Saturday, February 13, 2016

Mad Tea Party Recap!

We had an amazing time, didn't we?!

50 teens showed up for the program, and about 20 came in costume as characters from Alice in Wonderland. Frank Beddor and his protege, Eric Laster, gave a couple of wonderful visual presentations (once we worked out some technology nightmares), as well as engaging with the audience about their writing process (Frank is a planner and an outliner, while Eric never knows what's coming next and writes spontaneously) and chatting about their books. Frank took individual photos with each teen who wore a costume. Eric's book isn't out yet, but he brought bound copies of the first six chapters and asked the teens to give him feedback, while Frank brought ARCs of his new book for everyone, and enlisted them as Beta readers. Everyone was thrilled to say yes!

Our six volunteers came at 5:00 and helped us decorate the entire auditorium with hearts, cards, and candy. Frank had sent us posters as well of artwork from his graphic novel series, Hatter M, which we hung. The kids also helped us set up the food and beverages, which were devoured in short order, as usual, including our amazing Alice cake. A big thank you to Georgiana, Hailey, Anika, Sabina, Alex, and Christopher! And also to Rani, our favorite college guy, who hung in there with the technology nightmare and gave his best assistance, as well as helping big-time with clean-up.

Partly because of the AV issues, we didn't get out of there until 10:00 p.m.--after receiving Frank's ARC, all the teens naturally wanted to get his autograph, and we didn't have the heart (pardon the pun) to tell more than half of them that they had to go home without it. Since he was game to stay (what a nice guy!), we and the volunteers cleaned up while Frank autographed. The library closed at 9 p.m., we brought all the parents who were waiting to give their kids a ride home into the auditorium, and everyone cheerfully hung out until it was over.

The rest of the photos from the evening taken by Melissa are now up on the Facebook page. The photos that John took will be up there soon.

What we're reading: Romance

I picked up Never Always Sometimes, by Adi Alsaid, last week, because I liked the cover, the title intrigued me, it's gotten some buzz in the reviewing journals, and I thought the premise was a good one. The premise is, “No point in living a life less ordinary if you don’t know what the other side looks like." Where it comes from: At the beginning of high school, best friends Dave and Julia promise one another that they absolutely will not turn into high school cliches--they are determined to remain individuals. To this end, they make a "Nevers" list of things that they agree to shun (everything from purposely not having a lunch "spot" to avoiding the prom). Then, near the end of their senior year, Dave comes across the list again and shows it to Julia, and they decide that it might be fun, during these last few months of high school, to wholeheartedly embrace all the things they've been avoiding for the past four years, just to see what they're like.

One of the things on the list (since this is, after all, teen romance) is "never date your best friend," and of course Dave has been in love with Julia (although he has successfully hidden it from her) since he met her. Which violates one of the other nevers, "Never pine silently after someone for the entirety of high school." And you can imagine where things go from there...sort of.

Can you say that you liked the characters in a book but hated how the author made them act? Can those two things be separated? I really enjoyed Dave's and Julia's personalities and, from the way they talked and bantered, I had a real sense of them as people. But I felt like the author then made them do stuff that wasn't genuine to their characters, and it made me dislike them and wish for the book to be over. I kept thinking, "No matter where he goes with this, I'm not going to be happy," and I was right. I thought, when things first started to go sideways, that perhaps he was being ironic, but no. Which was amply proven by the way he chose to wrap up the book.

I wavered between two and three stars out of five; maybe 2.5 would be about right, because it was slightly better than okay, because of the writing and characterizations; but no more than that, because I can't say I really liked it, without a lot of caveats. Maybe a teenager would like it better? Someone read it and tell me!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

February Book Club Report

Sixteen of our 19 members were at 6+7 BOOK CLUB on Tuesday night, including our new member, Brooklyn--welcome! We discussed The Looking Glass Wars, by Frank Beddor, and pretty much everybody was a fan. It wasn't one of those club meetings, however, when everyone said "I liked it" and quit talking--there was a lot of conversation generated by talking about favorite characters or favorite moments, how things could have gone (Mohammad), and speculation about future books, which had already been broached by a couple of eager readers. Anarda and I are so pleased that the club liked the book because...Frank Beddor is coming to see us TONIGHT at Buena Vista branch at 7:00, for our MAD TEA PARTY! We hope YOU are coming, too!  (Tea, CAKE, autographs, free stuff, cosplay...)

But...back to book club. The book received a rating of 8.65, which is our highest rated book of this year.

Next month's book is The Princess Diaries, by Meg Cabot, and yes, Harrison, Mohammad, Brandon, Brenden, Gavin, Trevor, and Brooklyn, you DO have to read it. For those who missed the meeting, there are copies waiting for you at the Circulation Desk at Central and Buena Vista.

For the following month, we selected The Eighth Day, by Dianne K. Salerni, by a narrow margin.

Other books we considered, in descending order by number
of votes:

Counting by Sevens, by Holly Goldberg Sloan
I'd Tell You I Love You, but Then I'd Have to Kill You,
          by Ally Carter
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, by John Boyne
A Long Walk to Water, by Linda Sue Park
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
Spelled, by Betsy Schow
Out of My Mind, by Sharon Draper
Freak the Mighty, by Rodman Philbrick
Deep Blue, by Jennifer Donnelly
The Kingdom Keepers, by Ridley Pearson
Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment, by James Patterson
Airborn, by Kenneth Oppel

Our next meeting is on March 8.

The 8+9 BOOK CLUB likewise read and discussed a book based on the Alice in Wonderland mythology: Splintered, by A. G. Howard. (It's the 150th anniversary of the original.) Fourteen of our 19 members were mostly in agreement that they enjoyed the book, although one person rated it a 5 and likened it to bad fan fiction! Everyone else, though, had a lot to say and share, particularly about the love triangle of Alyssa, Jeb, and Morpheus. Some incidents in the book were deemed inappropriate and creepy (something about an incisor?), but people seemed to enjoy even the macabre parts, such as the dinner party at which the guests slaughtered the food right there on the table, and Alyssa's affinity for skewering insects to use in her art mosaics! A couple of people have gone on to read the second book, which promises much more information about Morpheus (a favorite character with most). We're hoping that everyone's new fascination with Alice in Wonderland will bring them to the MAD TEA PARTY, TONIGHT! (Did I mention cake? and free stuff?)

The book was rated 8 out of 10, with one 10, one 5, and everyone else's score falling in between.

Next month, we will read and discuss the redoubtable Maggie Stiefvater's book, The Raven Boys. And for April, the club finally agreed to read The 5th Wave, by Rick Yancey.

Other books we considered, in descending order by number
of votes:

Famous Last Words, by Katie Alender
Conjured, by Sarah Beth Durst
I Am Number Four, by Pittacus Lore
Maybe One Day, by Melissa Kantor
Etiquette and Espionage, by Gail Carringer
Far, Far Away, by Tom McNeal
Beautiful Creatures, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stool

Our next meeting is on March 9.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Teen review: The Force Awakens as a book!

Star Wars: The Force Awakens
by Alan Dean Foster
272 pages
Science Fiction/Fantasy
Star Wars saga movie novelizations

Reviewed by Michael Zhang, Grade 12

Needless to say, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was the movie event of 2015, making countless dollars and smashing box office records well into the new year. With Star Wars hype at critical mass and the new movie carrying on the Star Wars saga, I thought I’d review the novelization of The Force Awakens to see whether or not it is a worthy entry into the Star Wars novel canon. The answer? A resounding yes, with some caveats.

Generally, I’m not a gigantic fan of movie novelizations, but for The Force Awakens, I’m going to have to make an exception. Traditional movie novelizations tend to be carbon copies of the original film, but dumbed down for a younger readership, but from my first and second readings, I really didn’t feel any of that. The main characters--Rey, Finn, and Poe--are all just as captivating on the written page as they are onscreen, and it shows. Rey, in particular, is even more fascinating in the written word, as we get to see her inner monologue, thoughts, and other goodies in ways we would’ve only been able to guess at on screen.

But just being a good adaptation isn’t enough to set The Force Awakens’ novelization apart. Being a novel and not bound by the time constraints of a feature film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens has several scenes that did not show up in the theatrical cut of the feature film, giving us even more reasons to enjoy the book.

Overall, I enjoyed the novel, and it was a great read, especially coming right back from the movie theater. It definitely wasn’t perfect, and flaws from the movie may come back to haunt you in the novel (though I think that the novel does a lot to address many flaws that viewers of the movie may notice), but I enjoyed it, and the boons of the movie are alive and well in the novel, whether it be the charm of Rey, the chilling power of Kylo Ren, or the sly charisma of Han Solo.

I’d rate it a 4/5, if only because while I admire Alan Dean Foster’s work with Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, I do feel that in some parts of this novel you could tell that it was adapted from a film script in terms of prose and descriptive vocabulary; however, that by no means hampered my ability to enjoy the novel.

Monday, February 8, 2016


If you like Book Cafe

Come to our

Thursday night, February 11, we are rolling an author visit, a Valentines' Day party, and a Book Cafe all into one!

FRANK BEDDOR, the author of the Looking Glass Wars trilogy (The Looking Glass Wars, Seeing Redd, ArchEnemy) and the graphic novel series about Hatter M, will be joining us to talk about everything that interests him, which will greatly interest you! And Frank is also bringing Eric Laster, a new YA author with a book called #STATIC that's coming out soon.

We will be having delectable TEA and CAKE and other refreshments appropriate to a mad tea party. Books and graphic novels will be available for purchase and autographs.

Alice in Wonderland-themed cosplay is encouraged, and we will have a cosplay fashion show and photo op.

Illustration by Frank Perreno
This extravaganza will take place THURSDAY NIGHT, February 11, at BUENA VISTA branch, at 7:00 p.m. Don't be late!

(If you want to know more about Frank, here is his website.)

Please note that this program is for TEENS ONLY, grades 6-12.