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.