Friday, May 31, 2013

YA Summer Reads (by genre)

Ahhhh, the smell of sunscreen, the sting of mosquites, the taste of barbeque, the sound of lapping water...I think it's summertime!  Here's a list for young adults about summer, water, islands and a few more things we think about when it's summertime:

 It’s Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han (2010, Simon & Schuster)
Along For the Ride by Sarah Dessen (2009, Viking)
Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott (2008, Harper)
They Came from Below by Blake Nelson (2007, Tor)
 Stay by Deb Caletti
 Girlfriend Material by Melissa Kantor (2009, Disney/Hyperion)
  The Complete History of Why I Hate Her (2010, Atheneum)
Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (2011, Scholastic)

I Will Save You by Matt de la Pena (2010,  Delacorte)
 Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson (2012, Simon & Schuster)
 Try Not To Breathe by Jennifer Hubbard (2012, Viking)
 Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd  (2009, Dial Books)
 Where Things Come Back by John Whaley (2011, Atheneum)
 Rush for the Gold by John Feinstein (2012, Alfred A. Knopf)
  The Raft by S.A. Bodeen (2012, Fiewel and Friends)

The Night My Sister Went Missing by Carol Plum-Ucci (2006, Harcourt)
 Shift by Jennifer Bradbury  (2008, Atheneum)
 Black Rabbit Summer by Kevin Brooks (2008, Scholastic)
 The Morgue and Me by John Ford (2009, Viking)
 The Turning by Francine Prose (2012, HarperTeen)
Ship Breaker by Paulo Bacigalupi (2010, Little Brown)
The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher (2011, Sourcebook Fire)
Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham (2007, Candlewick Press)
Formerly Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham (2013, Candlewick Press)

A Summer of Kings by Han Nolan (2006, Harcourt)
The Vestpertine by Saundra Mitchell (2011, Harcourt)
The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd (2013, Balzer+Bray)

BOOKS FOR THE BOYS (and girls)
Before You Go by James Preller (2012, Fiewel and Friends)
The Beet Fields by Gary Paulsen (2000, Delacorte Press)
Surface Tension by Brent Runyon (2009, Alfred A. Knopf)

Killer Pizza by Greg Taylor (2009, Fiewel and Friends)
Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore (2011, Delacorte)
The Diviners by Libba Bray

Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs (2010, Katherine Tegen)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Throwback Thursday (book review): Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, ill. by Maira Kalman

Little Brown, 2011
Min is mad, but more than that, her heart is broken...

Min doesn't have a lot of friends, but the ones she does have are loyal and close, with Al being her closest friend.  Between him and the avant-garde movies she loves, her life is really good.  Until Ed Slaterton showed up....

She was "arty;" he was an athlete.  She had a free-spirit; his was defined by his friends.  Min was under the radar; Ed was the one girls wanted to be with and guys wanted to hang with.  Her lifestyle was nostalgic; his was trendy.  Both of them showed each other a new world.

It was a complete accident, their meeting.  She searched for him, he handed her a beer (which Min poured out discreetly).  They talked that night and soon, this led to another meeting, then another...and then they became a couple. 

And everyone wondered why they were together.  But Ed knew, with all of his heart, that Min was different and he loved the fact that she wasn't just another pretty face.  Min was secretly, than openly, thrilled about being Ed Slaterton's girlfriend, even if it meant she had to sacrifice some things, including her favorite coffee shop.

But today, she wants no part of Ed.  Nothing about him in her life is the cleansing she needs.  So she takes everything they ever shared, including a:
pinhole camera
toy truck
plant pod

oily kitchen towel....and so much, so many more.

They go in a box, along with her story of why they broke up. 

The premise of this book is simple.  Each chapter contains an item and the story that goes along with it in chronological order.  Told from Min's point of view, the reader becomes entangled in her story and the curiosity quotient is raised of how, not especially why, Min broke up with him.  But this book is unique in another very different way.  Daniel Handler writes with dangling participles galore.  It will take a reader to fine tune the voice in their head to follow the pattern his writing takes on, including the ever important comma pauses he uses.  It is also because of his stylized writing that Min's character truly comes out, filled with emotion and packed with meaning.  Handler also creates the town Min lives in and the world of film she loves, not with the branded names of coffee houses, Hollywood, and music, but with care, choosing imaginative names to convey the feeling each name evokes. 

Simple book, intricate writing....two very different styles that compliment and run alongside the two main characters in this book that reflect Handler's writing.  Interspersed throughout are deft, well-spaced illustrations of each item Min discards.  Recommended for high school (9-12).

Sidenote: it has been a long time since I've read a book that was actually sewn.  Also, this is a heavy book (literally, not figuratively) with glossy thick pages.  Not your typical YA book, and one that definitely stands out. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Connecting with the real world: Booktalking notes for spring 2013

I had my last booktalk of the year in April, strategically before state testing so the students would have something really good to read.  Here are the notes for the books I talked for 9-12th grade:

Miracle by Elizabeth Scott (real life read):  Final Destination, the movie.  PTSD
Leading question:  Other than war, what are some other instances where people can suffer from PTSD?

Zoe Letting Go by Nora Price (real life read):  famous journals in history
Leading question: Why do people keep journals?  How would you react if someone read yours?

Legend by Marie Lu (dystopia): current hot topic issues Americans face today that deals with government (gun control)
Leading question: Do you trust the government 100%?  Why or why not? 

Darkwater by Catherine Fisher (fantasy): stories about the Devil throughout history (Devil and Daniel Webster, Faust
Leading question:  how many of you have ever heard this song?  Do a little Charlie Daniels.  Explain how this is recurrent theme throughout literature.

The Diviners by Libba Bray (supernatural): haunted places in our area
Leading question:  Anyone ever heard of la Llorna?  How about Chupacabra?  Regional legend ghost stories.  Are they true or not?

Eve & Adam by Michael Grant and Catherine Applegate (science fiction): protein folds mystery and the gamers who helped solve it.
Leading question: What would the perfect teen look like (in your mind?)  Is it ethical or not to "play" with genetics?

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta (fantasy): Talk about Kony or Saddam Hussein
Leading question:  What causes people to become refugees?  How can they start over again?

Falling for You by Lisa Schroeder (girl reads; novel in verse): signs of an obsessive person (taking up all of your time, needing you in his life in order to live, constant contact, telling you what to wear/look like)
Leading question:  Where is the fine line between a relationship and obsession?  Has anyone ever heard of a crime of passion?

Fateful by Claudia Gray (historial supernatural): Titanic exhibit in Ft. Worth; the 2015 launch of the replicated Titanic
Leading question: How long have werewolves been around?  How did they get from Europe to America?

Scandalous: 50 shocking events you should know about (so you can impress your friends) by Hallie Fryd (non-fiction): Look at cover and talk about two events: Elvis and his shocking antics: Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding.  How the impacted history.  Yes, history does have a dark and dirty side, and this book has the stories the textbooks leave out.

Infects by Sean Beaudoin (supernatural tongue-in-cheek):Zombie talk  (fast, slow, what infected them, how to kill/evade them)
Leading question:  Have you ever had a case of food poisoning? 

Trinity: a graphic history of the first atomic bomb by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm (non-fiction): How many times was the A-bomb detonated?  Where?  One of the best kept government secrets of its time.  Oppenheimer was the creator, but how did he feel about this thing he created?  Why did the U.S. choose Nagasaki or Hiroshima?

The Raft by S.A. Bodeen (real life read; thriller): Life of Pi; the effects of dehydration
Leading question:  Besides food and water, what would be the most important thing to have on a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean?

Breathe by Sarah Crossen: air quality alerts; the most polluted cities in the world
Leading question: Do all people need the same amount of oxygen to survive?  What about those that live in mountains vs. prairies dwellers?  Athletes or sendentary people?

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (supernatural): Different ways of divination (tea leaves, magic ball, tarot cards)
Leading question: Do psychics have the abilities they claim or not?  Ever watched Long Island Medium or Psychic Detective on television?

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson (girl reads): hindsight; spending your entire summer with your parents and siblings
Leading question:  Ever had one of those moments when you know you screwed up but didn't do anything about it?  Ever wished for a do-over?

Zoo by James Patterson (adult fiction): story about the chimpanzee that turned on its owner and caused substantial facial damage
Leading question: If you had a pet you loved and it turned on you, what would you do?

Ten by Gretchen McNeill (mystery): movie the Elevator; Agatha Christie
Leading question: What's the best thing about being on an island?  The worse?

The Turning by Francine Prose (psychological mystery): long-distance relationships
Leading question:  If you were offered a summer job that paid big time, would you give up all phone and internet access the entire summer? 

Before You Go by James Preller (real life read): Three things guys think about (food, girls, hanging out) and the nothing box they are all equipped with
Leading question: What is the best summer job for a teen?  Are they different for guys and girls?

Visit Sunny Chernobyl: and other adventures in the world's most polluted places by Andrew Blackwell (non-fiction):  brief history of the infamy of Chernobyl; current disasters that pollute the earth (Fukishima).  Talk briefly about one other place in the book (India river) and end with the fact the Texas made the top five list of the most polluted places on earth. 

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf (non-fiction): Which is more difficult, elementary or junior high?  How about junior high or high school?  Talk about Jeffrey's history in school and the demons he had to battle.  Describe his social life and his relationship with his friend Derf.  Then talk about what happened 10 years later, when Derf saw him on television...

Monday, May 13, 2013

The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd

Balzer +Bray, 2013

Juliet once knew the life of luxury, but that is far behind her now.  Her reality is working as a cleaning woman, rubbing her knuckles bare scrubbing the bloody floors of the surgical hospital to keep her off of the streets.  Even if Juliet isn’t working on the streets, she still must fend off those who have enjoyed seeing her and her family’s fall in society and feel she should be treated as such.  

Her father is dead, but he caused enough damage to ruin Juliet and her mother’s future without him.  But one item, a drawing of a vivisection taken from her father’s journal, leads Juliet to seek out the person who owns this.  And that one item will also lead her down a dark and dangerous path.  This ripped page from her father's personal journals is all the confirmation Juliet needs to motivate her desire to seek the truth, and leads her to Montgomery, an old friend and former servant.

What he tells Juliet is beyond belief.  Her father is alive, living on an island as a recluse and using Montgomery to go for supplies when needed, regardless of how odd or dangerous those may be.  Juliet demands she goes back with him, even though his friend Balthazar makes her uneasy. 

The journey is more than anyone bargained for, and when Juliet finally reaches the island and understands exactly what her father, Dr. Moreau is doing, the true horror begins.  Juliet’s life is also in danger due to an aberration Dr. Moreau has created that is beginning to kill the natives and will think nothing of killing the humans….madness has taken control.

Shepherd has taken the classic tale of The Island of Dr. Moreau and created an alternate re-telling, which includes many of the same characters but in a slighty variegated form.  This story is as chilling as the original  and readers of historical fiction and horror fiction will find themselves mesmerized.  Juliet is a strong female character trapped not only physically on an island but emotionally as well as she battles between her desires and fears.  Although Shepherd doesn’t write in detail about Moreau’s creations, the reader can most certainly “see” them through the small details she does provide.  I'm firmly grounded in the camp of readers that thoroughly enjoyed this book.  As a bonus, the cover is as enthralling as the story told within it.   Recommended. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

2013. G.P Putnam's Sons (imprint of Penguin)
 They came way before, nestling into the quiet brains of the sleeping, waiting and biding their time.... Eighteen years later, they showed themselves, their ship hovering like a giant green eye in the sky, silent. Everyone watched it for ten days, hoping for some kind of communication or sign. Their unease grew, but if these aliens were trying to kill, wouldn't they have done it by now?

On the tenth day, the attack began. Electricity and power shut down by a massive EMP. At first people were thinking that it would be restored in a few hours, but it didn't happen. The mayhem grew, causing worldwide panic, and few died.

 Then the second wave hit. This was planned methodically and with precision. The result were giant tsunamis taking out cities, countries, entire chunks of the earth as we knew it. Millions died, and without any electricity there was no hope of rescue. But they weren't done yet.

 The third wave was the most deadly. They used nature to attack humanity, spreading a deadly virus that killed. If the second wave didn't kill you, this one would. Millions more were killed in this wave, with a few who lived through it because of resistance to the virus. Humans became an endangered species.

The fourth wave was the first direct assault from the aliens. The silencers...tracking down humanity and killing them point blank, no questions asked. They used drones and foot soldiers to locate colonies and wipe them out. No mercy. Whatever you called them, they were the enemy.

Cassie saw her family die, and now alone, she struggles to survive, holding the last remnants of her old life, a teddy bear her little brother loved. Beside the bear is her protector, an M-16. Cassie knows survival depends only on yourself, never any other person. One will make you invisible, two will make you a target.

Little did she know that there was a 5th wave, the deadliest of all...

Told in four teen perspectives, Yancey writes an incredibly in-depth dystopian novel that is noticeably more sophisticated. The reader walks beside Cassie, a tough kick-A girl who knows the reality even when it frightens her; her little brother Sam, an innocent kid who wants protection but becomes the ultimate pawn; Ben, a popular athletic boy who finds himself defending his life and those of others as a soldier; and Evan, who escaped attacks through isolation and ingenuity. Although it is the characters that capture the readers' attention,it is the psychology behind the attacks and how it affects survivors that gives this novel an edge, pulling the reader through the story until realization dawns on them about what exactly is happening. The pace is fast and the writing is spot on for anyone wanting hardcore dystopian science fiction. You had better buy not two copies, but three or four because they will be quickly checked out and on demand. The book trailers are equally compelling (found on ). HIGHLY recommended!!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

If you need help with library signage...

Take a look at this hilarious video!  The music is cheesy, the signage is great!  I got a kick out of it :)  Can't say that librarians are nothing short of creative!!