Friday, October 5, 2012

Top YA Books at BPL

Here's a list of the 50 books that have been checked out the most from the teen sections at BPL in the past three months (just in case you're curious about what other teens are reading). They are in descending order according to number of times checked out. It's an interesting mix of reality, fantasy, dystopia, retold fairy tale, and mystery, as well as including both stand-alone and series fiction. It's nice to see so many books on the list that have been reviewed here on our blog, either by us or by you--maybe some of you are reading the blog!  ;-)

No surprise that John Green is at the top of the list, given how many of you love this book. Another thing I noticed--look at all the books that have a one-word title! Is this coincidence? A trend? A YA thing? What do you think?

The Fault in Our Stars / John Green
City of Lost Souls / Cassandra Clare
Insurgent / Veronica Roth
The Story of Us / Deb Caletti
Born Wicked / Jessica Spotswood
Underworld / by Meg Cabot
Starters / Lissa Price
Clockwork Prince / Cassandra Clare
The Calling / Kelley Armstrong
Bitterblue / Kristin Cashore
Enchanted / Alethea Kontis
Stunning / Sara Shepard
Shadow and Bone / Leigh Bardugo
Scarlet / A.C. Gaughen
Partials / Dan Wells
Code Name Verity / Elizabeth Wein
Body & Soul : A Ghost and the Goth Novel / Stacey Kade
What Boys Really Want? / Pete Hautman
Until I Die / Amy Plum
Tiger Lily / Jodi Lynn Anderson
Magic of the Moonlight : A Full Moon Novel / Ellen Schreiber

Grave Mercy / by Robin LaFevers
The Vanishing Game / Kate Kae Myers
Try Not to Breathe / Jennifer R. Hubbard
Spell bound : A Hex Hall Novel / Rachel Hawkins
Keep Holding On / Susane Colasanti
Infinity / Rachel Ward
Chopsticks / Jessica Anthony, Rodrigo Corral
Changeling / Philippa Gregory
Awkward / Marni Bates
Unraveling Isobel / Eileen Cook
Taken by Storm / Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Take a Bow / Elizabeth Eulberg
The Storyteller / Antonia Michaelis
Snow White & the Huntsman / by Lily Blake
Seeds of Rebellion / Brandon Mull

Purity / Jackson Pearce
Perception: A Clarity Novel / Kim Harrington
Kill Me Softly / by Sarah Cross
The Girls of No Return / Erin Saldin
The Girl in the Park / Mariah Fredericks
Getting Over Garrett Delaney / Abby McDonald
Every Other Day / Jennifer Lynn Barnes
The Drowned Cities / by Paolo Bacigalupi
After the Snow / S.D. Crockett
What She Left Behind / Tracy Bilen
Thief's Covenant / Ari Marmell
Slide / Jill Hathaway

Seraphina / Rachel Hartman
Out of Sight, Out of Time / Ally Carter
Nevermore: The Final Maximum Ride Adventure / James Patterson
I Hunt Killers / Barry Lyga
Harbinger / Sara Wilson Etienne
Hallowed / Cynthia Hand
Croak / by Gina Damico
BZRK / Michael Grant

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

What We're Reading: Sequels

The Drowned Cities
by Paolo Bacigalupi
Dystopia
448 pages
15 and up
Reviewed by Melissa

We read the award-winning Ship Breaker, by Paolo Bacigalupi, with the middle school book club at Buena Vista in December of 2011, and the companion book, The Drowned Cities, came out just in time for Henry, Erica, Susie, Anarda and me to meet Mr. Bacigalupi at the American Library Association convention in June, and buy a hardcover copy of his book (autographed) for just $5, which made us very happy. I was also happy when I read the book (although that is not the mood invoked by the plot, but rather just the fact that I thought it was a good read!). I liked the first one, and I think I liked the second one even better. The book separately follows both a new character (Mahlia) and someone we met in the first book (Tool) and also brings them together for large parts of the story.

Mahlia is a great character--a mixed-race, mixed-culture child of an American woman and a Chinese Peacekeeper--a high-level official sent from China to get and keep the warring city-states of the former United States under control. Mahlia's story is that of most children born of war and occupation: When her powerful father goes back to China, she and her mother are left behind, hoping he will take care of them, but with ever-diminishing expectations as time passes, bad things happen, and it becomes clear he isn't coming back. Mahlia and her friend Mouse eventually find themselves living quietly and carefully under the radar between warring bands of sociopathic child soldiers, protected by the region's doctor, and this is where they come into contact with Tool.

If you remember him from the first book, Tool is a genetically engineered fighting machine, created to be both the perfect soldier and the perfect weapon. Others of his kind are somehow tied emotionally to their war leaders, and when they find themselves on their own, they die or take their own lives, but Tool has somehow evolved beyond this dependency and is now on his own, trying to escape death at his creators' hands and disappear off their radar.

Unfortunately for him, Mahlia has other ideas. She sees him as a way to solve a lot of her problems and get her out of her terrible situation. Her plans don't go too well, though, and there is a lot of effort, anguish, and loss before they come to a resolution at the end of the book.

Here's an interesting article, written by Caragh O'Brien (Birth Marked, Prized, Promised), about the difficulty of writing "the second book," in which she interviews Patrick Ness and Paolo Bacigalupi, and discusses with them Ness's Chaos Walking trilogy and Bacigalupi's two books, as well as remarking on her process to complete her own trilogy.

As for Bacigalupi, the next YA book in the works is a present-day political thriller/crime caper called The Doubt Factory.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

What We're Reading: Realistic Fiction

I just read an ARC (advance reader copy) that I picked up when we went to the American Library Association (ALA) convention in June. It's called My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece, and it's a debut novel by British writer Annabel Pitcher. Here is the opening paragraph:
My sister Rose lives on the mantelpiece. Well, some of her does. Three of her fingers, her right elbow and her kneecap are buried in a graveyard in London. Mum and Dad had a big argument when the police found ten bits of her body. Mum wanted a grave that she could visit. Dad wanted a cremation and to sprinkle the ashes in the sea. That’s what Jasmine told me anyway. She remembers more than I do. I was only five when it happened. Jasmine was ten. She was Rose’s twin. Still is, according to Mum and Dad. They dressed Jas the same for years after the funeral – flowery dresses, cardigans, those flat shoes with buckles that Rose used to love. I reckon that’s why Mum ran off with the man from the support group seventy-one days ago. When Jas cut off all her hair, dyed it pink and got her nose pierced on her fifteenth birthday, she didn’t look like Rose any more and my parents couldn’t hack it.
This book is kind of an odd one, as young adult fiction goes, because the narrator, Jamie (for James), is 10 years old. But the sister in the title would have been 15, if she had lived, and the remaining sister, Jasmine, represents for teens in the book. The story is all Jamie's, however, told in first person from his naive but observant grammar school perspective.

This is not a happy story, but it is a hopeful story. I'm not talking about all the things Jamie hopes for, which are the typical things a 10-year-old in this situation would want--that his mother come back, that his father quit drinking, that both his parents quit dwelling on the sister who is gone and pay attention to himself and his sister, who are left feeling invisible while the parents mourn, fight, leave, act out, and wallow in their grief after "it" happens to Rose. Those are Jamie's big hopes. His smaller hope is that he can find a friend and maybe fit into his new school in his new neighborhood in the Lake District, where his father has moved the family for a new beginning. This may be a more manageable hope, but Jamie isn't holding his breath. He has found one person who wants to be his friend--but if his father knew who it was, Jamie would be in big trouble. The hopefulness to which I refer is that people, if confronted with their shortcomings, can sometimes rally and get things right, and that is the hope that runs throughout this novel, unlikely though it sometimes seems.

The author has gotten the voice of a 10-year-old boy down, and she makes you feel what he feels and live in his head as he tries to make sense out of his situation. I really like how she unfolds the story from the sometimes self-obsessed, slightly weird mindset of this kid. I also liked the cover of the ARC (above)--it is quirky, like the title--but I'm not sure it's the one that will actually be released. The cover in Britain (left), where the book came out almost a year ago, was slightly different, and there is also this cover (above right), which seems to be the final, judging by what I see online. It works too, but I think the ARC cover (the top one) would have been more appealing to teens (if that was the goal). Also, Jamie's secret (about which he is presumably doing the shushing pictured on the cover) is a big part of the book but not the central theme, so this cover feels misleading to me.

The author's website includes some advice for aspiring writers, plus a trailer for the book. She used to be a school teacher, which probably explains how she knows how a 10-year-old boy thinks.

The book released here in the States in August, and is currently on order for the Central library collection. Put it on your "to-read" list and look for it this month!

Monday, October 1, 2012

It's Banned Books Week!

Yes, there is a week for that! Why? Because throughout the world, people want to be able to decide what other people are allowed to read, and we (oh, and the American Library Association) say, NO WAY!


Hundreds of books are either removed from or challenged at school and public libraries every year. You would be amazed by what's on the list--more than half of it looks like the required reading list for your AP English class! The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The House on Mango Street, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Scarlet Letter, Gone with the Wind...see what we mean?

More recent books include The Book Thief, The Hunger Games, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, the Gossip Girl series, Twilight, Bless Me, Ultima, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and The Chocolate War. Oh, and Harry Potter. That's right, Harry Potter.

What can YOU do about this? Simple: Read one. Want to see a list? Go HERE. (Be sure you click on the other links on this page if you want to see banned classics, frequently challenged books, or whatever.


You could also borrow this artwork and put it up on your Facebook page this week in solidarity!
Happy reading...