Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Book Review: Variant by Robinson Wells

 Variant by Robinson Wells

 Review by Janine
  
  I know that his book has been out for a while but it was one of those books that I always say I am going to get to but for whatever reason, I don't.  So as I decided to dive into it for a nice, creepy Halloween read I was surprised that it turned into on of those "can't put down" books!!

   This is the story of Benson Fisher, a high school student who has been in more foster care homes than he would like to remember.  He is looking for a way out of his current home and finds an add online for Maxfield Academy.  Thinking that this is way out, he applies and is excepted.  From the moment that he arrives, he knows that something is not right.  There are no adults in the school, it is run by the students.  Students teach, take care of security, maintenance and even the cafeteria  The students have organized themselves into three gangs, Havoc, Society and Variant. Gang members stick together, doing the same jobs, watching out for one another and teaming up together to play the numerous games of paintball that they are required to play. The only adult that the students ever see is the mysterious "Iceman" who delivers the punishments of the students through the computer screen.  Punishments can range from being locked out of school, loss of meals or the dreaded "detention" which at Maxfield Academy, equals death. Benson, from the moment he arrives is not pleased with what is going on and is constantly planning his escape, which he has learned has never happened and if caught is punishable with detention.  As Benson continues to plot his escape, he begins to learn the secrets of the school and escape becomes more than just a hope...it becomes the only hope of survival.

  This book really had me intrigued from the beginning.  To start, Benson is from Pittsburgh (which completely helps since I happen to live in a suburb of that city!) which naturally peaks my interest.  You really feel for him and the fact that he seems lost in his own life.  A foster child who hasn't had the best foster homes and is just looking for an escape.  As he is looking online he finds what he feels is his ticket out but as we all know will not be that.  Maxfield Academy is just creepy from the start, from the time he is welcomed by Becky, a fellow student and learns that the entire school is run by the kids or the time that he is forced to choose a "gang" because no one survives at Maxfield without being in a "gang". It is also insanely creepy that all the students there just accept that they are there and there is no way out.  No one really thinks about escaping or trying to leave. Benson is definitely my kind of kid, he questions everything.  Where the other students have just come to accept what they are told, Benson refuses and is constantly causing problems because no one, not the school, and certainly not "Iceman" enjoy him asking questions   His main focus throughout the entire book is to escape and he is constantly plotting and snooping to find the best way to do that.  While doing all of this he ends up falling for Jane, a sweet nice girl, who like Benson, wants to escape. Throughout all of the turmoil Benson is creating, the students manage to earn a dance from the "school".  Jane is naturally Benson's date and as they walk outside, they are attacked by two other students.  As Benson comes in and out of conscious  what he sees, (which I won't tell you to avoid spoiling anything) stuns, shocks and pushes him to not only escape but to share what he knows with the other students in the hopes that they too will want to leave. All the pieces begin to connect and then, there is the ending, which is completely AWESOME! Really, I have to say it is one of the best cliffhangers I have read in a long time.  I read the last two pages and my mouth dropped..... with that being said, I am no longer regretting my choice to wait to read this book, because the next one is already out!!!! Woooo Hoooo!!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Book Review: Every Day by David Levithan

EVERY DAY BY DAVID LEVITHAN

REVIEW BY NICKY

This is the book I can't stop talking about.  I can't stop thinking about it.  It is the best book I have read this year.  

The story is one of the most unique concepts I have ever read.  "A" wakes up each day in the body of a new person.  A pretends to be that person in a way that leaves the least amount of disruption possible.  A has experienced life as male, female, black, white, Asian, heavy, thin, beautiful, ugly, sick, addicted.  Never experiencing a true home, family, or connections of any kind, A knows no other existence and doesn't question the way things are until a day spent in Justin's body, where A falls in love with Rhiannon, Justin's girlfriend.

I think it's a stroke of genius that Levithan never reveals A's gender.  Told in the first person, it's up to the reader to decide A's voice.  I read that voice as male because the author is male, and I rarely have seen an author write in a different gender's voice.  I think that's the perception I had of A from the moment I first picked up the book.  I like that Levithan leaves it up to the reader, because I think we can all see ourselves in A.  I hope we all can, because A's experiences have provided insight and wisdom few of us can ever hope to attain. 

I can't quite explain how much I love this book.  It's one that I wish everyone would read because it really makes you think, and question, and it makes you want to be a good person because of all the goodness you read in the characters.  It is extremely difficult to write a good review of this book and to truly do it justice.  Just go read it.  NOW. 

David Levithan signing Janine's copy of Every Day at the National Book Festival

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Book Review: Dust & Decay by Jonathan Maberry

DUST & DECAY BY JONATHAN MABERRY

REVIEW BY NICKY

As you may recall me explaining in my Rot & Ruin review, I was pulled into this zombie series reluctantly.  I am a bit squeamish and prone to nightmares... not exactly zombie fan material.  Our students raved about it, so I relented.  And I loved it.  Then, I met Mr. Maberry at YA Fest in Easton, PA.  He was such a sincere and kind individual, which just made me increasingly excited to read the sequel, Dust & Decay.   I also decided to make it the October pick for my high school book group.  We're meeting at the end of Teen Read Week, and because "It Came From the Library" is YALSA's theme this year, I decided it was highly appropriate.  There was one disappointment when I started this book, however.  I was reading some posts on a listserv, and someone had just finished Flesh & Bone, book three in this series.  Unfortunately, the reader commented about the character who dies in Dust & Decay.  I promise you I won't reveal who, because if you're like me, you like to be surprised, and I feel like I would have been more emotional in my response if I had not already known what was going to happen.

Dust & Decay picks up a short time after the end of Rot & Ruin.  Benny and his friends have been training with Tom for several months.  Their goal is to leave the Mountainside for good, and to head out into the Ruin in search of the jet that passed over them months ago.  They want to head East, to find out what is out there, who may remain, and what other survivors may be doing to bring civilization back.  Once they leave their home town, we meet many new and interesting characters...new bounty hunters and more of the evil zombie hunters we encountered in the first novel.  Benny and his friends become split up, and they all sort of deal with their own demons on their journeys.  Unfortunately, their journey does not take them far beyond Mountainside because they are called upon, once again, to destroy Gameland, where evil bounty hunters and evangelical psychopaths are continuing the zombie games... throwing children into pits to fight zoms to the death while spectators place their bets.

Before I read Dust & Decay, I came across a review where the writer argued that Benny and Nix did not really evolve in this novel.  Perhaps that argument could be made about Nix for most of the novel,  but I feel like she hit a major shift when she and Benny find themselves in one of the Gameland pits.  Nix confronts her nightmares personified, and the emotional impact is so extreme that she feels it physically.  Afterwards, I found her to be a little more tender, and I believe she was able to be like that because she, in a sense, exorcised a demon.  I completely disagreed with the summation of Benny as well.  He was increasingly mature throughout this one, and therefore, more likeable.  He still had the silly banter and occasional selfishness, but he's a teenager, and I would expect nothing less.  I became increasingly attached to the characters throughout this book, which made the climax especially brutal.  Yet, I think what I enjoyed most about Dust & Decay were all the new "good" bounty hunters that Maberry introduces.  The duo from the coast who still talk in surfer lingo were obvious favorites.  Sally was not far behind.  After I discuss this with the high school students, I will share some of their comments with you all, and keep an eye out for the review of Flesh & Bone, because even though I have a ton of other books I should be reading, this one has just moved up on my "to read" list!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Book Review: Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Review by Janine

  I was excited to read this book but a little unsure since it was something I don't normally read about, which is cyborgs, yes, I said cyborgs.  But since I enjoy the dystopian and science fiction genres, I was willing to try this out.
  Just from the cover and title, you can probably guess that this book is a retelling of Cinderella, but it is unlike any retelling or any story I have read so far.  They basic story is the same, Cinder, as she is called, is an orphan who was adopted in Europe by a scientist when she was eleven.  She was brought home with him to live in the Commonwealth ,where he lived with his wife and two daughters.  The wife, as you remember, is not happy with having Cinder around.  This is made worse when Garan (the husband) passes away, and the wife (Adri) is forced to not only care for her two daughters, Pearl and Peony, but Cinder as well.  As a way to "earn her keep," Cinder works to support her family. There is the jealous stepmother, although I really didn't find the stepsisters to be as resentful. The handsome prince looking for a wife, and of course, the ball.  From here, however, the similarities end.  The reason that Adri is not happy with having Cinder around is because Cinder is a cyborg.  She was in an accident that she does not have any memory of, leaving her with a metal leg, hand and other parts throughout her body.  Cyborgs in this society are really at the bottom of the social system, and for this reason, Cinder is not only looked down upon, but carries the burden of supporting her family.  She is a mechanic who works in the market fixing many things from other robots, to port screens, to net books.  Her life is forever changed when Prince Kai arrives in disguise at her booth in the market and asks her to fix his android, which is apparently holding classified information that the prince needs.  Also during this time, the Earth is being plagued by Letumosis, a terrible and highly contagious and fatal disease.  To help with finding a cure, cyborgs are being drafted to help test antidotes.  As the whole commonwealth is dealing with this plague, they are also getting ready for the royal ball.  It is while she is getting ready, that Cinder discovers that Peony has Letumosis.  After she is taken away into quarantine, Adri volunteers Cinder for the draft so that she could be rid of her for good.  It is during these tests that Cinder finds that she is immune to the disease and that she is of a different race that she did not know.  These revelations, as well as her continued discovery of who she is and what her past was, change her life, her focus and her point of view more than any cyborg could imagine. 
  I really enjoyed this book.  It was so complex with the way that society has changed and the infusion of so much technology, but yet easy to understand and so interesting. Cinder is an awesome character.  Just when you think you understand her, she does something unexpected or courageous and you realize how complex she is; needless to say, I loved her!! I also love how society has changed.  It is different, but not so different that you couldn't see it actually happening, which does play with your mind a little!! As far as following the Cinderella story, it really did, and in a clever and unique way.  I really love how the ball scene was done, just the right amount of fairy with the story, so that it wasn't over done either way.  This book is a must-read, especially if you want something a little different from what is out there.  Now the only problem is waiting for Scarlet in February!!!
  And thanks to the wonderful people at Macmillan Audio for making available to our readers an audio clip of this awesome story!!!  http://media.us.macmillan.com/video/olmk/macmillanaudio/CinderCh1.mp3

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

BOOK REVIEW: MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN

MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN BY RANSOM RIGGS

REVIEW BY NICKY

I had already heard great things about this novel, but when I finally started flipping through it, I had to buy it.  (And this is coming from a librarian... who usually borrows books.)  The images that I found inside... the old photoraphs... they just really seemed like works of art, and I knew right away that this was a book that I needed to have on my personal shelves.

This is the story of Jacob, who is a bit of a loner and is generally disappointed in the way his life is going.  He has grown up listening to his grandfather's fantastic tales of life in a children's home where he kept company with children who had unnatural skills.  He even gave Jacob some photographs of these peculiar children.  As he grew up, Jacob realized that the stories were just that--stories, and the photographs were obviously fabricated. 
     One day, however, Jacob receives a strange call from his grandfather.  He rushes to his house, thinking his grandfather's mind has finally slipped completely.  When he arrives, he finds the house a disaster and his grandfather, savagely attacked, in the nearby woods.  After listening to his grandfather's last words... a warning to go to the island; it was safe there; he has to find the bird... Jacob sees a glimpse of some sort of creature that he is sure killed his grandfather.
     After months of therapy, it is decided that Jacob should go to the island in Whales where his grandfather once lived to confront his fears and his past.  What Jacob finds is a whole new world, one that repeats September 3rd, 1940 over and over again.  Jacob meets the mysterious Miss Peregrine and her charges, and he must decide if he will follow is grandfather's footsteps and protect this new world, or if he should return to his "old" life, his normal life, which is no longer safe.

Ransom Riggs is one of those authors who, literally, creates a whole new world with his writing.  His names for things and the concept of the loop can be somewhat confusing, but it's also what makes the story wonderfully strange.  The images in the book are what draw you in, and Riggs ties them so perfectly to the story.  It's like a picture book for adults with all the same awe and magic remembered from childhood.  The adventures of Jacob take him into fantasy and history.  I cannot wait to see what Ransom Riggs does with the story, and from what I can tell on his blog: http://www.ransomriggs.com/, I will get to find out next year!  He also has put out a book of found photographs like those seen in Miss Peregrine's, and I can't wait to get my hands on that as well!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Rot & Ruin Giveaway

ROT & RUIN Zombie Giveaway!

This is our first ever giveaway on the blog!  The prize package includes:


  • a signed copy of Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry!
  • a collector's' zombie card of the author
  • a body parts gummy candy
Enter below.  The giveaway runs until August 19th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

YA Fest 2012

YA FEST 2012

BY NICKY

This past weekend, Janine and I headed out east to YA Fest in Easton, PA.  It was the first of hopefully many more of these events for the Palmer branch library, and it was our first chance to meet some of our favorite authors!  The day-long book festival had tons of highlights: Jonathan Maberry suggesting a skype with our high school book club, hugs from Michelle Zink, a great panel discussion, a prize basket win (which I shared with Janine) and TONS of additions to our "must read in the near future" lists!  We were blown away by how down-to-earth and receptive the authors all were, AND they really dig librarians!! 
Janine, Michelle Zink, and Nicky

When we first arrived at the festival, we hit the author signings first.  Michelle Zink blew us away when we walked up to her, she told us that we looked familiar, and asked if she's seen us online.  Um... YES!  Holy crap, she remembered Janine's review of A Temptation of Angels!!  We chatted for a while, took pictures, and got (many) books signed.

Michelle Zink and Jon Skovron signing books
We also talked with some authors with whom we were not as familiar, but who were very gracious, and we will definitely be checking out their books!  We found out that Jon Skovron, author of Struts & Frets and Misfit, went to college in our town of Pittsburgh.  Michael Northrup was also very fun.

Discussion panel



We then headed off to enter the raffles, and man, they had a TON of prizes!  It was hard to decide which ones we wanted to enter for the Chinese auction.  Next on the schedule was the panel discussion.  The festival held two panel discussions--one for those who love to read YA literature, and one for those who love to write YA literature.  Janine and I sat in for the first one for readers.  We listened to  Jonathan Maberry, Michelle Zink, Barbara Dee, Charles Benoit, and Anne Greenwood Brown.  After the discussion and question-and-answer session, we just had to get books signed by Charles Benoit (who was just too cool for words!) and Anne Greenwood Brown, who was adorable (we can't wait to read Lies Beneath). 

Jonathan Maberry... king of zombie fiction
After the panel discussion, we still had some authors we wanted to meet.  I was so excited to finally meet Jonathan Maberry.  I felt very honored when he commented on my review of Rot and Ruin.  Also, our high school book club had discussed Rot & Ruin last year.  We are planning on reading Dust and Decay with the high school book club for Teen Read Week.  When I told Mr. Maberry about this, he offered to skype with our kids!  I can't wait to tell them!  This really was quite an experience... one I will always remember.

This was such a great an event.  It was well-worth the five hour drive!  Although this was our first festival like this, and we have nothing to compare it with, Janine and I were both very impressed with the number of authors involved with this event, the number and quality of prizes, the organization of the festival, and the number of teens who participated and who were clearly excited to meet some of their favorite authors.  We send out a sincere thank you to all the staff at the Palmer branch of the Easton Public Library, as well as to all of those who volunteered their time, including the authors.

  While Nicky did say it all, I only wanted to say how wonderful of a time we had at YAFest.  This was the first author festival we have been too and it will definitely not be our last!!! I had such an amazing time meeting Michelle Zink (see the picture above), the picture is getting framed and going on my desk!!  Meeting Jonathan Maberry was also a major highlight for me.  Our lunch time book club read Rot and Ruin last September and ever since then, they have been obsessed ( me included!).  The other authors we had the privilege to meet and hear speak were terrific, down to earth and funny!!!  It was also great that Nicky won a gift basket and even better that she shared, since I am one of those people who never seem to win anything!  Thank you to all the amazing authors who participated in this event and to the Easton Public Library, Palmerton branch for hosting what I hope will be the first of many YAFest's!!
                                                             ~ Janine

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Book Review: Unwind by Neal Shusterman

UNWIND BY NEAL SHUSTERMAN

REVIEW BY NICKY

As a high school librarian, it's obviously hard to read every book in my collection, and I often find myself recommending books that I haven't even read yet... going by what critics or other students say, or by having read a synopsis of the book.  I must admit, that I've been recommending Unwind for quite some time without having read it.  So this summer, I was determined to get to this book.  I finished it tonight, and I now know that I will be recommending and book talking this one with a whole new passion!

The idea behind this book is what really grabs your attention and makes you want to read it--to find out more.  The characters, and how the story is told, are what keep you from ever wanting to put it down!  The novel takes place in an unspecified future time.  A second civil war has ended... a war between the pro-life and the pro-choice movements.  A compromise has been established.  Unwanted pregnancies can no longer be terminated.  However, a child's life can be terminated by his or her parents between the ages of 13 and 18.  Should a parent decide that they no longer want their child, he or she can be "unwound."  Doctors slowly "dismantle" the body, one part at a time, and each part is donated and used by someone in need.  This story centers on three characters.  Connor, after constantly getting into trouble, is being sent away by his parents to a harvest camp, where he will be unwound.  Risa, whose mother left her when she was just an infant, is a ward of the state.  She has failed to make a great impression on the board who decides her state, and so she is also being sent off to be unwound.  Lev is a tithe.  He has always known that he will be unwound.  As their tenth child, his parents are giving him up as a contribution, a sort of sacrifice for the greater good.  Lev looks forward to his unwinding and believes that he is special, a chosen one.  On one fateful day, their lives intersect, and their survival depends on each other as well as those who want to help.  But not everyone can remain "whole" when the entire world seems to be collapsing.

This is one of the most exciting books that I have read this summer!  I appreciate that, rather than being preachy, Shusterman has even avoided taking sides on the abortion issue while telling a compelling story of what happens when people are so divided that either extreme fails to see what truly is evil.  One of my favorite quotes from the novel goes...
"You see, a conflict always begins with an issue--a difference of opinion, an argument.  but by the time it turns into a war, the issue doesn't matter anymore, because now it's about one thing and one thing only: how much each side hates the other."
Reading this during an election year, with slandering ads on the television every five minutes, and arguments flying back and forth over social media, these words really carried some meaning.  Still, the novel tells a compelling and exciting story based on a heated issue, without getting overly political.   Mostly because you, the reader, want to know what happens to the characters more than you are interested in the political or legal outcome.  Near the end, questions arise.  Seeds of doubt and rebellion are planted, and I see the next books in the trilogy headed in a more political direction.  Still, Shusterman and his characters are dealing with the issue of unwinding, not abortion.  I see readers on both sides of the pro-life/pro-choice debate enjoying this story.  I couldn't put it down, and I'll be waiting on August 28th, for the release of its sequel, UnWholly.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Book Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Review by Janine

From the moment that I began reading this book, I was struck by just how well written it was.  While I read a lot of young adult, and really enjoy most of it, the writing in this book was wonderful. 
This book is the story of Karou, a teenage girl who has no idea who she is or where she came from.  She was raised by Brimestone and his two assistants, Twiga and Yasari who did their best to raise her as a normal, human girl, but Karou knows there is nothing normal about her.  As she got older, she began running errands for Brimstone, which in most cases was to collect teeth.  Karaou's reward for running these errands were scruppies, or small beads that granted small wishes. The wishes are what Brimstone trades various traders and hunters for teeth.  The importance of the teeth determines how many wish stones they get and what size.  The bigger the stone, the bigger the wish can be.  These beads were to explain Kauro's appearnce, her blue hair, multiple tattoos and her ability to speak many languages.  She is now in high school, living in Prague and attending art school, where she wows everyone with her drawings and their ability to tell a wild story about creatures made of different parts, collecting teeth and secrets.  What no one knows is that this is what Karuos' life is really all about.  The creatures are all the family that she knows, no one is willing to tell her where she came from or who she is.  Karou is ok with that most of time and lives her life as normally as she can until a war is raged, one that she does not understand and will effect the world as Karou knows it.  Good and evil have always fought, but what if you don't know what side you belong to? And what if your past can come back; does it define you, or can you start over?
This book was, in one word, awesome!! There was not one thing I did not like about it.  The characters were mysterious at times  and so unique, (monsters made up of different parts, need I say more!) since they were holding back who and what Karaou was.   Quite honestly, I loved how everything was revealed and questions were answered, although I have to admit at times I was getting impatient, but the wait made it worth it.  There is a love story in this book, no triangle, and I loved every minute of that as well.  It never felt forced, but natural as though this is how it should happen all the time.  You almost have a sense from the very beginning that they have known each other for quite some time.  Karou is a strong and determined character, which I love.  Through all the knowledge she is given by the end of the book, she has become stronger, not bitter.  However there is a cliff hanger at the end, and I MUST know what happens... It is killing me not to know.  I will not ruin the ending but I will just say that at the end of the book, although I had an inkling of what was going to happen, I still shouted out loud (yes, really, at the beach while my husband looked at me like I had two heads!) NOOOOOOOO!

Book Review: Crossed by Ally Condie

CROSSED BY ALLY CONDIE

REVIEW BY NICKY

Though I was entertained but not blown away by Matched, I still was intrigued enough to want to continue the series with Crossed. Perhaps it was because the novel's setting took us outside the Society, or perhaps it was the addition of Ky as a narrator, but I enjoyed the 2nd installment in this series better than the first. 

The novel picks up where Matched had left us.  Cassia has been sent by her family to a work camp.  They sent her there, under the guise of a punishment, so that she could pursue her search for Ky.  Ky, in the meantime, has been sent to the Outer Provinces.  He is sent there to impersonate actual visitors, when in reality, those sent there (mostly Aberrations and Anomalies, or non-Citizens) are essentially sent to their death.  They are fired upon by the Enemy and fight to survive each day.  Xander waits for Cassia back in the borough.  He remains an upstanding member of the Society. 
Ky, in the company of two other survivors, escapes the Outer Provinces.  They run to the Carving, which is a dangerous canyon that holds its own mysteries and secrets.  Ky hopes to somehow return to the Society and get back to Cassia.  Meanwhile, Cassia stows away on an airship that she knows is heading for the Outer Provinces.  She knows this is her chance to find Ky.  Following his trail, she and another companion head into the Canyon as well.  After being reunited, the group must fight to survive and decide whether they will join the Rebellion.  It is rumored that the Rebellion is working against the Society.  However, Ky, Cassia, and the other members of their group have different ideas about what the Rebellion is.  Cassia and Ky struggle with tension in their relationship as Cassia realizes that Ky is still holding onto his own secrets, including one about Xander.

There were a few things that I did not like about this novel.  First of all, as in Matched, some of the language, in an attempt to sound poetic, seems a bit forced.  Also, Cassia and Ky's reunion occurs very quickly and without much struggle on either character's part.  I understand that Condie needed to move the plot along in order to carry the rest of the story, so I wasn't too upset by this.  It is refreshing to read from a new character's point-of-view, and I commend Condie on this because it's a brave move and it definitely adds an interesting element to the story.  Although, in this sequel, we miss some of the minor characters from the first, we are introduced to quite a few new ones that truly add some interest... Indie, Eli, Hunter, etc.  Though some may complain that Xander, the 3rd character in this love triangle, is all but missing from the book, I find that he is a large part of it.  What is revealed about Xander gives him the most character development in this sequel. 
Though I enjoyed it more than Matched, I still was not completely thrilled by Crossed.  I found myself reading it just to find out what happens and be done, not out of any true interest in the characters or their fate.  Still, after reading the first two novels in a trilogy, one can't help but carry this through to the end, so yes, I will be picking up Reached on November 13th. 

Vote for the "Best Ever Teen Novels"




Check out the NPR site, and vote for your favorite "Best Ever Teen Novels"
It was hard narrowing my selection to just 10 titles.  I'm looking forward to seeing the final list of 100!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Book Review: Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake

Review by Janine

I have to be honest, this book has been sitting on my bookshelf for sometime, I am not sure why it took me so long to pick it up but I am so glad that I finally read it!
First, I must begin my review with an explanation about my love of ghost stories.  My reading evolution began with the Babysitters Club series (because who wasn't reading this in elementary school???).  As I out grew this series, I remember not knowing what to read next.  My mother directed me to, who else, but Nancy Drew.  This was right around the time that they made Nancy a more modern girl.  Needless to say, I devoured those books, and my love of mysteries began.  Once I hit middle school however, I was "too cool" for Nancy, so my quest for new "cooler" books began, and then I found Christopher Pike.  From then on, I was obsessed with ghost stories, the gorier the better.  So imagine my surprise when I finally pick up this book, and I realize it is a true ghost story (which rocks!). 
Cas Lowood is just your typical high school student, who happens to kills ghosts.  He understands how this sounds, but his job as he likes to call it, is to "kill" ghosts.  Not just any ghosts, but those who kill or harm humans.  He inherited his job from his father, who was killed by a ghost that he was trying to kill himself.  Cas's long-term goal is to find and kill the ghost that killed his father, but for now, he is practicing and building himself up for that day.  The newest ghost in Cas's sights is Anna Dressed In Blood.  This ghost lives in a house and kills anyone who dares to enter it. Cas arrives in Thunder Bay with his mother (whom is a witch) and their cat Tybalt.  He doesn't know that this town and this ghost will change him  and the way he views his life in a very definite way.  The first change for Cas is that he attracts the attention of the popular girl in school.  Her jealous ex-boyfriend finds out about Cas's interest in Anna and offers to take him to her house, where he roughs Cas up and dumps him in her house.  Instead of Anna killing Cas, she takes pity on him for reasons he can't figure and instead kills the ex-boyfriend.  After meeting Anna, Cas can't stay away, and can't figure her out.  She seems to be two different people.  At times and her mean streak loves to show him the horrors that her house holds.  Cas, more than anything, wants to know her story and why she kills.  He also finds himself wanting to help her more than anything, and if it is possible, finds himself caring for her.  So with the help of two unlikely friends, they begin a quest to find out what happened to Anna and how to stop her. When another, extremely powerful ghost who comes to stop the ghost killer for good arrives, Cas becomes the hunted and the hunted will do anything to survive.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Book Review: Matched by Ally Condie

Matched by Ally Condie

REVIEW BY NICKY

Matched  was read by many of our high school students this year, and I figured it would be a good, light summer read.  I think, however, that after this one, I may be ready for a break from dystopian fiction.  I think that Matched follows a lot of the same formula as the past few dystopian novels I have read.  The Society limits personal freedoms to maintain peace; the main character (a young girl) realizes how much she wants the ability to choose her own direction, control her own fate; and, of course, you have to have the love triange between the young protagonist and two seemingly equally appealing young men: one, the "safe" choice, and the other, the mysterious, hardened one.  Yes, I do know this is a broad generalization, but I think, to my own discredit, that I have finally gotten myself into a dystopian rut.

Matched starts out by introducing us to Cassia Reyes, who is on her way to her matching ceremony, where The Society will tell her with whom they have "matched" her.  She will spend the rest of her life with this young man, and chances are that she has never met or even seen this person before.  Of course, Cassia, like all young girls in The Society is nervous yet very excited for this momentous occasion.  She is shocked, then, when her match is revealed to be her best childhood friend, Xander.  When she goes home and reviews here match program on her home "port," she is shocked to see another's face on the screen as well: Ky Markham.  Cassia begins to see Ky in a different light, and to realize that the matching system, as well as other things in The Society, seem faulty at least, if not corrupt and cruel.  When it comes time to make her final decision, will Cassia "go gently"? 

I have to admit, I was annoyed by Cassia and Xander from the very beginning.  To be seventeen and not ever question this whole concept of being "matched" seems fairly far-fetched to me.  With Ky, I was a more sympathetic, however, and his story is why I did read this one fairly quickly.  Though I do feel, as I mentioned earlier, that I am in a dystopian rut, I also think that having just finished and loved Where Things Come Back, my standards have been set high, and I am a harsher critic that usual.  Though, my reaction to this book is a bit lack-luster, I do think it is credit to Ally Condie that I found the story intriguing enough to go out and start its sequel, Crossed, right away.


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Book Review: Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley

REVIEW BY NICKY

I first became interested in this novel when it received the Printz Award, but it was always being pushed back on my "to read" list for one reason or another.  My interest piqued when I started reading more about John Corey Whaley, who just seems like a "neat guy."  One such article was an interview on the TLT blog:
"Q&A: Meet the 2012 Printz Award Winner John Corey Whaley".  I saw the chance to win an autographed copy, and despite my history of bad luck with contests, I ACTUALLY WON!  (THANK YOU AGAIN, TLT!)  Let me explain something about myself, first.  I am the farthest thing from a pack-rat.  When I buy an new pair of shoes, an older pair gets donated to Goodwill.  I also keep only certain books on my shelves permanently.  The rest get donated to the library in which I work or passed on to friends or students.  After reading Where Things Come Back, it will definitely hold a place of honor on my shelves, along with my other favorites. 

Cullen Witter is living in the small town of Lily, Arkansas.  In Lily, an unusual phenomenon seems to have taken place... an extinct woodpecker is believed to have been discovered.  Cullen, his brother Gabriel, and his best friend Lucas, appear to be the only skeptics, or at least the only 3 who do not seem to be affected by the bird.  However, as we read on, we come to realize that more things affect us than we realize.  Cullen and his family are faced with a mysterious tragedy, and he starts to see life, his town, and the people around him differently.  As the novel moves on, you realize how one event connects with another and, in essence, how people we never see or meet can greatly affect our lives.

My favorite thing about this novel are the characters.  There are some novels in literature that introduce you to characters who will resonate in you.  Classic works such as On the Road and To Kill a Mockingbird often do this, and Whaley manages to introduce us to three.  Cullen Witter is narrator of this novel, and unlike some male narrators in literature, Cullen truly does seem to be an average guy, someone in whom every reader can see a part of their selves... someone who really has heartache and anger and angst and fun and love.  Cullen's best friend, Lucas Cader, is that friend that everyone has--the one super-social one who everyone loves, but who only reveals their true self to a select few.  Gabriel Witter, Cullen's brother, is revealed mostly through the eyes of the characters around him.  Yet, just by the way you see he affects others, you grow to love him.  He was my favorite. 

I majored in Literature and I have read a good many of the classics, so I can get a little elitist when it comes to words, and I am always noticing words.  For example, I can't stand songs that have mediocre lyrics.  I do this a lot when I'm reading as well.  I can appreciate a book if it has an interesting story, but if the writing doesn't affect me, I can't truly love the book.  I truly loved Where Things Come Back. 

I keep a kind of journal... a collection of quotes.  As I'm reading a book or listening to a song, if something really "hits me," I will write it down to keep in my quote journal.  I did this for a passage from Where Things Come Back:
Life, he says, doesn't have to be so bad all the time.  We don't have to be anxious about everything.  We can just be.  We can get up, anticipate that the day will probably have a few good moments and a few bad ones, and then just deal with it.  Take it all in and deal as best we can. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Book Review: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

 Review by Janine

 This book was one that I was super excited to read because of all the awesome reviews it has gotten, and I am so pleased to say that it completely lived up to the high expectations I had for it.  From the first pages, you know that this book will be unlike any other that you have read ever.  The setting, or essentially the world, that was created by the author is all-encompassing, thorough and intriguing.  Mal and Alina are orphans who have grown up together and are now in the second army together.  She is a frail, sickly, mapmaker, and he is the attractive tracker that all the girls like.  When it is discovered on a trip to the Fold with her unit that she has an undiscovered power, her life changes in ways that are unfathomable even to her.  She is the one who will rescue the land from the dark powers of the Fold and the creatures that live there, or so she is told.  When Alina’s powers to summon the sun are reviled, she is shipped to the Little Palace to be trained in the ways of the Grisha, or those who have special powers.  While at the Little Palace, she not only learns the ways of the Grisha and how to use and control her power, but she also finds within her a hidden strength and courage that I was hoping she would find.  When things turn out not to be what they seem, she must use what she has learned to help her survive.  Alina’s story is wonderful.  She goes from being a weak character to this beautiful, strong person.  This does not mean she always makes the right choices, but she follows her heart as well as uses her brain.  While in the Little Palace, she is treated as a type of royalty but never truly looses herself in all that is going on.  There is a love story, but it is done in such a way that it is not only sweet and innocent but has a beauty about it that makes you able to see yourself within them. 
  I also adore the characters in this story! They all are incredibly interesting in their own way, so it makes you want to know more about both the good and evil characters.  I hope in the following books, we can learn more about each but especially, Mal.  This book has so many pieces and when they come together they leave you wanting more. The only downfall is waiting for the next book to come out!!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Book Reveiw: I Hunt Killers By Barry Lyga

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

REVIEW BY JANINE


 Jasper Dent's dad was one of the worlds most notorious serial killers in modern history, Billy Dent.  Billy was a meticulous and ruthless killer who taught his son from a young age how to be just like him.  After Billy was caught, Jasper desperately tries to carry on a "normal" life, far from the one his father tried to create for him.  However, Billy had many admirers and people wishing to be like him.  In the small town of Lob Nod. one serial killer has been caught.  How will the town handle another? And can Jasper convince himself that he will not turn out like his father, but choose to hunt killers instead?
  I have to first say that I LOVED this book!! I have always (since I was in at least middle school) loved murder mysteries, and this one is a keep-you-on-the-edge-of-your-seat thriller.  It has been four years since Jasper's (Jazz) father was captured from his years of killing.  Years of which he took Jazz and taught him all that he knew, which included manipulation, hiding emotions and most importantly, thinking like a killer.  These lessons continually haunt Jazz and leave him wondering if he is, in fact, like his father, that he could be the next killer.  Continually throughout the book, you learn of the lessons that Jazz's father taught him and the one nagging memory that he can only remember in bits and pieces (that memory I will not spoil for you here!).  I found it fascinating how the author was able to put you right into the mind of what a psychopathic killer was thinking: the rationalization and the complete lack of emotion.  All the while that these thoughts and "lessons" are going on, Jazz is trying to maintain a sense of normalcy for himself.  Which isn't easy since his guardian is his sometimes lucid grandmother, but his best friend Howie and his girlfriend Connie are his rocks on which leans and which sometimes smack him back, at least into reality. I really loved the characters, especially Jazz.  You could feel his internal struggle the entire way through the story, and you could just truly sympathize with him and the horrible life he has and the guilt he feels for being who he is.  What I will caution you all is that if you have a weak stomach or you can not handle shows like CSI or NCIS, you should not read this book, it may just give you nightmares but for everyone else, this is a must read now!!!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Book Review: Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

REVIEW BY NICKY

At first, I wasn't sure I was going to pick this one up.  Janine and many of our high school students read this a while ago, and they have all been raving about it.  When we decided that we were going to go meet Mr. Maberry at YA Fest in Easton, PA, I finally started Rot & Ruin.  The reason I had been so hesitant to read this one is that I have these awful apocalyptic dreams sometimes, and I try to avoid books and movies that deal with this.  The fact that this was about zombies didn't exactly help, either.  Who knew I'd actually end up feeling sorry for the zombies in this book?!

Benny Imura has grown up after First Night, the night when a zombie epidemic broke out.  He has been raised by his brother Tom, who fled with 18-month old Benny on that fateful night, when their parents became infected.  Benny thinks he is a coward for abandoning their mother and running, but little does he realize Tom's strength and bravery.  Benny has a coming-of-age experience when he leaves their small gated town to go out into the great Ruin with Tom.  He has decided to apprentice with Tom as a zombie hunter, but did not realize what all that job entails and what all is out there in the Ruin.  When some of the town's zombie hunters commit horrific crimes to protect Gameland, a place where children are sacrificed to fight "zoms" for entertainment, Tom and Benny go on a new kind of hunt, where Benny will learn more about Tom, the Ruin, and the truth about what goes on outside of their protected home.

When I first started reading Rot & Ruin, I was continually interrupted by life (work, kids, all those responsibilities), but as the story went on, I started making it a priority, staying up way to late to squeeze in "one more chapter."  Finally, I carved out 3 full hours of non-stop reading to finish it!  And boy, was I NOT disappointed.  To take something so bizarre as a zombie apocalypse, and turn it into a complex story, with twists, and surprises, and multi-dimensional characters... that is a testament to Mr. Maberry's skill.  He leaves you wanting more... to know more about the characters and their choices, more about the mystery of the Ruin and the world beyond Mountainside.  As a high school librarian, this is one of those books that I can recommend to both boys and girls.  It's beyond any kind of gender stereotype, and I love that!  

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Crafty Summer Reading Promotion

SUMMER READING PROMOTION

~NICKY

File this one under "crafts in the library."  Janine and I were looking for a way to distribute information about our summer reading book club to our library "regulars."  At our final monthly book club, we gave all the high school kids these information packets.
We used a Cricut machine to make the envelopes, and included a book mark, a gummy "book worm," a printed old-fashioned "library card" on which kids could keep track of books they read over the summer.  (We can use them in a library display next school year.)  We made additional bookmarks with paperclips and ribbon, and of course, included our information about meeting for book club over the summer... when, where, and what we're reading (Delirium and Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver).
We created a group for our book club on Goodreads, and we plan to communicate with the kids about summer reading there.
The kids enjoyed them and took a lot of time picking the envelope they liked the best!  Now, let's hope our summer book club works as well!
We used scrapbooking paper to make the envelopes.


These are all the contents included in the packets.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Book Review: The Splendor Falls by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Book Review: The Splendor Falls by Rosemary Clement -Moore 
Review by MaryAnne (Teen Guest Blogger)

Slyvie Davis is a ballerina who can't dance.  A broken leg ended her career- but Slyvie's pain runs deeper.  What broke her heart was her father's death, and what's breaking her spirit is her mother's remarriage.  Uprooting her from their Manhattan apartment and shipping her off to Alabama is her mother's solution for Slyvie's unhappiness.  Her father's cousin is restoring a family home in a town rich with her family's history.  As it turns out, the Davies have a richer history than Slyvie ever imagined.  More unnerving, though, are the two guys she can't stop thinking about.  Shaun Maddox, the resident golden boy, and Rhys, a handsome, mysterious foreign guest of her cousin.  Then Slyvie starts seeing things.  A girl by the lake, a man peering from the window, and a graveyard with an oddly placed headstone.
Like every other book I read, there are things I liked and didn't like about the book.  Slyvie's attitude at first, made me like and dislike her.  She wasn't the typical city girl, but her whining made it difficult to stand her at times.  She's sarcastic, witty, and doesn't mind the hard work.  Several characters seem to undermine Slyvie and her intelligence, which made me angry, but pleased when Slyvie fought back.  The book is well written, told from Slyvie's point of view. While It could have done without the constant interactions with Slyvie's dog Gigi, the story of magic and ghosts kept my interests peaked.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Book Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

REVIEW BY NICKY

The day that Insurgent was released, I left work and went straight to the book store.  I had finished my previous book a week ago, but hadn't started anything else because I wanted to be ready for this book.  I read it so quickly because I couldn't wait to find out what happens, but now that I've finished, I feel like I read too fast and I'm having a hard time remembering details...which, really, is a good excuse to re-read both novels before the third one comes out!


From the inside cover: One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth's much-anticipated second book of the dystopian Divergent series is another intoxicating thrill ride of a story, rich with hallmark twists, heartbreaks, romance, and powerful insights about human nature.


I know a lot of other reviewers were annoyed by Tris in this sequel, but honestly, I didn't feel that way.  There were several times when I found myself wishing she would just get over the killing Will thing.  I felt that it wasn't truly Will that she killed, and I could not understand this guilt that haunted her.  However, I also have never shot anyone (let alone one of my best friends), and so that's a hard perspective to have.  Other than that, Tris did not bother me.  I liked that Tris continued to question everything she encountered... Amity's refusal to become involved, Candor's willingness to work with Erudite, and even Tobias' new alliance with the factionless.  I was impressed with her determination to follow her instinct and her convictions.  She did not want her parents' sacrifice to be for nothing.  She wanted to carry on their mission, and I think that showed her real strength.

One of my favorite things about this book is that, as readers, we get to learn more about the other factions.  I  laughed out loud when Tris was drugged my Amity, and I cringed at the Candor hearing when Tobias was forced to take the truth serum.

In general, I was extremely impressed by this sequel... it's definitely one of the best-written sequels I have read!  I won't write a spoiler here, but Veronica Roth really has a way of wrapping up the end of the story while leaving the reader gasping at the revelation, and desperate to read more.  Now, I just have to wait (not-so-patiently) for Roth's conclusion to the series.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Book Review: Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer

Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer 
Review by Maddie (Guest Teen Blogger)

In his debut novel, Foer writes with a freedom that most authors forget they have.  The dynamic tempo and constant change in point of view create potential for confusion if the reader doesn't pay attention.  But its vivaciousness and vibrance of emotion make it the best book I have read in years.
Foer's unconventional style sprouts in his first novel as he frankly confronts prejudice, cliches, and love.  He expresses himself via full paragraphs of capitalization, pages of the same phrase repeated over and over, and by his refusal to blindly follow the rules of conventional grammar.  Foer's hip outlook on writing assaults the reader at every angle, making it impossible to ignore his talent.
In Everything is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer creates an unflinching plot that hits readers, like myself, who are unaccustomed to such profound writing.  Foer weaves together 3 stories: letters between a Ukrainian and American friendship, how the American came to visit the Ukrainian, and how the American became an American. But even thought this is only what is being told, in this novel so much is being said.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Book Review: The Book of Blood and Shadow By Robin Wasserman

Book Review: The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman
A "Duel Review" 

Review by Janine

Three students and one eccentric professor are working on translating the Latin text that may hold the answers to revealing the true power of the Lumen Dei.  The Lumen Dei is a device in which one can have ultimate control of the world and communication with God himself. The three students Max, Nora and Chris along with Chris' girlfriend Adrienne don't really believe in what they are doing will lead anywhere but just a nice semester independent study.  They don't believe that any of what their professor tells them about the power and purpose behind what they are doing is true, but when one ends up dead, one catatonic, and one has disappeared, the story becomes much more than that; it becomes a matter of life and death.

  I have to admit that I was super excited to read this book; murder, suspense, and a good mystery make for an awesome read in my book, and I was not disappointed. Of the four students involved in what becomes an intense adventure, Nora is person that we follow.  She is translating the text of Elisabeth, who is the daughter of the creator of the Lumen Dei.  The more she translates her letters, the more of a connection she feels to her.  Then on one fateful night, Nora steals one of the letters that she is translating.  In a fit of guilt she confesses to her fellow translator and best friend Chris, who agrees to put the stolen letter back.  That seals the fate of the group, Chris ends up murdered, and Adrienne catatonic.  Max disappears and is suspected of murder.  Nora, knowing that Max is being wrongly accused and  in trouble, follows the clues he leaves for her and goes to Prague where her real adventure begins.  She begins to follow the clues that Elisabeth's letters give to finding the Lumen Dei while trying to out-run the others looking for her; some will want to stop her, others will follow and encourage her, and some  want the ultimate power for themselves.  I really loved the setting of this book, Prague, which is such a unique setting, with just enough historical intrigue to make the story believable and the reader wishing they were there. What I also love are the characters in the story, the good and the bad.  They were so believable, it was easy to cheer for or hate them (and to have strong opinions about it!). This book was great, I love the action, the fast pace, and the mystery, everything!!! My students cannot wait to check it out, and I recommend that you do the same!

(Here is a chapter sampler, courtesy of Random Buzzers: http://www.scribd.com/doc/79132928/The-Book-of-Blood-and-Shadow-by-Robin-Wasserman

REVIEW BY NICKY

Since Janine already did an excellent job of summarizing the story for you, I will just leave you with my opinion.  I was hesitant to pick this one up because it just seems that there are so many books out there right now with "shadow," "bone," and/or "blood" in the title.  Frankly, I keep getting confused by all of them as to which one is which!  However, I received two free ARC of this one from Random Buzzers, decided to make it one of the high school library's book club picks, and there you have it--now I HAD to read it. 

I was more than pleasantly surprised!  Nora is a truly believable character... extremely intelligent and somewhat socially awkward in an endearing way.  Her intelligence, it seems, ultimately gets her into trouble with the wrong people, but will it also save her in the end?
The other characters, as Janine mentioned above, were all likable as well... both the good and the not-so-good.  The author, Robin Wasserman, does an excellent job of showing that there is, ultimately, both good and bad in all of us.  
Though I feared that this would be a DaVinci Code for teens, I think that there were plenty of new twists and ideas in this novel, to make it truly its own story.  I will be looking for other Wasserman novels in the future.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Book Review: Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender


Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender
REVIEW BY MARYANNE (Guest Teen Blogger)

A "social outcast," Alexis, begins to experience strange occurrences with her thirteen-year-old sister, Kasey.  Kasey has always had a love for dolls, while Alexis has become and amateur photographer.  However, Kasey's love has become obsessive, and with Kasey's sudden "black outs," boiling water on the unlit stove, and out of wack air conditioning units, things are becoming borderline creepy within their home.

When this book was dropped into my lap, I was unsure about what I'd find.  The gorgeous cover drew me in, and I began reading it whenever I had time.  This book never left my hands if I could help it.  Alexis, witty and sarcastic, had me so in tuned to the story.  When the book came to a funny part, I giggled.  When it became intense, I couldn't put it down.  I loved that the romance was subtle, which was refreshing.  The book never strays from the plot.  The only thing I didn't like about Bad Girls Don't Die are the cliche, stereotypical, "popular" types that always hate the main character or want on her to-be boyfriend.  Overall, I think I'd like books to fall in my lap more often.  This was definitely a pleasant surprise!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Book Review: Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
REVIEW BY NICKY

If you read my review of Delirium, you know that as soon as I finished it, I ran out that night to buy Pandemonium.  I could not wait to read the continuation of Lena's story.  I stayed up late last night to finish Pandemonium, and now I have to wait a possible 10 FULL MONTHS to read the conclusion in Requiem!  Oh, Lauren Oliver, how you torture me so!!

Pandemonium picks up right where Delirium left us.  Lena has made it across the border fence into "The Wilds."  She has escaped the love-less world of Portland and her "procedure" to remove the part of her brain that allows her to feel emotion.  With the help of Alex, who makes the ultimate sacrifice to save Lena, she now is free for the first time.  Lena, however, is barely alive when found by Raven and the group of "Invalids" who have made a life together in the Wilds.  They take her in, bring her back to health, and Lena slowly becomes a part of this nomadic family.
Life in the Wilds, Lena quickly learns, is not easy.  It is harsh, dangerous, even life-threatening.  The group travels south for the winter, and then Lena becomes part of the resistance.  She takes on a new identity in New York city, blends in with the "cureds," and then works to infiltrate one of their extreme activist group, the DFA.  When Lena is kidnapped with Julian, the son of the DFA's leader, she must rely on her new survival skills and perhaps a partnership with Julian, if they are going to make it out alive.

I think there are several things that really sets this series apart from other dystopian stories.  Of course, there is the premise... the idea that society, in an effort to keep from falling apart, has created a world without love or freedom.  As Raven says--a world of zombies.
There is also Lena.  Lena, who is strong and complex; who changes as the story and her world change.   The world Lauren Oliver created in Delirium is very different from the Wilds in Pandemonium.  A testament to Ms. Oliver's writing skill, Lena changes and develops right along with the story.  She is hardened, and stronger, and therefore I like her even more in this second novel.
And finally, there is Lauren Oliver's writing.  The beauty with which she puts words together continues to impress me in this book.  From Pandemonium:
“I read once about a kind of fungus that grows in trees. The fungus begins to encroach on the systems that carry water and nutrients up from the roots to the branches. It disables them one by one – it crowds them out. Soon, the fungus – and only the fungus – is carrying the water, and the chemicals, and everything else the tree needs to survive. At the same time it is decaying the tree slowly from within, turning it minute by minute to rot.

That is what hatred is. It will feed you and at the same time turn you to rot.

It is hard and deep and angular, a system of blockades. It is everything and total.

Hatred is a high tower. In the Wilds, I start to build, and to climb.” 

Beautiful.  Simply beautiful.  
The only thing that scares me (spoiler alert!)...
is the love triangle.  I am not a fan.  However, I am comforted by the conviction that Lauren Oliver will not disappoint.  I'm sure she will continue to surprise and impress me.  

I had a copy of Delirium on a staff recommendation display, and one of our high school students came up to me last week to tell me that she had picked it up, was in the middle of reading it and LOVED it.  This morning, I gave her my personal copy of Pandemonium, and we gushed about it and can't wait to discuss it after she finishes the second novel.  Thank you, Lauren Oliver!!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Introducing MaryAnne

Introducing our newest guest blogger: MaryAnne

There are no true gangsters in Greensburg!  If there was, I would be one.  The 1920s-styled gangster with suave suits and tommy guns.  My name is Mary Anne, I'm 17, and aspiring to be a veterinarian.  I love animals and good books.  My favorite series, well, I don't have one, but I love the Ender series by Orson Scott Card.  My favorite color is purple, and I love being absolutely random!  Allon-sy!

Monday, April 16, 2012

YA Book Cover Table

I'm in love with Mod Podge, so when we were looking for ways to add some flair to the reading space for our devoted "library kids," we decided to take an old table and transform it into a YA Lit. table.  First, we printed out covers from some recent and best-loved YA books.  We printed a variety of sizes.  We then brushed Mod Podge (which works like glue) onto the back of each one, placing the "covers" randomly on the table.  We put the largest covers down first and the smallest ones last.  Once all the covers were down, with very little actual table top showing through, we brushed Mod Podge over the entire table top.  We did 3 coats of Mod Podge, waiting 30 minutes between each coat.  Afterwards, we sprayed the entire thing with Mod Podge brand clear acrylic sealer.  I suggest doing that step outside... the smell is rather over-whelming.  Voila!  We were done!  Here are some pics of the process...
The original ugly orange table

The "glued" images

The first layer of Mod Podge

Mod Podge rocks!!

Yay, we're done!


We can't wait to do more!

Book Review: A Temptation of Angels by Michelle Zink

A Temptation of Angels by Michelle Zink
Book Review by Janine


  In one terrifying night Helen Cartwright has lost all that she holds dear, her family and her life, only to embark on a new chapter in her life, one that she never knew existed.  Helen is a descendant of angels and chosen to be one the keepers, those who keep the world safe from those who wish to take it over. Never has this job been more important.  Keepers are being murdered, her parents among them.  For what reason, no one is sure, but one thing is certain, she will stop at nothing to see the person or persons responsible for the deaths of her parents and the others of her kind.

  I will start this off by saying that I LOVE Michelle Zink.  Ever since I read her first series, Prophecy of the Sisters, I was hooked, and I was not disappointed this time around either.  There are so many things that I found refreshing about the book. Yhe first was the setting of Victorian London, which is different from so many books out there right now.  I also loved the whole premise of the book.  Helen doesn't know or understand who she is or what she has been chosen to do.  Keepers find out when they are sixteen about the their job, the Dictata, and Angels.  She is forced into her role early because someone is killing the Keepers at an alarming rate.  While being a descendant of angels does give her some unique abilities, they are not overly discussed but merely stated as fact, and then there is Helen herself.  In understanding the time period and the role that women played, it made it so interesting and awesome!! She was strong, determined and smart (which are the three characteristics that I love most in characters!), which made her believable and had you waiting to see what else she could do.  The story flows so well and the characters are so believable that you can picture yourself right there with her.  There was only one thing that I was leary of, which was the "love triangle," but it was handled in such a way that it wasn't the main part of the story, but just a side that helped to enhance the story line.
  In case it didn't show, I truly loved the story!  I am unsure if it is going to be a series or not but it is fine as a stand-alone, although lets be honest, if it was a series, I would be at the bookstore the day the next one came out!!

Introducing Madison!


Introducing our first guest blogger: Maddie

My name is Madison, lovely to meet you!  I am 16 years old, but I'll be 17 soon.  Obviously, I enjoy reading, but other than that, I love fashion, writing, and good-looking men!  I plan on majoring in creative writing in some college in New York City (my one and only love).  My favorite color is pink, favorite band is the Four Season, and my favorite word is "scuttle."  It might also be important to note that Alexander Skarsgard is my future husband.  I don't know how that will work out, but if all else fails, I plan on being a wildly free Kerouac-style vagabond!

(Maddie will be reviewing books for us from time-to-time in order to give our blog a teen's perspective on YA lit!)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Book Review: Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Delirium by Lauren Oliver
REVIEW BY NICKY
If you can judge a book by how badly you want to read the sequel, well... I finished Delirium last night, and today I am running out to the book store to grab Pandemonium!


Lena has grown up in Portland, Maine, one of the "approved cities" in the U.S.  In this alternative society, love (or amor deliria nervosa) has been deemed a disease, something of which all young people are cured.  They undergo a procedure which alters the brain to no longer feel love or emotional pain--they essentially become emotionally numb.
(Cue Pink Floyd music, here.)  Lena is actually looking forward to the procedure and the calmness that will come after.  She is afraid that she, like her mother, will contract the disease.  It drove her mother to suicide.  However, a few months before she is scheduled for her procedure, Lena falls in love.
Alex opens Lena's eyes to what it's like to love and feel loved, to experience joy, and he reveals the truth about her mother.  But, can they escape Portland before Lena's procedure?  Will she be doomed to a life without Alex, without joy, without love?

I am on a dystopia kick right now, so I was pretty excited to read Delirium.  I found the premise really interesting... the idea that love can be seen as harmful.  I understand how the idea formed.  Love can make people to do all kinds of things--some of them bad.  Yet, a life without it, is hard to imagine.  As a mother, I think the thing that really got to me was the description of how parents who have been "cured" behave with their children.  There were moments when I felt a little annoyed by Lena's descriptions about how beautiful Alex looks and the flowery language she uses to describe every detail.  However, I had to keep reminding myself that from Lean's point of view (that of a teenage girl), the language we appropriate.  In other words, from a young woman's perspective as narrator, Lauren Oliver nailed it!  I cannot wait to read Pandemonium!