Monday, January 28, 2013

And the Best Book for Young Adults (according to the America Library Association) is...

Drum roll please.  The American Library Association has announced their 2013 awards.  This year their prestigious and much valued and super-duper keen Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults goes to….


In Darkness by Nick Lake (Call Number YP FIC LAKE).  This is the dark (sorry bad pun) and compelling first hand story of a young teen from the slums of Haiti (hopelessly?) trapped under rubble following a massive earth shattering quake. I (very favorably) reviewed it here.  I am quite happy with their selection this year and truly hope it leads more people to read this stellar novel.

Below are the four Honor Books that didn’t quite make the top prize, but do not scoff! These four books definitely are honored, because they are among the top five of all YA novels for all of last year.  Pretty impressive. Check one or all of the m out today!

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz YP FIC SAENZ
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein YP FIC WEIN
Dodger by Terry Pratchett YP FIC PRACHETT
The White Bicycle by Beverley Brenna YP FIC BRENNA

Done reading these?  ALREADY!? Okay, well head on over to the ALA and check out their other award winners! 

Happy Families by Tanita S. Davis YP FIC DAVIS

“That thing Tolstoy said about happy families got to me. Happy families all are alike-all of them are safe and confident that nothing on this earth can take that away from them. Just like we were before Dad’s little secret hit us like a wrecking ball.”

Ysabel and Justin are two twins on the right track.  Y is a rising art star and Justin has the Ivy League beckoning in his future, but when their dad’s secret life is revealed the ground opens under them and swallows them whole.  Both lose friends and bury themselves to hide from the confusion, guilt, and shame.  When they are forced to go live with their dad during Spring Break and face his secrets head on, they start to question what family really means and how any family can ever be ‘happy’.

So the blurb on the jacket doesn’t let you in on the secret, but the dedication and cover art do AND it’s revealed pretty early on, so SPOLIER ALERT: Y and Justin’s dad reveals that he wears women’s clothing and feels that he is a woman.  So, a bit of a shock is an understatement.  The novel starts with Y and Justin before the big reveal and then cuts to right before their trip with their dad and their lives sort of wrecked.  We get the story from both Y and Juston’s viewpoints and fortunately, both feel like real and different voices. The twins go gradually through the stages of shock, anger, and disbelief into understanding and eventually acceptance.  This is dealt with realistically and doesn’t turn into a lecture or an after school special (Dear Teenagers, ask your parents about after school specials!). They meet people, learn from them, question things, and eventually adapt.   

What I liked most about this novel is the real sense of a loving family torn apart and eventually reunited through love.  Way too often families are entirely on the sidelines or cardboard cutouts in YA lit, but this book has a genuine and warm focus on the family. The book is about a controversial and tough issue to address, but it looks at it in a clear-eyed and non-sensational way. I think it is a great read for anyone that likes family dramas or wants to read about a provocative and unique subject.  

You can check our catalog for Happy Families here.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Hollywood loves the YA Fic!

It seems like teen fic is the place that all of Hollywood is squeezing dry for “new” ideas!  With super huge billion dollar blockbusters like Twilight and Hunger Games, and hit series like Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars we can expect many teen books to be hitting big and small screens alike.

We will soon see movies of:

Beautiful Creatures (YP FIC GARCIA) a boy falls in love with the new girl at school, but shucks of she doesn’t have Strange and Dark Powers!!! However the movie is clearly making Lena the protagonist and Ethan is a supporting actor!
The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (YP FIC CLARE) Clary’s humdrum world is turned topsy turvy when she witness a magic murder and is drawn into intra-dimensional conflict.  Oh, and she is more than she seems and maybe has powers!!!

Catching Fire (YP FIC COLLINS) AKA Hunger Games Part 2: Hungrier Games!  

The Sea of Monsters (YP FIC RIORDAN) AKA Percy Jackson 2: Do You Think it Will be as Disappointing as the First Movie?

The Chaos Walking Trilogy (YP FIC NESS) A truly great trilogy about war, violence, choices, and telepathy!  On a barren planet where all women are dead!  Or are they!? 

The key being that all the movies are based on books that  are continuations or starts of series, so they can suck you in for multiple movies! 

There are also several YA books turning into TV shows.  We will soon see a The Sixth Gun series based on the rather awesome western, sci-fi mash up comic book, Delirium based on the Lauren Oliver books about a world that has outlawed love (don’t they know when you outlaw love only outlaws will have love!!!), and The Selection (YP FIC CASS) a kind of Hunger Games Lite where it’s a Dating show that rules the Dystopian Society instead of a blood sport!

So check out these books before the movies come out and everyone and their cousin is lining up to read them!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison YP FIC ELLISON

Lo (short for Penelope) collects things, well everything actually.  Is started as a hobby, it became an obsession. Ever since she couldn’t save Oren.  Shouldn’t have thought about him! Can’t breathe. Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, banana, banana, banana. Better. But she can make it right, maybe.  She finally found something important.  A butterfly necklace that belonged to a dead girl named Sapphire. A girl killed when she was moments away.  It has to mean something. The girl that was killed was also deemed damaged and unimportant, as was her runaway brother, as is Flynt the young man that lives in the shadows of the streets and tells her she’s beautiful. Now she can’t stop thinking about Sapphire and has to find out who killed her.  But this obsession could prove fatal.

This book made my brain itch. It is a strange, dark, and twisty thriller.  Lo is a unique voice, because she is very disturbed and using Obsessive and Compulsive tics to try to push away her pain and sadness. Not the Nancy Drew type, clearly.  But that’s what makes the mystery so thrilling.  Lo is drawn to venture into in underworld of Neverland (the homeless kid shanty town) and Sapphire’s dark past, because she knows what it’s like to feel discarded and deemed a freak.  Also her obsessive nature means she notices things other people don’t, but fortunately it isn’t turned into gimmicky gift ability either. Ellison does a great job at getting into Lo’s scary psyche.  Her ticks and obsessions and overwhelming anxiety are very compelling and got deep under my skin.  That underlying unease and tension elevated the murder mystery element and made me feel that the danger was real and palpable in a way most thrillers never do.  I kept worrying for Lo in every dark corner she went down and jumping at every shadow with her. I won’t say I enjoyed being in Lo’s mind, but I certainly was affected by it.  That’s hard to do for someone that reads as many books as I do! The central mystery is complicated by the slow reveal of what happened to Lo’s brother and by the developing relationship with Flynt.  Which means Butterfly Clues is always working on multiple levels at the same time.  This book won me over in spite of myself and I found myself caring about Lo even as she drove me crazy.  If you like dark lit like Ellen Hopkins and want a creepy mystery with a twisted twist, definitely grab this one.  

You can check our catalog for The Butterfly Clues here.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Zom-B by Darren Shan YP FIC SHAN

Everyone thought it was a joke, a hoax, anything but real.  There’s no such thing as zombies.  B just puts it out of her mind and tries to go about her ‘normal’ life.  But B is wondering more and more how normal her life really is.  She tells herself that even though B's dad is a bigot and has a short fuse, he’s basically okay, but more and more B has to face the evil from inside B's dad and inside.  That’s only if B survives!  Turns out flesh eating zombies ARE real and they’re really hungry!

Okay, I totally get that there are about 18 billion zombie books on the market right now, so it is pretty difficult to wade through the moaning hordes of books.  But Darren Shan is a no-brainer for writing a zombie series!  He is the absolute king of modern gross out teen horror!  And he has made a bold and bloody claim to have the best zombie series out there.  What I love is that this book starts with a bloody bang of zombie mayhem, then switches gears and looks at B’s day to day life and what makes B tick.  And B is not our typical hero.  B’s seriously conflicted about following in B's father’s racist footsteps, but too scared to challenge the life B has.  And that conflict is interesting enough even before zombies start ripping people’s brains out!  And the bloody, gruesome violence will not let down Darren Shan fans or any zombie lovers that like their action fast and brutal.  The central mystery of what is causing the outbreaks and who the mystery figure that B calls Owl Man and what makes the mutants different form the zombies will have to be solved in future volumes.  The book definitely ends with a heart-rending climax that will leave readers drooling for the next title.

I’d say that this is the first zombie horror series that stands up to my all-time favorite zombie series The Enemy books by Charlie Higson.  Weird that they both take place in England! The Brits have a lockdown on my favorite zombie fiction! This is the first part of a 12 part series, but you’ll rip through the slender volumes so fast you’ll be left wanting more.  Fortunately, Shan promises a volume every 3 months and we already have Underground the second book in the series. I’ll definitely be following this one and will keep you all recapped after a few more volumes to let you know how the mystery unfolds.

You can check our catalog for Zom-B here.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life: Color Edition by Bryan Lee O’Malley YP FIC OMALLEY

Scott Pilgrim is dating a highschooler! And he’s totally 23 (and unemployed)!  (Don’t worry, they’ve only held hands.) Just when things feel nice and simple he meets the girl of his dreams, (Literally.  She rollerblades through his dreams to deliver packaged for, and decides to fall head over heels.  Unfortunately, he doesn’t tell his high school girlfriend and even more unfortunately his new girlfriend has Seven Evil Exes that he must defeat to continue dating her.  NOW IN COLOR!

Okay, I know I already gave a rave review to the Scott Pilgrim series, so it may seem silly to re-review a book just because it’s in color.  Who do I even think I am, Ted Turner!?  Well, I understand your skepticism and must admit that I too was skeptical of a Colorized Scott Pilgrim, cynical even.  However, the superb job Nathan Fairbarn (the ONLY colorist I’ve yet to praise by name) did on this book really makes it worth a second look even if you have already read the series. I rarely find a series that changes so much with the addition of color as this one. It adds a new depth to the art and the new larger pages are dynamite.  Maybe even best of all is the extra content at the back.  There’s character design sheets and stories about how O’Malley came up with all the names and designs and ideas in the book!  Scott Pilgrim fans simply HAVE to read this and Soon-to-Be-Scott-Pilgrim-Fans should read it too.  I think anyone with an even passing interest in comics or manga should give this one a try.  

You can check our catalog for Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life: Color Edition here.