Saturday, January 2, 2016

Reminder: Photography!

TODAY, January 2, is the first day that you may submit a PHOTOGRAPH for the Friends of the Burbank Public Library's 2016 PHOTOGRAPHY CONTEST! Remember that the contest is EARLIER this year, and the turn-in period only lasts for TWO WEEKSDue dates are Saturday, January 2 through Saturday January 16!

HERE is the ENTRY FORM with the RULES and CATEGORIES. Read this carefully so you get everything right! No time for do-overs!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

My faves from 2015

Every year about this time, on the main library blog, we feature the "best of 2015" selections of various library staff members. I thought, therefore, that I would share my YA favorites from this year with you here, as well. I read 154 books this year, a good percentage of them YA, and I'd like to feature those I thought were interesting, different, and/or truly great. They weren't necessarily all written this year, but this is the year I discovered them. Here's my list, in no particular order:

The Martian, by Andy Weir

Not exactly a YA book, but definitely YA-friendly. We chose this for high school book club after multiple nominations, and honestly, I didn't expect to like it so much, but I couldn't put it down. Even not knowing anything useful about math or science didn't deter me--this book was amazing. The suspense level was through the roof (as any good survival story should be), the humor was the perfect leavening, the writing was smart and engrossing, and I was fascinated throughout. A giant step forward for true science-based fiction!

Canary, by Duane Swierczynski
Again, not specifically a YA book, but I contacted the nominating committee and proposed it for consideration for an Alex Award, because I could see high school book club being fascinated by it. It kind of reminded me of The Lock Artist, by Steve Hamilton, one of our faves. Multiple points of view done well, lots of twisty turns in the plot, and a stellar ending. Here's my complete review, on the main library blog.

The Truth Commission, by Susan Juby

This is a book about three students at a high school for artists in a small town in Canada, but the book is supposedly narrative nonfiction, written by one of them for her junior year "special project." So it's first person narrative with footnotes, many of them addressed to her English teacher, who is also (fortunately) the school counselor. Anyway, the three best friends conceive of a joint project they call The Truth Commission, in which they approach people and ask them bald-faced questions about things that are "known" about them without ever really being revealed or acknowledged by that person or by all those who gossip about them. The project is an initial (though risky) success, but when Normandy starts applying the truth-telling to her own family situation, things quickly get out of hand. Here is my full review, on the teen blog.

The Fixer, by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The book is described as Scandal meets Veronica Mars. If you like(d) either one of those television shows, you will probably love this book, a tasty thriller. Here's my full review. This is the book that Ally Carter's All Fall Down wishes it was.

The Boy Most Likely To, by Huntley Fitzpatrick

An unconventional romance with a lot more than just heart (pardon the pun). My full review is here.

Glory O'Brien's History of the Future, by A. S. King

King's books are not for everyone. They are, let's face it, pretty weird, and (from what I hear about the new one from Anarda) getting weirder. But I loved the quirky magical realism inherent in Glory's story. Here's more about this book.

I'll Meet You There, by Heather Demetrios

This book is about poverty and hardship, about war and consequences and heartache, and also about love. Read all about it here. One of my best-of-2015 books, regardless of whether it's YA or not!

I realize, looking at this list, that the majority (if not all) of these books are for 9th grade and up. So as not to neglect the middle-schoolers, here are some books from book club that I particularly liked:

The Chronicles of Kazam (The Last Dragonslayer, etc.), by Jasper Fforde
Variant, by Robison Wells
The Apothecary, by Maile Meloy

And from us at YAThink? to all of you...

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Teen review: A classic

Editor's note: We don't usually feature books on this blog that teens are required to read for school, because we want this to be about books you read for fun! But "Anonymous, grade 12" swears that he picked up this book on his own, and he was quite enthusiastic about it, so we are publishing his review. Maybe it will inspire enjoyment in some of you who have to read it!

The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is an American classic fiction novel at the high school reading level. This 193-page book dates back to the Roaring '20s, and follows the life of bonds salesman Nick Carraway. He decides to visit his cousin Daisy Buchanan and her husband Tom Buchanan. He later meets Jay Gatsby, a self-made billionaire and World War I veteran who happens to be his next-door neighbor. Gatsby is known for throwing crazy parties at his mansion, to which he invites thousands of people, to a point where it can be compared to a bunch of kids running around at a fair. As Nick begins to know Gatsby, he begins to be exposed to the lush lifestyle of the rich and the stories of Gatsby. Nick falls in love with the way Gatsby lives and his views on life. He finds out that Gatsby and Daisy have been together before, and suggests to Gatsby that they get back together since Tom is already cheating on Daisy. Once they meet, their love for each other is reignited. The plot starts to thicken once Tom finds out about this affair. It leads to people yelling, arguing, and soon enough to a fight.

Overall I really enjoyed reading this book because of the time period. Everybody who can afford it is having a good time and not worrying about anything. Nick is a very modest man who actually realizes the corruption in the lifestyle and is smart enough to get out of it. What I don’t like about this book are some of the characters like the Buchanans. They’re a reckless couple who, once they screw things up, just move away as far as possible from the situation. The thing about the rich people and especially Daisy is that they like all the nice things and think their lives are nothing without them. It mainly brought out feelings of happiness whenever I read this because of what Gatsby thought of Daisy and how he is so deeply in love with her. I would rate this book a 5 out of 5 because reading this was such a great experience breaking down the book and finding the little details in it. I would recommend this book to all my friends because it’s definitely something that you can’t go without reading.