Thursday, January 29, 2015

YA Recommendations From You!

Check out these YA suggestions from last year's Winter Reading Program at Linebaugh! Interested in winning prizes and maybe having your reviews featured on our blog? Sign up for the Winter Reading Program at the Smyrna or Linebaugh branch. The program ends on March 7, so hurry in!

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
I really enjoyed this book. At first I was uncertain, because Frankie is a clever but overlooked girl who has newly acquired a popular boyfriend and is so pleased to be among him and the in crowd that she puts up with being cancelled on and being treated as little more than a charming, fluffy little "Bunny Rabbit," as her family calls her. If she had continued on with this non-reaction I was ready to give up on the book, but then I began to realize Frankie was merely waiting, observing. She was not a Bunny Rabbit--she was a mastermind. I won't go into the many and various ways that Frankie outwits and controls all the male Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds, all without their knowledge, but it was immensely enjoyable. Reviews on this book seem pretty mixed, with people either loving or hating the main character, thinking her actions brilliant or obsessive. But she is definitely a unique creature among all the YA heroines. - Andrea M.

Abarat by Clive Barker
 This was my first Clive Barker book and I loved it! From the very beginning it captivated me and took me on a journey to a magical land. Through the Sea of Isabella to islands which depict certain times of the day. It was great and I loved the characters, especially John Mischief and his brothers. Can't wait to read the rest! - Lindsay B.

The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell
Loved it! Super easy read. A fun girl book! You get to meet Carrie and get to know her, her family, where she comes from, her original friends all before NYC. She's still in high school in this book. You get a glimpse of her wit and humor early on. You see her relationships before she moved off and is swallowed up by the big city. I love that you get to see her before she becomes a columnist. This book was so much fun to read!! Best part is at the end when a phone call leads to Samantha Jones. - Jennifer S.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
I loved this book. Previous to reading this book I didn't know much about the treatment of the Lithuanians in WWII, or much about Stalin's gulags in Siberia. I was shocked at what I was reading, wondering why we haven't heard these stories before, and unable to put the book down till I finished it. "Have you ever wondered what a human life is worth? That morning, my brother's was worth a pocket watch." Elizabeth W.

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak
Where do I even begin? I only heard of this book after watching the movie trailer for it. All I can say is that I am in love with this book and the way the story is expertly told through imagery, comparisons, and pure truth. To be honest I have never cheered for a thief like I have in The Book Thief. - Andrew M.

When I Was Joe by Keren David
I loved this book. The writing was possibly a little juvenile for the audience, but it was a complex and well-organized story that experimented with ideas that haven't been extensively explored--at least not in teen fiction. The main character, Ty, is placed in the Witness Protection Program after watching a teenager die at the hands of some of his acquaintances. He must become a new person and live a new life. It was also interested to read a teenage romance through a guy's perspective and to laugh at the British slang. (The book was set in England.) - Sarah A.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
One of the best books I have ever read. Every adolescent and adult needs to read this book. I read 213 pages in one day. I couldn't put it down. - Ginger L.

Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien
It was a fun, easy read, but also intelligent and relatively complex. Though I think the main character Gaia acted a little immature for her age and occupation, the story played with moral dilemmas in a futuristic world where civilizations couldn't afford the luxury of equality. - Sarah A. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Rethinking Normal by Katie Rain Hill (plus other books about transgender teens!)

Imagine growing up knowing that something is wrong with your body. Something far deeper than feeling insecure about your weight or disliking how you look: knowing, deep down, that your body is not the one you are supposed to have. Knowing that, although you were assigned male at birth, you are truly a girl. This is the reality Katie Rain Hill relates in her book Rethinking Normal: A Memoir in Transition.

Even if Katie's name isn't familiar to you, there's a good chance you've heard at least part of her story before. As I began reading Rethinking Normal, I realized that I had seen Katie  in a post circulating on tumblr. In fact, Katie has received a lot of media attention, stemming from a Tulsa World article in 2011 and including her relationship with Arin Andrews, her ex-boyfriend who is also trans. But even if you're familiar with Katie's story in passing, her memoir is worth reading.

Katie was raised as Luke Hill. Although she never felt that the identity of Luke was correct, she did not have the words to articulate this knowledge. Katie endured years of depression and isolation, before discovering what transgenderism is through a Google search and coming out to her mother at age 15. Together, they took steps to help Katie transition, which included changing her name and pronouns, dressing as a girl, and having gender reassignment surgery.

In Rethinking Normal, Katie describes not only her childhood and realizing that she was transgender,
Arin and Katie
but also discusses the difficult process of beginning to live as a young woman, her first steps into LGBTQA activism, becoming the first openly trans high school graduate in Oklahoma, going to college, and the excitement and confusion of first love. Despite the fact that Katie is primarily known in the media because of her relationship with Arin, she has far more going on in her life, and her memoir allows her to show another side of her experience to the world. I really enjoyed the sections in which Katie reveals the more complicated reality behind the glossy media portrayal, which she at one point compares to the relationship between Katniss and Peeta in The Hunger Games. Katie speaks articulately about her life, educating the reader about what it means to be transgender for her while recognizing the variety of different opinions and experiences of other trans individuals.

At the end of the book, Katie includes a helpful list of tips for cisgender people to keep in mind when interacting with transgender people and a great list of resources (books, movies and TV shows, and websites) that were helpful to her during her transition.

Other books about transgender teens available at LPLS include Some Assembly Required by Arin Andrews and Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

2015 YA Releases to Put on Hold NOW!

It's time to get your library card ready, because after you read this post, you're going to want to place a lot of holds. Here's a sneak peak at 2015 YA releases that LPLS already has on order. I've included descriptions from WorldCat (or Goodreads when the books weren't on WorldCat yet) and links to the books in our catalog.

Going Rogue by Robin Benway
When sixteen-year-old Maggie Silver's parents are falsely accused of stealing priceless gold coins, she must use her safecracking skills to try to clear their names, with help from the "new team" she has formed as an undercover operative in a New York City high school.

Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle
Sixteen-year-old Vivian Apple returns home after the alleged "Rapture" to find her devout parents gone and two mysterious holes in the roof. Vivian never believed in the Rapture, or the uber powerful Church of America. Now that she has been left behind, Vivan's quest for the truth begins.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven
Told in alternating voices, when Theodore Finch and Violet Markey meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school--both teetering on the edge--it's the beginning of an unlikely relationship, a journey to discover the "natural wonders" of the state of Indiana, and two teens' desperate desire to heal and save one another.

Twisted Fate by Norah Olson
Told from separate viewpoints, unfolds how sisters Sydney and Ally Tate's relationship changes as they get involved with their new neighbor, Graham, an artist with a videocamera who has a mysterious--and dangerous--past.

A Cold Legacy: A Madman's Daughter Novel by Megan Shepherd
After escaping to a remote estate on the Scottish moors, owned by the enigmatic Elizabeth von Stein, Juliet Moreau, the product of her father's animal-human experiments, uncovers the truth about the manor's long history of scientific experimentation--and her own intended role in it.

There are many powerful people along Embassy Row who want Grace to block out all her unpretty thoughts. But Grace will not stop until she finds out who killed her mother and make the killer pay.

Cut Me Free by J. R. Johansson
A seventeen-year-old barely escapes her abusive parents and creates a new identity that is quickly compromised when her attempt to save a young girl attracts a deadly stalker.

Queen Levana is a ruler who uses her "glamour" to gain power. But long before she crossed paths with Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress, Levana lived a very different story - a story that has never been told... until now.

I Was Here by Gayle Forman
In an attempt to understand why her best friend committed suicide, eighteen-year-old Cody Reynolds retraces her dead friend's footsteps and makes some startling discoveries.

Pick your path to find the perfect guy in this personalized romance set on the ski slopes. The reader's in the driver's seat-creating her own path through the narrative and ending with one of eleven different guys.

A teenage boy tries to understand his best friend's suicide by listening to the playlist of songs he left behind in this smart, voice-driven debut novel.

Seventeen-year-old Micheline Helsing is a tetrachcromat, able to see ghosts in color and capture them on film, but when a routine hunt goes awry, Micheline is infected with a curse known as a soulchain and if she is unable to exorcise the entity in seven days, she will be destroyed, body and soul. 

Teenager Viv, who is constantly escaping her "Snow White" fairy-tale curse, meets the prince who is supposed to save her, but can not fall out of love with the young man destined to kill her.

Convinced he should have died in the accident that killed his parents and sister, sixteen-year-old Drew lives in a hospital, hiding from employees and his past, until Rusty, set on fire for being gay, turns his life around. Includes excerpts from the superhero comic Drew creates.

Shelby Cooper, nearly eighteen, has been overprotected by her single mother all her life but after a car accident, Shelby's mother steals her away from the hospital, revealing that Shelby's father is not dead, but rather a violent man who promised to hunt them down.

Rory, Callum and Boo are still reeling from a series of tragic events, while new dangers lurk around the city from Jane and her nefarious organization.

The Ghosts of Heaven can tell us a secret as old as time; you can read the four quarters of award-winning Marcus Sedgwick's mesmerising and mysterious new novel in 24 different ways.

Willowgrove is Kathleen Peacock's riveting conclusion to the Hemlock trilogy, a dark, romantic, paranormal suspense series that pits friendship against survival, and trust against love.

After her younger brother, Tyler, commits suicide, Lex struggles to work through her grief in the face of a family that has fallen apart, the sudden distance between her and her friends, and memories of Tyler that still feel all too real.
Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.

To the people suffering on the war-torn mainland, Bliss Island seems like an idyllic place. And it is: except for the fact that the island is a set, and the islanders’ lives are a performance. They’re the stars of a hit TV show, Blissful Days—Characters are adored by mainland viewers, yet in constant danger of being cut if their ratings dip too low. And no one really knows what happens to cut Characters.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Sweet YA Romance for the Winter Holidays

There are two types of people when it comes to winter and the holiday season. There's the sparkly, romantic, excitable type, the people who just can't wait to pick out this season's signature wrapping paper and cuddle up to someone special. And then there's the bah-humbug type who would rather hide out with a cup of cocoa and wait it out until spring. Whichever type you are, I think you can benefit from the winter romances on my list. If you're already feeling the cheer, these titles will only add to the glimmer in your gaze. If you're giving Ebenezer Scrooge a run for his money, you can relate to some of the more cynical characters while keeping yourself occupied in that sweet blanket fort I know you have built to keep the world at bay. And who knows... You might just find yourself converted to a holly-jollier perspective.

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
This dual-voiced caper takes place in a wintry New York City. Lily is a vivacious Christmas-lover who leaves a notebook in the Strand bookstore containing challenges and instructions. The guy who finds it, Dash, is a misanthropic bibliophile who seems completely ill-suited to taking Lily's dares. A charming series of comic situations and near-misses ensues. The real appeal of this book is the huge differences between the characters' personalities and opinions. Seeing their disagreements while all the while hoping that they end up together is great fun. If you like Dash and Lily, be sure to check out Cohn and Levithan's novel Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist.

Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle
A record-breaking snowfall serves as the catalyst for this collection of three related stories by some of the best contemporary YA authors. The whole thing starts when Jubilee's train, en route to her grandparents' Florida home for Christmas, comes to a halt as a result of the snow. She trudges on foot to the nearest Waffle House, where her story intersects with that of Tobin, the Duke, and JP, also at the Waffle House in pursuit of cheerleaders. (The Duke, the only female member of the trio, is understandably unexcited about this prospect.) And somewhere in there you get a story about a barista having to babysit a teacup pig, but I'll let you read the book to find out how that fits in. It's great fun to see how Green, Johnson, and Myracle each lend their unique styles to the subject of Christmas and to see how their stories, each strong on its own, unite to almost novel-like effect. This one's great for fans of lighthearted but well-written romantic comedy.

My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins
This is the motherlode of holiday stories. The fact that it is edited and contains a story by Stephanie Perkins was enough to convince me immediately, but then add in contributions from Holly Black, David Levithan, Matt de la Pena, and Rainbow Rowell? That activated the grabby hands for real. There's something in varying degrees of heartwarming for everyone, from fans of fantasy (check out Kelly Link's yuletide retelling of Tam Lin and Laini Taylor's dark and oddly beautiful story about what you might call angels), to fans of sweet contemporary (which Perkins and Rowell have on lock like no one else), to fans of laugh-out-loud funny (David Levithan's story about a guy having to pose as Santa Claus to convince his boyfriend's little sister to keep believing), to everything in between (Jenny Han manages to keep a story believable and arresting while setting it in the actual North Pole, with Santa Claus and elves as characters).

Just One Day and Just One Year by Gayle Forman
While these books aren't specifically Christmas or holiday themed, I couldn't help adding them to the list. In Just One Day,  straitlaced Allyson takes an unexpected detour from her school trip to spend a day in Paris with Willem, an actor. Sparks fly, but when Allyson wakes up the next morning, she is alone. What starts out as devastation eventually leads to a year of self-discovery. Just One Year follows Willem over the course of the year following his first encounter with Allyson, during which he tries desperately to track her down and reunite. Just One Day is really the reason I decided to include these, because it has a great New Year's Eve scene and a recurring theme of new years and new starts. But, obviously, you need the backstory to really enjoy the sequel. Read these if you're looking for intense romance, compelling characters and transformations, and something to get you excited for things to come.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

YA Fairy Tale Retellings

There's nothing quite like a fairy tale. Magic, treachery, heroes and heroines with hearts of gold and wits sharp as steel. Fairy tales hit us on a primal level, reminding us of our own childhoods and connecting us with countless childhoods spanning back through time in a string who knows how long. Their images, characters, and lessons are timeless and never cease to fascinate no matter how many times the stories are told.

Fairy tale retellings have their own kind of magic. When someone can take something so familiar and turn it on its head, while making the original elements just recognizable enough that you marvel at how well they work with the changes...Well, there's nothing quite like that, either.

So, with long late-autumn nights upon us, pull on your best cloak (or your favorite hoodie) and wander into the woods with one of these books. All are available through your local LPLS branch.

(You might want to listen to Neil Gaiman's poem "Instructions" first. After all, fairy tales can be dangerous. It's best to go in prepared.)

Ice by Sarah Beth Durst 
Cassie, the daughter of a polar bear researcher, meets a talking polar bear on her eighteenth birthday. This startling encounter brings her grandmother's fairy tales to life and launches her on a journey. This is a retelling of a Norwegian folktale called "East of the Sun and West of the Moon."

A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn
Sleeping Beauty gets her kiss... from a modern American teenager, 300 years after she fell under her curse! Flinn is also the author of Beastly, which retells--you guessed it--"Beauty and the Beast." (A Kiss in Time is a great choice for readers seeking a lighter retelling. If dark and spooky isn't your thing, try this one!)

Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann
Heppermann blurs the lines between fairy tales and real life with this collection examining the lives of teen girls. The poems are coupled with black and white photographs, and the result is an ethereal yet piercing book.

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge
Nyx has spent her entire life both betrothed to her kingdom's ruthless ruler, the result of a bargain her father struck. But unlike in the original or Disney versions of "Beauty and the Beast," Nyx has also been trained to assassinate the king. This Belle kicks butt.

Ash by Malinda Lo
This one really feels like a fairy tale: ethereal forests, quaint villages, and an ever-present undercurrent of magic. But sinister faeries and a female huntress love interest add new life to the familiar "Cinderella" story.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
If the phrase "Cinderella with cyborgs" piques your interest, this futuristic sci-fi series opener is for you. The Lunar Chronicles continue with retellings of Little Red Riding Hood (in Scarlet) and Rapunzel (in Cress).

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
The Fenris--vicious werewolves--have killed Rosie and Scarlett's grandmother and left Rosie disfigured. Now, the sisters ruthlessly hunt the Fenris. But as more and more teenage girls fall victim to the wolves, Rosie begins to long for a life outside of the hunt.

The Glass Casket by McCormick Templeman
Rowan Rose's tranquil life is upended when dark riders pass through her town en route to hunt an evil in the forest beyond. They never returned. And their quarry followed their path out of the forest, straight to the unsuspecting villagers. Creepy YA with aspects of several different fairy tales.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

YA Books Go Bump in the Night!

It's October! (Finally!) Why not start the Halloween festivities early and keep them rolling all month with these creepy YA titles? Ghosts, witches, aliens, monsters, serial killers, demons (and demon-hunters), vampires, and more reside in these spine-tingling pages. And yeah, if you're counting: there are 31 of them, one for every day of the month if you read fast enough.

Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender - Things are changing in Alexis's house: doors opening by themselves, cold spots, and a little sister whose eyes change color, who speaks like she's from another time, and who might just be changing into someone else.

Long Lankin by Lindsay Barraclough - Sisters Cora and Mimi are sent to live with their great-aunt, who is determined to protect them from a lurking evil. 

The House With a Clock in Its Walls by John Belairs - An orphan goes to live with his warlock uncle and almost brings about the end of the world. (Juvenile fiction, but if you're looking for something old-fashioned, fun, and creepy in a trippy way, you could do worse than this classic.)

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black - Vampires are kept quarantined in cities called Coldtowns, and once you enter, you can never leave.

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake - A blood-stained, murderous ghost kills every person who dares to enter her home, except the one who has come to "kill" her.

The Diviners by Libba Bray - A girl with a secret and troublesome supernatural power becomes involved in a murder investigation in 1920s New York City. 

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray - Girls at a Victorian boarding school discover their magical abilities, which inevitably get out of hand.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman - An imaginative and disgruntled girl discovers a portal into a perfect version of her life, but all is not as it seems (of course). This one's technically juvenile fiction, but believe me, it's creepy enough for all ages.

Half Bad by Sally Green - An alternate modern-day England where opposing factions of witches wage war against one another, and the illegitimate son of the world's deadliest witch lives in captivity.

Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins - A perfect Southern belle distraught to learn that she's a Buffy-esque warrior with an annoying new charge to protect.

ghostgirl by Tonya Hurley - A popularity-obsessed unpopular girl discovers that you can't escape high school, even in death.

Devilish by Maureen Johnson - A cupcake-eating teenage girl who is actually a deal-making, soul-collecting demon in disguise.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson - A copycat Jack the Ripper killer, an English boarding school, and teenage ghost hunters... oh my!

Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen -  Cynthia must save her best friend and their entire school from the hot, young, new librarian, who is also a demon.

Scowler by Daniel Kraus - When Ry's father violently attacked his family years ago, Ry's terrifying imaginary friends helped him survive. Now 19, Ry must face his father's return, a meteor landing, and the re-emergence of those scary little voices in his head.

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga - A boy learns the trade of murder from his serial killer father, then must clear his own name when people turn up dead.

Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry - Post-zombie apocalypse, Benny is apprentice to his zombie-killing older brother.

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride - Sam goes from flipping burgers to raising the dead when he discovers that he's a necromancer.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs - A tale mixing wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff, preternatural abilities, and some seriously creepy photos.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan -  Mary has grown up trusting the Sisterhood, who keep the village safe from the violent Unconsecrated that surround the walls. But what if the Sisterhood has secrets?

Asylum by Madeleine Roux - Seriously, what Halloween reading list would be complete without a terrifying insane asylum?

Zom-B by Darren Shan - B's life is already violent and unpleasant. A zombie outbreak doesn't help.

Unwind by Neal Shusterman - What if your parents could decide to have all your organs transplanted into new donors--meaning that yeah, you die--once you turned 13?

Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood - Cate and her sisters--all witches--live in secrecy to avoid the Brotherhood who hunt them.

The Merciless by Danielle Vega - Mean Girls in Mississippi, plus exorcisms.

I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells - John, obsessed with serial killers, follows rigid rules to prevent himself from becoming one.

In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters - Seances, ghosts, and the return of a dead boyfriend amid the flu epidemic of 1918.

The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey -Scattered survivors weather an alien invasion attempting to eradicate human life.

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey  - An orphan is apprenticed to a scientist specializing in monsters.

Paper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff - Hannah's best friend transcends death, attempting to haunt Hannah into investigating the string of murders plaguing the girls in their town.

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff - Mackie, a teenage changeling, must delve into his town's creepy underworld to recover his crush's missing baby sister.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Author Spotlight: Marcus Sedgwick

Feel like you've exhausted your options and need a new author to read? Are you a fan of Neil Gaiman or Clive Barker? Do you like spooky, genre-spanning, mind-bending reads? If you answered yes to any to the above, try Marcus Sedgwick!

I love reading Marcus Sedgwick's work because his books are not just strange in comparison to other authors' work, but even in comparison to his own. With elements of suspense, horror, mystery, realistic fiction, and romance, often in the same exact book, you're never sure what you're going to get. I prefer to read his books knowing as little as possible about the plot. However, if you're the kind of reader who would rather know what you're getting into, try one of my suggestions.

Sedgwick’s latest YA novel is She is Not Invisible, which follows Laureth, a blind sixteen-year-old living in London, as she and her brother embark on a secret trip to the United States to find their father, whom Laureth believes has gone missing. Their father is a writer, and they have only his notebook, filled with increasingly cryptic and obsessive entries about coincidence, to guide them. Sedgwick's excellent pacing and mastery of tension pull you along. You'll be turning the pages at breakneck pace to find out if everything turns out okay.

White Crow demonstrates one of Sedgwick’s most impressive skills: His ability to weave together completely unrelated storylines into a book that you can’t stop reading. It ties together the formation of an unlikely friendship between two girls and a series of grisly experiments from their town’s past. The fact that you don’t know what’s going on until well into the novel might be frustrating for some readers. However, if you stick with it you will be rewarded with a supremely uneasy read ending in a great twist.

 In My Swordhand is Singing, Sedgwick adds his spin to the vampire theme.
He takes the trope back to its origins. His vampires aren't misunderstood, romantic heroesHe sets a coming-of-age story against a backdrop of an isolated village in the midst of dense Transylvanian forest, and adds tragedy and family secrets for good measure. The story continues in The Kiss of Death.

By far my favorite of Sedgwick’s novels, and one of my all-time favorite books in general, is Midwinterblood. This Printz Award winner is possibly the strangest and most beautiful book I’ve ever read. Set on a Scandinavian island famous for an orchid that might or might not hold the secret of immortality, it switches narration between seven different people (among them a reporter from the future, a vampire, a ghost, and a Viking--how's that for variety?) and spans centuries. If you want a book that makes you think "There's no way this can work," and then somehow pulls off a remarkable feat in the most awesome way possible, then you want to read Midwinterblood.