Friday, July 25, 2014

How They Choked: Failures, Flops and Flaws of the Awfully Famous by Georgia Bragg

The introduction of How They Choked pretty much sums it all up:

"Warning: Nobody's Perfect; Get Used to It

If you only want to see people at their best, this book isn't for you. I've been asked "Don't you ever write anything with a happy ending?"  So far, no, and not in this book either. It's full of bad news about how some of the world's most successful people failed, flunked, choked, or blew it. What's not to love? There's nothing better than reading about how someone else messed up."

There you have it.

Written by the author that gave us How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous, this book will not only teach you some new facts about people you are supposed to know all about, but it will keep you laughing the whole time. Great illustrations as well.

Karen

Sunday, July 20, 2014

New YA Books in the Library This Week (07/13-07/19)

Horde by Ann Aguirre (3rd in the Razorland Series)
The horde is coming.Salvation is surrounded, monsters at the gates, and this time, they're not going away. When Deuce, Fade, Stalker and Tegan set out, the odds are against them. But the odds have been stacked against Deuce from the moment she was born. She might not be a Huntress anymore, but she doesn't run. With her knives in hand and her companions at her side, she will not falter, whether fighting for her life or Fade's love.Ahead, the battle of a lifetime awaits. Freaks are everywhere, attacking settlements, setting up scouts, perimeters, and patrols. There hasn't been a war like this in centuries, and humans have forgotten how to stand and fight.

Laddertop. Books 1 & 2 by Orson Scott Card
Out of deep space, an alien race known as "The Givers" came to Earth. They gave the human race the greatest technology ever seen--four giant towers known as Ladders that rose 36,000 miles into space. As suddenly as the Givers arrived, they vanished, leaving the human race with one solemn instruction: maintain and preserve the Ladders at all costs. Due to the unique alien construction of the Laddertop space stations, however, only a skilled crew of children could perform the maintenance necessary. 25 years later competition is fierce to enter Laddertop Academy. Robbi and Azure, two 11-year-old best friends, are among those vying for a spot at the prestigious academy. While one is rejected, the other takes off into space for the adventure of a lifetime. Yet soon, their destinies will collide, as they must decipher an alien message and that could either save the Earth from invasion...or trigger its imminent destruction.

The Selection Stories: The Prince and the Guard by Keira Cass
Before America arrived at the palace to compete in the Selection, there was another girl in Prince Maxon's life. The Prince opens the week before the Selection begins and follows Maxon through the first day of the competition. Raised as a Six, Aspen Leger never dreamed that he would find himself living in the palace as a member of the royal guard. In The Guard, readers get an inside look at Aspen's life within the palace walls--and the truth about a guard's world that America will never know.

Moon at Nine by Deborah Ellis
15-year-old Farrin has many secrets. It is 1988; ever since the Shah was overthrown, the deeply conservative and religious government controls every facet of life in Iran. The day she meets Sadira, Farrin's life changes forever. Sadira is funny, wise and outgoing; the two girls become inseparable. But as their friendship deepens into romance, the relationship takes a dangerous turn. It is against the law to be a homosexual in Iran; the punishment is death. Despite their efforts to keep their love secret, the girls are discovered and arrested. Separated from Sadira, Farrin can only pray as she awaits execution.

Pandora Hearts Volume 9 and Volume 10 by Jon Mochizuki
The incuse on Oz Vessalius's chest ticks onward, but the young heir to one of the four great dukedoms directs his gaze back, seeking the facts behind a centuries-old tragedy. Intent on examining the ruins of Sablier despite warnings to scare him away, Oz and his makeshift party of explorers wander through the remnants of the former capital in search of clues to shed light upon the consuming darkness of the past. But in the yawning void where the opulent city once stood, will Oz come face-to-face with the truth? Or will he find misery the only resident...?

Road Rash by Mark Parsons
After being dropped from one band, 16-year-old drummer Zach gets a chance to go on tour with a much better band. It feels like sweet redemption, but this is one rocky road trip - filled with jealousy, rivalries, and on-stage meltdowns.

The Insider by Ridley Pearson (Kingdom Keepers Book 7)
The Kingdom Keepers' senior year in high school is almost over. For more than three years, things have been quiet. Their battles are long behind them, they agree, the threat to the Disney realm silenced albeit at great cost. But inside the catacombs of the Aztec temple where Finn Whitman faced down his nemesis, the monstrous Chernabog, a new threat brews. Deception and betrayal rock the Kingdom Keepers as the merciless group of Disney villains known as the Overtakers stage an unexpected comeback. But a discovery by the Keepers provides them with one hope of victory-a lost icon. It was believed to be gone forever. The Keepers have one last chance to preserve the heart of the Kingdom-Disneyland-from a terrifying destruction decades in the making.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart



Cadence Sinclair Eastman has spent every summer of her life on Beechwood Island, which her grandparents own and have built houses for each their daughters and their families. Clearly this isn't a family that is kind of wealthy, they (at least the grandparents) have loads of money. Cadence loves her summers on the island, mostly spent with the two cousins closest in age to her, Johnny and Mirren, and Gat (Johnny's almost step cousin) - this group of four is also referred to as The Liars. But on during summer fifteen something happened, which resulted in Cadence going for a swim, alone, at night, which she has no real memory of, but was found shivering on the sand with "most likely some kind of head injury, though the brain scans turned up nothing." After missing her sixteenth summer at the island Cadence returns for the seventeenth, grateful to be reunited with the liars, and also attempting to slowly remember the events of the fifteenth summer.

The Sinclairs are a family where everyone is perfect and put together and life is good (even when that really isn't the case at all). It's clear that something definitely not good happened during Cadence's fifteenth summer, something that has shattered the family a bit, however since Cadence can't retain any memories from that summer (even though she's apparently been told more than once) the reader is left in the dark as well. We Were Liars gets in your head (in a good way) and leaves the reader guessing what really happened to the end.

Lisa

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King

Lucky Linderman isn’t all that lucky. He has been harassed for years by school bully Nader. His parents aren’t getting along due to his dad being more interested in running a restaurant than spending time with Lucky and his mother. Lucky is even in trouble at school for a homework assignment. For a freshman social studies survey assignment Lucky asked his classmates “If you were going to commit suicide, what method would you choose?” The survey landed Lucky in counseling sessions.

The follow-up to her Printz Honor Book, Please Ignore Vera Dietz, A.S. King’s Everybody Sees the Ants has a lot going on in its 280 pages. Fairly early on in the book, Lucky’s mom becomes so frustrated with his dad that she decides to take Lucky along on a visit to his Aunt Jodi and Uncle Dave in Arizona. Throughout the book Lucky has vivid dreams of trying to rescue his grandfather, a Viet Nam POW who was never found, from a prison camp in Laos. On her death bed, his Granny Janice told him, “You have to find him and bring him back.” He also sees, or perhaps has hallucinations of, magical ants that serve as a sort of Greek chorus on his triumphs and failures over the course of the book. At times Everybody Sees the Ants feels like several books scrambled together, but almost everything works. The once exception is the ants. The fantastic element of ants holding up signs to cheer Lucky on or telling him that his Aunt Jodi is crazy seems out of place. It also makes Lucky seem a little crazy at times. This was particularly problematic when Lucky encounters Ginny, a rebellious model a few years older than him, during his stay in Arizona. He first sees her sneaking around like a ninja, and her eccentric behavior and seemingly random interest in Lucky made me wonder if he wasn’t imagining her along with the ants.

While I wish King would have exterminated the ants, Everybody See the Ants is still a very strong book. (And King would have also had to come up with a new title.) It tackles problems such as the difficulty people have living in the present, the challenges involved in staying true to oneself, and the way some families’ priorities are skewed. A.S. King shows again that she is one of the best young adult authors to emerge in the last few years.

John

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King



Vera grew up next door to Charlie and they've been best friends since always. But then Charlie betrayed her and which was followed by his untimely death. Vera knows things about Charlie, and how he died, and about his ex-girlfriend's involvement. Vera is just trying to get through life now though. She works a full time pizza delivery job, goes to high school full time, has a mother who left her and her father years ago, a dead (former) best friend, and drinks for "coping." Charlie though has every intention of haunting Vera until she clears his name. And the town's Pagoda (what many see as a monstrosity) jumps in every once in a while too, with "fun" town facts, "flying paper airplanes from here is littering" and an occasional bit of insight.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King, is mostly told from Vera's point of view, allowing the reader to see Charlie as she did before he betrayed her, after he did, and then after he died. However, Charlie, her dad, and yes, a Pagoda, chime in every so often. This allows for the more important characters to be more fully developed and therefore understood. The boy Vera has a crush on, James, never gets a chapter, and while there wasn't much wrong with him he just couldn't catch this reader's interest. The full story unfolds by switching from present day to "histories" in varying chapters, so the reader sees Charlie and Vera as they were and what they became. King presents a book with friend issues, family issues, death, and concerns about the future in a way that felt genuine and not over the top.  Not a light read, but definitely an interesting realistic fiction book with a dash of mystery tied to it (the mystery is purely for the reader Vera always knew what happened).

Lisa

Monday, June 9, 2014

Torn Away by Jennifer Brown



In one afternoon everything changed for Jersey.  Living in a Midwest, Missouri town, she was used to storms and tornado sirens, that afternoon wasn't your average storm though, that afternoon's tornado destroyed Jersey's town and tore her life apart. Home alone at the time the tornado hit Jersey survived, but her mom and little sister, Marin were out and didn't make it. Her step father Ronnie survived the storm, but can't face life without his wife and daughter so he sends Jersey to live her biological father's family. Still reeling from the tornado Jersey is stuck with a family who has made it clear they would rather her not be there (tornado or not) and Jersey herself just wants to go home. But her home has been destroyed, not just the physical place, but the family that created it. Her last chance is with her mother's parents, a set of grandparents she has never known and who her mother stopped speaking to before Jersey was born. In spite of everything her mom said about them they do seem to want her around.

Torn Away is about getting through devastation, and sometimes everything falls apart when it feels like those left behind should be coming together. It's about learning that even those you loved might not always have made the right decisions. Jersey has to deal with the things she said in anger or frustration that can never be apologized for, and for all the wonderful moments her family shared that she can't get back. Brown's work is emotional on many levels, the reader gets not only Jersey's grief, but also her frustration and anger. How Jersey and her community deal with the devastation is heart wrenching and authentic.

Lisa