Thursday, December 19, 2013

YA Book Recommendations for Winter Break

YA Book Recommendations for Winter Break

There are so many great books out there! Here is a list to help you narrow things down if you haven’t a clue where to start. Check out these recommendations to get you on your way to finding a great read this break.

If you like The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins check out:
Divergent (series) by Veronica Roth
Delirium (series) by Lauren Oliver
*The Maze Runner Series by James Dashner

If you like A Fault in Our Stars by John Green check out:
*Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Looking for Alaska by John Green (or anything by John Green)
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (historical fiction)

If you like the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare check out:
*Clockwork Angel (The Infernal Devices series) by Cassandra Clare
Hush, hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit
*Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

If you like Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin check out:
The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
Dune by Frank Herbert
Need more ideas??

Safe travels to destinations near & far! See you all next yearJ

Only 1 more exam to go!

Pesky wishes everyone the best of luck on their science exams tomorrow!

The last evening of silent study has arrived at the library and students are hard at work.

Keep calm & study on—
almost there!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

YA Book of the Week... The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner / James Dashner

Finally—a male protagonist! Sometimes while reading YA fiction I forget that male characters are something other than foils for the female protagonists to discover themselves through—sad, but true in quite a few YA novels these days. But, here it is—a male protagonist! Reason enough to read this awesome series. But alas, some of you may need more convincing…
Thomas wakes up in an elevator shaft with no memory as to how he arrived there. As he looks upward a group of teenage boys look back at him—he has arrived in a sort of farming commune called the Glade that is situated next to a huge maze. Every morning the doors to the maze open and every evening the doors to the maze close. Of course, if you are a teenage boy living next to a gigantic maze you become curious of its purpose, why you are there, why there are scary monsters inside of the maze at night, etc. Only more questions arise the day after Thomas arrives when a girl pops up in the lift—a GIRL. FYI: This is surprising because she is the one and only girl to have ever entered the Glade.

Of course, Thomas and the others want to know why they are in the Glade, how they ended up there, why they can’t remember anything about their lives before the moment they wound up there. They also want to know what the giant maze all about. My 8th grade physics class went on a field trip to a corn maze once.  The objective: find the most efficient way out. My teacher told us later that if you hold your right hand to the wall and don’t let go you’ll exit the maze in good time. I would have loved to give Thomas and the Gladers this advice, however, every evening the walls of the maze shift. Of course things can’t be too easy.

This book is filled with great characters (I especially love Newt and Minho) who, like in many other YA novels, search for meaning in their dire situations. The Gladers seek an answer to the maze day in and day out—sending “maze runners” into the fray to assemble maps of the landscape in hopes of finding answers. Overall it’s a great book with a great range of characters and storyline.
Did you like The Hunger Games? The Maze Runner is set at a slightly different pace, but HG fans will love it too.

BONUS: The MAZE RUNNER MOVIE comes out 9.14.2014… By the looks of the recently posted photos it’s going to be an awesome adventure—read the books (The Maze Runner, The Scorch Trials, The Death Cure, & The Kill Order (prequel to the series)) before the movie comes out!!

Overall: 9/10
Come by Pesky to check out the series-- we have all three books on our new book shelf!
See you next week! Ms. Zephir:)


Thursday, December 05, 2013

YA Book of the Week

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

“Here's one of the things I learned that morning: if you cross a line and nothing happens, the line loses meaning. It's like that old riddle about a tree falling in a forest, and whether it makes a sound if there's no one around to hear it.

You keep drawing a line farther and farther away, crossing it every time. That's how people end up stepping off the edge of the earth. You'd be surprised at how easy it is to bust out of orbit, to spin out to a place where no one can touch you. To lose yourself—to get lost.

Or maybe you wouldn't be surprised. Maybe some of you already know.

To those people, I can only say: I'm sorry.” –Lauren Oliver, Before I Fall

*Before I Fall deals with difficult subjects—recommended for older teens*

Stumbling upon Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall was one of the best things I could have done to expand my scope of YA fiction. I had noticed the title continuing to pop up on Goodreads “best of” lists, but never took the plunge. One day, about a month ago while shelving at a public library, the book landed in my hands and I decided to see what the fuss was about.

The book sets up a grim premise: Samantha Kingston, a popular high school student, dies in a car crash after attending a party with her three best friends. Thing is, she wakes up the next morning only to live the same day over again. Sound like we’re back in 1993 with Bill Murray’s iconic Groundhog Day? We are, but this time it is February 12th and we’re at high school trying to figure out how to end the recurring cycle so this girl Sam can move on, wherever that may take her.

Oliver captures high school angst, popularity, friendships and tackles hard subjects of teen depression, drinking, and suicide in a way that is raw, but real. In this book teens don’t die because of warlocks or dystopian war, but rather because of problems that real teens face. Oliver seems to break through the shimmering façade fantasy YA creates— she deals with tough subjects head on, teens don’t need spells or the looming apocalypse to willingly express their feelings. For me, breaking back into realistic YA fiction from the paranormal was effortless because of Oliver’s care in crafting her story (she has written a  supernatural YA series and I will be getting to that at some point soon…).

Sam Kingston’s transformation from day one through day seven is affected by each character in the world Oliver creates. Oliver doesn’t use fatigued devices even though the setting seems familiar, but rather, creates a pocket where her characters can breathe and remain, seemingly static, but always pushing forward.

This book brought me back to high school. As a reader, you wish you could help Sam. More hauntingly, I felt as though her transformation mirrored what mine or how I now imagine my high school self would have been if I were in her shoes.

I have to admit, I partially listened to the audiobook while reading—I have found that Lauren Oliver’s choice of Sarah Drew (from Grey’s Anatomy, etc.) as voice actor for her books is a fantastic  choice and Drew's take on Elody’s character is truly fabulous.

Overall rating: 9/10—(suggested for older teens 16+)

Check it out at Pesky: FIC OLI
Stay tuned for next week! :) Ms. Zephir


Friday, November 22, 2013

And the winners are...

Congratulations Reading Games Winners!

Student Winners:
1st Racquel Nassor submitted 21 book reviews and wins a $50 gift card!
2nd: Robyn Pirie submitted 14 book reviews and wins a $25 gift card!
3rd Jade Fiorilla submitted 6 book reviews and wins a $15 gift card!

1st place (two-way tie)- Chris Robinson and Diane DesRoches submitted 8 book reviews and each wins a $50 gift card!
2nd Marianne McGraw submitted 6 reviews and wins a $25 gift card!
3rd Andrea Thon submitted 5 reviews and wins a $15 gift card!

Thanks to all who participated in the games: Sara Cook, Wyatt Cole, Alvaro Martinez, Khyli Brown, Jeffery Ding (for his enthusiasm and comic book summaries), Jeff Kelly, Dionne Kelly, Holly O’Donohue, Bert McLain, Patsy Sharkey, Tracy Stickney, Andrew Currier, Heather Shows, and Lynda Fitzgerald!

We had a very successful first run of our reading games!  In summary we had:
8 students participants
48 student reviews
13 faculty/staff participants
42 faculty/staff reviews

For our winners, please visit the library and let us know your choice of gift certificate: Amazon, iTunes, or Governor’s Bookstore. 

As always, reviews for books not currently in our library collection can be found below.  If you would like to see any of these titles on the shelves, please email us!  The remainder of our book reviews can be found on our Twitter and Facebook feeds.

Giving the Baby Back by Daffodil Campbell reviewed by Marianne, Faculty
Giving the Baby Back (Finding Motherhood through Infertility, Foster Care, and Adoption) by Daffodil Campbell -- The title and sub-title basically say it all.  This book details the true story of a young woman’s trials and tribulations with infertility, foster care, and adoption.  It was written by the daughter of one of my best friends and appears to have been published through a “vanity press.”  It’s well written, but I’ve noticed a few typos and mechanical errors, possibly due to typesetting.  The story is a compelling read.  The author’s first child was conceived with great difficulty and expense through IVF, and her second child was adopted following a string of foster babies (and in one case, a teenaged mother and her baby who both needed foster care).  Despite the inherent difficulties of caring for foster children and ultimately giving them back, the author is still taking in babies.  I’d call this book a cross between a story and a how-to manual.  Most names were changed to protect anonymity. 

Coming Clean by Kimberly Rae Miller reviewed by Diane DesRoches
This book is a true story.  It describes the strange lifestyle in which the author grew up in.  She was the only child of parents that adored her, and they lived in a house on Long Island.  I thought it was a very emotional story that must have taken so much courage to write.  I loved this book from the first page.  Kimberly tells us about their home that was completely filled with newspapers, junk, boxes, piles of anything and everything that you can imagine.  There was no room to walk in any room, no room to sit on the couch.  Sometimes there was no room to get into bed.  This was normal for her parents, but even as a young child, Kimberly knew something wasn’t right.  She felt so much shame.  She would never let friends know where she lived.  This all took place in a time where the word “HOARDER” did not yet exist.  She grew up with many secrets.  She has always had lots of love for her parents and has grown into a lovely woman that seems to have found peace in her life.  What an extraordinary book this is.  It’s one of those books that I can’t stop thinking about.

The Walk by Richard Paul Evans reviewed by Diane DesRoches
It’s hard to believe that this book is fictional, it is all so believable.  The book is in the form of a diary.  Alan seems to have all life’s heartaches all at once.  His beautiful loving wife has just died, his business is gone, his money is gone, and he has lost his home.  Talk about tragedy.  This little book has it all.  Alan has decided that since he has lost everything that mattered to him, why bother staying in Seattle any longer, so he decides to start walking….all the way to Key West in Florida.  And he writes this diary as he travels.  It’s a great book, and when I finished, I realized that this book is the first of a series, and there are three more books to follow that take us further on his walk.  I read them all and enjoyed them.

Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison reviewed by Diane DesRoches
This book introduces us to a couple that seem to have it all.  Jodi and Todd live in a beautiful condo, where Jodi keeps it immaculate.  You will soon learn that everything in her life has to be immaculate, perfect looking.  And when things don’t go perfectly, she can’t handle it, but remains silent.  This book takes you inside the mind of both Jodi and Todd, and how they deal with problems so differently.  Some may compare this book to Gone Girl, but I enjoyed it much more.  Be prepared for following this crazy silent wife as she tries to deal with her problems.

Jan’s Story by Barry Peterson reviewed by Diane DesRoches
Jan’s Story is the true story of a beautiful woman who develops Early Alzheimer’s.  Jan is married to a CBS newsman, and together they have traveled all over the world and enjoyed a wonderful life together.  And they love each other so much.  But life changes for them when Jan reaches her mid-fifties.  That is when the changes start happening to Jan.  It’s very sad because she is aware that she is losing her memory, and things aren’t making sense to her anymore.  Before long, she can’t be left alone.  This book is a very emotional read.  One moment you’re reading about their glamorous life and then one day it’s like somebody cast a bad spell, and their life is changed forever.  As sad as this story is, I enjoyed it very much.

Local Souls by Allan Gurganus reviewed by Chris, staff
Allan Gurganus is a wonderful Southern writer. His new book , Local Souls  consists of three novellas that take place in the fictional Southern town-Falls.  My favorite one is called-“Saints Have Mothers”. It is a tale of a mother trying to cope and live with  a daughter who is just unbelievably good.  For example, the daughter takes  all the families shoes to give to the needy leaving her own family shoeless. She  gives money away all the time, hands notes of encouragement to all,  leaves the front door open so anyone can come in, and is always giving of herself to any cause since she was 3 years old.  She is beloved by the town.  The mom has some very funny and sad moments interacting with the town and her daughter. The three novellas are really about individuals trying to fit in and be accepted for who they are.

Where I Belong by Gwendolyn Heasley reviewed by Robyn, Class of 2017
In this book Corrine's family is hit by the recession and the father is forced to move away to get a job and the family sells their Manhattan house and moves to live with the grandparents. There is a lot of cliché in this book and it seems similar to most love/comedy books for teens but it was well written.

The Heist Society by Ally Carter reviewed by Jade, Class of 2017
This past week I was feeling like a action packed or a real-world fiction, so I decided to go with "The Heist Society" by Ally Carter. The main concept behind "The Heist Society" is art thievery, pick pocketing, and the issues of a family business. Katarina Bishop is a fifteen year old who, from the age of 2 I believe, has been a part of some of the biggest crimes in the world. Her father is one of the world's most infamous thief and her great uncle is a very connected Russian man. However, in this story Katarina is without these two experienced family members, only her cousin and some friends as her crew. Their goal: to steal five paintings, all that haven't been seen, until now, since the Nazis formed in Germany. The writing wasn't spectacular, but the plot was well thought out and there weren't any huge gaps of action or parts that didn't make sense. Overall I found the perfect book to fit what I was looking for.

Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller reviewed by Robyn, Class of 2017
Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller: The author did a really good job at placing us in the life of the main character Callie very early in the story. Callie's mom kidnaps her and takes her away from her father and what should have been her life in town in Florida. When Callie is finally returned to her life with her father in Florida she tries to figure how to be a part of a family.

Stolen by Lucy Christopher reviewed by Robyn, Class of 2017
Stolen by Lucy Christopher: This story was written as a sort of diary from the main character Gemma to her 20 something year old Ty who is Australian. Ty abducts Gemma who is 16 in a Bangkok airport by drugging her drink. The way to story is written makes it seem like Gemma has escaped. I liked the way this story was written and it was an interesting way to portray what happened. 

One Whole and Perfect Day by Judith Clark reviewed by Robyn, Class of 2017
The main character is a teenager who is "reliable" and does not want to be. Her mom and brother depend on her. Her grandfather's 80th birthday is coming up and she knows that something will go wrong because her relatives are coming together and it does. This book is a little random at times and I was slightly confused because a lot of random strangers seem to become important throughout the story. 

Champion by Marie Lu reviewed by Racquel, Class of 2015
Champion by Marie Lu is the third book in the legend trilogy and was simply brilliant. In a dystopian feature novel set in one of America’s haves, the republic, June and Day navigate their relationship and a war with America’s other half, the colonies. As the brightest of their generation, the two 16 year olds have the ability to determine the feature of the republic. Marie Lu elegantly finished her series in a way i haven't seen done. She closed all plot points in ways that made sense according to the plot and character arches presented in earlier stories. This dystopian thriller also had the coolest cover i've ever seen. This may be my favorite book of the year. 

Young Adult Book of the Week

Young Adult Book of the Week:
Revisiting YA Fiction
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Not sure about the rest of you, but after reading Veronica Roth’s final installment of the Divergent trilogy, Allegiant, I was almost done with young adult fiction (at least for a while). Must there always be so much death? So much sadness? I stood quite firm in my belief that it was time for a break from YA—we had a good run, but it was time for a trial separation. I was venting this to family and coworkers alike, when my cousin suggested picking up Cassandra Clare’s Clockwork Angel. “You won’t be disappointed,” she said. “But isn’t it the one with the demons and tattoos?” I replied. “Yes, but there’s happiness and it’s fabulous”. I relented—curious how a book about nineteenth century steampunk London filled with Shadowhunters (people who kill demons and warlocks) running about could be both happy and fabulous.
But it is. Tessa Gray begins the novel landing in London after journeying from America. In search of her brother, she is kidnapped and dropped into a world of demons and Shadowhunters—left to carve her own path.  The characters Clare creates are soulful and self-deprecating.

Added bonus: for those of you are travelling over break—the audio book is fabulous and read by Jennifer Ehle (Elizabeth Bennett from the BBC Pride & Prejudice with Colin Firth!).