Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Riot by Walter Dean Myers

Riot is a historical fiction novel by Walter Dean Myers, who is a prolific young adult writer. Historical fiction are stories set during real life past events, but the characters have been made up my the author. In this case, Myers' story takes place in New York City in July 1863. The Civil War still wages on and the Battle of Gettysburg has recently taken place. The real life event Myers focuses on is a riot that took place in New York City on July 11, 1863. This event would later be known at the New York City Draft Riots of 1863.

During the war there was an escalation of tension, especially after a draft was federally instituted. All male citizens between ages 20-35, as well as unmarried men ages 35-45 could be enlisted into the army by way of a lottery draw. Men who could afford to pay $300 could buy there way out of the draft, which alienated lower class immigrants, including the Irish. Black men were also not required to serve in the military because they did not have citizen status. Riots broke out in New York City after the July lottery. Frustrated by their forced participation in the Civil War, many of the rioters were Irish Americans. Stores and buildings were looted and set afire. Many black Americans, whom the Irish blamed, were attacked and in some cases murdered.

Myers' story focused on Clair, a 15-yr-old daughter of an Irish mother and black father. Claire is torn between the conflict because of her mix background and is forced to address race issues and her own identity.

Riot addresses race, bigotry, and social class. Myers delivers this story as a screenplay, as he did with Monster, which may appear and read oddly to the traditional book reader. However, this style does move the story along quickly and gives the reader an idea of just how tense people were due to their frustration, exhaustion, and emotional turmoil evoked during the Civil War. Myers allows young adults to better understand the reasons that brought on the riots through his unique way of storytelling.

The Young Adult collection at Moore Memorial Public Library contains several books written by Walter Dean Myers, including Sunrise over Fallujah, Monster, and Street Love.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bayou: Vol. One by Jeremy Love

The story takes place in Mississippi in 1933. Lee Wagstaff, the daughter of a black sharecropper, is friends with Lily, a white girl, in a segregated society. The two girls regularly play by the bayou, where black victims of racial violence are often dumped. One day Lily is abducted by a monster, but Lee’s father is blamed and may soon face a lynch mob. In order to save her father and friend, Lee enters Dixie, a parallel universe of Southern lore. While in Dixie, Lee witnesses the horrors of the South’s racially violent past. She also encounters Bayou, a creature who is troubled by the realities of discrimination. Lee and Bayou learn a lot about one another and work to succeed against racial discrimination.

Love created the story and illustrations for this fascinating story. Originally seen as a web comic at, operated by DC Comics, this is the first book in a three-part series.

The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks by Max Brooks; Illustrated by Ibraim Roberson

Max Brooks has made a name for himself writing about zombies. If there could be an authority on these creatures, Brooks would most likely be it. The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks is an illustrated history of zombie attacks throughout history. There is an old adage that history will repeat itself if we don’t learn from previous mistakes. Brooks considers this in the presentation of his story.

The Survival Guide is full of graphic zombie attacks since the dawn of time. The retelling is presented as a collection of short stories beginning in 60,000 B.C. in Central Africa and traveling to various locations across the globe, such as Feudal Japan (A.D. 1611) to 1992 at Joshua Tree National Park in California.

The overall story is light on character development, since each story is 9-10 pages long. However, the illustrations provided by Roberson assist in making these short stories entertaining and a little horrifying. For a more character-driven zombie story Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead: here we remain (YP Fic Kirkman) is recommended.

Max Brooks is also the author of World War Z: an oral history of the zombie war (SF Brooks), which is also available at the Moore Memorial Public Library in the science fiction section.

Special Edward by Eric Walters

Who likes school? Who likes homework? Edward, a classic slacker, is not a fan of either. In fact, as long as he barely passes his classes he’s perfectly fine with mediocrity. He begins exploring his options when his borderline average is threatened. What can he do to pass his classes, but do little to no work? When he discovers students in “special ed.” classes get longer test-taking times and have little homework, Edward begins to craft a plan to have himself placed in the remedial program. However, he soon discovers convincing people he should be in special education classes is more work than the slacker could have imagined.

Eric Walters is a Canadian author who has penned over sixty juvenile and young adult books. The Moore Memorial Library has several of his young adult books, including Sketches, Laggen Lard Butts, Stuffed, Juice, Grind, Overdrive, Caged Eagles, and War of the Eagles.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

IraqiGirl: diary of a teenage girl in Iraq

The United States’ involvement in Iraq is regularly reported on the news. Lately the news has reported on the approaching elections, bombings and killings, and the United States’ exit strategy. For a young adult these matters may be of little interest, unless you have family and friends who are somehow involved or based in Iraq.
The United States’ occupation of Iraq began in 2003. In 2004 a 15 year-old girl, Hadiya, began blogging about her life in the city of Mosul, Iraq. Her blog was known as IraqiGirl. Recently a collection of her earlier blog posts were collected and published as IraqiGirl: diary of s teen age girl in Iraq (call number 956.704431 Iraqigir). Her firsthand accounts and reflection of the situation occurring in her country provides a unique perspective to everyone living outside this situation, especially young adults.
Hadiya is just like most teenagers. She worries about school, watches television when there is electricity, and discusses her relationships with family and friends. However, her experience is unique because she is constantly surrounded by war and the effects it has on her country. Her blog is an honest recollection of loss, grief, and a determined survival. She loses family members. Friends and family are forced to flee their homes. She is open about her choice to be a Muslim and responds to criticism from comments made by her readership. She also discusses U.S. and Iraqi military enforcements, such as curfew.
Hadiya is still contributing to the IraqiGirl blog. Once you finish this collection of earlier blog posts, I recommend continuing to read her unique firsthand account of the ever-changing political spectrum in Iraq.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Mental Health: Teen Health Resources

Another guide for young adults is now available at thelibrary and online.

Mental Health: Teen Health Resources is an overview of library books, databases, and websites that will better inform young adults about mental health issues, such as depression, suicide, and cutting. This guide may be useful for school projects or for personal needs. This is not a listing of all available books on this subject at the library, but acts as an introdction to mental health. The books selected present the facts about mental health issues, including firsthand accounts from those who have suffered from depression. There is also a listing for Galveston Teen Health Center, which has a location at Blocker Middle School.

If you have an additional questions regarding the library's mental health collection, please speak with a reference librarian.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Leviathan is the first book of a new steampunk trilogy written by young adult, sci-fi writer, Scott Westerfeld. Steampunk is a genre of science fiction writing that encompasses a unique mix of past and future. The first steampunk novels were written by H.G. Wells (War of the Worlds) and Jules Verne (Journey to the Center of the Earth). Originally, steampunk was set in the Victoria era with futurist possibilities, like flying machines, computer-like contraptions, and weapons. The genre eventually evolved to include sub-genres known as clockpunk (16th Century) and dieselpunk (WWI era).

Westerfeld’s new series begins in 1914 with the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which was the event that sparked World War I. Instead of accurately retelling the events of WWI, Westerfeld creates an alternate history, where countries are divided by science and warfare. Countries, like Germany and Austria, known as Clankers, have highly developed war machines. Other countries, such as England, have trusted Darwinists scientists, who developed living war machines and new animals through cross breeding DNA. The Leviathan is part whale, part airship, and it is the pride of the Air Service.

At the beginning of the story we meet young Aleksander (Alek), son of the assassinated Archduke, who is forced to flee his homeland. He is being chased by the Germans and Austrians because he is a threat to the Austrian Empire. The story also introduces Deryn, a young girl who is passing as a teen boy in order to join the British Air Service. She is a talented airman, but women aren’t allowed to fly.

The two cross paths at the start of the war. Alek and his men, who escaped to Switzerland, encounter Deryn and the Leviathan crew when the airship crashes after a German air assault. This book starts an around the world journey and a clash of thinking on man, machine, and science.

Watch this:
Leviathan Book Trailer

Scott Westerfeld has written a number of novels and many of them are available at the library. You may be familiar with the previous series, Pretties, Uglies, Specials, and Extras. Vampire enthusiasts may be familiar with Peeps and The Last Days.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Ever by Gail Carson Levine

Ever, the latest book from Gail Carson Levine, is told in two voices. Kezi, a well-to-do mortal girl from the city of Hyte, and Olus, an Akkan god of the winds, tell the story of how they met, fell in love, and the challenges they faced coming from two different worlds.

Olus leaves the mountain of the Akkan gods, to live among mortals. At 17 he is the youngest of the gods by hundreds of years and is often lonely. While living disguised as a herder, he falls in love with Kezi, a beautiful dancer and rug weaver, who is cursed to an early death to her god, Admat. The two meet and fall in love, which is when the story’s pace quickens.

In order to be together, Kezi must become immortal and Olus must become a champion. The power of their love provides each the strength to face fears and fight fate. If they pass, they will have all eternity to be together. If they fail, Kezi will lose her life and Olus will lose his true love.

Levine has created another fantasy tale that is sure to charm younger teens. Although the book does question faith in religion, it is done so in an intriguing, intelligent a manner.

Gail Carson Levine is also the author of Ella Enchanted, which received the Newberry Honor award. She has also written a number of books, which are available at the library. Ever is available in the Young Adult books section in print and audio.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Interworld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reeves

Teen Read Week 2009 is less than a week away, and its theme is Read Beyond Reality. TO accompany this theme, the next few blog posts are going to focus on science fiction and fantasy young adult stories. Interworld, by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves, is a science fiction/fantasy novel on the suggested Teen Read Week reading list.

Interworld tells the story of Joey Harker, a directionally challenged teenager from Greenville. Joey discovers his ability to “walk” between parallel universes when on a high school field trip. He also quickly discovers that there are multiple versions of Earth in these parallel universes. These different versions of Earth have different versions of Joey, as well.

He, along with the other versions of himself, has special abilities to walk between parallel universes and fight against the evil forces, who want to take over the Altiverse. (The Altiverse contains all of the universes and whatever lies in between.) The evil forces are The Hex, who use magic, and The Binary, who rely on science. Both groups travel in the “Nowhere-at-all”, which is like hyperspace.

Joey finds himself thrust into training at a special school to become a Walker and constantly finds trouble. The Hex, led by Lord Dogknife and Lady Indigo, are out to get Joey because he has incredible power. The Hex use the abilities of Walkers to power their ships, which they need to take over the Altiverse. Joey and his team are trapped by Lady Indigo and her companions, Scarabus, a creature covered in magical tattoos, and Neville, who has transparent skin, while on a training mission.

While Joey is able to escape, his team is captured. Joey faces the consequences of leaving his team behind when he returns to Interworld HQ. The young Walker must then overcome great consequences, including having his memory erased and banishment, to rescue his friends.

Interworld is a quick read and highly entertaining, especially if you enjoy science fiction and/or fantasy. Gaiman does an excellent job describing inter-universe travel and keeps the reader entertained from beginning to end.

Neil Gaiman has had a significant writing career for more than the past twenty years. IN the Dictionary of Literary Biography he is listed as one of the top ten living post-modern writers. In the comic book world, Gaiman’s first huge success was the Sandman series. During its run it won nine Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, including the award for Best Writer four times, and three Harvey Awards. Sandman #19 won the 1991 World Fantasy Award, making it the first comic to ever win a literary award.

Gaiman is also known for his book, Coraline, which was adapted into a film directed by Tim Burton. The library has a print and audio version of Coraline (J Fic Gaiman; J AD Fic Gaiman), as well as the DVD of the Burton adaptation (DVD Coraline).

Other Young Adult books by Gaiman:
The Last Temptation
Marvel 1602
Sandman: Endless Nights
Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes
Sandman: World’s End
Other books by Michael Reaves:
Reaves books are available in the Science Fiction section of the library.
Jedi Twilight
Patterns of Force
Streets of Shadows
Star Wars: Death Star

Monday, October 12, 2009

New Teen Health Bibliography: Body Image

Back in June I posted about a collection of short stories called Does This Book Make Me Look Fat (YP Fic Does). This fiction collection, which was put together for young adults, focuses on body image, eating disorders, diets, self-esteem, and related issues. Body image is an issue that many teens and adults deal with because of societal pressures, including our fascination with celebrities.

A new bibliography, Body Image: Teen Health Resources, is now available online and in print at the Moore Memorial Public Library. This guide is a collection of books available at the library, databases, and websites. The primary focus is body image, but also addresses diet, anorexia, bulimia, and teen physical health.

Please visit the link posted above or pick up a paper coy of the guide, which is available by the online catalog computers in the reference area. If you have any additional questions regarding body image, please visit the library's reference desk and speak with a librarian.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Teen Read Week 2009! Read Beyond Reality...

Teen Read Week 2009 (TRW) is October 18-24, 2009. This year's theme is "Read Beyond Reality," which encourages teens to extraordinary, imaginary books. The purpose of TRW is to encourage teens to read for fun. There are so many things to occupy teens time, like the Internet, TV, and video games, but a good book can be just as entertaining.

There is currently a "Read Beyond Reality" book display located near the Young Adult book section. All of the featured books are science-fiction and fantasy. Scott Westerfeld's new book, Leviathan, is a part of the display. Westerfeld also wrote the very popular Uglies, Pretties, Specials books. Another new releases, Prism, by Faye Kellerman, and Timelock, by David Klass, are also a part of the display.

Here are a few more books currently on display:
The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare
A Resurrection of Magic Series by Kathleen Duey
Interworld by Neil Gaiman and Michael Reaves
The Declaration by Gemma Malley
Unwind by Neal Shusterman
The New Policeman by Kate Thompson
Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund
Dull Boy by Sarah Cross
The Rule of Claw by John Brindley
The Lab by Jack Heath
The Tomorrow Code by Brian Falkner

Please check out the display and pick up a book to read during Teen Read Week. And, you don't just have to stick with the books on display. The Young Adult collection is full of science fiction and fantasy for you to browse.

Local teens are also invited to attend the Teen Advisory Board program on Friday, October 16th at 3:30 PM. The TAB will be painting a science fiction-themed mural, which will be displayed in the library. More information is available here.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Wicked Lovely/ Desert Tales: Sanctuary by Melissa Marr

Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely was a hugely successful book, which was followed by additional success of the follow-up novel Ink Exchange. The third novel, Fragile Eternity, was released during the summer with equal enthusiasm from Marr’s fans.

Piggybacking the success of the series Marr has released the first of three manga books called Desert Tales. The author states the series is not necessary to read in order to follow stories from the novels, but rather acts as a companion series. The stories involve some characters from the Wicked Lovely books.

The first story, Sanctuary, follows Rika, a former Winter Girl, who finds solace in the Mojave Desert. According to the Wicked Wiki, Rika was Keenan’s fourth Winter Girl and was eventually replaced by Donia. Rika is removed from the Faerie Court, which she prefers. She seeks isolation from the active faerie lifestyle, which is why she chose to live in the desert.

She enjoys her invisibility until she meets Jace, a human. The desert faeries regularly taunt Jace and his friends. Rika is forced to revel herself when she saves him from a dangerous fall prompted by the faeries. There is an obvious spark between Rika and Jace, but similarly to other story lines in Marr’s Wicked Lovely book, trouble is inevitable for a faerie and a mortal from two very different worlds.

Overall, this story is not nearly as captivating as Marr’s original books. Her language, which tends offers lush descriptions of scenes, emotions, and experiences, is completely lost. The art works, produced by Xian Nu Studio, also does not serve the story line well. They are black and white manga-style illustrations, which do not capture the true beauty of the desert, Rika, and the other faeries. Perhaps if the illustrations would have been in color it would have changed the spirit of the story. Overall, the first book of this series is weak compared to Marr’s Wicked Lovely books, but you be the judge…

Wicked Lovely sidebar:
For those who enjoyed the novel Wicked Lovely it was recently announced that the rights to the book were sold to Universal Pictures. They are currently working to adapt the book into a movie.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Prada and Prejudice by Mandy Hubbard

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, which was originally published in 1813, is a literary classic and most beloved book. There have been a number of modern day stories fashioned around the romance, wit, and tribulations of Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy, such as Mandy Hubbard’s Prada & Prejudice.

Hubbard’s story begins in London in the 21st Century with 15 year-old Callie, who is on a school trip. Ostracized by her fellow students because of her geeky ways and big mouth, Callie is forced to sit alone in a hotel. The school chaperone will not allow students to tour the city alone, and Callie’s travel buddy, popular Angela Marks, has ditched her for more promising prospects. After being stuck in the hotel for the first few days of the trip, Callie is determined to win herself a spot with the popular crowd. She buys a pair of $400 Prada shoes, something Angela is sure to notice, in hopes of making a strong impression and scoring an invitation with the popular girls to a posh London night club.

However, in addition to being geeky, Callie is clumsy. Only a few feet from the Prada store, Callie gets the heel on one of the shoes caught in a grate and falls head first on the street. She is knocked unconscious. When she awakes, unbeknownst to her, she finds herself in the middle of a forest in 1815. When she approaches an estate to borrow the phone, estate guest, 18 year-old Emily, mistakes Callie for long-time American friend, Rebecca.

With little option, Callie assumes Rebecca’s identify to bide for time while she determines an escape route back to the 21st Century. While a guest at the Harksbury Estate, which belongs to the ruggedly handsome and pompous, 19 year-old Alex, the Duke of Harksbury, she manages to wreak social havoc with her modern ways. Unlike, Emily, Callie has no problem speaking her mind, which comes to a shock for the Duke. Their disputes are both contentious and filled with an obvious sexual tension. Callie, based on the Duke’s stuffy appearance and the discovery of some scandalous letters, is decidedly against seeing in good in Alex.

Callie, while posing as Rebecca, becomes fast friends with Emily, who is resisting an arranged marriage to a man thirty years her senior. Emily’s heart belongs to another, and Callie, firmly rooted in modern day women’s rights, decides to help Emily find a way out of her engagement. Perhaps if she can set Emily’s life on the path her heart desires if will help Callie find a way back to her school vacation in modern day London.

Hubbard’s novel is full of stock characters and touches upon Austen’s original plot. At best it is light and airy and does not seriously address the role of women and status in 19th Century England. However, I do not think that was her point. She wanted to write a story that was light, airy, and romantic. This was accomplished, but still lacks the charm and wit of Austen’s original story. This reader would take Pride & Prejudice over Prada any day.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Dark Hunters Volume 1: Story by Sherrilyn Kenyon; Art by Claudia Campos

Author Sherrilyn Kenyon is known for the romantic fiction series The Dark Hunters, which is the basis for this new manga series. Set in New Orleans, The Dark Hunters Volume One sets the story about Amanda Devereaux, an accounting student, who is in denial of her super powers. All of her sisters have embraced their special abilities, but she longs for normalcy and does everything possible to make it happen. She even dates boring men, including Cliff, with whom she was engaged until her magical family freaked him out and he broke things off.

One day when she reluctantly visited her twin sister’s house to let out her dog, Amanda is hit over the head and abducted. She awakes to find herself handcuffed to a gorgeous, blonde hunk of a man, who introduces himself as Hunter. He’s a vampire- kind-of. Really he is a Dark Hunter, who are the good guys in the world of vampires. Dark Hunters fight daimons, who are the bad guys and suck out people’s souls. Amanda and Hunter find themselves united together beyond the hand cuffs they share when one of the deadliest vampires comes after them. Together they must save themselves and the rest of humanity. Along the journey they discover things about themselves and fall for one another.

The story is loosely based on ancient mythology with a vampire twist. There are gods, tough warriors, spells, psychic dreams, and visits from the undead. Volume One of The Dark Hunters acts as an introduction to Kenyon’s story and characters. At times the pages are text heavy, but this seems necessary in order to fit in the weighty story line. Claudia Campos’s illustrations capture the manga style, but unfortunately are forced to compete with the text throughout the story. Kenyon leaves the reader wanting more, but Volume 2 won’t be published until March 2010. In the mean time, if you enjoy this book, check out the original Dark Hunters series. Readers who love romance and vampires are sure to be satisfied while waiting for the release of the next book in the manga series.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Breaking Up (A Fashion High graphic novel) by Aimee Friedman; Art by Christine Norrie

Just remember: "There's a fine line between a friend and an enemy."

Chloe Sacks is excited to start her junior year at Georgia O’Keefe School of the Arts (aka Fashion High) with her three best friends, MacKenzie, Erika and Isabel. Together they set themselves apart from the other students and hold a solid place in the school’s popularity ranks. However as school gets underway, Chloe realizes things aren’t quite the same between the four girls. She is particularly bothered by MacKenzie, who seems to become obsessed with climbing the Fashion High popularity ladder. In order to obtain posh status MacKenzie begins hanging out with Nicola Burnett, one of the most popular and beautiful girls at the school. (Nicola also seems shallow and stuck-up.) Mackenzie also starts flirting with Nicola’s boyfriend, Gabe. Chloe is troubled by the ever-present sense that she and her three best friends are growing apart.

Chloe has another issue. She recently befriended Adam, who doesn’t rank well with the popular crowd in high school. In the past he has often been the butt of Gabe’s jokes and taunting. Her BFFs, especially MacKenzie, would ridicule her if they knew that she and Adam spoke to each other in class. She would be committing “social suicide” if she started hanging out with Adam, even it was strictly platonic. However, Chloe sees something special in Adam, especially after he shows her one of his paintings. As they sit next to each other in art class she begins to realize he’s more than a geek obsessed with math and science. Chloe eventually invites Adam to Gabe’s New Year’s Eve party and her friends are far from supportive. Based on the way they reacted to the two of them together, Chloe decides to continue seeing Adam, but doesn’t tell anyone.

Eventually Chloe and Adam’s secret romance is discovered. Her friends are furious for lying to them, and Adam thinks Chloe is ashamed of him. Chloe is left alone to ponder her future and determine if these lifelong friendships are worth saving. She also needs to come to terms with her heart and what people might think about her falling for a math and science geek.

If you enjoyed Plain Janes and Janes’ in Love by Cecil Castellucci, you will enjoy Breaking Up. Christine Norrie’s illustrations are simple, clean, and capture the personality of each character. It makes me wish Hopeless Savages was still in print. As well, it is easy to see a little bit of yourself and probably your friends in Friedman’s characters. Chloe’s struggle with maintaining a lifelong friendship is an identifiable struggle while in high school. People change as they get older, and true friendship can sustain such things.

Other books available at Moore Memorial Public Library by Aimee Friedmann: Sea Change, The Year My Sister Got Lucky, A Novel Idea, and South Beach.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Destroy All Cars by Blake Nelson

James Hoff is an angst-ridden high school student, whose environmental streak is a little radical for most. Well, it might be if he actually did anything for environmental causes instead of railing against them in his English compositions and his blog. Blake Nelson’s new book, Destroy All Cars, opens with a paper written by Hoff about cars and how they are “completely screwing over the planet.” The story is told through an epistolary format and reads quickly.

According to a recent interview with the author featured on the blog Abe Lincoln’s Hat, the lead character is loosely based on Nelson when he was in high school. Nelson went through a revolutionary phase, where he read The Communist Manifesto, drank espresso at the library, and crushed on artsy girls. However, there is more to Hoff’s character than a teen boy full of frustration. Like many teens James recognizes the flaws in the world and how adults tend to ignore them. There is a helplessness to Hoff because although he sees the problems he not necessarily in a place to provide solutions.

Instead of working to evoke change, James complains- and he is very good at it. In addition to complaining about cars and consumerism he also finds issue with his activist ex-girlfriend, Sadie, who he feels tries to evoke change by using the system. James thinks the system is broken, and offers little solution to solving problems. It’s not until Sadie gets him involved with one of her system-based do-gooder petition projects that he realizes there are proactive ways to work toward establishing environmental change. It also changes his perspective of Sadie, who seems pretty awesome.

Other books by Blake Nelson available at the Library: Girl, They Came from Below, Paranoid Park, Gender Blender, Prom Anonymous, Rock Star Superstar, and The New Rules of High School

If you like Destroy All Cars, you might want to pick up Jennifer Cowan’s first novel, Earthgirl. It is currently available in the New Books area of the library.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Columbine by Dave Cullen

Dave Cullen was one of the first reporters to arrive at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999, the day Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris opened fire on fellow students and their teachers. He has spent the last ten years researching the infamous Columbine shooting to create the first complete account, Columbine, which is available at the library.

Cullen’s intentions in writing this book were to dispel myths propagated by the media after this tragedy occurred. A number of stereotypes, such as the “Trench Coat Mafia” and Goths shooting jocks, were circulated by the media, including Cullen. As an act of apology and from a desire to report the facts, Cullen poured over hundreds of interviews, investigative files, FBI psychologists, and evidence left by the shooters to recreate the series of events that led to Klebold and Harris’ decision to launch an attack on their school. Cullen depicts a very different picture than that portrayed by the media. These boys weren’t outcasts ridiculed at school. In fact, Harris was relatively popular and noted for his charm. Both boys desired to go to their high prom, and Klebold regularly wrote about love in his journal. This tragedy is no longer based on stereotypes, and the media-inspired caricature has been torn away to reveal the killers’ thoughts and motivations.

Although this blog primarily features Young Adult fiction, there is relevance in featuring Columbine, which is a non-fiction book. Cullen’s determination to demonstrate the complexity and depth of the Columbine shooting warrants examination by both teens and adults. The author delivers an important message to be critical of the media and the news they report. As well, Cullen reminds us those tragedies such as Columbine are often more complex than what is reported. As teens (and adults) it is important to remember life and the choices we make are more complicated than where you fit in within the high school ranks.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Leaving Paradise / by Simone Elkeles

As if living next door to the person who maimed you in a drunk driving accident wasn't awkward enough. Now a year after the said incident which severely injured Maggie Armstrong and sent Caleb Becker to prison, things couldn't be more unsettled here in Paradise (,Illinois) as Caleb is released back into society, back home (still next door to Maggie's house) and back to a life now permanently altered by one ill-fated decision.
In light of the "incident", other issues add to the drama. There's the fact that the once inseparable Armstrongs and Beckers haven't spoken in a year, that Caleb's twin sister Leah used to be Maggie's best friend, that both are starting their senior year of high school (having been in the same grade since kindergarten), that Maggie's dad has now left she and her mom, that Maggie's now unable to play tennis/get a scholarship/get the-heck-outta-here, that Caleb's girlfriend Kendra cheated on him while he was locked-up and basically all the constant, unwanted attention which comes from being the hottest gossip in a small town. The real issue though is the relationship between Caleb and Maggie; the terms of where their lifelong friendship now stands and how the rest of their lives will play out. If anything can be got right, each must confront the other knowing full well that the present is all there is--the past is permanent and assumptions about the future are dubious at best.
Elkeles, in her follow-up to debut How to Ruin a Summer Vacation, doles out some serious seriousness in this weighted story of tragedy, scandal, disability, broken trust, relationships, expectations, loyalty and redemption. Though the circumstances seem a little manipulated, the author renders some genuine authenticity through the dual narrative--alternating chapters with Caleb and Maggie in the first-person--and manages to create a sincere atmosphere out of a complex set of characteristics and background details.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Manga Shakespeare Series

School recently began, and some English teachers will be assigning selected works by William Shakespeare. Reading “the Bard” can insight fear in teens who already dread reading, but fear not. There is a series of books that tell Shakespeare’s stories, but they are in a manga format. Instead of words, words, words, Shakespeare’s works are accompanied by anime-inspired drawings, which makes the story-telling much easier and enjoyable.

The library currently has copies of As You Like It, Julius Caesar, and Othello from the Manga Shakespeare series. As You Like It is one of Shakespeare’s more famous comedies, which involves love triangles and reversed gender roles. Julius Caesar is Shakespeare’s tragic retelling of the real-life events surround Caesar’s assassination. Othello is another dark drama, which addresses jealousy, love, betrayal, and racism. Shakespeare’s works continued to be used in schools because of their historical context and relevance in modern society.

I am not encouraging teens to not read their assigned Shakespeare text, but rather suggesting they check out these manga-style retellings to further the reading experience. The stories are abridged, which means the story is a reduced length. The creators of these books focus on the key scenes of the plays. If you are having trouble reading Shakespeare, which at times reads like a foreign language although it is English, the combination of the text with visual images might help you easily translate the author’s intentions.

For teachers and parents who may be reading this blog, Manga Shakespeare uses the skills of a Shakespeare scholar and educational editor when developing their books. As well, they are advised by teachers in making the work more accessible to young adults. Manga, graphic novels, and comic books are effective teaching tools, especially with those who are reluctant to read or where English may be a second language. As well, both boys and girls respond well to this format of storytelling.

Available at Moore Memorial Library: As You Like It, Julius Caesar, and Othello

Friday, September 4, 2009

Books with Soundtracks and Playlists Display

The Young Adult book display, which is located by the last row of the Young Adult section, currently features a selection of books which were inspired by or contain music. Twilight fans are aware Stephenie Meyer was inspired by the band Muse to write the series, and other authors are similarly motivated.

To accompany the books on display I have created a list of websites, where you can find lists of bands who helped create the books we have come to love. A list is available at the book display, but I will post the weblinks here for your viewing pleasure.

Libba Bray: A Great & Terrible Beauty

Rachel Cohn & David Levinthan: Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist

Gayle Forman: If I Stay

John Green: Paper Towns

Tonya Hurley: Ghost Girl

Patrick Jones: Nailed & Things Change

E. Lockhart: Dramarama

Melina Marchetta: Jellicoe Road

Marlene Perez: Dead So Last Year & Others

Lousie Rennison: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson Series

Laurie Stolarz: Touch Series

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Immortals Series by Alyson Noel

The Immortals series begins with Alyson Noels’ book Evermore. It continues with the Blue Moon, which picks up where Evermore left off. Both books are available at the Library in the Young Adult section, as well Art Geeks & Prom Queens, which is a previous publication by Noel.

16 year-old Ever loses her family in a tragic accident. Soon after, as she mourns their loss, she discovers she can hear people’s thoughts, see their auras, and can know a person’s entire life just by touching them. She avoids her classmates and general human contact because of these new abilities and is ostracized at school. When she meets Damen, who can make things disappear and reappear, she is drawn to him because of the calm he brings her. Unsure of what he is, Ever discovers he is a part of an enchanted world where no one dies. She will soon discover how she fits into this new world.

Blue Moon
The sequel to Evermore continues with the story of Ever, who is learning more about her abilities as they strengthen. However, as she grows more powerful, Damen, the man she loves, seems to be weakening. In order to save him, Ever must travel to Summerland, another magical place. While there she uncovers Damen’s painful past and the ability to turn back time. Will Ever chane the past to bring back her family, or will she remain in the present and save the man she has grown to love?

This series will be enjoyed by any fans of Twilight and other mystical storylines. Noel is a strong writer, who is able to capture the imaginations of the readers with her descriptive words. Shadowland, which is not yet published, will be the follow up book to Blue Moon.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent

Fans of the Twilight series and Melissa Marr’s faerie series Wicked Lovely, Ink Exchange, and Fragile Eternity will devour Rachel Vincent’s My Soul to Take, the first book published by HarlequinTeen, a division of the legendary romance publisher. My Soul is the first of the Soul Screamers series.

High school student Kaylee Cavanagh seems to have a gift, but how special that gift is could be debated. The ability to predict things would be cool if you weren’t predicting when people were going to die. What makes this “gift” even more regrettable is the blood-curdling scream that accompanies it. Kaylee, although she doesn’t consider herself beautiful or extraordinary, just wants to try live normal life, which includes hanging out with her best friend, Emma, and finishing high school. Her young life has already faced the obstacles of her mother’s death and her father leaving her with her aunt, uncle, and snobby cousin and classmate, Sophie. Kaylee’s life veers far left of normal when she begins predicting the deaths of strangers and classmates, who just seem to drop dead for no reason.

Further complicating this issue is Nash Hudson, a gorgeous jock, who takes an interest in her on the same night as the death premonitions begin. Kaylee, a social zero at her school, wonders why Nash, one of the hottest seniors, would want to hang out with her. What could they possibly have in common? (More than you know.) And, why does he have such a calming effect on her, especially when the premonitions take place?

There are many secrets that have been kept from Kaylee, and her ability to predict death will soon force the truth to be revealed.

My Soul to Take will interest Twilight fans, but this story contains no vampires or werewolves. Instead Vincent uses legends in Irish folklore to shape her series. The book is a healthy mix of romance, paranormal, and mystery, and the author keeps the reader in engaged with plenty of twists and turns. The topic of death is in the forefront of the novel; therefore, it may not be appropriate for younger teens. The physical romance is fairly limited because of the age group for which it is intended and the heavy topic of death.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Gearing Up for College

Although the school year hasn’t even started many students already have college on the brain. The Moore Memorial Public Library has a number of books that can help future college students prepare for their furthering their education. A number of these books and some websites have been compiled in a brochure, also known as a bibliography, available at the library and online. The bibliography, entitled “College & Career Resources” contains information about available test preparation guides, financial aid, scholarships, and college guides. Prospective college students may also check out books that can help with the application and essay process. For those who are still exploring career options, the guide provides the names of books and links that explore career trends. Lastly, the guide also has a list of Spanish language materials and websites for local universities and community colleges.

The printed version of the guide is available in the computer area of the library. Please speak with a reference Librarian, who can help you locate the desired materials. Preparing for college is an exciting experience, and your local library is here to help you with the process.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci

Once a year during the month of July thousands of comic book nerds pounce on San Diego, CA to attend Comic-Con, or as Cecil Castellucci so lovingly calls it: “nerd prom.” A couple of years ago Castellucci and fellow young adult author, Holly Black, met at Comic-Con and got to talking about what would happen if a Jedi were to fall in love with a Klingon. For those of you not in the nerd-know, the intermingling of Star Wars and Star Trek fans in a “big no-no” in the geeky world of comic books and science fiction. Black and Castellucci likened it to a spacey version of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. The prospect of collaborating together to produce this story seemed like a geek’s dream, except the reality was no publishing company in their right mind would want to produce it. The authors felt this idea was too good to pass up, so they decided to ask a group of their favorite young adult authors, also known for their geekiness or geek characters, to contribute short stories about geekdom. The end result was Geektastic: stories from the nerd herd.

The anthology features Black and Castellucci’s story, “Once You’re a Jedi, You’re a Jedi all the Way” and others by writers such as, M.T. Anderson, David Levithan, Lisa Yee, Libba Bray, and John Green. Illustrations and mini-comics by Bryan Lee O’Malley, of Scott Pilgrim fame, and his wife, Hope Larson (Chiggers) provides transition between each short story. If you have a love of Star Trek, Star Wars, cosplay, and high school drama club there is something for you in this collection. Current geeks or those learning to embrace their inner geek will enjoy the humor of these stories and most likely see a little bit of themselves in this book.

This is the first collaboration between Black and Castellucci. For those who enjoy Geektastic, check out individual works by these authors. The following titles are available at the library:

Holly Black: The Good Neighbors, Ironside: a modern faery’s tale, Valiant: a modern tale of faerie, Arthur Spiderwick’s Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You, and Tithe: a modern faerie tale

Cecil Castellucci: Jane’s in Love (graphic novel), Beige, The Plain Janes (graphic novel), The Queen of Cool, and Boy Proof

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sacred Scars by Kathleen Duey

Fans of Kathleen Duey’s Skin Hunger will be happy to learn the second book of the A Resurrection of Magic trilogy, Sacred Scars, is now available at the Moore Memorial Library. The story picks up with Sadima, Franklin, and Somiss, who have been driven out of Limori by a suspicious fire to a series of caves. Somiss is still on his mission to restore magic, which has been outlawed, by capturing a group of orphaned street boys. He claims to want to train the boy, but Sadima is skeptical of his motives.

Similarly to Skin Hunger Duey also follows the character, Hahp, who lives generations into the future of Sadima’s reality. Hahp is still reluctantly attending the Academy of Magic in Limori and its dangerous classes. Although Hahp and his roommate, Gerrard, have agreed to work together to bring down the evil at the academy, they know that they will need the assistance from all of the students. Now they just need a plan and the trust of their fellow students.

Skin Hunger was a National Book Award Finalist. Both books are available at the library. Sacred Scars is currently available in the New Books area, and Skin Hunger is shelved in the YP section of the library.

Friday, August 7, 2009

I’ve resisted reading The Umbrella Academy because it was created by Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance, a band I do not find pleasing to my ears. However, one of my favorite comic blogs, Living Between Wednesdays, and the respectable iFanboy Podcast have listed it as one of the best comics to come out in the past year. You must imagine my shock when I discovered while reading Grant Morrison’s introduction to the story that Gerard Way is a total comic book geek who can school you with the best of them.

The Umbrella Academy is a disbanded group of superheroes, who were all born on the same day at the same time by women who didn’t know they were even pregnant. What a weird way to start a life. Shortly after they were born they were collected and adopted by the eccentric Sir Reginald Hargreeves, who is really an alien disguised as a well-known well-to-do. Hargreeves trains the UA to save the world from an unknown threat, but eventually the group disbands. They are united when Hargreeves dies and reclaim their task of saving the world.

It’s a beautiful adventure.
You should read it.

Aside from being in the band My Chemical Romance, Gerard Way is a total comic book nerd, who has been drawing and writing comics since the age of five. Before his success as a musician he attended the School of Visual Art in NYC, which is where he cut his teeth as an artist and creative writer. He has stated in interviews he was influence by Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol along with ZombieWorld by Pat McEown.
Gabriel Ba has previously collaborated with his twin brother Fabio Moon. His first US release, De: TALES is available at Moore Memorial Public Library.

I would also like to acknowledge Dave Stewart did the colors for The Umbrella Academy because they are lovely and deep. Stewart is known for his color contribution to Darwyn Cooke’s DC: The New Frontier, Loeb and Sale’s Catwoman: When in Rome (We have it at the library.), Joss Whedon’s Fray, and numerous other comics from Dark Horse, DC, and Marvel. It’s luscious stuff.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Being Nikki by Meg Cabot

Newsweek calls Meg Cabot “chick-lit royalty,” and she continues to reign supreme. Cabot, the author of several young adult novels, such as the Princess Diaries series, recently published Being Nikki, the second book in her Airhead series. Airhead was the first book in the series, which introduced Em, a brainiac trapped inside the body of a internationally-adored supermodel, Nikki. This first book told the tales immediately after Em’s brain was placed inside Nikki’s body. Being Nikki picks up where the last book left off, but this time around is a little bit mystery, a little bit romance, and a whole lotta funny. Cabot also splashes in a healthy mix of celebrity culture for those interested in night life, movie stars, and the latest trends.

Em/Nikki struggles to balance passing 11th grade with runway shows and photo shoots half-way around the world. When Nikki’s mother goes missing, there is one more struggle added to her packed schedule. A best friend intent on revenge of Stark Industries, a brother who keeps demanding answers, and a constant stream of ex-boyfriends looking to rekindle fanned flames adds to Em’s dilemma, but also makes for a hilarious, quick read for those who love Cabot’s wacky story lines.

Being Nikki, Airhead, and many of Cabot’s previous books are available at the Moore Memorial Public Library in the Young Adult and General Fiction areas.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I Love You, Beth Cooper / by Larry Doyle



"You're not alive unless you're livin'"


Unable to process that his long-held silent passion for Beth Cooper may go unacknowledged, high school senior and class valedictorian Denis Couverman siezes the opportunity during his graduation address to proclaim his feelings. The admission, along with some particular revelations involving other select members of the graduating class, spearheads a sequence of events Denis never could have imagined. The most glaring result of Denis' little speech is the violent backlash of Beth's lunkhead boyfriend, Kevin, whose attempts to "pulverize" (no kidding, actual word used) Denis and side-kick Rich are conveniently interrupted and ultimately thwarted by Beth and her posse of ditzy cheerleaders. Their rescue efforts, however patronizing, serendipitously brings Denis closer to his beloved, a situation leading to a night of wacky, raucous adventures.


Largely due to movies like Dead Poets Society as well as other Cameron Crowe/John Hughes-ish type projects, we have books (and equally distasteful movie adaptations) like I Love You, Beth Cooper whereby such unheeded acts as broadcasting your secrets to a mass audience are perceived as not only perfectly acceptable, but are largely encouraged in lieu of their outrageously zany and implausibly upbeat after effects. Though immensely disassociated from reality, this book isn't meant to be taken too seriously and genuinely entertains in some places, albeit in predictable schmaltzy fashion. Long-time TV writer Larry Doyle's narrative is good enough to keep the reader interested and YA's won't find it hard to resonate with the protagonist.

A Matter of Trust by Anne Schraff (from the Bluford High Series)

A Matter of Trust, written by Anne E. Schraff, focuses on Darcy Wills, a high school student, who helps take care of her grandmother with her younger sister, while her mother works overnight at the local Emergency Room. Darcy was once close friends with Brisana Meeks, who stopped being her friend when Darcy started hanging out with Tarah, Copper, and Hakeem. Brisana sees these new friends are losers, and Darcy is missing out on a more popular high school experience. Darcy has been seeing Hakeem, who often gets made fun of by the other students because he stutters. When Brisana finds out that they are dating she tries to make Darcy jealous.

A Matter of Trust examines the trust we can or cannot place in people. Darcy is not only grappling with the drama started by a former friend but also trying to figure out if she can forgive her father, who walked out on her life when she was younger. Based on his track record she isn’t sure she can place her trust in him. The story also addresses violence acts, including fighting and a drive-by shooting.

The Bluford High Series focuses on the lives of high school students, their family, and friends in contemporary urban America. Many of the characters attend Bluford High School, which is named after Guion “Guy” Bluford, who was the first African-American astronaut. The stories focus on complicated issues that are relevant to many of today’s students, including love, friendship, family, peer pressure, violence, and jealousy. The series has male and female protagonist, who are primarily African-American, and contain elements of mystery, suspense, and romance.

The Bluford High Series is new to the Moore Memorial Public Library. Currently the library has nine of the fifteen books that have been published to date. Anne E. Schraff and Paul Langan are the authors. The books are located on the New Book Shelf area, but will eventually be located in the Young Adult section of the library. A Matter of Trust is the second book in the series. The following books in the series are currently available:

Books by Anne E. Schraff
Someone to Love Me
Until We Meet Again
A Matter of Trust
Secrets in the Shadows
Lost and Found

Books by Paul Langan
The Bully
Brothers in Arms
Summer of Secrets

Monday, July 27, 2009

L.A. Candy: a novel by Lauren Conrad

Lauren Conrad made a name for herself on The Hills a reality television series from MTV. L.A. Candy: a novel is Conrad’s first venture as a young adult writer and the storyline is seemingly autobiographical. New to Los Angeles, beautiful, blond, 19-year-old Jane and her best friend, Scarlett, are bubbling with excitement over the opportunities await them. Jane moved to LA for an internship with one of the hottest event planners, while Jane plans to attend school and figure her life out. Soon after they arrive in the city they meet a producer at a club, who invites them to a reality TV show audition. The reality TV show changes their lives and sets the girls on a path toward stardom and celebrity.

L.A. Candy is a sweet, quick read. However, the overall story is not entirely fluffy, as Conrad provides insight on the scenes behind reality TV. Clearly your life is bound to change when you allow cameras to follow your every move. Conrad draws upon her personal experiences, both good and humiliating, to create a coming-of-age tale full of hopes and dreams in glitzy LA.

Teens and young-at-hearts who enjoyed the Gossip Girl and It Girl series by Cecily von Ziegesar will be sure to enjoy Conrad’s debut novel. L.A. Candy is currently available on the Young Adult New Book Shelf and the Gossip Girl and It Girl series may be found in the Young Adult section near the Reference Desk.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Punkzilla by Adam Rapp

Punkzilla is considered an epistolary novel, which is a story told through documents. In this case, Punkzilla’s (Jamie is his real name.) story is told through letters. He is conversing with his brother, Peter (referred to as “P”), who is dying of cancer. Jamie is writing to him on a bus on his way from Portland, Oregon to Memphis, Tennessee to see his brother before he dies. Jamie writes his brother of the adventures and experiences he has while on this cross-country journey. Travelling by bus is pretty sketchy, which is made abundantly clear based on the things Jamie sees while staying at seedy motels, stopped at eerie bus stations, and with the bevy of oddballs who accompany him on his journey. Jamie’s language is blunt, lucid, at times raw, but still poetic as he describes his current adventure and his memories. This is also an emotional journey for Jamie as he tries to reach his brother in time. The reader is fully in-tunes with his roller coaster of emotions as he travels across the country.

This book is dark, edgy, and contains some graphic content, which is typical of Adam Rapp’s work. I would recommend Punkzilla for older teens (Grades 10 & up).

Author Adam Rapp is a novelist, playwright, and screenwriter. Other books written by Rapp available in the Moore Young Adult collection are: Under the wolf, Under the Dog; 33 Snowfish; Little Chicago, The Buffalo Tree; and Missing the Piano.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Photographer: into war-torn Afghanistan with Doctors without Borders by Emmanuel Guibert, Didier Lefevre, and Frederic Lemercier (Translated by

Graphic novels are a unique format of storytelling, where image and text are used to communicate. Often times mistaken for comic books featuring superheroes, graphic novels feature a variety of characters and portray fictional and real life situations. The Photographer: into war-torn Afghanistan with Doctors without Borders is based on the real life experiences of a team of mostly French doctors and journalists, who were on mission in 1986 in Northern Afghanistan. During this time Afghanistan was a hotbed of violence between the Soviet Union and the Afghan Mujahideen. Using illustrations drawn by Emmanuel Guibert and the photographs and text of international photojournalist Didier Lefevre, The Photographer demonstrates the hardships of the Afghani people and the doctors determined to help them.

This graphic novel is unlike the typical illustrated story because of its use of Lefevre’s raw photographs- many of which are viewed from their original contact sheets. The drawings and text expand upon the photos and provide the narrative of this difficult journey. At times graphic, the reader encounters the same victims as the doctors, including children with fatal injuries. The cultural differences and political turmoil of the area travelled by the doctors is also communicated. The graphic novel easily expresses the physical and mental exhaustion experienced by all of those involved and visualizes the hardships of war. The story also dispels certain myths about the Afghani people, who have been misrepresented in the media. This story is relevant today because of the current democratization of Afghanistan and United States’ military involvement.

Currently the book is located in the New Books section at the front of the library. Once the book is added to the regular collection it will not located in the Young Adult collection. Instead it will be located in the Non-fiction section toward the back of the library. The call number for the book is: 070.4909581 Guibert.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Ten Things I Hate about Me by Randa Abdel-Fattah

Unwilling to identify with her Muslim culture, Jamilah dyes her hair blond and wears blue contact lenses when attending her Australian high school. She also goes by the name “Jamie” and sits by when her friends and fellow students make racist remarks about Muslims and other cultures. When at home, Jamilah observes the Muslim culture and attempts to obey her father’s strict rules. She’s living a double life and eventually her lies begin to catch up with her, especially when the cutest boy in school asks her out. Her father will not allow her to hang out with boys and her friends grow suspicious as to why they can never come over to her house after school. Jamilah/Jamie is torn between who her friends and family expect her to be and who she really is. Writer Randa Abdel-Fattah crafts a poignant tale that demonstrates the difficulties faced by teens when grappling with identity.

Teens who read Does My Head Look Big in This? should also enjoy Ten Things I Hate about Me. Both books are available at the library.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks

A vampire fan probably thinks you can never have enough vampires. However, some people (myself included) feel the vampire market has been oversaturated with Twilight knock-offs. Enter Catherine Jinks, whose new book, The Reformed Vampire Support Group, will be both appreciated by the lovers and haters of vampire fandom. Jink’s characters aren’t you typical strong, fearless, and attractive vampires, but instead are sickly and loathe their existence; hence their need for a support group. The story is both a comical narrative turned murder-mystery when one of the support group vampires is killed. This forces the protagonist, Nina Harrison, her friend Dave, and the other vampires to leave the comfort of their support group and misery to track down the vampire killer. This adventure allows Nina and the remaining vampires to realize being a vampire might not be such a bad thing.

The Moore Memorial Public Library collection houses many of Catherin Jink’s books including Evil Genius, Babylonne, and Genius Squad.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hot Girl by Dream Jordan

Another book by a new author, this one who received a degree in creative writing from New York University. The book is set in Brooklyn, New York, and is told in the first person by its 14-year-old heroine, Kate. She has been in foster placement all her life. Only in the past year has Kate started getting her act together. Two people have made the difference in her life - a straight-talking social worker who cares about her and isn’t afraid to show it, and her best friend Felicia, who cares about getting somewhere, and is not into following the crowd.
The only trouble now is that it’s summer, and Felicia is gone – gone on a special events teen tour of Africa, one that Kate could have joined if she wasn’t so hot-tempered. Being insulted by some of the other girls about her violent past (she had been in a gang) and her bargain basement clothes, Kate decided she wouldn’t go.
Lo and behold, a new girl turns up, and wants to be friends with Kate. She’s a sharp looker and dresser, and even wants to help Kate jazz up her image. But Naleejah has some other things about her that are not so positive for Kate, like jumping into guy’s cars and into their beds.
Jordan has created very lively and real characters…the “beautiful” boy Kate is crazy over has some problems from his own home environment, and Naleejah is believable in her neediness, even as she shows off with her aggressive ideas.
Kate’s foster home environment has some special issues too, and Jordan is good at capturing that frustration between teens and their care-givers. Both sides can act pretty pitiful, but if they give each other a chance they can connect. The book has been criticized for Kate’s determination to stay out of trouble with boys, as her background would not predict that. But young girls do need role models like this, and need to hear statements like Kate’s.
I look forward to reading more of Dream Jordan. You can catch her website at

Apart by R.P. MacIntyre and Wendy MacIntyre

Jessica’s dad is a biker, who abandons her and Timmy, her special needs brother. Jessica’s mom is still around physically, but spends most of her time under the influence of pills and alcohol. Desperate to find her father, Jessica places a personal ad in the Globe and Mail. Sween, who lives on the other side of Canada, responds to the ad because he thinks he knows her father and where he is currently located. Without telephone or computer, Jessica and Sween, continue writing letters after they determine the man Sween knows isn’t Jessica’s father. As their letter writing progresses a relationship emerges, which leads Sween to bike across the country to find her. This story does not end the way the reader many have anticipated, as reality gets in the way of feelings that developed through their correspondence. The story is told through their letters, which makes the reader feel like they, too, are part of the story.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Intensely Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Alice is 17 and torn between longing for the past and looking toward her future. Pamela’s pregnancy, Patrick’s departure for university, and Alice’s preparation for going to college and envisioning her future leave the protagonist wishing for the times when all her friends were still going to high school together and living in the same place. Oh, those times when life was simple and carefree. Unfortunately it takes a tragedy to bring everyone back together- a tragedy that is guaranteed to change Alice and all of her friends forever.

Intensely Alice addresses teen pregnancy, sexuality, questioning one’s faith or beliefs, and the fear of the future, which are issues young adults face as they grow toward adulthood. Naylor continues to develop the friendship between Alice, Pamela, and Elizabeth, and Alice’s boyfriend, Patrick, returns after an absence in the past few books. Readers travel with Alice to go visit Patrick while he is off studying at the University of Chicago and get to see if the couple takes their relationship to the next level. Naylor has reconnected with Alice’s voice in Intensely Alice. In the past couple of books Alice didn't sound like a teenager; whereas now her voice is more mature. Long-time fans of the series will have no trouble sinking into Alice’s story and will be left wanting more.

Intensely Alice is Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s 24th book in the Alice series. Naylor began the Alice series with the protagonist in the 6th grade. She later delivered prequels for a younger audience exploring Alice’s adventures in Grades 3, 4, and 5. The author is planning on writing one Alice book a year until Alice is 18. For every year of Alice’s life, the author delivers three books exploring Alice’s events and experiences. Afterward, she will deliver the 28th and final book, which will reflect on Alice’s life from ages 18-60. The Alice books are released annually in May.

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor has had an extensive career writing for children, young adults, and adult readers. She is known for her other series: The Shiloh Books, the Bernie Magruder Books, the Cat Pack Books, the York Trilogy, and the Witch Books. Many of these books and other publications by Naylor are available at the Moore Memorial Public Library in the Children’s, Young Adult, and Fiction sections.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

King of the Screwups: A Novel by K.L. Going

Ever feel like you are suffering an identity crisis? Liam Geller, the main character in K.L. Going’s King of the Screwups: a Novel might be able to relate. Liam is incredibly popular at high school. He excels in sports, the girls adore him, and he dresses incredibly well. There is one little problem, though. Although he is adored by all, he can and often is an incredible screw-up. This ability regularly enrages his father and eventually leads him to kick Liam out of the house right before the start of senior year. With nowhere to go, Liam ends up living with his gay uncle, who he calls Aunt Pete. His uncle lives a bit of a glam-rock lifestyle as a DJ in upstate New York, lives in a trailer, and has many colorful friends. Hoping to earn his father’s acceptance, Liam uses this new environment and school to become a model student. However, Liam is torn between being who he really is and living up to his father’s expectations. King of the Screwups takes the reader on Liam’s adventure to find his true self.

Other books in the Moore Young Adult collection by K.L. Going include: Fat Kid Rules the World, which won a Printz Award Honor, and Saint Iggy, an American Library association Best Book for Young Adults.

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Beloved young adult author, Sarah Dessen, recently published her ninth book, Along for the Ride. This story focuses on recent high school graduate, Auden, who slowly begins to realize all the things she missed out on during high school because she chose to focus on her education. Spending the summer with her father, step-mother, and newborn baby sister, in the remote cottage, beach-side community of Colby, only furthers this realization. During her last summer before going off to attend university, Auden, works at her step-mother’s boutique, which exposes her to a whole new world of “girl”: gossip, boys, and friendship.

Auden, in addition to having missed out on many social forays of teen-dom, also suffers from insomnia. She hasn’t slept normally for years, and she spends her night driving around the small cottage town drinking coffee. These all-night adventures eventually lead to a friendship with Eli, a local loner, who also seems to also suffer from insomnia. Both have emotional obstacles they need to overcome, and during the summer they learn to rely on one another and face the many things that may hold them back from living the lives they desire.

Similarly to other Dessen works, this story is character driven. Readers will find themselves attached to the characters and the world in which they live. Other books in the Moore Young Adult collection by Dessen are: That Summer, Lock & Key, Just Listen, The Truth about Forever, This Lullaby, Dreamland, Keeping the Moon, and Someone like You.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Derby Girl by Shauna Cross

Bliss Cavendar cannot wait to finish high school so she can get out of Bodeen, Texas as soon as possible. The small town only seems to offer her misery with its Miss Bluebonnet pageant, lack of hot, cool guys, and cowboy mentality. If it weren’t for her best friend, Pash, and a mutual love of all things indie rock there would be little happiness in the world that imprisons them. That is until Bliss discovers the extreme excitement of roller derby, which takes place an hour away in her cool, indie-dream capital, Austin.

According to Bliss roller derby is her ticket out of small town, narrow-minded living and an escape from her reality of having to soon compete in the Miss Bluebonnet pageant. She leads a double life, high school attending teenager by day/ 18-yr-old heartbreaker roller derby babe by night, which bring her both happiness and pain. She meets and dates the hottest band guy and becomes a roller queen. However, this new life comes with sacrifices, like best friendship, which Bliss discovers is more important that making out with a boy.

The author Shauna Cross is from Austin, which is apparent by her description of the city and hipster hot spots. For those high schoolers who feel stuck and out of place in the typical high school setting, Bliss’ story will make you wish you could transport yourself to Austin’s Lamar Street or South Congress to do some vintage clothes or record shopping. Bliss’ journey around the rink is full of hilarity and growing pains, but it is also dressed in fish nets and roller skates.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The ABC's of Kissing Boys by Tina Ferraro

Parker Stanhope’s junior year of high school did not start out as she planned. She expected to be moved to the varsity soccer team with her three best friends, but the soccer coach, “Heartless” had other plans. Being left behind to sit on the JV squad one more year was pretty high up on Parker’s list of” how to quickly lose your popularity and become a social outcast” list, but insult was added to injury when her supposed BFFs turn their backs on her.

In order to regain her status and three best pals, Parker goes to drastic lengths. She, her brother, and his best friend, Luke, both of whom are pre-law students, devise a plan, which involves the school’s annual sports fair. Knowing the booth that raises the most money awards the coach a prime parking space, they decide to take advantage of the varsity soccer team’s kissing booth. Luke will pay $300 for a kiss, but only if it comes from Parker. “Heartless” wanting the awesome parking space will greedily agree to let Parker on the varsity team, which they will then use to keep Parker on the team with some fancy law school legalese. However, in order for this plan to work, Parker needs to give Luke a kiss that is convincing.

The kiss is a bit of an issue seeing how she’s only ever received a peck on the lips from a boy she briefly dated. Parker finds herself requesting the help of her neighbor, Tristan, who is a freshman. (According to Parker and most of the upperclass, freshman are babies!) Apparently, Tristan learned all the latest kissing techniques while spending his summer at camp. Tristan agrees to secretly coach her in exchange for public acknowledgement at school, which will help his social status.

Parker’s attempt to regain the life she once knew does not go as planned. Parker is caught hanging out with the freshman, which fuels her former BFFs ridicule. The events during the first few weeks of school leading up to the sports fair are at times upsetting and challenging, but they force Parker to realize many things about herself, her friends, and her love of soccer. While working toward kissing perfection and social acceptance Parker learns the importance of true friendship, love, sportsmanship, and loyalty. The fact that she also learns the fine art of kissing is a bonus.

The ABC's of Kissing Boys is a fun, quick read. This is the third book by Tina Ferraro. Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress and How to Hook a Hottie are also available at Moore Memorial Public Library.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Skim by Mariko Tamaki; Illustrated by Jillian Tamaki

Graphic novels are a unique opportunity to allow the reader to visualize the scene writers create in stories. These scenes can enhance the emotion behind the written word, such as fear, loneliness, and extreme delight. The illustrations created by Jillian Tamaki do just that in Skim, which was written by her cousin, Mariko Tamaki.

Skim is the nickname of the title character, Kimberly Keiko Cameron. She attends a preppy private Catholic school in Toronto, where she fails to fit in. She is Wiccan. She is Gothic. She is Japanese-Canadian. The suicide of the school’s star athlete turns his ex-girlfriend, Katie Matthews, and the school into a mourning freak show. The school’s reaction and coping mechanisms only serve to further Skim’s battle with depression, acceptance, and unrequited love. Compared to 90’s teen move favorites, Heathers and Dead Poets Society, Skim is a complicated coming of age story that befits the complications of high school and the heartache of youth.

Skim was nominated for the Governor General’s Award by the Canada Council for the Arts and YALSA’s 2009 Great Graphic Novels for Teens Award. The book garnered additional press because of the controversy surrounding the Canada Council nomination, which only listed the writer of the story and not the illustrator for the award. A number of internationally recognized comic writers, including Chester Brown and Seth, stepped up to request a revision to the nomination. It won the 2008 Outstanding Graphic Novel Ignatz Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement by comics and cartooning.

Blogger’s note: Skim is one of my favorite reads within the past year.