Monday, May 23, 2016

Studying for Finals?

If you need a quiet place to study, the Buena Vista Branch is making its auditorium available to you every afternoon and evening this week! Tables, chairs, and plugs for your devices are all available. So come hang out at the library! (We also have librarians to help you if you get into an information bind!)

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Teen review: Old favorite

Reviewed by Breeana, grade 9

The title of the book I am reviewing is The Outsiders, by the author S. E. Hinton. The Outsiders has 192 pages and the genre is realistic fiction. This book is not part of a series. It was actually written on behalf of the author's experience with certain events that occurred in her life as a teenager in high school. My best guess for the appropriate reading level is high school students such as myself, because I believe they would have a better grasp of the key concepts in the events that take place in the story. I am currently in the 9th grade (a freshman in high school).

The Outsiders is basically about a 14-year-old called Pony Boy, who is struggling with many difficulties in his life and tries his best to fit in with his gang to be known as a proper "greaser." Deep down inside, though, he knows that balancing out the differences between right and wrong is a challenging task that he must face. The main characters in this book are: Pony Boy, Soda-pop, Darry, Dallas Winston, and Two-Bit. All of these characters are known as the "greasers," who are mortal enemies of the "Socs" because the Socs are identified as the "West side rich kids."

Personally, my opinion of the book is that it felt as if you were living during the same time period as these teens, and you could genuinely feel some of the inner struggles that they faced within themselves. I especially enjoyed how each character had a different story to tell. If I had to choose one thing to dislike about The Outsiders, it would be that the author did not write a second book! I felt that it was necessary for S. E. Hinton to include another book that states what happened after Pony Boy finally realized his ideal purpose in life. One of the feelings that I had while reading the book was thinking about how the characters had such strong bonds with each other and had their own individual strengths. But they were also insecure and had fears about life just like most teenagers.

Overall, I would definitely rate The Outsiders a 5, because the entire book was just so inspirational and it taught a lot of valuable lessons about family and friends. It also proved that not all rivals are enemies forever. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes action and adventure, but also to those mature enough to handle some violence that falls within the story.

S. E. Hinton in 1968
Editor's note: I'm amazed by how many teens still tell me that this is their absolute favorite book. (Zoey in book club says she reads it once a week!) Not that it isn't good (it is!), but it was written in 1967, and is a bit anachronistic for today's reader. But it doesn't seem to matter! You could say that this was the very first "YA" (young adult) book, i.e., the first book written specifically for teenagers, and it's interesting that it was actually written by a teen (Hinton was either 17 or 19 when the book was published--there are conflicting stories online). Her publisher suggested she go by the initials "S. E." rather than by her full name (Susan Eloise) so that male reviewers wouldn't discount her work. That tradition lives on today, with authors such as J. K. Rowling!

While there is no specific sequel, as Breanna says, please note that you do learn the fates of some of the characters in Hinton's later works, particularly in That Was Then, This Is Now, and Tex. And all her books take place in the same approximate environment (but years apart) in Oklahoma. So those of you who are fans could move on to those and get some closure!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Teen review: Illuminae

by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
599 pages
The Illuminae Files_01
8th grade and above

Reviewed by Emma F., grade 11

Editor's note: You may have seen my review of this book a week or two ago, which was fairly enthusiastic. Emma wrote, "I wanted to review this book because I realized after reading it that my opinion was completely different than everybody else's!" So here is Emma's take on it...

Illuminae, by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, is about Kady and Ezra, who break up the day their colony gets destroyed, and work together to escape. They later are separated, but keep in contact through emails. What interested me about the book was the fact that the whole story was told through different texts, like instant messages, emails, Kady’s personal diary, video footage, floor plans, military plans, etc. Not to mention the cover is amazing, with a see-through plastic sleeve that has different shades of oranges. Underneath the book sleeve is an example of one of the military files from the book.

Overall, I thought this book was put together in an interesting and innovative way, yet it wasn’t that good. It took forever to get to the climax, then after the climax, the authors ruined it with a lame ending. I don’t want to spoil the end, but it felt really forced. I read this book because of the cover, I knew about Amie Kaufman from These Broken Stars, which I was really excited for, but ended up disliking.

Also, there was so much happening in this book that you really have to pay attention while reading. I tried to sum up this book in three words: “apocalypse destroys world,” then I would say, “zombies in space,” then I would have to explain, “rogue evil(ish) supercomputer,” and at one point I had to stop reading and go back, because I had no idea what was happening! I recommend a notebook to keep track of what is happening!

This book gets a 2 out of 5, because I liked the cover and the way it was put together, but nothing else.

Another editor's note: While I would ordinarily encourage you to check this out as an e-book or audio book, that was before I read it. The medium is so much a part of the message for this book that I think the only way you can get the experience intended by the authors is to read it in hardcover or paperback!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Teen review: Revenant series

Reviewed by KL, grade 9

The book I am reviewing is the first in the Revenant series by Amy Plum, called Die for Me. It is a fictional, paranormal romance novel with 341 pages, and is at a high school reading level.

In Die for Me, a teenage girl, Kate, whose parents have just died, picks up her entire life and moves with her sister from New York to Paris, to live with their grandparents. In the midst of her grieving, she comes across a handsome, mysterious stranger with a shady past. She doesn't know what she's getting into when she agrees to see him. She is thrust into a world of love, betrayal, and immortals.

I would have to rate this book a 3 out of 5, because sometimes I would be invested in it, but a lot of the time I was just reading it with no real interest. It's definitely a cute romance novel. When I found it, I had just gotten out of a relationship and decided to nurse my broken heart with a book about true love, and the cover of the young girl in the blood-red dress staring at the Eiffel Tower caught my attention. It was certainly relateable and I connected with it, but like I said, sometimes it could get a little slow.

Editor's note: The second book is Until I Die, and the third and final book in the series is If I Should Die (are we sensing a theme?). If you want to read the series, we have all three books at all three branches. The cover art and Paris location are definitely a lure!


Thursday, May 12, 2016

Last Book Club Report of the Year

This week, we had the last meetings of teen book clubs for this school year. Meetings will resume in September, with lots of moving up between the clubs. (We will have one meeting all together with the members of all three clubs in August, for the purpose of getting acquainted and of picking our September books.)

Tuesday night, a somewhat small (12 out of 19) group from the 6+7 Book Club discussed Ally Carter's book, I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You. Most people seemed fairly taken with the spy school novel, although it was definitely more popular with the girls than with the guys. The final rating, partially due to Mohammad's ill-considered shouting-out of "Nein!" (ha ha), was a solid 8 out of 10. Several people said they would (or already had) continue with the series.

Since we weren't picking another book, we had quite a bit of time left over after discussion and rating, so we went around the circle and each recommended a favorite book (or two). Here is the list and who suggested what:

Fangirl, by Rainbow Rowell
Ten, by Gretchen McNeil

Don't Turn Around, by Michelle Gagnon
Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes, by Maureen Johnson

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, by J. K. Rowling

Counting by 7s, by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, by Jesse Andrews
Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume

Belly Up, by Stuart Gibbs

The complete Alex Ryder series, by Anthony Horowitz

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library, by Chris Grabenstein

Star Wars books!

The Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkien

Court of Fives, by Kate Elliott

Ink and Bone, by Rachel Caine

Wednesday night the 8+9 Club had a lively discussion of Etiquette and Espionage, the steampunk finishing school novel first in a series by Gail Carriger. Of the 12 people in attendance, several really liked it, some felt there was way too much etiquette and not nearly enough espionage, and some were simply confused by or not interested in the book. There was a pretty broad spectrum of opinions, although everyone loved Bumbersnoot the mechanimal dog, and the consensus vote was 7 out of 10.

Hailey noted for the group that the first book is much more expository than the following volumes in the four-book series, and that if we had liked this one at all, we should definitely check out the rest. This led us into an interesting discussion about other series where the first book is primarily set-up and, while not bad, is definitely not as good as the remainder of the series, and what a challenge it is to get people to hang in there with a series when they aren't completely enamored of the first book!

Series mentioned were the Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta, and the Queen's Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner.

We also discussed the travesty of leaving book cover selection to marketing departments instead of making the cover agree with the contents; and the similarities and differences between the books we read for these clubs this month, since both take place in girls' schools.

We finished off the night by breaking into groups and socializing for one last time before our summer hiatus, and promised to meet up over the summer at Book Cafe!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

What we're reading: Spies, serial killers, suspense!

I just read book number three in Jennifer Lynn Barnes's series that began with The Naturals. If you haven't read any of the books in this series, here is the set-up and back story, from my review in July of 2014:
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 her mother is gone and she's on her own, existing uneasily with her paternal 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.
The book 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! So I picked up the second book, Killer Instinct, and was equally taken
with it.

The third book, All In, is the same cast of characters, but it gives more insight into the back stories of some of the teens, makes connections with the past with a new "Unsub" (unknown subject) plot, and there is a change of scenery to Las Vegas, giving the author the ability to pull in some of the unusual or even bizarre characters who populate that world--hotel moguls, stage magicians, hypnotists--as suspects and players. I'm still a fan!

I don't know why I was under the impression that this was the last book in the series, or that it would be a trilogy. Certainly it doesn't say that anywhere on the cover or in the description, but I thought this was it. So when I got close to the end of the book and a whole new mystery opened up, I was confused, but it turns out that #4, which supposedly IS the last book, comes out in November! That's great--one more Naturals book to enjoy.

Editor's note: Teens, you may have a hard time getting your hands on this series at the Central Library--I recommended it to one of our circulation clerks, and she liked it so much that she, in turn, recommended it to everyone she knows! Try for a copy at Buena Vista! We do, also, have the first book as both an audio book and as an e-book, if those are options. And if all else fails, Barnes has another series that starts with The Fixer that you might like equally as well! The second book, The Long Game, comes out in June, which means we'll have it sometime in July.


Monday, May 9, 2016

Teen review: Realistic fiction

My Life with the Walter Boys, by Ali Novak, is 354 pages long. It is realistic teen fiction for tweens/teens. I am a junior in high school, and it was definitely an easy read, maybe a little young for me. It is not part of a series.

Basically, this girl Jackie, who is very organized and driven, loses her family in an accident and is left to live with the hectic and lively family, the Walters. This family is huge (10 boys and one girl), and Jackie has trouble translating her organized life into this chaotic, messy family. The boys can sense how different she is, and at first they go to great lengths to prank her and call her stuck up. But slowly she breaks down these barriers and forms close relationships with most of the family.

The boys are all very attractive, and one really catches her eye, but she is afraid, after the death of her family, that now is not the right time. When Jackie is around this boy, he convinces her to do these impulsive things to try and get her to live a little and stop worrying so much about being perfect and about her future. Jackie is too scared to fall for him, and instead finds herself with another Walter boy. This causes a lot of complications in the family and reveals not only the boys’ past but also how they really feel about everything that happened between them.

I won't spoil the end because I think this book is worth reading. Personally I found her conversation and friendships with the girls at school to be surface and young; it was clear the real relationships were being developed at the house. I love a teen book with a romantic plot, and this book definitely delivered on that without being too sappy. Over all, cute and a fun book to read; I give it a 4/5.

The reviewer wishes to remain anonymous.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

What we're reading: A book about books!

In Ink and Bone, author Rachel Caine rewrites history and then postulates what might have happened next. To any bibliophile, the burning of the Great Library at Alexandria was a tragedy of epic proportions. The loss of the ancient world's single greatest archive of knowledge, the idea that so many "great works of brilliant geniuses" (Orosius) didn't survive, causes anything from a wince to a fit of weeping by those lovers of antiquity who can only imagine what they might have missed by this loss.

In this, the first book of a new series, Caine lets the Library at Alexandria survive! By the present day (the book actually takes place a decade into our future), the Library and its staff have gained immense political power and influence, akin to that of the Catholic Church and a world government rolled into one. The Great Library is a looming presence in every major city, and has complete power over the dissemination of information. Through the use of alchemy, literally any work of history can be delivered to a "blank" book for any citizen to read...but the individual ownership or possession of "real" books is strictly forbidden.

The primary protagonist of the book is Jess Brightwell, whose family has for centuries been involved in the black market trade for illegal books. Jess, however, is neither qualified for nor interested in following the family trade, so his father decides that, since he's a bright boy, the best thing he can do for the family is to become a librarian! This begins his association with a motley group of other teenagers, all vying for a place in the hierarchy of the most powerful organization on earth. But what they discover is that the Great Library isn't as benign and well-intentioned as they've been brought up to believe...

I picked this up from the New Books shelf at the library because of the little gold plate on the cover that said "THE GREAT LIBRARY." I wanted to include five newish books in a painting for our teen summer reading club promotions, and since Rachel Caine is a popular author, I chose this as one of them. I hadn't read it when I painted it, but I liked the cover because of the color scheme, and the reference to a library. So I had it sitting at home after I finished my illustration, and decided, Might as well read it. I'd never read anything by Rachel Caine before, because, well, vampires (so over it), and I had no idea what to expect.

I thought this book was brilliant. The alternate history, the scene-setting, the imagery, the concepts, the characters, the action, all fully ON. Every time I had to stop reading, I couldn't wait to pick it up again. It made me late to work twice last week because I just had to read one more chapter over my breakfast cereal. I loved it so much! I'm afraid to look and see how long I will have to wait for the sequel...

Okay, I looked, July 5 is the date! But I requested a giveaway of the advance reader copy from Goodreads, so we'll see! Didn't know you could get books that way? Join Goodreads!