Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Don't panic!

You missed it! You missed The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Readers' Theater on Tuesday night at the Central Library! Oh no! You had it on your calendar, but forgot to come.

(That's a line from the Guide)

We have an ENCORE PERFORMANCE TONIGHT! (July 23) at 7:00, at the Buena Vista branch. To intrigue you and make you even more determined to hitch a ride if you have to, here is a photo album on our Facebook page! Thanks to Johnny Williams for this beautiful documentation of our AWESOME SHOW. Please join us!

There's a prize drawing at the performance for all teens signed up for TEEN SUMMER READING. Not signed up? It's not too late! Click that link up at the top of this page (it says "sign up," duh) and YOU are eligible for our drawing on Wednesday night!

This is a teen program, but ALL ARE WELCOME TO ATTEND! See you tonight?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What we're reading: More serial killers!

I posted not too long ago about a new mini-trend in YA fiction: serial killers. This book is written from the more traditional viewpoint, from the other side (the hunters of the serial killers), but with a few twists that give it some flair.

Cassie has a particular skill--from trailing around the country during her childhood with her "psychic" mother, she has learned to pick up people's "tells"--the tiny details that reveal who you are and what you want. Now she's on her own, existing uneasily with her grandmother and exuberant extended family but not really fitting in. Then the FBI approaches her--they are beginning a classified program that uses teens like her to try to solve notorious cold cases. Cassie definitely wants in.

She's sent to live with a group of teens whose skills are as unusual as hers--an emotion-reader, a profiler, a lie-detector, and an odds-calculator. Soon, their theoretical study of cold cases gives away to an active case that threatens them all and makes their gifts vital to their survival.

This was a nice moment of serendipity: On my way out the door of the library a week ago on Friday night, I realized I needed something to read for the weekend, and grabbed a book off the new books shelves in YA--this first in the Naturals series by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. I wasn't sure I'd like it--I read her book Nobody, and although I thought the idea was really clever, the execution was disappointing. But this one held my attention throughout. I liked the idea, the protagonist, the other characters. There is a little conflicted romance, but it's not insta-love, and the mystery/suspense part of the plot had an unexpected resolution. It ended up being a great read!

Anyway, the week before, my friend Carey had walked into my office and dumped a pile of about 20 young adult ARCs (advance reader copies) she brought back for me from her trip to the American Library Association convention in Las Vegas (I love Carey). I hadn't really looked through them yet (yes, I know, crazy, but we're in the midst of the teen summer reading program!), until Anarda (the other teen librarian) came over to my branch to meet with me, and started poking through the pile. I was telling her Oh, I just read a YA book I think we should consider for book club (and we should!), when she pulled one out of the pile and said Well, then, if you liked it so much, you'll want to read THIS--and THIS was the sequel, Killer Instinct! Nice.

So I brought it home this weekend and just finished it, and it, too, did not disappoint. It takes up a few months after the end of the last book, with all the cast of characters mostly intact but adding one more to the mix, and it has a similarly intriguing and baffling mystery that I have to admit I did partially figure out before the big reveal, but still--good one! I look forward to the next. That's the down side to getting an ARC--this one I just read doesn't come out to the public until November, and then begins the long wait for the third...

And by the way, this book has been described by some reviewers as if these kids' skills are paranormal, but they're really not--they have, instead, developed them because of childhood traumas that have made them super-sensitive and perceptive beyond the level of most people, that's all. When I say "that's all," that's not trivial, but--not paranormal! So if you are not fond of the paranormal aspect, don't shy away from these books. They are really FBI-style police procedurals but from the teen point of view. A bunch of people on Goodreads called them Criminal Minds fan fiction for the under-18 crowd. I have never watched that show, but it sounds right.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Teen Review: John Green

No, NOT TFIOS! (smiley face from the editor)

Title: Looking for Alaska
Author: John Green
Number of pages: 221
Genre: Realistic Fiction/Coming of Age
Series: No
Reading Level: High School
Reviewed by: C. G., 9th grade

Looking for Alaska has been brought to us by the exceptionally talented John Green, who has also brought us such works as The Fault in Our Stars (which was spectacular by the way). It has won the Printz Honor for excellence in young adult literature from the American Library Association, as well.

First off, I think I ought to mention that Alaska is not the place, but rather a girl in high school. The story, however, follows Miles “Pudge” Halter’s recollections of his junior year at a boarding school in Alabama. He is nothing short of reclusive when he suddenly finds himself surrounded by friends when he starts going to a boarding school called Culver Creek.

The book is divided into a "Before" and an "After"; like a Part One and Two. So the entire time that you are reading, you are trying to figure out what the major turning point is; at least I was! So whereas "Before" is leading up to the event, "After" is how Pudge’s life changes because of it and trying to find out exactly what happened and why. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, so I should just stop right there.

Another thing I noticed was that all of the five main characters within this novel are so well thought out and different from each other. It creates not only diversity, but a different dimension. I should expect nothing less from John Green material. Although the five friends are "corrupt" in a way, they are still very smart and intellectual.

The entire 221 pages were well worth my time, and the theme of the book is something memorable; similar to "ignorance is dangerous." This book not only deserves a 5 out of 5 but earns it. You go, John Green! Also, if you read and liked The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I highly recommend this book.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Reading log winners!


Eileen K. wins a $5 Starbucks gift card
Georgiana N. wins a $5 Target gift card
Oscar M. wins a $5 In-N-Out gift card

Tigran S. wins a $5 Starbucks gift card
Mariah S. wins a $5 Target gift card
Millie R. wins a $5 In-N-Out gift card

Abbie F. wins a $5 Starbucks gift card
Alexa T. wins a $5 Target gift card
Shane M. wins a $5 In-N-Out gift card



Thursday, July 17, 2014

Your trivia challenge is due!

Remember WAY back in June, when you registered for Teen Summer Reading, and you received your swag bag, and you found in it a SET FORTH! TRIVIA CHALLENGE???

Remember that?

Well, that thing has a due date, and that date is TOMORROW! Friday, July 18, no later than 5:30 p.m.! Yes, that's right, time slipped away from you (just like it does with homework assignments, right?) and now it has run out! The difference, however, between this and a homework assignment, is that you get a PRIZE if you do a good job on it, and we don't mean an A+ written in red pencil, we mean an actual PRIZE.

So turn in your trivia challenge, and find out NEXT FRIDAY at our Summer Reading FINALE (July 25) whether YOU are one of the top trivia masters!

Speaking of our finale...

Put STEAMPUNK or SCI FI images on your T-shirt, using bleach or paint!
(There is a REGULAR drawing at this program; there are prizes for the BOOK REVIEWERS; there are TRIVIA prizes...where, oh where does it end?)

Well, um, it ends FRIDAY. So COME!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What we're reading: Realistic fiction

I have been looking forward to Deb Caletti's new book, The Last Forever, for a while now. I have thoroughly enjoyed some of her others (see reviews here for Stay and The Story of Us), and I say this to let you know that her books are worth pursuing.

A brief summary: Tessa's mother dies, and she and her father are not coping well. Her dad decides it's a good time to take a road trip, and they end up at her grandmother's house on an island off the coast of Oregon. Since her mother didn't get on with her dad's mother, to Tessa she is a virtual stranger; imagine her dismay when she has to spend a lot more time with her than she had planned. At the local library she meets Henry Lark, with whom she makes an instant connection; but there's a bit of a mystery to Henry that she can't quite fathom. Still, he refocuses her in a positive direction, and then everything goes swimmingly doesn't. It's a surprise ending that redeems itself but not in the way you think it will.
Caletti's prose is as lovely as usual--in fact, I noted several phrases in passing and thought to myself, "Those should be in the quote bank on Goodreads, they're so beautifully put." I liked the characters and the story arc and the back story. I really liked the encyclopedia entries with which she leads off each chapter, and the eventual connection they have with the story.

All that said...I had kind of a hard time connecting with this book. I think it was the telescoping that put me off. Every time she gave a hint of what was to come and then said "but we're not there in the story yet," I winced. It took me right out of the narrative and back to the point of observer, and it bothered me. Others apparently agreed with me; the reviews on Goodreads are all over the place, from a high five to a low two, unusual for this author.

In retrospect I will probably overlook what little I didn't like and realize that this was an interesting, unusual, well-wrought tale and deserving of a high rating. Let's face it, even so-so Caletti would be better than many people writing at their peak! I don't know, maybe I was just in a mood when I read it. You read it too, and tell me what you think!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Hitchhiker's Guide as Readers' Theater!

Please join us TONIGHT at 7:00 p.m. at the CENTRAL LIBRARY
as we present...

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

The super-short summary of this story is that weird stuff happens to Arthur Dent, regular Earth-person. The long version? You'll have to come and experience it for yourself!

We will have a PRIZE DRAWING for those teens in attendance who are signed up for SET FORTH!, the teen summer reading program. Not signed up? You can fix that! Up at the top of this page on the right, there's a sign-up link to click. It's easy, and there's no obligation.

There will be an intermission with refreshments. All are welcome to attend this program! So come, and bring your brothers and sisters and parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins, your friends, your neighbors, the people you met while HITCHHIKING...

(And if you can't make this performance, don't be blue... there's an ENCORE! Next Wednesday, July 23rd, at the Buena Vista branch!)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A new take on Zombies

I was going to start by saying that I am not a fan of the zombie genre, but if you have never really read any (except Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which was just dumb), I guess you can't really claim not to be a fan, since you don't know what you're missing. So I'll just say that the whole concept of zombies--revived from the dead, favorite food = brains, etc.--does not appeal to me, and I have chosen to ignore this trend.

I did, however, recently read sort of a zombie novel, by Amy Tintera, called Reboot. I saw her at the Pasadena Teen Book Festival, and the description she gave of her main character intrigued me, so I bought the book. Here is a summary from Goodreads:
Five years ago, Wren Connolly was shot three times in the chest. After 178 minutes she came back as a Reboot: stronger, faster, able to heal, and less emotional. The longer Reboots are dead, the less human they are when they return. Wren 178 is the deadliest Reboot in the Republic of Texas. Now seventeen years old, she serves as a soldier for HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation).
Wren’s favorite part of the job is training new Reboots, but her latest newbie is the worst she’s ever seen. As a 22, Callum Reyes is practically human. His reflexes are too slow, he’s always asking questions, and his ever-present smile is freaking her out. Yet there’s something about him she can’t ignore. When Callum refuses to follow an order, Wren is given one last chance to get him in line—or she’ll have to eliminate him. Wren has never disobeyed before and knows if she does, she’ll be eliminated, too. But she has also never felt as alive as she does around Callum.
The perfect soldier is done taking orders.
The thing that was different about this book is that the story of the zombies is told by one of them, Wren 178, who is a compelling character. The idea of the reboot itself is interesting; but I would have liked a little more of the science about WHY they had faster reflexes, greater strength, etc. afterwards. What is it about dying and coming back that changes them so radically? I find this to be an issue throughout YA science fiction--not enough attention is paid to the science. Fiction should always be about story...but it's called science fiction for a reason, people.

Also, the back story: People die of a disease, but not all of them--some of them come back; more explanation of the reasons for that would be good. There is a battle in the past between reboots and humans and somehow the HARC gets control over the reboots and turns them into HARC's flunkies--how? I really wanted more details!

I did like the characters of Wren and Callum a lot...although Wren is completely inconsistent with her own self-description as emotionless the minute she meets Callum. I guess that's the point of putting a romance into the mix, but the plot specifically states that the older the reboot, the less emotion she feels, so how is it even possible for her to be so moved and confused by Callum? Yes, I'm overthinking it. The romance is endearing. Enough said.

A lot of people will probably love this book and its sequel, Rebel. I might read it...or I might not. Somebody else can tell me what happened, because...there's a lot of zombie-less fiction out there waiting for me...