Friday, June 6, 2014

What we're reading: More magical realism

Note: Anarda just reviewed the first book in this series here, and now shares her thoughts on the second...

The Cracks in the Kingdom, by Jaclyn Moriarty
Series: Book 2 of The Colors of Madeleine
Type: Magical Realism
468 pages

How nice, a "bridge" book that doesn’t disappoint! The Cellian plot begun in the first book, A Corner of White, deepens from that promising beginning. The missing Royals are revealed to the reader, but we spend a lot more time with Elliot and the Royal Youth Alliance in Cello as they puzzle out how to retrieve the Royal Family from the World, meanwhile revealing more strange quirks about the Cellian Kingdom and discovering more romantic interests than they may be comfortable with.

Imagine Turquoise Rains that create euphoria when they touch you (and can become addictive, as Samuel finds out), or attacks by Greys that can slice through clothes to the skin underneath? How about a Lake where you can fish for wishes big and small, but only if you are a teen? Once a wish is caught, you must use it quickly, before it loses its freshness, and word it very carefully or you will receive a useless result; and be prepared for heartbreak when the wish runs out of power. And we think surviving high school is full of challenges. Hah, spend a week touring in Cello, and discover how dangerous walking down the street at the wrong time really can be.

There are times when the plot seems to take a breather because of the amount of world-building that is occurring (it is necessary world-building, however), and we barely spend time in the World with Madeleine, her friends, and the brief glances of the widely dispersed and forgetful Royal Family, but then the author pulls us out of the lull with an unexpected twist in the plot that hooks us right back in. Friends may have ulterior motives that can harm or even kill us, enemies with murder on their agenda can help us find our strengths, and this book is not immune to cliff-hangers. 

How long until the next book?!

And please, please don’t tell me the Kingdom of Cello doesn’t exist!

Cover: Meh. Who the heck is that supposed to be on the book jacket? I recognize the Turquoise Rain, and that’s it.

Rating: 4 out of 5, mostly because of those tiny drags in the plot.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

What we're reading: Summer romance

What I Thought Was True, by Huntley Fitzpatrick, is a nice example of that group of books about the townies vs. the preppies, the year-round residents vs. the summer folk, the have-nots vs. the haves, and the boundary-crossing love affair that inevitably results--in short, a summer romance in a beach town. But it's a bit more than that--there is actually an in-depth story here, that includes more than boy-meets-girl.

This one is set on a fictional east coast island (a lot like Nantucket), and is told from the point of view of a daughter of the island--her mother is the rich people's cleaning lady, her father runs the local fried clams shack, her grandfather was, in his day, the "yard boy" for the big houses on the shore, and her cousin is part of the paint-and-refurbish crew. She herself has worked every summer until this one in her father's restaurant, but this summer she lucked into a job as a "minder" for Mrs. E., an elderly lady from among the summer visitors who has broken her ankle and suffered a concussion, and whose son wants her looked after by someone. His mother refuses to have round-the-clock nurses (too cranky, no fun), so Gwen is the compromise.

Gwen is conflicted about nearly everything. She has had bad experiences in the past with a crew of rich boys from the swim team, and so even though she is drawn to one of them (with whom she was friends back when they were eight years old), she tries to steer clear. But Cass, despite being one of the rich kids, is this year's "yard boy," because his father wants him to learn a valuable lesson over the summer, partly conceived of as punishment for his bad grades in English Lit and his pranks that got him and his friend Spence kicked out of their exclusive prep school and landed them at Gwen's high school for their junior year.

Since you know how these books go, Gwen will, of course, encounter him when he comes to mow her elderly lady's lawn, will be requested to tutor him on the finer points of Tess of the D'Urbervilles, and will react to his charms when he offers to teach her younger brother (not autistic, but not quite regular either) how to swim. There's lots of on- and off-again, the usual massive misunderstandings, and some steamy scenes that make it best for older teens. But it's nicely written, and the characters are engaging and endearing. I liked the Portuguese flavor in Gwen's family, her cousin's and best friend's romance, and her quirky little brother with his stuffed crustacean.

Although some of the content is a little more frank than their books, if you are a fan of Sarah Dessen or Deb Caletti, Jenny Han or Stephanie Perkins, you will like this book!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Register today!

The registration for this year's Teen Summer Reading Program is now

Our theme is "Set Forth! New Worlds Await You..." and we have some great things planned for you between June 17 and July 25! Please note that signing up is NOT a commitment to do anything--you can read and record one book, write one book review, or attend one can do everything or do nothing! So if you are going to be at your grandma's house in Iowa for two weeks, don't worry--sign up anyway! Because...if you ARE signed up, you are eligible to win great PRIZES at all our summer reading programs, so it's definitely an advantage!

Here's what you do:
1. Go to and sign up.
2. Come to the library to receive your swag bag (at the reference desk).
3. Start participating in activities, crafts, and programs on June 17!

Here are some activities to do during the six weeks:

  • READ: For every book you read and add to your reading log, you can get a ticket to put into the jar at your library branch's reference desk. Every Friday at noon, we DRAW THREE NAMES (at each branch), and those people win gift cards to Jamba Juice, or Ben and Jerry's, or In-N-Out...that's 18 chances to win! And of course, the more books you read, the more tickets you put in the jar, the better your chances...
  • WRITE: Go back to the online site where you registered and write us some book reviews! Nothing long and complicated--just a few sentences telling what the book is about, and a few more telling what you thought of it. For every book review you write, you are entered in a drawing--there is one every other Friday, so your best plan is to write book reviews during each two-week period to be in ALL the drawings. These are far more valuable prizes, like a movie ticket, a See's Candy gift certificate, a Barnes & Noble card...
  • TRIVIA: We have a Trivia Challenge based on the science fiction bookmarks you receive in your swag bag! Prizes for the top five performers on this.
And then there are our PROGRAMS. If you want a sneak peak, take a look at our brochure to see readers' theater, performers, crafts, writing workshops, movies and more!

So REGISTER TODAY and join us at the library this summer! (For teens in grades 6-12.)