Saturday, May 7, 2016

What we're reading: A book about books!

In Ink and Bone, author Rachel Caine rewrites history and then postulates what might have happened next. To any bibliophile, the burning of the Great Library at Alexandria was a tragedy of epic proportions. The loss of the ancient world's single greatest archive of knowledge, the idea that so many "great works of brilliant geniuses" (Orosius) didn't survive, causes anything from a wince to a fit of weeping by those lovers of antiquity who can only imagine what they might have missed by this loss.

In this, the first book of a new series, Caine lets the Library at Alexandria survive! By the present day (the book actually takes place a decade into our future), the Library and its staff have gained immense political power and influence, akin to that of the Catholic Church and a world government rolled into one. The Great Library is a looming presence in every major city, and has complete power over the dissemination of information. Through the use of alchemy, literally any work of history can be delivered to a "blank" book for any citizen to read...but the individual ownership or possession of "real" books is strictly forbidden.

The primary protagonist of the book is Jess Brightwell, whose family has for centuries been involved in the black market trade for illegal books. Jess, however, is neither qualified for nor interested in following the family trade, so his father decides that, since he's a bright boy, the best thing he can do for the family is to become a librarian! This begins his association with a motley group of other teenagers, all vying for a place in the hierarchy of the most powerful organization on earth. But what they discover is that the Great Library isn't as benign and well-intentioned as they've been brought up to believe...

I picked this up from the New Books shelf at the library because of the little gold plate on the cover that said "THE GREAT LIBRARY." I wanted to include five newish books in a painting for our teen summer reading club promotions, and since Rachel Caine is a popular author, I chose this as one of them. I hadn't read it when I painted it, but I liked the cover because of the color scheme, and the reference to a library. So I had it sitting at home after I finished my illustration, and decided, Might as well read it. I'd never read anything by Rachel Caine before, because, well, vampires (so over it), and I had no idea what to expect.

I thought this book was brilliant. The alternate history, the scene-setting, the imagery, the concepts, the characters, the action, all fully ON. Every time I had to stop reading, I couldn't wait to pick it up again. It made me late to work twice last week because I just had to read one more chapter over my breakfast cereal. I loved it so much! I'm afraid to look and see how long I will have to wait for the sequel...

Okay, I looked, July 5 is the date! But I requested a giveaway of the advance reader copy from Goodreads, so we'll see! Didn't know you could get books that way? Join Goodreads!

Friday, May 6, 2016

May 10-12 Book Club Report

Fourteen members (and two librarians) of the 10-12 Book Club came together last Tuesday night to discuss The Just City, by Hugo and Nebula award-winning author Jo Walton. We had no idea what to expect in terms of reactions to this book, because it's different from anything we have ever read. It's about an artificially constructed societal experiment based on Plato's Republic...with robots. Sorry, that's a bit deceptive as a description, but I couldn't resist! All of the people in the book are either masters or students in the Just City, and the robots have been brought there by the goddess Athene to do all the set-up work and the heavy lifting to get the city started, until the students have grown up enough to take over some of their duties. Intrigued yet? The club was, and some of them remain so.

More than half of the club enjoyed the book, although everyone had issues with the extremely uncomfortable personal interactions between partners artificially matched with one another by lot, and some also disliked the narrative tone of the writing, which feels documentary in attitude, rather than based in the action of the moment. Several members plan to read the sequel (The Philosopher Kings), and a few of us already have, and are looking forward to the third book (Necessity), which releases July 12. (Notice that I know the exact date!) The book received a rating of 7.3 out of 10, with scores ranging from tens down to fives.

All members of the club received a copy of Kill the Messenger, by Tami Hoag, to read over the summer, and most of us will gather again as a club next fall, since we had only three graduating seniors this year. Technically, Cameron has already graduated and has been attending classes at Glendale Community College, but his age let him remain in club one more year; Britton is getting her GED and going to study Dutch in the Netherlands; and Arsh has been accepted at UC Berkeley, and plans to get a jump on college by moving up there this summer. We will miss all of you so much!

We hope to see everyone from book club at Book Cafe this summer!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Teen review: The modern Oz continues

The Wicked Will Rise
by Danielle Paige
293 pages
Young Adult Fantasy

Reviewed by George Sakellariou, grade 8

In the second book of the Dorothy Must Die series, Amy Gumm gets separated from Mombi and the rest of the members of the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked. She is rescued with Ozma after the incident at Dorothy’s party by Ollie and his sister, and taken to their home, where Queen Lulu reigns. Amy and Ozma then set out to finish the uncompleted task set out before them by the Wizard (Oscar Zorpheus Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkle Emmanuel Ambroise Diggs): Steal the Lion’s courage, the Tin Woodsman’s heart, and the Scarecrow’s brains in order to finish off Dorothy and restore balance to Oz. As they reunite with members of the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked and other allies, they venture on this quest to restore all of Oz’s magic to its proper place and KILL DOROTHY.

I would rate this book a definite 5-star book due to the AMAZING ENDING, which solves a great mystery of the book! Be aware that there is a lot of descriptive gore and some profanity. I really enjoyed how the author helps you develop so much hate for some of the characters in the book due to their actions and dialogue. What really was a good feature of the book was Amy's development of amazing magical talent in only a couple of weeks! The cover was also interesting. It showed the outline of a witch's body, but inside it was a picture of storm clouds, or maybe even a cyclone! This book is definitely worth it if you have read the first book, Dorothy Must Die!

Editor's note: The third book in this series, Yellow Brick War, is on order, as is a book of short stories that are a sort of prequel, called Dorothy Must Die Stories. We already have the third book as an audio book on CD, if you just can't wait! And soon, we will have some e-novellas that link into this series.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

TAB Meeting Tonight

Tonight at 7:00 is our monthly Teen Advisory Board meeting. We'll be meeting at Buena Vista again (in the story time room), because Central's auditorium is still full of books from the Friends Book Sale.

Be ready to split into committees and get to work on our big summer project! TAB members please let us know if you are not able to attend, so we don't wait for your appearance!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Teen review: The Modern Oz

Dorothy Must Die
by Danielle Paige
452 pages
Young Adult Fantasy
First book of a series

Reviewed by George Sakellariou, grade 8

In this young adult book, Amy Gumm is just a regular Kansas high school girl who gets bullied for her financial situation. However, one day a cyclone takes her trailer up into the sky to the Marvelous Land of Oz. However, this Oz is not so marvelous. The yellow brick road is losing its magic, the Emerald City is expanding, and the famous Tin Woodsman, Lion, and Scarecrow have all been magically altered into cruel beings. And this is all the fault of the oppressive ruler, Dorothy. After being rescued from Dorothy’s clutches, Amy joins the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked, devoted to one job: killing Dorothy. And the worst part is, the Order believes Amy is the only one who can complete the job. This book is the first of a series that mixes in many characters from the original Wizard of Oz series by L. Frank Baum. (He actually wrote 13 books about Oz, the last being published posthumously.)

I would give this book 5 out of 5 stars for its interesting characters and awesome magical powers! The cover was fascinating. It gives off a dark feeling as you glance at it, due to the way the red writing looks as if it is not red ink, but the blood of Dorothy! Plus, they got the fact right that DOROTHY HAD SILVER SHOES, NOT RUBY SLIPPERS!!! Also, being a fan of the original wizard of Oz series, the mix of characters in the other books was perfect! The author had most likely already read the series in order to produce such a lovely companion. If you like messed-up popular American stories, this is the book for you!

Editor's note: Burbank Public Library also offers this as an audio book and in e-book format.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Teen Review: Oz Series, continued

Ozma of Oz
by L. Frank Baum
270 pages
Fantasy series

Reviewed by George Sakellariou, grade 8

In the third novel of the Wizard of Oz series, Dorothy is lost at sea and eventually ends up once again in the fairy world of Oz, along with her hen, Billina. They venture through many peculiar lands until they reunite with some old friends--the Scarecrow and Tin Woodsman and some new people such as Oz’s new ruler, Ozma--at the border of the Deadly Desert.

Ozma and Dorothy converse about their lives in Oz and become great friends! Ozma tells Dorothy they are on a mission to negotiate with the Nome king to have the Ev family released. The royal Ev family ruled a vast area of land, but unfortunately were sold by the king to the Nome King in exchange for a long life, which was easily put to waste. They march along on a magical carpet to protect them from the fatal and hot sands of the Deadly Desert into the Nome King's lair to release the Evs. In order to rescue the Ev family, Ozma and all of their companions have to risk their lives.

This book was a great relief after reading the second, which was the worst, in my opinion. It introduced some new characters like the books always do, such as the wind-up machine man Tik-Tok and the Wheelers, as well as the Hungry Tiger. If you are a fan of art, the detailed illustrations in the Wizard of Oz books are excellent! They match the story so well that it is as if you are truly in the land of Oz yourself! For these reasons I would give it 5 stars.

The magical and wild adventures in Oz by L. Frank Baum are truly some of the best stories I have ever read. And the series is really worth the time!

Editor's note: You might also enjoy this page, where another lover of Oz has made it his (her?) purpose to scan a lot of the Oz-related artwork and present it digitally!