Monday, February 24, 2014

10 Great YA Reads (and their sequels) for Warmer Weather

Feathered by Laura Kasischke. HarperTeen, 2008.
While on Spring Break in Cancun, Mexico, high-school seniors and best friends Anne and Michelle accept the wrong ride and Michelle is lost--seemingly forever.

The Living by Matt de la Pena.  Delacorte Press, 2013
After an earthquake destroys California and a tsunami wrecks the luxury cruise ship where he is a summer employee, high schooler Shy confronts another deadly surprise.
 Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson.  Simon & Schuster, 2012
After Taylor Edwards' family gets devastating news, they decide to spend one last summer all together at their lake house in the Pocono Mountains, they get to know each other again and bond, and Taylor remembers her past friends and crush.

The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen.  Viking, 2013
During her last summer at home before leaving for college, Emaline begins a whirlwind romance with Theo, an assistant documentary filmmaker who is in town to make a movie

Desert Crossing by Elise Broach. Henry Holt, 2006
A summer trip across the New Mexico desert turns nightmarish for fourteen-year-old Lucy, her older brother Jamie, and his best friend Kit, as they become involved in the suspicious death of a young girl.

The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson.  Arthur Levine, 2013
In a Brazil of the distant future, June Costa falls in love with Enki, a fellow artist and rebel against the strict limits of the legendary pyramid city of Palmares Tres' matriarchal government, knowing that, like all Summer Kings before him, Enki is destined to die.

   Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore.  Delacorte Press, 2011
Seventeen-year-old Amy Goodnight has long been the one who makes her family of witches seem somewhat normal to others, but while spending a summer with her sister caring for their aunt's farm, Amy becomes the center of weirdness when she becomes tied to a powerful ghost.  Sequel: Spirit and Dust

Unbroken by Paula Morris.  Point, 2013
Returning to New Orleans for spring break, sixteen-year-old Rebecca finds herself embroiled in another murder mystery from more than a century, when she meets the ghost of a troubled boy.  Prequel: Ruined

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr.  HarperTeen, 2007.  (series)
Seventeen-year-old Aislinn, who has the rare ability to see fairies, is drawn against her will into a centuries-old battle by Keenan, the terrifying but alluring Summer King, who determines that she must become his queen and save summer from perishing.

Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs.  Katherine Tegen Books, 2010. (series)
Seventeen-year-old Lily, half-mermaid and half-human, has been living on land and attending high school, where she develops a crush on a boy but is afraid to tell him of her true destiny as the ruler of the undersea kingdom of Thalassinia.

(picture collages by Fotor Photo Collage)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

It's all about Divergent!!

So, March 22nd is the big date, and nearly EVERYONE is thrilled about seeing the movie.  In the library I can't keep up with how many copies are out or on hold or even missing!  I'm just crossing my fingers that this isn't a sleeper, but a HUGE success!

And I'm getting swept along with the tide of excitement!  Recently on a listserv, I was following a strand about an idea a wonderful librarian named Amanda K started.  She's making a display revolving around the four factions and needed titles.  Of course I contributed to the conversation, but my wheels began to turn about how I could fashion my March bulletin board display to this as well....

My library assistant and I started knocking heads on this one.  She found a PERFECT poster from EpicReads ( ) that gave her ideas for displays on the shelves.

I found a wiki with PLENTY of information, including the faction graphics we can freehand (or rather a gifted student with art skills, since I suck at drawing!  Thank goodness there's a thing called an Elmo!)

Then I came up with a list of books for each faction.  It was a dauntless task, filled with abnegation to share with the erudites of the world who need a little more amity in their lives. (yeah, yeah...couldn't help myself)  So here's what I'm using:

Abnegation (definition: selflessness)
Beastly by Alex Flinn
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult
Hideous Love by Stephanie Hemphill
Deadline by Chris Crutcher
Contaminated by Em Garner

Erudite (definition: great knowledge or learning)
The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
Accomplice by Eireann Corrigan
Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks
Test by William Sleator
Cheater by Michael Laser

Amity (definition: friends; friendly relationship)
Boy 21 by Matthew Quick
Roomies by Sara Zarr
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Fransisco X. Stork
Hothouse by Chris Lynch

Dauntless (definition: fearlessness, determination)
The Warriors Heart: Becoming a Man of Passion and Courage by Eric Grietens
Courage Has No Color: the true story of the Triple Nickels: America’s First Black Paratroopers by Tanya Lee Stone
The Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Fearless by Cornelia Funke
The Odyssey by Homer

Candor (definition:honesty)
To Be Perfectly Honest by Sonya Sones
Harmless by Dana Reinhardt
In Too Deep by Amanda Grace
Inexcusable by Chris Lynch
Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
A little of everything from fantasy to non-fiction; romance to real life reads, even new vocabulary words!  So can you use this?  PLEASE DO!  Let's all make the world a little more Divergent, shall we?  

Friday, February 14, 2014

In the After by Demetria Lunetta

HarperTeen, 2013

Amy lived with her mother and father in the typical life of a suburban teenager.  But now everything is different.  Amy’s perception of time is different – “the past is Before, and the present is After.  Before was reality; the After, a nightmare”.

Her mother is gone and her father is dead.  She’s alone and her world is caving in.  It’s now a matter of survival and stealth.  They hear every sound and are fast…very fast.  Light attracts Them like moths to a candle.  They have no mercy and will kill and feast on everyone they capture.  They are taking over…

Amy has no idea where They came from or how it all happened.  But she has no time to think about that.  Because of her mother’s incessant need for protection, her house is fortified to keep Them out, but she still has to go out to forage for food.  And it’s during one of those forays that she meets Baby, a toddler who doesn’t talk, doesn’t make a sound.  Amy knows adding another person into her life and home right now is dangerous at best, but she can’t leave this little girl out there to die. 

Three years later, Baby and Amy are still struggling to make life happen.  Now they have to contend with more than Them.  There are other people who have managed to survive, but it has become more like survival of the fittest where no one can be trusted.  The ones who survived will do anything to ensure their own safety and no one else’s, and life has hardened Amy to feel the same way.  It’s only about her and Baby, but one decision will spiral out of control and put them both in serious danger.

Little does Amy know there are two worlds co-existing together; one outside the walls and one within the safety of New Hope, a colony of survivors who have managed to live through intelligence and science.  While Amy has struggled, New Hope has kept Them out through their own inventions and research.  But little does Amy know what exactly is going on in this too perfect world…

Part science fiction, part horror, Demetria Lunetta writes a dystopian novel that takes the reader into the pages, not just reading them.  The emotional compromise of the main characters in every situation creates the reality of this book and leans heavily on this technique to create a very well-written and read plot.  Amy is tough but still vulnerable without overstereotyping.  Lunetta goes beyond by creating dual main characters in both Amy and Baby, a symbiotic relationship.  The reader understands the bonds between the two and is constantly wondering if a shift in trust to outsiders will make or break that oneness.  Lunetta also captures the dualism throughout the book by creating both a dark and light side in everything from the characters to the setting to the theme. It’s this remarkable ability, wondering which side is dark and which is light, that makes the complexity in the novel stand out.  Recommended JH/HS
Paired Reading: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
Book trailer:

Thursday, February 13, 2014

For the Good of Mankind: The shameful history of human medical experimentation by Vicki Oranksy Wittenstein

Twenty First Century Books, 2014

We’ve all heard of guinea pig scientists…the brave ones who boldly experimented on themselves to further medicine.  We applaud people like Marie Curie and Daniel Carrion who took that risk and put themselves in harm’s way for the good of humankind.  But there is a dark side to everything….

Simeon Shaw was a child from Australia who was diagnosed with cancer.  He was flown to the United States, along with his mother, to receive experimental treatment for his condition.  He died not knowing he was part of an experiment on human radiation.  Simeon died…

That was in 1946, but human experimentation has been going on long before Simeon.  Slaves were used is many gruesome ways, but they weren’t the only hapless victims.  Children in orphanages, those who were mentally handicapped, and prisoners were all subjected to the same harsh, dangerous and painful experiments doctors used to for research. 

There have been cases where this type of medical butchery has surfaced and created a maelstrom of outrage and recompense.  The most infamous ones were those done during the Holocaust by the notorious and odious Josef Mengele.  Another occurred in the United States...the Tuskegee experiment, in 1932.  African American men thought they were going to free clinics, when the fact was they were experiments on a study for syphilis, which can kill.  The facts weren’t exposed until much later when most of the men had died from health complications.  Then there was Henrietta Lacks, who wasn’t so much experimented upon as were her cells, which were taken without authority and harvested for biomedical experimentation.  Today, scientists still use her cells, even though she never gave consent for this back in 1951…

We may think that this type of abuse can’t possibly go on in the modern world, but it still does.  Think about all of those commercials you see on television asking for people to be part of a new “study” for a new drug.  Although consent is now law, there are still many countries where it isn’t, and where there’s ignorance of law and need for medicine, many people will suffer through “studies” hoping to receive health care in places where none exists.

Wittenstein writes a powerful and in-depth look at the subject of human experimentation from the past to the present.  She leaves no doubt about the horrors and scars they have left behind and writes about real life accounts that are occurring now.  The bottom line may not always be about advancing science so much as advancing ego or from financial gain.  This non-fiction book is different from others I’ve read because it goes further with the reader by having a book study/lesson guide at the end to create conversation.  As a young adult novel, it’s these types of questions that will stir not only emotion, but also morality and make teens think.  Wittenstein blurs the line and creates that gray area that people, from intellectual to working class backgrounds, will finds themselves in, wondering what is right and true while taking either side of the issue.  It is definitely clear  that Wittenstein has done some quality research, and has skillfully condensed it into a short non-fiction book (less than 100 pages) with actual photographs of some of these incidences.  But those 100 pages will make you think about this topic long after you put the book down.  Highly recommended for JH/HS

Book pair:

Non-Fiction:  Guinea Pig Scientists: Bold Self-Experimenters in Science and Medicine by Mel Boring, Leslie Dendy, and C.B. Mordan  

2005, Henry Holt and Co

Fiction:  Dr. Frankenstein's Daughters by Suzanne Weyn 
                   2013, Scholastic Press
            The Madman's Daughter by Morgan Shepherd 
                   2013, Balzer + Bray