport they will play. Parents will long for the days when, if you didn’t like your child’s hair, you simply shaved them bald, and if you wanted them to excel at sport, you were forced to mercilessly prod them until their vertical leaps were satisfactory.
While the profile of genetic shenanigans grows with every neon-blue tomato on our plates and Robocop on our streets, people have been obsessed with genes since the first bald man looked scornfully at his father’s bountiful locks. And 25 years ago, Katherine Dunn tapped into this obsession and combined it with another topic constantly on the minds of modern humans (travelling freak shows) into one gloriously deformed firecracker of a novel.
“Geek Love” is narrated by Olympia, a hunchback albino dwarf, member of her parents’ lucrative freak show and product of her parents’ crude attempts to modify DNA for profit. Her parents, Aloysius and Crystal Lil, used drugs, insecticides and radioactive stuff to conjure strange fruit from the womb. Oly’s older brother, Arturo, is the aforementioned flipper-limbed, cult leader. Electra and Iphigenia are the Siamese piano dynamos. Fortunato is the youngest, a seemingly normal child nearly abandoned for his uselessness until his telekinetic powers manifested themselves.
The novel jumps between two eras. One covers Oly’s childhood with the carnival and the familial strife, much of it conjured by Arty and his cult of Arturism. The other era features Oly taking care of a mother who doesn’t know who she is, perhaps in part because of the radiation and insecticides, and stalking a daughter who doesn’t know who she is because Oly gave her to some nuns when she was a baby. The twin narratives race along like the most awesome and lengthy roller coaster ever, and you’ll leave the tracks dazed, queasy, having lost your sunglasses and ready to get in line for the next Katherine Dunn novel, which doesn’t yet exist as the author spends much of her time using her boxing knowledge to fend off muggers.
The reader should be warned, in addition to the reckless gene doctoring, there is content not for the faint-hearted: telekinetic pickpocketing, attempted murder, a human with a tail, murder, unnecessary amputations and, depending on how you define it, incest. But if you like words and watching someone bite the head off of a live chicken, this may be your new favorite novel.
“True Grit,” by Charles Portis, is a book that defies genrefication. It’s an American adventure semi-western coming-of-age dramatic comedic fictional memoir. The narrator is Arkansas resident Mattie Ross, speaking as an older woman, recalling the time in the 1870s when she was 14 years old and set out to capture her father’s killer, a man named Tom Chaney.
Much of the entertainment value, the thing that keeps me re-reading certain passages, stems from Mattie’s voice, which Portis has crafted perfectly. Mattie holds firm convictions about how things should be. Her love language is legal representation. She freely offers the assistance of her family attorney to those she respects. Her liberties with the lawyer’s services extend to forging his signature on her own letter of identification. Early on she says “If you want anything done right you will have to see to it yourself every time.” This philosophy compels her to carry her father’s war pistol and accompany Marshall Reuben (Rooster) Cogburn, the man she has hired to track Chaney, on his manhunt in Choctaw territory, where Chaney has fallen in with a group of outlaws.
Rooster Cogburn is described by another character in these words: “a pitiless man, double-tough, and fear don’t enter into his thinking. He loves to pull a cork.” But later events show he is not entirely without pity, especially when it comes to Mattie. And she is not entirely inflexible, making allowances for Rooster’s cursing, drinking and the fact that he himself once fled parole in Kansas. Unlike Mattie, Rooster thinks more in terms of how things are than how they ought to be. His catch phrase is “That is the way of it.” Despite their differences, Rooster and Mattie often bring out the best in each other.
But there is a third member of the party who can rile both of them, a dandy of a Texas Ranger named LaBoeuf (pronounced “LaBeef”). Chaney is also wanted in Texas for killing a senator, and there is a substantial reward involved. LaBoeuf has been after the killer for some time, but it’s unclear whether the ranger is motivated more by money or pride. His magnificent spurs – a symbol of his self-image – are mentioned multiple times.
As the trio closes in on the gang of ne’er-do-wells, the action becomes ever more thrilling. Each one of the three protagonists is required to dig deep into their reserves of courage, loyalty and, of course, grit. As in all good fiction, nothing comes without sacrifice. Mattie, especially, pays a large price for what she’s gained.
If you’ve been meaning to get around to reading “True Grit,” take heed of the older Mattie’s words: “Time just gets away from us.” Buckle down and get to it.
Review of the Seven Deadly Sins Mystery Series, by Anne Zouroudi
Some mysteries, especially those of the “cozy” persuasion, move at a leisurely, describe-every-parasol-and-moustache pace. This generally does not work for me. Forget the stage-dressing, give me lots of action and witty repartee, and wrap it up with a clever solution in under 300 pages, and I’ll be your fangirl. Otherwise, it’s the nearest book drop for you, Cozy Author.
But it seems I’m becoming a kinder, gentler mystery reader. To my surprise, I just finished the fourth book in the Seven Deadly Sins series – a set of strangely hypnotic mysteries with a pace that can only be described as glacial.
This is largely due to the mellow, tortoise-like demeanor of the central character, Hermes Diaktoros, referred to throughout the series as “the fat man.” We never learn much more about Diaktoros, other than that he’s Greek, meticulous about his appearance (especially about his trademark white sneakers), and mysteriously well-off and well-connected. It also soon becomes clear that he’s very, very observant and just about fearless.
The fat man meanders around the Mediterranean doing – well, we’re often not quite sure what he’s doing. Righting vague interpersonal wrongs? Investigating crimes that no one else wants solved? He sits in cafes, takes long, leisurely walks, asks the locals odd questions and collects things in tiny boxes. Eventually, what was dark and sinister is brought to light and justice. Sort of.
I realize I’m not explaining this very well, mainly because I have a hard time remembering what actually happens in these books. I just drift along, enjoying Zouroudi’s luscious, atmospheric prose, spacing out in a sweet Mediterranean dream – the lemony sunshine, the bay dotted with fishing boats, the smell of sea and rosemary. And hey…that fat man over there. What’s he doing?
Now that I’m deep into this mystery series, I know that if I follow this slow, strange guy around for awhile, things will get very interesting. And that seems to work for me.
THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS MYSTERY SERIES AT DBRL
“The Messenger of Athens” (Lust)*
“The Taint of Midas” (Avarice)
“The Doctor of Thessaly” (Envy)
“The Lady of Sorrows” (Wrath)
*In this first book, the fat man doesn’t appear very often. Fortunately, the author corrects this mistake in the rest of the series.
Note: The next three books in the series – “The Whispers of Nemesis” (Pride), “The Bulls of Mithros” (Sloth), and “The Feast of Artemis” (Gluttony) are not yet available in the U.S.
The post Who Is Hermes Diaktoros, and What the Heck Is He Doing? appeared first on DBRL Next.
Do you enjoy mysteries? Do you like plants? If you answer “yes” to both of these questions, then Ruth Kassinger’s “A Garden of Marvels: How We Discovered That Flowers Have Sex, Leaves Eat Air, and Other Secrets of Plants” is just the book for you. Think about it – few things around us are more mysterious than plants, and Kassinger does a great job writing about them in an engaging and entertaining way. She talks about plant evolution, the history of botany and the people who propelled it forward (as well as the techniques they used). She describes her visits to universities where contemporary scientists shared their knowledge with her. And she shows the inner workings of plants: the way they breathe, propagate and survive adverse conditions (this information is arranged in three separate chapters: roots, leaves, and flowers). Kassinger even explores the world of competitive giant pumpkin growing, and she takes her readers to an annual fall festival in Maine, where pumpkin lovers turn pumpkins into competitive racing boats.
At the end of the book, the author touches on the possible benefits of the genetic engineering of food plants and the use of plants as biofuel. One of the readers described “A Garden of Marvels” this way: “I highly recommend this book to everyone – even if it means I’m no longer the only one in the room who knows the difference between collenchyma and sclerenchyma, and I lose my Look-How-Plant-Smart-I-Am edge in cocktail party small talk.”
P.S. If you like “A Garden of Marvels,” don’t miss another book by Kassinger: “Paradise Under Glass: An Amateur Creates A Conservatory Garden.”
The Gateway Readers Award honors a young adult novel that is selected by Missouri high school students. Even though this award is administered by the Missouri Association of School Librarians (MASL), it is the responsibility of Missouri teens to vote on the actual winner. This year’s finalists were announced last December and voting will take place in March 2015.
This year’s nominees include several dystopian books such as “Starters” by Lissa Price and “Article 5” by Kristen Simmons. There are also several promising realistic fiction titles including “Something Like Normal” by Trish Doller and “Boy21” by Mathew Quick.
My personal favorite, so far, is David Levithan’s “Every Day.” He and John Green, author of “The Fault in Our Stars,” teamed up several years ago to write a fantastic book called “Will Grayson, Will Grayson.” It’s not surprising to find both accomplished writers on this year’s Gateway nominee list.
“Don’t Turn Around” by Michelle Gagnon
After waking up on an operating table with no memory of how she got there, Noa must team up with computer hacker Peter to stop a corrupt corporation with a deadly secret.
“Starters” by Lissa Price
To support herself and her younger brother in a future Beverly Hills, 16-year-old Callie hires her body out to seniors who want to experience being young again, and she lives a fairy-tale life until she learns that her body will commit murder, unless her mind can stop it.
“Something Like Normal” by Trish Doller
When Travis returns home from Afghanistan, his parents are splitting up, his brother has stolen his girlfriend and his car, and he has nightmares of his best friend getting killed. However, when he runs into Harper, a girl who has despised him since middle school, life actually starts looking up.
“Of Poseidon” by Anna Banks
Galen, prince of the Syrena, is sent to land to find a girl he’s heard can communicate with fish. He finds Emma and after several encounters, including a deadly one with a shark, Galen becomes convinced Emma holds the key to his kingdom.
“Article 5” by Kristen Simmons
New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned. The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes. Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren’t always this way. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow. That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings, the only boy Ember has ever loved.
“Croak” by Gina Damico
A delinquent 16-year-old girl is sent to live with her uncle for the summer, only to learn that he is a Grim Reaper who wants to teach her the family business.
“Burning Blue” by Paul Griffin
Beautiful, smart Nicole is disfigured when acid thrown is in her face. She befriends Jay, a young computer hacker, while visiting the school psychologist’s office, and Jay resolves to find her attacker.
“The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green
Sixteen-year-old Hazel, a stage IV thyroid cancer patient, has accepted her terminal diagnosis until a chance meeting with a boy at cancer support group forces her to reexamine her perspective on love, loss, and life.
“Trafficked” by Kim Purcell
A 17-year-old Moldovan girl whose parents have been killed is brought to the United States to work as a slave for a family in Los Angeles.
“The Night She Disappeared” by April Henry
Told from various viewpoints, Gabie and Drew set out to prove that their missing co-worker Kayla is not dead. Meanwhile, the police search for her body and the man who abducted her.
“Every Day” by David Levithan
Every morning A wakes in a different person’s body, in a different person’s life, learning over the years to never get too attached, until he wakes up in the body of Justin and falls in love with Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon.
“Revived” by Cat Patrick
Having been brought back from the dead repeatedly by a top-secret super drug called Revive, 15-year-old Daisy meets people worth living for and begins to question the heavy-handed government controls she has dealt with for eleven years.
“Boy21” by Mathew Quick
Finley, an unnaturally quiet boy who is the only white player on his high school’s varsity basketball team, lives in a dismal Pennsylvania town that is ruled by the Irish mob. When his coach asks him to mentor a troubled African American student who has transferred there from an elite private school in California, he finds that they have a lot in common.
“Dark Eyes” by William Richter
Adopted from a Russian orphanage by a wealthy New York family then growing into a rebellious youth, 15-year-old Wally resolves to find her birth mother who stole a fortune from her murderous, dark-eyed father.
“Breaking Beautiful” by Jennifer Shaw Wolf
Allie is overwhelmed when her boyfriend, Trip, dies in a car accident, leaving her scarred and unable to recall what happened that night, but she feels she must uncover the truth, even if it could hurt the people who tried to save her from Trip’s abuse.
Originally published at 2015 Gateway Award Nominees.
Graphic novels can be great to read if you don’t have a lot of time or if you don’t consider yourself much of a reader. With more images and fewer words than a regular novel, graphic novels make it easy to get drawn into the author’s world. Science fiction in particular is a great genre to read in graphic novel form because the images help bring the story to life, giving real depth to aliens, monsters and spaceships. I went through DBRL’s collection of science fiction graphic novels, which is pretty large, and picked out five popular and interesting series to tell you about.
Tune by Derek Kirk Kim
Lighthearted and funny, “Tune” is great read. This graphic novel is going to be more fiction and a little less science. It’s about an art college student named Andy who finds himself in desperate need of a job. The only offer Andy gets is to be an exhibit at an alien zoo. Not only is this graphic novel full of witty humor, but it is also drawn well, easy to read and hard to put down. Currently, there are only two books in the series, but with the way the second book ends, there is no doubt that more are going to come.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Chris Roberson
This series is the prequel story to Philip K Dick’s science fiction novel of the same name. If you enjoyed that read, then this graphic novel is definitely worth checking out. It follows two different story lines that slowly grow together and begin to intertwine. With an android trying to hunt down other runaway androids, an empath trying to control his power and a scientist trying to save the human race from dying out, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep has it all.
Saga by Brian K. Vaughan
The series Saga starts by throwing us into a Romeo and Juliet-esque romance where a couple from two warring races are having a child together. What better way to start a graphic novel than that? With characters like a teenage ghost, a robot prince, a dad with magic and a mom with wings, it’s hard not to love Saga. Just beware, you won’t find the same lighthearted sense of humor here that is present in Tune. There are currently three volumes published in the Saga series.
Y, The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan
When I found out that the series Saga and Y, The Last Man were written by the same author, I wasn’t too surprised. Y, The Last Man shares the same serious and slightly violent feeling that Saga does. In this graphic novel series, the plague doesn’t turn people into zombies; it kills off every living creature with a Y chromosome, minus, of course, one spunky escape artist, Yorick, and his male monkey, Ampersand. While Yorick, a secret agent, and a scientist try to find a way to save mankind, the trio gets caught up in a lot of scary situations. With 10 volumes in this series, it will keep you turning pages till the very end.
The Manhattan Projects by Jonathan Hickman
The Manhattan Projects was my least favorite series of the five. The story was based around an alternative history involving scientists and aliens. It is well written, and the art style is original and different. It is set right after the fall of Hitler and Nazi Germany. A group of scientists have created a special lab, The Manhattan Projects, where they investigate portals to alternative worlds, nuclear bombs and computers that can think on their own. It is an interesting concept, but because it is based in real history, I had a hard time not questioning the plausibility of what was occurring. If you’re interested in scientists and history, though, then this is the science fiction graphic novel for you.
Need a thriller or a romping romance to take your mind off of the school year’s approach? How about losing yourself in an imagined world via Sci-fi or historical fiction? This month’s LibraryReads list has you covered. Here are the top 10 books being published in August that have librarians buzzing.
by Chelsea Cain
“Kick Lannigan survived being kidnapped as a child. Now, at 21, determined never to be a victim again, she has reinvented herself. Martial arts and weapons handling are just a few of the skills she has learned over the years. Kick catches the attention of John Bishop, a mystery man with access to unlimited funds, and together they go after a cabal of child pornographers. A read-in-one-sitting, edge-of-your-seat thriller.”
- Elizabeth Kanouse, Denville Public Library, Denville, NJ
by Amy Bloom
“Is a family the people you are born to or the people who you find along the way? That’s what Bloom explores in this novel set in pre- and post-WWII Ohio, Los Angeles, New York and Germany. The story follows resourceful Eva, who was abandoned by her mother at an early age, and her sister Iris, an aspiring actress who tries to find love at a time when her kind of love must be secretive. Every character is beautifully drawn, warm and believable.”
- Kathryn Hassert, Henrietta Hankin Branch Library, Chester Springs, PA
“Heroes Are My Weakness“
by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
“Any Susan Elizabeth Phillips novel is going to make it onto my must-read list, but this one is particularly wonderful, and here’s why: she creates, then cheerfully destroys, the romance cliche of the brooding hero with a dark secret who lives in a crumbling mansion and captivates a plucky heroine. The hero is a horror novelist, and the heroine a failed actress-turned-puppeteer. This warm, witty, comedy-drama is a perfect summer read.”
- Donna Matturri, Pickerington Public Library, Pickerington, OH
And here is the rest of the list with links to the catalog for your hold-placing pleasure!
- “Lock In” by John Scalzi
- “The Miniaturist” by Jessie Burton
- “Big Little Lies” by Liane Moriarty
- “The Truth about Leo” by Katie MacAlister
- “An Unwilling Accomplice” by Charles Todd
- “The Magician’s Land” by Lev Grossman
- “The Story Hour” by Thrity Umrigar
The post Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The August 2014 List appeared first on DBRL Next.
Consecutively devouring ten books by the same author is not without its hazards. That such an undertaking insisted on itself proves it worthy, and surely being squarely in the grip of a master yarn-spinner is nothing to raise a fuss over. But might the immersion in such a distinct style cause a gentleman to subconsciously drift toward a foolish imitation unworthy of the inspiration? Might the constant brutality perpetrated by hill-folk not warp one’s perceptions until they find themselves cowering from anyone with a downhome drawl or countrified attire? Perhaps one would find themselves either desperately craving or spectacularly repulsed by squirrel meat.
Anyhow, at the risk of extending an unkindness to three, I’d venture that seven of Daniel Woodrell’s books are masterpieces. The three I’d omit from this designation make up “The Bayou Trilogy,” his first, third and fourth books. Focusing on the ex-boxer and current detective Rene Shade, these books are fun, fast reads and about as good of a character study as you’ll find filed in the crime section of a place that obsessively segregates their genres. They just don’t pack the wallop of his other works.
I’d judge his second book to pack a mighty punch. “Woe to Live On” is narrated by a Civil War rebel. Despite his allegiance and tendency to murder boys because “pups become hounds,” Woodrell, as great writers do, earns the reader’s empathy.
After completing “The Bayou Trilogy,” Woodrell began writing about the seedier, grislier aspects of his home, the Ozarks. “Give Us A Kiss: A Country Noir” is the blood and booze-soaked ride its subtitle implies. “Tomato Red” chronicles the hazards of vandalizing a golf course and a drifting, meth-dabbling lifestyle. “The Death of Sweet Mister” tells of a particularly troubled spell in a 12-year-old boy’s life, offers maybe my second favorite of Woodrell’s voices, and ends with a devastating sentence I’d like to talk about but for my aversion to goose-pimples. His most well-known book, “Winter’s Bone,” is such in large part because of the award-winning film adaptation. But I’d urge you to read it regardless of your familiarity with the movie. I reckon the dread conjured on its pages cannot be replicated by city-folk and their fancy lights and transparent plastics. “The Outlaw Album” is a collection of short, brutal stories.
His most recent book, the one with my favorite of his voices and the one that lead me down Woodrell’s backwater rabbit-hole, is “The Maid’s Version.” A fictionalized recounting of a real dance hall explosion in a small Missouri town, this novel attached me to characters in a matter of sentences before whisking them away and into pieces. If you’re the sort to deface books, there are sentences worthy of a highlighter. The perils of that act would be facing a dried-up highlighter and a thoroughly emphasized text.
Woodrell’s characters often behave downright ungentlemanly, what with the murder, spousal abuse, robberies and squirrel eating, but this grisliness is rendered in prose poetry so sharp you’ll have a gamy taste in your mouth, a hankering for mid-morning rum and a healthy suspicion of anyone from down Ozarks way. (I’ve read they’re apt to steal your prescriptions.)
If you missed Laura McHugh’s author talk in June, you’ll have a chance to catch her at the Columbia Public Library on September 18, when she’ll be leading a book discussion of this year’s One Read selection, “The Boys in the Boat.” Her own book, “The Weight of Blood” is hyper-local, much of it having been written in the Quiet Reading Room at the Columbia Public Library. The novel centers around two cases of missing persons, a generation apart.
Lucy Dane’s mother disappeared when Lucy was a small child. Rumors about Lila Dane, a mysterious outsider who married a local, have swirled around the tiny Ozarks town of Henbane ever since. Years later, when Lucy is in high school, her friend Cheri vanishes, as well. Unlike Lila, Cheri turns up eventually – dead. In a small town where everyone seems to know everyone else’s business, nobody has answers for Lucy about what happened to either young woman. But she is determined to find out.
McHugh looks at parts of American life that many of us would be happy to ignore. The story is told from multiple viewpoints, both present and past. The tension builds as the two timelines draw together to reveal the scope of what has been, and still is, happening.
“Everyone Dies in the End” by Brian Katcher is equal parts dark and funny. Imagine if H.P. Lovecraft wrote a romantic comedy. This young adult novel relates what a student journalist finds when he digs too deep. And by deep, I mean think about undead creatures that dwell underground.
Sherman Andrews has goals, dreams, ambitions. And he packs them all along with him to the Missouri Scholars’ Academy the summer before his senior year of high school. There he becomes involved with an ace library assistant (the love interest) who helps him investigate a series of unsolved deaths and disappearances from the 1930s. There are obstacles, of course – threats from people who don’t want the truth uncovered, a source who might or might not be delusional, the occasional supernatural manifestation…
Both books contain a scare factor as the characters encounter evil in different forms, but both also have characters who stand up to the evil and shine a light into the darkness.
The post What’s New and Local at Your Library: Into the Dark Places appeared first on DBRL Next.
The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), has created a Tween Recommended Reads booklist, intended to engage and encourage reading among those ages 10 to 12-years-old. This list has some familiar award-winning titles such as “The False Prince” by Jennifer A. Nielsen as well as some new gems such as “The Lions of Little Rock” by Kristin Levine.
You can pick up a printed copy of this booklist at any of our three branches, or download one directly from the ALSC website. How many have you read? Do you have any personal favorites? Let us know in the comments below.
“Almost Home” by Joan Bauer
Sugar and her mother try to make a new start in Chicago, but with unanticipated struggles, they ﬁnd themselves homeless. Joined by a rescue dog named Shush, Sugar learns to make the most of her new life.
“Doll Bones” by Holly Black
Until recently, Zach, Poppy, and Alice have been playing an ongoing game with dolls and action ﬁgures. When Poppy takes the queen, an antique bone china doll, she is haunted in her dreams by the ghost of a girl. Can the friends stop the haunting?
“Drama” by Raina Telgemeier
Callie has Broadway dreams for her school’s production of “Moon over Mississippi.” Will the drama on and off the stage prevent the show from going on?
“Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library” by Chris Grabenstein
Kyle and 11 other 12-year-olds win a contest to spend the night in the brand-new, high-tech library built by famous game maker Luigi Lemoncello. To be able to leave, they learn, they must ﬁnd a secret escape out of the library using only what’s in it.
“The False Prince” by Jennifer A. Nielsen
A devious nobleman engages four orphans in a brutal competition where treachery and deceit unfold, until ﬁnally, a truth is revealed that may prove more dangerous than all of the lies put together.
“Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms” by Lissa Evans
Great Uncle Tony disappeared 50 years ago, but 10-year-old Stuart picks up the trail as if it were yesterday, and he is soon on a quest to follow the clues to his great-uncle’s fantastic mechanical magic workshop.
“The Hypnotists” by Gordon Korman
Jackson Opus is a hypnotist who can make anyone bend to his whim. When Jax joins an elite group of hypnotists, he ﬁnds himself part of a conspiracy that has Jax wondering just whom he can trust.
“In a Glass Grimmly” by Adam Gidwitz
Princess Jill joins up with cousin Jack and a frog; they set off on a life-or-death quest to ﬁnd the “seeing glass,” encountering goblins, mermaids, and a monster. Gory, hilarious, smart, and lyrical.
“Jinx” by Sage Blackwood
A wizard’s apprentice sets off on a quest through the dangerous Urwald, a magical forest full of witches and were-creatures, and discovers he plays a key role in its survival.
“Keeper of the Lost Cities” by Shannon Messenger
Twelve-year-old supersmart Sophie learns that she is actually an elf. Thrust into unfamiliar elven society, she investigates her origins and the deadly ﬁres sweeping the human world.
“Liar and Spy” by Rebecca Stead
Georges adjusts to moving from a house to an apartment, his father’s efforts to start a new business, his mother’s extra shifts as a nurse, being picked on at school, and Safer, a boy who wants his help spying on another resident of their building.
“The Lions of Little Rock” by Kristin Levine
In 1958 school integration was a political battle. Marlee is smart, but terriﬁed to say things aloud in public. Then she befriends—and talks (!) to—Lizzie, the new girl in her middle school. Lizzie abruptly leaves school. Why? Marlee wants her friend back.
“Odessa Again” by Dana Reinhardt
Odessa’s dad is remarrying, but shouldn’t that mean marrying her mother again? Stomping around her attic bedroom, she discovers a loophole that allows her to travel back hours in time. What would you do over if you could?
“The One and Only Ivan” by Katherine Applegate
Ivan is a gorilla who lives at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade. When baby elephant Ruby arrives, Ivan realizes they deserve better than their miserable environment. How does a gorilla execute a plan to give Ruby and himself a better life?
“P. S. Be Eleven” by Rita Williams-Garcia
The world is changing like crazy in the 1960s. Delphine’s mother reminds her (by mail) not to grow up too fast, to remember to just be 11. But each adult in Delphine’s life has a different idea of what that means.
“The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee: An Origami Yoda Book” by Tom Angleberger
Can Sara’s advice, provided by an origami Wookiee, possibly replace Dwight and the all-knowing Origami Yoda at McQuarrie Middle School?
“Shadow on the Mountain” by Margi Preus
Inspired by a true story, this adventure set in Norway during World War II tells the story of a young boy who joins the Resistance, must learn whom to trust, and risks his life for the cause.
“The Spindlers” by Lauren Oliver
Accompanied by an eccentric, human-size rat, Liza embarks on a perilous quest through an underground realm to save her brother, Patrick, who has been stolen by the evilest of creatures—the spiderlike spindlers.
“Splendors and Glooms” by Laura Amy Schlitz
Orphans Lizzie Rose and Parsefall must save their friend Clara from a centuries-old curse that was put upon her by the devious puppeteer Gaspare Grisini.
“Starry River of the Sky” by Grace Lin
Rendi, a runaway, lands at a remote inn and reluctantly exchanges his labor for room and board. Only he hears the sky moaning and notices the moon is missing. When storyteller Madame Chang arrives, Rendi faces his problems, and helps solve the village’s problem.
“A Tangle of Knots” by Lisa Graff
Not everyone has a “Talent,” but orphaned Cady does; she knows what each person’s ideal cake is, and can bake it perfectly. Her special ability helps solve the interconnected mysteries of her past and present, but it also puts her in danger of losing her special “Talent.”
“Three Times Lucky” by Sheila Turnage
In Tupelo Landing, the Colonel, who rescued and adopted Mo when she washed up during a hurricane as a baby, owns a café. But who is Mo’s real mom? All is well—until a neighbor turns up dead, and Mo’s best friend, Dale, is a suspect.
“The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp” by Kathi Appelt
Twelve-year-old Chap and Swamp Scouts (young raccoons) Bingo and J’miah must wake the ancient Sugar Man in order to save the swamp from a greedy land developer. But he might be really cranky.
“Wonder” by R. J. Palacio
Ten-year-old Auggie, born with extreme facial abnormalities, transitions from homeschooling to ﬁfth grade at Beecher Prep. Can his classmates and others get past Auggie’s extraordinary face to see the great, normal kid he is?
Originally published at Tween Recommended Reads.
I always knew there were fiction and nonfiction books, but I did not know there were so many genres (and subgenres) beyond that until I started working at a library. Science fiction, slipstream, steampunk, graphic novels, anime, gentle fiction, poetry, memoirs – I could go on and on. And this categorization isn’t limited to books. There are music and film genres as well. So in a much less funny, but perhaps just as informative, homage to Stephen Colbert’s series “Better Know a District,” I will explore these classifications in a monthly blog series we’re calling “Better Know a Genre.”
The first genre I will tackle is a rather broad one: narrative, or creative, nonfiction. If a nonfiction book is described as “reading like fiction,” then it probably belongs to this genre. Narrative nonfiction gives the reader factual information in a storytelling format instead of presenting the information straightforwardly, such as in a cookbook or instruction manual. Authors employ the craft of fiction – such as dialogue, vivid descriptions and characterization – to make nonfiction tales into page turners.
In a public library, much of the collection consists of narrative or creative nonfiction, so chances are you have already read a book from this genre. If you haven’t, then celebrate our Summer of Science by checking out one of these fantastic narrative nonfiction books from our collection.
“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot
One of the most-acclaimed science books of recent years, this title was also our 2011 One Read selection. Skloot investigates how the cells taken from a woman in the 1950s have contributed to many medical advancements in the decades since. Skloot inserts herself into the story, so the book is as much about the process of writing as it is about medical ethics.
“The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York” by Deborah Blum
I don’t think it’s possible to top NPR’s Glen Weldon’s description of this book:
“Who knew that New York City experienced a surge in murders by poison during the 1910s and ’20s? Blum takes that odd historical footnote and produces a book of exhaustively researched science writing that reads like science fiction, complete with suspense, mystery and foolhardy guys in lab coats tipping test tubes of mysterious chemicals into their own mouths.”
“Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void” by Mary Roach
Roach is excellent at reducing complex ideas into manageable chunks of exposition, which alone is a valuable asset. But her books stand out because she combines that talent with a rich sense of humor and a willingness to use herself as a guinea pig. Roach takes on the subject of space travel in this outing – an examination of the lengths humans must take to attempt survival out of the earth’s atmosphere.
The post Better Know a Genre: Narrative Nonfiction (Summer of Science Edition) appeared first on DBRL Next.
I must admit, I’ve never read Anna Quindlen before. I knew that she is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and bestselling author, but I never got excited enough to pick up one of her books - until I came across Quindlen’s last: “Still Life With Bread Crumbs.” I didn’t have much time for reading then, but, once I started, I couldn’t stop reading. For one thing, the book was well written. For another, it felt true to life (most of the time, anyway ). In other words, the problems of its protagonist, a used-to-be-famous photographer, were something a woman of my age could relate to: aging, caring for feeble parents, a nasty ex-husband and (amazingly!) money trouble.
How often do you read about these subjects and not about depraved murderers, horrible abuse, amnesiacs and such? (By the way, I have never met anybody suffering from the amnesia that is so prevalent in books and movies. Have you?) The money thing, especially, blew my mind. I am used to books where the best way of healing women’s troubles is traveling to exotic places or, at least, to Paris. Which always leaves me with a question: how do people afford such travels? Don’t get me wrong. I have been to Paris, but I spent some time (a lot of time, actually) finding a budget place to stay and tickets I could afford.
Anyway, Quindlen’s heroine had ordinary problems, like many of us do. She was broke, increasingly lonely, and she had lost confidence in herself. It wasn’t a mid-life crisis, either. She was already 60 years old - not at the age when changing one’s life is easy. I know, this doesn’t sound like light summer reading, but Quindlen navigates the rough waters with a gentle but experienced hand, and, in the end, delivers her heroine to a new – and much happier – place. It’s not a quick journey, but it is brightened by the author’s eloquent style, understanding of grace and frailty in everyday life, and a little romance (who can object to that? ). All in all, “Still Life With Bread Crumbs” is a very satisfying book that proves that as long as we are alive, life is not still.
Summer Reading this year is all about science. But what’s science without a little fiction? Here are four of 2014’s notable science fiction picks to consider adding to your reading list.
“The Girl with All the Gifts” by M.R. Carey
First off, as many will warn you, don’t read anything about this book if you want to keep everything a surprise. It’s not that what is below is a huge spoiler or anything, but some readers like to not know anything when they begin reading this book.
Now, if you’ve decided you do want a little information, read on!
This book shocked me. When first reading the back cover, which talks about a girl named Melanie being strapped down and held at gunpoint, I thought, well, maybe she has some uncontrollable powers or something. I guess I was sort of right – “The Girl with All the Gifts” is a zombie.
Like any other zombie book, we have an infection, we have hordes of hungries, and we have a doctor who is searching for a cure. What M.R. Carey does to make his book stand out among all the rest is to make the reader feel sympathy for Melanie, a fully functional and cognizant zombie.
“The Girl with All the Gifts” takes an overdone genre and reworks it in a fresh and unique way.
“The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August” by Claire North
Harry is considered immortal. He lives, dies and is reborn, always with the knowledge of the lives he has lived before. For him, living has become repetition. He has accomplished all he can think to accomplish. When a young girl tells him the world is ending, quicker than it should, Harry finds a new purpose and begins investigating the coming apocalypse. But Harry finds out more than he bargained for.
If you aren’t into space ships and aliens, then this might be the science fiction read for you. It’s more of a fiction book, with a side of science.
“The Martian” by Andy Weir
“The Martian” sounds like the book version of the movie Gravity to me, but I’m probably not the best person to ask. These types of books and movies scare the living daylights out of me. I don’t know about anyone else, but I think being stranded in space, alone and dying, is horrifying. It’s a very subtle, quiet scary, but scary all the same.
But hey, if quiet scary is your thing, then “The Martian” is for you. This book is one of the most popular science fiction books released in 2014, scary or not.
A dust storm puts a hole in Mark Watney’s space suit, and thinking him dead, his crew leaves him behind. Stranded in space, Mark uses his engineering skills in an attempt to survive, unwilling to simply give up and die.
“Red Rising” by Pierce Brown
“Red Rising” is similar to “The Hunger Games,” but where the “The Hunger Games” is written with teens in mind, “Red Rising” is more for adults. If you enjoy reading dystopias, then this would be a good read for you.
The book follows Darrow, a young miner on Mars. He is a Red, the lowest of the castes in the social hierarchy. He believes he is important, that he is helping to terraform Mars and prepare it for habitation. But Mars is already habitable and has been for some time.
The Golds, the highest caste, lied to the rest of humanity, keeping Mars for themselves. Darrow decides it’s time to take action, and with the help of friends and a good disguise, inserts himself into the Gold’s society, preparing to take down their system from the inside out.
Have other recent science fiction books to recommend? Let us know in the comments.
I love Tina Fey. I think she is smart and hilarious and a terrific writer. (There is a short chapter in her memoir “Bossypants” that made me laugh so hard that I couldn’t speak for nearly five minutes. The chapter is titled, “What Turning Forty Means to Me,” and she speaks THE TRUTH.) When I found out that Fey is starring in the movie adaptation of the very charming “This Is Where I Leave You” by Jonathan Tropper, I knew I needed to start looking for a babysitter now, even though the film won’t be released until September.
As long as movies based on books do well at the box office (heard of a little film called “The Fault in Our Stars“?), Hollywood will keep producing them. If you like to read the books before you see the movies, here are some to check out before you head to theaters later this summer. Save me some popcorn and an aisle seat, will you?
“Dark Places” by Gillian Flynn
Flynn likes her characters dark and her plots even darker. If creepy is your thing, read this thriller about Libby Day who, as a small child, witnessed the murder of her mother and sisters and sent her brother to jail with her testimony. Twenty five years later, Libby is confronted by the possibility that her brother may be innocent, and she must reconstruct what really happened the night of her family’s slaughter. In the film, Charlize Theron stars as Libby Day.
“If I Stay” by Gayle Forman
While in a coma following an automobile accident that killed her parents and younger brother, seventeen-year-old Mia must decide whether to live with her grief or join her family in death. Chloë Moretz will star as Mia in the film adaptation.
“The Hundred-foot Journey” by Richard Morais
A boy from Mumbai, Hassan Haji, ends up opening a restaurant in a quiet French village and triggering a culinary war with the fancy French restaurant across the street. Helen Mirren, Manish Dayal and Om Puri star in the film.
Looking for some hot new reads to take on your vacation later this summer? Look no further than the latest LibraryReads list. Here are the top 10 books librarians love that hit the shelves in July. Place your holds on these on-order titles now to have them in hand for your late summer getaway or your August staycation.
by Rainbow Rowell
“’Landline’ explores the delicate balance women make between work and family, considering the tradeoffs and pain. Rowell has a special gift for offering incredible insights into ordinary life. Never heavy-handed, Rowell’s writing is delivered with humor and grace. I finish all of her books wanting to laugh and cry at the same time – they are that moving. ‘Landline’ captured my heart.”
- Andrea Larson, Cook Memorial Public Library, Libertyville, IL
“One Plus One“
by Jojo Moyes
“A single mom, her math genius daughter, her eye-shadow-wearing stepson, a wealthy computer geek and a smelly dog all get into a car…it sounds like the start of a bad joke, but it’s actually another charming novel from Jojo Moyes. It’s more of a traditional romance than ‘Me Before You’ but will also appeal to fans of quirky, hard-working characters. A quick read and perfect for summer.”
- Emily Wichman, Clermont County Public Library, Milford, OH
“The Black Hour“
by Lori Rader-Day
“This first novel about two broken people is a psychological thriller like the best of Alfred Hitchcock. Amelia Emmet is a professor desperately trying to recover from a gunshot wound, and Nathaniel Barber is a student struggling to come to grips with his mother’s death and a lost love. Their journey, told in alternating chapters, is riveting and full of surprising discoveries. Highly recommended.”
- Mattie Gustafson, Newport Public Library, Newport, RI
Here’s the rest of July’s best with links to our catalog for your hold-placing pleasure!
- “The Queen of the Tearling” by Erika Johansen
- “Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands” by Chris Bohjalian
- “World of Trouble” by Ben H. Winters
- “California” by Edan Lepucki
- “Dollbaby” by Laura Lane McNeal
- “The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Lee” by Marja Mills
- “Dry Bones in the Valley” by Tom Bouman
The Truman Readers Award honors a book that is selected by Missouri junior high students. Even though this award is administered by the Missouri Association of School Librarians (MASL), it is the responsibility of Missouri teens to choose the actual winner. This year’s finalists were announced last December and voting will take place in March 2015. As summer kicks into high gear, consider bringing along one of these titles to enjoy poolside.
“Shadow and Bone” by Leigh Bardugo
Orphaned by the Border Wars, Alina Starkov is taken to become the protege of the mysterious Darkling, who trains her to join the magical elete in the beliief that she is the Sun Summoner, who can destroy the monsters of the Fold.
“The Raft” by S.A. Bodeen
Robie lives with her family on the Midway Atoll, a group of islands in the Pacific. Returning from a visit to her aunt in Hawaii, her plane hits nasty weather and goes down. Max, the only other survivor, pulls her onto a raft, then the real terror begins. How long can they survive?
“Unstoppable” by Tim Green
If anyone understands the phrase “tough luck,” it’s Harrison. As a foster kid in a cruel home, he knows his dream of one day playing for the NFL is long shot. Then his luck seems to change. With new foster parents, he quickly becomes a star running back on the junior high school team. Even so, good luck can’t last forever.
“One for the Murphys” by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
After a heartbreaking betrayal, Carley is sent to live with a foster family and struggles with opening herself up to their love.
“Elemental” by Antony John
In a dystopian colony of the United States where everyone is born with the powers of water, wind, earth or fire, 16-year-old Thomas is the first and only child born without an element. He seems powerless, but is he?
“Insignia” by S.J. Kincaid
Tom, a 14-year-old genius at virtual reality games, is recruited by the U.S. military to begin training at the Pentagon Spire as a combatant in World War III, controlling the mechanized drones that do the actual fighting off-planet.
“See You at Harry’s” by Jo Knowles
Twelve-year-old Fern feels invisible in her family, where grumpy 18-year-old Sarah is working at the family restaurant, 14-year-old Holden is struggling with school bullies and his emerging homosexuality, and adorable three-year-old Charlie is always the center of attention. When tragedy strikes, the fragile bond holding the family together is stretched almost to the breaking point.
“Ungifted” by Gordon Korman
Due to an administrative mix-up, troublemaker Donovan Curtis is sent to the Academy of Scholastic Distinction, a special program for gifted and talented students, after pulling a major prank in middle school.
“Cinder” by Marissa Meyer
As plague ravages the overcrowded Earth, Cinder, a gifted cyborg mechanic, becomes involved with handsome Prince Kai and must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect the world in this futuristic take on the Cinderella story.
“The False Prince” by Jennifer A. Nielsen
In the country of Carthya, a devious nobleman engages four orphans in a brutal competition to find an impersonator for the king’s long-missing son and avoid civil war.
“Dead City” by James Ponti
Seventh-grader Molly has always been an outsider, even at New York City’s elite Metropolitan Institute of Science and Technology, but that changes when she is recruited to join the Omegas, a secret group that polices and protects zombies.
“Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip” by Jordan Sonnenblick
After an injury ends star pitcher Peter Friedman’s athletic dreams, he concentrates on photography which leads him to a girlfriend, new fame as a high school sports photographer, and a deeper relationship with his beloved grandfather.
Originally published at 2015 Truman Award Nominees.
Donna Tartt writes so well that the Pulitzer people were compelled to award their prize to her novel, “The Goldfinch.” An extra-impressive feat considering it’s an award so prestigious that some years the committee finds none among the billions of novels published every year worthy of their kiss of automatic bestseller-dom. But rather than stumble further into a tirade outlining my feud with this cabal of critical killjoys and their silent and invisible but no doubt existent and reciprocated animosity, I’ll add my voice to the chorus of praise bellowing about Donna Tartt, thereby giving you the gumption to read her work that a million glowing reviews and Stephen King and the Pulitzer couldn’t.
“The Goldfinch” is narrated by a boy who, due to a museum bombing, loses his mother and gains a painting. He loves the painting but is tremendously dissatisfied by the trade. The novel follows him and his grief-swaddled existence through time spent in New York and Las Vegas, and eventually, climactically, Amsterdam. I found it to be the sort of rollicking, stay-up-later-than-normal read usually associated with books featuring more than one explosion, or at least aliens or a pandemic or a comically massive red dog, rather than a coming-of-age tale suffused with grief and concerns about hiding a painting.
Like “The Goldfinch,” her first novel, “The Secret History,” is a finger-exhausting page-turner despite featuring little of the fanfare that typically propels those sorts of books. It does have some murder (on the first page even), and a horrifying and ancient ritual, but it’s mostly about ramifications, and it gallops along with a pace that surpasses its plot points. Her second novel, “The Little Friend,” is probably also great (though its reviews are less enthusiastic), but I must wait my turn to read it, and anyway it’s nice to save a little Tartt for the decade-long (and worth it) wait for her next book.
There has been some backlash against “The Goldfinch,” which tends to happen when something is popular and good, by critics that prefer their fiction to be non-fictional and mostly concern the ennui of professorships or lake houses or small, conventional dogs and to have plots revolving around getting old or being unhappy or, in certain ambitious cases, both. They dislike Tartt’s novel in part because of its “absurd” premise, what with its terrorist attack and orphaned child, things that fortunately are unrealistic and unheard of occurrences in the real world, outside of such “fantastical literature.” Though clearly I’m of the opinion that this is a great novel, it’s not that I’m unwilling to hear words against it. Rather, I find it absurd to be angry about its success and to believe it’s a “book for children” and somehow believe that reading it, because of its supposedly fanciful nature, will kill the public’s interest in literature. Which of course makes sense because what the public wants most are ultra-realistic examinations, scrubbed of even a hint of escapism, on what it’s like to be alive.
Anyway, Donna Tartt crafts her books carefully and with a passion that pays off for the reader. A book per decade is a wonderful rate when they’re this good.
The Teens’ Top Ten is a “teen choice” list of recommended reading sponsored by the Young Adult Library Services Association, where teens nominate and choose their favorite books of the previous year. Sixteen young adult book clubs from libraries across the country are responsible for narrowing down a list of nominees for teens to vote on nationwide. Below is this year’s full list of Top Ten nominations.
There are some heavy-hitters including “Of Triton” by Anna Banks, “Teardrop” by Lauren Kate and “The Eye of Minds” by James Dashner. My personal favorites include “Eleanor & Park” by Rainbow Rowell and “Siege and Storm” by Leigh Bardugo. The library offers print, eBook, and audiobook editions of many of the these titles.
“The Nightmare Affair” by Mindee Arnett
Dusty Everhart a Nightmare, (literally!), has been trying to escape the shadow of her mother’s reputation, and one night, while dream-feeding, she sees the crime scene of a murder victim who attends her high school, a school for supernatural children. When she arrives back on campus, she finds, to her horror, that the dream had come true. Now she must use dreams to find the killer and save victims-to-be in order to stop an ancient darkness from returning.
“Of Triton” by Anna Banks
After Emma’s mother, the long lost Poseidon princess returns to the sea, the Syrena begin to bring her identity into question. When all hope seems lost, and appears the Royals have a revolution on their hands, Emma has the opportunity to use her Gift to save those that she loves. But at what cost will her choices bring to not only her, but also to those she considers her family.
“Siege and Storm” by Leigh Bardugo
Alina, a sun summoner on the run from the evil Darkling, is searching for a way to increase her power and save the ones she loves. But as her power grows she falls deeper in the Darkling’s grasp and farther away from her best friend and love, Mal. When the time comes Alina must choose between her love, her power, or her lust for the Darkling and all of his power.
“Love In The Time Of Global Warming” by Francesca Lia Block
Penelope believes she is the last person alive in the city of Los Angeles after a massive earthquake destroyed the majority of the earth. After encountering a group of survivors, however, she begins to have hope in whatever may be left of the world, whether it be love, trust, and, just maybe, her family. Modeled after Homer’s Odyssey, Pen goes on a post-apocalyptic journey filled with Giants and butterflies in an attempt to find her way home.
“The Testing” by Joelle Charbonneau
Cia is chosen to participate in The Testing, a government program that will select the brightest graduates who show potential for becoming future leaders in this post-apocalyptic world. Cia’s excitement of being chosen soon dies when her father warns her of the experiences he faced when he was chosen. Cia must trust no one if she hopes to come back alive. However, will she be able to face the dark, unholy truth about the testing? One kept whether you leave… Or don’t?
“The Eye of Minds” by James Dashner
Michael is an average kid who plays video games, but this video game, the Virtnet, is different than others. You can die in it physically and mentally, and that happens to a girl named Tanya who rips out her core and commits suicide. Suddenly, Michael is whisked away by the designers of the VirtNet and is given a mission by them to find a cyber terrorist, named Kaine, who is suspected of killing gamers.
“Earth Girl“by Janet Edwards
In 2788 humanity has developed technology that allows them to portal between many habitable worlds except for those are deemed “the handicapped”, those who are born with a one in a thousand chance of having an immune system that cannot tolerate other planets. Jarra, a handicapped 18-year old student with a passion for history, creates a false identity for herself and enrolls in a college course for students from other planets in an attempt to get revenge for the way the handicapped are looked down upon.
“The Clockwork Scarab” by Colleen Gleason
The niece of Sherlock Holmes, the world’s first consulting detective, and the half-sister of Bram, the vampire slayer, are thrown together to find out why high society girls are being murdered and what a mechanical scarab beetle has to do with it
“Maybe I Will” by Laurie Gray
One life-altering, life-changing event which dramatically effected Sandy, and not i nthe good sort of life-changing events like winning the lottery or having a kid, will leave you thinking. Finding true friends and activities that allow Sandy to really be free and let off steam is all that keeps Sandy sane and is an important factor in putting Sandy’s life back together once again.
“The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die” by April Henry
Cady wakes up in a up in a dark, torn apart cottage hearing someone tell another man to “finish her off.” To make things worse, not only does she not know why she’s in the cabin or why the men are trying to kill her, she also doesn’t remember who she is. Eventually, she escapes and meets up with Ty, a boy who is willing to help her even at the risk of losing his own life. Together they attempt to figure out what happened to make her lose her memory.
“Splintered” by A.G. Howard
Alyssa, a girl already struggling with life in general, is pulled into something dark and mysterious. She follows in the footsteps of her ancestor, Alice, and goes down the rabbit hole to right the wrongs that Alice caused to cure her family of their “curse”. Instead of finding Lewis Carroll’s Beautiful wonderland she finds a dark and twisted version with monstrous creatures that aren’t as nice as the ones in the novel or as pretty
“Teardrop” by Lauren Kate
Eureka has only ever cried once in her life and the one time she did, her mother told her to never cry again. Ever since then, she has never shed a tear; not even when her mother was killed in a tragic freak accident. Unbeknownst to Eureka, she was also supposed to die, but Ander couldn’t bring himself to let her die despite the threats that Eureka possesses because of her tears.
“Openly Straight” by Bill Konigsberg
Rafe has been out of the closet for years. After transferring to an all-boys boarding school, however, he decides to keep his sexual orientation to himself. But when he meets Ben, a teammate on his soccer team, he wonders if their friendship-turned-more is worth outing himself for.
“Monument 14: Sky On Fire” by Emmy Laybourne
When disaster strikes in the city of Monument, 14 kids are huddled in a Greenway store for shelter and survival. They decide their only chance of living through this nationwide disaster is to make their way to Denver International Airport where the military is evacuating people to safety. Will they make it alive or will they meet their doom like others have?
“Six Months Later” by Natalie D. Richards
Chloe Spinnaker is an average student just barely making the grade. But one day spring day, after falling asleep in study hall, she wakes up to snow and an empty classroom. Six months of her life has passed and she has no clue what happened except that now she is popular and has lots of friends that is, except Maggie, the one true friend she had before everything changed. Bewildered by the sudden time lapse in her life, Chloe decides to embark on a mission where she stops at nothing to figure out what happened to her and to get her memories back.
“Eleanor & Park” by Rainbow Rowell
The year is 1986 when Eleanor arrives in town to live with her family and abusive step-father. It’s been a year since the last time she lived with them, and she doesn’t expect life to be any better. Park’s life, on the other hand, is going steady. He’s got a spot in the popular crowd and he’s about to get his driver’s license. But when the two meet on the bus, things change drastically. Even though they both know high school romances never last, they’re going to try everything they’ve got to make it work. But in end, will everything they have be enough?
“This Song Will Save Your Life” by Leila Sales
Elise Dembowski is a high school loser. After reaching the tip of the iceberg and facing suicidal thoughts just months before, Elise is searching desperately for a way out of her nearly friendless life. When she accidentally finds a dance club called Start, Elise’s life finally takes off as she meets new people, makes new memories, finds a new passion, and discovers herself.
“Steelheart” by Brandon Sanderson
Ten years ago, Calamity came; a light in the sky that appeared one day and many believe that somehow it was connected to the rise of the Epics. These beings, once human, now have all kinds of amazing and dangerous powers that have enabled them to take over the world, and one could argue the most dangerous one is Steelheart. Able to bend the elements to his will and turn any non-living substance to steel, many say he’s invincible because they’ve never seen him bleed — except for David, who will stop at nothing to get his vengeance and see Steelheart bleed again.
“The Rithmatist” Brandon Sanderson
Joel wants to be a Rithmatist more than anything. Rithmatists have the power to bring two dimensional beings called Chalklings to life and defend against the wild chalkings that threaten to overcome the Rithmatists. Joel is student at Armedius Academy, a prestigious school where Rithmatists and wealthy children go to learn. When a string of kidnappings begin to occur Joel must gain assistance from the Rithmatists at Armedius Academy in order to bring order back to the academy.
“This is What Happy Looks Like” by Jennifer E. Smith
Ellie is the girl from Middle-of-Nowhere, Maine, and Graham Larkin is the hot superstar sensation from Middle-of-Everything, California. While Ellie hides from the media, Graham is constantly being watched by the paparazzi. However, an email mistake from Graham to Ellie starts an online relationship between these two teens, marking the start of a friendship and something more. Can Ellie accept Graham despite all the publicity? Or will the media be the demise of this couple’s happiness?
“Winger” by Andrew Smith
Ryan Dean West is a fourteen year old junior trying to make everyone else blind to the one thing that makes him different than everyone else, his young age. This is not easy though, as he must prove himself to everyone – the girl of his dreams, his scary roommate, his friends, and the rugby team. As Ryan Dean tries to survive his junior year, he encounters horrifying injuries, moments of ecstasy, and shattering heartbreak.
“A Midsummer Night’s Scream” by R.L. Stine
Claire, a girl with a dream to become an actress, finally gets her chance when her parents decide to remake Mayhem Manor, a movie that was never finished because of 3 real deaths. As the camera starts rolling on the remake, strange things begin to happen. Like the little hairy man Claire meets by the makeup trailer one day. Who or what could be the cause of these actors’ deaths?
“Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” by April Tucholke
Violet, a sassy, independent, and sharp-tongued young lady, rents out the side cottage on her parent’s estate in the hopes of making a little extra money to pay the bills. Her easygoing customer is as dangerous as he is mysterious, and murders and madness soon sweep her little home town. She takes it upon herself to understand him and the events, but only finds a darkness she can only hope to escape with her sanity and safety.
“In The Shadow of Blackbirds” by Cat Winters
It’s the fall of 1918: The Spanish Influenza and the horrors of World War I grip the world with terror, and spiritualist photography, as the face of death seems to greet every household in America, has become increasingly popular. After her father is arrested as a suspected traitor, Mary Shelley Black travels to San Diego, hoping to escape the flu while living with her Aunt Eva. Only a few days after arriving, Mary Shelley is told that Stephen, her sweetheart who recently became a soldier, has been killed in France. But Stephen’s spirit hasn’t left yet, and he desperately needs Mary Shelley’s help.
“The 5th Wave” by Rick Yancey
Present day – the aliens have invaded the planet, or as Cassie likes to call them, the Others. Almost everyone has been killed off by the 4th Wave, and now, Cassie one of the few survivors living now during the 5th wave, roams the country while trying to stay alive to find her brother – that is, if he’s still alive. When she’s taken in by a boy named Evan, she realizes that he’s different. He’s not like her, but he’s all she’s got. Cassie has to overcome her doubts and trust issues if she wishes to survive the 5th wave.
Originally published at 2014 Teens’ Top Ten Nominees.
Since our Summer Reading program this year centers around a science theme, your classics maven has elected to focus on one of the most influential science texts in history – Charles Darwin’s “The Origin of Species.” First published in 1859, it made an immediate and lasting impact on society. In my mind, one thing that makes a book a classic is if it’s frequently referenced even by people who haven’t read it. Almost everyone knows about this book.
Charles Darwin was 22 years old when he boarded the HMS Beagle in 1831. He’d signed on to work as a naturalist during the ship’s exploration of South America and the Pacific Islands. In the Galapagos, he found animals that existed nowhere else on earth, including enormous tortoises. He became intrigued by the variations he found among the animals on different islands. On one island finches had beaks suited to breaking nuts, while on another, their beaks were formed for optimal berry picking. These observations planted the seeds for his theory of evolution by natural selection.
Darwin didn’t originate the idea of evolution, a concept that dates back at least as far as ancient Greece, but he was the first one to develop an explanation for how the process might work, and he supplied more evidence than anyone before. He spent more than two decades researching, gathering evidence and refining his ideas before finally publishing “The Origin of Species” at age 50. In his day, interest was growing in fossils and the extinction of species. His book tipped the balance for evolution in the scientific world from being a highly debated idea to a largely accepted one.
Outside of science, there has been more resistance to the idea of evolution. Only a few months after the book’s publication, the “Great Oxford Debate” took place, with hundreds of spectators arriving to witness the Bishop of Oxford exchange barbs with Thomas Henry Huxley, who defended Darwin and his theory. Then there was the Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925 in Tennessee, in which a teacher was tried for violating state law by teaching about evolution in the public schools. With the controversy continuing to the present day – within American culture at large, at least, if not within the scientific community – it’s probably a good idea for more people to read the actual book itself.
It’s worth the time, even if you’re pretty sure you already know what you need to. “The Origin of Species” is far from a compilation of dry, technical jargon. Darwin says, “We see beautiful adaptations everywhere and in every part of the organic world,” and he details many of them with exquisite descriptions of the natural world. His passages about the connectedness of all living creatures are downright inspirational. And his observation about what trouble will come to us humans if the bee population should decline is chillingly prescient.
Just in time for your summer travels, the Audio Publishers Association (APA) has announced this year’s awards recognizing distinction in audiobooks and spoken word entertainment. Nothing makes the miles fly by like listening to a professional read an engrossing story, so check out one of these titles on CD or downloadable audio before you hit the road.
Audiobook of the Year: “Still Foolin’ ‘Em” by Billy Crystal; Read by Billy Crystal
The judges praised this work calling it “a seamless blend of single voice narration and live performances that does for the audiobook medium what Billy Crystal’s opening acts have done for the Oscars, which is to bring in a larger audience. From Mickey Mantle to Muhammad Ali, with the inside story on Meg Ryan’s infamous scene in ‘When Harry Met Sally’ thrown in for good measure, Crystal’s life story will have listeners hanging on every word.”
Distinguished Achievement in Production: “Pete Seeger: The Storm King” by Pete Seeger, edited by Jeff Haynes (read by Pete Seeger)
Publisher’s description: “The Storm king audio collection presents Pete Seeger’s spoken words as he recounts his most engaging stories, narratives and poems, set to new music created by over 70 musicians from traditions as diverse as African Music, Blues, Bluegrass, Celtic Music, Classical Guitar, Folk, Israeli Music, Jazz, Native American Music and Tuvan Throat Singing.”
Nonfiction: “David and Goliath” by Malcolm Gladwell (read by Malcolm Gladwell)
Publisher’s description: “Malcolm Gladwell, with his unparalleled ability to grasp connections others miss, uncovers the hidden rules that shape the balance between the weak and the mighty, the powerful and the dispossessed.”
History: “Devil in the Grove” by Gilbert King (read by Peter Francis James)
Publisher’s description: “Chronicles a little-known court case in which Thurgood Marshall successfully saved a black citrus worker from the electric chair after the worker was accused of raping a white woman with three other black men.”
Fiction: “Doctor Sleep” by Stephen King (read by Will Patton)
Publisher’s description: “Stephen King returns to the characters and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, ‘The Shining,’ in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance (the boy protagonist of ‘The Shining’) and the very special 12-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.”
Literary Fiction: “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt (read by David Pittu)
Publisher’s description: “A young boy in New York City, Theo Decker, miraculously survives an accident that takes the life of his mother. Alone and abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by a friend’s family and struggles to make sense of his new life. In the years that follow, he becomes entranced by one of the few things that reminds him of his mother – a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the art underworld.”
See the full list of Audie winners at APA’s website.
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