Saturday, January 17, 2015

What you are reading! Top 50s...

We haven't done this for a while, so let's explore the list of most-checked-out YA new books at Burbank Public Library for the past three months, in descending order, most check-outs to least check-outs. Note that some of these come up as new even though they are NOT, because we ordered extra copies due to popularity and demand (such as Allegiant, The Fault In Our Stars, etc.), OR because we had to replace a damaged or discarded copy with a new one:

Allegiant / Veronica Roth
City of Heavenly Fire / Cassandra Clare
The Rule of Thoughts / James Dashner

Isla and the Happily Ever After /
     Stephanie Perkins
Amity / Micol Ostow
Say What You Will / Cammie McGovern
The One / Kiera Cass
The Young Elites / Marie Lu
Sanctum / Madeleine Roux
Love is the Drug / Alaya Dawn Johnson
I Am the Weapon / Allen Zadoff
Hollow City / Ransom Riggs
A Thousand Pieces of You / Claudia Gray
Sinner / Maggie Stiefvater
Sea of Shadows / Kelley Armstrong

Ruin and Rising / Leigh Bardugo
The Infinite Sea / Rick Yancey
I Am the Mission / Allen Zadoff
Four : A Divergent Collection / Veronica Roth
The Fall / Bethany Griffin
Blue Lily, Lily Blue / Maggie Stiefvater
Black Ice / Becca Fitzpatrick
The Bane Chronicles /

     Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan
Althea & Oliver / Cristina Moracho
Inland / Kat Rosenfield
The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die / April Henry
The Young World / by Chris Weitz
What I Thought Was True / by Huntley Fitzpatrick 

Time After Time / Tamara Ireland Stone
The Revenge of Seven / Pittacus Lore
The Perfectionists / Sara Shepard 
Mortal Heart / by Robin LaFevers
The Magician's Land / Lev Grossman
I'll Give You the Sun / by Jandy Nelson
Fangirl / Rainbow Rowell
Earth Girl / Janet Edwards
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea /

     April Genevieve Tuchol
Altered / Gennifer Albin
To All the Boys I've loved Before / Jenny Han
A Midsummer Night's Scream / R.L. Stine
100 Sideways Miles / Andrew Smith
We Were Liars / E. Lockhart
Uncaged / John Sandford & Michele Cook
Sway / Kat Spears
Noggin / John Corey Whaley
Nearly Gone / Elle Cosimano
Heir of Fire / Sarah J. Maas
Glory O'Brien's History of the Future / A.S. King
Fractured / Sarah Fine
The Fault in Our Stars / John Green

There are lots of sequels to popular books on this list; and some series that are hanging in there a lot longer than you might have expected! Some well-known authors, a few unknowns or first-time writers, but nothing too surprising. A fair amount of dystopian and fantasy is represented here, although I can see a slight turn toward realistic fiction (or at least magical realism). The books we or one of our guest or teen writers have reviewed are bold-faced, with links to the reviews--not as many as we would have liked to read and review of these!

In a couple of days, we will do the list of the 50 most popular NON-new books...

Friday, January 16, 2015

Book club report!

At January's 10-12 Book Club, we had one of our liveliest debates ever over Andrew Smith’s Winger. One of our members says it’s his favorite book of all time and that he "gets" Ryan Dean West, but some others disliked it intensely, and we had ratings from the 19 people present (out of 27--what gives, people?) that ranged from a 10 down to a 2. The final rating was 7.65.

The debate raged over the author's conception and treatment of gay people through the eyes of his protagonist, Ryan Dean, whose constant harping on the fact that it's okay for him to be best friends with a gay guy even though he's straight, yes he is, please don't forget it, really put a few people off. (One member counted the number of disclaimers: 52!) Additionally, some felt the trope expressed by the fate of the gay character, Joey, was tired and outdated and that Smith shouldn't have gone there.

Next month we are reading Finnikin of the Rock, by Melina Marchetta (finally! yay!), and the following month we unanimously agreed to read Vicious, by V. E. Schwab.
All members but one (19 in all) showed up for January's 6+7 Book Club to discuss The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin. Apparently, despite the fact that this mystery was originally published in 1978, it has lasting appeal—we had a lively and prolonged discussion, and the final rating for the book was 8.33, the highest for any book so far this year.

For next month’s book, the club is reading Cinder, by Marissa Meyer. For March's book the club chose Circle of Secrets, by Kimberly Griffiths Little, but afterwards we discovered that it's not out in paperback, so we will be reading the club's second choice, The Alchemyst, by Michael Scott.

Other books we considered:

Things Not Seen, by Andrew Clements
The Girl in the Steel Corset, by Cady Cross
The Maze Runner, by James Dashner
Flying Solo, by Ralph Fletcher
The Girl Who Could Fly, by Victoria Forester
The Apothecary, by Maile Meloy
Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment, by James Patterson
My Friend the Enemy, by Dan Smith

Our selection for 8+9 Book Club this month was Rot and Ruin, by Jonathan Maberry, and even though I had reservations about this choice (because zombies!), Anarda assured me that it was good, and sure enough, it proved very popular! Out of the 10 in attendance, only two didn't enjoy it, and the other eight were enthusiastic fans. Several said they would go on to read the other THREE sequels in the series, and the final rating was 8.33.

For February we are changing direction with Getting Over Garrett Delaney, by Abby McDonald. Book club members who didn't attend this month please note: We are still awaiting the arrival of a few more copies of the book from our vendor, so if you want to start reading right away, see Melissa at the Central Library for a library copy that has been put on reserve for you, and you'll get your copy later. If you can wait another week, we should have the real thing by then!

For March reading, we chose Will Grayson, Will Grayson, by John Green and David Levithan, but since we subsequently discovered that it is rated for 10th grade and up, March's book will be our second choice, which was Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman, a personal favorite of ours (because dragons!).

Other books we considered:

Matched, by Ally Condie
Delirium, by Lauren Oliver
The Winner's Curse, by Marie Rutkoski
The 5th Wave, by Rick Yancey

Lovely to book-talk with you all--keep reading, and we'll see you in February!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Teen review: Romance

Every Boy’s Got One
by Meg Cabot
339 pages
Stand-alone teen romance
For high school and up

Reviewed by Kayla, grade 10

Jane Harris is preparing to go to Europe with her best friend Holly for her elopement, but what she isn’t prepared for is Cal Langdon, the best friend of Mark, the groom-to-be. To say that they dislike each other would be a major understatement. Cal is the exact opposite of Jane, and seems to want to be anywhere but in Europe. So when Jane and Cal are forced to work together to help Holly and Mark, it is a true test! Will they be able to make it through?

This book was really exciting and funny. I enjoyed the characters and I did not want the book to end. I also did not expect the ending, and the journey that came before it had me on the edge of my seat.

The story was also told in a unique way. It was told through a series of emails, texts, and Jane’s travel journal. This point of view showed what people were really thinking, not just what they were willing to say out loud. 

I rate this book as a 5.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Teen Review: Fantasy

The Young Elites, by Marie Lu, is a YA fantasy book consisting of 355 pages (including the epilogue at the end). It is the first book of a series. The main character is a 16-year-old girl named Adelina. She is a survivor of a fatal illness known as the blood fever that put an end to many lives across her nation, including her mother's. Although most who were infected by the illness perished, some survived. The survivors of the blood fever are referred to as malfettos. Malfettos are easily recognized in the society due to markings the blood fever left on their bodies affecting their physical appearance. However, the minority of survivors were left with more than just physical changes, they also inhabited extraordinary powers. Malfettos with powers are known as "The Young Elites."

Adelina inherits both of these side effects from the blood fever. She now has silver glimmering hair replacing her once black, coarse hair, as well as scars, a missing eye, and powers. The government in this society looks down upon malfettos, blaming them for poverty and disorder in the nation, and accusing them of being demonic for surviving such a horrid illness, so there are attempts to kill off every living malfetto. Consequently, the Young Elites become involved with "The Dagger Society," members of which strive to overthrow the tyrannical government.

In a series of events, Adelina escapes her abusive father and becomes involved with the Dagger Society, but must prove herself worthy before she is given approval to fight alongside highly skilled elites. Soon after, the mission of saving their society becomes urgent and crucial. Throughout her journey, Adelina must overcome her agonizing past, self-loathing, and all the hurt her father previously inflicted on her, in order to save what she truly loves. The unanswered question is, Will the lingering darkness from her harrowing childhood that is growing in her heart prevent Adelina from reaching her full potential? 

Although this was Marie Lu's first YA fantasy book, it did not disappoint at all. This book takes the average insecurities and the developing self-confidence of a teenager to the next level by adding high stakes and extraordinary powers to the story. Every obstacle that presented itself, as well as the ending, was completely unpredictable. Adelina, the protagonist, is not your usual hero, she has darkness in her too and the desire to dominate. In reality, not everyone is transformed into a wholeheartedly good person after overcoming an obstacle, or becomes a flawless hero, and it was a breathe of fresh air to see this different perspective demonstrated in the book. This made it a lot easier to relate to her, as she is very complex. Adelina has easily become one of my favorite characters I've encountered in a book. The world building could have been further developed for the reader as well as some characters who were somewhat flat. I'd rate it 4 out of 5 stars and I believe it would be most enjoyed by mature teens, as there is a bit of violence. Over all, it was an entertaining and exciting book with coherent writing. It is definitely worth reading!

Reviewed by Melody, grade 11

Editor's note: I believe that Marie Lu herself did this cool drawing of Adelina; I searched and searched for an attribution and couldn't find one. She did say that she had done some drawings, so hopefully this is one. If it's by someone else and you know who, please email me so I can properly attribute it! As an artist myself, I hate it when people "borrow" my work and neglect to mention that I made it!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

What we're reading: Fantasy

I just finished reading Thief's Covenant and False Covenant, by Ari Marmell, a three-book fantasy series (the third book is Lost Covenant). I was in the midst of what we librarians call "weeding," which is to say that I was checking the number of times each book in the teen fiction collection at the Central Library had checked out in the past few years, to decide whether a book should stay (because it's popular) or go (because it's not, and shelf space is at a premium!), and these books had not very many check-outs. But before deciding to remove them from the collection, I decided I'd better read them.

I actually decided this because of the name--I am such a fan of The Thief and its three sequels by Megan Whalen Turner that I will give any book with a thief as its protagonist a shot at impressing me--and while this series isn't on that level of excellence, it was pretty good! The best part about the series is the thief, the main character, Widdershins. She is everything you could want in a young, brash, impulsive heroine with unusual skills.

The writing was good--expressive and descriptive, with a lot of content within fairly slim books. I did have some trouble with the timeline in the first book, however, since it jumped, not just between static past and present, but all over the place, from "now" to "two years ago" to "six years ago" to "last week," and that, combined with the introduction of characters who were in a former timeline but not in the present one, was a bit taxing. (Although perhaps the fact that I was sick with a pernicious head cold while I was reading it made my powers of concentration less than they usually are!)

This is an immersive fantasy, and as one reviewer on Goodreads mentioned, the setting is somewhat like Renaissance France. I actually found that distracting--the French derivation of names made me expect one thing, while this was something different. There is a pretty well developed panoply of gods the people worship, which felt more like a Greek venue, but the names, clothes, etc. were pure French. I would have liked it a bit better had the book created its own, unrelated-to-human-history, setting. I do see, however, that the French setting allowed Widdershins to come across as a certain sort of gamin girl--I could see her played by a younger version of that fabulous actress in the movie Amelie, Audrey Tautou.

The sequel was a good follow-up. The heroine remained engaging, her sidekicks (new and old) were well written, and I enjoyed the nightmare quality of the monster from children's tales. I haven't had a chance to read the third book, in which Widdershins runs away from the city of Davillon to have new adventures out in the wider world, but I will check it out soon.

I also quite like the cover art!

I think I will keep this series in the library a while longer and hope that others besides myself will discover it.