Friday, September 28, 2012

The Girl is Trouble by Kathryn Miller Haines YP FIC HAINES

Iris Anderson finally has an understanding with her father’s detective agency, she can help with his business if she’s honest with him and follows the rules.  All that goes out the window when while she’s trying to clear her best friend’s name in a case of anti-Semitic vandalism, she discovers evidence that her mother’s reported suicide was anything but.  Now Iris is breaking the rules, in over her head, and in way more trouble than she realizes.

I loved Iris in The Girl is Murder (reviewed here) and she doesn’t disappoint in her second adventure.  Haines has created a believable teen heroine.  Yes she’s more introspective and driven and moral and seemingly heroic than most teens, but this is dealt with believably because of all the tragedies that have shaped her.  I also love that she gets called “Nancy Drew” as an insult in this book!  It totally fits, because she is no super sleuth and bungles quite a lot.  Personally, I think we have enough hyper-competent detective savants and I enjoy the more grounded approach of solving crimes through dogged determination.  Another high point is the absolutely splendid job Haines did in capturing the mood of the era.  The look at the ugly side of what many look at as a Golden Age in America was really effective.  Also, Haines does an even better job fleshing out supporting characters.  Pearl, Iris’s best friend, is great and really shines throughout the book.  The best part is definitely the mystery of what happened to Iris’s mom.  It makes this story much more personal and raises the stakes way higher than in the first novel. I was surprised that Haines dealt with this key aspect of Iris’s character so quickly instead of dragging it out over several volumes.  I hope that doesn’t mean we won’t have any more volumes!!!  Well, this is a great murder mystery, historical fiction, and book!  Check it out, but DEFINITELY check out Girl is Murder first!

You can check our catalog for The Girl is Trouble here.

Banned Books Week 2012: Set Books Free!

Banned Books Week is the last week in September and is set aside to remind people of the importance of the freedom to choose books. It highlights books that have been removed from schools, libraries, or attempted to be removed through censorship. 

This year Banned Books Week runs from September 30th through October 6th.  We celebrated by having our Teen Advisory Board (TAB) design and make a display of books that have been banned elsewhere.   Our theme this year is Set Books Free.  This year, the TAB designed a prison display that patrons can ‘free’ banned books from.  It’s up to everyone to keep books from being locked away. 

Most books are challenged because they are seen as "offensive" or "inappropriate" for a specific age group. It is always appropriate for a parent or guardian to decide what is best for their family, but Banned Book Week is a chance for librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community (that's you!) to celebrate their conviction that a diversity of views and ideas is necessary for a vital, functioning democracy. I mean, what kind of country would we be if we DIDN'T fight for freedom of expression!?
The freedom to seek and read materials in a vital and necessary part of ensuring our first
amendment rights. As long as there are people and groups that try to dictate what everyone
else will read there will be people that work to ensure that everyone gets to choose what’s
best for themselves.

Do your part: check out a "Banned" Book today!!! Below is the list of the most challenged books and authors of the year.  For more information about Banned Books Week go to:

Most Challenged Books of 2011
1. ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series), by Lauren Myracle YP FIC MYRACLE
2. The Color of Earth (series), by Kim Dong Hwa YP FIC HWA
3. The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins YP FIC COLLINS
4. My Mom's Having A Baby! A Kid's Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy, by Dori Hillestad Butler J 618.2 BUTLER
5. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie YP FIC ALEXIE
6. Alice (series), by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor YP FIC NAYLOR
7. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley FIC HUXLEY
8. What My Mother Doesn't Know, by Sonya Sones YP FIC SONES
9. Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily Von Ziegesar YP FIC VONZIEGE
10. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee FIC LEE

Most Challenged Authors of 2011
Sherman Alexie The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
Dori Hillestead Butler My Mom's Having A Baby
Suzanne Collins The Hunger Games trilogy
Chris Crutcher Whale Talk
Eric Jerome Dickey Chasing Destiny
Robert Greene The 48 Laws of Power
Aldous Huxley Brave New World
Kim Dong Hwa Color of Earth (series)
Harper Lee To Kill a Mockingbird
Carolyn Mackler The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things
Lauren Myracle ttyl; ttfn; l8r, g8r (series)
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor Alice (series)
Dav Pilkey The Adventures of Captain Underpants (series)
Sonya Sones What My Mother Doesn't Know
Cecily Von Ziegesar  Gossip Girl (series)

The Year of the Beasts by Cecil Castellucci and Nate Powell YP FIC CASTELLU

Tessa and her younger sister Lulu always had a sibling rivalry, but it turns to outright jealousy when Lulu starts seeing Tessa’s secret crush, Charlie.  Tessa starts to feel like an outcast and a monster and finds herself drawn to Jasper, a troubled loner.  Jealously builds resentment and resentment builds to a tragedy that could destroy them all.

Told in alternating chapters with one being a realistic fiction and the other being a graphic novel that shows Tessa and all her friends as mythological creatures, the book starts a tad jolting.  There isn’t an immediate explanation for the difference and it through me for the first few chapters.  “So is she a medusa lady or not!?” I guessed at first that it was all to do with the idea that “we all feel like monsters at one time or another as teens,” or something like that, but it has a deeper meaning that reveals itself as the book goes on.  This is definitely a “not for everyone” title.  It mixes realistic fiction and graphic novel storytelling in a unique way to tell a story in an original way.  It really does pay off for readers that stay with it.  It makes the tale both modern and timeless and explores the nature of tragedy in an utterly believable way.  I found myself really believing Tessa’s’ character and feeling her pain, even though throughout I wished she’d make different choices.  Of course, that’s the very essence of tragedy, Also Nate Powell is one of the most expressive and interesting artists working in graphic novels for teens today.  He does haunting looks at the pain of adolescence like nobody’s business! I highly recommend it to any reader that wants to branch out into more adult and mature graphic novels, or to try books that tell stories in new ways.  

You can check our catalog for The Year of the Beasts here.