Saturday, November 17, 2012

6+7 Book Club next Tuesday!

Tuesday night at 7:00 p.m. at the Central Library, the 6+7 Book Club will discuss Mortal Engines, by Philip Reeve. The description from the Publisher's Weekly review:

In the Europe of the future, the great cities have uprooted themselves from the Earth and donned wheels; roving the Hunting Ground that was once Europe, cities literally devour one another as part of a new social construct called Municipal Darwinism. The mighty city of London, in danger of running out of "prey," looks toward the east, where an enormous wall protects the static cities of the Anti-Traction League--the "heretics" who have chosen the barbaric practice of living on the bare earth. But London's mad Lord Mayor develops a plan to get through the wall: He resurrects a vicious and ancient technology, a post-20th-century update of the nuclear bomb, all the more horrible with time and refinement, and mounts it in the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral.
Club members, let us know if you will NOT be attending! We hope to see you there!

Friday, November 16, 2012

What We're Reading: Sarah Rees Brennan

The Demon’s Lexicon
by Sarah Rees Brennan
322 pages
Paranormal.
Three-book series
(this is book one--the other books are The Demon's Covenant and The Demon's Surrender)
High school, grade 9 and up
Reviewed by
Anarda

Nick and Alan are brothers united by tragedy, filial love, and a sense of duty to fight and destroy the demons and magicians who murdered their father and who continue to pursue them and their mother from town to villlage to London itself.To hide from demonic search parties, Nick adopts the demeanor of the tough outsider who disparages school and knows something about auto engines--and swords, when necessary. Alan is the limping, red-haired, bespectacled scholar, translater of arcane languages, and occasional bookstore employee, protector of his dark, powerful, but emotionally withdrawn younger brother, and keeper of their equally dark, brooding mother.She guards a mysterious talisman that a sinister magician seeks, but she also harbors an abiding fear of Nick.When a local brother and sister arrive on Nick and Alan’s doorstep seeking help to remove the strange marks that the brother, Jamie, has received from demonic forces, the two brothers reluctantly agree to help them.First stop, the Goblin Market,where Alan chooses to “carry” one of the demonic marks Jamie was given and Nick performs a ritual dance to call on his own familiar demons for help and answers.


But in short order, more dire problems are revealed, not the least being a relationship Alan has been hiding from Nick; and why is Alan lying to Nick, his closeset companion? And if Alan is lying about their relationship,the only close relationship Nick has ever experienced, what does this make Nick? Is he the cold,violent monster he has always thought he was?
There are any number of books published about demons and demonic possesion, evil magicians and their machinations, and romancing the “dark side,” but this book centers on the point of view of a particularly troubled young man and his empty inner life rather than a yearning young woman and her empty heart. Nick is a teen who truly doesn’t understand the forces that have been working on him all his life: He doesn’t understand his mother’s pathological avoidance of him, he doesn’t understand why he can’t read the feelings of the people around him, and--except for his brother Alan--he doesn’t understand why he can’t even care about others. He doesn’t know why the talisman his mother holds is more valuable than building a stable life, and he doesn’t comprehend making a loving sacrifice for one’s family. Does being pushed around by the demands of magical forces preclude the idea of free will? Can loyalty trump destiny? Can love be learned? These questions are partially answered in this first book of a trilogy, and I’m intrigued enough to want to know the outcome. Yes, I liked this book!

Rating: 3.75--The writing is better than average, and the story provides a slightly different twist to a familiar theme.

Cover: I’ve seen better, I’ve seen worse. The hardcover version shows Nick full-face, while the paperback version shows a full-figure representation of him.

In addition to this trilogy, Sarah Rees Brennan is the author of Team Human, co-writing with Justine Larbalestier. Her new book is Unspoken, a romantic Gothic mystery about a girl who discovers that her imaginary friend is actually a real boy. Unspoken was just nominated for Best Fiction for Young Adults 2013 by ALA/YALSA. Sarah writes from Ireland, but likes to travel the world collecting inspiration.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Service hours!

While we welcome your help for service hours at the library, there are hundreds (maybe thousands?) of you, while we have only a few positions at each branch for which we can use volunteers. So we would like to remind you (now that some of your deadlines for turning in your services hours are approaching) that there is another way to get service hours: Write book reviews!

Yes, you can write a book review for this blog, and if you follow our guidelines (click on the "book review guidelines" page above for instructions), we will not only publish your review, we will give you one service hour for every review you write.

Please take note of the part in the instructions where it says "Do not review books you are reading anyway for school!" This blog is for recreational reading--we want it to be entertaining, and to recommend books to teens that they want to read (rather than being compelled to by an assignment). But if you just read the latest book by Charlie Higson or Melina Marchetta and you want to tell all your friends (and a bunch more people who read this blog) that they should read it too, here's your chance! Email us at burbank.teens@gmail.com.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What we're reading: Lish McBride

Necromancing the Stone
by Lish McBride
342 pages
Fantasy/paranormal fiction
Two-book series (this is book two)
Reviewed by Melissa

We just finished reading Hold Me Closer, Necromancer, by Lish McBride, for 10-12 Book Club. Anarda discovered this book first and insisted I read it; I really liked it, so we pitched it to the club. Most of them enjoyed it as much as we did. So this past weekend, I made time to read the sequel, Necromancing the Stone, and if anything, I liked it more.

All your favorite characters are back, a few short weeks after the dramatic conclusion to the first book, and now Sam has to go about the task of becoming Seattle's resident necromancer. This wasn't something he planned, and he is both untrained and totally unprepared for the challenges he will face. Complicating matters are such things as his werewolf girlfriend (who may be having second thoughts), the new status of his three best friends (ghost, were-bear, and personal assistant), and his inherited and rather sulky chief factotum, James the pukis. Then someone significant dies, there are unexpected results involving the use of his powers as a raiser of the dead, and evidence points to there being a sinister force at work behind the scenes. Throw in some smackdowns by various paranormal entities, not to mention his personal baggage with his family, and Sam is understandably feeling a bit overwhelmed.

One reviewer on Amazon said that this is really James's book, and while I disagree (I feel that Sam is always the heart and soul of the story), I do think that James's dilemma is heart-rending, as well as crucial to the plot. The fine line Sam walks is how to be who he is and do what he does without turning into the evil Douglas Montgomery, and the challenges set up to test his resolve are many, frequent, and sometimes devastating--but good cheer is maintained throughout, and the dialogue is witty. McBride keeps a really nice balance of serious ethical choice and zany comic relief in this book, and makes it easy to become personally engaged with and root for her characters.

The other thing I love is that while McBride could choose to do another book about these people, the story that was started in book one comes to a satisfying conclusion in book two, and they stand together as a perfect, self-contained unit. If she decides to come back and write another, it will be gravy--but she didn't leave anything significant hanging there waiting for resolution, and I appreciate that! While I am a big fan of series fiction, there is something to be said for an approach that doesn't string the reader along for years waiting for the big pay-off. I loved this "miniseries," and look forward to whatever she decides to write next!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Dear Teen Me...

San Francisco-based Zest Books, which publishes nonfiction for teens (the latest was Regine's Book, which was reviewed here in July by Erica S.) has just published a book called Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters to Their Teen Selves, edited by E. Kristin Anderson and Miranda Keneally, and including letters to themselves as teens from YA authors Ellen Hopkins, Lauren Oliver, Nancy Holder, Carrie Jones, Robin Benway, Sean Beaudoin, Cynthia Leitich-Smith, and a bunch more...

One of the ways the editors have chosen to publicize the book is to "go" on a national four-week blog "tour," which means they enlisted bloggers--either teens or those who blog for teens--to feature the book on their blog in some way, hopefully by writing a letter to their own teen self. So...I decided I would do it, because the main reason I think I ended up as a teen librarian (when I went into library school planning to become an archivist!) is that I remember so clearly how much I hated being a teenager, and the empathy I feel for teens is what made me want to be their friend and advocate in the public library, now that I'm an adult.

[Teen flashback weirdness: The radio is playing in the background as I write this, and Roberta Flack's song Killing Me Softly ("strumming my pain with his fingers, singing my life with his words, killing me softly with his song...") just came on. That song always gives me the shivers, and not in a good way--it's what I sang as my solo in the one middle school talent show in which I chose to participate, and I will never forget shakily going to hit the high notes, opening my mouth, and having absolutely nothing come out. Brrrr...]

Anyway, Dear Teen Me...what advice would I give? What would I say to her? So many things...maybe a list?

Susan Dey in LOOKER, 1981
1. You are not fat. NOT fat. You think you are, but it's all in your head. Sure, if you compare yourself to supermodel and Partridge Family star Susan Dey, who, by the way, turned out to have a serious eating disorder, or to your mother, from whose hipbones you could hang a coathanger, then you could feel that way--but don't! You just take after the curvier side of the family (Dad's), but that's okay--you do NOT have to starve yourself from 126 lbs. (!) down to 115 just to please your mother, or deprive yourself of beach trips because you refuse to appear in a bathing suit in front of your friends. You are not unpopular because you are fat--you are unpopular because you have believed other people's stories about you instead of your own. When you get out of the hell that is high school and go away to college, this will start to change. In fact, ironically, much later in life you WILL be fat, but you will be a lot happier. Not because you are fat, but because you are YOU.

Me, at 17, senior year.
2. There is a reason you haven't had a boyfriend yet. It's not because you aren't pretty. It's not because you aren't smart. It's not because you don't deserve one. It's because you are afraid. Nobody ever taught you how to relate to boys. Nobody let you know that boys could be your friends, because your parents always cast them as either dangerous, or Prince Charming in waiting. That is why you keep falling into unrequited love with guys who are way too old, gay, out of your league, already involved with someone else, etc., so you can pretend to be involved without having to risk anything. So--take a deep breath, RELAX, and enjoy being around guys because they can be fun, interesting, different...not because you're looking for your future husband! You could wait for that until you're 30 or so. In fact, please do. Trust me.

3. Stop editing yourself. Deep inside that fundamentalist church-raised, uptight, shy, painfully self-conscious girl is spontaneity, artistic talent, and many other gifts, if you can only give up all the judgment, the preconceived notions, the "shoulds" and "mustn'ts," and let yourself be, well, yourself. You have been raised to think that every decision you make is irrevocable. It's not. You have been made to believe that you choose a career, a mate, and a life by the time you are 21 years old, and that's it--your path is set. That's nonsense. You can always choose to change your mind. Nothing is as important--or set in stone--as it seems when you are 17.

4. Save up your allowance and buy Apple Computer stock.

If you have enjoyed my painfully honest revelations and would like to go on the blog tour yourself to see what other bloggers have written in this same spirit, go to the blog tour schedule. Four or five different people have blogged each day for a month (October 15 to November 16), and you can read them all by clicking on each day's links.

Meanwhile, Dear Teen Me will be on our library shelves any minute now, so keep checking the catalogue and read the book to find out what your favorite authors have to say about being a teen, from their now-adult perspective. In the words of the LGBT youth campaign, "It gets better." I promise.