Friday, January 24, 2014

What we're reading: Trends

There seems to be a trend in fiction--both adult and teen--right now, to choose a plucky, precocious young girl (ages 9-13) to be the protagonist, who surprises and delights the adults around her with her amazing insights and unusual choices, exhibiting wisdom beyond her years, blah-di-blah-di-blah. In fact, I have read so many of these lately that I'm getting weary of the premise!

But! Having said that, I just read one that completely restored my faith in the precocious girl trend! It's called Counting by 7s.

Willow Chance, 12-year-old genius, is unique, and I don't use that word lightly. Her particular situation (she is adopted at birth and then abruptly orphaned at age 12) is truly tragic, and yet she meets it with aplomb and dignity (and quite a lot of humor). I loved all the other cleverly developed and completely individual quirky characters. The writing was spare and simple, yet incredibly dense in detail, and I couldn't put the book down, start to finish. It is a seriously good story, and such an elevation above this apparently now-common trope that I want to read it again already!

The book's author, Holly Goldberg Sloan (who also wrote my "best of 2012" pick for teen book, I'll Be There), will be paying us an author visit at Burbank Public Library on Thursday, March 6, at 7:00 p.m. (at the Buena Vista branch). She will speak, answer questions, and autograph her books, both of which will be for sale at the event. I urge you to attend this program and find out what else Holly has in store, because so far she's two for two!

(And by the way, if you liked Eleanor & Park, I'll bet you would like this too!)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Teen Review: Eleanor and Park

Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Pages: 336
Genre: Realistic fiction
Series: No
Level: High school
Reviewed by: Farah M.

“Two misfits. One extraordinary love.”

It's 1986 and two teens are smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but are brave and desperate enough to try. After being kicked out of her home, Eleanor has just moved back in with her family, giving her stepfather a second chance. Living under the control of a drunkard, Eleanor doesn’t have the luxuries other people at her school have. Constantly harassed at school, she finds comfort in the one person willing to offer her a seat next to him on the bus: Park. It wasn’t love at first sight; it was slow until they warmed up to each other. 'Til they found common interests and became comfortable in each other's company, took risks for each other.

Eleanor & Park had me on a rollercoaster. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to cry, scream, or laugh at the sweet banter. Real life people with real life problems, and you can’t help but feel for them (some of them) the whole time. The cover is simple yet sweet, two people brought together by one thing.

Recommended to me by many people, who did not steer me wrong. I would definitely recommend this to anyone. Rainbow Rowell’s books definitely do not disappoint.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Guest review: Vampires

Tana Bach is 17, looking forward to her senior year, and recovering from the most recent break-up with her exasperating on-again/off-again boyfriend, Aidan. She’s been invited to an end-of-summer party, but she’s not sure she wants to go, because she is sure Aidan will be there--awkward. And, if she goes, she will have to go alone because Pauline, her best friend, is away at drama camp. She determines Aidan shouldn’t keep her from seeing the rest of her friends and decides to attend....

Very early the next morning, Tana wakes up in the bathtub. She has no memory of how she got there, and the details of the party are sketchy--she remembers that Aidan was there and that for most of the night she was miserable. She leaves the bathroom, trying to be quiet so as not disturb anyone still sleeping...and then realizes that the people lying around aren’t sleeping: There is blood everywhere, and all of her friends are dead. From the wounds, and the amount of blood, she concludes that it must have been a vampire attack. As she creeps through the house trying to find her purse, she discovers Aidan. He is tied to a bed and, while he is still alive, he has been bitten. On the other side of the room is a vampire, shackled to the wall. He has been positioned just out of reach of Aidan and in direct line with the windows, which will allow in the light from the rapidly approaching sunrise.

The choice Tana makes sets her on the road to Coldtown, a government facility set up to contain the vampire outbreak from the general population...but once you enter Coldtown, you can never leave...

In The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, Holly Black creates a believable world in which a vampire infestation has gotten out of control and the government has created quarantine areas complete with government bureaucracies (and complacent government workers), where innocents struggle to get out, wannabes try to get in, and cameras capture the “action” 24 hours a day for broadcast on web and television screens. It is a chilling look at how our culture could react to a medical pandemic. Within this situation she has placed interesting and relatable characters on a ticking-clock quest. The plot explores issues of character under dire circumstances and how we, as individuals and as a culture, define who or what is a “monster.”

The author is clearly familiar with vampire lore, and plays with the conventions without breaking them. While she romanticizes the vampires, she never minimizes the horror of what it means for the “undead” to prey on the living (nor does she minimize the living’s fascination with, and desire to become, the undead). The Coldest Girl in Coldtown will appeal to those interested in vampire novels, paranormal romances, or anyone who enjoys the macabre!

Reviewed by Daryl M., reference librarian

Sunday, January 19, 2014


A reminder that all branches of the Burbank Public Library will be CLOSED on Monday, January 20th, for Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. We will reopen at the usual times on Tuesday. See you then!